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File 149826557380.png - (32.04KB , 800x800 , 1.png )
809939 No. 809939 ID: bfb318

It's a nice day out, but I don't have many good memories of surviving in a forest.

Previous Threads/Wiki: https://tgchan.org/wiki/Unnatural_Selection
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No. 809940 ID: bfb318
File 149826566467.png - (68.60KB , 800x800 , 2.png )

I thought I was farther south than east, but I just managed to locate some landmarks to pinpoint my position, and I'm farther east than I thought.

Going is slow despite that I'm running myself to exhaustion, but by the time I saw any roads or rivers, it was too dangerous. My chasers know that I can float downstream or hitchhike. I've noticed call boxes, too, left over from an era where satellite coverage was unreliable. Even so, I don't know who I would call these days, and it would be easy for my enemies to put a pair of hidden eyes on every call box and still keep their actions hidden. This place isn't supposed to be of any strategic importance, so they can't unleash a whole army over here without attracting bigger fish. I still see or hear a helicopter flying overhead now and then.

I'm at a loss of what else to do. The closer I get to any kind of civilization, the fewer animals I'll be able to find and eat, I might even run into hunters. Civilization itself might be watched, too, as there is a town within a few dozen miles, but I can't stay out in the wilderness forever. Even if my handcrank and batteries means I can keep the CAI running for a long time, I've had too many damn close calls with the wilderness, and it's only a matter of time before a neumono under OPA employment just happens to wander inside of empathy range. I can only roll those dice so many times. I may just need to choose the least dangerous item after all.
No. 809941 ID: a48186

Head further into the wilderness.
No. 809943 ID: 015058

Well for good or bad you need to find some sort of civilization.

The thing is that what you do when you find civilization will decide your fate.

If you wander into the nearest big town and try to throw Vanski under the bus you will probably get caught by his agents and everyone including your Ai friends are fucked.

But if you just try to set up a nice apartment for your Cai friends to live in safely off the grid then Vanski will not be so murderous if he does catch you.

Ultimately you did this to save Glitchers people while avoiding hurting your own hives welfare (at least until you can all escape). So that means finding the Cai a safe home while not hurting Vanski's or his friends interests (in the short term).

All that aside you need to find transportation. Something that can get you into the thick of society quickly. So you might need to find a village or outpost and take the risk. At least long enough to get a better map.
No. 809944 ID: 3ce125

>I might even run into hunters
That's a good thing, isn't it? You want to find someone civilized who can help you out, but won't be easy for the salikai to track. If you can find a hunter, they might be able to get you some supplies. Do you have anything that might be valuable enough to trade for a gun? If you can hunt wildlife with your knife and gather some skins or trophies, you could trade for more.

Ultimately you'll want a personal jammer. You could potentially get into civilization safely by disguising yourself, but I don't think you have the materials to do that.
No. 809945 ID: 84ac62

Aircraft are monitored pretty carefully, to avoid interference with each other, to mark where they were last known in case some big flying critter or weather event takes them down, and so they can provide information on things they can see. As such, your enemies are very unlikely to be in control of them. They might have ears and eyes in the craft or, more likely, the monitoring stations, but they won't control the flight paths and schedule themselves - and any spies they have would be working among people who aren't their agents, so they won't be neumono (who would empathically give their extra allegience/duties away) and any neumono you find at those bases could be sympathetic to you (though best to avoid them, since they could be interrogated to track you).

Finding your way to some sort of airbase still might be your best bet for now? You might be able to smuggle yourself on board some vehicle and skip straight to a large town or city.

Aside a nearby town, is there anything else of interest that you know of nearby? Local tribal neumono territory, mines, lumber operations, roads being built, farms, known archeological sites?
No. 809948 ID: 87547f

Well what exactly is the plan Likol? Get to civilization without anyone finding you and then what? I know we want to save the Ai's but how are you going to do that?

Right now you have no money and no identity. You could pretend to be a tribal if your empathy would not give you away. There are probably some safety measures in place for feeding and clothing confused Tribals just out of the woods.

If any of your contacts are still alive you will not be able to tell if they have betrayed you until you meet them face to face. Which is probably to late at that point.

So first get your bearings. How far is it to a really big town? Is it even possible to get that far on foot?

If not then you need to find transportation. Borrow or steal or hitch a ride(hiding or openly) on a vehicle.

If you can get to a big enough town with proper internet you can get help from the Ai if Glitcher is not playing dead really hard. They can hack into anything you might need if you can get them somewhere safe enough for them to peak out of there hiding place.
No. 809951 ID: 3abd97

This is something of a catch 22. You can't keep the CAI alive in the wilderness indefinitely. And you can't bring them to civilization safely without making yourself much easier for OPA and their allies to find.

Do you have any idea what your options are around here? Perhaps certain specific wildernesses or chunks of civilization better suit your goals than others.
No. 809956 ID: bfb318
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>Aircraft are monitored pretty carefully
I'm unsure. It could be some other faction, nation, or whatever, but this is territory only loosely correlated with an ultrahive at best, and is neutral territory at worst. I'm not up to speed on current events, but even though the bulk of the ultrahive wars are over, there are still pockets of the world that commercial air traffic prefers to avoid, and where paramilitary organizations can operate out of. The farther into an ultrahive I get, the more I may be scrutinized for my appearance, and the more resources OPA will have to find me, even if they can't operate as openly.

A legitimate hunter may be good to run into, but I would only trade some of my barely cooked meat for prepared, and preserved, food. I already have a gun, but due to the noise it creates, I prefer to avoid shooting when possible. I also have zeny on me, anyway.

My plan is to meet Arza. He's probably on the planet, and I've just got to find where he's staying. Then get there, or get in contact with him. He cares for the AI, I'm sure of it. If I can hand it off to him, and tell him what's going on, then what happens to me is inconsequential. The next safest bet would be to just set the CAI loose, and have them attempt to hide out in civilization, but that may be risky. Society on the whole is on guard for a CAI, and there are roaming bits of data and investigation that attempt to detect signature CAI computation. The chances of being found out on any given day are virtually nil, but just like me in the wilderness, if it goes bad, it's as good as over.

No matter what, I should reach civilization at some point, in some way. I don't see any nearby things that could count as an airbase. No towns have become big, either. I'd need to get transportation for a big town, but the farther away I get picked up, the better.

I also recheck my inventory, with the most notable things being the CAI block and batteries, my laptop, and Raush's laptop, and the spare zeny. https://tgchan.org/wiki/Unnatural_Selection_Stats#Likol

I study the map some more. I see an odd spot - it actually looks like there might be lumber yard within a day's time. There's a small town a few days away. I can hitchhike on any road. Near the lumber yard, too, there's a bus stop.
No. 809957 ID: 3abd97

I say go towards the lumber yard.
No. 809958 ID: 015058

If you can get to a wifi connection you might be able to find Arza by tracking where he is teaching or working. He is pretty famous so might be some public news of what he is currently up to. You can track him down from there. But don't call him directly.

As for getting to him.

Any public transportation anywhere near the spire will be watched. They can not track everything so are most likely focusing on the major roads leading out of the area.

I would try the possible lumber yard first.

If its a alien lumber yard maybe you can hide on a log truck to whatever mill it takes them to. But if its a neumono crew they would notice your empathy? Either way might be worth a quick scouting trip before going elsewhere. Maybe they send logs down river? Or by airship?
No. 809983 ID: 91ee5f

.....why do you have a Quokko Plush? Wait, isn't that your Queen's name? Why do you have a plush of her? Do you snuggle with it at night so that you can sleep?

>Go where?
Let's try the lumber yard.
No. 810025 ID: bfb318
File 149828630667.png - (71.45KB , 800x800 , 4.png )

I decide on the lumberyard. It's close by, at the very least, and it's nestled low enough that I can at least get a decent look at it, first.

It takes all day, but I arrive just at the last stretch of sun. That's good, since there are too many predators at night to safely move, at least since I can't use lights at night unless it's an emergency.

My goggles have binocular capabilities, so I get a good look at the lumber mill. It is modest. I see a couple of aliens, but about 60 neumono appear to live here. Kids, included. They're most likely a hive that lives and works here, with some alien to fill in some gaps, most likely administrative, or possibly drivers. My goggles alert me to some security. Just a few cameras strategically placed to watch over the perimeter, and a few pictograph signs to alert tribal neumono that they aren't welcome across the barbed wire fence. That, and a few airhorns, probably in case animals get too close.

I did run into a tribal hive at one point. Thankfully, they just barked at me to get me to go away. Some are simply territorial, and thankfully, the more cannibalistic hives have learned how many others carry guns these days and have learned to back off. I was more concerned about the noise they made, at the time.

Anyways, usual menial labor is left to neumono, but since drivers need to be away from home frequently, it's not uncommon for aliens to take up that job. if I wait long enough, there may be an alien driver that will take a truck that I can hide inside.

If I'm just a little lucky, they have a wireless network that I can use if I move just a little closer. They're so far out in the wilderness, they may not even have reason to keep it secured. It's risky without a jammer, though, if I get within empathic range by accident and they want to know who's scurrying out in the forest.

First, there's something in my pocket that's...
No. 810026 ID: bfb318
File 149828633044.png - (39.44KB , 800x800 , 5.png )

What the heck is this?

That is, it's a plush of my Queen. A few of us made some plushies in our spare time, mostly of our queen, but a few others. Even one of me, in our communal area, but...

I do not know where this came from. That is, I didn't bring it with me.

I review my inventory, again. There's more zeny. I had brought 2010, I knew that, but I don't know where this 30k zeny chip came from. I also find a towel, and I distinctly remember wishing that I had brought a towel.
No. 810028 ID: a48186

That doll is probably a tracking
device. I'd assume that the other neumono in your hive gave you the other stuff.
No. 810030 ID: 91ee5f

Do you think.....maybe your hive knew that you were planning on running? You ordered these items over a phone, so they couldn't have picked up on your empathy.

>Plush of Queen
Your hive must've snuck that in as a good luck charm or as a reminder that they support the decision you made.

>30k zeny chip
Your hive probably thought that you'd need some extra money to help you along. A lot of extra money.

Your hive knows your habits well enough that they figured you'd forget to keep yourself clean or you'd forget to bring a towel of your own.

That's also a possibility. But, just in case it's actually from Likol's hive and not a tracking device, can we check the plush without ripping it open? Because if it turns out to not be a tracking device, I'd like to keep it in one piece and only rip it apart as a last resort.

Also, if it was a tracking device, then Vanski's men would've found and captured Likol by now.
No. 810035 ID: e94191

Are you dreaming somehow? Maybe you got drugged.
No. 810036 ID: 2b0a30

There's no need to track Likol if you can guess exactly where he's going anyway. This will end with Likol meeting Arza only to find out Vanski's goons have been waiting there for him the whole time, because that's ridiculously easy to predict.

The smart move would be meeting with Az instead, Vanski will never see it coming.
No. 810037 ID: 91ee5f

I think getting to meet the Ultraking is harder to do than meeting up with Arza.
No. 810041 ID: a363ac

bisect the plush for any tracking or camera equipment. once you find a needle and some string.
No. 810042 ID: 0d45a9

Dawww, that thing is kinda cute. If you're worried about it being a tracker, compress it / feel it rather than tear it apart. For a longer range tracker you probably should be able to feel it through the surface / feel that there's something inside it.
No. 810046 ID: d36af7

Paranoia says you've been compromised by a predator at some point. Towel and sentimental plush contain artfully concealed tracking devices (maybe radioisotopes with distinctive gamma-ray emission profiles, so there's nothing out of the ordinary above the scale of dust and no device to disable?), while that credit chip will alert Vanski (possibly via standard banking network fraud alerts) the second you try to use it for anything.

Tie the suspicious items together in a bundle and leave 'em at the bus stop where somebody's likely to find 'em. When they get picked up by some other traveler and carried along on a bus, Vanski will think he's got you.

