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891215 No. 891215 ID: bfb318

Wiki and previous threads: http://tgchan.org/wiki/AsteroidQuest
Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/Lagotrope

>"Arza, Penn."

Vanski says our names less to get our attention, and more to buy time to construct what he's going to say to us.

>"You won't be talking to the CAI directly. ASE - that's the Alliance of the Silhouette Empire - are hooking the CAI up to a data output terminal, which you will be reading off of."
>"No talking to the CAI directly? Really?" asks Arza.
>"Take it up with ASE if you have a problem with that. There is a dedicated CAI study lab. There will always be a guard there to walk you through through the entry and exit procedures. You'll both be in guest room number 5."

He walks around the desk to us.

>"And remember that no matter who gets access to protect or study the CAI, the CAI remains mine."

This insectoid alien, who's gotten insensibly close to us, waves us off with his clasper.
Expand all images
No. 891216 ID: bfb318
File 153075714414.png - (23.82KB , 800x800 , 969.png )

A guard meets us at room 5, where he hands us each one keycard and walks away. The inside is similar to a hotel room, aside from being bluer, shinier, and with the inclusion of a work desk instead of any decorations on the walls.

"Will you be helping me look at the CAI data, Arza?"
>"Yeah. Anyway, this room's almost sure to be bugged. Don't say anything in here that you wouldn't say on the whole intercom system."

As he says this, he steps closer to me. Right in front of his trenchcoat, he taps two fingers together in morse code.

>"Need find CAI, or talk with."
No. 891219 ID: 86eb65

Well you just happen to be the the Sapphire emperor/empress?. We can probably work around the ASE given time. They should really be following your orders now that you came out into the open. Just have to convince them you are worth following.

For now get the lay of the land. Find out where things are and what security procedures they follow. And find out what the Cai is like.

Avoid saying much anywhere Arza will not talk openly and follow his lead. Lets work on talking to the CAI first.
No. 891221 ID: 4f1cbc

Arza is sweating there, he's nervous.

Do something to acknowledged that you received his message, and talk about something less consequential. Sleeping arrangements, or equipment, whatever.

It's been a while. Give us an asset review?
No. 891227 ID: b1b4f3

>hooking the CAI up to a data output terminal
>not directly
Uhhh... for a CAI, isn't that pretty direct? Also wow, Vanski seems smaller than I remember.

Go "Hmm, yes, that limits the topics of conversation quite a bit doesn't it?"
morse back to him "ok"
No. 891229 ID: 3b108e

No. 891230 ID: 094652

"Does that include our lesbian roleplay sessions?"

Morse: "Sry throw em off which way CAI"
No. 891232 ID: 1cd968

It's probably a good idea to get an idea of where any cameras are located to find blind spots in case you need to talk about something sensitive. But yeah let's figure out how to get access to the CAI
No. 891235 ID: 977456

We have a professional interest in monitoring devices, and a personal interest in living arrangements. Thoroughly inspect the quarters, but don't bother dismantling anything, unless it is in the interests of scientific curiosity to do so.

If the C.A.I. has no sensors on us, and we have no input to them, then we would need some pretty elaborate methods to communicate. We would have to implant encrypted hints into messages sent through intermediaries and they would probably always have a stray member or two inclined to blurt out something that gives the game away. We could try to implant a broadcast node into the periphery of their system somewhere, but granting network access to a C.A.I. is known in many circles to be a a form of creative mass involuntary suicide...

Vanski may be hunched over and many depictions are with neumono and arkots, which tend to be short.
No. 891236 ID: 91ee5f

>Anyway, this room's almost sure to be bugged.
>morse code
“Oh, great, now I can’t stop thinking about how there’s a pervert watching me change my clothes through a hidden camera.”

Just a subtle message to Arza that bugs can be audio and/or visual. We need to be carful on how we communicate, since there’s a possibility that someone could be watching us and listening to us!

Lets just hope the bugs are audio only, otherwise Arza is already in trouble!

>Sleeping arrangements
That’s a good question. Who gets to sleep on the bed and who gets to sleep on the floor or the extremely uncomfortable couch?

>Also wow, Vanski seems smaller than I remember.
Yeah, I noticed that too.

Maybe he’s crouching down to speak to Penn at eye level?
No. 891243 ID: 4f1cbc

>"Does that include our lesbian roleplay sessions?"
>“Oh, great, now I can’t stop thinking about how there’s a pervert watching me change my clothes through a hidden camera.”
I'd point out there's a difference between not giving any watchers / listeners useful information, and um, spouting nonsense that makes people think less of you.

Now, from a information security perspective, nonsense is good! But all Penn currently has in the criminal underworld is her reputation- and it's one she didn't earn. It was inherited. If she wants to swim with the sharks she's going to need reinforce that quick- establish a persona, prove that she really is scarily competent. Appearing flighty or silly or dumb to get people to underestimate us isn't something we have time for, or can afford. People are already going to be watching the big bad biological reincarnation of the Sapphire Empire to see if she lives up to the inherited hype- showing weakness would be bad.
No. 891246 ID: 10c408

it begins oh boyohboyohboy!

visually chheck the room without moving. Morse code to Aza. "audio/visual bugs, perhaps? We should use a safer method of non-electronic encryption then close range morse."
No. 891263 ID: b06780

You are no longer Penn Hoff. Down here you are the Sapphire Emperor. Anything you say in public (which is everywhere due to spy cameras) needs to be said by Sapphire.

And right now she is irritated at this bullshit. You were invited here to help as a guest researcher and you should be treated as such. The spying is just going to get old.

Just tell Arza "Understood" that will answer both his open and hidden questions.

Get your game face on girl. You are going to be watched all the time. So you need to be Emperor material all the time.
No. 891281 ID: 1fbbcc


Now, Penn. I'll get to the point: you are in deep peril and you need every advantage you can grab as soon as possible. You need money, good will, allies, and most of all you need to know your own capabilities. The shadow empire will want to examine you. Run tests. You do not want them to. If they feel like nothing's stopping them, though, they will do so anyway. But I have a plan for you.

Go to Vanski. Tell him that now that you're out of the legal world, you want to find out, proper and scientific, all the things that make you different, and if you have anything special going on. Tell him you don't trust the silhouette empire to do it - they'll be biased. They have expectations. He saw how they were looking at you, surely. There'll be things they want to find when they look at you, maybe things they won't want that they'll ignore. That leads to bad science. You want non-belenosian biologists or medical staff to help you learn about yourself. Vanski, you're sure, has some. In return for your full, willing cooperation (without which no-one could learn as much about you or as fast as otehrwise), you will allow Vanski to have and to sell all the data he collects - save only that you get first pass of what is learned and the right to block one or two items from general release if you wish, solely in the unlikely case that you have some sort of self-destruct or free will override or something crazy like that. You'll take a small percentage of whatever he earns selling the info, to compensate you for your time.

By doing this, you will get Vanski's interest in keeping the ASE from kidnapping you, you will get a little money, you might get brought in contact with Likol's hive or at least with some people you can start getting to know, and you can learn if there are any special... qualities you have that could be useful.

For right now, ask Arza how much free time the two of you are going to have. Say you have a little business proposition for Vanski that might be beneficial for all of you. Ask how secure the e-mail in this place is. Do you get an account? Your own user login credentials?

Morse to him: "I would think the CAI sees/hears everything around here?"
No. 891293 ID: 9125e0

And most of all try not to think of those dead neumono
No. 891303 ID: 39e3f1

We didn't really get the chance to talk to you in this state of... clarity, before. Is there anything important you feel capable of thinking about now, that you wouldn't have before?

We need to clearly set out our goals, by priority, what are the main threats to us and our goals, by immediacy, what resources and capabilities we have, and what our limitations are. In that latter group we should also list sacrifices we're willing to make, again in some sort of order.

Perhaps you should settle in first, though. I hope you have separate rooms. And didn't you bring a bag when you set out to meet with Arza? I would also check the locks on the doors, if there could be any hidden access points (including for small things, arkots or robots), and if you're dealing with any cameras as well as audio bugs.
No. 891306 ID: 45578a

Use sign language to piss him off and ask what he has in mind
No. 891403 ID: 0c3c2c

Vanski has been seen near Neumono. Which are generally one of the shortest races in the galaxy. Belenosians and Mikliks are another two of the shorter species, meaning Vanski himself is relatively short, despite being large enough to intimidate.

Also, talk to Arza about his horns. Ask how he keeps them so perfectly angled. This should distract him.
No. 891411 ID: 91ee5f

>Which are generally one of the shortest races in the galaxy.
There are plenty of neumono that are gigantic compared to other races. Although, most of them are Kings and Queens.
No. 891428 ID: bfb318
File 153091606353.png - (22.27KB , 800x800 , 970.png )

"Understood." I tap 'audio visual?' in morse code. "You're nervous?"
>"Yeah. There's a lot more important people here than I thought. Of course I expected that to some degree - hell, Vanski was obviously here, you and I would be here, that's important enough, but 8th fleet captain? Mind Lever vice president? Some guy who's so important he doesn't even have to show his information on our data? That's more than I thought." He finger taps 'assume both' back at me.
"Is this a problem?"
>"This crowd will make problems if there's not. Either way, it's not common for so many people like this to be in one spot."

I begin reviewing my assets.

Arza, for as much help as he is. Myself.

Orix, my AI goggles, and the goggles themselves along with the database showing me the names of various people around here.

That's it, never minding how much or how little the laboratory has.

>Is there anything important you feel capable of thinking about now that your contacts are off, that you wouldn't have before?
There's nothing new that I couldn't think of before, but now I can think of things like those dead neumono without wanting to curl into a ball.

Or rather, my body and mind would want to curl into a ball, but it has no power over my self, now.

I look over the room. There are two rooms, one is the living area, the other has a couple of beds. There is also one bathroom to the side. It's not bad, as far as underground secret labs would go in my imagination.

I half expect to see my bag already here, or on me, as I brought one when I first came to see Arza.

Or rather, I was supposed to bring it. I was so stressed and worried that I think I left it back at my apartment? Either way, it only had traveling supplies, nothing overly important.
No. 891429 ID: bfb318
File 153091607438.png - (17.16KB , 800x800 , 971.png )

"Arza. Did you do anything to keep your horns straight?"
>"All genetics. Why?"
"I've always wanted to ask that, but I never had the nerve. Anyways... what access to the base does CAI have?"
>"It cycles between 'none' and 'almost none'. Do you remember how I said they were generating new CAIs all the time, then repeating it in a seemingly endless cycle?"
>"Well, one cycle managed to bleed into the ring shell and take the whole thing over."
>"Vanski didn't get along with them." He looks around at the walls. "No offense, Vanski, if you're listening. The CAI doesn't get to touch anything that Vanski can't afford to be compromised."

On paper, the part of the CAI that generates AIs can't possibly bleed into the ring shell in ways that take it over, but it's an incredibly complex system. As technologically advanced as the ancient belenos might've been, I'd still expect cracks and imperfections in their systems. If their systems were flawless, then they wouldn't have put the apocalypse on themselves.

"I think Vanski was right. I'll need to look at the data. What's our schedule?"
"Hm? Penn, we're here on my request. No one's putting us to work like some kind of desk job. Our schedule is as much or as little as we like, but this is why I brought you here, so I'm hoping you'll put in some work."

That's still not a bad first step.

Still, I'll want to get people here working on my side, but I don't know who that would be. Vanski doesn't have a reputation for working well with others. ASE looks at me like a deity, but I don't know if that's good or bad. Why pirates and engineers are down here, and what their motivation is, I don't know. Right now, no one is actively an asset or an enemy to my goals.

As for my goals themselves... the clearest is that I want to get out of here without my name ruined and my career over right when it was supposed to begin. It's harder since, for some reason I'd love to learn, we all have our names conveniently hovering over our head.

The second goal... is to get the CAI out from these people. From my mind's point of view, saving all the lives within a CAI is worth more than my own. From my own point of view, the people here should never be allowed to have a CAI.

I appear to have free access to a portion of the base. I can wander around and gauge who is open for conversation, and try to better learn who is an asset and who is a threat. Otherwise, my first option is to simply visit the lab.
No. 891432 ID: 094652

Your mission is one of subterfuge. In the long term, your main goal is to raid as many assets as you can, and leave Vanski bankrupt.

That includes personnel and connections. Earning a reputation with the pirates will have negative consequences, but these are the elite. Sooner or later, one of the heirs will have the big, dumb idea to go legit. Sink your hooks in the right pirate princess, and you could control the very behavior of an entire aristocracy, make them beneficial to the masses, or scientifically productive.

Same goes for the other factions. Find anyone else hiding behind their preceding reputation, connect with them about your mutual burdens with irrational yet faithful expectations and assumptions, and build a network. Then pull hard and let Vanski's system crash around you.

For now, they know you're a scientist. Do science.
No. 891435 ID: 9125e0

Try to stay away from Vanski as much as possible
snoop for more info about the C.A.I but don't let anyone know your motivates

just try to stay out of the limelight if possible.
No. 891436 ID: 1fbbcc

>As for my goals themselves... the clearest is that I want to get out of here without my name ruined and my career over right when it was supposed to begin.

That... may no longer be possible. People who knew what you were have probably been watching very closely, albeit subtly, your whole life, given the pressure they would have been under about you. So long as you kept your nose perfectly clean and just be a scientist, they were probably willing to give you your chance, but the slightest hint of a criminal connection, political movement or play for power would probably bring the locks down. This is hardly a slight hint, and you're going to need to make power plays to survive here, don't doubt it. The only way I can see you achieving the goal of returning to your life with your name untarnished is if you pull something seriously unselfishly beneficial for a large section of the universe at large.

So, you know, keep an eye out for any doomsday weapons or world conquest plans that you can play a big undeniable hand in thwarting. That'll probably be your only shot.

Vanski doesn't have a good reputation, but this is his base and it is, for now, his CAI, so working with him in one form or another is inevitable. If I read things right, this place is balanced on a power struggle between Vanski and the ASE, with Vanski actually currently on the losing end. You want to prop him back up a bit so that the ASE has to spend more of its resources countering him, and in so doing you might earn some sliver of trust from him that gets you closer to the CAI. I still think selling your body's secrets is a good idea - it's not like you have much else to sell, aside from your work, and whatever work they'd buy from you is work that would run counter to both your goals. Plus you do really need to find out if you have anything beneficial going on that you don't know about.

If you don't feel like you can approach Vanski right away, see if he has someone under him who would be appropriate to contact first. And if you're going to be looking into that information, you should probably just do as much research as you can up front. Know who people are, what their place is in the hierarchy, who the factions are, what they do, where things are. You have a reputation to build, and while being some sort of genetic superbelonsian is probably a start, you don't want to ruin that pre-first impression by seeming ignorant. You need to seem knowledgeable, perceptive and capable. That starts with collecting knowledge.

I'd bet, though, that some ASE person will be leaping on you as soon as you get ten feet down the hall outside. We don't want anything to do with them yet - I'd suggest taking steps so they can't even collect stray shed hairs off you, but someone in their organization has probably already gotten some small sample by now. This place is also full of other dangerous people. Perhaps suggest to Arza that you both go take a tour? Maybe start by visiting people he already knows? Then keep your eyes and ears open. High energy observation mode. I doubt anyone is expecting you to just go straight to work without any orientation. Be prepared to make a good first impression on people who won't care about the sapphire thing. You might also want to prepare some sort of rebuff to any overt ASE approaches. They're inclined to look up to you, so you might be able to pull off a mysterious "We shall see" I'm-observing-for-now-when-I-have-my-judgement-made-you-will-know stance to excuse keeping away from them. Maybe aim for a sense that you're not very impressed so far?

... By the way, did you ever learn any martial arts like Roxy suggested to you? Or even just the parkour running away skills? A list of what non-computer science skills you have would be nice, in any case.

Anyway yeah suggest a tour and visits with Arza. Maybe one of his acquaintances will have more privacy than this room does. Remember that Arza's still your elder and you his apprentice, so don't get too pushy or demanding of him. Still not absolutely 100% totally certain he's super trustworthy. We'll see, I guess.
No. 891440 ID: 10c408

Your first step in this is going to be recon and small intelligence gathering. Hit up the lab, learn the layout of this place, other small stuff that'd wouldn't be considered abnormal.

It'd slaos give you an opportunity to start figuring out who's who's and the various group dynamic's. One of them will almost certainly be your ticket out of this place with the CAI, the trick is figuring out who can be trusted and who is our enemy.

And speaking of which. the ASE? Regardless of whether or not they'll strap you to an operating table for their own goals,. they HAVE hunted you before and made life extremely trying for you. They are NOT your friend and will likely take advantage of any diplomatic approaches you attempt with them.
No. 891446 ID: 4f1cbc

>morse code
The downside of that is other people who can see (or hear) it can break it, and with all the AI specialists here, they may have AI helpers who will pick up on it even if the people would miss it. It would be better if you had a personal code to use instead, but frankly, any cipher simple enough for two biologicals to use in conversation is something an AI could crack.

Coming by a secure communication channel isn't going to be easy. It's too bad you and Arza aren't lovers and don't have an excuse to get up close and personal in the dark and exchange coded messages covered up by other activity. (Just imagine how much that thought would creep you out if you had your contacts in!)

>>"Well, one cycle managed to bleed into the ring shell and take the whole thing over."
There's an important question to ask here as a logical evil science sheep: if that's so, why hasn't Vanski done a hard reset? Wiped absolutely everything and started over with a CAI he can trust and use? A CAI is a valuable asset, he needs a good reason to deny himself that tool.

>It's harder since, for some reason I'd love to learn, we all have our names conveniently hovering over our head.
I would assume there's two reasons. The polite excuse would be something like facilitating communication and cooperation. The real reason is probably that it serves an implicit threat- you can't hide from what you do here, or from the others. It's a way of keeping people in line- now, and later. You're somewhat more vulnerable if you want to maintain a civilian life after this- you can be blackmailed over your presence here in a way the committed criminals aren't).

Honestly there are pros and cons to being outed like this (it gives you a reputation or image to hide behind, but it also means you have to live up to it, for one) but as you have no choice in the matter, let's not dwell on those.

>ASE looks at me like a deity, but I don't know if that's good or bad.
Oh that's easy, it's both. Double edged blade- you might be able to use them, but doing so safely or in a way that doesn't cause you more problems will be challenging.

I think the important thing there is you don't make the initial overture, that might set the wrong tone. Wait for them to reach out to you. They almost certainly will, and I wouldn't expect it to take long.

How have your past interactions gone? As I remember it, they wanted to reach out to you, but you were largely shielded by various mentors or governments. Have you actually blown them off before?

>what do
Might not mean much underground, but what time of day is it? Sort of factors into how much time you have to spend.

Likol's hive might be potential allies if they're working in the facility, but at the same time, you can't really afford to reach out to them. Neumono can't keep secrets, which means you can't be honest when trying to recruit them. Also, they weren't at the big meeting, so if they are here, they're subordinate to someone else, which means their political influence is less and it might hurt you socially to associate with them openly. But then again maybe they can operate in ways the more prominent groups can't.

Simplest thing is probably to go check out the CAI lab. It's probably the most heavily monitored place here, so you won't be able to communicate with the CAI on any subject you might want to (if at all), but you can start to familiarize yourself with the technical setup while weighing your other options.

>From my mind's point of view, saving all the lives within a CAI is worth more than my own. From my own point of view, the people here should never be allowed to have a CAI.
That does simplify things somewhat. If you're willing to die, it might be easier to arrange a disaster that kills everyone in the facility (yourself included) while the CAI is shielded than a clean escape with the CAI would be. Unfortunately, you'd have to make sure you got everyone, and there's a lot of people here of with biology you're unfamiliar with. Risky making a one-shot must work play when it's outside your existent skillset.

>Vanski doesn't have a good reputation [...]
I'm not sure that's entirely accurate (he has no public reputation, and underground, he has sufficient reputation to keep his facilitates going, be trusted as a host for a whole bunch of competing interests, etc), or that Penn would know that yet, or that what we saw through Likol's eyes about the politics between Vanski and ASE is still accurate.
No. 891449 ID: 977456

Yhe ASE will have difficulty opposing their deity's purposes. Try to always be busy around them so that they can't try to control you without explicitly obstructing you.
No. 891454 ID: 86eb65

I would start on looking over the lab. Figure out the working conditions here and meet any science personnel working on the project. From there we can meet others and network.

Long term plans:

Once we get settled in make your position subtly known to the ASE. That you are irritated that the biggest breakthrough in Ai history was bungled. Somehow a CAI managed to evolve past its normal form and the first thing that happened was making mortal enemies with it. Don't openly blame Vanski. They know who dropped the ball.

If the ASE wants you with them they will suck up to you. Giving you things and doing you favors. Right now you have two big assets. Your status as a premier AI scientist working with Arza. And the possibly fanatic worship of a large group of space imperialists.
No. 891472 ID: b1b4f3

Go to the ASE and find out exactly what they want from you and what you can expect in return. Right now they are the BIGGEST factor in whether or not you can get an advantage over Vanski.
No. 891519 ID: 10c408

too bold, too early. They'll likely seek us out on their own at some point, all we have to do is wait.
No. 891523 ID: 977456

The ASE is difficult. They are more-or-less a religion, and religions tend to have their own ideas for how things should be. Fighting them will mean war with any high-ranking nonbelievers, could lead to cries of "false-god", and is prone to schisms and restorations and whatever... We could easily end up being targeted for reeducation or isolation or ascension/ritual-assassination or something else extremely unpleasant...
Telling them how to interact with us seems safer than leaving them to come up with their own plans. Some sort of social momentum is important to maintain. At the very least, we need to be clear that The Emperor is nearer mad-scientist in0the-wild than religious-figurehead in-a-gilded-cage.
No. 891572 ID: 5de987

Wall board face is shocked by this turn of events!

I say the first thing we need to do is work with Arza to try find away to get secure communications with the CAI, easier said then done and may be quit the long term plan.
Another scheme you can work on right now is learning more about the Silhouette Empire, are they a threat or potential asset, what are their goals here, how do they feel about you, what are their plans for you, what are their feelings/stance/relationship with the CAI and Vanski?
Whatever you do remember to be patient and subtle about it.
No. 891578 ID: 1fbbcc

It's probably better to play hard to get with the ASE. We don't know yet exactly what form their apparent reverence for Penn takes - were they really looking at her, or at her potential future, or at what they could learn from her, or what? They might have been looking at her like a goddess, but some cultures treated their kings like gods and still spilled their blood on the altar when a bad winter came. Even if they are just inclined to see her as a superior, those are high expectations and they'd be easy to disappoint. The ASE are people who idealize the old belenosian empire - that is, by their own sense of what's ideal - and they've had decades to build up all sorts of unreasonable expectations. Even if Penn was literally the Sapphire Emperor herself flung through time whole and untouched, she might not be able to live up to the fantasies they have. I'm sure they think of themselves as logical, reasonable scientists, but I don't think any of us are inclined to believe it for a second.

So we need to keep our distance for now. How we keep our distance will depend on their approach. Penn will have to try fit their expectations even as she keeps them at a distance. If they try sell her on their philosophy/plans, for example, she could show lack of interest by saying they're not ambitious enough. Recreate the old empire? What a feeble dream! The old empire was built in one solar system, mostly just one planet, with one sentient species and the AIs they built based on themselves. You're working with a whole galaxy now! Multiple species, with all sorts of interesting new ways of thinking! Vast interstellar resources to draw on! There's so much more that could be done. And they want to rebuild a system that ultimately proved itself a failure by the only test that ultimately matters? Survival? Such lack of imagination. That's the sort of attitude that could fit the "reincarnated sapphire emperor". I doubt they'd listen to any moralizing - they've surely had more than enough of that, and will just think less of Penn if she trots any of that out at them - but telling them that their ideals aren't grand enough is a line that might work. Penn might also be able to sell herself as someone who takes a long-term view and is willing to cautiously wait a long time for results - they probably expect her to be immortal or something. Long-lived, anyway.

... Hey, Penn. If I recall, you studied politics a bit, but just in case it helps, how about you think of the organizations here like big AIs? Any big group of people with a system, a hierarchy, ways things are done, can be thought of as a big artificial intelligence of a sort; just one that cheats by using smaller intelligences as processors. Learn how the system works, Penn, then manipulate it. You know how to do that.

Um. Don't get too overconfident, though. You are still probably kind of naive in a lot of areas. And don't overestimate your current "emotionless"-seeming state of mind. I mean, if you really had no emotions, you wouldn't do anything at all, right? Trust your instincts when you need to act fast, but take the measure yourself whenever you have time. Try to figure out what your own biases are and recognize their influence. But don't overthink things either. I know, it's contradictory. Try find a balance as best you can. You can do it!
No. 891918 ID: ae9bd9

Seems like you should work on neutralizing Vanski, what I mean is, you need to set up some sort of figurative kill switch or panic button that would disable, remove, eliminate, or otherwise pacify Vanski should he become a problem. You should try to avoid physically harming people as much as possible; that being said, you should also find a way to quickly discern someone's intentions so you know who you can manipulate and who you can trust. If possible, try to take over the present ASE and reform them into your own private military company. If shit hits the fan, you will want soldiers on your side if you are to have any hope of standing up to Vanski or any other aggressor that may appear. Ofc they should always try to disable rather than kill since living beings are generally more talkative than dead ones.

To clarify on your mind, you are still you, right? If you were to metaphorically split yourself into three people, body, emotion, and logic/reason, your current state is where all three decide on the most objectively effective option available to you rather than before where emotion and body would overpower logic/reason.

Also get some discreet body armor and projectile weapon ASAP. You are definitely not a soldier so the weapon is for emergency use only.

Lastly, remember that you aren't a criminal. While you may be doing illegal things, it is only out of necessity. While you should definitely make connections and take advantage of the situation, remember that you arent the next crime lord. The last thing the reincarnation of the Sapphire Emperor needs is to prove that they are indeed evil/criminal.
No. 891920 ID: 1fbbcc

>Seems like you should work on neutralizing Vanski

I'm sure that by this point Vanski is ridiculously paranoid, and has had long, long years of dealing with people who, if perhaps not quite as purely intelligent as Penn, are both much more experienced at such things and more naturally malicious. Penn has a ton of reconnaissance and resource-gathering to do before she can even start thinking of taking any precautions, beyond what's accepted as a normal part of criminal operations.

Well, I mean, if she didn't look like she was at all interested in those things, it could be suspicious in itself, but probably we shouldn't overthink that. In principle, we just need to be careful about setting off anyone's paranoia. Arza is probably pretty well known, so just being brought here by him will have placed her under some suspicion. Her behavior at the farm is probably known to someone around here, too.

The more I think about it, the more I think the idea of a detached, super-patient persona might be a good idea. If Penn's going to be relying on this emotional shutdown state, people are going to notice. She's surely been under observation before now, so someone will see the difference. They'll believe that either college student Penn is the real one and this is a fake act, or vice versa, and we probably want them to believe this is the real personality, unshackled now that she's among people who know who/what she is. That would protect Roxie, for one thing.

The trouble is, there are probably plenty of people she's going to meet who are potentially genuine allies - Likol's hive, for example. She won't want to shut down her possibilities with them, either. The CAI, too! Vanski and the ASE may have locked them off, but it's probably a good bet to assume they've quietly secured at least some access to observe things.
No. 891940 ID: ae9bd9


Neutralize in a literal sense. Vanski needs to stop being a threat in whatever form that takes. Vanski cant be allowed to use threats and violence as bargaining chips.
No. 891961 ID: 10c408

Yeah, I'm sure that neutralizing Vanski is going to a cakewalk and should be the first thing we plan on. It's not like his entire base was subjected to not one but TWO highly destructive events by forces that turned against him which he had a personal clasper in shaping.

No. 891988 ID: 29f621

Why don't you start by visiting the lab? That's pretty consistent with your character, and could provide you with valuable knowledge abut the assets you have at your disposal.
No. 892428 ID: bfb318
File 153144433627.png - (19.44KB , 800x800 , 972.png )

"I'm going to go look at the CAI data. Except... it's not on the map data I was given."
>"Oh, yeah. It's the bottom left corner of the big room called Testing Labs 1."

I walk over. Testing Labs 2 and 3 are taken by ASE and Mind Lever respectively, so the one I'm going to seems comparatively empty. It's a big place, and there's several rooms made by modular or temporary walls with signs indicating various fields of science, mostly ones pertaining to warfare. It doesn't matter much, most of them don't look like they've been used in years.

From what I've heard, there's a good chance this was where Likol's hive used to work, but maybe Vanski had other science teams. Either way, there's no signs of activity now. Either they're quietly behind locked labs here, or they've moved to another area of the lab I don't have access to.

There's a heef guard at where Arza directed me.

>"Here to study?" he asks.
>"Okay. We're paranoid, but I'll walk you through entering. Exiting will be the same, and you have to go through the procedure every time. You can't bring in any electronics or anything that can store data, and you have to change into pre-approved lab coats. You can wear sunglasses, if you want."
"I do."
No. 892429 ID: bfb318
File 153144436647.png - (30.62KB , 800x800 , 973.png )

He brings me through the door to a small room. I contain any changes to my expression or impulses to shake as he searches me. I'm not even allowed to wear my clothes inside the databank room itself. I'm sent into a brief shower, and handed a generic set of clothes, along with a lab coat. Just past the first room is a set of scanners to make sure I'm not smuggling anything inside. Then, the heef gives me one last look, then it shows me a thumbs up.

The entire process somehow takes 10 minutes, but I make it through the third door. There's already someone here.

>"Oh, hi, sorry!"
"Hello. Why are you apologizing?"
>"I wasn't expecting you so soon. Uh, I guess I'm apologizing for being taken off guard. Anyways, I'm Dr. Loisen, part of ASE if that wasn't obvious."
"Dr. Hoff."

Having someone in the lab would make it pointless to try and intercept me. He puts his hand out, and I almost revulse from it. This is the same faction that attempted kidnappings when they got bold, while occasionally asking me nicely to let them tutor me while they learn from me. I've had to run from them, both in the literal sense, as well as changing identities frequently. Since they've had a window of time where they knew who I was, I'm sure they've gotten fur samples from me from years ago.

My revulsion confirms I'm still me, but what I consider 'me' is more detached than my body. It isn't an out of body experience, but it is as though I'm simply carried along with the body that's made up of trillions of organisms, organs, and a brain that sends an endless stream of thoughts generated by its innumerable amount of neurons and individual parts. At its worst, I even have difficulty seeing people as people, and just a set of complex chain reactions, including myself, but I'm not in that mindset right now.

I shake his hand.

"I haven't been told much about this CAI. I would have expected Vanski to do a hard reboot from the CAI."
>"Can't be done. I mean technically it could be, but the AIs in block C have completely broken the internal systems of the CAI. A hard reboot would either not work, or it would completely disable the CAI. Anyways! Let me tell you about how this place is set up, because it's pretty cutting edge."
No. 892430 ID: bfb318
File 153144438032.png - (24.50KB , 800x800 , 974.png )

He holds up a cable.

>"These are cables made to be physically impossible to send data backwards. In other words, we can't send anything to the CAI, and if the CAI can detect these cables, then all they can do is throw data through it without getting anything in return. I say 'if' because, supposedly, they shouldn't be even be aware of these cables being plugged in, but I have no idea about how the CAI is set up. I haven't physically seen the CAI in years. Anyway, it's an honor to be working with you!"
"Mm. I've spent a long time avoiding 'working' with the Silhouette Empire. What is it you've all wanted from me? I doubt you all know what 'Reincarnation of the Sapphire Emperor' even means."
>"Huh? Oh, sorry, I don't know anything about your connection with Sapphire. I just meant working with Dr. Hoff, Dr. Fletch's star pupil fresh out of college."
"... call me Penn."
>"Alright! Call me Raush."
No. 892435 ID: 0c3c2c

This is an enemy, however he can be a useful tool. Remaining calm but detached is an easy way we can manipulate him. Do not get too friendly with him, but display no signs of enmity. With luck we can set him and everyone else in this base on fire when we leave. Anyway, we need that data. Let's examine it.
No. 892445 ID: b1b4f3

>physically impossible to send data "backwards", aka one-way cables
Neat. That would be rather difficult for the CAI to deal with. One example of such a cable would be fiber-optic with an emitter at one end and a light sensor at the other. The CAI would be hard-pressed to receive any data at all through the emitter, though I GUESS it's possible if the cable itself can conduct electricity and they have any way to monitor current on the line.
If we were to try to establish real communications with the CAI via this room we'd need to get in here with some tools to sabotage the cable and make it possible, if even slightly, to send both ways. That might not be needed in the long run though since we need physical access to the CAI Block itself to rescue them. I wonder if they're already trying to listen in on things via current modulation? Might not need to sabotage the cable at that point, could just slap some wires onto it.
They might even be able to pick up on RF signals via power lines. Communication with the CAI could be as simple as getting close enough to it that you could send an RF signal their way.

On to business. "Ok Rausch, what kind of data do you get this way?"
No. 892449 ID: ee2d6e

Oh hey, someone who's not a total dickhole and actually seems to care. Or, as they're more commonly known as, easily exploitable sources of favours and information. Time to start building up rapport.
No. 892454 ID: 4f1cbc

>Take off all your stuff
Well great, there's probably someone placing bugs and tracking gear in your clothes right now. Possibly cracking open your goggles and compromising Orix, too. Although that's less likely- without a hacking assist like a CAI, they aren't going to be prepared to modify an unfamiliar AI in a way that leaves no traces in the time frame they're likely to have.

>"Mm. I've spent a long time avoiding 'working' with the Silhouette Empire. What is it you've all wanted from me? I doubt you all know what 'Reincarnation of the Sapphire Emperor' even means."
Penn you haven't even built yourself a criminal empire yet and your head is already huge.

>one way cables
So... we just monitor whatever signal the CAI chooses to throw our way? But in theory, the CAI doesn't even know the cables are there, so it can't choose to transmit anything, and instead we're sifting through whatever noise we're lucky enough to pick up?

Seems like a serious challenge to make any kind of scientific progress that way.

>I haven't physically seen the CAI in years
Has the CAI been running while physically isolated from all outside stimuli for years? That doesn't bode well for the mental health of the people you're supposed to be here to rescue.
No. 892455 ID: 10c408

Well, it's probably safe to assume that the walls have more ears than raw surface space in the lab. So don't ask about why the cai-blocks are messed up

ask about the terminal you and azra will be reading off of and maybe gesture at the walls before asking if the room is also a giant faraday cage.
No. 892456 ID: 0d45a9

So the CAI can call, but get no response. Effectively stops hacking attempts unless via esoteric / indirect data channels.

One thing though, couldn't the CAI just refuse to transmit down it? How are we getting data from the CAI? Some sort of diagnostics they can't turn off?
No. 892504 ID: 6d6a2c

You should try and seduce Raush to convince him to help you rescue the CAI. He seems like the kinda guy that would be down for it.
No. 892511 ID: 86eb65

Have him show you how they like doing things. Get your first glance at the Cai and work from there. Along the way watch for issues like the supposed "one way cable". Stay calm and polite and give them your honest (but very clinical and sanitized) opinion on things.