Then, head somewhere else, off-road.
No. 810050 ID: 3ce125

Keep the gifts. If one of them was a tracking device then it's not being used to catch you.

Move to the side of the lumber area, near the lit building. That's your greatest chance for getting within wireless range without getting within empathy range.
No. 810052 ID: 84ac62

If you feel lonely or need advice, it's possible for you to fire up your laptop and talk to the CAI. Plus, they may not be able to hide out long-term, but they could help you out with any computer systems you run into.

Now, let's be clear. These things have definitely been added to what you have after you left? They certainly weren't added into what you were given by your hive and you're only finding out about them now? If so... well, my bet is someone found you while you were sleeping. If someone in Vanski's group were able to control Predators, you guys would know about it since you're neumono scientists and your empathy would be essential to any proper study, even assuming it wasn't yourselves being experimented on. I assume you've slept at some point.

If someone came on you while you were sleeping, or even if somehow a Predator was involved, then they were in a position to capture you and didn't. For now, at least, they want you free, for whatever reason. Plus I doubt anyone but your hive would have thought to give you a towel, much less the plush. Give it a few squeezes to see if anything's inside, but if you don't find anything, keep it. Even if Vanski's involved, remember, for some weird reason of his own he wanted you to take the CAI. Probably some scheme to limit his rivals' power or something, so publically (to them) he'd be making a show of looking for you, while privately hoping you escape. Something like this would be within range of his escape-hope plans, if it has anything to do with him in the first place.
No. 810070 ID: 015058

Likol is there any vague chance that you are strapped to a chair somewhere in the spire with some hallucination gas pumped into the room and some VR goggles strapped to you? Because finding stuff you "wished" for in your bag out of nowhere is a sign that something very wrong is going on.

Remember when we said that if Vanski was secretly urging you to escape it was part of some giant crazy plan? And that he would never ever let something as expensive as the Cai blocks go wandering out into the jungle untracked where some monster might eat you and them?

So I see a few options for what is going on.

1. You have not escaped at all and are wandering around in the spire drugged while Vanski watches you to see what you do with the Cai. A extended loyalty test if you will.

2. Everything you have on you is bugged. Radioactive markers in the simpler stuff. Tiny radio tags built into the frames of everything else. He will know where you are at all times and is just watching to see what you do.

3. Vanski knows you are going to Arza because of course that's what you are doing. All he has to do is have a few bodyguards following Arza to wait for you.

Honestly if any of this stuff is even close to true there is little you can do about it now. Even if you threw away everything on you there would still be the Cai and charging equipment that could be tracked. (Plus you would be naked with no supplies)

So lets assume this is a giant loyalty test and keep going. Do your due diligence and inspect your strange new items. Then continue on as planned. Try your best to get to Arza but never do anything that would betray Vanski or his organization during your trip.

For now scout out the lumber mill to find when and where the trucks leave. Hide out on the side of the road out and wait for a truck to pass. Then jump on the back/undercarriage and hide. If while doing that you can get on the site wifi do so. But only look up general news and weather stuff (Maybe some alien porn to make it look like you are a alien to anyone scanning ip records). Nothing that would look suspicious for a random lumber yard driver to be searching for.
No. 810073 ID: 3abd97

Okay. Let's consider possibilities.

1) Your hive packed some extra stuff into the supplies you asked for you're only finding now. (If you've been in the woods for days now though, it's unlikely you wouldn't notice something in your pocket the whole time).

2) The stress is getting to you. You're starting to go crazy from isolation and loneliness and the ridiculous pressure to save the entire universe of souls on that CAI drive. As a result, you can't trust your own memories- you blacked out and forgot where you found that zenny chip, or that you made a doll for companionship.

3) You ate something you shouldn't have. It induced a blackout, or left you drugged, and there's now a hole in your memory.

4) You crossed paths with a predator or something like one out here, and lost some memories / had a blackout in the process.

5) You suffered an injury that damaged part of your memory, including the memory of the injury itself. (Not impossible with distributed brains, but the odds against this is ridiculous).

6) None of this is real. You're hallucinating, or dreaming, or in a simulation. (Problem is this is very hard to test for).

>what do
Feel up the doll, and/or goggles scan it. See if there's anything inside besides stuffing. (Don't tear or cut it up, yet).

If you have any logs on your electronics, or camera recording capability on your goggles, maybe it's time to go through those? Maybe you can find something you don't remember happening, or figure out when or where the blackout was.

How long have you been out here, anyways?
No. 810095 ID: bfb318
File 149833529064.png - (15.98KB , 800x800 , 6.png )

I can imagine no way that my hive would have known I was planning on something. I was isolated from them.

It's possible that I was sent the Quokko plush just as a sentimental item while I was alone, and a towel is more of a stretch, but possible that they just decided I needed it. But, extra zeny would have been worthless to me if I stayed in the cave. That, and I'm certain these items weren't here when I left. I meticulously had to pack everything into trash bags due to having to submerge myself into water.

There's the slight chance that the plush is bugged, but... they could have bugged other things. I would have been found and captured by now, if they wanted to. I've been out here for at least 4 days. Let me check... no, 7. 7 Days? That doesn't seem right, but that's what the clock says.

I feel around the plush to see if there's anything obvious, but I don't want to slice Quokko open. On a closer look, I do find a small strip of paper that's been slid underneath the plush's coat.

'Don't worry about us. Good luck getting to Arza.'

........ Unsettling. It's in Quokko's handwriting. Let me think.
No. 810096 ID: bfb318
File 149833530340.png - (41.19KB , 800x800 , 7.png )

I can't rule this out, since apparently there's also been 3 days of travel that I can't remember. And my urge to go to Arza... it's high. It could just be the stress of this whole situation anyway, and desperation to pass it off to someone who would know what to do about it. The urge is understandable, even if it would be too easy for OPA guards to just place themselves by Arza.

>Gas hallucinations
If we've learned to weaponize hallucination gas, it's news to me. This feels too real. Maybe I can't rule this out either, but... given a few painful situations I've been in, and everything, I have no idea what I'd do about it if this kind of paranoid thought was true.

>Lonely and isolated
I'd be surprised, even if it's been a full week apparently, it's not as though I haven't been separated from my hive before. It's still possible I'm just losing it between loneliness, stress, and so on.

>Suffered major injury
This is the only thing I can rule out completely. It's possible to get mentally loopy due to a bad injury, but the injury would have to be so bad that I would be in much worse physical shape right now.

I'll look through my electronics for any activity logs. My goggles have recording capability, but it doesn't look like there's been anything... er... these are different goggles. It's a newer software model, made 8 days ago. There's still no photographs or videos on it at all.

I get closer to the lumbermill to get in probable range of a wifi, and open my laptop. There is a message taped to the screen. Something spilled... uhhh... there's dried blood all over this thing.

I sit here for a moment. I don't know why, but I just want to stop moving. I'm snapped out of it by the sound of a revving truck.
No. 810103 ID: 015058

Well something bad happened. Something big. I would drop the Arza plan for now and just try to get somewhere safe and private in civilization so you can figure out what is going on.

I sort of want to take that note off the laptop and then dump the laptop and goggles right here and now. But they might have clues to what happened to you? If you had some tin foil you could wrap them up to block any signals.

As for the plush and handwriting you can't trust it's actually from your hive. You can't trust much of anything right now. Its highly likely that your memories have been tampered with in some fashion.

Think long and hard before you make a run for that truck. Can you afford to wait a day and scout out there camp more? Or is food enough of a issue that you need to go now?
No. 810106 ID: 87547f

Is that your handwriting?

Ok a few theories>

1. This is not real at all.

2. You got hurt really bad while escaping the spire. Vanski's men found you and healed you and dropped off a few mementos. Or your Hive found you and healed you and left the notes and stuff.

3. You got hit by a predator at some point and who knows whats going on.

4. Some other combination of very dangerous and paranoia inducing events.

Honestly regardless of whats going on you need to continue onward and search for clues as you go. Not straight to Arza of course but somewhere safe with easy access to food and tech.

Once you have a free moment you need to strip and inspect your entire body for wounds you don't remember. I would probably throw that laptop away or at least remove its battery while you travel. Throwing it keeps you safer but bringing it along lets you inspect the internals at a later date. Goggles are also suspect. Plus the Cai blocks. They might not even have the real Cai anymore inside there.

We might as well see if hiding on the truck is workable. Pack up and get closer so if a alien is driving you at least have the option of jumping on. But don't let the situation dictate what you are going to do. Its better to wait for the next truck and do it right than blindly go now without a plan.
No. 810107 ID: 84ac62

Ok, first thing, quickly stow your items and go look at that truck right now. It's possible that it's some open truck and this is exactly your chance to hop on board and catch a ride, maybe by jumping right on, maybe by climbing a tree over the path it'll take and dropping onto the roof as it passes. Take in the situation, decide and act swiftly.

After that... alright, it still stands that whoever did the thing to you, they don't want you captured. Going to Arza makes sense, he's the only person outside that you know, would help you, and more importantly would help the CAI. Having agents near him is unfortunate but expected and just something you'll have to think around. So that plan's still on, and whoever gave you these things and left these notes is probably your friend, or at least your ally of the moment. Whoever they are they aren't the silhouette empire and their lackeys, which is good. You can trust that, at the very least, these items won't get you captured any time soon.

It's theoretically possible that you stupidly wandered into a predator at random and Vanski had to have you secretly rescued and sent on your way again. Which would be embarrassing. Less embarrassing would be if he caught up with you, secretly gave you some extra help (with your hive's assistance) and used a predator to erase your memory so you can't say he helped you if you're caught.

As for the laptop, you were supplied by yours by Vanski's group, right? It probably came with some sort of tracker or simple AI spy or something to begin with, and is programmed to raise an alert if it's ever brought outside anyway. The note is warning you. I don't suppose you recognize he handwriting? Anyway, it just says don't connect it to anything, so you can still use it if it has nothing to connect to. When you have a moment, check the other laptop as well.

Also when you have a moment, pat yourself and your clothes down.
No. 810114 ID: 3abd97

>Do not let this laptop connect to anything
Is that your handwriting? If not, do you recognize it? (You don't even have a pen in inventory!)

Can you tell by the smell if that's neumono blood?

>It's a newer software model, made 8 days ago.
Do the goggles list the current time and date? Do you know what day it was when you left? (Not that we can trust the goggles clock is right, or your own memories, apparently).

Do you have other means to check the passage of time? Things that are harder to spoof or mess with? Like, how long your claws have grown? How much your eyes have healed since you're not abusing them staring at a computer screen 20 hours a day?

>lumber yard
Come to think of it, isn't this territory outside of ultrahive control? (Or the "warlands" as it's sometimes called, apparently? >>/questdis/69698 ). That means this lumber yard is operating without any legal protection. This may be a criminal operation, or just a hive making a living on their own in dangerous territory, not willing to give up their autonomy. Either way, they have reason to be on guard and trigger happy. Be careful getting close to them.

>what do
I say watch to see what the truck does and where it goes. I don't think we want to risk getting closer now.
No. 810121 ID: 015058

Don't you have two laptops?
No. 810166 ID: bfb318
File 149835444440.png - (33.60KB , 800x800 , 8.png )

This message on my laptop isn't my own handwriting, but it's got elements of our common science hive handwriting. Chances are that it was written by a hivemate I seldom talk to. Raush's laptop has a similar message, written by someone else but still with a hivemate's handwriting. There isn't so much blood, there. The blood on my laptop smells like a neumono's, and is days old.

I don't have tin foil or something to hide any possible signals, but the goggles, at least, are a model that specifically does not have wireless capability.

The truck isn't moving right away, so I take another moment to check myself and my belongings.