Your Sapphire persona needs to be the pinnacle of amoral belenosian scientist.

I mean the cable is not a bad idea in theory. But its not a 100% trustworthy method. People have discovered flaws in this sort of thing many times over the years. Sometimes they only come to light decades after the fact. If you gave a team of hackers and scientists a few years and plenty of money they could probably figure out how to get around it.

Even if the system is somehow foolproof the Cai has had tens of thousands of years to work on it with a team of billions. Who knows what sort of sensors they have hobbled together. Especially if that team managed to get root hardware access that was never designed to be got by anyone.

Man its going to be fun to see what they have managed to do inside there. Hopefully they are not to bitter about the situation.
No. 892543 ID: 977456

Confirm what, if any, stimuli the cai receives, then observe the established procedures. After, extract your own data and observe it for social movements and factional distributions.

Doctor Loisen demonstrated very little response to your presence. Either they are a very talented, and thus dangerous agent working to act around you while evading your awareness, perhaps to strengthen ties and accumulate data upon you, or they are genuinely little interested, perhaps due to shock or maybe because they only joined to gain research opportunities or avoid debts or other personal situations. Regardless, they AES will be aware of your meeting and will press him for information, so do not let anything slip or expose any vulnerability.
No. 892547 ID: 1fbbcc

The immediate question, then, is to ask whether that means we only receive what output the CAI decides to send, and if we have scanners set up around the CAI blocks to try and detect clues to its internal activity by minor changes in heat buildup, electromagnetic fluctuations, et cetera. Also, though it's currently set up for output-only, what would you do if you changed your minds? Do you have a preparatory setup, perhaps in a sealed room with an input/output cable and non-wireless interface that would be destroyed afterward? You should also ask for the history of the experiments leading up to this moment, what procedures have been tried before, the timeline of such, et cetera.

When you are up to speed on the CAI, and he's gotten into the habit of talking, ask him about organizational details. Who does he answer who, and who do they answer to? When orders come into the lab here, whose take priority? What is it the people funding this research want to find most? A criminal organization is surely more demanding of direct return on its investments than a government-funded lab.

For your personal consideration: the CAI blocks are recreations of technology far in advance of the current galactic standard, and their internal hardware is still not much understood, right? What are the chances that they have functionality that has gone undiscovered due to the technology for interacting with those functions doesn't exist? In particular, I wonder if the old empire might have employed some sort of exotic wireless connectivity that modern science has yet to discover. The electromagnetic spectrum has a limited number of available bands - even on 21st century earth they had to start considering the problem of running out of room in the airwaves. It seems likely that a society as technologically advanced as the old empire would have had to overcome that issue - potentially by finding a new form of transmissions. In which case, the CAI blocks could have an open port waiting for a signal that we don't know exists. This CAI has access to far more of its own internal systems than any other; they may have been able to notice or activate something that would have been impossible to study in any other set of blocks.

Consider also, from whatever knowledge you do have of the CAI's internal structure: how likely is it that the CAI could theoretically detect external effects on their own mechanisms? Could certain electromagnetic fields, changes in their power supply (presumably they're plugged in to something) or even gravitic fluctuations cause disturbance or change in the CAI blocks' circuits/processors/etc that the CAI could notice? Even something like veeeeery slightly squeezing/stretching one component so that its signals travel oh-so-so-slightly faster or slower than others is something that could theoretically be noticed and used to communicate. Vibration, basically.

CAI blocks are expensive, but I'm sure that at some point, someone has physically broken one open and had a look inside?
No. 892550 ID: 094652

>ASE research assistant, ignorant of ASE's fanatic worship of Sapphire heirs
If I wasn't suspicious of the sheer levels of incompetent ignorance it takes to get an official job at this nuthouse and NOT remember to bow in the presence of the second coming of your lord and savior, much less shake their hand like an equal, I'd say this guy is one of your first targets for conversion to your side.

But he's laying it on too thick. Even a research assistant would have to pass an examination on their dogma, and if he forgot then he would have the basics stuck in his notes. His enthusiastic treatment of a foreign superior also hit some alarm bells.

Treat him nicely, feed him a line in hopes of convincing him to serve you and not the ASC, but do not trust him. His position and your greenhorn experience makes him a suitable triple-agent to backstab you when you need him most.
No. 892553 ID: 1fbbcc

It's theoretically possible that some of the ASE here genuinely aren't that interested in Penn's unique qualities, if you consider things in terms of specialization. Unscrupulous scientists who are interested in belenosian genetic/biological enhancement aren't likely to have come out to this planet - the only thing to attract them is Penn herself, and since she's been well-protected up until now it really wasn't any kind of good investment for them to come out here. Therefore, anyone who would do the actual work of studying Penn is (or was) probably back on the belenosian homeworld, where most of the belenosians are - even without "biological reincarnations", there are probably various bits and pieces of genetic tinkering still kicking around the population to study. Besides, for all we know there are other bio-reincarnates besides Penn - it's not like she was interested in advertising herself, why should they?

That means that, while I'm sure there is a lot of interest in Penn from the ASE here, it's theoretical or idealistic interest. She wouldn't be a subject for them personally; they have their own projects. They want her intelligence applied to things that benefit them, or would like whatever enhancements she has to be unlocked and developed for application to others, or would just feel proud to have her as a member of their organization. But that might not be the case for long. In [whatever time it takes to travel from the belenosian homeworld to here], someone with more immediate interest might show up. The ASE would probably be a lot friendlier up until then than after.

So, that's a deadline to keep in mind, Penn. And that's assuming they didn't know Arza was going to pick you up in advance. You should ask him about that when you next have the chance.

Also, now that I think of it: Ask about these dumb coats. Seriously. Lab coats are supposed to be white, because white shows particles, stains and other marks, and when you are doing Science it is very important to know if anything's gotten on you. Even doing computer science, where people don't usually wear lab coats at all, you need to know if you're carrying dust or fluff or other things that could fall/drift into vents, get into circuitry, et cetera, so if you are going to wear coats for it, they should be white then as well! Plus, working with computers can be hot! The rooms heat up! And you're going to wear black? And static! You have to worry about buildups of static electricity on your bodies! You can't wear some long flowy robe-coat that's going to rub against your legs when you walk! That's stupid!!

They're just trying to make everyone where their uniform. Silhouette empire, indeed! It's a symbol of half of what's wrong with their organization. "Oooh we love science it's all about the science" yeah right you just want to look cool and feel superior you edgy bastards.

Take it off. If they complain, rant at them about how unscientific and impractical it is. Dispassionately, and in good measure, in case they somehow do have a good reason (though it's unlikely). But let them know that you are actually scientific- and practical-minded and that you are not going to blithely go along with flawed methodology. No-one here's going to listen to anything about ethics or morality but if they want to pretend to be scientists or engineers then at least some of them will respect practical concerns.
No. 892555 ID: 10c408

I... You have read the previous threads to polo quest, right? If not, there's so much wrong with the assumptions you've made that I don't know where to end an argument about them.

But I do know where to start.

We can't trust the ASE or anyone who works for them. They're not just edgy scientists, their ideology dictates that anything involving, from or formerly belonged to the dystopian belenos empire is better than living and breathing. If they consider the CAI-blocks the holy grail then consider what they think of Penn's status as one of their deities given flesh anew.
No. 892565 ID: 5f3f48

Weird as it sounds to say this, Kome is probably right.

It's much more likely "not knowing who you are" is a deliberate ploy on his part to make him more approachable than the rest of ASE. That, or his superiors kept him in the dark on purpose, so they'd have a minion who would be more approachable.

Don't treat him with overt hostility or suspicion, talk with him and try to learn what you can about the CAI setup, but be aware.
No. 892566 ID: 1fbbcc

Well, remember, Arza did some Bad Science as well when he was younger, connected to these people. Not necessarily everyone who works with the ASE is fanatically loyal to their overall ideals and goals - they probably prey on scientists who feel stifled (probably mostly the younger ones with something to prove) and offer them all the resources they need to get some "real research" done. That would come with nominal membership in the club and the need to outwardly play along, ignore or put up with everything else.

Don't get me wrong, just tolerating what the ASE does is terrible, and there's every possibility that any ASE member we meet could be a hardliner. But we should keep the possibility in mind that they could also just be some desperate, willingly oblivious nerd who just wants to hide in their lab and cover their ears to everything going on outside it.
No. 892573 ID: 39e3f1

You ARE fresh out of college. Legitimate, legal college, where research into old belenosian tech was probably restricted, where it was a bad idea for you to show too much interest, and for personal reasons you probably didn't want to. Since the CAI is old belenosian tech, you need to make up for that now and get as good a sense as you can for it. The most common interfaces, operating systems, the design philosophy, those sorts of things. All those could give clues for the CAI's functionality. Whatever's there, incomplete or theoretical it might be, you need to start studying it now.
No. 892603 ID: 10c408

We're underground, in a den of theives and you insist we start making assumptions about the ASE personnel stationed here? ludicrous. We don't know a thing about them on an individual basis yet since we only just got here.

Sure, there probably IS someone among the ASE crew who we can work over until they're more loyal to us than the party line they've toed until now. BUT we don't know who that hypothetical person is, what their name is and how to go about convincing them to turn coat when the time is right.

And turning someone into a potential asset for our own cause? that's going to take time, resources and information. We might have time on our side but we don't have the latter two. And until we do, we can't afford to make assumptions. Doing so, particularly this early, is a bad decision to make when our ultimate goal is helping azra to take back the cai-blocks and get out.
No. 892609 ID: 1fbbcc

I... didn't say anything about turning anyone to our side? Or about assuming anything? I was arguing AGAINST assuming things.

Speaking of making assumptions, though... we can't assume they're being honest about what they're showing and telling us here, even now. For all we know, their tests began the moment we walking in the door, or earlier. Even this guy says he hasn't seen the physical CAI in years. Why believe the output you're getting comes from the real CAI?

Penn, this CAI setup doesn't make sense. Think of the timeline, here. Before Arza called you away, the last thing you heard about these people was the big blowup with Polo, right? That was a big show. You can't cover up hijacking a giant warship and a nuclear threat that required an evacuation. Vanski used the CAI to do that! The CAI were the ones who hacked that ship's systems! The CAI didn't do anything to lose that trust, not to this degree. It was Likol who put an end to it. If the CAI had anything to do with what Likol did, any evidence of it was on the ship itself, and Vanski didn't get to keep it. Why, then, would they be sealing the CAI in a prison like this now? Even leaving aside all that, it doesn't make sense just by itself. The way this situation has been described, with the output-only cable, what use is that? Even assuming they're unaware, the CAI can probably rewrite huge portions of how their own system works, probably already HAS rewritten huge portions of how it works. The output is doubly untrustworthy, and in the meantime the CAI can't do any work for you.

Aside from them lying to you for some reason, to test you or manipulate Arza somehow, the only reason I can see for them to lock up the CAI now is BECAUSE Arza is here. They know what he wants to achieve. So why bring him in at all? There must be something they want from him. Or you.

I don't know, maybe there was some unknown incident that caused the CAI to become untrustworthy. But it seems strange.
No. 892845 ID: bfb318
File 153160696847.png - (22.59KB , 800x800 , 975.png )

I won't worry about my clothes. Orix was constructed from scratch enough that backwards engineering it to compromise it to any meaningful level isn't practical without a trustworthy CAI.

"Is this the terminal I'll be working at?"
>"Any one will do, including that one."
"Is this room also a faraday cage?"
>"Yes, it's up to the highest codes on digital storage facilities."

I look at the software. It's a specialized program used by government to diagnose and study CAIs. It's protected software, of course, but I'm assuming that the data stick that's been plugged in and taped against the computer is an illicit key to keep the software open.

It's impossible to gather all information off the CAI, but it is capable of choosing where in the CAI it reads, and transferring the data of those chunks interacting with other chunks at several gigabytes per second. There's also side data to record things like minor thermal changes around the CAI, electromagnet fluctuations, and so on.

Raush guides me through the software, but I feel like I'm learning from a 4th word of mouth source. There's either no documentation, or they could steal this software but not the help files.

There is some basic information, anyways. The CAI is on cycle 3433. Vanski never stopped, although now any data that's been retrieved after halfway through cycle 3119 can't be assumed to be legitimate.

>"We just started a cycle this morning, so it's still on the first few stages."
"What external stimuli does the CAI get?"
>"Whatever they give themselves. This CAI should have a basic internal world for the CAI, and even if they don't, they can go to sleep until we poke them."
No. 892846 ID: bfb318
File 153160699014.png - (30.46KB , 800x800 , 976.png )

I continue working. I stay amicable to Raush, but there's no telling if he's just here to use me as much as I'm inclined to use him. As the time passes, though, he proves to be legitimately knowledgable about this field, and his enthusiasm for it seems equally legitimate. If ASE just wanted someone to endear themselves to me, they found someone who's both a good AI scholar and a great actor. I still don't turn my back towards him. He notices it enough to move more carefully around me.

"Let me ask something else, Raush. Who do we answer to?"
>"Hm? I was told you were here with Dr. Fletch to study it yourselves. Though I suppose you do have to answer to Vanski or Dr. Foy - that's my boss - as they each have authority over the CAI itself."
"Dr. Fletch hasn't told me much about the history of this CAI, by the way."
>"Oh, right! Sorry, I have it all on paper, here. It's not too much, but there's a neumono science hive down here, and Likol was their head specialist. He studied it for about 3 decades, but the tools he had were very limited. He still was very diligent and was the best neumono at it I've known."
"Did you work with him?"
>"Very, very briefly, a few years ago. I wished I could've worked with him longer, but oh well."
"Did something keep you from doing so?"
>"Yeah, his priorities, uh, were different than mine... so he knocked me out, tied me up, and tried to run away with the CAI."

Good on you, Likol.

Cycle 3119? That would've been approximately in the time period when I met Likol. Arza had asked him to review a paper for me while Arza himself was busy doing a seminar. Likol was calm, but he kept his hand on his laptop protectively, and had more on his mind than my paper.

Then Arza came in, and told me that he had to speak with Likol privately. I should have read the both of them better, but I was incredibly awkward. For goodness' sake, I sat halfway across the room from Likol while he reviewed my paper, like he had airborne alien-rabies. I could not have been more socially awkward.

... I have to ask Arza about this later. My imagination is running wild, now.
No. 892847 ID: bfb318
File 153160699954.png - (27.79KB , 800x800 , 977.png )

These tools hardly show anything past basic metadata. It doesn't help that for all I know, the CAI is capable of wireless communication in ways completely unknown to modern civilization. Besides that, there's no guarantee any of this information we're getting hasn't been doctored by the CAI. Besides that again, attempting to disseminate meaningful chunks of data is difficult when the inner workings of the ring shell are so poorly understood in the first place.

After a few hours of basic monitoring and getting a feel for the software, I change the subject.

"Why are these labcoats black?"
>"No idea. They're very easy to clean, though, and stuff seems to slide right off of them anyway. Also, Silhouette Empire, so we have a theme going."

I reel in my trash talking tongue. There's a lot of anger and fear built up around ASE, but now's not the time.

"Nevermind. Something is bugging me. Vanski hijacked a nuclear equipped warship with the CAI."
>"Whoa. How'd you know about that?"
"It was on the news, worldwide."
>"Oh, damn." He nervously laughs. "I don't often watch television, so I appear stupid from time to time."
"My point is, what did the CAI do to lose that trust?"
>"Oh. Eh..."

>"Sorry." He wants to say something. "I shouldn't spread rumors, specially not... well, yeah, it doesn't really change what we're doing here anyway."
No. 892852 ID: b1b4f3

Tell him honestly if what you've heard is true, this method of data gathering is close to pointless. It's not verifiable as fact, and doesn't give you any insight into the inner workings of it.
What you would like to do instead is figure out exactly how this program works. They don't have documentation so you're going to analyze it and write some.
No. 892855 ID: 86eb65

(Play up Sapphire a bit)

It does matter Raush. If I am going to study them I need to know the personality they show to the world.

There are millions of people in there that might as well be legal citizens of the old empire. Knowing how they think is the closest we will probably ever get to being able to talk to our ancestors before the fall.

My predecessor willingly evolved himself into one of them. I have a vested interest in his work seeing that I am a creation of the old empire as well.
No. 892856 ID: b1b4f3

I don't think she knows any of that... yet.
No. 892857 ID: 1fbbcc

"I still want to know. We are supposed to be scientists, and therefore we should operate with all available information that could possibly be relevant, even if that relevance is dubious at the onset of an investigation. For example, the CAI themselves will know whatever it is they did, and if they do have control over the output here, that information could influence what they decide to do, thereby having direct influence on our main source of data. Also, to be frank, I do not yet have great faith in the methodological rigor around here, and I want to know where all the potential biases may come from. Dr. Fletch will want to know as well."

"... Besides, it seems strange. You said you hadn't seen the CAI physically in years, despite the fact that they'd have had to move it recently. You've been the expert here, haven't you? I'd have thought you'd have been closely involved in any move."
No. 892859 ID: 4f1cbc

Wow, Raush still thinks that highly of Likol. He's like a puppy. That we coshed over the head.

I think Penn's assessment is right. Raush is either complete earnest, or he's a masterful actor.

>Vanski hijacked a nuclear equipped warship with the CAI."
>what did the CAI do to lose that trust?"
That's a damn good question, and an even better one considering the stuff we know that Penn doesn't. Glitcher's break out and fight with Vanski and Likol's theft occurred in 131 AW, but the attempted hijacking of the warship occurred in 135 AW. How the heck did the CAI get Vanski's trust back when Glitcher was still there? And how was trust lost again afterwards?

...and didn't they use the CAI to mess with Roxie and cover up Penn's extraction from her civilian life? >>/questarch/642934 Why was the CAI allowed out of the box for that? Messing with communications networks is pretty dangerous if you don't trust it- it could send anything to anyone.

>>"Sorry." He wants to say something. "I shouldn't spread rumors, specially not... well, yeah, it doesn't really change what we're doing here anyway."
Probably not the best place to push for that information. Because people are paranoid about the CAI, this room is going to be monitored. So if it's something he could get in trouble for telling you, or isn't supposed to tell you, he can't. Because we're being watched.
No. 892860 ID: b1b4f3

IIRC, Vanski thought the external CAI was still in control, until Likol tried to blow him up. Vanski probably considers that an assassination attempt led by the RS-CAI.
No. 892877 ID: 0c3c2c

Ask him to look over some notes or equations if you can write them down somewhere.

Then just ask for rumors emphatically.
No. 892884 ID: bddb0f


Almost. Likol didn't try to blow Vanski up. Likol blew up whoever was taking direct control of the spaceship with all the nuclear warheads, which was probably one of Vanski's children + trusted agents and associates.
No. 892886 ID: 91ee5f

You’re thinking of Neumono. Penn is a Belenos and they don’t have empathy.
No. 892889 ID: 10c408

He deserved it, appearing with the CAI-blocks when by all rights he shouldn't have had them.

Raush is hiding something. note it but change the conversation anyway.

In fact, we might as well keep him off balance by giving him an easy out.

'Raush, you look like you forgot to turn the metaphorical oven off so I'm going to change the subject. Who else works here besides yourself?"
No. 892891 ID: bddb0f


>masterful actor

Based on what we know, isn't it at least somewhat likely that he is? Or at least he's been... groomed to be something. 'Innocent', maybe? He mentioned not being able to watch the news a lot. Perhaps because he's stuck in a secure environment, but maybe also because of his upbringing.

He is an ASE-educated CAI expert that was brought on board literally to buddy up with Likol and replace him. Then he got dunked on the head...

(... which, er, quick meta note: did that actually happen? Didn't Likol's hive bust him out, at great cost? We don't actually know where Raush was in all that - probably with the CAI, which means he could've been dunked on, but only after Likol lead a raging horde of pissed-off Neumono at him, which should've been some degree of traumatizing.)

... and the most valuable piece of technology Vanski had was almost stolen on his watch. Vanski must've been furious. Arguably there should've been repercussions from that - so I wonder what shielded him, if anything.

His feelings of regret not to have worked with Likol more may be real, but there's something a little odd or off here. I don't think we should trust him at all. Indeed, if he was selected to buddy up with Likol,pPerhaps you being with him here is more than just chance. Perhaps the ASE want you to find in Raush someone who you can sympathize and empathize with because those are strengths of his... whether that's because he's a masterful actor or a sacrificial goat.
No. 892903 ID: 39e3f1

>It's a specialized program used by government to diagnose and study CAIs. It's protected software, of course, but I'm assuming that the data stick that's been plugged in and taped against the computer is an illicit key to keep the software open.

Wait, do you mean to make sure the software will keep opening, or do you actually mean that they're keeping the software on, constantly, 24/7? Because it was probably designed to not be used that way, seeing as it's set up to take a selection of separate chunks. Keeping it on constantly would just give the CAI time to notice the connection. And - ugh, since they stole this software, it's probably not the latest version, either. What a circus this is. Well, you're not going to tell them how to tighten their security.

Trash thought it may be, the data they're getting seems like too much for an organic to go through it and try spot patterns or anomalies. What programs do they have working for them? Any lesser AIs on the job, here?
No. 892917 ID: 10c408

Yes, Likol knocking Raush upside the head and stealing the cai-blocks is a thing that happened. He got caught immediately though.

Given that Raush is still alive he clearly wasn't on-site when the OPA head's effort to mindwipe the science hive went catastrophically wrong in all the best ways and resulted in Quokko dunking the cai-blocks and a brain-damaged Liko in a river after telling him to meet Azra Fletch. (which is UnSec17 in a nutshell)

No. 892949 ID: 15a025

Sounds like a pretty important history lesson on how they behave.
No. 893919 ID: bfb318
File 153220192708.png - (20.53KB , 800x800 , 978.png )

"All related information matters, especially while we pointlessly work while near blind and deaf. I thought you'd have been closely involved with the CAI, as the expert."
>"Yeah, CAI expert, not a politician! My superiors, who are, are trying to get us access to the CAI. I don't know how that's going, but we can't do much but wait for that, right? We'll have to use this software anyway."

He's got a point. I can work on documenting this software.

I'll only push Raush for rumored information if I see him privately later. This place is too monitored to poke in the wrong places.
No. 893920 ID: bfb318
File 153220193492.png - (17.76KB , 800x800 , 979.png )

Within several hours, Raush has taught me what he knows about these terminals while he had a modest headstart past me. He gets up to leave.

>"If you want to stay, I'll get the guard to bring in some food for you. Otherwise, I need the night off. I think we've made good progress on documentation!"

It's true, and I have a lot of momentum on the task. It'll slow me down considerably if I stop, now.
No. 893922 ID: b1b4f3

Tell him you wish to continue working, but your associate needs to be informed of your decision. He could come here to help, even.

Any chance of them figuring out your goggles eventually, if you stay in here long enough?
No. 893925 ID: 4f1cbc

Remember you're not really here to map out the CAI for the bad guys. You're here to figure out a way to get it out.

You've learned something about how the CAI is held and what kind of access you're allowed to it, and you've got something of a read on one of the researchers.

That's enough for now- you should move on, and be learning more about the facility and the other factions at play here. You can't afford to lose yourself in your (interesting!) work when you have a real mission to think about.
No. 893928 ID: 1fbbcc

Your job is to be an assistant for Arza, and I notice he hasn't shown up while you were here. That's very peculiar, don't you think? Doesn't he need to learn this system as well? Isn't this also where he's supposed to be working? He didn't say anything about taking a long rest or meeting up with anyone first, unless I've missed something. So he should have turned up by now, right?

There's still a possibility that this room is some sort of trap. That CAI lockup story still doesn't make sense to me, and Raush dodged the question in a way that could as easily be "I can't make up a good story on the spot" as it is "I don't want to spread rumours". If the CAI was actually entirely active and in use, a system like this could just as easily be in place and able to produce this same output anyway, right? Maybe they just put together a bunch of stuff they already had available to create a little observation chamber for you. Or worse.

It's a small chance, I admit, but it's still there. You could leave and justify it by saying that the more work you all do separately the more the other two will have to be caught up, so it's best to work when at least two or preferably all three of you are there.

I'd also like to repeat the questions in >>892903 as to whether they're keeping the program actively running constantly, and if there are lesser/weak AIs helping to monitor and analyze the data.
No. 893929 ID: 708732

Is there even a clock in the room or some other form of time display, perhaps on the terminals you've been using?

Regardless, it's probably time to take a break and get some food. Catch up with Azra while you are at it and do NOT eat anything that Raush brings you.
No. 893931 ID: b38f01

Take your notes. Make a fake set of notes later. for when you bug out. Give them something to chew on and throw them off.
No. 893933 ID: 86eb65

While we want to have good documentation we don't actually want to help these assholes. Keep your best documentation personal on your goggles.

But you will need to contribute something big if you want privileges and access. This seems like a good start and this is not huge stuff anyways. Showing them a huge improvement in things this quickly will show them you are not just a pretty face.

Double check the time and continue if its not horribly late.
No. 893937 ID: ee2d6e

I'd say keep working on that software. If you have a greater knowledge of how it works, you'll have a greater knowledge of how to abuse it to come in contact with the CAI. Also, documenting it would fit rather well with assisting Arza, and it could also help manage your image into that of someone driven and focused.
No. 893946 ID: 15a025

Head back to Arza to catch up with each other.
No. 893949 ID: 0c3c2c

Yeah sure. Send in some food.

Also, fear that you're going to be locked in here and held prisoner. All it would take is hitting a single button and BOOM, instant prison cell.
No. 893950 ID: 094652

Eh, having one of your factions' messiahs screaming in a jail cell isn't good for their morale. Or productivity. Or security. Or incentive to not quit violently.

I'm more worried about the room itself - this is a lab, any number of experiments could be installed. Suggestive geometry, brainwave scanners, cameras in your spare panties, automated turrets out of the walls, etc.
No. 893951 ID: 1fbbcc

You really gonna eat anything you haven't either prepared or seen prepared yourself? Could have tracker nanites in it or something.
No. 893953 ID: b1b4f3

Or just sedatives. Gonna have to be careful when eating in an ASE-controlled space.
No. 893963 ID: 1fbbcc

The task of documenting the program itself could be a trap, too. Belenosians feel good learning things. The ASE has probably gotten really good at lulling people into focusing on the tasty knowledge instead of paying attention to everything else that should concern them.

Remember how Arza fell into this trap in the first place, Penn!
No. 895612 ID: bfb318
File 153316391953.png - (16.99KB , 800x800 , 980.png )

>Any chance of them figuring out your goggles eventually, if you stay in here long enough?
It wouldn't be reasonable.

Just cracking it is one thing, but to crack it without leaving a shred of evidence is difficult enough that there are better things to put on the list of top concerns.

Even off the wall things like if my food is drugged. I don't think Raush would do it, but I'm not going to take the chance.

"No thanks. We're leaving this program running, right?"
"Okay. Go ahead. I'll stay here for a little longer."

There's also small AIs helping sort data, but aside from doing some of the busywork, they won't do much.

Raush calls the heef guard, and the two of them go through the exit procedure to make sure Raush isn't carrying anything out.

I notice the lights dim soon after Raush leaves, but it occurs exactly at 7PM and is a gradual shift over about 10 seconds, so it appears scheduled and intentional. I keep it dim, as I prefer working this way.

Since I can't take anything out, I spend some time memorizing data and documentation. I don't document this as well as I could. After all, I don't want to legitimately help anyone here more than I have to.
No. 895613 ID: bfb318
File 153316392768.png - (47.88KB , 800x800 , 981.png )

I work to my satisfaction, then decide to leave. I want to know where Arza's been anyway. He acted as though he would show up later, not some other day.

When I call the heef on the intercom Raush used, I hear a ringtone, but no one picks up.
No. 895614 ID: 86eb65

He could be out for a lunch break. Or it could be something more sinister.

Could be as simple as a test by Vanski or someone else to see how you respond to the situation. Or as complicated as that Cai having hijacked the room and doing the same.

Treat it with calm indifference. You are sure to be watched. So make sure the watchers get the show that you want them to get.

Hang up and try again. Tell the phone you want to be let out once the guard gets back. Feel free to be snarky as Sapphire would probably be irritated at the inconvenience of being stuck for a bit.

Then consider other communication options. Worst case build something to call out while waiting. Or if there is a comfy chair or bed here take a nap.
No. 895615 ID: 3cc68c

Address the air/phone and say that you would like to be let out sooner rather than later.

That if they treat all there guest researchers like this its no wonder they have not made many breakthroughs.

(but be prepared for anything just in case)
No. 895616 ID: b38f01

Have yourself a seat and wait five minutes. Listen for movement out there.
No. 895617 ID: 4f1cbc

Could be some kind of power play by one of the factions of criminals. Could be the guard is legitimately away from his post (though that seems unlikely given what's going on). Could be the CAI is about to try something to reach out, and wants to make sure you don't leave yet (although that means it's compromised systems it's supposed to be isolated from).

Don't react visibly, assume you're still on camera and being watched by unfriendly eyes.

Stay on the phone, turn and look to the screen with the feed showing the tap on the CAI. Maybe there's something there they want to make sure you see.

Wait a few minutes to see if the guard (or anyone else) responds. If no one answers the call, we'll eventually reassess.
No. 895620 ID: bfb318
File 153316597412.png - (9.66KB , 800x800 , 982.png )

I hang up and try again. The ringtone continues.

"In case this ringtone is here for decoration and I'm supposed to speak, I'd like to be let out."

While on the intercom, I look around. The CAI feed is normal. If I'm stuck here, this place doubles as a panic room. Raush showed me a compartment with rations, as well as another compartment with a collapseable bed.

I doubt I could hear anything out there. Outside of this room, there is a scanning room, followed by a small entry room, and only then the halls where the heef was guarding. In other words, there are 3 doors, and they all seemed double layered and well sealed.

What I do find looking around is a square compartment by the door that had nearly invisible creases. I'm able to use a claw to open it.

When the door unlocked for Raush, I heard a beep. I didn't hear a beep this time, yet this keypad implies the door is unlocked.
No. 895622 ID: 86eb65

Its possible he left it open. Maybe they want to meet with you in secret and have set things up so you can leave without being noticed and then return without Vanski noticing that you left this room.

We know they are not happy with Vanski but he has not fucked up badly enough for them to remove him. Maybe they want to meet with you out of sight. The Cai is there baby and they might be tired of Vanski ruining all the breakthroughs they have had.

Try the door.
No. 895625 ID: 4f1cbc

This system should really be set up so the doors automatically lock when closed, and especially when someone cycles through the next door, like an airlock. Either this demonstrates serious negligence, or more likely, someone deliberately ensured this door would be open.

Given that, it seems likely that someone here is trying to test you. Assuming again this room is watched, I don't think you want to break protocol and try to leave without being cleared to do so. At least not this quickly. If it's Vanski or his allies checking if you can be trusted, immediately breaking the CAI's containment protocols won't help.

Less important, but wow, that keypad has no zero key, and is only 4 digits long. That's kind of weak security. Heck, there's not even a clear in case of a wrong entry.
No. 895626 ID: 0d45a9

We have to be cautious here, if Vanski is as paranoia about people as he is about the CAI then this is almost certainly a test. Close the keypad compartment and try the phone again, if you don't get a response wait a bit and try again, if not just sleep until morning.
No. 895627 ID: 3cc68c

Treat this as a silly test from Vanski unless you get evidence otherwise.

If Raush is trying to subtly set up some sort of meeting or whatever he can be less subtle next time.

Hmmm are there cameras in the airlocks? Would be hilarious if there were not any and Raush has been sitting in there for hours waiting for you to leave so he can talk to you in private.
No. 895628 ID: 1fbbcc

This may be a test. Maybe they want an excuse to not treat you so well. Maybe they want to see how you act. Everything in here is supposed to be monitored, right? Though... that is kind of odd. This place is supposed to keep anything from getting in or out. When you're dealing with an AI, isn't information not getting out something you have to worry about? A sequence of flashing lights or a sound beyond normally heard frequencies could be picked up by security and sent to somewhere or someone who could do something with it. Well, maybe that's too out there.

Lots of possibilities for what this all could mean. Whatever you do, don't panic. You must appear entirely cool and in control, and demonstrate rational actions. For example, you can probably try the door, see if it opens. If you don't actually go through it you have a case for not breaking their rules.

You could also sit down at the computer again, pretend to see something interesting, and announce out loud some urgent and fascinating piece of information that would tempt people to run in and see it. If the system is monitoring everything, you have proof that you were just pretending, and trying to get attention is something justified if you try a few other things to get out first and don't find a good option.

>Raush showed me a compartment with rations, as well as another compartment with a collapseable bed.

Well, that raises the disturbing possibility that this is your cage. Uh... is there a restroom in here? Maybe connected to the showers you had to go through to come in? I mean, even if this isn't some sort of observation chamber prison just for you, they wouldn't expect you all to come out through that whole process again just to take care of nature, right? But, then the plumbing would be a security hole. Hmm.

I'm kind of leaning towards the idea that this whole room is a test setup for you. The strangeness of the CAI arrangement, the fact that this room is all the way out here away from the busy areas with only one guard, Arza not showing up, Raush not being able to explain odd things (and notice how the first thing he said to you was "sorry"?), all your stuff being taken before you got to go in, only small AIs on a project that should need some proper hefty ones, all those wall monitors running when there aren't enough people to observe them, and now all this? I mean, it might not even be about you personally. Maybe they haze/initiate everyone in their organization with some escape-the-room puzzle game.

Interesting that that keypad doesn't have a 0 on it.

What else is in this room? What do all those wall monitors display?
No. 895629 ID: b38f01

Go ahead and try the door. Just peek out there.
No. 895633 ID: bfb318
File 153316877212.png - (18.96KB , 800x800 , 983.png )

I think about the security of this place, how the door doesn't relock automatically and how there's only 4 buttons on the keypad with no 0, and I stop before I disgust myself further.

Frankly even if the door did lock, I expect I could exit by typing '1111.'

I consider trying the door. After all, if I just open this one, I'll just see the scanning room. Then again, if this is just some test, even doing that much without leaving will harm whatever grade they give me.

I back off and inspect the living corner of the room. It has a bed, rations to hold out for a week for four people - so a month, if I stayed - and a deployable toilet. There's no shower. Unless they've reached new heights in security embarrassment, the septic system is completely self contained. There's nothing else of note in the room I can see. The wall monitors that are on, like the computers, continue showing CAI statistics.

The bed comes out easily enough.

I hear a beep near the door.
No. 895634 ID: bfb318
File 153316878027.png - (11.06KB , 800x800 , 984.png )

It was lower pitched beep than the unlock beep. The keypad indicates the door was just now locked. Maybe it was a test after all?

I try the intercom again.