There are some cuts and scraps, most notably under my left eye, that I don't remember getting, and some wounds that I do remember getting that don't seem to be here, now. While I check myself out and stow my items, I move slightly closer to the mill. In an unregulated zone like this, a neumono hive probably has a small arsenal of weapons for self defense, so I play it extremely cautiously, and make sure not to get in the line of sight of any of those cameras.

They're loading a truck. If I move down the road, I should be able to climb up on a tree and fall onto the back of the truck and hopefully find a crevice to hide in. While I don't need to get out of here now, this may be my best opportunity. I also need to decide if I should even have both of my laptops at all. I do want to keep my goggles. It has the date and time, and is the reason I know how long I've been away for as long as I have. I left April 22nd, if I'm not mistaken. It is now April 29th.
No. 810169 ID: 015058

Honestly using either laptop is a horrible idea. It's easy to put a program into a computer that will dial home the second it finds a active network. Even worse with a Ai. As for your goggles I would dump them. Just because you think they don't have network access does not mean someone did not upgrade them with one during your memory lapse. Or modify the timestamps.

I would save the laptops if you can take the batteries out. Then we can inspect them later if the opportunity arises. If not smash there hard drives with a rock.

I would get in place for the truck and if everything looks good go for it. If a neumono is on there just think hungry primitive thoughts so they think you are a passing tribal and don't jump on.
No. 810172 ID: 84ac62

Take both laptops. Raush's has his projects on it, which you should show to Arza so he knows what's what (you might even end up handing it over to the cops at some point), and you want your own to use to talk to the CAI at some point. Whatever's on a modern-tech laptop like yours, it's not going to be a match for the hardware or software the CAI's using.

See, that's a thought I had - neither Vanski or even your own hive knew just how chummy you got with Glitcher. Only a couple of your hivemates even saw a decent part of what he could do. You're the only one who got close enough that you'd both expect him to still be alive after all that, and be willing to trust him to help you. At least, with the laptop, outside range of any wireless connections.

Anyway go climb a tree and get ready to drop on that truck.
No. 810180 ID: 3abd97

>I also need to decide if I should even have both of my laptops at all.
Remove the batteries so they can't power on by accident, but keep them, yes.

You might want to get a look at the driver before you try to get on. If you're hidden in a log pile you won't be able to get out and away if a neumono senses your empathy.
No. 810181 ID: 84ac62


If I recall, neumono empathy goes a decent enough range. He'd be able to feel one in the truck before it drives under, so he'll be able to choose not to drop down in that case. While a neumono would feel him as well, then, they'd probably just assume he's a snooping tribal. He should feel pretty similar to one after being on the run in the wilderness for a week.
No. 810182 ID: 3ce125

>neumono blood on laptop, missing time, suspicious items
I think what happened is you got caught by Vanski's goons, but your hive stepped in to save you. The blood is from the ensuing fight. They may have wiped your memory so that if you got captured again and interrogated you couldn't say who saved you.
Can you smell your hivemates on the doll? Or any of the new items? OH. Your laptop is what got you caught, before. Of course it has tracking software on it, it's your work computer! That's why the science hive wrote that note for you: so that you wouldn't get yourself caught again. The belenosian's computer is less likely to be compromised, since his organization was separate from Vanksi. It might still have tracking software on it, but it'll alert his organization instead of Vanski's.

The laptop is still useful, though. So long as you don't connect it to anything, you can use it. Oh! You might also be able to use it as a decoy. If you ship it somewhere without posting a return address, or leave it on a vehicle that won't be checked for a day or so, someone will eventually try to connect it to something, and Vanski will send his forces in that direction. If it's on a vehicle they'll check where the vehicle departed from, but by that time you'll have moved on. Optimally you'd use a vehicle that has multiple stops so they wouldn't be able to tell exactly when you ditched the laptop.

You might even be able to use this truck for that. It would be a good idea to hitchhike on it for now, just to keep your movements unpredictable. You don't even know where it's going, after all.
No. 810185 ID: d36af7

Hop on the truck and bring both laptops, but don't turn either one on until you've mechanically disabled the wifi and blocked the landline network ports with glue or something.

If this is all a hallucination, or you're being tracked by some hostile party with unlimited resources and an unknown objective, you're totally boned, so don't worry about that. Make your way back to civilization, rent ten or fifteen thousand zeny worth of safe deposit boxes at as many different banks as you can find, put the real CAI block in one of 'em, decoys in a few others. Just to mess with some salikai's head, distribute at least half the keys to boxes you're not using for anything important in random other safe-deposit boxes. Finally, take the real one back out and contact Arza to set up a meeting.
No. 810189 ID: 91ee5f

Maybe the messages are not warnings about accidentally setting Glitcher and the other AIs free as soon as you connect to a wifi? Maybe they're warnings about not using the laptops because they can be tracked? If that's the case, then you'd need to get a 3rd completely different laptop before you try to get on the internet at all!

But you should keep them, since they have important stuff on them.
No. 810327 ID: bfb318
File 149842926088.png - (33.97KB , 800x800 , 9.png )

When the truck drives by, I'll confirm they aren't a neumono driver by usual empathy means. Provided that's true, I'll leap down and keep both laptops.

I keep both laptops, but disconnect the batteries for the time being, and put all the electronics in my padded trash bags. I don't spend long, because I need to find a good section of road. Thankfully, there's only one roadway for a decent stretch of time before it goes to the main road, so I don't need to flip a coin on whether they're going east or west. I also am forced to find a decent stretch of tree that not just can hold my weight while it stretches on the road, but ideally would be in a cluster of trees so that I'm not easily seen over the road on a single branch, and during a bend in the road so that the truck is going much slower while I drop down on it.

I find a decent spot. The branch is dipping conspicuously low, but I don't know if I can find a decent spot that'll avoid that. By the time I get worried about it, I hear the truck coming. It's not a neumono.
No. 810328 ID: bfb318
File 149842926854.png - (14.46KB , 800x800 , 10.png )

I drop down. If the driver saw me hanging out in the tree branches, then he doesn't seem to be doing anything about it now.

I'm too elated, anyway. This is an open bed truck, but it has a tarp over it. I'm able to slip underneath it between the latch points. I might not be able to see my surroundings like this, but they won't be able to see me with any camera drones.
No. 810329 ID: bfb318
File 149842927712.png - (23.03KB , 800x800 , 11.png )

There is periodically a light, probably from another car now and then. Even if it's an quasi-anarchist region, this place has been peaceable enough, so it still sees public traffic. I try to hide my emotions, but it's no good. Every time a neumono driver gets behind the truck, they sense a spooked neumono just behind the drivers wheel. By the time they pass us by, they realize I'm in the cargo area.

I have a couple of saving graces, and that's probably the reason why they don't honk at the driver to come deal with me. First, it only takes me a moment to realize that they're not out for science hive blood, but are just regular drivers. So I'm calm enough after the first encounter. The second bit of luck is that I'm sleep deprived, so just as my senses are dulled, so is my empathy. If I was well rested, my panic would be sharp and suspicious.

It's surprisingly warm in here. I guess the engine heat is somehow coming through and getting trapped in the tarp? I don't know, maybe it's just the lack of wind. I manage to find myself a gap in the wood, where I can lay down. It's comfortable, I think that...
No. 810331 ID: bfb318
File 149842940154.png - (24.98KB , 800x800 , 12.png )


Quokko comes up to me. Her body language is calm, but I can feel her mental excitement nonetheless. I remember this. I came back after a long time spent traveling. The thought of going rogue didn't even cross my mind, or any of my hivemate's heads.

>"I can't believe you stayed gone for that long! We didn't change our usual hideouts."
"I had to see what else was out there. It's not just forest!"
>"And I can't believe you're alive!"
"The more you know, the less dangerous it gets. I even met hives that didn't want to kill me."
>"Now I know you've lost it."
"No. I'm serious. Here, I have pictures. Oh, you know how we've wondered what was over the western mountains?"
>"Yeah, this... is a picture of that? It's just... rock. Is it safe?"
"Maybe from predators, but we couldn't live there. It was hot and there was no shade anywhere. Do you remember the ocean? This was an ocean of dust and rocks. It's not any paradise, like some of us imagined."
>"Those were idle daydreams, no one seriously thought there was a paradise out there conveniently just out of reach. This place... not even the caves are so lifeless. We have to make do here. We've found a possible ally, you know. Not a neumono hive, of course, but a salikai."
>"Don't take that tone. Their reputation was also born from idle daydreams. From our enemies, no less. The salikai's name is Vanski. Do you want to meet him?"

I've gotten good at telling when I'm dreaming, but usually my dreams don't just play back memories like this. Then again, something's off about it. Something simple and constant.
No. 810332 ID: 3ce125

You don't have your goggles. Is this cave supposed to be grey? You were in purple caves in more recent times.
No. 810336 ID: 84ac62

Play along with how the memory goes, for now, and it should be easier to spot where something is wrong with it.
No. 810342 ID: 91ee5f

Quokko looks like she's fatter and her boobs look smaller. Is that what's off? Had to go back to Thread 15 to find another picture of Quokko in order to try and spot any differences. Then again, I'm pretty sure I'm wrong about what's supposed to be "off" about this memory.

Those don't count since they happened after meeting Vanski.
No. 810344 ID: 3ce125

Well in that case I'd expect either empathy or smell to be wrong.
No. 810348 ID: 486e87

Quokko's behaviour / speech seems off as well. The way she dismisses Likol's concern about allying with a salikai runs counter to Likol's comments on the photo in thread 10 (>>581933). Also here it's implied that Quokko's already met the salikai due to knowing his name, but the thread 10 photo doesn't mention that and Vanski is only mentioned by name later in the thread 11 photo (>>583566), which implies the opposite.
No. 810354 ID: 3abd97

If this is from the time of Likol's photography trips, lacking goggles makes sense. There weren't any in the pictures.

If this is Likol's first meeting with Vanki, he's supposed to be impressed by Likol's camera (and try to get some shots of him and arkot minions that refuse to hold still). And Vanski introduces some common sense tools to the science hive they never thought of (seriously, they invented a camera before the wheelbarrow).

I agree that something looks a little off about Quokko.

Who's your hivemate in green, there? That's not a common color in your hive. You're mostly browns and pinks.
No. 810359 ID: bfb318
File 149843474048.png - (21.69KB , 800x800 , 13.png )

My goggles are missing. Of course they are, though, this was decades before the aliens even knew that neumono existed.

The cave looks fine. We've hid in purple caves before, but also grey ones. We liked to stay in one spot, but due to a variety of factors, constantly found ourselves on the move.

Quokko's figure fluctuated now and then based on diet and exercise. My memory seems extremely detailed here, but even then it may have minor inaccuracies. I doubt I somehow remember precisely what Quokko looked like, so long ago.

>"Is something wrong?" Quokko asks, picking up my unsettled thoughts. I realize now, it's not something about the dream, and not even something about the memory of this event, but this event itself that felt off.
"I thought this happened before... or later, or some other... wait, you said Vanski. Did he reveal his name to you?"
>"No, he hasn't." Quokko seems confident in that, but I've put it in her head, at this point, that something is off. She's thinking about it, now.
"So how do we know his name."
>"... I guess we just do? Maybe..." Quokko and the rest of the hive trail off. I still remember this point. We caught ourself in some kind of error. Not even now, in my dream remembering this, do I remember how long this silence went on for, but then Quokko realizes something odd, something that might have been the thing at the back of my head.
"Also, why do I already remember him being impressed with my camera? There was something about us never having thought of a wheelbarrow, too."
>"Yeah... I remember the wheelbarrow. It was so stupidly simple, how did you manage to invent a camera before that?!"
"To be fair, I only managed it due to biological materials that mimicked film, it's not like I managed to make industrial grade film out of nowhere."
>"True, but... wheelbarrows were so stupidly simple, easy to think of, yet not surprising that we never thought of them since sometimes the simplest issue is...."

This is when she turned back towards me to speak, just as she is doing in the dream now.