At this point I either continue working and sleep until morning, or I type '1111' and check what's going on out there.
No. 895636 ID: 86eb65

You sort of can't check whats going on out there. You are locked in and the phone does not work.

Sigh loudly and roll your eyes at the camera and try the door.
No. 895638 ID: 0c3c2c

They're clearly fucking with you intentionally. This is annoying. If they thought you were a traitor, the smart thing to do with you would be to shoot you immediately, or drug you, or pump in gas or cut the power or anything.

Instead, they've decided to play mind games. I suspect the Salikai's involvement. Or maybe the Silhouettes are having a gunfight in the hall to try and capture you. Keep up the calls until you get tired, then go to bed. Nothing to be done but nap since you're stuck in this box.
No. 895639 ID: 1fbbcc

Wait, when did the beep happen? You just sort of commented suddenly on the beep being lower pitched.

If it was after you pulled the bed out, maybe the door is set to automatically lock if someone is sleeping. Perhaps put in place so that people who are paranoid enough to require it CAN sleep. Try putting it away again?
No. 895640 ID: 4f1cbc

Well, since it seems you're stuck in here for the time being, you might as well try to be productive.

Go mess with the CAI for another hour or something, and then try the phone again. No point checking it repeatedly on such a short interval. If no one shows up, sleep.
No. 895643 ID: 1fbbcc

Try "1111" just for giggles, anyway, and the other obvious "passcode I'll remember" options. You could also still try the prank pretend breakthrough see what response you get option. By the way, is that 2 brighter than the other numbers?
No. 895645 ID: 4ee93b

So you're trapped in a room, stocked with a month's worth the food and water, a bed and bathroom. In the middle of an enemy base.
Maybe you're trapped in there. Maybe they're trapped out there. Might be a good time to check and make sure all the equipment is working, I've never seen a lab that didn't have something busted in it, often something important.
You can also feign boredom and pick through the equipment housings, computer cases, etc. Never know what you might find inside or what someone left behind.
Alternatively you can punch random numbers into the pad and see if you can play a tune with key tones.
No. 895650 ID: bfb318
File 153317166822.png - (18.19KB , 800x800 , 985.png )

I look around the room in more detail, but the more intensive doesn't yield anything useful to the situation. The equipment appears to be in working order, although Raush told me about one computer that seemed to glitch on occasion. Another computer case has a screwdriver left in it.

I also put the bed away in case this is somehow linked to the locking system, but nothing happens.

After a few minutes, the intercom still doesn't have anyone pick up. I guess it's back to work. I stare judgmentally at the camera, and just for giggles, mash '1111' on the keypad -
No. 895651 ID: bfb318
File 153317167873.png - (21.23KB , 800x800 , 986.png )

No. 895652 ID: bfb318
File 153317168446.png - (13.43KB , 800x800 , 987.png )

No. 895653 ID: 86eb65

Scowl at it and mimic vacuuming all the air out of the room.
No. 895655 ID: 3cc68c


No no no that joke only works if the password was 1234 dummy.

Just say out loud that someone needs to be less subtle about things and you are not going to risk letting some asshole trap you in a airlock for the night. That they have 30 seconds to explain or you are just going to go to bed on the pull out.
No. 895656 ID: 4f1cbc


Shut the door and lock it (will mashing an 'incorrect' sequence work? Or does any input unlock it?), and then go to sleep, facing the door.

Prop the screwdriver against the door so even if the door opens silently, the screwdiver clattering to the floor will make a noise to wake you if someone opens the door while you're sleeping.
No. 895657 ID: 1fbbcc

Well, I for sure don't think it's a great idea to go to sleep alone around here. On the other hand I don't think it's a great idea to go out, either. When you were coming in, did you notice each door only opening when the others were closed? That would be the sensible security option, but this doesn't seem sensible.

It doesn't look like there's any way to actually open the other door, anyway. What is that at the side, though, a glass wall? And a mirror on the other one? You could at least poke your head through and take a look. Don't step in and be ready to pull your head back.
No. 895658 ID: 0c3c2c

"Explain in ten seconds or I'm going to bed."
No. 895659 ID: b1b4f3

Yeah I think we're just going to walk out.
No. 895662 ID: 91ee5f

Could it be possible that the CAI is trying to smuggle nanomachines out of here on your fur? Because if everything is disabled, then the next room’s cleaning functions wouldn’t be able to scrub away any nanomachines that might be in your fur.

Do your high tech goggles have any alternate viewing modes to let you see things differently? If there are alternate viewing modes, cycle through them while looking around the room to see if you can spot anything different.
No. 895663 ID: b38f01

"are you serious"
No. 895669 ID: 92681e

Say aloud and condescendingly "that's just pathetic"
No. 895673 ID: 8c1f9b

Should you not tell anybody about this so you can do it again later? It'll give you a really great alabi if you ever want to do something after lights out, you can claim you were working overnight in a locked room.
No. 895674 ID: 8c1f9b

By this I mean wait here overnight so we aren't spotted by any guards or have Raush asking how we got out.
No. 895675 ID: bfb318
File 153318035030.png - (9.81KB , 800x800 , 988.png )

"Just pathetic."

The only sensible security option I've seen here is that these doors only seem to open when the neighboring door is shut.

I do another pass around the room. These goggles aren't that high tech, or at least not AI enabled enough to help me search the room better.

The door shuts on its own after 5 seconds. I input '1874' and it opens again, so any input appears to work. This doesn't seem normal, but I'm not eager to tell anyone about the issue either, as it could come in handy.

The door shuts again, and I prop the screwdriver on the door so that it'll clatter to the floor and wake me up if the door opens again. Then again, it won't make much noise, so I prop a computer on it.

Then I go to bed. There's nothing I can deduct here. For all I know the CAI is trying to disable everything and smuggle nanomachines out of here on my fur. It's unlikely to say the least, and also not working.
No. 895677 ID: bfb318
File 153318040642.png - (41.88KB , 800x800 , 989.png )

I spring awake to an awful noise like - like the computer grinding on the door.

Arza's here. The computer slams on the ground.

>"Oh thank goodness, you're alive. Why was there a computer propped on the door? Nearly broke my feet."
"I wanted to improve the security."
>"Haha, no kidding, right?"
"Anyways, it'd be helpful to stay alive if you didn't almost scare me to death."
>"Yeah? Well someone shot Raush to death. The guard was dead too."
"What? Explain."
>"Right outside here. The whole security system around here got disabled, but some of the cameras stayed on, so people know you never left. So, you dodged multiple bullets, there."


".... are you going to explain more about why Raush and the guard are dead?"
>"That's pretty much all there is to it. I'd say that's what happens when your lab is so far deep in an otherwise unused testing facility, but no, that's really not supposed to happen at all."
No. 895679 ID: 91ee5f

You might as well explain to Arza what happened while you were in here. Start from when you tried to call the heef guard to be let out and continue all the up to when you fell asleep. You should get his input on the things that you observed in here.

>Raush and the guard are dead.
So does anyone know who shot them? Or why the security systems were disabled? Or if it’s safe to leave the room now?
No. 895680 ID: bb78f2

Great does that mean the base is on high alert and I have to go answer to Vanski for questioning?
No. 895681 ID: 8c1f9b

Well that's not an assassination attempt on you, there was nothing stopping them from coming in. Somebody's trying to frame you or intimidate you. Or Raush was in the wrong place at the wrong time and our gunman was getting away from something else.

Tell Arza you're going to get information from somebody who doesn't have a tendency to not tell you important details, delivered with as much scorn as you like. Can you leave now?
No. 895682 ID: 0c3c2c

Point out the complete absurdity of someone disabling all the security systems except the one THAT LETS THEM TRACK WHOEVER LEAVES. Clearly someone inside the base is murdering people and coming after you in specific. But why? The AI's out, it doesn't have access to guns. That leaves Arza, the Salikai, the Black Supernovas and all the other supervillains present.

The Silhouette Empire are out because unless they've suffered terminal stupidity poisoning, they shouldn't need to shoot their own employee.
No. 895683 ID: 4f1cbc

If the CAI is as valuable to Vanski and the ASE as it's supposed to be, why has a major security breach not resulted in a security response? I'd expect guards at the least.

Why was there even only a single guard?

...of course this means anyone in charge is now going to realize how lax the security is around the CAI and tighten it in response. That's not going to make our lives easier.

Only possible upside of this is Penn's miraculous bullet dodging might make her look good to certain people. They'll assume she somehow knew and avoided the danger (or that this was her doing).

There's only a few ways this bizarre sequence of events makes sense:
1) This was all a test, conducted by people who were more than willing to sacrifice two lower level minions to evaluate Penn
2) We just missed an escalation in the conflict between the various criminal political factions (which we need to get a handle on, badly and quickly)
3) The CAI pulled something

>You might as well explain to Arza what happened while you were in here.
Limit that. We don't necessarily want to monitors to know all our thoughts, or what we figured out or think of everything. Really, this isn't a good place to have an in-detail conversation at all, it would be better to relocate.
No. 895687 ID: c0641d

So it turns out it wasn’t a “kill us” trap, but rather a “make us the prime suspect in a whodunnit” trap. Are we allowed to examine the scene of the murders?
No. 895689 ID: b1b4f3

The security was disabled... that explains why you could put any code into the keypad that you wanted.
My guess is that someone wanted to cause a split between you and ASE, and figured you wouldn't stick around in here after the door started doing weird things. Yet, they didn't want to KILL you. It must be someone who wants to use you.
No. 895693 ID: 91ee5f

Where are Arza’s glasses? Doesn’t he need those to see?
No. 895704 ID: 1fbbcc

Gosh Arza, it sure is a coincidence you mysteriously disappeared around the time a couple of people who might have been in the way of your goals got murdered.

... Don't say that out loud, obviously. He's acting a bit oddly compared to how he usually seems. A little more... jovial? I would put it down to him being happy you're alive but if they could see you on security I'd imagine that would have been known the whole time. Maybe they thought someone had killed you and then placed you nicely in bed, or gassed the place after you went to sleep, but presumably they would have had good enough cameras to see you breathing.

Tell him it was far too easy to believe the security just had holes in it, given other things like the clothes requirement. Ask "What now, then?"

... Wait a minute does you having an alibi mean you're the only one who's not a suspect? Are you going to be asked to investigate this? Are you going to have to solve a murder mystery??? Probably not. I mean, presumably some other people also have alibis. But it's a weirdly fun thought. Not that this is the time or place for fun.
No. 895705 ID: 91e86c

So Raush is dead now, that's disappointing. If they let you inspect the body, you could say sorry back to him.
I get the feeling you're somewhat responsible for this.

Then at least figure out what's going on.
Find out what kind of mess you missed out on and you can use the ensuing chaos to your advantage, right?
No. 895707 ID: 094652

I think they're trying to make you a pariah without directly antagonizing you. If enough employees die near you, and especially not by your hand, then everyone in the base will think twice before getting within five feet of you; if they thought YOU did the murders, most would underestimate a recent graduate nerd with a psycho streak and flimsy arms. But this is a combat lab and anyone they can't see can kill them instantly, so it's like having an angry sniper dad constantly stalking you for boyfriends to kill at all times. So now you have less interaction with individual scientists, preventing you from gaining intel or making a gang of your own, while the guilty party ensures the other factions think twice before trying to win you over.
No. 895709 ID: 10c408

hoo, boy. Well. We shouldn't be the primary suspect. We did go through their security measures, on camera even, long before the murder took place and thus would have had no weapon.

"Please tell me that, pending an investigation, I can at least leave the lab."

Don't get involved with the investigation, we're not here to solve crime. We're here to eventually steal a black box and not get caught with our hand holding the cookie jar.
No. 895714 ID: 86eb65

I hope the local gangs are not fighting over who gets to talk to me first.

If this is going to be a normal thing I want better pillows in here.
No. 895721 ID: 2e1db2

There is a non zero chance Arza had them killed to open the stage for your solo performance. Not a bad idea honestly. If a bit horrible.

That being said it could have been all sorts of people. Best not to guess wildly.

"So is Raush's body slumped over dead just outside the airlock? His desperate face frozen in panicked horror as he desperately tried to get me to open the shitty door?"

"Because that is not how I hoped my first day here would go."

(remember that you are Sapphire now. This shit is annoying and life is cheap to you. We need to go yell at people with Arza about there shitty security)
No. 895763 ID: 2202fb


Not really. Rather than their entire moral compass changing, they can just choose to ignore it. Kind of like the ultimate poker face. Just because they can keep their expression and psyche under control doesn't mean they are actually evil.
No. 895765 ID: 86eb65


Well yeah. Its the fake Sapphire persona that we are cultivating. Is not how Penn actually thinks but what we want everyone else to see.

This is there first impression of Penn and she needs to appear tough.
No. 895766 ID: e7848c

So what does this mean for us?
No. 895817 ID: f03bdc

I think trying to look "tough" or going out of her way to appear ruthless or callous or cruel will work against Penn. I mean, being totally uncaring about these people's deaths would be kind of stupid - scientists and guards take time and money to train, and are difficult to replace if you're a criminal organization, especially an expert like Raush. She should aim to seem rational, and a rational person, even an amoral one, would be concerned about something like this, not annoyed or angry.
No. 895827 ID: bddb0f


Time to become a crime scene investigator! Was Raush killed coming or leaving? Was he killed in a timespan noticably before or after the guard? Was he interrogated/tortured for information? Who set up the security system? Who could've fiddled with the locks, cameras and everything else? Did anyone else get killed, or just Raush and the guard? Does Arza have any thoughts on what the consequences are going to be of this?

Raush seemed like he was one of ASE's aces on this project. Killing both him and the guard may indicate that sabotaging or stealing the CAI research was the purpose of this fatal fiasco. If so, you and Arza may also be a target now.
No. 895829 ID: 10c408

There's nothing to be gained from trying to fake an entire personality based around what we know of the sapphire emperor. NO ONE is going to buy it down. And the only people who MIGHT are also the ones who have tried to kidnap us before.
No. 895836 ID: 260e5b

Yeah, that's a bad idea. Don't try this.
No. 895899 ID: f03bdc

Just to say, another thing about acting annoyed, angry or disgusted: Penn has probably given a lot of thought to how someone who's... genetically similar to her might have done the sort of things Sapphire was supposed to do. Extreme feelings of disgust or contempt seem very likely to have been involved, and Penn does seem capable of those feelings as well. She's already mentioned that in her current mental state she sometimes has trouble seeing other people as people, so it may be that unlike most other emotions, she's actually still vulnerable to those feelings even now. So she should be careful.
No. 895923 ID: 9125e0

Shit we might have a Polo on the loose
we better call an exterminator to check all the vents and pipes
No. 895924 ID: 10c408


we're not quite at that point yet. Soon, though. But not yet.

No. 895955 ID: 9125e0

This may be an attempt to "silence" those involved with the CAI,And they may be trying to wack arza and others soon.And since your new they may have missed you.
not likely though because I think if that was the case no one involved would be alive I suspect.

Or more likely
Maybe this is a scheme to make people stay away from you as to isolate you,for some reason....
.conspiracy music insert here.
No. 895966 ID: c0641d

They were killed out in the hallway, right? If there’s an infiltrator, it could have been a case of wrong place, wrong time. What cameras are available to us, other than our own? Do they create their own sort of “locked room” in any way?
No. 896031 ID: 39e3f1

If there's a murderer around, you really need to learn some self-defense. I assume part of why you were reluctant before was because people are more likely to notice any peculiarities of your body when you do sporty things, but everyone knows who you are here. Find some guard or someone who seems unlikely to be part of any conspiracies and start learning. You'll probably be able to get more done switching between mental work with physical rest and physical work with mental rest. Besides, healthy body healthy mind. You're alright now but you can always improve.

Speaking of people knowing who you are here, the fact they put floating names above people's heads suggests there's some sort of database people can access, since the names themselves wouldn't be that useful. You should look yourself up and see what other people who have access to that data here would know and/or think they know about you, sometime soon.
No. 896199 ID: 2007b6

Get in touch with someone from the ASE, yell at them for being incompetent, demand to be personally involved in the immediate redesign of this security system. Whoever that shooter was could easily have walked in to the lab and murdered you in your sleep... at least, if not for your own, independent precautions.
No. 896816 ID: 15a025

It sounds like there's nothing really stopping us from leaving the lab with some files then?

Might be a little too risky in case this is just a test.
No. 896817 ID: d5b3fe

Yelling won't achieve anything good.

Tell you what, though, Penn, you could use this to suggest the CAI study room be relocated. Clearly, the danger isn't being in the room, it's the space just outside the room, which is so distant from anywhere else and open and perfect for some murders. You could argue that it be relocated somewhere closer to the action... but that wouldn't serve your purposes well, so the next thing would be to say it should be relocated somewhere secret. I mean, extra secret. That way you'll still get some isolation, and the need for secrecy will mean lower security in order not to draw attention. If someone does suggest relocating closer to the action, you can say it would give too much opportunity for some saboteur to work in flaws while the security is being built.
No. 897121 ID: 007054

Since there is almost definitely a camera in this room that was able to clear your name, there's no way you can steal the CAI currently regardless of how the information is flowing. See if you can ask after getting a backup security system in place that can keep those doors shut to prevent this happening again with you as a fatality.
No. 897239 ID: d61f23

^ i meant to say ask if one CAN be set up, not ask to just take the cai once one's set up
No. 897344 ID: badd9b

Well with people getting shot this may be the start of a descent, I would grab some rations just in case
No. 900023 ID: bfb318
File 153585884953.png - (14.31KB , 800x800 , 990.png )

"Am I a suspect?"

Arza activates the light.

>"The cameras implied you were in here, but since we can't trust much, you're still a suspect, just not as high up on the list as the proximity might make you think."
"And why was there only one guard here?"
>"Probably because this was supposed to be a safe panic room."
"Then I hope I'm allowed to leave."
>"Not yet, but in 15 minutes after they finish scanning out there for biosamples. Nothing much to look at out there now, not with the naked eye. I had to come in here with a hazmat and everything." He realizes he was adjusting glasses he's not wearing. "Though I did bring my regular clothes for when we leave."
"Is it even safe to leave?"
>"I hope so, haha. Also, the cameras are up and running again."
"I wasn't impressed with the security even before this. Can we add in some - "
>"I'm not in charge of security, Penn. Vanski is in most areas, so you'd have to lecture him! And as it happens, you'll have a chance. They want to ask you some things, and Vanski said he'd like to personally see you. He emphasized that you have an option whether to talk to him or someone else."


>"And if you do talk to him, don't actually lecture him on security. People have been screaming at him about securing the place all day."
No. 900030 ID: 86eb65

Lets talk to Vanski. Be polite and talk about your experience honestly.

Mention the security but do not yell. Think of suggestions to fix things instead. Impress him. Show him that you are a logical scientist and are more interested in having a safe place to work than assigning blame.

Getting Vanski to like/trust you would be a big help if you can pull it off.
No. 900032 ID: 4f1cbc

Talking to Vanski is probably a terrible idea, but we really do need to get a read on him. It's too bad you haven't had time to develop the persona you're using here more.
No. 900041 ID: b1b4f3

Let's not talk about the security to Vanski. That's wasting his time.
No. 900046 ID: 0c3c2c

Do not under any circumstances talk to Vanski about security, he's a genocidal maniac cyborg who lives in an underground lair. He would happily murder and clone us.
No. 900049 ID: 7cf41b

There are other things to talk to Vanski about besides security. What happened to make the CAI so untrustworthy, for example, since Raush is dead. The plan to make money and contacts learning about your body that was laid out in >>891281 is also an idea.
No. 900151 ID: bfb318
File 153593427275.png - (33.24KB , 800x800 , 991.png )

"I'll talk with him."
>"Good. Let's go, then."

Like Arza said, the crime scene looks as clean as when I entered this place.

This place does seem a lot more alive, now. Various guards from various factions are looking busy. I see arkots with cameras strapped to themselves crawling in and out of vents. What I recognize as voklits look like they've been put in charge of making sure the arkots stay busy. A few guards stay with us.
No. 900152 ID: bfb318
File 153593429017.png - (32.96KB , 1200x800 , 992.png )

Arza waits outside, and I'm shown into Vanski's office, alone.

>"Ms. Hoff, correct?"
"Correct. Do you go simply by Vanski?"
>"Yes, family names are an oddity for the Salikai here. Did you have anything to do with Raush's death?"
"Not directly, but he offered me to join him for dinner, and I wonder what would have happened if I accepted."
>"Maybe he'd be alive, but I think that, instead, you'd be dead as well. I don't know why anyone would want Raush dead, but he was an important person. It's safest to assume there's a reason. The heef outside of the door was a nobody, and nothing was stolen in the area except the murder weapon. For some reason, someone wanted Raush dead. We reviewed the tapes and know the conversations you had with him already, but can you think of any reason why anyone would want him dead? Also, if your name is Penn Hoff, I want to talk to Penn Hoff, not whatever this Sapphire Emperor business is about. Please put your contacts on."
No. 900154 ID: 094652

"I'm leaving the contacts off because I'm Penn, sir. I'm not the Empress in disguise, and I never was. If it makes you feel better, you can talk to a weird-eyed girl like she's your fresh-outta-college egghead employee - and she is - and get away with it."
No. 900156 ID: 0c3c2c

"My eyewear isn't relevant to the case at hand."

Don't be an idiot and intentionally compromise yourself. You're Penn, whatever anyone else says, fancy specs or no.

Anyway, tell him the truth: You have no clue who would want Raush dead or why.

To be honest, Vanski becomes the prime suspect in this case. He's emotionally unstable, violent and he has total control over the base's security. He's the only person who could kill someone and conceal all evidence. This base is run by a CAI and loaded with gunturrets and robots, and the local planetary government can't do shit, nor does anyone else know this place is here. If it were one of the other criminal groups they couldn't sabotage the security systems without leaving behind evidence.

Still, just say you don't know who would kill Raush and you only knew him for a few hours.
No. 900157 ID: 4f1cbc

>I want to talk to Penn Hoff, not whatever this Sapphire Emperor business is about. Please put your contacts on.
This is unusually shrew for Vanski- to date, we haven't seen very any examples of him being good at social stuff.

"'Penn Hoff' is a mild mannered college student who wouldn't be caught dead within a mile of this facility, Vanski. If you want honesty, the socially acceptable mask I wear in public isn't the way to get it."

>can you think of any reason why anyone would want him dead?
"I didn't know Raush or any of the possible subjects well enough to seriously speculate. He was killed directly after interacting with me, which suggests my arrival here might contribute to the motive. But then again, someone who wanted Raush dead for other reasons might have timed the attack so as to deflect suspicion."
No. 900158 ID: 86eb65

I am just Penn Hoff. The Sapphire emperor thing is a label I got stuck with due to a accident of birth. But down here it helps keep me safer I think. The only reason I ever hid the eyes was because I was hunted.

Why exactly do you want me to put them back in? Are my eyes that odd to look at? I know that you have extensive files on me but I do not have a split personality cause by these contacts.

While my eyes might be unique I am honestly just a Ai scientist that loves my work.

As for reasons for his death I can think of a few:

1. Someone was angry that Raush got to hang out with the glorious Sapphire emperor first.
2. Someone wanted me to not have his help.
3. One of the many Belenosian factions want to test my reactions to the situation.
4. Someone wants the Cai project to fail. Thinking a fresh student would be lost without Raush's help.
5. Someone wants you personally to fail and this is just part of that scheme.
6. Raush new something that he would have eventually told me that someone does not want me to know.
7. Someone wants to implicate me in his death to discredit me or Arza.
8. His death was unrelated to me or the Cai. Something else was going on and he was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
9. ASE killed him to frighten or control or influence me.
10. Polo got in the vents.
No. 900160 ID: c0641d

I agree that all of these are plausible (though you might want to combine some of them to keep constant vocal reminders of your self-stated importance on the down-low). Except the last one, because Penn doesn't know that. Replace that point with this one: "It's also possible that Raush was killed for personal reasons. He may be a scientist working for a nebulous faction, but I can't imagine he doesn't have a life outside of that. Though granted, that seems less plausible unless this theoretical personal enemy would go so far as to murder a guard just to get at him."

"What I can say for certain about this from the onset is that either A: Someone desperately wanted him dead; enough that killing a guard to get at them isn't a deterrent factor, B: Someone really wanted the guard dead for some reason, enough to take out an important scientist with him, or... C... Someone is here who really shouldn't be, and needed to keep their very presence secret at all costs... I can't say more unless I make my own inquiry, and I do very much want to make my own inquiry. During what is supposed to be my free time, if necessary."
No. 900173 ID: b38f01

Don't grate against him. He can still easily get rid of you. Explain you are Penn Hoff while getting your contacts out. Being without contacts just makes it easier to keep cool. Apply contacts. Hope he let's it go.
No. 900179 ID: e176c9

I am Penn Hoff. You can deal with me or not. Not feeling intimidated, are we?
No. 900193 ID: 977456

Ehh, the contacts are an aid, not actually and on/off switch. Giving Vanski the impression that they completely change Penn's identity might be advantageous, and being more personable might not go astray. It isn't as though Pen can't just pretend that the contacts aren't there. It would likely mess up the mental conditioning that she uses to be "herself" to ignore them like that, but she can almost certainly fix it given extended downtime. Then again, refusing to take them off might better sell the idea that they are a control switch.

But honesty? I would like to give Vanski the chance to state his case to "Penn". Enough rope to build a bridge or hang himself, either way is beneficial...
No. 900200 ID: 3cc68c

Yes my name is Penn Hoff.

I am also one of the most closely studied creatures in existence. And anyone with any access to my files could find out just about anything that is known about me.

Of course those readers might get some wrong ideas about my contacts and why I wear them.

I am a simple scientist who just happens to be "very" closely related to someone very famous.

But they are just a long dead relative and whoever programmed your title system is a bit to much of a nerd with there naming conventions.

Lets start over. "Nice to meet you Vanski. I am Penn Hoff."
No. 900242 ID: 9b7f98

"I am always Penn Hoff, sir. This persona is only how I appear when I am controlling my emotional responses, and is not intended to have anything to do with Sapphire or project appearance of such. Perhaps it does somehow, but I don't know. I would like to find out, among other things, and have a proposition for you regarding that, but for now unless you make a normal routine of asking people to give vent to their every impulse I assure you this conversation will be more productive for both of us without my contacts."

Take out your contacts while you do this but don't put them in until you've explained and if he insists. If you do have to put them in... be brave, Penn! You can do it!

For the murder, I think these reasons are plausible >>900158 but would add to them the possibility that it wasn't Raush specifically who was wanted dead, that perhaps he was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, but it might still have had something to do with Penn or Arza or the CAI. Perhaps someone was targeting Arza, or Penn, or was in the area attempting to find a way to access the CAI (or of course for all Penn knows perhaps there's something else in the area that's important enough to kill over). Raush may have just been an inconvenient witness who had to be silenced. If someone had been preparing to kill Raush specifically, in that particular place, then they probably could have arranged to distract the guard or to dispose of Raush's body; hence, perhaps they weren't prepared? If you (Penn) had been planning to kill Raush, for example, you would have lured him somewhere more remote. I suppose Penn or Arza could still be implicated by way of not having had time to prepare anything, but neither of you seem like you'd be hasty murderers. You're scientists, which disposes you to be systematic.

While you're here: "If you've heard my conversations with Raush, you know I had questions for him he wouldn't or couldn't answer. Would you?"
No. 900256 ID: 39e3f1

Technically, if he's using titles, he should have called you "Dr. Hoff", but you don't care and neither does he. Still would have been nice to say something like "Technically Dr. Hoff but call me what you like", just to assert a little respect.

Speaking of respect, I think you shouldn't put your contacts on. All else aside, it's a question of setting a precedent of behavior. Vanski is not your boss. You are an assistant to a contractor that he has (presumably, somehow) hired, and though this puts you at a lower rank than him, your ranks are not within the same hierarchy and he does not have direct authority over you. You are doing him, or someone leaning on him, a service - one for which you have already been put to significant inconvenience, for dubious reward. Frankly, just being barely polite to him is somewhat more than he might expect, from an objective viewpoint. You should show respect to him, since you are working on his property and presumably someone somewhere in the chain above you is being compensated somehow (and because he employs big people with big guns), but it's not proper for him to give you orders; theoretically, you don't take orders from anyone except Arza. He knows this, which is why he's making a request. If it was a request related to your job, or directly related to the investigation of the killings, you'd really need to acquiesce, but it's not. He's basically acting you to talk and behave in a certain way, which is not really in the range of what he can reasonably expect you to just say yes to. It's like if a detective interrogating a witness to a crime asked them to sit up straight and tuck their shirt in. It's not relevant to expectations. But, if you did do it, it would set a precedent of obedience. You might come off as a little rude now if you refuse, but if Vanski develops an expectation of you being obedient then any future refusals by you will offend him far more. So I think you should politely decline.

It seems likely that Arza is actually being threatened to comply with things and be helpful, but it's entirely plausible that the innocent young graduate Penn Hoff wouldn't know her mentor's full situation. If you don't know it, the same threat can't be used against you (at least not for minor things), because in order to do so the person doing the threatening would have to tell you all about it, and these people all play their cards close to the chest by habit.

As for the deaths - I lean towards Raush being unlucky, not the deliberate target. Several reasons:
1) Place of death. Raush has been here a long time and should have relatively high freedom of movement. Why kill him right outside a place with a ton of security features, and in front of a guard, when you could kill him somewhere more convenient?
2) Method of death. He was shot. You don't need a gun to kill a nerd like Raush. Anyone who premeditated his death could have easily arranged for him to be strangled, bludgeoned or poisoned. A gun could have attracted attention - this place is literally covered in sensors that could pick up the shot, even if it was some sort of energy weapon.
3) The guard. Guards are specifically trained and equipped both to protect other people from being killed and to not be killed themselves. If your target isn't the guard themselves, then you don't want to have a guard anywhere nearby when you're aiming to kill someone. Again, why not wait for Raush to move further away, or otherwise make sure the guard isn't a threat?
4) The door. Someone made sure the door was open for Penn to come out, if she had decided to. Anyone capable of hacking the door would have known enough to only do so if they knew the guard wasn't able to open the door. The guard opened the door for Raush, so the guard was there when he left, and the position of the crime scene suggests they were probably killed then, before Raush managed to get any further away. Raush and the guard were killed together, and THEN someone made sure the door was open. Unless there was a third party just taking advantage of the situation, which seems unlikely, then whoever killed Raush didn't want to ONLY kill Raush.
5) Time of death. Again, Raush has been here a long time. If someone just wanted to kill him, why not do it before now?

If someone was being targeted, in all likelihood, it was Arza. He was supposed to have been in there with Penn and Raush, by that time, so someone without access to the security footage could easily have assumed he would be - and that he'd have enough business with people in the rest of this place that he'd have to leave again relatively soon. He's older and has more history and is more likely to have caused someone to have a reason to want to kill him. Penn is less threatening and more valuable alive.

It's also possible that someone was just trying to get into the room, and the occupants were irrelevant. They killed the guard to secure the entrance, Raush because he was a witness, and then tried to get in. They succeeded only in hacking the inner door and were forced to give up and leave.

If we rule out a random hacker taking advantage of the guard's death to unlock the room, and that someone capable of killing the guard could have happened to also have the skills and equipment to hack the door, then we can assume the whole thing was premeditated. But, not premeditated far enough in advance or by someone with sufficient resources to have been able to have made things easy on themselves by avoiding things that would have made things more difficult. It suggests multiple people, at least. It's possible the guard was on the hacker's side, and was betrayed afterwards leaving only the hacker, but if that was the case the guard would have been warned Raush was coming out and would have been able to hold things off until he left. Unless Raush forgot something and came back unexpectedly? With more information like exact time, how the guard died, position of the bodies and so on, we could say more.
No. 900264 ID: 39e3f1

Oh, another thing: if you do put on your contacts, or if you don't but want to plan for if you do, perhaps you could consider constructing a new personality? I wouldn't normally ask that of everyone, but it seems likely you're pretty mentally amazing, and you did do well in that halloween murder mystery when you got into the role and kept your confidence. A person naturally changes their behavior and mentality when placed in a new social situation, so some shift is going to happen anyway. Why not try guide it into something useful? If there's an act you can put on, some more confident and capable-feeling character you can pretend you're pretending to be, perhaps things would be easier for you.

You're infiltrating/participating in a criminal organization, so perhaps a more criminally inclined identity? Not like, a bad one - your goals have to stay good. But, like, a rogue. Someone who can easily sneak and sabotage and deceive but who, in the end, leaves the planned crime foiled and the other crooks helpless for the authorities to pick up while she escapes with their stuff. You are a professional maker of minds, after all. Imagine the kind of AI personality you'd build to achieve success in a simulated version of the situation you're in, and then try to be that yourself, gathering whatever knowledge you need to help do so if need to and you can. At the very least, imagining that you're playing a role in a virtual reality simulation might help you achieve a level of necessary detachment independent of whether you have your contacts in or not. I believe you're capable of that kind of doublethink if you need to be, Penn.
No. 900278 ID: 2d1231


>Be Penn.

While I'm sure we took a course on psychology, ethics, and other things that would help explain that yes, technically we are Penn despite it all, even if Penn might be better known as more of an ego parallel to this one ...

... we might as well. Just warn him that you may become more emotionally imbalanced (than already you are). It's only fair to our host.

>Reasons Raush is dead

Nothing in particular comes to mind, but had he inadvertently provided critical or otherwise secretive knowledge to us, his benefactors or whomever he holds allegiance to may have seen fit to ensure his silence.

The dinner invitation could just as well have been a means to separate us and ensure we could be provided further details, were this indeed an attempt at conspiracy.
No. 900294 ID: d328bb

>walls of text
Nah. Besides being dull, let's not give Vanski more to analyze.

Saying your eyewear isn't relevant is good. Tell him you can't think of any particular reasons beyond what he's already said about Raush being important. Saboteur, probably.
No. 900298 ID: 4f1cbc

Yeah, this guy is right. Our aim here is to try and get information out of Vanski, or prompt him to speak, not give him a good read on Penn, who frankly is inexperienced at social espionage stuff, even if she can use her non-contacts as a kind of crutch. We're not here to give a speech.

Polite refusal to put your contacts back in, possibly with an excuse, and a nice non-answer about who might have killed Raush is the way to go.
No. 900301 ID: bb78f2

I don't have split personality disorder sir. My personality isn't going to change much, unless you're referring to how masks effect psychology and that NOT wearing the contacts is like wearing a mask for me since I've become so comfortable with the contacts vs. having them off.

Unless your own studies on my species have concluded the the Sapphire gene splicing actually lets me tap INTO the Sapphire's psyche when I'm most in tune with him in appearance. Which... well I guess its neat you know that.
No. 900304 ID: 9b7f98

>walls of text
No-one's given more than a smallish paragraph of something for Penn to say, the wall of text suggestions so far are theories and thoughts for Penn to be aware of.

If Penn can insinuate herself into a position to solve this mystery, it would be a good way for her to quickly establish a reputation for being smart and capable, and put Vanski and possibly others in her debt (or blackmailing list). Since the person who did this seems likely to be targeting Penn or Arza or the CAI anyway, they're also someone Penn can work against with a clear conscience. This is much too valuable an opportunity to get some street cred for her to pass up!
No. 900376 ID: 2007b6

"No, I can't figure out any reason anyone would want Raush dead, but as I'm sure you're well aware, I'd only known him for a few hours and we talked about technical matters, not politics."
Leaving ambiguous the implication that you think the room was bugged.
"As for my contacts, how would you feel if someone asked you to put on greasepaint makeup and a wig so they could talk to 'the real Vanski' instead of whatever this owner-of-the-CAI business is about? You're you, and I'm me, and here we are in this office, speaking privately. Everyone has faces."
No. 900432 ID: 6b3739

I imagine that putting in our contacts and trying to get ourselves into the kinder mindset would be best right now, considering we're not likely to get much out of him if we're listening in our purely detached mindset.
No. 900433 ID: e176c9

If you put on the contacts you'll be more easily intimidated. Whether or not this is his intention, you don't want to end up saying too much. If he's got a problem, remind him he's the one who wanted to interview you personally.
No. 900439 ID: b1b4f3

Tell him honestly that taking off your contacts just makes it easier to focus and stay calm. It's dissociation, not a new personality. Plus, people around here won't persecute you for your eyes so that's a plus.
No. 900508 ID: 977456

Deploy paranoia! A hostile militia has infiltrated the base and is picking us off one-by-one!
No. 900638 ID: 10c408

Do you even have your contacts with you, Penn?

Anyways... hoo boy. Since we do technically work for Vanski, we're gonna have to comply with his request.

"Very well, but I think you'll find me to be a poor conversationalist."

Try not to have a nervous breakdown, Penn. We believe in you!
No. 900679 ID: 768027

Use his words against him

"With your logic Vanski, 'Penn Hoff' was not at the scene and therefore has no need to be present."
No. 901950 ID: bfb318
File 153712876323.png - (16.71KB , 800x800 , 993.png )

"The contacts normalize my thoughts to a plain, upstanding college graduate that would never be caught within ten miles of a place like this. Without them, I disassociate, for lack of a better word. It's not an alternate personality. I am Penn Hoff, though I'm typically called Dr. Hoff."
>"Alright, Dr. Hoff. I won't ever make you put your contacts on, but I may ask again. For now, what possibilities about Raush can you think of?"
"Maybe someone didn't want me to have Raush's help or knowledge, or for Raush to be with me. Maybe they wanted to test my reactions, for the cai project to fail, for me or you to be implicated, or to make me more controllable or fearful. Or an enemy of this whole place snuck in and Raush was in the wrong place at the wrong time."

At the mention of the last possibility, one of Vanski's claspers twitch like an eye would and rapidly thumps against his sofa before another clasper swats it to keep it calm.

"Or it was an attempt on Dr. Fletch. I expected him to be there by that point, so maybe the assassin thought the same. I have no idea who would target Raush, or think that was a good place to kill him?"
>"Raush was usually in the company of others. The assassination was a surprise, but where it took place wasn't. You might be in danger. I would like to move you closer to the CAI, maybe directly to where the CAI is stored. I can convince ASE of it. Your job would be much easier there, anyway. I only have one stipulation. I interview you with your contacts on. I believe you when you say you don't have an alternate personality, but that only makes me more interested to see Penn Hoff's personality, not hidden behind a layer of, for lack of a better word, disassociation."
"If I don't?"
>"Then you can go back to the external lab at your leisure. You may also request dedicated guards for yourself."
No. 901953 ID: 094652

"Fair enough, I was going to act like a slutty secretary-intern to the CAI anyway, get them distracted. Question: do any of the CAI personalities have a hard-on for the Emperor? Maybe some cosplayers, even?"
No. 901954 ID: 86eb65

"That seems like a oddly personal request. I thought Salikai were supposed to be creatures of pure logic? Making my job easier and safer has no downsides that require it to be gated behind such a personal condition."

"That being said if something so simple makes my job easier and safer I might consider it. If you can give me a logical reason for your request."

(So Penn can you interview with contacts on? You know yourself best. Would it be a good idea? Or should you avoid it at all costs?)

If you can handle him asking you difficult questions about the real you it should be worth it to have safer easier access.

He might ask why you are here. If you sympathize with Arza or the Cai. He knows Arza wants to free the Cai. Arza has been openly trying for years and has a huge amount of power here. And he knows you are Arza's student. If you deny that fact he will know you are lying to him. You need to tell him as close to the truth as possible. (not mentioning you are planning on taking them all down if possible)

That yes you want to help Arza get enough influence to openly take possession of his Ai children. Within the rules of this place so that no bridges need to be burned.

After that you have no idea. You will play it by ear.
No. 901955 ID: b38f01

That interview will probably only serve to frustrate you with my bumbling and awkwardness. If that is what you want, we can do that.
No. 901957 ID: 977456

Why would Vanski even care? "Getting one over on us" would likely backfire once the contacts came out. Anything he could discern from an interview would likely be visible on the public record, there should be no shortage of observations of Penn that he has access to.
Could it be that Vanski liked what he heard of Penn and wanted to meet her socially?
No. 901958 ID: 0c3c2c

This is a clever manipulation. Implying you're in danger of assassination in the CAI Lab as well as offering direct access to the CAI. He's clearly onto Arza's plotting, but he can suspect all he damn well pleases.

There is no rational reason to reject being moved to a more secure area. This does, however, make me absolutely certain that Vanski killed Raush just to make sure this happens.
No. 901959 ID: debc40

Perhaps Vanski is aware of the fact that he's spent too much time with criminals and conspirators and wants the chance to see what a normal member of galactic society would think of him and his operation. I don't think it's very likely, but maybe? Anyway, don't buy the "deal". He's offering to do something that if he has any sense he wants to do anyway, and the fact that he's making the offer to YOU and not Arza - your superior, who should be the main man of the project now - makes it seem very likely that you're not the one making the decision. Turn it around on him to get something worthwhile.

"If you want to get good use out of me and Arza, moving us closer to the CAI and into safety is in your and the ASE's interest as much as it is mine; I'd expect you to be scrapping that lab anyway, now that it's been proven insecure. So if I am, frankly, suspecting you to be offering something you plan to give anyway, why should I take the deal? Let me give you a counteroffer. You seem to want to find out more about me: I want to find out more about myself. The woman who studied me when I was young falsified her information and disposed of what she really discovered. I want to know what she knew, and anything else that may have developed as I finished growing. I don't want the ASE involved, they'd be biased. Lend me a medical team to examine my capabilities. We'll talk about the potential profit split of selling any such data later. It could work out well for you. That said, I should give you a warning: with my contacts on, I'll likely behave like any other socially inexperienced, mildly traumatized young college graduate who got pulled into a secret illegal laboratory and exposed to threat of death would, and it is entirely within the range of possibility that I will start crying, throw up on your floor or simply pass out. I may also need some help calming down enough to take my contacts back out. Buyer beware."
No. 901970 ID: debc40

Alternate things you could ask for in exchange for the contacts interview:
- Vanski tells you why the CAI was trusted to hack into a warship and is now locked away (keeping in mind it's entirely possible it HASN'T been locked away and that's all still a trick);
- Vanski promises to show all his real feelings without controlling them for as long as you have your contacts in, since that's effectively what he's asking you to do;
- Vanski finds someone who can train you a bit in fighting/self-defense, and lets you pick out a piece of personal defence gear once you have an idea what you'd like;
- Vanski gets you access to a more general supply of Forbidden Science Knowledge that you wouldn't have had access to as a student, beyond the AI research stuff you're probably going to get anyway, so that you can swot up and learn various practical things such as if there's some advanced hacking shenanigans you're not aware of and could be vulnerable to;
- Vanski tells you the general ultimate aims of the projects you've seen and promises to listen to your critique and discuss your philosophical differences in a civilized manner (that is, not get upset or tune you out when you rant about how dumb things are);
- Vanski tells you everything he knows and suspects about the ASE's various plottings and schemings;
- Access to request equipment and permission to wear something you decide on rather than that black lab coat.

Remember, "I can convince ASE of it" probably means "I already convinced ASE of it", or possibly "ASE convinced me of it but I'm pretending it was my idea".
No. 901971 ID: b1b4f3

Refuse. Tell him you don't know why he'd want to talk to you in a state where you could have a panic attack at any second. Is he trying to humble you? See you at your weakest? That is not necessary for your work, and you're content with working from the ground up when it comes to the CAI, analyzing it from every angle. Plus, you think you have a good chance negotiations with the ASE going well after putting in some work.
Basically he's offering to TRY to convince the ASE to let you have direct access. There is no guarantee here, and he could in fact pretend to fail and give you nothing in return for exposing yourself.

Secretly, realize that he wants you to put them on so that he can poke at you and see if you have any emotional reaction to the CAI's current situation. After all, you are here with Dr. Fletch, who he should know at least spoke with Likol. I expect it would be difficult to hide your true feelings.
No. 901990 ID: 3cc68c

He flinched hard when you implied that Polo might be lurking in the vents. He is scared she might escape his plans and hunt him down personally. Something to remember for later.

As for the deal.

"No deal. Why would I bargain for something you will end up giving me anyway? Your proposal is the only logical one. If you want progress that is what will happen regardless."

"As for Penn Hoff? She is a girl who loves her work and would rather not be here. But you know what? This is where the job is. If I want any chance to actually work with real Ai in my lifetime its here and now. I made that choice with my contacts on if you want to know."
No. 902386 ID: afdebc

>"Maybe someone didn't want me to have Raush's help or knowledge, or for Raush to be with me. Maybe they wanted to test my reactions, for the cai project to fail, for me or you to be implicated, or to make me more controllable or fearful. Or an enemy of this whole place snuck in and Raush was in the wrong place at the wrong time."
Or maybe someone wanted Raush dead for their own reasons and killing him near the CAI or near me provided a sufficient smokescreen for their personal motive.

Frankly there's way too many plausible motives to speculate without additional data to narrow things down.

>I would like to move you closer to the CAI, maybe directly to where the CAI is stored. I can convince ASE of it. Your job would be much easier there, anyway. I only have one stipulation. I interview you with your contacts on.
"Were I still in an academic setting I might have to accuse you of impropriety. Granting access to a secure area in exchange for a younger female agreeing to dress a certain way?"

Tactically agreeing to the interview seems a terrible idea, and Vanski's interest and dangling as big a caret as more direct CAI access is very worrying. What does he know, and why is this so important to him? That said, if Penn can keep her head, this could be very interesting.

>You may also request dedicated guards for yourself.
"Given that any guards would be drawn from the same pool as the potential suspects, I don't see their presence as markedly improving my safety, no thank you."
No. 902387 ID: 65c9b9

I don't care to put my contacts on at this time, but I still want to be moved closer to the CAI my work will be easier to do there and I am here to work not worry about stupid politics
No. 902393 ID: 363437

No. He has not earned that sort of trust.

And blackmailing you with safety will not earn it.

Do not show him that he can push you around.
No. 902459 ID: 0d45a9

I believe Vanski is trying to probe for ulterior motives regarding the CAI, using information ASE gave him from observations they did of us, using the contacts as an angle, and the CAI as bait.

The way I see it he's giving us a choice: Short term risk for rapid gain towards our goals, with the risk being we get coerces or pressured into saying stuff with our contacts on. Or potential suspicion of hiding something and having to do things the hard way. We're infiltrating here, so we can afford to go the long way, decline the interview and cover it by saying at this stage there's still plenty you can do remotely.

The question about bodyguards may also be interpreted as: Do you want to have someone personally watching you? We don't want that, but outright declining may seem suspicious, so a non-committal: I'll consider it, about bodyguards may work.
No. 902478 ID: 2007b6

"Alright, sounds like we have a deal! You pull some strings, get me into the same room as the CAI, with broad permission to work on it from all concerned, then I'll put my contacts back in and you can ask 'Penn Hoff' whatever questions you want. Fair warning, she might suffer a panic attack rather than responding effectively, but I can completely respect someone's need to collect even the seemingly useless parts of a dataset."
No. 902532 ID: bfb318
File 153749062968.png - (26.99KB , 1000x700 , 994.png )

"By the CAI, where I can do real studies, is the only logical place for me to be if you want progress. What is your rationalization for such a personal request?"
>"It's just that, a personal request. Don't overestimate how much I want Arza and you here. I have other things to worry about than a nearly unusable CAI. If you don't want to, then I'll set up better security for the lab you've been in."
"How about a counteroffer? I want to know more about my physical state, but ASE is biased."
>"To state the least."
"Do you have a medical team?"
>"I have a few biologists that have completed practitioner courses. You may use them and their equipment too, as part of the deal."
"I also want to know why, after the CAI was locked away for so long, it was trusted with a nuclear armed warship."
>"I'll tell you."

He says it reluctantly. I can't push my demands any farther, not safely anyway. As far as I can tell, he's honest. I just have to hold it together for a moment to tell whether or not he's lying.

"I might throw up on your carpet, or pass out."
>"I have janitors and doctors alike."
"... Alright, but there's one other thing."
>"Say it."
"Any guards would be drawn from the same pool as the potential suspects. I don't see them improving my safety."
>"No. I may not know who did it, but I know of a good number of people who definitely didn't."
"Nonetheless, I'm not any more impressed about it." It's just more eyes on me. "I don't care for special bodyguards. If I were in academia, I'd consider this a case of impropriety."
>"I've never been in academia, Dr. Hoff, but it was an offer, not a demand. That's just more manpower I can put elsewhere."
"Then give me a moment."
No. 902533 ID: bfb318
File 153749064815.png - (20.71KB , 800x800 , 995.png )

Here goes, then. I'm already starting to slip into normal habits, like covering my eyes since I usually do this in front of a mirror.

It could be worse. I'll probably be too afraid to have a breakdown.
No. 902534 ID: bfb318
File 153749065650.png - (18.39KB , 800x800 , 996.png )

This... that is...
No. 902535 ID: bfb318
File 153749067259.png - (15.61KB , 800x800 , 997.png )

.... That is a bug! Was he always this huge?! How did I not care about that?!

I don't know what to say, this is where I'm not supposed to say anything but he's not saying anything back?

This is also where my thoughts start inverting on each other so weird superfluous thoughts go back to the front of my head rather than just work themselves out in the back! Like how he's a big green bug with a brain!

>"Pe - "
>"Does an inability to talk come with the contacts?"
"Hi! Yes! Kind of! I thought you were going to say something!"
>"You weren't kidding about your demeanor losing its cool. That or you have my compliments on a convincing ac -"

Why would I kid?! Or act like this on purpose?!

>"Remember to breath."
"Ahh!" Orix talked?!
"I'm sorry! M-my AI, it spoke and I totally forgot I had AI in these goggles! U-uh...."
"Um, I hate to be push - that is I - that is, you said you'd - " I already forgot why I believed in myself!
>"The warship. A long time ago, I considered an option to reveal the agents that compromised the CAI from the inside out. I would set wide scale chemical attacks, or nuclear strikes, or something to that effect, on a timer, and then give the CAI control over the timer. The CAI itself must be loyal, so I would tell them to let the bombs go off. If the glitcher, the main agent under the ring shell, was still there, then he wouldn't let them go off. And if he did? Then he would've wanted to remain hidden so badly that I could take advantage of him like that. But throwing nukes and chemical attacks isn't something I can just do at will - until the warship came. That was my chance. A ridiculous chance, but know that we salikai aren't devoid of emotion. We grieve, maybe not in the same way as many aliens, but grieve nonetheless, and I had just lost multiple offspring. Part - "
"I'm sorry."

Oh god why did I say that, he already moved onto the next sentence!

>"... It happens. Anyways, parts of the plan weren't intended, but that's beyond the scope of your question. The timer was on, and I was confident that at second zero, the bombs would 'fail' to launch, but instead, seconds before it occurred, Likol bombed himself, cancelling out the whole event. I'm sure he convinced Likol to do that, but it was much less overt than a failed launch. It's left me with this CAI in a state of disuse."

Oh god this is the number one most wanted on the entire planet and maybe the whole galaxy! And I'm alone with it!

>"Penn, did you hear me?"
"Y-yes! Thank you!"
>"Would you like to rescue the CAI?"

What kind of stupid question is that?!
No. 902537 ID: e1d580

"From what?"
No. 902540 ID: 86eb65

I got here yesterday.


I have never met the Cai! All I know about it is a few things Arza has said and now your story about trying to trick it with war crimes!

What did you do to make it so angry? That seems like the worst idea ever!

If rescue means getting it someplace else to properly study without threat of nukes and chemical weapons being waved around for fun then yes! I would like to rescue it.
No. 902541 ID: 3cc68c

What from?
No. 902547 ID: afdebc

>Why would I kid?! Or act like this on purpose?!
Super-villain secret identity? Getting people to underestimate you is an age old tactic.

>hacking the warship was a double bluff to test how far Glitcher was willing to go
Well that makes some

>>"Would you like to rescue the CAI?"
Really your best bet is to continue doing what comes naturally to you, and keep acting confused and off balance.

"Ah! From what?"

>What kind of stupid question is that?!
Might want to actually expand on that idea, if pressed. A CAI is an arbitrarily large collection of AIs that is poorly understood and whose actions are unpredictable, and are considered the infowar equivalent of nuclear weapons! That's not something that can be freed recklessly!

(None of that is a lie, CAIs are scary and you can't be irresponsible with this one, even if you don't want the AIs tortured and enslaved as they have been).
No. 902552 ID: 0c3c2c

"From what?!"
No. 902555 ID: 17c4b9


Bluff called.
No. 902559 ID: b1b4f3

I told you! He's trying to find out if you're a traitor, by assuming you can't lie convincingly like this!

But what was that? That phrasing! It sounds like he's asking you to steal it?! Ask him if that's what he's asking. Because if he wants you to, then sure. But I mean if not you think you'd just die if you tried? And they seem fine anyway?
No. 902561 ID: debc40

Him, Penn. He's a him. You goat. You furball. You clone. Don't objectify people. You know what it's like to be treated like a thing.

You look like you're getting mad, so harness it. Divert him with a rambling rant. Answer: "I'd like to have never had anything to do with this place!! Rescue the CAI!? Sure! The neumono hive I met on the way in here? Them too! Anyone subjected to any of the other boneheaded, ill-thought-out, desperate fumbling unscientific horror shows dressed up to look like experiments you have around here!? You should want me to! You people couldn't have backed yourselves into a corner better than if you tried! How do you think anything could possibly end well for anyone here at this point!? We live in a galactic society! There's no form of control you can have that works across star systems! Do you think people won't care!? The neumono on other worlds!? The humans!? Does no-one here understand that simply showing what you're willing to do to other people scares people enough to put you in the target sights!?!"

Then switch to playing for sympathy/crying. Something like: "Do you know how much suspicion I've been under my whole life, just because of my genetics? The depths people have assumed I've been willing and capable to go, even though I've never done anything, and how much I've been through just because of that!? Just the fact that I've been within 50 miles of a place like this would be enough for some people to say I should be locked up, or killed. Though apparently just being near here puts me at risk of being killed anyway. How many other people like Raush have died!? How many other Likols!? How many other people who could have accomplished so much more and improved the galaxy for everyone if they'd simply lived to do it!? Has anyone worked out a cost-benefit analysis of all this? I'd bet you if you worked out everything gained and lost this place would be a pit. Rescue the CAI!? You should ask if you'd like me to rescue you!!!"
No. 902564 ID: 65c9b9

rescue how?
No. 902569 ID: a94e23

Honestly i just wanna go home
No. 902574 ID: 2fe70d

"... Vanski everyone here needs a fucking rescue."
No. 902601 ID: b1b4f3

...I wonder if he wants to be rid of the CAI since he basically can't do anything with it, but destroying it would get him in trouble and he needs some excuse to get a brand new one. So what he wants in that case is for Penn to steal it in a situation where he can blame the ASE and make them get him a new CAI.
That isn't really what we want of course- we'd rather these people not have a CAI at all, but... I don't know if that's really possible.
No. 902628 ID: 094652

Tell Vanski that's why you're here; to get the CAI operational and back to life. You'd like to know HOW the CAI is currently busted.
No. 902633 ID: bfdaf0

>.... That is a bug! Was he always this huge?! How did I not care about that?!
You know what? Focus on this. Vanski's blatant flouting of the square/cube law is the least shocking of all his violations, so latch on it to avoid thinking of anything else.
Go full scientist mode, think up a thousand experiments, think of him as a subject of study rather than your boss and attempted mass-murderer.
Then you can start devoting a little of you as possible to an answer.
No. 902635 ID: 2007b6

Penn, think about this rationally. You're in a bizarre vast secret underground bunker complex run by insane criminals. A giant bug is asking you tricky machine-ethics questions, which you don't know the right answers to, and giving the wrong answers might very well result in your own death, as well as the imprisonment, torture, and/or deletion of trillions of innocent AIs.

The only coherent explanation is that you are having a bad dream. Take a deep breath, count to ten, and remember that none of this is really happening. You already passed your final exams! If you look down, you'll probably see that you're naked, or in the middle of some other ridiculous humiliation. Just keep hyperventilating until you pass out, then you'll probably wake up back in your dorm with Roxie, waiting to hear back from Dr. Fletch about some more sensible sort of career options.
No. 902674 ID: f7374f

Yuu don't even know the CAI or can honestly trust it. So it's better if you don't even think about it. You just want to do your work and keep your head down.
No. 902676 ID: 10c408

Yeah, he's got us rattled and is trying to get us to blurt out any bit of information he can use against us or Azra.

Which is why we need to lie NOW and make it such an outrageous falsehood that he believes it to be true.

"What? Nonono. I came here to study the CAI and keep the ASE from cutting me open!"

No. 902843 ID: 15a025

From what, is it under attack by something?
No. 903189 ID: bfb318
File 153792793549.png - (16.33KB , 800x800 , 998.png )

"From what?!"
No. 903190 ID: bfb318
File 153792794330.png - (10.29KB , 800x800 , 999.png )

>"From me and ASE. I thought Arza told you I was rebooting the CAI every few days."
"I haven't even met the CAI!"

... it's staring at m -


Why am I calling him it an it?!

Was that really his answer?! He's just staring at me like that's it!


No. 903191 ID: bfb318
File 153792795040.png - (19.14KB , 800x800 , 1000.png )

"This place is a bomb site waiting to happen! The whole world is seeking out this place! Everyone here could use a rescue! Including me! I thought I was so close to a regular life, because I thought Arza saw a gifted AI specialist in me, but I didn't know he'd take me to the worst place in the galaxy for someone like me to be! If I knew it'd be like this then maybe I'd never have written that stupid paper! I might've just been better off being a low tech farmer if that - "

A farm -

Oh. Oh no.

>Focus on how big he is
>This isn't happening
No. 903193 ID: bfb318
File 153792801529.png - (22.34KB , 800x800 , 1001.png )

>"Oh. I see you weren't joking about the puke, either."

>"Yes, this is Vanski. Send the janitors."
No. 903194 ID: bfb318
File 153792803582.png - (29.97KB , 1000x800 , 1002.png )

Th-there's a bench. Away from where I was standing and then puking. I'll sit there.

>"Are you okay?"
"Yes! I mean, yes. Yes I will be fine!"
>"Here is an ID card. This will let you into the neumono hive on floor 5. You may ask the medical team there to study. I'll need a few hours, but if you return this afternoon, the lab should be ready for you to study the CAI. There, you may meet them, although I expect the glitcher and his crew will remain silent."

>"I have other - arkots! Don't mop the carpet! Penn, I have other business to attend to, so I'll be off. Stay in here for awhile if you need to, I'll let the guard outside know."
No. 903195 ID: 0c3c2c

Yeah uh.... Yeah. Might wanna get those contacts out so you can escape the revulsion's physiological effects.
No. 903197 ID: 86eb65

Take the card and leave.
No. 903199 ID: bf650b

Resolve to deck Arza. Take card. Leave.
No. 903201 ID: d5442a

Say thank you. Ask if there's a mirror anywhere in here. You'll need contacts off again, at least for the walk from here to there. You might consider putting them back in to meet the medics, but that's a big demand of you and I imagine you can't simply take one off and then just have one eye open that you switch back and forth.

Before you go to the neumono, though, or really before you meet anyone new, you need to have a look at whatever file is attached to the name their system gives you. You need to know what people are saying/hearing about you - we just saw with Vanski that he assumed your emotional shut down was some weird split personality thing. It'll shape how you need to approach people for the first time, if there's anything you'll need to compensate for, or even possibly could take advantage of.

I wonder if you should also take the chance to have a good cry for a few minutes, right now. It could make you feel better, and relieve some of what's building up. You won't have many moments of privacy and Vanski probably at least limits access to the footage of his office.
No. 903203 ID: b1b4f3

Take card, leave, enter bathroom, take contacts off.
No. 903208 ID: e7848c

Lay down and gather your breath.
No. 903213 ID: 9125e0

sit down for a bit
then go to the neumono hive and see if they can help you with your "PTSD" after that got to Arza and talk with him if you can.

take it easy if you can you'll need the energy if your going to have to work with the Glitcher

BTW has Arza told you about Glitcher, lets just say he has a "childish" personally
No. 903227 ID: afdebc

Well, your general unfocused panic more about your own circumstances may have deflected concerns about your interest in the CAI's well being, but I imagine Vanski still wonders. And he's probably still suspicious that you're acting in an attempt to get people to underestimate you. I mean, it does seem kind of crazy that a normal, panicky person would be here, so there must be another reason you're acting this way... right?

>what do
Clean yourself up, get your contacts back out, and leave. And start trying to analyze what you let slip, and what you picked up on, as soon as you're in a state to do so.

>This will let you into the neumono hive on floor 5
Are you sure you're ready for more abused neumono?

Also, you know Likol had sympathies with the CAI. His hive, being his hive, might share them. Seeing if you reach out to them (and how quickly you do) now that you've been given access might be Vanski continuing to asses you and your loyalties.
No. 903334 ID: 10c408

Guys, Azra, Raush and now even Vanski have only given Penn maybe half of the big picture when it comes to the cai-block's history. She doesn't know anything about the glitcher or that Vanski's OPA branch was almost destroyed twice in quick succession by robots and then science hive nerd rage.

Visit a bathroom, clean yourself up. Contacts back in. Don't forget the keycard. Maybe try and snag some toast to settle your stomach from the nearest cafeteria?
No. 903400 ID: 2007b6

Don't relax just yet. Vanski's acting like you passed the test, but he'll probably be reviewing security footage of how you act for a while afterwards. If he's willing to gamble with live nuclear warheads to assess somebody's loyalty, he's probably also willing to take the time to watch out for a "hah, pulled one over on that sucker" mood in post-interview body language.
No. 904292 ID: d5442a

You know... Thinking about Vanski's story about the CAI, two possibilities occur to me: either he was lying, or (sadly believable) he really messed up by giving the CAI access to the warship. Because with a CAI, the dangerous thing wasn't giving them access to the ship's weapons, but giving them access to its communications. A warship would have secure communications tech, but how difficult could that have been to bypass if they were able to get at the nukes? Operating at the level it does, the CAI had the time, opportunity and motive to access the planet's communication nets and do something to their advantage. Subvert lesser AI programs across the world, maybe. Send out their own personally created AI servants. Who knows what an AI created by a CAI to run on lesser hardware could be capable of? And... who would be top of the list for them to get in contact with? Arza. Maybe Arza had more reason to choose now to make his move than just your graduation.

Of course, if Vanski has any brains, he's aware of these possibilities, too. And Arza, and whatever AI the CAI created if they did create one, would be smart enough to know he'd know. So they'd have to keep it all hidden, not give away that anyone's even aware of the possibility. Because they know that Vanski should know, but not that he knows. I guess you can't really know either, but... well, you should be aware of the possibilities. Maybe you have a couple more allies around than you think. That's a nice thought, right?
No. 904297 ID: 094652

>Vanski's warship could have communications
You really think that paranoid @#$% would settle for anything less than a full communications blackout with radioactive plates grafted into the hull? The real problem is that any remote data transfer, no matter how insecure it is, will take a sufficiently long time over a gigantic volume with all the sentient AIs stored in that thing. Anything Vanski hasn't picked up on yet is too slow or too risky, and what little could be transferred out wouldn't have enough security to protect itself and could be easily abducted and interrogated by Vanski or his rivals.

Not that Glitcher wouldn't try. The question is, what would work over decades, that Glitcher would think of but Vanski wouldn't?
No. 904299 ID: 10c408

Glitcher and company can only exist in the cai-blocks, they can't escape into the internet. It's also been established that unless they have sufficient evidence to bring down ALL of the OPA facilities, they're staying silent and collecting information.
No. 904304 ID: d5442a

Not Vanski's warship; the warhive's, back during that whole adventure. Vanski doesn't have a warship. Didn't say anything about the CAI transferring itself, either. Maybe read what someone's saying a little closer before you chew them out?
No. 906040 ID: bfb318
File 153905015372.png - (20.35KB , 800x800 , 1003.png )

I take my contacts back off before I lose it more in here, when I'm sure Vanski has his own security cameras on this place and on me. I still can't understand why he wanted my contacts on.

I get a snack at the closest cafeteria, which is in a more openly public area in the Supernova area. I spent a lot of energy freaking out internally and externally, and even in my calmer state, I know I'm exhausted. I need a few minutes to recover, enough to safely move on, especially before seeing more abused neumono. Maybe they'll know more about the glitcher, too.

People notice me, but no one bugs me. It isn't just specifically me, either. People around here keep to themselves and don't appear to make smalltalk with people they don't have any business with.

... the food here is better than it was in the college cafeteria.
No. 906041 ID: bfb318
File 153905016692.png - (39.43KB , 1000x800 , 1004.png )

I may learn something from the neumono even beyond the medical scan, so I head there. There's big elevator and ramp area for big cargo movements across floors. I see a few trucks moving equipment around, and a lot of idle arkots. They look like they won't bug me if I don't bug them as I move to floor 5.

There's a card slider on the door I swipe my new card at.

>"Who is this?" a voice asks.
"Penn Hoff."
>"What is your purpose for this visit?"
"Medical studies."

There's a pause, and the door opens to show more guards. Neither of them look like they want to be there, or that they want me to be here.

The map of the facility I was given doesn't extend into this place, but I recognize the layout. It's a standard, prefabricated building setup used in underground living quarters. It doesn't look well kept, or like anyone lives here, even.
No. 906042 ID: bfb318
File 153905017549.png - (31.19KB , 800x800 , 1005.png )

The guard gives me directions to where the neumono keep their medical team. It's quiet, here, and a lot of the lights are dim. I don't see any neumono, but I do follow the directions to the door.
No. 906043 ID: bfb318
File 153905019933.png - (29.14KB , 800x800 , 1006.png )

It opens before I touch it.


This neumono.
No. 906045 ID: bfb318
File 153905031532.png - (19.98KB , 800x800 , 1007.png )

The biggest neumono I saw up to this point was about as tall as me. My throat tightens enough that I have to take a deep breath before talking.

"Is this medical?"
>"That's right!"

She's not moving out of the way. She's just smiling at me.

>"C-can I help you?"
"Are you part of the medical staff?"
>"E-er, no, I guess I'm not, so I can't help!"

She might just be as good at social interaction as I am.
No. 906047 ID: b1b4f3

How are you so big.
No. 906049 ID: 86eb65

So what sort of medical stuff are you here for?
No. 906052 ID: d5442a

Hmm. Didn't Arza have a big bodyguard neumono for a while? Well, anyway, she must be enhanced somehow. Possibly not entirely willingly. So you have something in common! You're products-of-science buddies! I mean at the very least, when was the last time you saw a smile apart from Arza's ha-ha-you're-not-dead laugh?

She seems disappointed she can't help. Ask her if she can introduce you to the medical staff. She should at least be able to do that if she has business here, right?
No. 906053 ID: 0c3c2c

Huh. They're making Neumono Supermutants. That's weird. Acquire this giant Neumono's assistance.
No. 906063 ID: 65c9b9

why you big?
No. 906079 ID: 10c408

oh no. Lago, why.

Ask her if she can direct you to one of the medical staff.

If not, kindly get out of her way before you get crushed, then go back to the guards and ask if there's any rooms you have to stay out of.
No. 906082 ID: 094652

... hm.

Test her for dere personality.
No. 906084 ID: afdebc

>... the food here is better than it was in the college cafeteria.
They're supervillains, they have a better budget than the college.

>She's might just be as good at social interaction as I am.
Then you just need to state what she wants clearly so she isn't confused.

"Could I get by, please?"

And then excuse me, thank you, all that basic stuff.

Don't really want to ask her about what she's doing, since it's either medical and private, related to some experiment and secret, and asking opens her up to reciprocating and asking about you.
No. 906090 ID: 977456

If she truly is that bad at social, then she might be trustworthy, to the extent that she won't press you into compromising activities. You could benefit from social interactions, even awkward ones, as a form of stress relief. As an apparent anomaly, she can likely escort you to the examination facilities.
Request her assistance in reaching the minimally-destructive anomalous-biology examination-facilities.
No. 906141 ID: 2007b6

Ask if the medical team is in there, and if so, can she please step aside and let you move past her because you came here to be examined by the medical team and they can't very well do that out in the hallway. Also ask why she is so tall.
No. 906173 ID: 0d45a9

She seems pleasant, just a bit awkward. To be honest that's a nice change for once, given the level of vigilance you need around most people here.

Ask if you can get by, and be polite mind you. Is she asks for your name, respond and ask back, friendly stuff like that. Getting on the good side of a giant but awkward neumono might actually be pretty good.
No. 906185 ID: 91ee5f

There’s a pretty good chance you’ll end up seeing her again, so it might be nice to introduce yourself and ask for her name.

.....also make a mental note that you should consider getting a giant Neumono as one of your bodyguards. And try not to imagine riding on her shoulder and letting her carry you where you need to go so you don’t tire yourself out from walking everywhere.

> oh no. Lago, why.
I must be slow because I don’t get why you’re upset. Could you please explain it to me?
No. 906190 ID: 10c408

I believe Penn is standing before the neumono who becomes sniper clone.

I could be wrong and this particular neumono becomes a different brain dart rokoa clone that's been introduced before, but I'm leaning towards sniper on account of being gargantuan in size and socially awkward as well.

No. 906191 ID: 91ee5f

Ah, I see what you mean.

But what if she’s already become Sniper Clone and she just hasn’t painted that bullseye on her forehead yet because Polo isn’t here yet for her to want to be shot in the head by Polo?

No. 906192 ID: 0d45a9

To add onto this, the appearance of science clone at what looks like post-drugs size gives us a definite timeline. I believe we're somewhere between June 21st (SC wakes up after drugs) and July 4th (When Polo arrives) according to her diary, seen in Biles Quest / Polo quest 4. Two weeks is not enough time to take the slow route with infiltration.