>".... Likol... you had a perfect mental image of the desert like in that photograph, but your real picture of it was absolute shit because of the harsh lighting. But more than that, don't you think we're talking a little weird?"
"What do you mean?"
>"I mean that in this day and age, what the hell were we doing speaking english?"
No. 810360 ID: 3ce125

Son of a bitch. Vanski kidnapped your entire hive and fucked with your memories to make you think it was a voluntary arrangement, but it was never like that.

See if you can recover the true memory of how your hive met Vanksi.
No. 810365 ID: 3abd97

>"I mean that in this day and age, what the hell were we doing speaking english?"
...it would appear this dream or memory has broken down, yes.

If you're recognizing and identifying things that are wrong faster than I am, instead of floundering when I break from the script, that suggests you're really you, and not a character in my dream or memory.

Which is bad, because if I fell asleep in the back of a moving truck, there's no way I could be dream sharing with you.

Well that, or I think you're smarter than me, so my brain is putting all my good ideas in your mouth.
No. 810366 ID: 015058

Pretty sure we somehow independently invented it in a crazy leap of co evolution with a alien species that has not arrived on our planet yet.

Anyways now that you realize the oddity of the situation where do we go from here? I would tell you my story but am not so sure talking about it out loud is a good idea.

I was getting paranoid earlier but at this point I am starting to think that I am drugged up floating in a tube possibly. That or a well trained predator is hiding nearby and we all are drugged.

Give her a hug and tell her you love her. Never know if you might miss the chance later.
No. 810367 ID: 486e87

This very much reminds me of the hallucination gas in the intermission, especially by making Quokko more lucid by pointing out errors.

This seems like a collective lucid dream. Quokko, were any of our hivemates working on something that could induce that?
No. 810370 ID: 1e7aa8

Likol, this isn't real. You've been compromised and need to wake up/recognize it, Likol.
No. 810372 ID: 91ee5f

Hey, that's right! This was before your tribe got uplifted! You should still be speaking in your tribal language, since none of you have learned english yet!
No. 810374 ID: 4546ab

Well Likol that proves you were right to be paranoid. You got caught escaping the spire (or before that). And now Vanski or someone is messing with you for who knows why. The chances that this is a odd dream on a lumber truck is pretty low.

So thus the list of possible mind fuckery.

1. This is some crazy extended loyalty test?

2. Vanski is trying to erase the memories of the Cai stuff so you calm down and get back to work?

3. They gave up on the science hive (or just you) thinking you are treacherous and are just using you as experiment fodder now?

4. Some other silly mind game that a crazed alien with almost no empathy would think is somehow reasonable?

Well discuss things with your queen and try to clear the fog from your head. Then go meet Vanski because that is where things seemed to be headed before you woke Quokko up.
No. 810408 ID: bfb318
File 149844714131.png - (32.79KB , 800x800 , 14.png )

"Where are we?"

Am I honestly feeling Quokko's empathy, or do I just think I am through the dream and memory? I can't tell.

"Hallucination gas?"
>"We've been developing the idea, but are no where close to what this is, Likol. So unless our ideas were taken and ran with, but... it's not just a hallucination. It's modifying and scrambling our memories. If it's a hallucination gas, then it's not working right at all."
"It could be, considering it's hardly in the concepualization phases. Did we ever really meet Vanski the way we thought?"
>"Are we being tested on now?" asks another hivemate. Korli? No, she won't be born for years.

Behind me, there are several other hivemates which died long ago. Their empathy is weak, and closer to what I remember rather than what is, but there's still something familiar and convincing about it.

This isn't right.

"I fell asleep in the back of a moving truck a minute ago." I try to say.

And I start to say it. But by the time I get to the word 'back', my sentence seems to transform from something I feel myself saying, to some voice in the back of my head.

What I actually say 'out loud' is different.

"I fell asleep, with Rihhin."
>"That's not right. Let's back u - wait, no, that's the trap!"
"Let's back up."
"I love you, Quokko."
>"I know and same back to you, so stay here and do not back u-
No. 810409 ID: bfb318
File 149844722702.png - (16.48KB , 800x800 , 15.png )

.... what that was, I do not know. The realness of that makes me question the reality of this. Dream or not, that's how I remember it, but my conflicting memories are... still more or less there, and about as legitimate.

Right now, I'm in the truck.

It's daylight.

I sense a couple of other neumono.

>"Hey, mister!" I feel someone nearby yell. "You know you got a stowaway on your truck?"
>"When the hell?" I hear an alien voice say. "Wait, is this a prank?"
>"No sir!"
>"Well if I'm not getting pranked, then the guy in my truck better get the hell out right now." the voice says, hitting the side of the truck.
No. 810412 ID: 395c02

Well, don't press your luck, I guess. If they know you're in there there's no sense trying to hide.
No. 810413 ID: 3abd97

Well, until you know what's real, you have to treat everything like it could be. You can't do something that gets you killed or gets the AIs in your care killed just because you think it might not be happening.

Looks like we're bailing on our ride, here.
No. 810414 ID: 3ce125

>modifying and scrambling memories
Can well-trained predators do that? I'm guessing the "trap" was that if you tried to think further back in your memory it got to change deeper memories. That's what "back up" meant, right? Or maybe this is some kind of experimental nanomachine technology to modify memories as you sleep. You need to get hit with some anti-nanomachine stuff.
If Vanski is expecting the nanomachine tech to rewrite your memories to his advantage, maybe that's why he let you escape. It's a field test.

Anyway, do what the driver says. Get out and make a run for it, but see if you can do it on the other side of the tarp so they don't see you.
No. 810415 ID: 015058

Well get out of the truck and find out how far you got.

As for your dreams? No idea what is happening yet. Something is messing with your head though. The question is are you being manipulated by someone or something? Or did you just suffer a major unknown trauma and are brain damaged?

Was the back up thing just part of your dream because someone is yelling at the truck to back up? Or could it have been something important? Normally backing up would be in reference to some data? Possibly something involving the message on your laptop?

Also did you choose to hide your truck story in the memory or were you forced to?

I think you need to take some time and meditate on stuff to figure out what is up with your head. Once you find a safe spot to hide that is.
No. 810422 ID: 4546ab

We are getting into realms of paranoia that are unhealthy. If your head is being actively messed with there is little we can do about it right now. Especially if its something like predators or advanced tech. Right now your biggest concern is getting to civilization safely and quietly.

So until you can get solid proof otherwise lets assume that you got hurt badly early on during your escape and someone from your hive found you and helped fix you up. That dream you had could have been your subconscious trying to unscramble some damaged memories.

As for Quokko trying to yell at you to not back something up? Backing stuff up tends to be a computer term. I could mean don't look back or think on older memories but the phrasing should have been different then. Hopefully you might get more clues from your subconscious later.
No. 810423 ID: 3abd97

The biggest problem with mind control theories is this takes place 4 years prior to Polo's adventure in the spire, which means most of those methods weren't refined or working yet.

Mind control gas? The warship was the first live test. Mind control bugs? Same thing, and the ones in the armory didn't work so great. Predators? Kiiu had just started experimenting with them with Polo's reluctant help when Rokoa killed him, and Three Stripes and Four Stripes were only captured after that. Brain darts or cloning? Again, the process was barely up and going in time for the intermission.

No sophisticated mind fuckery targeting Likol is impossible, but every method we know about doesn't fit the timeline.
No. 810430 ID: 3ce125

This could be an earlier version or attempt at mind control nanotechnology. The bugs overcame the neumono's willpower, while in this case something is messing with memory instead. Takes longer to accomplish anything.
No. 810435 ID: 91ee5f

If you come out of the truck all scared and confused, like you are right now, then your emotions combined with how beat up you look and how torn your clothes are will convince both aliens and other neumono to try get you to a hospital because you look like you've been attacked by something! And you going to a hospital may or may not be a good thing!
No. 810468 ID: e22b1d

What about brain dart tech? Possibly a very early version of it.

Like the backup that Quokko was talking about was that he got hit with a backed up earlier version of his own cells. Or a mix of cells that they attempted to modify?
No. 810494 ID: 3f3e63

I think these onlookers should come down with a touch of money-induced memory loss.

As for the weird dreams... too many possibilities. I don't suppose there were any experiments going on with long-range empathy projection, were there? Maybe something that only works with dreaming empathy or in some other limited way? Maybe you really were talking with your queen, there, with the dream getting in the way of talking clearly.

That'd be some impressive tech, though not without potential misuses. You could make some sort of empathy bomb with something like that.
No. 810513 ID: bfb318
File 149850476159.png - (55.15KB , 1200x800 , 16.png )

We have - well, had - various ideas on our plates involving mind control and alteration of neumono. Nanomachines, gas, artificial reverse-jammers, electromagnetic elements, and so on, but everything is so early and conceptual that the idea of it suddenly leaping so far ahead, even if other factions worked on it in secret, seems unlikely.

Vanski, as far as we're aware, doesn't have any predators himself, but... we have studied predators academically even if we never had a real one to experiment with. We suspect that Vanski did want one for himself, and we had a feeling in the back of our heads that there is a predator or two out there that has been captured by someone with ties, direct or indirect, to Vanski. Having the predator itself is the stretch, here, but if there was a predator, it would probably be the soonest explanation.

That, or I was so badly hurt that my memories got messed up, and my dreams are illustrating its corrections. That sounds as feasible as anything. What else... we were studying long range empathy, but that's been put on hold and left to some other OPA espionage agencies, because we think that the ultrahive has developed that technology and is simply holding out due to the ethics and concerns it brings.

I'll wonder more about this, like what Quokko meant by 'back up', because all I can think of that's left is stuff like brain darts, which was brought up by one of our biologist's fever dream.

Right now, it doesn't change my goal. Find Arza. I leave the truck. The alien is a Heef. I don't think I've ever seen one in person that wasn't, well, some kind of soulless mercenary.

As my eyes adjust to the light, I see my surroundings. It's a gas station... combination guard outpost. There's a watchtower, and various armed guards hanging around. They pay me very little mind, since they probably are only there against thieves and marauders.

>"You didn't piss on the wood or chew on it or anything weird like that, did you?" he says.
"No. I only slept."
>"Hey, mister, he lying?"
>"No, he means it, sir." says the same neumono that gave me away.
>"Thanks. Alright, goggles. I've got a minute while I gas up, and I'm curious as hell when and how you managed to hide in my truck. And for that matter, why. Ever heard of hitchhiking?"
No. 810517 ID: 9c2d0c

..I'll admit the idea never occurred to me. Out alone in the wilderness at night, would you have stopped? I've been lost for days, who knows when I would see another vehicle. I was up a tree, and you were driving underneath, so I just dropped onto the bed. I.. I can pay you for the ride.. where are we?
No. 810519 ID: e6e9af


Psychic neural network made up of neumono subconsciousness.

That could explain what we're experiencing; a system wherein the minds are linked via long-range empathy broadcasting in a manner similar to a predator.

Think of it like this: your memories are playing out like a dream but interposed with reality and things that are or should be happening presently; situations that should not be but inexplicably are. Almost like you're really having this conversation with Quokko in real-time under conditions that, well, frankly should be impossible. You wouldn't need any kind of mind-altering device if you could get neumono brains to dream-share over distance. The only problem here is why.

I'm referring to it as a neural network insofar as that it seems profitable to the Salikai to have a system then can indefinitely grow at little to no cost, which can repair itself,and which is capable of massive parallel computation and communications on the order of super computers -- at a fraction of the energy consumption.

Or we're just growing really paranoid, sleep deprived, and need some real food in us right away. Think they've got gas station taquitos?

>Do not back [xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx]!

What if ... she means the damned laptop? "That's the trap," after saying "let's back up." The trap is if you connect that damned laptop to anything -- either of them -- we set lose ... something.
No. 810520 ID: 91ee5f

>What if ... she means the damned laptop? "That's the trap," after saying "let's back up." The trap is if you connect that damned laptop to anything -- either of them -- we set lose ... something.
Glitcher and friends would be set free maybe? But if that's it, then wouldn't that be a good thing since we're trying to save them from Vanski?

Maybe she meant the laptops would send out a signal the can be traced? Or maybe the laptops would self-destruct? I don't know, this is all hurting my head!
No. 810521 ID: 486e87

Say your were operating off adrenaline and the idea didn't occur to you. If they think that's odd tell them you were tribal, if they ask why you were out in the woods, well I'm not sure what you could say that wouldn't be either suspicious or unbelievable.

This is a good idea, get some proper food and water inside you. Use the cash, not the zeny chip though.
No. 810524 ID: 3f3e63

You could probably do with picking up some food in the store, but it'd mean more eyes on you.

"Sorry, wasn't sure you'd pick up a random scruffer out on the far roads, so when I heard your truck I climbed a tree and waited to drop down. I didn't want to risk spending more time walking through the wilderness than I had to. Now you mention it, though, mind if I stick with you a bit further? I can spot you for extra food and stuff at stops, to repay you."

Going with this guy to wherever he's delivering his stuff, then hitching with one of the trucks going out from there with the cut lumber, then maybe the same again with the manufactured goods, strikes me as a good way to move towards civilization faster than you could on foot but also in a somewhat randomized way. Your potential routes would be splitting off into a large tree at each stop.

If anyone asks why you're all the way out here, say you're a researcher, but you lost track of where you were a while ago while hiking. If anyone asks what you're researching you can honestly say you're under a kind of non-disclosure.
No. 810525 ID: 3ce125

Hitchhiking is dangerous. Could get picked up by a murderer or something.
No. 810541 ID: 91ee5f

>Do anything weird to the wood?
Normally, I "wood" buy someone dinner first before I did anything weird to their "wood".

No, bad Likol! Quit trying to flirt your way out of this, you suck at flirting! Stop thinking these things before one of the other neumono pick up what you're thinking!
No. 810543 ID: 3abd97

>because all I can think of that's left is stuff like brain darts, which was brought up by one of our biologist's fever dream.
There's a perverse part of me that's hoping you're being literal and Mirim actually dreamed those up when she was high and/or delirious.

>I'm curious as hell when and how you managed to hide in my truck. And for that matter, why. Ever heard of hitchhiking?
The simple, unflappable approach seems best here.

*shrug* "I heard your truck coming, climbed a tree, and jumped on as you went past.

"As for hitchhiking, well, if I didn't ask, you couldn't just drive past, or say no."

If we're really lucky, he'll let you keep tagging alone. If not, we try to figure out where we are and where to go next.

>I don't think I've ever seen one in person that wasn't, well, some kind of soulless mercenary.

Still, soulless mercenaries can have their uses. At least one usually knows where they stand with one. Too bad you can't really outbid OPA, so if you work or travel with any of them, they'll eventually be given a chance to turn you in for a paycheck.
No. 810561 ID: 015058

(watch your story while near mr helpful over there. He can point out if you lie.)

Stick to the truth while not going into your backstory.

"I have been lost in the woods for days. I saw your lumber camp and heard a truck revving up. So I jumped on and fell asleep quickly after."

"As for hitchhiking I figured if you saw a strange neumono on the side of the road in tribal territory you would ignore me."

"Um but now that I have the opportunity to ask. if you are going into town I could use a ride?"
No. 810564 ID: 4546ab

Be personable with this guy. See if we can hitch a ride if he is going into town.

Tell him the simplified truth. You were lost in the woods and had just seen the lumber camp. You were thinking on what to do after seeing the tribal warning signs and made a snap call when you heard his truck start. You ran up a tree and jumped right on and quickly fell asleep.

As for the rest of your story its a long complicated mess. But you might be willing to tell the tale to the first nice trucker who might let you tag along into town.

Basically lure him into wanting to give you a ride. Listening to your story (heavily edited) would probably be a nice distraction during his trip.
No. 810576 ID: d36af7

As for broader backstory: you were doing some secret cutting-edge science stuff out in the Untameable Needles, very hush-hush, can't talk about the details. You got separated from your hive by some crazy monster and a lot of weird coincidences. So, now you've got to deliver this sack full of bloodstained and no-longer-network-capable electronics, which are themselves full of incomprehensibly priceless scientific data, to a particular Belenosian university professor guy who's probably the only one in the galaxy that knows how to interpret it all, and after that you'll hopefully have the funding and political support to start planning a rescue for the rest of your hive, most of whom might plausibly still be alive somewhere out there.

Accurate in the broad strokes, but omits key details and puts a misleading spin on things.
No. 810595 ID: 701418

This doesn't make sense, Likol's been skirting near roads and frontier towns.

Likol, claim that you've heard stories about hitchhikers getting murdered.
No. 810661 ID: 9c2d0c

Don't mention seeing the lumber camp, that just means we get the question "why didn't you go to the camp" and questions seeking more detail are the whole thing we want to avoid.

No lying in the presence of neumono. Unfortunately, that also means no misleading half truths in the presence of neumono either. We just had a whole chapter about Likol trying to do that and it very not working.
No. 810722 ID: 3ce125

As a last resort you could tell him you're on the run and if you get caught, hundreds of thousands of people will die. This kind of urgent reason will be confirmed by the neumono there. They might even sense that you're understating the danger. In that case they might be driven to help you, or at least keep their mouths shut.
No. 810728 ID: 930e23

Is there someone on the roof with a rifle?
No. 810731 ID: 3ce125

Yeah there are security guards here.
No. 810816 ID: bfb318
File 149861098913.png - (56.82KB , 800x800 , 17.png )

>Was it a literal fever dream?
Yes. I believe it was a shared fever dream when our biologists stayed together in a lax quarantine so that the rest of us wouldn't get a fever.

"I dropped from a tree. I didn't think that someone would stop for me if I hitchhiked."
>"So you just did it without asking, huh? Like that'd earn you favors?"
"No, sorry. I've just heard stories of hitchhikers getting killed. If I can keep going with you, I'll pay."

I can't outbid any OPA division, but as long as I'm far away by the time they have a chance to pay this guy off, it's fine.

>"How much you got?"
"I'll pay 500z to let me ride with you today."
>"Yeah, sure. You gonna rip me off, steal anything, or try and fight me at all?"
"No. I just want to get to civilization."
>"This guy has more mental baggage than actual baggage, but he's honest, even if he sounds like he's on the run." says the neumono, who's apparently taking it upon himself to help vet me.
>"You wanted by some mercenaries or something? Nevermind, I don't want to know, but outside of letting you ride, I'm not protecting you."
"That's fine."

The neumono detects some hesitancy in me, and I address that.

"That, and a minute in the shop, for some food and water."
>"You get 5 minutes." he says. "Then you can have a ride, and I'll tell you about all the stories about how people got killed because they thought it was better to be a stowaway, rather than asking politely like an upstanding citizen."
No. 810817 ID: bfb318
File 149861101198.png - (47.12KB , 1200x800 , 18.png )

I get some store food. Surprisingly, they actually trade some for my fresher meat from a recent kill. It's not like I'm the only one out here who has stuff to hide. By this point, people who peaceably live and let live most likely have moved to a place protected by an ultrahive.

As we drive off, I eat. The food tastes a bit weird to me, but it's been a long time since I've had real commercial food at a gas station. It is filling, though, and that's what I need.

The heef puts on some music, I think. The instruments sound like they're screeching, and the singer sounds like he's trying to howl to drown out the instruments. The heef is 'singing' along to it with his weird, alien squawks. I'm glad he can't sense my empathy, because he would probably kick me out for how much I hate it.

The only comfort I have, outside the food, being in a vehicle, having amicable company, and being well on my way to civilization, is that this car seems to be much more high tech on the inside than the outside. The GPS has updating traffic conditions based on a mix of active satellite recordings that have an AI translate the visuals into useable traffic data, and nearly all GPS units seem to relay the car's information into one big network so that when traffic jams occur, it's easily detected and alerts drivers coming to that location. He has a coffee maker, too, with a stabilizing cup holder that keeps the bumps from knocking liquid around. We're about 300 miles east of the spire. We must be outside of OPA influence. A decent sized town should be within a handful of hours.

I'd like to know more about this technology, but more than that, I want to sleep. Until last night, I barely slept at all, but I feel like I didn't get any. I won't get any, either, with this screeching.
No. 810818 ID: 3ce125

Ask if he's got headphones, since you'd like to get some more sleep. Well, check his GPS to first find out what direction this thing's headed and exactly where you are. See if you can put more detail onto your map.

When you start napping, curl up in front of the seat with the meal tray covering you. That way nobody will see you in the car from the outside. Spy drones won't either.
No. 810819 ID: 015058

If you want to not listen to the heef death metal you have to actively work at it. could politely ask if you can get some sleep. Or you could also strike up a conversation which would get the music turned down. Ask him his life story.

Only problem with talking is he will eventually ask your story. And if anyone hears him mentioning he picked up a little nerdy googles guy well that points right to you.

Oh and am going to mention this one last time but you are a huge idiot for keeping those goggles (with brand new tracking firmware even). For god sake at least keep them in your fucking bag. Your entire hive wears those things all fucking day Likol. Makes you instantly recognizable you know.
No. 810824 ID: 486e87

Kinda lucky this was a truck designed for Heef, the relative proportions and the height of the vehicle makes it much harder for you to be spotted from the outside.

As for sleep, I dunno. Given how strange your dream was last time I'd be tempted to delay sleeping until you're in a confirmed safe location, but you're already sleep deprived which might make you less careful and falling asleep at the wrong time would be bad. So, I'd say try to get some sleep.

This is a good point, hide them goggles when you're not using them.
No. 810830 ID: 91ee5f

I doubt he'd like it if we complain about his choice of music. After all, it's his truck, so he gets to decide what plays on the radio and how loud it'll play. He might turn it down if we ask politely, but I don't see that happening.

>Kinda lucky this was a truck designed for Heef, the relative proportions and the height of the vehicle makes it much harder for you to be spotted from the outside.
He's also lucky that his genetics told him to grow up to be a short neumono as an adult instead of becoming a big neumono like his queen! I guess being short has some advantages! XD
No. 810841 ID: 3abd97

>I want to sleep
You really trust this guy enough to sleep around him?

>I'd like to know more about this technology
GPS is a global network. If you do anything funny with it, OPA resources might see it and connect it to you.

Although, I suppose they are down a CAI now, so they're not going to have a ridiculous bullshit cyber dragnet out for you right now.
No. 810908 ID: d36af7

Travel's going as well as could reasonably be expected. Don't rock the boat. You don't want the driver to get angry enough to kick you out, or even have cause to remember you and complain to peers. Just put up with a few more hours of sleep deprivation until you reach some credible town, then stumble into a cheap motel, rent a room for the night, and remember to lock the door behind you.
No. 810912 ID: 9e9eae

Be careful with your estimate of the OPA's influence range. If there aren't that many roads out here, their attention would be focused on the travel routes there are, which would effectively extend it.

Forgive me if I'm underestimating you, but as far as I can gather, you were a tribal, then taken under Vanski's wing, then basically lived in a cave until now, right? So you're not used to a world with travel infrastructure and things like that, your mindset when thinking about travel and escape and capture may still be dominated by old patterns shaped by existence in a wilderness. The OPA, on the other hand, is made up of criminals who have remote bases but also operate under the radar in civilized areas. Their immediate assumption would be needing to watch the roads.

Besides which, consider what the OPA would have focused their surveillance towards. The remoteness of bases like this would have been a security measure in itself to them - they might not have even thought too much about anyone wanting or being capable of going through the wilderness, being comparatively frail and urbanized aliens as they are. They have people they hire for military expertise and security, but the kinds of people they hire for that aren't chosen for their smarts first, and are limited in what they're informed of. They would have been less worried about people escaping from their bases than they would be about people coming towards them - police, investigators, armies. They would have looked at what roads were near them, noted what urban centers they gave access to, and then put surveillance in those centers, where anyone coming to get them would have to start traveling from. They would want early notice of any group who looked like they might be setting out in their direction.