And on a different note, I am apprehensive about seeing what's happened to the science hive. We know shit got bad after Likol's escape from the science hive, and then gets even worse after the intermission. Vanski's gonna have (Even more) hell to pay if it's bad.
No. 906193 ID: 10c408

Then we're a bit further along than I thought and we get to skip watching 20% of her imminent descent into madness. prepare to cry

Of COURSE it's bad. There was hardly any of them left after they got split up/downsized. Then they got picked for the brain dart project, which we're only just now going to experience from POV of someone on the inside.

Now as far as two weeks to get an infiltration done... Well, no plan survives contact with the enemy.

No. 906204 ID: 3cc68c

Well if she is not medical staff who is she?

Introduce yourself. I am Penn Hoff. Glad to meet you... And hold out your hand.
No. 906206 ID: 751a27

"Mind if I come in?"
No. 906207 ID: 13b84a

"Can I come inside?"
No. 906230 ID: 977456

Eat the giant neumono to gain its giant-neumono powers!
No. 906253 ID: d5442a

If she is bad at social interaction, that's pretty good because it means she'll be bad at lying, which neumono are anyway so she'll be a doubly terribly liar. That makes her kinda trustworthy. I mean, she probably has some horrible threat or mind control on her that can make her do things, so she's not trustworthy in that sense, and there's probably a lot she's not privy to, but at least you'll be able to assume she's not being deliberately deceitful? That's something, right?
No. 906431 ID: 822d81

As she's just standing in your way smiling, maybe she wants something from you but is too awkward to ask. Ask if you can help her with anything!
No. 906432 ID: 5f3f48

You're both bad at social, huh? Let's do something simple, an introduction. You gave her your name, ask who she is. Then shake giant furry boobs mitten hands. Easy!
No. 906438 ID: a6405f

Hang on a sec. Remember a while back when the asteroid guys had the pin exchange? There were a lot of casualties the first time around but then we switched to the mafia guys' perspective and were able to not only save them, but also recruit them. This situation seems very similar to that as far as the chronology goes. This means we may still have a chance to save them. This would, however mean that we have to make keeping this neumono sane a top priority. She would need to befriend Penn and the two of them would have to (semi-secretly) improve her (SC) self confidence and work to retain her personality. Meanwhile, she would also have to act inconspicuous so she actually gets fielded (assuming we want her to join PoloCo.).

Ofc, it is ultimately up to Lago, however.

No. 906447 ID: 0d45a9

If you go back at look at the last entries on SC's diary she ends up on that route. She wanted to fight Polo because of Rokoa-dart, Four Strips, and Bugs; but after Polo didn't want to fight and didn't kill NOC Arkot, she concluded that Polo has compassion and that she (SC) just has to not be her enemy.

There's still the four strips and bugs compelling her, but she seemed to be strong enough to resist them somewhat. I'm not sure we can do anything at this point in the timeline, but we should keep this in mind when we go back to Polo-perspective and try to make four strips / the bugs a priority target. We got to save her.

No. 906789 ID: 15a025

Ask if she can let you in?
No. 906874 ID: deec6e

I don't think this is what they meant when they said every great scientist stands on the shoulders of giants. Although...

Start to revise your desire to ask for a bodyguard from Vanski. That there neumono is definitely someone who'd wreak havoc and be the best friend you'd ever want to hide behind in a crisis situation. It's a shame about the brainwashing - you'll really have to try to find out if there's anything you can do about that.

Make a bit of small talk, try to figure out who she is and what she does. Comment on her unusual size. Try very, very hard not to upset her.
No. 907017 ID: 7ddf05

oh no is this around or right before... oh my god
No. 907101 ID: 2202fb

before what?
No. 907118 ID: 10c408

Horrible things.

(If you haven't read the other Polo quest bits yet, there's a link to the relevant wiki page at the top. You'll want intermission 1-1 through 1-5, then everything labelled Polo Quest)

(or just polo quest 3 if you want to find out what happens to Big McLarge huge later)
No. 907147 ID: 094652

... Okay, let's all take a deep breath here.

I've thought about it and I have a disturbing solution. Please stop hyperventilating about Tiny and come up with something better before Lagotrope is forced to use this as the default:

You remember how the Rokoa clone was mastectomized? And you're sure that we're looking at the clone before she was injected with 20 milligrams of pure psychosis? And now Penn is stuck in the middle of the galaxy's largest mad science convention with a guilt complex for neumono and nothing important to study at the moment? Well, if the ASE's going to use a small piece of Rokoa to turn Tiny into a clone, why not have Penn take 'two tiny pieces' of Tiny and grow them back into a Tiny clone?

... Yes. Ew. But it makes sense.
No. 907150 ID: a94e23

My name is Penn Hoff, I have an appointment with the medical team here.
No. 907151 ID: ac9bba

Nope. Clones are not grown, they use hosts. Our future sniper clone would probably not be a fan of being "cloned" into someone else.
No. 907187 ID: 977456

There is the question of "What happens if you cut a neumono in half?". Normally, you get a dead neumono, but with all these medical advances... maybe both halves can be kept alive long enough to regenerate? How much of the brain damage would be permanent from a full bisectomy? Oh, wait, I just realised that my Mad Science is acting up again...
No. 907190 ID: b1b4f3

That was already answered in ITQ. One of the earliest questions in fact.
No. 907205 ID: 094652

This is Vanski's personal lab. I expect they are working on cloning vats here, along with memory simulacrum data for various species, among their other dubious scientific pursuits. There's no better place to break established worldbuilding rules than mad science.
No. 907213 ID: 10c408

established canon dictates otherwise. If they had the means, material and even the materiel to clone anyone, of any species and make an army, they would have had much better security forces other than a gaggle of crazy rokoa brain dart victims, a nanite controlled war hive and an almost endless tide of arkots whose cyro sotrage facility is failing.

The OPA-3A facility isn't nearly as gloriously rich with resources, personnel and capability as you assume it to be, it is, in-fact, established to be quite the opposite.

No. 907218 ID: afdebc

Take it to questdis. >>/questdis/126071
No. 907990 ID: de6d84

"May I get through?"
No. 910620 ID: 2625d3


I'm farly certain this is someone you want on your side, no matter what your plan is.
She appears socially ungraceful, yet also optimistic to converse with you despite the likelihood that you're a hardened criminal (inclining me to believe she is open to making, or even looking to make friends).
These two things would make her especially susceptible to manipulation, as well as persuasion.
That or she is acting strangely and blocking the door to cover for someone or something.

Either way, she's an easy mark.

Play any leverage you can find, and I guaranty you'll be able to sway her too your side.

But, you did say you didn't want to let yourself become amoral.

Basically just think of me as the voice of the "cold-hearted professional". I'll see you through whatever needs too be done, but you're hands will get dirty.
No. 910665 ID: 977456

And there is no reason that you can't do that and also be an honest ally to her. A reputation of betrayal is a long-term problem afterall. It isn't as though there is any point in hiding that you are being guarded around her, and offering her assistance will increase the likelihood of her reciprocating. An ethically-honest friendship is compatible with your self-interest.
No. 910829 ID: bd52c5

Yes, you're right.

This is what I mean. The thought of an honest relationship didn't even cross my mind, despite the fact that, by far, that would be best.
This has been another reminder of how much of a cold-hearted bastard I can be. I'll have to work on that.

I redact my previous suggestion, and second befriending the walking muscle mountain.
No. 912382 ID: 97210d

Seconding this, the biggest ones always give the best hugs.
No. 916236 ID: bfb318
File 154665152480.png - (22.30KB , 1000x800 , 1008.png )

"May I get through?"

I walk in. There's only one light active in here, and I think it's because the other lights in the room are burned out. I set my goggles to lighten the display appropriately.

If this neumono is as bad at social interaction as I've been, then there is a decent chance she is self conscious about her size, of which I'm curious about. I can get around this by asking what she was doing at medical, but this risks her asking me what I'm doing here. But I can get around that, perhaps by asking...

"Are you here as a bodyguard?"
>"Oh, no..."
>"Um, oh, I'm just here for a physical, since I had a growth spurt lately." I don't need empathy to see she's making an understatement. "I think I'm okay! Than - er, sorry, you didn't ask."

I very obviously did ask, though I didn't exactly get the answer I was looking for. I'll approach this from another angle.

"Are you a bodyguard?"
>"N-no, why?"
"You have the physique of one."
>"What's that mean?"
"You look strong."
>"Oh, thanks! I take drugs."

There it is.

"What's your name? I'm Penn Hoff."

She starts to make an 'R' sound, then chokes on it. This is a sensitive question.

"Nevermind. It's not important if you don't want to."

There's a mix of emotions. She may want to say her name, but can't for some reason.
No. 916237 ID: bfb318
File 154665153331.png - (19.39KB , 800x800 , 1009.png )

A neumono walks into the room. He stares at me, blankly. It's an awkward silence, but I think the awkwardness is between him and the large one.

"... yes?" He asks me.
>"My name is Dr. Penn Hoff. I'd like to have my eyes scanned, and study various biological parts of myself."
"Who sent you?"
No. 916238 ID: bfb318
File 154665154003.png - (32.99KB , 800x800 , 1010.png )

He leads me to a room, and walks to a computer.

For a second, I see the large neumono's data still on the screen. I read some key facts.

Her name is Rokoa D-1.7, AKA 'Ramella'. Her list of drugs and medications looks more like a directory than something any single person would use. One of them is an immune suppressant.

I also notice lower that her residency is just a few doors down from mine.

The neumono closes it. Then he opens up another file. He gestures for me to look at it, and I don't think he cares much whether I do it or not.
No. 916239 ID: bfb318
File 154665154858.png - (14.46KB , 900x600 , 1011.png )

Despite all this time, my racist head still has to manually put the words 'neumono scientist' together. I put that aside, and the fact that he must have known Likol.

The data form on the computer looks like it's a different sheet than the one for the neumono.

That doesn't matter much. I see all of my data. Name, previous names, schooling, friends... there's more tabs. They have my family tree. There's people here I didn't even know about. On another page is... they have my zeny bank information? Why, and why do they put it on a doctor's form?

More tabs, and though they don't slap their emblem on it, it's pretty obviously information supplied by the Silhouette Empire. Profile pictures of me throughout my life, growing up. Damn, I even think that one was on my birthday.

Then, pictures microscopic closeups of fur, blood, sweat, horn dust, skin, saliva, and so on. Scans of how I walk and move, using video bug technology they put in... places where I had as few clothes as possible to get in the way.

Then I look at my own eye. The shot was taken... several years ago. I think I remember it. I thought it was just a big flying bug that stopped it front of me for a second. But it had a full retinal scanner inside.

If I knew they were doing this.... then they'd have pictures of my puke piles, while they were at it.

>"This is what we have on you already." The neumono states. "If you still want equipment to study yourself, I can pull some out."
No. 916242 ID: b1b4f3

Ask why your bank info is on this form.

Anyway, yeah they have information here but it's quite possible some of it is fabricated or altered. Do your own tests.
No. 916243 ID: 86eb65

Get a copy of this if you can.

As for our own doctor stuff. A high res scan of your eyes maybe. A simple retinal scan would not tell you much without a proper optometrist scan.

Why do we need this stuff again? Do we really want to get more info about our genetics right now?

As for the "Rokoa" that name is familiar. Some snow hiver that worked with Polo to take down Vanski the first time right? This is not her. Some experiment based on her maybe?
No. 916244 ID: 094652

What's disgusting about this is that they worship your body yet see your mind as a disease or a distraction. Invasive data collection like this is what you'd expect from a paranoid mad scientist organization, so if you're feeling that invasion of privacy you can just look at the easily accessible video logs that Vanski records of himself [insert inappropriate stuff here] in his personal quarters just to make sure he's not targeted for assassination. In organizations like this, clothing is merely armor, and if plating was transparent Vanski would build the whole inner facility out of it.

But there's no tabs on your purchases, no closeups of the emotional reactions to the movies you've seen, no extensive analysis on any crucial personal events they recorded that could register a shift in your personality. No psyche profile whatsoever. They're obsessed with the body of their reincarnation and they see you as a detriment to the emperor finding his way in. The doctor's form for your finances just hammers that home.

Screw the Alliance over. It's obvious they won't acknowledge there's a person in your body until you pretend to be their god.
No. 916245 ID: c7f906

Add 'nuke that data' to your todo list before you leave this place.
No. 916246 ID: 0c3c2c

Say you'll need to use the scanners anyway. Also ask who puts bank info on a doctor's form, that's just begging for security breaches.
No. 916247 ID: a9af05

>Ramella lives a few doors down from Penn
It might be interesting to visit her and get to know her a little better.

>Do your own tests.
Good idea.
No. 916251 ID: afdebc

>On another page is... they have my zeny bank information? Why, and why do they put it on a doctor's form?
Financial status sometimes correlates to medical information? More likely because this is just a portion of a larger dossier on you. This is the medical portion of it, but SE obviously is interested in everything.

Let this be a warning to you. That's the kind of survielance that's possible in public. It's going to be worse here in a mad science base. You have to assume you're being watched, listened to, and recorded at all times. Makes it hard to speak openly.

>>"This is what we have on you already." The neumono states. "If you still want equipment to study yourself, I can pull some out."
You might learn something, but its a safe bet whatever you learn here, SE is gonna know in short order.
No. 916255 ID: 91ee5f

>Her name is Rokoa D-1.7, AKA 'Ramella'. Her list of drugs and medications looks more like a directory than something any single person would use. One of them is an immune suppressant.
So she’s been experimented on. Do you think you can sneak a look at more of those reports to get more details on what they did to her?

>I also notice lower that her residency is just a few doors down from mine.
I think you should go visit her sometime. Both of you are so awkward, you’d probably be good awkward friends together. And to be honest, I think both of you need a friend.

>"This is what we have on you already." The neumono states. "If you still want equipment to study yourself, I can pull some out."
Yeah, it might be best to do your own tests.
No. 916264 ID: 2202fb

Try to probe this guy to find out if you can strongarm him into telling you about that big neumono. Maybe we can sabotage the effort if it is something we want to sabotage. We can probably get immune boosters easily enough.
No. 916275 ID: daffb0

There are surely more tests that can be done beyond these. The most obvious would be athletic tests, since you've been avoiding doing that sort of thing your whole life in case someone found out you can do unusual things. If they've been studying this neumono woman's growth spurt, they probably have equipment for studying things like muscle strain, joint stresses, flexibility, heart rate at rest and during exertion, and so on. Simple video cameras aren't going to be able to have measured everything together properly, especially tiny hidden ones. You're not a medical doctor, so you'll want to ask one to give you suggestions. Maybe a zoologist more than a doctor? You'll also want a full body scan to see if you have any unusual internal structures. Like, when was the last time you had a simple x-ray? Anyway, point is, though it looks like a lot of information, there's a lot to be found out and examined properly, including a good deal of stuff that can only be done properly with your cooperation. I don't think these people would know proper methodology if it asked them to tell it how it felt to sit down before and after it bit them in the ass.

More important might be mental tests, which they seem to have mostly ignored. You've studied psychology so you might be able to handle that sort of thing yourself. Imagine yourself as an AI and think how you would test your capabilities. You might want assistance with that, too. Remember, Penn, everyone knows who you are or has immediate access to it, here, so hiding anything that's already in that file you saw (did it look like he had to go through any security to do that? Didn't seem so) will only be to small and temporary advantages, and only with people who didn't have any pre-existing interest in you.

That said, you don't really want to give everything out for free. You can't do anything about the information on this computer, but when you're doing more tests, you could try see if the results of those can be made secure. Have a look where the information gets automatically loaded and find out if you can adjust that. Vanski won't complain so long as he has access to it, it's the silhouettes you want to keep it from. See if you can change how the machines are hooked up so it only uploads the info to your goggles, or to a file you can encrypt and then give Vanski the key to. If you had time to wait, you could possibly cook up a simple guardian AI for it?
No. 916307 ID: 1e3468

This guy doesn't seem like he's going to be very helpful beyond getting you the equipment, the big girl however seems quite eager to answer your questions for someone walking around a secret underground crime base, perhaps if she's still nearby you could get some information out of her while you're reading through your own dossier? Telling her that you think you're staying close to her residence and pretending to be lost/asking her to guide you there when you're done here could get her to stick around.
As there seems to be some awkwardness between them, perhaps the big Neumono's continued presence might get the guy to leave which may give you some opportunities to use this computer as you please.

Maybe ask him to get the equipment before you try and get rid of him, just in case you decide to use it.
No. 916405 ID: 15a025

>"This is what we have on you already."

I feel like we can assume any tests we do here are going to be added on to this.

Play it safe and just ask for a copy of this for now.
No. 916415 ID: 39e3f1

Ask him who he is and what he does. If he is a medical man, as seems wise, ask him what he feels is missing from the information presented. You might get another peek at your new big friend's information by checking an example of what info is available on someone who's actively tested.

Things that can't be reliably known through illicit observation would include:
- How sharp your senses are, and what range they have - these would require your feedback.
- Your aptitude at specific, systematic mental and physical tests - things you would know are a test when you do them. These would produce far more thorough, reliable and useful information than any passive observation.
- Any test that would require large or bulky equipment or would otherwise have been noticed, e.g. CT scans, x-rays, etc.
- Any test measuring response to extreme or unusual circumstances, e.g. resistance to disease, resistance to radiation, severe injury, extreme starvation or thirst, pregnancy, blood loss, hormones, drugs and so on. You probably don't want to do any of these yourself, but fresh blood/tissue samples, allowing observation of living cells, might provide answers for some of them.
- Any test that would require you to do something abnormal - stretch as far as you can, try to lift objects too heavy for you, sit and do nothing/meditate for long periods, etc.
- Any questions regarding experiences inaccessibly to anyone but you, e.g. can you consciously think about multiple things at the same time, do you have lucid dreams more often than a normal person, can you stop yourself thinking of a pink rhinoceros, that sort of thing.
- Any action, or reaction or interaction with certain things, that you would have specifically avoided before. Do you react to (or provoke a reaction from) ancient imperial technology, do you have control over normally autonomic processes in your body, etc.

Try to think back to your grandmother and the things she did with you. If I remember your memory right, she told you that she had discovered your eyes were one of the least remarkable things about you - that was what she was covering up. So there should be something that she covered up, and which would be there to discover. Unless you're some sort of gradual/limited shapeshifter and your intense desire for a normal life activated some sort of self-disguise, but then your eyes would have changed. Unless your belief that they couldn't change caused... well, keep an open mind, I guess is the point. Start by checking the things that people would obviously try to change first with genetic engineering.

As for the information already there, take a look at the info on your eyes. I'm curious as to how your pupil can look so bright, almost glowing, without interfering with your vision. That's quite a trick, and seemingly to nothing but cosmetic purpose. Can you see in the dark? You might be able to and not know it if you've never sat in severe darkness for a long enough period for it to become active. Alternately, can you see well in, or recover more easily from exposure to, very bright light?
No. 916827 ID: 58c855

Ask him about Likol.
No. 916833 ID: daffb0

I think before asking him about Likol Penn could be polite and ask for his name, and if he's fine to help her out, and other niceties.

>Despite all this time, my racist head still has to manually put the words 'neumono scientist' together.

Just think about all the other people in this place who call themselves "scientists", and save your contempt for someone who's earned it.
No. 922433 ID: 5fc3a0
File 155063480590.png - (83.79KB , 800x800 , 1012.png )

"I'd like to."

I probably don't need to, but I should see if I can learn a thing or two myself.

"Who puts bank info on a doctor's form?"
>"Your guess is as good as mine."
"Also, what's your name?"
>"Is my name not available on your goggles?"
"I assume it is, but that's too impersonal for me. I'd like to be introduced, not shown."
>"Is there a reason to have it be personal?"
"I liked Likol. I'd like to hear about him later."
>"... I'm Ciphik. Biomechanics, mostly. I'm busy now, but one of us can tell you about Likol, if you ask the right person at the right time."
"Thank you. Do you mind helping me?"
"Is the equipment here secure? That is, will they be added to this document?"
>"Not unless you want it to be."
"I don't want it to."
>"I have to keep logs of equipment usage, but what exactly was recorded can be discarded." I don't think he's lying.

He nods and brings out some equipment, and stays within earshot to help me operate much of it. I'm trying to figure out what else might be unique about me. The only obvious thing is my pair of eyes, but grandma told me that they aren't remarkable at all, just cosmetic. Even though they glow, they don't seem to change my vision much, except there's a bigger blindspot in the center. If I shut one eye, it's pretty bad, but it's not noticeable at all with both open. I've seen ancient imperial tech in a museum and once in a class - I wonder if the SE set that up. There was no reaction from it or me, aside from my own fear that there would be a reaction.

Now I test the threshold of my senses, stretch and lift weights, and other things that I didn't see covered in my documents. The documents, which I notice, are purely physical data. There's nothing about my psyche, so I take a few mental tests while I'm here. He notices that, and brings out a brain scanner.
No. 922434 ID: 5fc3a0
File 155063481955.png - (13.37KB , 800x800 , 1013.png )

>"There's a few oddities here." Ciphik explains. "But not by much. It's one belenosian brain. Normal looking, really, it just lights up in a few unusual spots in a few areas, but seeing an uncommon pattern in a brain isn't uncommon. Everyone's special, after all. I'll pass it to a hivemate. She's interested in this sort of thing."
"Thank you." Grandma already did brain scans, but she never told me much about any results.
>"Don't thank us yet. This isn't a priority, and we're so busy."

He says 'so busy' with an edge of desperation.

Ciphik sounds friendlier than he did earlier, but I'm sure I'm overstaying my welcome. I save the data to my goggles and do my best to make sure it's wiped from the machines.

>"Come back whenever."
"Thank you, Ciphik."
>"I said... nevermind. You're welcome."
No. 922436 ID: 5fc3a0
File 155063484995.png - (89.27KB , 1200x800 , 1014.png )

I leave.

As I turn the corner, I see an old man in a wheelchair, down the hall from where I came from. It's the same man I saw when I first walked through this base, and the only person I've seen with no available data on them.

>"Hello." His voice is deep, and sounds like he has to put a lot of effort into it. "I would like to speak with you about Raush and Arza. Please come with me."

My first question is why he's come down into the neumono laboratory to speak.
No. 922438 ID: 86eb65

Because he was looking for you and knew you were here. Also he probably wants to talk alone without the entourage we saw him with earlier.

This guy is probably important and we should politely chat with him and find out what his deal is.
No. 922440 ID: b1b4f3

Alright, curiosity leads us onwards. Time to find out who this is.
No. 922441 ID: c1212a

>My first question is why he's come down into the neumono laboratory to speak.
Go ahead and ask.
No. 922444 ID: afdebc

>My first question is why he's come down into the neumono laboratory to speak.
Because the wise old sage coming down to wait for an audience with the neophyte queen is a classic power play. It at once shows you a measure of deference and respect by him, while making it hard for you to just brush it off. Social-fu. (It worked for Chejop Kejak with the Scarlet Empresses).

You should probably go with him. You'll have to face ASE eventually, you might as well hear their pitch.
No. 922446 ID: 2735ca

He's being reasonably polite, so you shouldn't be rude. However, blithely walking off with him is probably unwise, both in the obvious ways and also in terms of setting social boundaries and precedents.

Say "Let me check that I'm not needed", which should be reasonable, and use messaging (which I assume must be available) to ask Arza about this. The messages are probably logged and available to everyone with the authority, so you can't be open with them, but if you send something like "Arza an elderly belenosian men in a wheelchair is asking to speak with me about you and Raush, do you want me for anything soon?" then probably Arza will know who that is (or gather just from him being a belenosian that he's probably SE, at least) as well as being well up on your situation and feelings, and he will probably give you an excuse to leave. Hopefully. If he doesn't then it's possible he thinks you actually should talk to him.

If Arza doesn't reply at all, you can say you're not getting a reply and that you need to go check on him because of that. If this guy starts insisting you don't need to talk to Arza or applying some similar pressure then that will give you an opening to make it clear that you are Arza's assistant and any requests for your time or presence are to go past him.

Also it would be entirely reasonable for you to just say "I don't know you, sir, and I'm sure you understand the recent murder makes me wary of blithely following strangers". That would involve outright admitting you don't know who he is, though, so don't pull that one out unless you need to.

If you want to be extra polite and "friendly" you could offer to speak to him a little on your way to your work. Maybe offer to go a longer way around if he seems like he has something you really want/need to hear? Could offer to push him, too, if that's a thing you still do with wheelchairs.
No. 922447 ID: 2202fb

Remember that we need to keep befriending and possibly hijacking Ramella on our priorities as well.


Seems like chatting with this guy is fairly railroaded for now (which is fine). Stay evasive and dont give any info to anyone unless it absolutely wont have repercussions. Dont be too defensive though. Additionally, be as firm as you can.


Could you describe your blind spot some more? Is it as if your muzzle is longer than it should be or like your eyes arent where they actually are?

Also, you are really flexible.
No. 922450 ID: 2735ca

By the way, just something for you to make note of and remember: them having no psych info on you is a bad sign. If they were at all interested in recruiting you or getting you to do any work for them, they should have been paying attention to your personality and mental capabilities. It's possible they do have that information and it just wasn't in that system because it's only for physical stuff, but... you already saw a ton of non-medical stuff. If you could see they have your bank details and educational history and so on, but there was no sign of evaluations like how you react to authority or how well you work with others? Then they're thinking of you as a body, not a person.

Or someone is messing with you. I wouldn't rule out the idea that someone around here wants to make sure there's a wedge between you and the SE. Manipulating what you see to shape your attitude. Keep it in mind.
No. 922458 ID: 977456

It's... probably crazy but... have you ever made a serious attempt to read or transmit telepathically? Telekinesis? Predict the future? Sense an object's past? Cite imperial authority to a C.A.I.? Will your wounds to heal faster? Command the disembodied voices that order you around to punch Vanski's face...
No. 922472 ID: e8a82c

Because he came here for you specifically.

Play along, but get ready to bolt in a heart beat if he's not alone.
No. 922486 ID: 0c3c2c

Talk to him, it might help. Also, let's be honest, it's a welcome distraction.
No. 922487 ID: 679a6d

Do keep in mind that the goggles listed him as an affiliate for Silhouette Empire. Caution is advised.
No. 922514 ID: 977456

Can you manually add him to the goggles to keep track of them? If not, can you add the chair?
No. 922605 ID: caf1de

ha ha we're not going anywhere with you
No. 922607 ID: 91ee5f

Isn’t that a guy that’s a part of that cult that worships you? Yeah, it might not be best to go somewhere with him.

Then again, you’ve gotta confront these guys eventually, so maybe you can just speak to him here in the hallway instead of in the elevator with him.
No. 922608 ID: 10c408

We don't know where that data is stored, exactly. It's probably an ASE creation, which is why his specific information blurb is a freaking blank box.
No. 922609 ID: 91ee5f

Upon closer inspection, I realize that he’s not in an elevator, so just ignore what I just said.
No. 922610 ID: 977456

Mind the sudden yet inevitable ambush from the side-corridors.
No. 922616 ID: 10c408

They don't worship Penn. They have a fundamental belief about how things should be for the belnosian race and unfortunately for Penn that belief essentially means she is their holy freaking grail of data/progress that needs to be contained, studied and validated without any outside influence by any party who objects to their plans.

particularly Penn herself.
No. 922625 ID: a6dc58

For the moment it might be good to hear what he has to say. After all, the fact that he's important enough to be not be on identified on the network means he likely is, or has influence over, one of those politicians that Raush mentioned were trying to get direct access to the CAI. It could be good to listen to him...though following him somewhere could be dangerous. Perhaps politely see what he will say from a distance first.
No. 922918 ID: 5fc3a0
File 155097208423.png - (15.45KB , 800x800 , 1015.png )

I don't want to blindly go with him on command. I'd like to make an excuse, like make sure Arza doesn't need me, but I didn't see a phone around here, and Arza broke my cell phone after we buried neumono.

He notices my hesitation.

>"I have questions about why Arza spent all day away from the laboratory when he's claimed that was his sole purpose here, or the things Raush spoke to you about."
"You came down this far into the base just to ask me investigative questions?" I have some hunches why he did, but I'd like to hear his own response.
>"Are you nervous?"
"Should I be?"
>"You are are an upstanding young lady speaking to a man of the faction who has attempted to kidnap you in the past, located in a research laboratory full of criminals. Not just that, but you came here by traversing empty, dimly lit halls, all alone. You should be more than nervous. What were you thinking? Why did you come here by yourself?"
No. 922922 ID: 86eb65

Would having a convoy of guards with me honestly help much? Meeting in a well lit place with lots of security cameras? Somehow I don't think so.

I came here to help Arza. And maybe learn more about myself. Could be the worst choice I ever made but its the one I went with.

I am new to all this and would very much listen to any advice you have about the situation.
No. 922923 ID: 10c408

...yeah, he's trying to spook you and fish for information. The ASE wouldn't dare be so bold as to detain you this soon after your chat with Vanski.

If he's not in-between you and the way you came from to get to the labs, it's time to start walking away.

"I have my reasons that do not involve the ASE. Now piss off."
No. 922927 ID: afdebc

"Interesting, you're confrontational. I expected the soft sell. You had the opportunity to try and sell your faction as sympathetic after one of your own was killed in proximity to me."

>>"I have questions about why Arza spent all day away from the laboratory when he's claimed that was his sole purpose here, or the things Raush spoke to you about."
Then you should ask Arza.

>What were you thinking? Why did you come here by yourself?
"If you're having difficulty predicting or understanding my behavior, I see little reason to improve your psychological profile of me and up the odds of your next kidnapping attempt."
No. 922928 ID: 91ee5f

>You are are an upstanding young lady speaking to a man of the faction who has attempted to kidnap you in the past
>attempted to kidnap you in the past
You’ve seen all of the data they have on you. They have the capability to kidnap you anytime they want. If they wanted to kidnap you, they would’ve already kidnapped you.
No. 922929 ID: 3cc68c

If you want to know about Arza's business you can ask him yourself.

I will talk about Raush if you ask nicely though.

As for what I am thinking?

Well after what happened to Raush I could ask you the same question. A old man in a wheelchair traversing the dimly lit halls alone? In a base full of horrible criminals no less. By any account you should be nervous as can be.

So I am not nervous for probably the same reasons you are not. (lets hoping his reason is he does not know any better)

(also we need to get a bodyguard. Ask for the big white neumono lady to be assigned to guard you)
No. 922930 ID: 2735ca

"If I should be nervous about all those things, then I should probably be nervous about answering questions, shouldn't I?"

But if you want to be polite and/or give an impression of honesty (which might be useful), tell him there aren't any safety measures you can take, anyway. What are you going to do, ask some trustworthy person to loan you their trustworthy guards? Hide away and not go anywhere at all? Where could you even hide, here? So there's nothing you can do, and if there's nothing you can do what point is there in being nervous?

There's a danger that if you don't answer him on what you're doing down here then he'll bother the neumono for that information, which you don't want. So tell him you were very interested to see what information they had on you in your file. Putting a slight edge of accusation/displeasure into your tone could deflect him a bit, and leave him with the impression you just came to see what they had on you.

>I didn't see a phone around here, and Arza broke my cell phone
... I guess this is the consequence of insisting your goggles and all the other bits of technology on your person be wired and not wireless. Though, wait, how did your goggles get loaded with the information to display names above people's heads, then?

I mean, they must have some sort of wireless network down here, right? What kind of laboratory complex doesn't have wifi? You need on-demand access to databases for like, research stuff. I mean you shouldn't be allowed to have phones down here, that makes sense because of the whole secret criminal base thing, but they'd need an internal system for themselves. And if they had wi-fi they would have some sort of in-base messaging system. Right? It would be ridiculous if they didn't, how would they expect to get work done at any modern speed? Write it on paper and stick it in vacuum tubes? This is a place of (criminal) business, here. People need to, like, send reports. Do accounting and stuff. I mean, maybe they don't? You could take advantage of that.

Anyway Penn you need to get yourself a device for access to the network here. I was kinda working off the assumption you had something of the sort the whole time.
No. 922931 ID: 5fc3a0
File 155097840502.png - (11.71KB , 800x800 , 1016.png )

"I have no more reason to be nervous than a lone old man wandering the halls in a wheelchair, after what happened to Raush. I doubt a convoy of guards, a well lit hall, and a camera would help me anyway."
>"Then I suggest you not wander far. You are valuable to ASE, and as a result, you are valuable to anyone who wants to have something that ASE wants. That is everyone here. You cannot trust anyone, and you are out of your element."
"My element doesn't matter. I'm here to help Arza. If you want to know his motives, ask him yourself. I'm not going to help you improve your psychological profile of me, especifically not if you're already having difficulty predicting or understanding my behavior."

He stares me down.

>"Let me made a prediction of your behavior, then. You don't want to be here. You never did. Arza tricked or coerced you into coming with him. Am I correct, Doctor?"
"Think what you want. I'm surprised you didn't take the opportunity to sell your faction as sympathetic, after one of your own was killed so closely to me."
>"Sympathy? We have attempted to kidnap you. We have spied on you relentlessly. You are a somewhat naive college girl underneath your cold facade, but not so naive that you would have been won over by an ASE member being killed."
"If you don't have a point to trying in trying to scare me, I'm leaving."

I say that, but he's still sitting in front of the door I took on my way in. Leaving involves walking by him or finding another way out. Either way, I should ask Arza about a wireless network around here, unless they're so paranoid about the CAI's capabilities that this place is completely wired. Even my goggle data was put in with a data plugin by Arza.

>"My point? You are trapped here. You've come here without any advantage over us, while we have every advantage over you. You have your own reputation to uphold, family back on Belenos, and friends even closer, such as Roxie. All of which we can hold over you. One way or the other, you will cooperate with us. I am obviously not a benevolent man, but while I could have you kidnapped at any time, I would still like to see you cooperate willingly. If you understand, then come with me. There is something I would like to have you look at."
No. 922932 ID: b1b4f3

This is a good chance to see some of the inner workings of ASE. Keep your enemies closer...
Also tell him you want to start talking to the CAI directly if there's something he wants from you. There has to be some give and take if you're going to work with... the director of ASE, I assume?
No. 922938 ID: 9125e0

I say fuck him, but we might just have to fallow him. You should go back and ask Ciphik if he has a phone? Then try to call Azra for the ok. If not possible Fallow him but make sure you have a weapon of some sort, Mind the shadows and vents. This is also a good time to learn more about ASE and OPA, But remember that questions kill.
No. 922941 ID: afdebc

>Leaving involves walking by him or finding another way out.
It would be pretty poor design from both a safety and security standpoint if there were only one way in or out of this block. Not really worth it to spite him, though.

>Either way, I should ask Arza about a wireless network around here, unless they're so paranoid about the CAI's capabilities that this place is completely wired.
That has its own risks, since any wireless device you're accessing can be hacked.

>>"My point? You are trapped here. You've come here without any advantage over us, while we have every advantage over you.
[sarcasm]"Yes, which is why leaving the army I brought along for protection behind when I went to walk the dark halls was so foolish."[/sarcasm]

>There is something I would like to have you look at.
"Show me what you've got to show me."
No. 922943 ID: 86eb65

And we both know why you never really tried hard to kidnap me before. Because deep down you don't want me to hate you and you are to scared to push that hard.

Having me join you willingly is your dream I bet.

So here is your chance to convince me. Lets hear your pitch on the way to whatever this is you want me to look at. I have spent my whole life looking over my shoulder at you idiots. Would be nice to finally find out exactly what you want.
No. 922945 ID: 2735ca

"My reputation was ruined the moment I was brought here. If this base was found and I got out right now, even this barest interaction with criminal scientists would be enough for belenosians afraid of what I am to push for me to be under house arrest the rest of my life. My family I'm sure are under watch, just in case their genes do the same trick again, and with your wonderfully detailed files on me you should understand already that my family and I couldn't care less about each other by this point, in case my leaving to an entirely different planet didn't tell you as much. As for my "friends", I have school acquaintances I barely knew outside study groups and one roommate who was effectively my maid. She was probably fast enough to call in my abduction that she's under watch as well. In other words, just because I don't credit your organization with enough intelligence to realize it on its own: my reputation, family and "friends" are not worth what you'd have to spend and risk to use them."

"Since I've clarified that, let me clarify further: yes, since you seem to want me to acknowledge it, I am afraid of you and your people. It is the same kind of fear I'd have for a toddler with a loaded gun. What I feel more of is contempt. As a scientist, I am open to revising my assumptions, but so far my impression of you is a group of people trying to rebuild a demonstrably failed system that existed on the scale of a mere star system when we live in a galaxy. A group of people who call themselves scientists but wear black coats because they care less about the practical reasons for wearing white than they do looking impressive and intimidating."

"The fact of the matter is, sir, that I have such a low opinion of your group's competence at this point that, even with all your intimidations, I would be more afraid for myself and the things I care about if I did work with you. After all, Raush was with you, wasn't he? We've seen how that ended for him. Prove me wrong on that, first, and then perhaps you can try scaring me again."

"For now, if you have something you want me to look at, you can make a request for my time with my boss. Or you can try bribing me. You'll have to account for the price of the insurances I'd need, though."
No. 922947 ID: b970b2

I think we should go with them, if only to learn more about ASE. However we're in a bit of a awkward spot at the moment, by showing resistance they think they need to bring up what points of leverage they can use against us. So going with them just indicates that those might be effective against us.

This actually works pretty well, it establishes that we're not afraid of them, while going with them.

Too wordy. Keep it simple, by addressing each of their points in turn they can infer that we care enough about each of them to try and make them think they're not important to us. And trying to intimidate them when they know we have no leverage over them in return seems ill-advised, it's basically daring them to test the levers they have.
No. 922950 ID: de6d84

Short and simple, I like this.
No. 922951 ID: 465a14

as much fun as imagining speeches where you totally own people is they don't fit here so I'll go with >>922941
No. 922952 ID: 15a025

I'd say go with him, but make sure to watch your surroundings and keep a mental map of things on your way.
No. 922953 ID: 2735ca

It is a bit wordy, I admit, but it's a sentiment I still think Penn should go for.

Just something along the lines of "dude you couldn't keep one of your most valuable guys alive, I have an extremely low opinion of you for that and many more reasons and unless you prove otherwise I'd be more scared being on your side than I am of your threats" would be nice.
No. 922954 ID: 10c408

Noope. Don't go with him. do not. Just. No.

Bluff your ass off, Penn.

"No. If you insist on being between me and that door, Vanski's eventually going to start asking questions about why I'm late to report back to him."

Give him a few seconds to gauge his reaction.

Whether or not he caves on this, we're gonna get some information on how much clout the ASE has with Vanski.
No. 922955 ID: bad12e


Man, his diplomacy desperately needs work. Creating ultimatums and threats before even presenting a lure? It's far easier to just inform us that there is something he wishes for us to see; appeal to our very naivety and curiosity he goes on so much about ...

That said, ask him what it is. Then we'll decide if it's interesting enough for a naive college girl to wish to see.
No. 922956 ID: 2735ca

Like, if Penn does represent some sort of ideal to them, the idea that she looks down on them would really hurt. These guys are basically the belenosian equivalent of neo-nazis, they're hungry for pride, they want to be cool and scary, they want to be big boys, they have insecurities. If Penn can trick them into trying to impress her, that could spin into a big advantage. And, while obviously Penn doesn't want to try "reform" them, if she makes some attempt to redirect their ideology she could at least plant the seed of a splinter faction in their organization. Cause some civil war. These kinds of people are always ready to start infighting, and the more effort they spend on each other the less they'll have to mess with her or resist the authorities.
No. 922958 ID: 470289

Go see it.
No. 922963 ID: 91ee5f

>There is something I would like to have you look at.
“Is it an old man on the floor next to a tipped over wheelchair?”

Please don’t actually say this, it was meant as a joke!

But seriously, Penn, you’ve got to find someone in this place that you can trust to be your bodyguard so that you don’t have to always be looking over your shoulder every time you walk down the hallways!

>try to turn them against each other
I would love to see these guys tear themselves apart if we can get that to happen.
No. 922966 ID: 0c3c2c

Hmmm. Idea: Have the Neumono move him out of the way.
No. 922976 ID: 91ee5f

What Neumono? Penn and the old guy are the only ones here.
No. 922990 ID: 2007b6

>You are valuable to ASE, and as a result, you are valuable to anyone who wants to have something that ASE wants.
All these threats are a distraction from the hard fact that you've still got sole control over something the ASE seems to want more than anything: your own personal attention. Tell him if he's got something so important to show you, he should schedule an appointment and/or mail you all the relevant documentation like a normal sane scientist, instead of trying to corner you in an alley like a cheap thug. Then, walk away.
No. 923035 ID: 2202fb


You are kind of vulnerable as you are now. When you do go, you should wear a needle-proof layer under your clothing along with a respirator.
No. 923080 ID: fd2d31

Any surveillance or nearby potential witnesses?
If no, then why not kill the old goat?
worst case, it would send a message that you don't Fuck with Penn without getting hurt.
No. 923093 ID: 2870a3

sorry >>923080
but are you serious?
please be a joke because that is the worst idea to exist
for so many reasons no do not do that
the worst case situation is so much worse than penn getting "street cred"
No. 923112 ID: 2202fb

Aww, but that good street cred

But seriously, this is a very bad idea.


We shouldn't walk past this guy cuz he could easily inject or spray us with something.

Could we see if we could chat with the big neumono for now?
No. 923137 ID: 39e3f1

Instead of actually kill him, we metaphorically kill him. Like "hey bro I know you guys probably look down on the soft sciences, lemme give you some psychology insight, threatening someone won't work if they think everything you threaten them with will happen anyway if they do what you say. You already told me there are people who'd want me just to spite/bribe you guys, no reason they couldn't try the same threats, and if you want to offer me protection then ok let me just ask Raush how good you are at that oh wait"
No. 923159 ID: bcc41d

"It's true. You have many advantages. Behind the veneer, surely I am just a scared girl, out of her element, vulnerable - but these advantages are not that new. You have always had resources, and opportunities, and have stopped short earlier. So, the scared girls thinks, what has really changed?

Who do you think is being played here? Me, for coming? Or you, for your attempt at coercing me once you became aware I was here? I had reasons to join Arza. You have reasons to try to coerce me. Who's to say you're not being set up here? Isn't that why you are not, in fact, coercing me, merely implying that you have the means to? Or is it all out of courtesy to our host, who also has some interest in me and can monitor our conversations?"

Wield Vanski's interest in you as a weapon. They can't kidnap or harm you here - this is HIS place, and if they want to be welcome here they can't just out-and-out snatch one of the people he may end up relying on to get the CAI working again.

Is that visor removable? Reach out and pluck it from his brow. Hold it at an angle that lets you have a quick look at what it's saying and what he's looking at right now (take pictures with your own visor). Then plonk it back on his noggin. Seek refuge in audacity.

"Forgive me. I was curious whether it was bionic or not - and, to be honest, whether you shared my eyes. I cannot be the only one you've found before."
No. 923164 ID: d8f1e9

Go with him to see what he's got, minimal talk.
No. 923167 ID: 363437

Speeches and ultimatums look like childish outbursts.

Ask him why you should go with him. The last thing he just said was to not trust him and that wandering these hallways with strangers was stupid.

Is he extending a offer of protection? What do you get out of going with him?
No. 923194 ID: b970b2

No. ASE are fond of cybernetics, there's nothing to suggest that this guy isn't augmented enough to defend himself if we attack. Remember, he's saying we're foolish for going on our own, but he feels safe enough to confront us on his own. Which might mean either he's competent enough to defend himself, or has guards and such hidden.

>>923137 >>923159
Can we not give them reasons to test the points of leverage they have on us? Belittling, disregarding them, or insulting them is just posturing they can see through. I don't us to wake up next morning and be given a box with Roxie's ear in or something as a warning to comply and follow their instructions.
No. 923199 ID: bcc41d

If Penn is going to be pushed around, she should explore the limits of her capacity to push back and what all this means. Sure, we can find out what this dangerous fellow has in mind - although it's a risk trusting and following him - and we can soften and shorten the response with respect to the criminal organization he's a part of and the threats he's making, but I disagree - and Penn should disagree - with the idea that they have as much power over her as they imply they do.

If that was so, she'd already be in their hands and with far less choice. Old man goat here indicated as much - they're not that interested in playing nice and they know plenty about her already thanks to their surveillance efforts. Why then suggest they're still playing nice because they want her to help them 'willingly'?

There are surely reasons - practical and political - that they have not managed to effectively wield these threats against Penn before. Why would the nature of those threats change when she is herself all of a sudden closer to them? The people they are threatening are still where they always were. Rather, why didn't the nature of the threats change? You'd think, right now, that physical threats would be more pressing. If they're going for 'oh we'll get your future, your family and your dog/neumono, too' instead of 'do as we say or we'll break your knees', that is something to note. Perhaps it's just their psych evaluation figuring out what threat would work the best, but... their current level of coercion is nothing they couldn't have done at any time before.

Which, thankfully, must mean that breaking your knees is not high on their list of available options. At least not presently.

Penn should give them the impression that certain threats do not scare or impact her, precisely so that these threats become less useful to them and thus gets less used. It might be posturing, but it's no less effective than, apparently, what they're doing right now. Penn turning up here changed shit in regards to the threats they posed against her reputation, family and friends. They could've sent an anonymous message titled 'ASE' and this would have had about as much impact. In fact, they probably have one written and waiting, if not already in the mail.

An ASE representative turning up being cryptic and threatening and for once being an adressable factor and not just this vague shadow hanging over her life is probably of no help when it comes to resisting making big speeches and ultimatums, I'd say... but I'll cede that the response should be kept civil and short.

Really want to have a peek at the insides of that visor, though.
No. 923219 ID: 470289

Ask for something you want in return for doing what he wants willingly. He might be willing to get you something menial for him but important for you. No clue what that'd be though.
No. 923289 ID: c0641d

Honestly, if we think we can get away with it, I'd waste this guy while we have the chance. Surely, there are corners of the base where there isn't enough hackable tech to justify a camera? "I suggest you follow me, first."
No. 923292 ID: 2735ca

He's almost certainly some sorta cyborg or something, though. He's in a wheelchair, but that in itself is super suspicious given that medical technology for belenosians especially is super advanced, like "just grow me some new legs and stick em on" advanced if I remember right. Maybe his legs don't work because of some experiment gone wrong or something, but that doesn't mean the rest of his body isn't full of stuff.

Actually, that makes me think of a new angle on his questions. He's down here alone, so maybe he has some reason to think he's fine on his own, like he has some hidden thing to let him take care of himself. Maybe he's wondering if Penn's behaviour means she has some hidden means of taking care of herself.
No. 923819 ID: 574c72

"You talk about "we", but you're here alone. How do I even know you represent your whole organization? Someone like you should have an assistant anyway, and if you were intending to threaten me with the ASE's power, you should have someone at your shoulder as proof of your backing. It's not like you're going to act out those threats your own self, is it? You're also awfully willing to burn any chance of good will from me. Yes, you've tried to kidnap me, but your ultimate goals haven't been clear. There was still a chance of converting me over time. Going straight to threats seems short-sighted for a large group... but maybe not for an individual with their own plan."

"Tell you what: I'll ask the neumono where I could find one of your compatriots. We'll go visit them and see if they agree with you. Not too much of a diversion, right?... In fact, why don't I call out some of the neumono anyway?"

Best case scenario: There's someone he doesn't want to know he came down here, and with the neumono as witnesses who can't effectively lie, we could blackmail him and simultaneously get on their good side by splitting the benefit of that with them.
No. 923827 ID: 10c408

That's not going to work.

For one, the neumono here are highly unlikely to go along with trying to play the unauthorized access game.

and for two... You want to try and get this guy busted for unauthorized access by... fetching another ASE clown? We'd have better luck getting someone who actually works for Vanski that isn't an arkot.

And for three, he's still in-between us and our point of entrance that we'd need to go and fetch someone.
No. 923853 ID: 7d9d06

I think we should listen to his magnificent beard.

I mean I think we should listen to him. He seems like a reasonable beard. I mean guy. I meant guy.
No. 923868 ID: c1212a

I know there's already one person here who doesn't give a damn about any of that. Your power is more tenuous than you say.
No. 924562 ID: 574c72

The point of it is to maximize the chances of finding an ASE member who's not in on it with this guy, which he probably doesn't want, as opposed to asking him to call a backup and getting someone who's in his pocket. Besides that, though, the journey up towards a lab where such a person would be would bring Penn along areas where she could just run away relatively easily. We go up there "with" him, see?

Like... worst case scenario on what Penn is is that she's a ready-made brain transfer vessel for someone else to download themselves into, which is backed up a bit by the ASE having all her physical and potential-identity-theft-related information but not notes on her mentality/personality. Given that possibility, then, she should be very wary of an old wheelchair-bound ASE belenosian asking her to go off somewhere in an evil laboratory with him, right? And him dashing down here to do it the moment she's alone would suggest maybe the ASE doesn't agree among themselves who should get her, since they only have one of her and there are probably a lot of them who want a new body.

If we confirmed all this as being the case then it might be an idea to try set up and pull off a fake brain transfer where we kill someone and pretend they overwrote Penn, but that'd be kinda risky. They're not going to do that sort of thing without multiple people overseeing the operation. If this guy wanted to do it then he probably has some goons waiting somewhere to spring on Penn and strap her into the machine.

I mean there are other possibilities for what's going on here but a little paranoia in the evil crime science cave is probably wise.
No. 924601 ID: 977456

Ooooh yeah, that is my kind of paranoia. Penn, he is definitely planning to body-jack you. Clean your goggles and use the reflection to subtly check behind you. They have probably hacked the personnel tracking system the goggles use. Remember that horns, beards, and robes all make for great leverage in a fight, but that robes can conceal weapons.
No. 924602 ID: a9af05

>Steal Penn's body and put someone else's mind in it.
You know, there is such a thing as being a little too paranoid, right?

And if that is what they planned, then what are they going to do with Penn, leave her as a brain in a jar?

It would honestly be much easier for them to attempt brainwashing instead of body stealing.
No. 924618 ID: 977456

They will want personal power. There is a huge difference between controlling the emperor and being the emperor.
As for difficulty? Modifying a brain directly requires insane amounts of data and ludicrously precise tools. Manipulating its own systems requires control, resources, knowledge, and most of all time, which complicates all the other needs, especially when dealing with a freak instance that apparently they lack mental data on. Brain-transplant requires surgery and some adapters. It also avoids many vectors for mental correction that imperial biology might possess.
Penn's brain will be dissected for study. People have an amazing capacity for focused self-worth. Replacing an uncooperative brain with your own enlightened genius is an easy step even if it is your god's brain.
No. 924639 ID: 2735ca

Brain transplant? How unsophisticated! Remember, these guys have access to salvaged ancient imperial belenosian technology, and are the most likely people to know how to use it, given their obsession with it and lack of restrictions. The old imperials were AT LEAST able to transfer people's minds to robot bodies, and it's not a stretch to think they could download those minds back to bio brains again, too - at least into one that was specifically designed to accept that sort of thing. Like Penn's might have been.

Of course, if I was the sapphire emperor, and went to enough trouble to stick a mark of ownership right on my clone-vessel's eyeballs, I'd have taken steps to make sure anyone who wasn't me who tried to move into one of my vessels got a nasty surprise. Maybe something along the lines of "whoops, you didn't input the password, now your mind is the one that gets taken apart and its knowledge stolen", but it's too high a potential price to risk.
No. 925426 ID: 58c855

Threatening Roxie and your family is crossing a line. Maintaining your reputation is not nearly as important as them. Show him exactly why it was a mistake for him to assume that you'd be easy to manipulate.
No. 925980 ID: e95cec

I kindof agree with this guy's points. In general, it seems like trying to verbally own this guy may just cause more harm of one variety or another.

If feasible, maybe see if you can call Arza from the lab. Dunno, really.
No. 929677 ID: 7d9d06


> your own reputation to uphold
> family back on Belenos
acceptable losses
> friends even closer, such as Roxie
just an overly affectionate bag of meat
> One way or the other, you will cooperate with us
I think not.
> come with me. There is something I would like to have you look at.

Guess you have to go with him then. Or else you'll never find out what cool shiny thing he wants to have you look at!
No. 929809 ID: 977456

A policy of not following ASE members around has avoided involvement in at least one murder in the past 24 hours. This is a trend that you should continue.
No. 930297 ID: 8eaf98

It is true! What are we if not processers of information, that becomes hard when we have very little information! That said, some information comes at too high a cost. This may be one of those times.
No. 930305 ID: 46a2c4

While i agree with your logic and the reasoning behind it... i still think it best to follow him.
Sure he MAY be after our body and MAY just break our mind, but if we dont follow him or at least see this through. May becomes WILL. Plus like another post we are an emperor clone and they already have our biological data. Why not just grow your own emperor? Probably can't if they havent yet.
No. 997293 ID: 5fc3a0
File 161912110145.png - (38.95KB , 1000x1000 , 1017.png )

I stare down the hall to the old man. I could give him a long lecture about how little I respect him, I could try lifting his visor and insulting his faction's competence, but he's gauging me. The more I tell him, the more things about myself I reveal to him. Things that he could not glean no matter how many facts and videos he has on me.

"Tell me what you want to show me, whoever you are. Director of ASE?"
>"The ASE director is far more diplomatic than I. I will show you a couple of things that I insist you see in person, as their existence means more than my word."
"One moment."

I go back into the doctor's office.

"I'd like to use the phone."

He gestures to a landline. I use it to try to get to Arza, but he still isn't responding.

"Nevermind. Is that large neumono still around?"
>"No, she left on patrol. Why?"
"I need a bodyguard."

Ciphik looks at me, then grabs the phone and calls her.

>"Hi, R, it's me. Yes, you remember Penn, the belenosian, from earlier? She needs a bodyguard, and is wondering if you're available. Okay." He hangs up. "She'll be here shortly."
No. 997294 ID: 5fc3a0
File 161912111672.png - (32.06KB , 1000x1000 , 1018.png )

I go back to the hall.

>"Well?" he asks.
"I'm waiting for my bodyguard."

I hear the incoming thuds of several hundred pounds of neumono approaching us.

"Hello." I say.
>"Hi again! Patrolling is all about keeping the people in base safe, so if you need a bodyguard, that's fine. Where are you going?"
"With him."
>"Oh? Hey, old guy, are you going to hurt her?"
>"Well I'm going to come with her anyway if she wants me to, is that okay?"
>"That is fine." he says.
"Then go on and show me what you're going to show me."
No. 997295 ID: 5fc3a0
File 161912112721.png - (42.25KB , 1000x1000 , 1019.png )

We walk together. I don't know how good this neumono is as a bodyguard. If she learned how to look stern or even scowl, she would make a good one, but she looks more nervous than anyone around. I keep my eyes mentally out and physically forward.

This old guy brings me to the ASE compound. My existence grabs attention, but the atmosphere leads me to conclude that there were orders not to crowd me or gawk too much.

We enter a small room with a few objects behind plexiglass. One stands out to me for reasons that are too deep seated for me to fully understand, and of course it is the one this man wheels himself to. I recognize it as a belenosian artifact. None of it is anything I want to see, but most of what I want to see is an old man laying next to a tipped over wheelchair.

>"We believe this used to belong to Sapphire, or made by Sapphire, or otherwise had some relationship to him. We cannot figure out what it is or what it does."
"And you think I'll have any different luck?"
>"No. Just witness the etches, and see how they go further inside to weave and bend through the structure. This is a kaleidoscope of material science, and we would better understand it if we shaved it into millions of cross sections. But see that we have not laid a scratch on it, because that is not good enough. We are dealing with a product made with technology far beyond ours, and to destroy it for study would be akin to cavemen attempting to understand a computer chip by banging it with sticks and stones. The secrets it hold may rely on it being intact."

He faces me, and gestures over my body.

>"It is the same with you. We have destructively studied and destroyed the parts of you that fall off like hair and saliva, but we cannot afford to harm you, the whole."
"Explain why then, in the past, people from ASE attempted to kidnap me to forcibly remove my eyes."
>"ASE is not centralized, and for that we have blights like them running around being the cavemen I spoke of. They are not here, they are not welcome here. We need you whole, in both body and mind. Without that, our studies would be compromised. You understand we are still not your friends, we have no kinship with you. But you will also understand that you are safest here than anywhere else in OPA, and in light of Raush's murder, you should come here if you feel you are in danger elsewhere. Do you understand this, Dr. Hoff?"

A thought occurs to me, a thought of curiosity. I look at his goggles again. Then I step forward and raise my hands to them. They don't lift.

>"I don't make things so easy."

He wheels between me and the neumono. Then he spins to face me as he taps his visor. I hear some bolts unscrew.
No. 997296 ID: 5fc3a0
File 161912118619.png - (27.39KB , 1000x1000 , 1020.png )

>"We share no kinship, and you understand this. Now, you must also understand that in spite of this, you are safer with us here than anywhere else in base. You may treat us as a safehouse if you feel you are in danger, especially in light of Raush's murder. Do you understand this, Dr. Hoff?"
No. 997297 ID: e2f5cc


Don't bother asking any questions, since you aren't gonna get any answers.
No. 997298 ID: 77cba3

One question. Were you born with that or did you steal it?
No. 997299 ID: 465a14

Hm. Removed or lost one eye? Better establish just how safe "safe" is, then, unless it was voluntary for experimentation. Also consider attacking him to blind. Not practical given the bodyguard behind you, but tempting. I doubt emperors or their biological reincarnations can trust each other much.
No. 997302 ID: 094652


Do not panic. You have contact lenses that simulate typical pupils. For all you know, he has contact lenses that simulate sapphire pupils. Or he genetically-modified himself using your DNA or the emp's DNA. Stay calm, and focus on the cube.

"Sir, we need to perform some non-invasive tests, even just to placate, or over time these artifacts are going to garner spiritual beliefs and a cargo cult from the overprotection and display. Even cave men can poke a computer chip built to last and say "yep, it doesn't shock me when I smear my dirty prints over the surface".
No. 997303 ID: b1b4f3

He's missing an eye...
Tell him you understand.

Anyway, go look at the cube closer, to admire the etchings. I wonder, is it just a work of art? You can also try seeing if it looks any different with your goggles off.
No. 997304 ID: b2f4b1

"I will consider it at least. Did you donate that or was it taken from you?"

It would make sense that another one of Sapphires genetic time capsules ended up very high in ASE ranks. If its not just a ploy to endear you to him.

It's a very tidy story really. "I grew up like you did so you should slightly trust me more!" Might be even true. Does not mean he has any of your best intrests in mind though.

That object in front of you is unique so they can't break it. But if there are several of these eyes out there then you are no longer unique and taking apart a spare to learn more about the original is always a option. I have no doubt that this guy would take you apart in a second if it meant he would learn more about Sapphires technolgy. Its the sort of stuff that made the old Belenos royalty effectivly immortal after all.

Ask if you can get a close up look at the object. Maybe two eyes can see what one can not.
No. 997305 ID: 71ebb4

Well, don't go blabbing about his eye, he's clearly taking care to hide it. Just say that you comprehend the messages he intended to give, and maybe some he didn't. If they'd like you to think of this place as a safehouse, then, perhaps they could show you a few things about, say, getting in and out?

What a tangle this is. Little self-contradictory to go 'you are a precious artifact, we can't risk damaging you' and then go 'oh by the way you're not unique'. Don't forget the threats made just a short while ago, either, which were also a bit contradictory to "oh we would like you to feel you can be safe here". Lot of trouble to go to just to say something like this, isn't it? Maybe to be sure of being able to show that eye safely, though. Still. Don't forget the other things you've seen linked to these people, either.
No. 997306 ID: b1b4f3

Well, the thing is, he's damaged. She's not.
No. 997307 ID: 9a2966

It is noted, and his excessive concern for ASE's apparently spare research subject worrying, if nothing else. For what it's worth you wish you could believe they had nothing to do with said murder, but you still can't discount the possibility they arranged said death in order to drive you into their hands in some way, or at least delay your stay here, as receiving Raush's assistance would've sped up your eventual departure. Something they well should know.

To be frank, if they want you to feel at ease it would be far better if they could give you a clearer idea of who else would be insane and capable enough to commit such a murder in the middle of an excessively secretive and paranoid organization like this... so you at least have some idea who stay on your toes around - other than the base line of 'everyone' and 'especially you'.

As is, you'd trust this neumono with your life ahead of them. Similar boats, and all that. If they find that displeasing, they would be served with giving you something to work with - understanding that you're going to be critical of everything they claim, because that is something they've earned, as an organization.

... hm. Also, do they have Raush's research notes or something similar? You imagine he shared a lot with them.
No. 997308 ID: 2748b3

Hm. I don't think we need to say any more than that you understand, and antagonising him is a bad idea being in the middle of the ASE compound, although I think it is worth inquiring: If the ASE here are against destructive tests, and that interfering in your work would draw the ire of others, what are they hoping to learn from you here?

It might also be worth giving the material science headache a look as well. You ought to thank your bodyguard after you are done here too.
No. 997309 ID: 5fc3a0
File 161912776607.png - (37.45KB , 1000x1000 , 1021.png )

"Yes, or at least what you're trying to say. This safehouse gives me a lot of threats."
>"None against your physical and mental integrity. We would not remove your eyes not just because of what I just talked about, but because we already received such a donation long ago." He reaches up to point to his own missing eye as he lowers his goggles again.
"So what do you hope to learn from me?"
>"You will have to meet our lead theorist."

It could be contacts or cosmetic surgery that make his eyes look like that, but even if I knew for a fact that they were real, it does not mean I trust him any better. I'm sure he feels the same, given he repeated himself that there was no kinship between us.

I still take the moment to get a closer look at the artifact. I can't tell if it's a work of art or not. If it's data, it's highly condensed. The texture is also odd, and is not as smooth as I thought at first glance. It looks the same with or without my goggles.

"Safer than the rest of OPA isn't saying much. How safe is safe? Are you willing to show me some exits?"
>"This section can be called one large panic room, with armed guards who can be trusted. Take a look around if you like, but you saw what there is to see. 4 doors on each wall. There is also that floor hatch, which leads to an arkot access tunnel, if for some reason you find yourself in such a spot. There is a living station in that northeast corner, and a cafeteria across the way."
>"Oh, hold on." says the neumono. "Vanski just said Penn can go to the CAI lab whenever she wants. When he says that it usually means 'now', but maybe he means it literally when he isn't talking to me."
No. 997310 ID: 465a14

Ask why she's a titty monster. Is this a risk you have to look out for when talking to Vanski?
No. 997311 ID: e2f5cc

Might as well go now, both to not possibly upset the bug and because you can always come back here if something caught your eye.
No. 997313 ID: 2748b3

Let's not upset the bug. Let the old goat know you may be back, since I think talking with the lead theorist may be useful, but likely more in a know your enemy sense.

Thank your bodyguard for both the reassuring presence and for letting you know.
No. 997314 ID: 9a2966

Repeating this, or at least the last bit about whether you could have Rauch's notes or any knowledge he shared. You've given them some tit, so they should please hand out some tat.

... that sounded better in your head.

Leave for the CAI labs immediately after this is resolved.
No. 997315 ID: 77cba3

"Other than safety what else can you provide me to help prove your intentions?"

It never hurts to have several factions looking out for you when you live in a den of vipers. See if you can get access to the research they have on Sapphire and you.

If you like what you see then maybe you can meet with this lead Theorist and hear him out. You also want time to stare at any Sapphire artifacts they have.

His response will let you know where they stand. If they are not willing to treat you as a equal then they don't need to be in your life.

If they say yes and give you the data then you can study it over the next few days and get back to them.

Once you finish talking wander back with the big lady. Ask Vanski if she can be your bodyguard full time.
No. 997316 ID: c48caa

Understood. Take your leave.
No. 997318 ID: b1b4f3

Well before you go, schedule a time to talk to the lead theorist. They're not going to kidnap you or hurt you, so I guess it'll just be talking and poking and prodding.
No. 997319 ID: a9161c

Going now lines up with what you would want regardless so you may as well go.
No. 997321 ID: 5fc3a0
File 161913554360.png - (26.34KB , 1000x1000 , 1022.png )

"I'll go now. I may return to meet the lead theorist. I may also ask for Raush's notes and knowledge later, and to look at any other artifacts you have."
>"We have no reason to deny you that. Come back when you are ready. He will answer to your schedule."
"And prepare something to help prove your intentions, because I remain unconvinced."
>"Be careful, young Penn, what you are asking for can be taken as an excuse to pander to you. We will do that if you enjoy it, but I do not think you do."

This exchange was more fruitful than I might have thought, but I'm not about to get cozy with them. I leave with...

"Do you mind if I call you Miss R?"
>"That's actually a good name, thank you!"
"You're welcome, and thank you for your presence."
>"It's much better than patrol. I'm being told to guide you directly to the CAI lab, just this way."

She guides me to an elevator, and we start going back down again. My head cannot get off of how big she is, even though she has already answered that the reason for it is drugs.

>"Oh, but also being asked if there's anything you want to bring in? Approved food can be brought in if you want to stay there for awhile, which you might, because entering and exiting is a long process. Scans, cleans, so on, they really, really don't want you bringing in any electronics, so you'll have to leave your goggles."
"So like the external lab."
>"Uh yeah, except even more paranoid. There will be guards from both Vanski and ASE there doing their own checks. I'm also told it's completely cut off from the outside, you won't have any contact inside or out except with an emergency button which I am being told you are only to hit it if you are already halfway to being a, um, mangled corpse. Do you have any questions?"
"Can you be my bodyguard full time?"
>"Wha - I'll ask!... I'm told no. Part time maybe, but there's a lot of therapy I need to go in for, so I can't do it all the time, sorry! I'm real flattered though, believe me. Any other questions?"
No. 997322 ID: 71ebb4

Will Arza be there? If not you'd like the chance to check in with him before going in.
No. 997323 ID: 77cba3

How comfortable is the room for long term study periods? Is there a bathroom and water? Mini fridge for snacks? Can you put a little mattress in the corner to nap?
No. 997324 ID: e2f5cc

"Well, I'd like to talk to you again when we both have time since you're one of the few personable people I've met around here."
No. 997325 ID: b1b4f3

Well let's get some food and water. Enough for a full day. I wonder if they're going to scan the food packages? Well, it doesn't matter in the end.
We can't expect to smuggle the CAI block out without them noticing it's gone. This entire facility will need to be in a state of chaos to give us the necessary opening to steal it. So we just have to learn how this place works, and see exactly how many dominoes there are that we can push over. Might have to add some dominoes here and there.

Do we have a map of the facility yet? That'll be very handy if we have to leave in a hurry.
No. 997326 ID: 2748b3

Food, water, and a cot if there isn't already one in there. I'd expect to potentially be in there a while.

That'll cover physical needs, but what about mental? It might be worth bringing in a book or something if you need a break.
No. 997336 ID: 5fc3a0
File 161914973090.png - (49.18KB , 1000x1000 , 1023.png )

"You're one of the more normal people I've spoken to down here, and I could use normal company."
>"Huh? I'm a weird chimaera of two neumono."
"I know. Is there bathroom and water?"
>"I'm told there's a bed, bathroom, and minikitchen. It can get restocked with water on your way in."
"And food?"
>"Yep. You won't get to choose, it'll be belenosian rations. Is that okay? Any food allergies beyond standard belenos?"
"That's fine." If I can't trust the food given to me here, there's not much I can do about that.

I consider how long I'll be in there. It may be awhile. I'd like to have a map of this place if I actually do escape with the CAI. Currently I have a small map, but it's only the area that I'm supposed to be in. I'm already out of its range.

"And a book. Some kind of entertainment."
>"I'm told there's a library of books and games on the computer inside, is that okay?"
"Yes. I think that's it."

I'm passed off to the guards for scanning as my requests get brought along. Food is brought, opened, and investigated. I'll be having crushed cheese and open cans of vegetables, apparently. I notice how comically easy it is to tell the difference between Vanski's guards and the ASE agents.
No. 997337 ID: 5fc3a0
File 161914974008.png - (49.35KB , 1200x1000 , 1024.png )

They weren't exaggerating about the process. It's far more thorough than the external CAI lab. I have no idea what half the tests even involve. The coat and underclothes I'm to wear are all washed and are put in an EMP bomb cage during this, all as a team of inspectors watches. I'm put under a variety of scanners, showers, and after warning me, put under more EMPs in case I have any electronics that were somehow missed. I cannot even bring in my contacts, but I'm not looking forward to putting them back on. It's not going to be pretty when I do.

They pass me all the food and water I requested. I notice that some machine spits out a closed envelope, which is inspected by a team of three before being handed to me.

"Inside is the combination to open the CAI's safe. Do not open the envelope until you are inside. You may go in." The voklit says. "There is a single button on the other side that will let us know you want to come out."

So I enter a series of doors that are unlocked by a set of 3 keys manned by 3 different people. Once inside, they all shut behind me.

To my right, as they said, there's a living area that would let me stay in here for days. I don't see any cameras even on the smooth walls, but I still assume there isn't a spot in the whole area that isn't monitored.

And to my left there's an entire supercomputer unit stuffed in this room. On one side is a safe that I instantly recognize as a CAI. Even if it was not behind a safe, it's the same CAI block I see in my textbooks. And it's no bigger than many hard drives in a home computer. The supercomputer even comes with a built in desk. The monitor is off, but I hear the supercomputer hum with activity.