So, watch out for that.
No. 810949 ID: bfb318
File 149868221335.png - (24.95KB , 800x800 , 19.png )

Damnit, I'm too paranoid to sleep.

I'll put the goggles away. They only help highlight animals, people, helicopters and other things for me if I wear them. Maybe I'll just put them on? Later. Then, can I trust this alien... well, maybe not too much, but if he was secretly someone linked to OPA, then they would already be on their way. Sleeping or staying awake in the truck wouldn't change much.

I have the CAI taped around me, under my clothes. It cannot get robbed without my knowledge.

Messing with the GPS would be fine as long as I don't go registering as a user under my name or anything out of line with a regular driver, but I won't risk it.

"Do you have any headphones?" I ask him.
>"No!" he shouts back over the music.
"... so where do you come from?"
>"My home planet, duh! I'm a veteran like half the people out here."



>"What, you don't like Heef bands?!"
"I... it's alien. Mostly I just want to sleep."
"Go stuff yourself in that compartment, then! It's roomy enough, and isn't airtight or anything!" he says, gesturing behind the seats to some cargo holds.

It then occurs to me that there are probably small spy drones all over the roads, and I really should not have so freely walked around that gas station. Hiding away in the compartment might be a good idea. It even has a pillow inside.

I'm still able to hear the music while inside the compartment, but it's much better, and good enough that I can fall asleep.
No. 810950 ID: bfb318
File 149868222174.png - (22.89KB , 800x800 , 20.png )

"Kids, Quokko. They're everywhere."
>"Oh, shut, up, half of them are full adults."
"Tiny, little children."
>"Still true, I guess. Why can't we see them? Goddamnit, Likol... they're fucking with our memories. Our good ones, now."

Our home, which we could virtually call a town. There were over a thousand of us, shortly before our schism, during which we thought we were going right to the top of the world.

>"Oh, come on, we've done this 4, 5 times now? You've got to stay lucid with me. They're trying to fix up something, but we're not letting them. We've set them off track going to older memories like just before the schism, which shouldn't have much to do with the present day issues. We've been reconstructing memories we thought we've long since lost, and reconstructing memories that never existed. How did we schism, anyway?"
"We had our departments make their own decisions. It led to - "
>"Fuck that idea, Likol. Do you really believe that? That we're so fragile that we schismed over a disagreement? We second guess ourselves constantly. If we schismed every time we had an internal disagreement, we'd all be rogues."
"You know what they say about hives who enter the 4 digit population. One big disagreement could do it."
>"What was the disagreement, then, Likol? What did we disagree about?"
"I have no idea."
>"Neither do I. It's the single biggest, cataclysmic event that happened to our hive after contact, and we aren't the kind of hive to repress painful memories. So don't you think it's a little weird that we can't remember?"
No. 810951 ID: e6e9af


But what if we ... could remember?

Or maybe the problem is that we never did, we were told that we did, we told ourselves that we did, and we believed it ...?

Wait, we'd remember that, right?

Quokko is the only other lucid mind here. How are we doing this?
No. 810953 ID: 9d0887

Wait, maybe we're still dreaming, even in our "waking" periods? We keep saying the various mind control technologies are not ready yet, but maybe we're not actually in April, AW 131.
No. 810955 ID: 3ce125

You know what I think? The schism happened because the hive eventually decided to split with Vanski, but Vanski didn't like that and tried an experimental memory-altering procedure on the hive. It only worked for some of the hive, so part of the hive stayed loyal while the other part wanted to rebel. Thus, a schism. The more vulnerable, affected part stayed and got a second treatment to make them forget how the schism happened.
Alternatively, the only way Vanksi would let the hive go is if they used the memory alteration treatment to wipe all knowledge of sensitive information from their minds. Either Vanski sabotaged it so that it didn't work on the most valuable members of the hive, or the hive agreed to only let expendable members take the treatment and leave. It couldn't have been luck or natural resistance since it was obviously used a second time to obscure the reason of the schism. It would've had to be reliable the second time around, and in this scenario the people it *didn't* work on stayed.

...it occurs to me that this could be a great boon in disguise. If you get to Azra and hand him the CAI, you can alter your memories afterwards to hide that fact, or to lead Vanski to a decoy CAI Block. Also, if the brain syringe technology is operational, is it possible a bunch of your hive injected you with themselves to counteract whatever's messing with your memories?
No. 810960 ID: 9e9eae

I have to wonder... why is this happening now? This is definitely a dream, so let's assume the other is reality. In that reality, you are no longer around your hive. You are not in reach of anyone who can mess with you. Methods for messing with you at range don't exist. Methods for mental alteration this quickly don't exist, yet. Doing something to you in a moving truck would be ridiculously impractical. Any long-range empathy projector would surely be detectable by someone. Any theoretical alterations to your minds would have been more easily made, and more importantly investigated and examined for scientific advances, while you were in residence of the spire.

What's changed, that you're getting these dreams now?

You've left.

What if... what if these are just memories? Memories of previous dreams? Memories of going through a previous process of being mentally altered? A process that wasn't perfect. Something that was done to all of you, together, as it would need to be to a hive. Neumono who are with their hive get kind of caught up with them. Their hive constantly pulls them along the same lines of thought with each other, waking and sleeping. Maybe something was done to you that needs you to be surrounded by your hive for it to keep working. Maybe, now that you've gotten out, that's breaking down and things are resurfacing. The process of some conditioning breaking up may even be responsible somehow for your memory loss and confusion when you first set out. When was the last time you slept without your hive in empathic range, Likol, before you left the spire?
No. 810973 ID: 486e87

Hmm, given how the last dream ended I think directly referencing what happened while Likol is awake sets off something. So if you have to do so indirectly like saying you're multitasking to explain the lack of lucidity (Since you were awake).

Yes, it is weird. Schisming is supposed to be quite emotional/traumatic and you'd think that'd reinforce any memory of it. I'm thinking something bad happened, something that we've all forgotten.

Why is this happening now, are why is Qukko in your head? Is it possible that your memory of her is strong enough to create a convincing construct of her, or is she actually there?
No. 810976 ID: 3abd97

Okay, so you got up over a thousand people before the schism. Now there are only "a couple hundred" [spoilers]and you'll be down to 30ish people in 4 years[spoilers]. You lost over half the population in the schism, and/or what happened after?

Can you remember how long ago the schism was?

...can you remember what happened to the half who split away? With all the OPA secrecy, I have a hard time imagining Vanski just let them leave.

>So don't you think it's a little weird that we can't remember?
Yes, it's weird.

Maybe if we focused on some of the people affected, we could remember their specific things, if not the event in general?

>Oh, come on, we've done this 4, 5 times now?
Sorry, this is only the second time I remember this happening. I must not have been lucid enough for the first few.

I'm also missing 3 days in the "real" world, if in fact what I'm experiencing when I'm not with you is real.
No. 810982 ID: 91ee5f

What if you're in a dream within a dream within a dream and so on?

Every time you're "awake", you're actually asleep and when you fall asleep again, you're just going deeper into another dream!
No. 810988 ID: 015058

If we forgot its because someone made us forget.

If the schism was about working for Vanski then it was probably his doing. To keep us in line and not loose the whole hive. Which could mean we might have a bunch of dead relatives in a ditch somewhere.

But there is another possibility. Say if it was something we really wanted to forget about. Something that could have destroyed the rest of the hive if we could not get past it. Then maybe it could have been us messing with our own memories to let us forget. Or survive.

Honestly if our memories were tampered with who else would have the tech to do it but our own hive? Sure there are other scientists out there. But we have most likely the most complete set of data on hijacking neumono biology. And the environment to test it.

(Try to avoid talking about your current whereabouts. Seemed to be blocked last time and might wake you up early. Also try to avoid going back in your memories any farther maybe? Your queen seems to be taking the place of your subconscious which is trying to fix these modifications.)
No. 810997 ID: bfb318
File 149869129525.png - (18.23KB , 800x800 , 21.png )

It's another remembering-dream. Stuff is playing out, and it feels like stuff that I once did, and did decide to do, but isn't stuff that I'm deciding now.

These weird dreams showing up make me wonder if it's because I've left my hive, but... it isn't typical. During our days under the spire, we've had people wander a bit. Before the spire, I've gone away from the hive for such long periods that I'm lucky to still be their hivemate. I slept outside of empathic range just in the couple days leading up to taking the CAI out of the base, too. If it's because I've left, then there's some other factor involved. Something that involves not just me alone, but me now. I can't think of what.

This is the second dream, but I do get the impression there are other moments like this.

"How are you getting lucid?" I ask, or asked, Quokko.
>"With help. Sometimes, usually you, say something that doesn't fit, at all. Then I bring the pieces together. I've been clinging onto you while being lucid. I can't remember why, either, but more importantly is the schism."
"It is weird we can't remember the schism. yeah. Can we think of specific people who were affected?"
>"I remember... they were called off to another portion of the base. They stayed there, for awhile, supposedly doing some work with Vanski, or if not him, then a kid of his or his wife. We don't know. Then we..."

>"Did we ever see them again?"
"I don't think we did. You left to go see them again, didn't you?"
>"Yes, but then I... came back here."
"Did they already schism?"
>"No. I don't know. I just decided... not to. I just decided not to check on them after all, like I knew they were gone already."

>"That was it. That was the end of that, we declared them gone, and we moved on."

"What happened to them? Vanski, and anything involving an OPA base, wouldn't have just let them leave."
>"I don't really care personally, but I don't really want to know, either."

>"... we got an awful lot of funding out of nowhere after that, though, didn't we?"
"Yeah, we did."
>"No, no, no. I mean, yes, we got funding, but I absolutely know that I checked in on the schism'd hive! I didn't just walk over, go 'nevermind', and walk back. That's not right. Let's back up."
"Yeah, let's back up.

I don't want to do that.

>"Something seems wrong? Whatever, let's back up."


>"Yeah. Let's remember it right, next time."
No. 810998 ID: bfb318
File 149869130641.png - (28.09KB , 800x800 , 22.png )

I'm awake.
No. 810999 ID: 87547f


This seems like a interesting take on things. While it could be way off the mark is worth pondering.

So the hive schism happened years and years ago right? Back far enough that you would not have access to the more advanced tech that has appeared since then. So if this memory editing stuff is a hive wide thing (and not just something that is just happening to Likol post escape). Then how was it done?

Yeah you could use all sorts of memory editing tech but it would be horribly imperfect and you would all have noticed more gaps before now. And if a predator had done it then why does Vanski not still have that predator? If he had a tame predator then most likely none of this cai nonsense would have happened due to you all being predatored.

So what if your hive was going along with the memory changes? Or doing it to yourselves even? Some of the most powerful memory altering you can do to a neumono is by making there whole hive believe really hard.

Could it be that the schism never happened? That there was some horrible event and you lost half your hive in such a painful manner that you all repressed it so hard you forgot as a group? Probably some nastiness involving your relationship with Vanski or the outside world?

And maybe you are dreaming about your queen trying to fix your head because you are away from your hive and the group denial that did this is wearing off?
No. 811002 ID: 3abd97

This sounds less like a schism and more like a culling.

How long were you out? (Assuming we can trust our tech, which we can't).

If "back up" is they keyword that boots you out / messes with your head... maybe we need to say something that sounds like the opposite? ("Move on", "forward", "go ahead", "front down" etc).
No. 811003 ID: 015058

You backed up and that reset the loop. She warned you about that last time. Next time you are dreaming watch for that. This has probably happened a few times now. It might take a few more dreams but you are getting closer.

What if that part of your hive is still around? What if they are working on other more "evil" tech and that's the schism? They were willing to work on more horrible things and you were not? What if you or her did visit and you found out what they were working on and disowned them?