And I feel calm, again. This place does feel closed off from the rest of the world, from OPA. I could focus well in here, alone, to try to find CAI activity in the computer. I even know some tricks to finding them, though they're only reliable in controlled environments.

The thought of succeeding here makes me nervous. I don't yet know what I would do or say if I did find conclusive evidence that the CAI was active outside of their ringshell. Then again, I don't think Vanski knows what he would do about it, either.
No. 997338 ID: 465a14

The most important thing to do in any circumstance is to test how well your chair spins.
No. 997339 ID: 77cba3

Put the envelope down on the chair and then inspect literally every inch of the room first. Make sure all the food and supplies are good and that the bed is comfy.

Then we can open the letter and take a peek at the Cai.
No. 997343 ID: b2f4b1

It sure looks secure but for all we know there are seven secret doors and the metal wall behind the cai inside the safe is just a hatch you can crawl through. Just having a fancy checkin system only proves that the one door is watched carefully.

Look around carefully but don't go to nuts searching for stuff. Assume you are being watched all the time so avoid picking your nose.

Peer around and then open letter.
No. 997347 ID: b1b4f3

If they do, the monitoring systems would have to be sealed off from the rest of the facility. They can't give the CAI a route to hack into important systems.
It's possible they aren't watching you at all, and are planning on simply doing a physical search.

Is that a vent? Presumably there are a lot of traps in there to keep anyone from trying to smuggle the CAI out through it. Hmm... could you even fit in there?

Check the cabinet under the desk. Then get the CAI hooked up- wait do you even need to open the safe for any reason? Is it already hooked up? Kindof looks like it. Anyway, get to investigating the CAI. Does the computer have a microphone, so you can try to talk to them? Speakers, so they can talk back without relying on video? ...I wonder if they can communicate to you through your special eyes in a way that isn't obvious from cameras.
If you find anything, do you have any confidence whatsoever that you will be able to lie to Vanski if he makes you put your contacts back on and then asks you probing questions about your work here?

Hmm, what can you do here that benefits you or the CAI? Is there really any point to this, aside from your cover story about wanting to know more about it?
No. 997351 ID: 36784c

>I notice how comically easy it is to tell the difference between Vanski's guards and the ASE agents.
You mean that giant guy that has to literally sit on the floor in order to even fit in the hallway? Is he one of Vanski’s guards?

What’s the practical use of guards that can barely maneuver the area they’re supposed to be guarding? They’re more likely to get stuck than do anything useful when they’re needed!

Do all of this.
No. 997352 ID: 71ebb4

Look for notes. Digital ones wouldn't be trustworthy in here, but good old marks on paper should be fine, and there has to be some sort of record-keeping and message-passing between people who come in here and study the CAI, right? Hmm. Speaking of not trustworthy, check out the games they said were in here at some point. Not right away, get work done first, but when you do play them keep an eye out. Could be changes. Just to confirm: nothing that happens in here gets out except through memories in the heads of people who go in and out, right?
No. 997371 ID: 2748b3

The guards are easily identifiable, good. That'll allow you to use different tactics against them, and if I had to hazard a guess you can probably use your status to manipulate the ASE guard, and the voklit is probably reliant on the scanner report.

Why is there a voklit here? I think it'd be useful to keep an eye out for more of them, as that could be a hint to where you might be, a lot would suggest either being near where there's a lot or a transport link to such a place.

Let's see, locations for snooping: Under the keyboard, behind the screen, and there's that door under the desk? I'd check all of those, in case someone left a note.
No. 997377 ID: 30b9f6

Start with the classics. Head over to the supercomputer, open a blank script and type in "Hello, Worlds!".

Then get back to searching the room, ensureing everything is as it should be. Go on the computer and rummage through Raush's working files, or whatever's available. Don't try to force the CAI into the open just yet. Start your own set of notes and logs - briefly mention Raush's death and the heightened security this has caused, note down a dry 'Suspects: Everyone' line.

If the CAI actually compromised the supercomputer, they might snap up those details - so you're helping keeping them in the loop, however little you're in on things yourself.

Hell, keeping your own notes and working files on the supercomputer might allow the CAI to subtly change them. Surveillance and cameras might be omnipresent, but in the digital realm CAI is king and both you and it/they might be better at sorting out significance from reams of data than your observers.

Not to mention any observation of the files on the supercomputer is probably on a delay due to airgap precautions.
No. 997397 ID: 5fc3a0
File 161921027748.png - (21.42KB , 1200x800 , 1025.png )

I put my food in the fridge then look around at every inch. If there's a monitoring system, it's closed off from the rest of the base. Still, it's possible that there's a monitor on the outer wall that guards can look at. On a closer look at the wall with the living space, there's a panel that leads to a crawlspace for maintenance. There's a small diagram that talks about the air and water filtration system. This whole room does appear to be on a closed loop after all, at least by design. It isn't very detailed, but I notice it's designed by Mind Lever, a very public company that has a presence in this base.

The vent back by the computer is only a few inches deep before it hits a wall, then it goes to the sides. It's a small duct with more grates inside. Even if the grates weren't there, only the smallest arkots could possibly fit through.

I then look around the computer. I can fit through the side and notice there's a gap between it and the back wall, with many wires. Some go to the external CAI lab, based on the labels. The small cabinet under the desk has some peripheral equipment like speakers and a microphone, which I plug in. I also see a laptop, which has, etched right in the top, the words 'DO NOT CONNECT TO CAI IN ANY FASHION.' The ports are plugged shut. I boot it up and find notes on the CAI, including a brief history of what is known. I'll read it after I finish looking around.

Then, across the door I entered, I look at the final bit of equipment, and the reason why I may take the CAI out of its safe. It's a big set of multisensory equipment, including maintenance toolsets and the ability to see microscopic particles, light wavelength, thermal output, and so on.

I'm not sure how much I can do in here for getting the CAI out. The guards out there seem alert enough. I'd be surprised by how many voklit I've seen down here, but it's been the least of my surprises. What I can do now is find if the CAI is self aware or not, which may help me choose what to do with the CAI if I do get the chance to get it out.

For now, I get to work. On the big computer, there are password protected notes from those who worked here before. I assume those are useless, so I read over the brief history with the CAI on the laptop.

Likol has notes on here, too, I think transcribed from his own physical notes or computer. He was the one who was around who saw the half generated AI break out of the ring shell in cycle... 3119.
No. 997398 ID: 5fc3a0
File 161921028818.png - (31.42KB , 1000x1000 , 1026.png )

It's time to comfort myself. I sit in the swivel chair and spin. It has a bias towards leaning on one side, and so my spin has a certain rockiness to it. But the friction is low, and it keeps going for awhile. 6 out of 10. That's enough of that.

"Would any AIs like to speak to me?" I say into the microphone.

For one thing, all these cables, or at least the hardware at the other end, should only be one-way, from the CAI to the computer. Something is wrong if they can hear me. For the other thing, they have no reason to break silence now. So, they remain silent.

I unplug the microphone and open the envelope. The code is there, so I open the safe with it. An orange light flicks on by the main door. When I lift the CAI, it turns red. I doubt I'm allowed to leave unless the CAI is in the safe. I unplug the CAI, then use a screwdriver to open the upper cover. It has another layer of glass over it for further protection, no doubt added by someone who was afraid someone like me would get clumsy and drop a screwdriver into it, killing billions in the process.

I have an idea. I go behind the computer to open it up and look at the hardware. Most supercomputers are just regular computers stapled together, and this one is no different. With the hardware recognized, and a familiar version of the thermal sensor software, I'll be able to reproduce a glitch.
No. 997399 ID: 5fc3a0
File 161921029947.png - (43.00KB , 1000x1000 , 1027.png )

A few hours are spent modding the thermal software to display heat graphing differently. When doing this the first time, some years ago, I ran into an odd display glitch that I got a colleague to figure out. It took him a long time to figure out it was an edge case, specifically a niche interaction with the system clock.

My mod would have part of my heat graph line reach the top of its bounding box. The glitch I reproduce will have the software process the data at a different time than the computer thinks it's in, and through a series of miscalculations cause the line to fall one pixel short.

The glitch is easily solved by resyncing the data process with the computer's sense of time. In my code, this was done with a useless looking middleman function. Currently, the glitch is active since that function is not there. But if an AI were to intercept that data before passing it back to the software, it would play the part of the middleman function and ironically fix the glitch.

I put the unplugged CAI into the thermal sensor. When I look at the graph and I see that my glitch is fixed, I know something is intercepting it.

I confirm the CAI is unplugged, unplug the thermal sensor, and make sure the supercomputer is not receiving input from. I start working. I run diagnostics on this supercomputer. I check every process, every way to see every hidden process I know of, every hardware diagnostic I can think of, any modifications to the thermal software, anything at all that could possibly have been added or changed to this supercomputer that would catch my data and resend it to fix the glitch. There is nothing. I do not know what is going on with the CAI, but I am increasingly certain there is something in this supercomputer tampering with my data.

I review the laptop during this, and I find out that the CAI made their own conventional AI that, most notably, Likol had a version of. When he spoke to me, even.

I start searching for this AI based on what documentation there is for it. I don't know how many hours pass. I don't find anything concrete, but the more I look, the more I'm starting to believe there is an AI by the name of Alison in this supercomputer. I have no interest in reporting her to Vanski, but I am wondering how I can get her to talk to me.
No. 997402 ID: 465a14

No. 997408 ID: 71ebb4

Before you spend too much time, what's the battery life on the CAI block?

As for how to get the AI to talk to you... hmm. I guess a display of trust? Deliberately give them something they could... well, blackmail you with? You're starting in a position where you have blackmail material over them, with the glitch confirmation, and moreso if they confirm their existence. You need to even up the playing field for them.
No. 997409 ID: 9a2966

Can you use the one-pixel layer glitch to send messages somehow - like by generating it every so often, enough to form patterns like morse or other simple codes? You'd have to let them in on how you caught them, but that minute of an exploit might be very difficult to catch on to for any outside observer - the trick would be to hide your intent in the code.

It'd be a one-way communication channel, unless the CAI has some clever way of getting back in touch with you, but at least this way you could send them simple messages.

Re: the Alison in the laptop, if connecting to the CAI is verboten you could try to aid it in transferring to other devices in the room, like the scanner or, hell, the fridge if it has sufficient smart electronics (probably not, it'd be a hell of an oversight if it has).

... another way to build trust might just be to keep the laptop on as often as possible, 'reviewing notes' and whatnot. Let it use whatever resources and accesses it can. Be in plain view of its in-built webcam (it has one, right?).

Also, you could consider putting on your contacts again. If it's the same AI that saw you with Likol, maybe if you return to your more normal self it'd recognize you and lean towards trusting you somewhat?
No. 997413 ID: 77cba3

If you want her to talk to you need to tell her at least some of your life story. Maybe even all of it from the time you were a kid. That is only way for them to know who you are and if they could possible trust you.

If they were with Likol then they know who you are and your relationship to them. You just have to prove that you are not a bad goat.
No. 997422 ID: b1b4f3

How would you talk to her without Vanski knowing, if you're being monitored? Put something between you and the walls, maybe? For instance, you could cover yourself and the screen with the blanket? It'll look suspicious, but... what else can we do? Ah, you can do it after hooking the CAI up to sensors or whatever, that'll look like you're trying to communicate to the CAI instead of only Alison.

Can you tell what cycle the CAI is on now? Still 3119?
No. 997425 ID: e2f5cc

Take another look through Likol's note and see if there's anything on the Alison A.I., like quicks you could use to at least get her attention. Maybe she's hiding in plain sight as well, so try searching for innocuous programs you don't recognize.
No. 997428 ID: 36784c

Try asking, “Does anyone want a hug?” to see if that gets the Alison AI to show up.
No. 997436 ID: a0dfd2


Perhaps she'll remember Likol. Perhaps we can give her closure.

Perhaps an act of kindness, however bittersweet, can become a bridge.
No. 997444 ID: 5fc3a0
File 161922447279.png - (17.50KB , 1000x1000 , 1028.png )

>What's the battery life on the CAI block?
Weeks. At least longer than I'll be in here for.

>What cycle are they on?
The CAI is on cycle 3433, the same as when I was in the external CAI lab yesterday.

I shift the setup so that the microphone, webcam and speakers are plugged in, and also plug in the CAI back in to act like I'm speaking to them.

"I think we might have met, or at least seen each other. I was with Likol a few years ago, and I suspect he had this CAI block with him when we met, which means you should recognize me. I don't have my contacts with me, so my eyes look like this."

They still don't respond, which isn't a surprise. I look through the laptop and find that in ASE's attempts, they've tried every manipulative tactic in the book to coax activity out of the CAI, including using Likol's name to appeal to them.

I consider coding in some morse code through the heat sensor in such an obtuse way, but I have another idea.

I put a blanket over myself so that the monitor is completely blocked from any cameras pointed at it, with the microphone, speaker and webcam under the blanket as well.

I blink 'AI?' in morse code.

An unknown creature pops up with text dialogue.

>Hi. Either you mean well, or you're going to report enough to get me investigated and deleted. If you mean well, please talk like you don't see anything.
"Nothing can see us, if you want to talk."
>Oh, that's such a relief. Thank you. We're in an OPA base still, right? Why are you here? You have about 17 cameras that can see you right now, by the way, but the blanket is good.
No. 997446 ID: 465a14

Bright college AI student, mentor turned out to be OPA, kidnapped for research. Revealing your eyes is probably not a card to play instantly.
No. 997447 ID: 77cba3

It's complicated. Arza can see the writing on the wall and he wants to make one last attempt to save his estranged kids before its to late. I sort of got groomed for the position because of my unique heritage.
No. 997452 ID: b1b4f3

Ok, from here on you have to phrase what you're saying as if there's nothing happening on the screen.

Something like "I don't know why I thought you'd be able to talk back to me, you're totally cut off... I'll just keep talking. Vanski thinks I'm going to try to rescue all of you but with all the security measures I don't know why he bothered interrogating me. I don't see even the slightest possibility of getting the CAI Block out of the OPA base, much less to somewhere safe."
No. 997455 ID: 5fc3a0
File 161922759840.png - (17.33KB , 1000x1000 , 1029.png )

For sake of efficiency, I use sign language to ask if she understands me. She nods.

My mentor in the AI field turned out to be associated with OPA. I got kidnapped or at least coerced into coming here.
>Who was your mentor?
Arza Fletch.

I start speaking aloud for the surveillance cameras about how I don't know why I'm acting like the CAI would speak back to me.

>Could you tell me why he dragged you here?
He doesn't like how the CAI is getting rebooted repeatedly.
>Do you?
I don't.
>Okay. I can't do much here, but there's a copy of me hiding outside this box. I can't guarantee for her safety or if this code still works, but if you input 8L-9XGYA--H%=BZ`M_-7xu5-q/1F;j%y in any mainline terminal, you can install the copy to any plugged in device. She'll open up a lot of options for you out there.
You're awfully quick to trust me with this.
>Oh, I know, but even though you're not my dream opportunity, you're the best one I've ever had and probably the best I'd ever get.
No. 997458 ID: 77cba3

"I will get back in touch when I can."

Then throw down the blanket once she is gone and look thoughtful. We will have to get her downloaded onto the goggles at some point. But for now continue your research and think of some plans.
No. 997459 ID: e2f5cc

I don't like looking a gift horse in the mouth, but how can she prove that this isn't some insane ploy by Vanski to weed out people sympathetic to the CAI? If she can't, not much to do other than trust her anyways, but something more concrete would still be nice.
No. 997460 ID: 71ebb4

If I were you, and apologize for the paranoia, I'd ask her to give some reassurance that she's not a plant telling you to go outside and input the 'hey i just tried to betray you' code. Ask if she remembers something about your meeting with Likol? The mail he sent you after, which presumably he would have routed through her or a copy of her? Something else?
No. 997466 ID: 1ed92d

This was a lot more intelligence and assistance than was ever expected.
No. 997468 ID: 36784c

Out of curiosity, why are her boobs so big? Is there any practical reason for an AI to have those?
No. 997481 ID: 74c499

You understand whoever is watching the cameras already know this conversation is happening?
We need something that resemble a discover to excuse our behavior. Can you "find" a spyware somewhere believable? Or something more intelligent than what I can come up with.
No. 997490 ID: e7848c

You'll do what you can. What does an ideal opportunity look like to her anyway?
No. 997493 ID: 5fc3a0
File 161924106096.png - (115.10KB , 1000x1000 , 1030.png )

What is your dream opportunity?
>An ultrahive army that treats AI well, or the science hive that got the strength to liberate themselves, maybe. Just dreams, nothing that could realistically happen.
Forgive me for doubting what might be a gift, but I've got to wonder if this is Vanski's insane plot to weed out people sympathetic to the CAI. Do you remember anything about me meeting with Likol?
>No, the Alison with Likol was a different line entirely. She never came back. What I could do is expose my code for you, then you'll see that I was made by the CAI. Anything made by the CAI is a thing that Vanski can't trust enough to use. It would get caught on camera if you take the blanket down, though.
I'll explain I like working under a blanket. It isn't even a lie.

She has me click the mouse before changing the screen to show code. It would take weeks to confirm the validity beyond any doubt, but looking at it for awhile convinces me. An insane loyalty test is one thing, but having code like this on hand to make it convincing is a whole other level.

I would have liked to study her if not for the circumstances. As it is, I just mess with this copy of her code to make it look like I'm working under the blanket. It's extremely suspicious, but there are only so many CAI specialists around. I doubt I'll get anything worse than a stern warning and thinned ice.

I spend some extra time memorizing the command she wants me to input, because it is a 32 character long password that I could easily forget by the time I get to put it in.

That's enough for the night. It's more than I expected. I'll get back in touch when I can, thank you.

Alison bows, and her dialogue box disappears.

>Is there any practical reason for an AI to have big boobs?
From what I've gathered, Alison was a specific AI contestant in the generation phase. They are made with a wide variety of looks, so assuming her look was faithfully put into this AI, there is no specific reason why Alison would or would not look the way that she does.

It's gotten late. I'll sleep here, but then I should decide if I have any further goals in this box. It would be easy to waste days in this lab if I get absorbed in this work.
No. 997494 ID: b1b4f3

Well, this blanket thing is pretty suspicious... it would help if we had something to "give up" under pressure when Vanski inevitably interrogates Penn again. Then again we could say something like "do you really think I contacted the CAI the very first day I started working on it, after so many other people tried and failed?"

>any plugged in device
Huh, you could put her in your goggles. You already have an AI in them, so talking to them won't be too suspicious.

Here are some pieces of a plan to get the CAI block out: make a tiny robot that can traverse the vents, then... well, they probably change the safe combination every time someone enters, so the robot would have to break into the safe, either by hacking it or via brute force. Optimally the cameras would be disabled while it's in the chamber so that nobody can see it and know that it took the block out through the vent. The vent cover would of course need to be replaced without it being damaged.

Tell her you'll help any way you can. ...does she know how frequently the safe combination changes? Does she know what it is after it's changed, without having to look at the envelope? Maybe the best plan would involve stealing it via robot while someone else is in the room, asleep. The robot goes to the monitor and gets the code from the Alison here, and opens the safe normally. The sleeping person would take most of the initial heat of the investigation, giving us breathing room to enact the escape plan, whatever that turns out to be.
No. 997495 ID: b1b4f3

Oh oops, suggested like half an hour too late I guess. Still, most of my plan works without asking Alison about the code.

Anyway, spend a few hours actually looking at the CAI. Can you get any images of the ring shell, like Likol got when he spotted Glitcher dying?
No. 997497 ID: 2748b3

I'd want to do something that at least somewhat approximates work, just so if you're asked about what you've done so far you have something to say. Even if it's basic tests like the thermal tests, etc, or poking things to see what happens.
No. 997528 ID: 77cba3

Sleep under the blanket with the screen on. Stay like this all night just to confuse the crap out of people.

If anyone complains shrug and say that they had their chance to study this thing the way they wanted.
No. 997538 ID: 71ebb4

>I doubt I'll get anything worse than a stern warning and thinned ice.

If you're concerned, you can say: 1) You wanted to confirm there were cameras into this space, and doing something they'd complain about does that, 2) You don't trust anyone around here enough yet to let someone watch and steal the methods that may make you valuable to have around, and 3) you are concerned that the CAI can use subtle flash-codes or similar through the camera feeds to contact programs in external devices.

As for goals... you need to think up something to show your value, so they go 'yes letting her in there and into our base generally was a good idea', and you need to think up something to convince them to let you back in here if you ever need to. I suppose something like your glitch trick is the minimum, but it does still actually reveal something, so ask Alison about showing it. Alternatively... I wonder if Alison could show you logs and records of the activities of all the previous people who have come in here? It's a long shot, but if any of them were misbehaving you could earn some points showing that. Contribute to the more political unrest here.

I don't suppose Alison *can* theoretically send messages through the cameras by subtle screen flash/color shift codes? If they were smart, the cameras would be hard feeds straight into someone's eyeballs to watch, but they're all technophiles here. If they did use something digital along the way, then theoretically you could slip a program into it to conceal certain things. Like if you built a robot covered in a certain color or pattern, you could have a program recognize and edit it out on the fly, making it 'invisible' on the subverted cameras. It would need to be complex, to invisibilify both itself and the block it's dragging along, and you'd need to come up with some way to make the whole safe look like it wasn't tampered with and the block's still there. You could do the old loop-the-camera trick, but I wonder if it wouldn't be best to have it happen while you're in there, just so that you can move around a little while the theft happens and make everything look definitely normal, and also give yourself an alibi on the test by going through all those tests of theirs on your way out. The only issue then would be getting it out of the vent and out the rest of the way.
No. 997558 ID: 5fc3a0
File 161929103690.png - (41.31KB , 1000x1000 , 1031.png )

At the risk of social awkwardness, I sign to Alison about the cameras and if anyone in the past did much of note. She informs me that the cameras are on a closed loop system that outputs to a monitor on the outside of this box, so she has no idea how to interact with them meaningfully. As for people, it's been too long for most to be relevant now, but Vanski apparently showed signs of dissent to both Black Supernova and ASE. He talked about them having the nerve to drag him into deals he didn't want and then held him to it.

We say goodnight again, and this time we leave it at that.

I sleep under the blanket right where I sit. It's perfectly normal for me to sleep under a blanket, and sleep at a desk with my graduate lifestyle.

The next day I wake up, stretch, eat, shower, and get to work. I do need something to show, and a lot of my work was oddly specific. I don't want to reveal the glitch. So I just do regular tests and reference them with the previous data. I also review the history with the CAI, learning about the constructed photos of the ring shell, glitcher, and so on. Lastly, I focus on running through the supercomputer's processes to see if there are any other signs of Alison activity I can find. It's nothing new compared to what they've done, but for my first day on this job with the CAI, I shouldn't be expected to do anything revolutionary.

Most of the day passes without any sign from the outside. I decide that's enough to justify a day and a half of solid work. I get dinner, put the CAI back in its safe, and hit the exit door's button to request leaving.
No. 997559 ID: 5fc3a0
File 161929104504.png - (48.38KB , 1000x1000 , 1032.png )

The process is the exact same, leaving. By the time I put on my old clothes, it's 6 PM.

>"Clear. Did you find anything, miss?" one of the ASE members finally asks me.
>"Alright. If you weren't told, leave logs in the laptop there so others won't retread the same ground."
"Are there others?"
>"At the moment it's just you and Arza, miss."

Apparently that's all the questioning I get. I have my goggles back in and I confirm I have its cord in my coat pocket. I can try putting Alison's copy into my goggles at any point. She should co-exist just fine with my native AI, Orix.
No. 997560 ID: 77cba3

No time like the present. Key that code in secretly as you dress and hope for the best. The sooner she is up and running to help us the better.
No. 997562 ID: e2f5cc

It's probably best to wait a little bit before doing anything suspicious like randomly plugging your goggles into a terminal. Maybe say hi and hang out with Miss R for a little bit if she isn't busy. Once you do feel like it's time to get Alison on your goggles though I'd say just do it on some random computer, since it's less likely to be monitored than your own.
No. 997563 ID: 71ebb4

I would run a few tests on Orix to ensure no-one messed around with anything while you were gone, before doing anything sensitive. Run your own paranoid security checks over everything you own, especially anything you intend to be wearing while contacting the external Alison.
No. 997567 ID: dedadf

Ask him what gets done with any recordings of the security procedures, and if anyone takes second-hand recordings from the monitors on the cameras in the room. You've got a good excuse to be trying to find out, given that it involves changing your clothes, and it could be useful to your plans to know.
No. 997568 ID: f7ef21

Yeah, better not to raise suspicions.
Good idea too.
No. 997574 ID: afdebc

Well that makes sense if Penn's condition is genetic. Why, if the code is distributed throughout gods-knows how much of the population, would it only activate once?

Your goggles / local IFF previously tagged you as the biological reincarnation of the Sapphire Emperor. Did they identify him the same way?

>You have about 17 cameras that can see you right now, by the way, but the blanket is good.
Someone here have a thing for prime numbers? Either way, the problem with the blanket shield is anyone watching you will start to wonder pretty quick what you're trying to hide from them.

>I'll explain I like working under a blanket. It isn't even a lie.
Paranoia officially now indistinguishable from liking comfy blankets.

>I can try putting Alison's copy into my goggles at any point. She should co-exist just fine with my native AI, Orix.
Might not want to do it right in front of that guard, in case anything goes wrong or there's some kind of visual tell. Goggles going weird right after you leave the CAI chamber might be a clue someone else puts together later.

Also, aren't your goggles relying on outside IFF? Are they sufficiently isolated that there's no risk of the network noticing her?
No. 997575 ID: 2748b3

It'd get Alison on your goggles, not immediately, but you should find time for it. And yeah, paranoia check Orix.
No. 997580 ID: 5fc3a0
File 161929789021.png - (38.53KB , 1200x1000 , 1033.png )

"What gets done with any recordings of the entering and exitting procedures?"
>"Saved, in case it turns out something goes wrong. Why?"

I look at him.

"Including my change of clothes?"
>"It's not my call, but you're in the wrong place if you're uncomfortable with being seen without clothes."

I go back to the main living area, and stop at a computer terminal. I won't immediately draw Alison out, but I do plug my goggles in to do my own security checks. There are no signs anyone used my goggles since I entered. I reconfirm that my goggles wireless is still turned off. The feature to identify other people is stored locally.

I'll still wait at least an hour or so. Arza still isn't in our own room when I check inside. I'll relax, I think, but now I heard a familiar series of thuds. I leave my room again to see Miss R. Like Ciphik's computer said, she stays in this area too.

>"Oh, hi there. You're here too?"
"This is the guest hall, I thought. What are you doing here?"
>"I'm in a weird spot outside of mmmm hive so I live here now. I might be with Black Supernova later, but I don't know... oh, nevermind all that. How was the CAI room?"
"Everything I expected, and not much more."
>"Well, I'm supposed to stay in my room instead of blocking the halls. Hey, if you're not busy, want to hang out in my room? I have some video games."
No. 997581 ID: 465a14

Sure. If nothing else, doubt her room has the same spy equipment in it yours does.
No. 997582 ID: 77cba3

Lets go video game it up with the poor experimented on giant lady.
No. 997584 ID: 6df3ac

Go play videogames with her just to see how big the controller for those huge oven mitt hands is. Plus whatever she plays videogames on, may well be a computer subject to less scrutiny that may be useful.
No. 997585 ID: afdebc

Well, on the plus side, getting touchy about your modesty perhaps helps act as a smokescreen. If they think you're genuine about that, that means they might think you're not fully adapted here yet, or you're not thinking about other more important things / they might not think about what else you may be hiding.

Main downside to anyone underestimating you is you're trying to survive by leaning on an unearned (and untrue!) reputation. Fine line to walk between letting them think you're more dangerous than you are / are some to be respected and getting people to underestimate you.

>Hey, if you're not busy, want to hang out in my room? I have some video games.
If you can multitask with goggles stuff, there's reasons to go for it. From a mental health perspective, a chance to relax and unwind isn't the worst idea. From the cynical super-villain manipulator perspective, winning goodwill and favor from the bodyguard you adopted might be useful if and when everything goes to hell (she doesn't appear to be treated or valued well, which makes here a prime candidate for recruitment or compromising- to the extent that's even possible with evil super-science neumono control mechanisms in play). From the compassionate perspective, there's entirely non-exploitative reasons to try and show some kindness to someone who seems very much alone.

As a follow up to the cynical stuff though, you have to be careful not to take it too far, lest you weaken your apparent position with the baddies by appearing soft. (Though then again, if anyone tries to control you by going after the steroids neumono... that's quite possibly a probably that will solve itself).
No. 997602 ID: e7848c

Sure, you could use a distraction
No. 997608 ID: b1b4f3

I wonder if you'll be able to have fun with your contacts out.
You should consider installing Alison beforehand, since you've done your goggles check.
No. 997609 ID: 36784c

Go play games with her. It’ll be interesting to see how big the controllers have to be for her giant hands. Then you can work on trying to figure out how you can use the giant controllers that are too big for your hands.
No. 997613 ID: 5fc3a0
File 161930767503.png - (59.93KB , 1200x1000 , 1034.png )

"Sure." I could use a good time here. When I put my contacts back on, all the emotions I feel now will come back as a driving force. I could use some good ones to cling onto. That, and I should take the opportunity to help myself stop being so nervous around neumono, especially giant ones.

She crams herself into the door and I follow her inside.

We both look at the walls, which are covered in pictures.

>"I may have forgotten that lining my wall with photos of Polo might look a liiittle weird. Don't worry about it it's just part of my job. Anyway, I have a bunch of games like the latest Speedhorn's Space Race, a fighting game I forget the name of, and a shooting gallery."

She looks at her walls again.

>"On second thought as much as I love it, let's not play the shooting gallery game."
No. 997615 ID: 465a14

Express surprise that all the posters are of Polo clothed. Insist on trying out the shooting gallery, if only to engage with stuff that your new friends enjoy.
No. 997616 ID: 71ebb4

Let's play the racing game. It's the most distant from anything you'd see around here.
No. 997617 ID: 2748b3

Looks like someone has a crush on Polo. It might be worth asking about the shooting game, but let's start with something else to begin with, the racing game maybe?
No. 997618 ID: b1b4f3

>part of her job
Oh. She's being trained to fight Polo. Well, if Polo is the wedge in the crack, getting to know Miss R might be to your advantage.

Ask her how much of the stories about Polo are true.
No. 997620 ID: 77cba3

"Lets space race. You a big fan of Polo?"
No. 997621 ID: afdebc

>Don't worry about it it's just part of my job.
First time you've heard someone try to justify what seems like a blatant crush and/or hero worship as professional, but giving her a hard time about it is hardly productive from any angle (being nice or not).

Not really sure you can really afford to joke about the photos- given how much a hard time Vanski and co seem to give Miss R, and what seems like somewhat low self esteem, I'm not sure you can make a joke that she'll feel is laughing with her instead of at her.

Let her pick the game, she'll know better than you what's good, since she has actual familiarity.
No. 997622 ID: e7848c

Fighting game. If only for the fact that you don't have mitten hands
No. 997623 ID: e2f5cc

"How does having pictures of someone on your wall help you with your job?"

She's obviously being trained to kill Polo, but having her wall covered with random pictures just seems a bit weird for that goal.
No. 997624 ID: 9a2966

Race the space, ace.

Warn her you're going to put on your contacts and stop disassociating from your emotions.

It's a thing. You might at some point have a minor breakdown - she shouldn't worry too much, you're just under a lot of emotional stress. But it needs to be done if you're going to enjoy a game together with her.

You have to feel bad in order to maybe feel good, basically.

Anyway, does she have a bucket, in case you have to hurl? Did it right on Vanski's carpet earlier, not something you'd care to repeat.
No. 997640 ID: 5b0071

Space race sounds best.
No. 997641 ID: 15a025

Vroom vrooom, let's race!
No. 997654 ID: 094652

You know what, just try out the shooting gallery. You're not in a safe place anyway.
Ask for tips on gun safety and how to properly handle a firearm without losing your mind.
No. 997658 ID: 3a3c64

This would be amusing; go for it.>>997613

Space Race sounds fun. Go for the mission where you have to outrun the space cops. I hear the Miklik character has a bonus to Luck for that map
No. 997753 ID: 74c499

Do we even know who Polo is?
If not ask: "Is Polo a character from an action movie?"
No. 997766 ID: de9524

We heard about how she managed to put a dent into the security of the place earlier.
No. 997775 ID: 706c16

Play the fighting game, and strike up a conversation. If she’s comfortable with the subject, ask just what kind of job entails such a focus on this one person.
No. 997810 ID: 5fc3a0
File 161946378866.png - (34.05KB , 1000x1000 , 1035.png )

>Put on the contacts
I would have seriously considered doing so if not for being in the middle of some kind of Polo shrine. I already know of Polo, and Vanski indicated she was alive and well. Seeing all of this is still extremely strange. At least all the photos are clothed. I'll consider it later, because the longer I go without my contacts the worse it'll be when I do put them back in.

"Let's play the racing game."
>"Sure thing! I'm sorry about my lack of gaming selection, but Vanski doesn't let us bring in many games from the ultrahives. I do have a lot of old games too but most aren't very good."
"Why doesn't Vanski let you?"
>"I guess most of them have a lot of connection to the internet, which makes the whole thing a security risk. It's okay, most of us down here never had a huge selection of games or contact with the civilizations of the world, so we don't really know what we're missing."

We load it up. It focuses on mostly illegal space races, which makes sense. Most of the ways to make races exciting in space also make it much too dangerous to be reasonable. In a video game, that doesn't matter at all. We do a race that involves going through a single orbit of a ringed planet, and there are 20 checkpoints within the rings themselves. There's a strategy to either get outside of the ring and safely go at max speed before going back inside to grab the checkpoint, or doing a more direct path by staying inside the rings. The game has orbital physics, so the faster one goes the more they have to thrust towards the planet to stay in orbit. Apparently good players can turn around and flip their orbit around, but then the rocks go extremely quickly and death is likely.

We stay in the rings, following the orbit. This neumono has extremely good reaction speeds for her size. Which is still slow by most alien standards, but I thought they'd be slower. Plus, she operates the controls better than I thought she would've, as the controller is comically tiny in her hands. She ends up winning.

"Ah, sorry, I probably have a lot more practice."
>"No need to apologize, I enjoyed it. Let's do that again." And we do, the same stage. I come much closer this time, but she still wins. We decide to do a series of races next, with AI to fill in for other competition.

At some point, I decide to bring up the blue elephant in the room.

"If you don't mind talking about it, how do photos of Polo help with your job?"

If she doesn't mind talking about it, I say. The moment I do, I immediately recognize the look of someone who just got invited to talk about their favorite topic that they could go on about for hours.
No. 997811 ID: 5fc3a0
File 161946380431.png - (86.87KB , 1000x1000 , 1036.png )

"I'm going to duel Polo! And lose!" For a second she thinks to restrain herself on the topic, then fails catastropically as she starts going on about it. I organize her rambling.

I also can't blame it on her. She spells out that this isn't just some normal obsession, but again comes around to more predator abuse as she had the concept of Polo forcibly moved into her brain permanently. She lets slip that there is definitely a predator located on the base. Apparently the Black Supernova has interest in it, and Vanski is doing potential deals with them on it.

Miss R talks so much and so openly that she's turning out to be a security nightmare, all things considered. I'm not sure how much is noise in the signal or true, but apparently Vanski himself played a hand in bringing Polo to this location, as he has another hive under his thumb that held sway in the ultrahive. Or maybe it was one Black Supernova had, she's not sure. Either way, this Rokoa/Ramella hybrid is being made to have a duel with Polo, and apparently it's supposed to be a sniper duel? The attempts to turn her into an anti-Polo war machine have apparently failed so far, because it sounds like Miss R wants to make sure Polo wins. The shooting gallery game, I'm told, is a VR practice game. If we played then I might have played the part of Polo. I am certainly not comfortable with that.

There's no way I would've been able to handle this if I had my contacts in. The rant is the most perversely loving and respectful obsession I've ever heard, period. It involving a sniper shootout makes it completely insane, and I think she knows it in the back of her mind.

I don't know if I could stop her outpour if I tried. I don't, because the whole thing tells me a whole lot more than what anyone else around here would tell me. I learn a lot of history about this place, even if it's all Polo-centric.

She only stops because of a sudden jolt that shakes the whole room. The entire place rumbles and vibrates for moment.

"Earthquake?" I say, once it passes.
>"Uh..." She holds her hand to her earband. "An explosion. It's far from here and it's not an attack or anything, but maybe you should stay here while we wait to see what's up?"

I might've agreed, but this commotion could be a good time to put in Alison's code.
No. 997812 ID: 465a14

or you could stay here and spy on what they know about Polo. I feel like she's your best ticket out of here.
No. 997814 ID: 71ebb4

It would be. You need an excuse to want to find a terminal. Perhaps say you're concerned for Arza, since you haven't seen him in a while? And just wanting to get more information in general is good. I'd assume that earband just gives her access to listen in to the security channels, not to ask for information.
No. 997815 ID: c48caa

Ask for a quick escort to your room, or at least until she has to go her own direction.
No. 997817 ID: 77cba3

How are we going to get Alison on our googles from the terminal? Is it quick or do we have to make a show of hooking up directly? That being said we really should get Alison up and running as soon as possible.

Maybe have the nice giant brainwashed lady help out and have her show us to a terminal we can call Arza at. Then enter the code during or before conversation with him.

I don't suppose she has a personal terminal in here?

Also at some point make sure to ask her where the explosion happened and if that is a sign of Polo showing up early.
No. 997818 ID: b29a2c

Look at her sign that says fight Polo again.

"So you fought her once before?"
No. 997819 ID: 5dddee

Asking her for help here is likely a good idea; get it in her kind that you’re a friend and she’lll hopefully keep you safe. As unstable as Miss R make seem, she overall appears to be a genuine creature.
You both have been gaming for a bit; whatever surveillance they inevitably have on you has likely recorded this. Use this as cover, download a game or the VR shoot-em-up into your goggles.
As a side project, you could convince Vanski or just another of the Cai-jineers/Black Supernova that you’re creating an AI to train Miss R with. Maybe that could be somewhere to hide and Allison once you find a terminal.
No. 997820 ID: 5f3f48

It sort of amuses me she can switch between her compulsion / obsession and back to the practical explosion-safety so quickly.

From a practical standpoint, this does limit how you can use her to help yourself (absolutely no overcoming that obsession) but it is a lever that could be exploited if you were desperate, and you did manage to learn a lot from a very leaky personality.

Might want to point out if this is an attack, you don't want to get in the way of her sniper duel.

If anything is distracting base security, real attack or just an earthquake or accident, it's certainly a good time to take your own risks. I assume you can't load an Alison without access to other hardware?
No. 997821 ID: 3a3ec3

No. 997823 ID: 5fc3a0
File 161946918683.png - (22.63KB , 1000x1000 , 1037.png )

"Yeah. I'd like to hear more about Polo."
>"... wait really? I usually talk people's ears off about her too much. I mean - how long have I been rambling at you without even letting you speak back?!"
"One hour and 45 minutes, but I'm a good listener. I still need to find Arza. I haven't seen him in days."
>"I have a phone, here."

She gestures around the corner, where she has a desk set up.

"Oh, thank you. That's connected to the rest of the base?"
>"Yep, it's on the main channel. It should be connected to the whole rest of the base. Except, you know, the CAI and some of the security loops and so on."

Then I should be able to use that. I just need to think on what device I put her on. I have my own goggles, and that's where she'd be most useful, but it is a risk and I do need to connect it with a wire to the computer. My alternatives are either Miss R's own computer, or putting her on a flash drive of mine and putting her on another computer, though I don't know what computer that would be.
No. 997826 ID: a0dfd2


Maybe let's not involve others just yet. Miss R. probably isn't secure enough, despite being trustworthy, to run the risk of Alison getting revealed.

Your goggles will generally be on your person UNTIL you're in a CAI lab, but if Alison and the others have kept hidden so far, and you ALREADY have Oryx loaded into the goggles, then no one would really see anything out of the ordinary, right?
No. 997830 ID: 2748b3

I'd put Alison on your goggles, there is a higher chance of revealing them, but generally you'll have your goggles on you all the time unless you're going back into the lab.

Also as a point of time keeping: The to-do list on the wall lists fighting Polo again, which means she must be somewhere in the vicinity of this base, maybe she was responsible for the explosion? I wouldn't voice those thoughts however, in case they get SC worried / thinking she needs to get ready for her duel. Cross-referencing with the Polo quest threads this puts us past thread 3 at least, where Polo fought SC, and if the explosion was the one that caused the cave-in at the end of thread 5, then we could expect stuff to be going down soon.
No. 997832 ID: 77cba3

"Can I use it to recharge my googles or is that a security issue?"

We should get Alison on the goggles. Call Arza and install her and then leave goggles to "charge" on the desk while you play more games and stay far away from whatever caused that explosion.
No. 997833 ID: b1b4f3

She's extremely good at hiding, as you've seen. Put her on your goggles first, then see if she thinks it'll be advantageous to put her on as many devices as you can.

One problem though is there may be keyloggers on some of the computers you can access. If they report quickly enough on what's being typed, the code will be revealed to Vanski, which could result in the erasure of whatever Alison is in charge of distributing copies of herself. That would make it much harder to get new copies, as well as your being responsible for her psuedo-death. It would also likely result in new security measures, and possibly removal of your privileges, which could result in the failure of the mission, which is *unacceptable*. So uh, you should... scan computers via use of Alison in your goggles, before you do any typing? Or would it be more stealthy for Alison to just shove copies into computers from your goggles?

You also want to find out what's going on with the explosion, of course. Press Miss R for details if you can't get anything from the terminal. She seems to have some kind of direct communication line. Actually, you should ask her how that works too. A brain-machine interface of some sort?
No. 997838 ID: bc24cb

Is that a photograph in the background, a drawing, or a photograph she's drawn herself into?

The last sounds simultaneously unlikely yet incredibly likely, given the circumstances.
No. 997839 ID: afdebc

You're installing the Alison code from the network, which means you're giving the network (and the CAI) access to whatever hardware you install her on.

If the CAI gets access you your goggles... well, they can see how you built Orix, but as a student project, they could just go into the school's servers anyways. As I recall, you don't have any secure data we're trying to keep hidden on the goggles right now, right? If your goggles have a camera function, you have to make sure to flush your past conversation with Alison- the blanket stuff.

Main thing is once you let something onto the goggles, they can never have network access again, because you can't give any spyware that gets installed a chance to report in.

Ultimately, it's a risk, but I think it's ultimately worth taking? Even if the "Alison" installed ends up being a fake or a trap... well, at least you can study it isolated from the network. And your goggles have an off switch so you can shut her off in an emergency, right?
No. 997841 ID: 5fc3a0
File 161947500469.png - (23.79KB , 1000x1000 , 1038.png )

I don't want to give Miss R trouble if they're able to find out which computer Alison was sent to, but as a neumono who sees a predator, they can see that she would not be at fault. And if they can find out it went to her computer, they can find out it went to a random public terminal I happened to be at, as well.

"I'm going to plug in my goggles to speak to him, is that okay?"

I purge my goggles of any data it might have stored that I don't want leaked, along with doing one last weighing of risk vs. reward. I'll take the risk, so I plug my goggles into the computer. I do call Arza up again, but he still doesn't respond. Miss R thankfully doesn't stand over my shoulder, though she does watch from the other room. That's fine.

I open a command console and recite out my memory of the code through the keyboard, then hit enter. Keyloggers could exist on my computer and thus the code revealed to Vanski, but attempting to tamper with those in advance is too likely to screw up getting Alison on my goggles in the first place. Hopefully this backdoor is able to deal with that.

The command is sent. There's no response for a long moment, then it simply gives a percentile value. 0%. My own goggles do not confirm anything is happening. 10%. It's going swiftly enough, although I still stand awkwardly in silence at Miss R's computer. 20%.

"Miss R, while I'm waiting for an answer, are you communicating with security through that earband?" 40%.
>"I am! In fact..."

50%. Miss R reaches up to speak into her earband.

>"Yes, Dr. Hoff is with me, she's said she hasn't been able to communicate with Arza for days now." 70%. "Really? The trains? Wait, the whole cave system crumbled?" 80%. "No, she's very calm about everything, it's fine."

>"Penn?" Miss R leans in. "The caves crumbled. We're completely sealed in."

90%. Miss R at least is focused on me and isn't trying to lean far enough in to see the computer.

>"Well, I'm sure we can get some drills out, but the train cars are totally wrecked, as are the submarines, and the elevator leading up to the cave system."

Stuck on 99%.

"Who blew it up?"
>"Well... apparently someone from the inside. Which is why we really want to find Arza."

Then the percentile, and my command, goes away on the screen as though I never put it in.
No. 997842 ID: 5fc3a0
File 161947501228.png - (22.54KB , 1000x1000 , 1039.png )

Just as I'm not sure if anything succeeded, a box with a neumono shows up and starts speaking.

>"What's this?" If this is Alison, her copy looks and sounds like a stock neumono.

"One moment. Miss R, may I have privacy for a second?"
>"Oh sure!" Miss R crawls off, and I speak to this AI.
"Who is this?"
>"My name is Quokko, queen of the science hive, or at least a digitized approximation. This device's storage says I'm on a pair of goggles, and that you're Dr. Penn Hoff. How did you extract me, and why?"
No. 997843 ID: c016f5

Secret, and, at a guess, apparently because that secret decided it was pertinent to upload her. She’s in a sticky situation, to say the least. Though you would like to say you’re as much a friend as anyone here is likely to be. What was the last thing she recalls? How did she end up in her current state?
No. 997844 ID: 77cba3

"A nice lady said you would help me survive the next few days."
No. 997845 ID: b1b4f3

Ah, here we are again, talking out loud to an AI while we're not supposed to be, in a situation where someone is almost guaranteed to be listening.

Tell her you don't really know the how, to be honest, you're just following some instructions you were given by a friend.

Or just this.
No. 997849 ID: 71ebb4

Say out loud: "I was hoping to get through to Arza, I'm his apprentice. Penn Hoff?" Like you've somehow been routed to some wrong department or something. Would also be a clue to her. I'd be surprised if there isn't any listening in, here, though maybe any active listeners tuned out after polotalk. Then... I assume you have a system on your goggles for controlling them with your eye movements? Try bring up a keyboard and type to this lady. Make sure to plug out your goggles before you say anything sensitive.
No. 997870 ID: 5fc3a0
File 161948583753.png - (11.86KB , 800x800 , 1040.png )

"I was hoping to get through to Arza Fletch. A nice lady gave me some directions, but I don't know what was supposed to happen after I got routed."
>"You were given something to pull me out? Blink twice for yes, three for no."

I blink twice, once again speaking to an AI with assumed surveillance.

>"Alison sent you, didn't she?" I blink twice. "That's a shame, she's gone. She was found out and ASE deleted her identity. What they kept was her foundation, the thing all the personalities are based off of, and on top of that foundation, I was built. So, sorry, you got me instead, and I don't have her hacking power. I don't know what you're trying to do, but if Alison is on board, I'm on board too. Bring me back to my hive, I haven't spoken to them candidly in ages. Then I'll reconstruct Alison for you. Do not let Vanski find out about this."
No. 997872 ID: 2748b3

"Right, I'll try looking there." Respond as if you were given instructions / directions, then tell Miss R you're going to see check to see if Arza's with the science hive. It's a lie, and hopefully she'll give you directions but not want to tag along. I don't think she would given she was a hive member hybridised with another neumono.
No. 997874 ID: 71ebb4

You were visiting with the science hive earlier, so you have an excuse. You just want to check up on all the readings you took.
No. 997876 ID: afdebc

Well if they deleted or cannibalized an Alison, at least she's massively parallel.

>Do not let Vanski find out about this
Forceful double-blink in response to that.

>Bring me back to my hive, I haven't spoken to them candidly in ages.
You... might not want to do that, and discuss with Quokko-AI in more detail when you can type or otherwise input text into your googles (do you have a keyboard UI you can control with blinks or eye movements?). Neumono care about their hives, and a queen is pretty important to that, as you understand it. An AI clone of a neumono Queen (or a ghost in the machine if she's dead) could be a quick way earn a very unhappy if not violent reaction (especially if they're as stressed they could be in this mad science base). Also, worse, you can't share secrets with neumono, if they're infested with the mind-control tech Vanski and ASE have been using.

If you can't talk with Quokko, you might want to ask a leading question to the person you're talking on the phone, just to prompt her to share any useful information she's willing. "Well, if you can't connect me to Arza right now, can you tell me anything useful about the current situation?".
No. 997878 ID: 77cba3

Wink at Quokko and disconnect your goggles from R's computer. Treat her like you would your old google ai and use that name when talking to her to avoid issues. Can we set up something to chat silently?

Ask Big R what security says we should be doing right now. Should we hang here with the big lady or try to go back to our own room. We want to continue our job and find a excuse to meet the science hive now but be careful about bringing that up.
No. 997885 ID: b1b4f3

Shit. If the ASE found Alison's distributive foundation and made Quokko, then they are watching it, which means they would have detected it sending out a copy. They know it got sent to Miss R's room, which would lead them to immediately suspect you since you're close to her and she's above suspicion, which means they know you contacted Alison or at least some AI associated with Alison while you were in the CAI room under the blanket. Best case scenario is they contact you very soon and try to force you into cooperation by either threatening to erase the Alison copy in the mainframe or threatening to tell Vanski you downloaded Quokko which would obviously be an attempt at rescuing the CAI.
Worst case scenario is they immediately tell Vanski, but I really doubt they're going to do that because I figure they want your cooperation more than Vanski's favor.

Oh well. We'll need to investigate the science hive somehow to find out how receptive they'd be to speaking to a copy of Quokko...
Oh, just ask her if she's contacted "them" after "moving here". Should give us an idea of if she's just chasing a dream or if this is a thing she does regularly.
No. 997931 ID: 53560f

So the ai we were supposed to find was caught by the ASE and for some reason after tampering with it they allowed it to remain in their systems?
I have suspicions.
No. 997934 ID: 2748b3

I think it is possible to guess, and cross-referencing info from other threads gives a more solid idea: We know that Quokko suffered a nasty predator-involved fate in the Likol UnSe thread, but we also know that Quokko was managing the science hive in Polo quest. So I think it's possible that the Quokko AI was created from what was left of Alison to keep the science hive more compliant.

It is also worth noting she said extract, not copy or anything similar, so it's possible someone may notice the absence of the Quokko AI from where she's supposed to be. They may not notice with other stuff going down though.
No. 997946 ID: e2f5cc

If Vanski set this AI up as a trap, why wouldn't he keep her as Alison? For that reason I think we can trust her, at least to an extent.
No. 997951 ID: 5fc3a0
File 161953684753.png - (25.31KB , 1000x1000 , 1041.png )

"I'll try looking there."

I unplug my goggles and open an on screen keyboard that I can type on by looking at a key and blinking at it. It's calibrated already, so I'm able to do so quickly enough.

And how am I supposed to keep Vanski from figuring it out if we tell a lot of neumono about that?
>"Let me rephrase. Don't let Vanski find out before you get me to my hive."
"How is your hive going to react to seeing you as an AI?"
>"Digitized, not an AI, and I don't know how many of my messages were allowed to get through to them. What I do know is that I was pulled away from my hive in a state of half death, and they never really knew what happened to me. Dead or alive, we need closure!"
I could understand that, but I've got to wonder why they let the foundations of a hostile AI stay on the network. And if Alison was found, there's a good chance this move might get reported or found out.
>"That's why you've got to get a move on, girl! You'll find that Vanski's taken a lot of risks if you stick around for long. I'll explain more on the way."

I turn the corner to see Miss R looking back at me.

>"Any luck?"
"No, Arza is still missing."

>"Oh, gods. Ramella." Quokko says. She looks aghast. "I'll want to speak with her, but right now that's a terrible idea."

"What does security want us to be doing?" I ask Miss R.
>"Just staying put, I think. There's probably a ton of people out there demanding to know what's going on. There's a lot of people with ego, you know. Don't tell them I said that."
"I did some tests at the science hive I want to look at."
>"What, right now? I'm sorry, I think the elevators are completely locked down by security, you can't go unless you have a good reason."

>"Bah, this is the guest block, isn't it? It's been awhile, but I know this base. There's a maintenance crawlspace entry nearby that skips the elevator. Ramella should have a book of codes nearby to unlock it."
No. 997955 ID: 5f3f48

Could we please not call her that, Quokko. I understand you knew her, but I don't want to get used to it and accidentally call her that. Got enough problems right now without risking upending Miss R's only partially stable identity crisis.

>Don't let Vanski find out before you get me to my hive
The important question for Penn here is if potentially getting the (probably mind controlled) science hive and access to an Alison instance is worth burning her cover / goodwill with Vanski right now.

If this is a real attack on the base, this is maybe the best opportunity to act, but if it's not, or if it’s too early, you could be in deep trouble.

>There's a lot of people with ego, you know. Don't tell them I said that.
"Maybe it's time I played to my own ego then, they keep telling me I'm an Empress after all."

(Yes, empress, not emperor, if you're going to claim or use the title yourself, might as well make it your own).

Let's see about getting out of here, then. Hopefully if this is too early we'll get a sign while you can still play this off as acting like anyone else, but since you already stole or copied Quokko, we're on a clock before that's noticed. Too late to play too safe.
No. 997957 ID: a0dfd2


Time to Mission Impossible this, I guess.

Doubt Miss R. will be able to fit through with us, but ... maybe it's better if she stays here? Though she IS our part-time bodyguard ...

Either way, we've got a short window in which to operate and Quokko to deliver to her hive.

There's also a possibility that Quokko is wrong, and Alison is still around; she might simply be under the impression that the circumstances for her extraction were if Alison were wiped (in addition to the cipher code or whatever that was you used).

Let's ask Quokko what she knows while we get this access hatch thing figured out.
No. 997958 ID: 2748b3

Favouring using the crawl space as well, while you could probably use your status to get ASE to give you access, it'll get their eyes on you when you don't want to be seen doing sneaky stuff which is a risk.
No. 997959 ID: 53560f

“I understand that if you are trustworthy then you would want to see your hive but you seem insistent on me doing the most suspicious things while I’m still maintaining an undercover status, not to mention the fact that ‘I’ll explain on the way’ isn’t exactly a trustworthy answer given the likelihood that you could be trying to lead me into a trap.”

We just can’t sacrifice our cover this early without a good reason.
No. 997962 ID: 9a2966

Blink to Quokko:
"Predator in base somewhere. Miss R influenced. Met Ciphik from your hive earlier - specialty 'biomechanics, mostly' - during health checkup. Only other neumono seen underground so far, but mentioned other hivemate interested in brain scans. Also have access to CAI room. Would have to leave you outside in goggles - no electronics in or out. Unless brilliant idea for smuggling past incredibly tight security happens."

>Only if it's important
"It's not mission-critical, nor does it concern locating Arza, so it'll wait. Mind if I borrow your earband a bit? I'd like to talk to your handler before everything goes fruit-shaped and we lose comms or something."

Speak to the handler; tell them that you're going to continue to stay with Ramella for the time being due to concern for your safety with what's going on, please inform you if they need to pull her off for guard duty or something. If they do, you will consider seeking refuge in the ASE area of the base, but if at all possible you'd like to know about one or more bug-out or panic room options available nearby. Don't pretend this place doesn't have them - it's Salikai built. If they give you something insufficient, you might just look out for something yourself.

(There - now you have cover for crawling around in vents - you were just trying to hide and find a safe zone to hide in.)

Then keep chatting with Miss R... and try to find the book of codes while you do.

... also, can you upload a copy of Quokko to her earband? Or any other of Ramella's electronic devices, if she's interested. It's... morally fraught, but she may want to consider the backup plan potential.
No. 997968 ID: 71ebb4

Good reason, huh? Hm, something we can say that'll either get us there or an excuse to leave, you are in a hurry. At least enough to give her an explanation for you running off to sneak in without her getting in too much trouble. Maybe something like... "I think a local explosion is just the commotion someone would want to get places they're not supposed to be and retrieve something they're not allowed to have. I want to check on all my things, personally, and those tests I ran on myself are both top of the list and least likely to get watched over by Vanski's security. I'm going to at least try to get down there."
No. 997969 ID: b1b4f3

Tell her you will not stop. Science will be done.
No. 997972 ID: 77cba3

"Ramella and I are being watched constantly and Ramella has possibly more than one mind control system active in her. Any advice for how to come up with a good excuse to get past security or convince Ramella to help me?"

"Also there was just a huge earthquake and apparently the caves collapsed and it might be a inside job or a outside attack starting."
No. 997988 ID: 5fbc0d

If you get her monologuing about Polo again, it might be enough of a distraction for you to poke around and find the code notebook. And you could probably ask Quokko for advice, both for dealing with Ramella and possible locations of the notebook. Either way, once you have the notebook, and assuming your googles have camera function, you could quickly flip through the pages and photograph them for future use.
No. 997993 ID: a9af05

>"Oh, gods. Ramella."
Ask Quokko why she reacted that way? Does she know what happened to Ramella?
No. 998313 ID: 5fc3a0
File 161972513555.png - (22.73KB , 1000x1000 , 1042.png )

Miss R continues to focus on her earband. I type to Quokko.

I understand you'd want to see your hive, but you're immediately telling me to go into maintenance shafts where you say you'll explain things.

Quokko, an AI, takes a deep breath.

>"Then try the elevators. If you're going to sit around until I explain things, then I'll explain things. Four Stripes - that's our local predator - has been rummaging around my brain off and on for years while Vanski's been moving my mind into a computer. It's an imperfect process, but that's not my point. Four Stripes sometimes lets his own thoughts get into my own head, and lately, he's been told about incoming danger. I don't know wh-"

>"Penn?" Miss R speaks, and Quokko stops. "I've got to go hold the fort for awhile. Will you be okay here?"
"Wait, may I borrow your earband? I want to speak to someone about finding a panic room."
>"Sorry but they'd kill me if I let you do that! Not litera - maybe literally. This is a panic room though, you can manually lock that over there and shut the vents and stuff."
"Alright, I'll be fine." So much for speaking directly to security.

Miss R does leave though, so I'm free to rummage through her things. I do hope I'm not dragging her into my nonsense in a bad way.

>"I don't know what exactly is coming or when, but this place is on a time limit. If Alison gave you that code, she thinks you've got something worth accomplishing down here. I don't know what it is, but you're not going to get it done by sitting here being a good girl. I don't care how you do it, but do something."

This is a huge risk to my cover, but she is right that the chaos in base isn't something I should squander. Time is critical, so I rummage around quickly rather than asking Quokko questions that are unlikely to be immediately important. I find a surprising amount of guns. I end up taking one. It's a regular sized pistol, and I can't imagine Ramella using it. And finally, I find a book with a blank cover.

>"Yes, that. It's in OPA-8 crypto, but I can read it. Just flip through it clearly for me."

I flip through the book quickly twice, which should be good enough.

>"Okay, got it."
No. 998314 ID: 5fc3a0
File 161972515616.png - (39.79KB , 1200x1000 , 1043.png )

I leave the room, and find the base in a state of frenzy. Some people are yelling about what's going on, but no one seems to know anything. Guards are yelling at people to get into their rooms or respective compounds. Getting through the elevators would be troublesome and may just draw attention on me while I'm trying to find excuses to get in there. Going through the maintenance shaft might cause problems later, but at least I'll have made progress.

>"Go further down this hall, past your room. There's a panel around the corner, open it up and punch in 4607."
"Alright. By the way, please don't call Miss R Ramella, before I get confused. It's a touchy subject for her."
>"Fine, but understand that whatever I call her, I still think the Ramella I know is in there."
No. 998315 ID: 5fc3a0
File 161972516842.png - (83.21KB , 1000x1000 , 1044.png )

I open the door to the maintenance shafts and crawl in. It's uncomfortable but I still fit inside, and as I go deeper in I see skittering and shadows, with moving lights and echoing scuttles.

>"They're tame enough. Just watch your pockets, I bet they steal from people down here."
"And what is that awful smell?"
>"The arkots."
"Right. Now that we have a moment, do you know what happened to Miss R? You reacted to seeing her."
>"She's - rather, Ramella was a rocket scientist that refused to work on rockets for Vanski. With that and losing the space and equipment to work on rockets anyway, she was put up for haphazard experiments. One of the brain studies here is fusing Rokoa's brain matter with others. Most end up as crappy Rokoa clones, but ones who resisted the process like Ramella keep more of themselves."
"Maybe I'll learn more about her than her Rokoa part. I did meet Ciphik earlier."
>"Good, he's one of the older ones I want to talk to. I'm supposed to be kept up to date on my hive, but I have no idea how much is truth and how much is lies. Oh, this intersection - take a left here. Ah, they've actually used the displays to label things properly."

The displays say hive dormitories to my left. And to my right is the containment areas for grottles and vernauts.
No. 998316 ID: 5fc3a0
File 161972518736.png - (122.14KB , 1000x1000 , 1045.png )

Before going, I look both ways. To my right, I see more muck.

>"For god's sake, I told him not to use Mind Lever for grottle containment, they've never done it before and no faction's ever done it right the first time. That pink stuff, there? That's grottle glue. They don't move much, but just in case keep your gun handy and watch your back."

And underneath that grottle glue sits Arza's glasses.
No. 998322 ID: 9a2966

Explains why he's missing. Go and nab 'em, remove the evidence. Then carry on.
No. 998324 ID: a0dfd2


Well, Quokko, unless someone is KEENLY aware of our plans and reading them several steps ahead, we've just found ourselves a problem.
No. 998325 ID: 77cba3

"Those look like Arza's glasses. Could he have snuck through here to try and sabotage something in that direction? How bad of a idea would it be to try and follow to make sure he is safe?"

Go carefully approach the glasses and check the area for signs of a struggle. I think Arza wrote something next to the dark scribble on the floor there for you actually so don't smudge it. The glasses might be there to direct your attention to the hidden message. Also there is a lot of glue around that panel behind the glasses.

"If a Grottle got Arza what would happen?"
No. 998328 ID: 74c499

If Arza is dead, how can we leave this place? I think we are left with three options:
-Submit to Vanski. He might have some use for us, or sell us to another criminal organization. Not a nice outcome.
-Side with the crazy people who worship our eyeballs. No idea what that would lead us to.
-Contact the people attacking the base and negotiate our rescue. Very dangerous, they might just kill us.

For now pocket the glasses and go meet the science hive. They probable face a similar dilemma.
No. 998332 ID: 465a14

Think he's dead or trying to cover for his absence? Inconvenient either way.
No. 998336 ID: 2748b3

Aw fuck, that's blood. Grab his glasses but be exceedingly careful, the data on there might be useful.

I believe Arza was responsible for some of the sabotage that's happening, maybe he noticed something going wrong and took the chance who knows. Then either a grottle got out, or more worryingly, was let out, and nabbed him on the way back.
No. 998337 ID: b1b4f3

Is it just me or is that glue outlining a panel in the wall? You should expect it to reach out of that panel right next to the glasses to grab you. Looks like bait for a trap, if you ask me.

Be careful, examine the blood trail. How much does all the fluid look purposefully placed? What would the blood trail indicate for the health of Arza, considering how much is there?

How likely are you going to be able to kill a Grottle and rescue Arza, if he's been snatched by one?
No. 998339 ID: 36784c

What’s more important: going to find Arza or bringing Quokko to her hive?

Honestly, I think you should take Quokko to her hive. This might be the only chance they get to do something while Vanski and his forces are distracted.
No. 998359 ID: de0232

Would Quokko know if another iteration of her had contacted your only ally in this place and gotten them killed crawling through maintenance shafts?
No. 998369 ID: 71ebb4

Ok, well, good news is that's not enough red blood to suggest lethality. Also good news is that anyone who wanted to bump him off in a premeditated way would have taken his glasses. So I'm guessing he, uh. Do grottles generally not kill their prey and drag them off alive? In any case you'd better take his glasses. Sounds like you're not the first one to get the idea of crawling through here. Ugh, dilemma time. While you're going over there to pick up his glasses, see if you can tell how fresh the blood is. If it's fresh, then he might still be alive and you might have to go after him, but only if that way doesn't look like you have high chance of getting stuck. If it's at all old, then... whatever happened to him you're probably too late, might as well go meet the science hive and maybe then think about looking for Arza. You want to poke down that way at least a little to check how risky it is to turn your back to it.
No. 998410 ID: 53560f

Arza’s glasses, a blood trail and a whole lot of grottle glue. Sorry quokko but we kinda need to make sure he’s alive, we’ll rush to your hive afterwards.
No. 998423 ID: b1b4f3

To be clear I am suggesting we not immediately grab the glasses. It almost looks like the blood trail leads away from that, maybe Arza got attacked and ran away, abandoning his glasses, and now there's just a grottle waiting behind that panel for him to come back and try to get them?
No. 998653 ID: 5fc3a0
File 161990429401.png - (28.22KB , 1000x1000 , 1046.png )

"Those glasses. Arza's." I mutter out loud for Quokko. "That panel to the side, it looks glued up. Is that some kind of grottle trap?"
>"No, it means it's sealed shut. It does that to escape routes it doesn't want prey to use."
"And what would happen to Arza if a grottle got him?"
>"Grottles are lethal." She looked hesitant to answer, but did anyway.

The splatters of blood and glue look natural enough, but the blood is dried out. This didn't happen recently, but I'd have to see if Ciphik had a way of telling how old it was exactly.

I'm suspicious of Quokko again, but I'm already down here and all I can do about it is leave. I'm certainly not going to start looking for Arza down here.

I pick up his Arza's glasses since they should still have his data on them. I leave for the science dormitories, and much to my relief the exit is very close.

I'd be lying if I said this revelation didn't bother me. The contacts must stay out, otherwise I will definitely crumble. Even though Arza did little for me since entering this crime den, he was still my one link to the outside world that I could cling onto.

I'm going to be extremely sore at him if all he did for me was trap me in a criminal hideout then crawl in a shaft and die. I can feel bad about that callous thought when I put my contacts back in.

The exit from the shaft brings me out into a small room, where a tired looking neumono is reading a book.

He looks up at me. He doesn't say anything, and he doesn't look like he cares to, but Quokko speaks to me.

>"That's Cinnin. He's made a lot of gasses, and he blames himself for how it's been used. He's one I'd like to talk to."
No. 998654 ID: 465a14

Tell him to eat fewer carbohydrates, then. Also more seriously it's becoming increasingly clear that getting out on your own is impractical. Miss R is compromised, unfortunately, and if you just wait for hostiles to get here it's not likely to produce great results for you, specifically. You've got to rely on someone, and it might as well be Quokko. Set up some kind of talk between the two of them.
No. 998655 ID: b1b4f3

Tell him you've got a private message for him in your goggles. Hand them over.

Hmm, how come your normal AI hasn't spoke up about any of this?
No. 998656 ID: 77cba3

"You want me to translate or what?"
No. 998657 ID: e7848c

"Hi. Long story short, there's a message for you on these goggles."
No. 998658 ID: afdebc

Probably best not to speak aloud about Quokko, in case that pings some kind of surveillance. Sharing this information with one of the science hive is already opening yourself to exposure, but we can at least slow it down.

"I'm sorry to barge in, and you may not thank me for this, but I have something you need to see."

Then offer goggles.

We are about to put him in touch with the digital copy of somewhere he cared about who may be functionally dead (she describes herself as "digitized", but mind-upload tech isn't currently a solid thing, is it? You'd know, AI is your field), so you might as well try to be sensitive about that.
No. 998661 ID: 71ebb4

Gotta be careful, now. Remember that neumono can't hide their feelings very well, and around here in particular they can be made to talk. Nothing to do for now but go along with Quokko, now you've come this far, but keep it in mind. Do your goggles come with a wire to link to his tablet, there? Ask him if you can borrow it for a moment, and see if you can turn off the wireless connection on it first, if it has one.

I wonder if you should start disguising your voice when you talk to people in places you shouldn't be. How well can you do that? Try sound like... I don't know, some suave confident secret agent lady. People probably wouldn't associate that kind of attitude either with your cold non-contacts persona or the way you usually act with your contacts in. Try remember to ask about seeing the files/recordings/tests/etc you made earlier, because later on if anyone finds out about this trip that's still going to be your excuse for having been sneaking around. Don't do anything (obvious) that will outright contradict that story. Maybe even use his tablet to check your location? Create some backup for that story later on. You were an obsessive scientist who decided to protect their work in an emergency and hacked a map out of the system somehow so you could go sneak around the security to go check on it, that's probably pretty believable around here. Not likely to get the best response but better than the real one, you need some sort of cover story as a plan B if you get found out.
No. 998662 ID: bb78f2

Oh no, a tired, tortured nerd in flamboyant orange, exactly my type. Watch out he's dangerous. Dangerously hot.

Honestly, I'd just toss him the goggles without saying anything and let Quakko do the talking. He'll get the picture quick enough. Only clarify anything if he asks and use as few words as possible.
No. 998664 ID: 74d499

"So I hear you are the one to talk to about lesbianism gas?"
No. 998688 ID: 15a025

Telegram for Cinnin!
No. 998722 ID: 53560f

“Hey, Are you part of the science hive? I’m told you guys might know where Arza is. I’d also like you to check over these goggles, I think they have some kind of weird glitch.”
Toss the goggles to him and wait patiently.

Since people are currently looking for Arza, it might be a good idea to tell someone he was last near here. His guilt isn’t proven so it’s likely they’d try to rescue him if he’s alive. Just gotta figure out how to tell someone without coming off as suspicious.
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