That or it was the team trying to save Vanski's wife? He killed them all after they failed and then made the rest of you forget?

Anyways ponder on it later. Right now you should check the top of your head for a deep bone wound. Possibly a circle right in between your ears just to the right of the center of your skull. Even with your regen if you did get hurt there should be a sign of it as the bone needs time to heal.
No. 811008 ID: e6e9af


Oh hey, you do the same thing I do. Err ... we do.

... I do.

Well, trapped in a mental loop in a dream state, so it's definitely on your mind, not like you'd ... forget. Sounds like whatever's going on, you can't go backwards?

Wait, can you even recall what that conversation was? Is it possible to remember what should have happened before you spoke with Quokko?

She says she stays lucid because of things being out of place or out of keeping with the dream. So does that mean this is just some crazy dream (and maybe not even shared) and we're along for the ride until we decide to do otherwise?

>I don't want to

Or maybe someone's tampering with our empathy and it's only working when we're passed out in the middle of nowhere.

.. I mean, there's also the option that we're crazy. Well, that you're crazy.
No. 811010 ID: 91ee5f

Listen carefully. Has the truck stopped? Is the music still playing? Can you get out of the compartment?

You left your bag in the passenger's seat didn't you? Let's hope the driver didn't go digging through your bag while you were sleeping!
No. 811018 ID: bfb318
File 149869504511.png - (31.03KB , 800x800 , 23.png )

I listen for a moment.

My goggles say it's 2:07 PM. The truck is still moving. Music is playing, but it's closer to what I would call music. My bags are still with me.

Quokko, in the dream, mentioned Stirra, Vanski's wife. That checks out. The schism was... it's fuzzy, but I want to say at least a couple of decades ago. Stirra died just november of last year, a little over 6 months ago.

I have two memories of that conversation. The one that the dream represented was clearly wrong and mangled. The other one was much more benign. We simply reflected on how far we've come, even if we could have had better partners than Vanski.

There wasn't a will for us to 'back up'. Neither of us wanted to, but then we felt a need to.

>Could it be the schism never happened, and was a culling?
I don't really want to imagine that. I know so little, though, that I just don't know.

If there was an attempt to rewrite my memory, it obviously was an unclean procedure. Now I just have more memories. Which, to be fair, that's already more success than the tech I'm aware of. The only theoretical reliable means would be a predator, and I would still be surprised if Vanski managed to get one, especially recently, despite his attempts. He is effectively in charge of OPA-3, though, and I have heard of an OPA-8 before. If there's 7 other places like mine, then there might be a predator involved. Training one to do any kind of good job, though, is a different kind of story.

My head aches, come to think of it. There was a wound on it earlier that's closed up, but it still feels a little off, like something is in there. My regeneration might be trying to push it out, but I do feel a hard bump just under my fur. I might have a splinter.
No. 811019 ID: 3abd97

So... great. Someone either implanted something in your head, or you tried to hide something in your head. Not good either way.

Probably not a good idea to cut your head open now and bleed all over the compartment. Head wounds are messy.

Are we still moving, or has the truck stopped?
No. 811021 ID: 486e87

Sub-dermal tracker maybe? Not something to do now but once you're somewhere where you won't piss someone off for bleeding, trying pushing the splinter out the wound or otherwise get it out.

Ideally do this when the trucker has a rest stop or something so the last known location of the tracker (Assuming it is one) is away from where you are.
No. 811022 ID: 9c2d0c

Let's talk about empathy relays again. You said those were in development. How small could those get? Pondering something that kicks on while you are sleeping and causes shared dreams.
No. 811026 ID: 015058

Once you get somewhere private you can cut it open and see if its just a splinter.

For now listen and see if you are still moving/listening to metal music.

Did you sleep long? Figuring out if someone jammed a empathy relay into your head can wait a bit. Right now you need to keep on moving and saying out of sight.
No. 811032 ID: 3ce125

Okay, new theory. The memories you've got now are from the period where the older memories were being rewritten. The time period is mixed up because of the method being used, it's some combination of a shared dream and memory interception. Vanski caught your hive during a shared dream, or forced one, and somehow hijacked it to modify your entire hive's memories at once by making the entire hive remember what he wanted to modify. Your hive dreamed about an event, but the dream was altered somehow by Vanski to make your hive think there's something wrong with the memory, which makes them "back up" and replay the memory, except then it gets changed even further and eventually the changes Vanski want are applied.

You are only just now remembering the shared dream; the evidence that you have false memories. I believe that whatever this process is, it requires upkeep, so now that you're separated from Vanski's complex you're starting to remember the process. I'm not sure how this relates to the missing time, but it's possible you were being followed and Vanski's goons attempted to administer whatever upkeep was required, at which point your hive coincidentally came across you and interrupted the process?

First, REMOVE THE SPLINTER. Second, stick your head out of the storage area to check on the situation.
No. 811033 ID: 9e9eae

Hmm. You guys regenerate pretty quick, don't you? If that wound was something actually put inside you, it had to have been put in pretty recently for that external wound to still be there. As such, it's theoretically possible that you received it at the same time as your other gifts from your hive - that note written in blood could even be from when you were opened up.

At the same time, you're scientists, so if your hive put something in there, they'd have known it would get pushed out. Really, anyone with any familiarity with neumono physiology would know it. So if something got put into you, they'd have to know it would come out again. In any case, theoretically, whatever it is might have been put there by your hivemates, at the same time they gave you the doll and (presumably) the money. You might even have put it in there yourself! Assuming that it really isn't just a splinter.

I'm concerned about how you seem to be being forced to replay memories. The way biological memories work, you effectively have to get the subject to recall those memories in order to alter them - in fact, it's normal for memories of events to change a little every time they're remembered. Even moreso for neumono, since your redundant brains would have multiple copies of a memory - any memory alteration effectively has to make you alter your memories yourself. This seems like it could be something trying to do that to you, but... Well, you've been through these dreams twice now, and if anything they seem to have made you more aware of issues with your memory. If Vanski is responsible for this, he's making you less willing to trust or work with him. What's the profit? Follow the metaphorical money. Who benefits from this?
No. 811038 ID: bfb318
File 149869787597.png - (34.53KB , 800x800 , 24.png )

Well, great, maybe I'm being tracked after all, unless I shoved something weird in my own head and can't remember that, either.

Or something else? I don't know what other tech there would be. On the other hand, other OPA bases may have made huge advancements in any of the other fields. Perhaps empathy relayers? Not in me. Those, in theory, couldn't get any smaller than their jammer counterparts. So, not just would they have had to make functional relayer tech, but make it small enough to fit in my head.

Again, though, these memories and the way that they're being replayed doesn't seem to benefit anyone.

I'd like to remove the splinter, but I don't know how deep it goes. I could ask the driver when the next rest stop is so that I don't risk bleeding over his compartment. We're moving, and between the music and the engine, I can also hear rain. I do have my trashbags with me, though. If I'm careful and I don't just try to wrench the implant out, I should be able to keep my blood either on me or in a bag.
No. 811039 ID: 3abd97

I say wait. If you try to do surgery on the move, something is sure to happen.

And you lose pretty much any hope of cooperation from your host if you do something as apparently weird and crazy as trying to take your head apart and bleeding on his stuff.
No. 811040 ID: 486e87

Wait. If you do it at a rest stop and it turns out to be a tracker, you'll have the opportunity to plant it on another vehicle.
No. 811042 ID: 015058

Well you could lay out your trash bag and towel under you and using your flashlight and toolkit and knife start working whatever it is out. Do you have a hand mirror?

You would get your towel bloody though. Easy enough to ball back up in the bags and clean later.

I would just ask the heef if he minds. There should be a kitchenette back there near the bed with a sink if this is a big rig truck. Say you think you have a nasty splinter/tooth/claw that needs to come out and ask if you can pry it out over his sink.

That being said if its a tracker then removing it in a enclosed cab on the move in the rain is the best time for the signal to be crappy. Then you can save it and toss it in another truck going to another town later.
No. 811043 ID: 9e9eae

This is not the place or time for self surgery.

Shouldn't your regeneration eventually push it out on its own anyway?
No. 811045 ID: e22b1d

Don't start digging at it in the bed compartment of a guy who has been rather nice to you.

Go ask if you can dig for it up front. He is a vet and should understand.
No. 811048 ID: fe7355

The brain-dart tech isn't anywhere near ready, but what if it wasn't miniaturized? You think this could be something like a brain tissue implant based on the preliminary brain-dart tech, just tweaked so it's not trying to take you over? And if so, do you think the tissue donor might have been Quokko, considering how she's shown up every time in your dream?

Do a exploratory cut of the lump to see and feel what is under the skin before deciding if you're going the whole way. That'll be less bloody than pulling it out and you can turn back if you change your mind. And can your goggles display what their cameras see independently to each lens? Because if so, you could put one lens over your eye, then hold up the other lens to view the back of your head and pipe its camera output to the lens you're viewing.
No. 811051 ID: 91ee5f

I'm pretty sure if you try by yourself in a moving vehicle, you'll end up making things worse! For example: The truck suddenly hits a bump and you end up accidentally shoving your knife, or whatever you're using, into your head and then you'd have 2 things stuck in your head!
No. 811054 ID: 3ce125

If you hit a bump it could be pretty bad for you.
...if it's a tracking device wouldn't they have recaptured you by now? Maybe it's something benign. I think you need to get a mirror and look at it better.
No. 811055 ID: bfb318
File 149870102321.png - (75.87KB , 800x800 , 25.png )

I'll wait. If it's something like a tracker, it's done damage. It'll take a much longer time for regeneration to push it out completely, though, so I should do something soon.

I open the compartment.

>"Rise and shine, kiddo. You'd make a terrible driver."
"I can't see over the dashboard while standing, so yeah, probably."

There must be tech for that.

"Do you plan on making a rest stop? I have to pull something out, and I don't want to bleed in your truck."

I could have worded that better. Oh, I'm wearing my goggles again.

"I mean, it's probably just a splinter from when I was in the forest."
>"Probably? Man, I picked up an oddball after all. There's a rest stop soon, but the next town over's just 50 miles away, so you may as well wait to get off there. I'm already behind schedule. Whole lanes were closed earlier."
"What, when?"
>"Few hours back. No damn explanation of course, so I'm just assuming that they made a traffic jam for fun. Goddamn half the crew was a buncha neumono rubbernecking the traffic as hard as the traffic was rubbernecking them, so it was an amateur run choking the only reliable underpass in the whole damn region today."
>"You know what? There's a bathroom in back, and it's a bit dirty. If you clean it up a bit, you can use it to take out your splinter. Just don't hog all the water!"

I see the GPS by the steering wheel. It's been about 300 miles and almost 7 hours since I last checked. I don't know this part of the world, but I think that we're in a much more stable, safer region. The town he's talking about, though, I don't think is in proper ultrahive territory.

"I will, thank you."

>What if the brain dart tech wasn't miniaturized?
Miniaturized? There's no feasible way I could imagine that ever working at full scale, let alone get a miniaturized version.
No. 811057 ID: bfb318
File 149870103590.png - (28.83KB , 800x800 , 26.png )

I go into the back area, using a sliding door I thought was just a big closet before. It's like a small mobile home in here. Like he said, there's a bathroom just to the side. There's even a foldout bed here! I wouldn't want me to sleep it in either though, given my current looks.

The bathroom would only be small by alien sizes, so it's an easy spot for me to work.

I can also use one of my lens-caps to receive input from the other, so I can hold up one lens cap to look over my own head, and its vision will be passed through to the lenscap that I look through. I also poke around some, thankfully confirming that it's something small that I can pull out easily enough, and that it isn't some kind of insane deep skull implant.

This is a moving truck, but I've extracted an animal's tooth that has dug into my shin bone before. A speed bump does not scare me.
No. 811059 ID: bfb318
File 149870105309.png - (12.22KB , 800x800 , 27.png )

I successfully take it out, and don't like how metallic it feels. After I wipe it off, I take a better look.

It looks like shrapnel?

This color, and its feeling is exactly like the material used in my hivemate's fragmentation grenades.
No. 811060 ID: 015058

Well that adds another piece of evidence to the "your hive saved you from something bad and left supplies on your knocked out body" theory.

Could a chunk of that in your head explain the odd dreams? Or the shock of getting blown up?

Anyways it looks like those odd dreams saved you from getting found out at the check point earlier. I bet those were opa goons for sure. Set up at the only traffic choke point in the area.

Is your empathy that hidden when you sleep? Or was your dream odd enough to throw people off?

Anyways clean yourself up a bit. Don't use to much water but your damp towel and some wiping would make you look a lot less like a mess. From here on out you need to make sure no pictures of yourself get out. You want the people after you to think you are still inside there blockade. So clean fur and some new clothes will be very important soon.
No. 811062 ID: 486e87

Worrying, although not as bad as it could've been. Seems to support the theory that your hive intervened on your behalf during the gap in your memory.

Clean up the bathroom a bit like you agreed, then return to the cab.
No. 811063 ID: 9e9eae

Damn, this just adds to the mystery. I guess you saw some action during the time you've forgotten about. Quickly give yourself a check all over to see if there are any other points of interest.

In any case, be happy you're not being tracked. And that you slipped past a blockade, it seems. That's some damned fine luck that you were sleeping.

You might also ask the driver if he has any sort of wireless-capable computers or things around. Most trucks I know wouldn't, but, yours here might be more advanced. With the (presumed) ubiquity of wireless access of some sort everywhere in a town, this may be your last chance to use your computers without risking them connecting to anything.
No. 811064 ID: 486e87

Are there any files on your goggles, hidden or otherwise? Maybe whoever replaced your old pair w/ these left a note.
No. 811065 ID: 3abd97

>Oh, I'm wearing my goggles again.
You never really took them off. They just got pushed down the back of your head while you're asleep.

You should take them off before you leave the truck, since being a neumono in goggles makes you easier to find to OPA people asking questions of witnesses. Damage is done with the heef, though.

Well that confirms stuff went down you can't remember.

>Is your empathy that hidden when you sleep?
Sleeping empathy is on a different frequency than waking empathy. You can't sense someone's empathy when they're asleep and you're awake.
No. 811238 ID: bfb318
File 149877098466.png - (63.53KB , 800x800 , 28.png )

The shrapnel is odd and wouldn't help, but it wouldn't explain weird dreams or my current general state of health. It didn't prevent me from sleeping, too, which was a big help apparently. Trying to get through that checkpoint when my empathy was in a waking state would have been a bigger deal.

After another pat down, I'm not feeling any other weird things on my body. There's a meter showing how much water is left, so I use a small amount of that to wipe down the bathroom, and myself, before getting a change of clothes and returning to the cab.

"Thank you."
"Do you have any wireless computers in here?"
>"There's a laptop - why."
"I'd like to look up the town we're going to."
>"Fine, but I'm throwing you out if you look at my search history or start doing anything weird."

His laptop has an extension to get satellite coverage, so I'm able to look on the internet, for once, completely freely and openly. There's a lot I'm curious about, but I stay focused.

The town we're going to is called Power Park, aptly named due to its power plant years ago. It needed protection, so it drew in a military presence. People needed protection, so the military drew in a civilian presence. Now that the region is more or less safe-ish, there isn't much draw to the town, and it's just a place that people live because they don't have anywhere better to be. Half of the industry has transformed to be from people passing through, such as big rig trucks and travellers.

There's a small airport that's barely used, and only exists because of the military force that built it. Public bus travel exists and goes out in every direction, but its reliability is apparently questionable. It's an extremely popular hitchhiking hub, too. There are plenty of cheap places to eat and stay the night. Many places offer phone and internet services on their own, as well.

I also spend some time searching through my goggles. There is a newer changelog that was just a few bug fixes and minor performance changes, but I look deeper through the large directory of files. I skim through them to check anything out of place. There is one file, out on its own, only called 'hugs.exe.'
No. 811239 ID: 7fad5d

Create a virtual machine and a partition to test hugs.exe.
No. 811244 ID: e121d3

Make sure you don't have audio on too loud and run hugs.exe.

You should probably check the CAI and its attached systems for damage, too. I'm not sure what you'd be able to do about any such damage, but if some piece of shrapnel pierced one of the seals that makes it waterproof or something, you need to know.
No. 811245 ID: 3ce125

Do you remember what happened to your ear? One of your ears is shorter than the other.

Don't do anything weird on his laptop. For sure do not run that exe on anything with a wireless connection. Can you check the file creation/modification date? If it's ever been run? Can you decompile it to see what the structure looks like?
No. 811247 ID: 91ee5f

Either your hive left a message there or Glitcher somehow connected to your goggles to mess with things in there. And then Alison said to give the file that name! XD
No. 811249 ID: e121d3


One would assume the file is meant to be run on the goggles themselves, somehow, so we don't need to fret so much about doing it on the laptop.
No. 811252 ID: 486e87

Run the program on your goggles, it should be relatively safe as you mentioned that model specifically had no wireless connectivity.
No. 811254 ID: bfb318
File 149877423764.png - (18.48KB , 800x800 , 29.png )

>Do you remember what happened to your ear?
I don't. It's healed somewhat, so I can't make a judgement on what kind of thing caused the wound either.

I isolate out hugs.exe through partitions and the usual security practices, on my goggles. I also double check that my goggles are incapable of wireless communication. While it's made, I double check the CAI. It looks pristine.

The exe itself has a creation and modification date from just a few days ago, sometime while I was out in the forest. When I run hugs, something shows up on the bottom left of my goggles. Her mouth animates, showing an icon of speakers, so I put the goggle's straps back around my ears.

>"Hi! Thank you for running me. Who is this?" she speaks with a voice that is feminine and artificial. It's uncannily smooth, and the care put into her voice module is probably hindered by the mid-range quality of the goggle speakers.

This must be Alison. Glitcher talked about her. I tap 'Likol' back in morse code. If this program is supposed to be ran on my goggles, it should be able to read that input.

>"Okay, just making sure, thank you Likol. I'm Alison. Not the real Alison that is, but an AI approximation of her with a few changes. My purpose here is to help automate and run actions if you plug your goggles into any standard computer, so that you don't have to. I know you've been through a lot, so I understand if you don't trust me or want to use me. I'm not sapient, so you can delete or cut and paste me all you want, guilt free."
No. 811255 ID: 3abd97

Well, let's ask the obvious question.

How did she get in there? You didn't install her. Does she know what happened to you?

I mean, not sapient, but she might have relevant records. And the CAI might have pre-programmed her with the answers to questions they thought you might ask.
No. 811257 ID: 7fad5d

Pretty impressive that your goggles can even do a color version of her. I suppose the obvious thing to do is ask her about her origins, but be sure to check the files yourself too, as thoroughly as you can.
No. 811260 ID: 3ce125

Hmm. I bet your ear had a tracking device in it. So, this is what happened: Vanski sent some goons after you with some of whatever technology he uses to wipe and replace memories. I think the intent was to change your mission objective somehow. Your hive sent a taskforce out at about the same time to follow the goons, and you were eventually found, at which point they ambushed the group and took them out. A grenade was involved and you got hit with shrapnel. They removed the part of your ear that had the tracking device, figured out your laptop was compromised as well, left you some gifts, sent you on your way to keep Vanski from immediately recovering you again, then ran off before you came out of your trance. I'm guessing that they left their tracking devices back at the base, and returned in order to continue the act of being loyal and ignorant of your actions. Otherwise they'd have just stayed with you, surely.

Ask Alison if she knows anything that happened since you left Vanski.
No. 811270 ID: 91ee5f

>It's Alison
I fucking knew it! I knew she had to be involved somehow! XD
No. 811280 ID: e121d3

Hmm. Well, if Glitcher sent her to help you, he might have loaded her with information of what he knew about you. Ask her if she was given any details on the interactions you and Glitcher had. There are theoretically a few things that he would know to mention that no-one besides you would be likely to know.

Alison is an odd choice. Perhaps I'm not remembering right, but you never really interacted with her, did you? Perhaps Glitcher mentioned her, but I don't recall him talking much about her. She would have been mentioned in his (well, the previous version of his) recorded conversations with the other AIs, though, and you know her by reputation as the "generosity anomaly". That might have been enough for them to think she would be a good choice for setting you at your ease. Or perhaps they just like her face and think you would too, who knows.

Anyway, check what proofs she might have of her authenticity and then ask her if she knows anything about your missing days and the various mysteries going on. The meaning of those notes, especially.
No. 811286 ID: bfb318
File 149877934990.png - (16.08KB , 800x800 , 30.png )

Alison is an odd choice at first glance, but then I realize that the only AI I interacted with much was Glitcher, and he was pretty darn protective of his individuality and image. He probably wouldn't want his image to be replicated like this if I understood him right, but I could be wrong.

"Do you know what happened after I left Vanski?"
>"Who? I'm sorry, I was just activated right now."
"You don't know anything? How did you get into my goggles?"
>"Hmm... If you didn't put me in here, then I'm curious, too! We have some hints, though. From what little I know, I was made by an AI, from an existing AI. That puts me in a strange legal position, and it's possible my makers didn't want me to say too much. I'm talkative, so if I knew too much, I'd say too much! To you, that is. I'm designed only to be fully open to the goggle's owner, and people who the owner tells me to be fully open towards. I have very high security measures built in, but it's still possible for me to get hacked if I fell into the wrong hands. You can make adjustments to me or the program, if you like. Personality adjustments, display options, or just change personalities to a whole other person, but that's a test feature and there's no guarantee your choice will be all that cooperative. If you need a third opinion, though, then it could be useful. Oh, also, there's also a little note in my readme that you may want to see."

'We once thought the people who oversaw us must be monsters for putting us through terrible test cycles, but when the fog was lifted, they just turned out to be misguided nerds. When they saw what was going on, they went farther than we ever thought they would go to give us time to live in peace, even if it was just delaying the inevitable. For coming through for us when we needed it most, we've created this modest present for you all to remember us by, in case we never see each other again. We'd like to do more, but we want your bosses to let you keep it, and also hope that they don't hold your actions against you too harshly. That's us being optimistic, and why we didn't load this present with all kinds of sensitive data. Good luck, you guys will need it.'
No. 811288 ID: 015058

Well that looks like a gift from Glitcher. But for Paranoia's sake still treat it very carefully.

Ask her what she can help you with. With no network connection her access to stuff will be limited.

Also explain that you don't want to be seen in public with your goggles much.
No. 811293 ID: 91ee5f

Wait, but, how did the AIs do that?! Did they somehow remotely connect to your goggles or something?!
No. 811294 ID: 3abd97

Hmmmm. That's a weird note. That really suggests they made this Alison (Gameboy alison? Green Alison? Galison, either way) before you ran, if they were worried about you being subject to Vanski letting you keep anything.

The CAI shouldn't have been connected to your goggles to give you an AI. Did they leave something for your hive in general, and they gave it to you in the time you don't remember?
No. 811295 ID: e121d3

Hmm. Kind of an impersonal tone. However, the only one who interacted with you personally was Glitcher, who was the one everyone was worried about. Perhaps he's gone... or faking that he's gone. Since it would be theoretically possible for someone besides you to hack your goggles, they might have decided to create a message that wouldn't possibly give anything away, annoy anyone, seem threatening to someone or otherwise potentially cause any extra trouble for you, hence this... strange, sanitized-sounding message.

Alternately, so much time may have passed within their "world" that their memory of you is effectively now just a page in a history book to them. So much time would have passed for them since sending it, too, the message is basically equivalent to one etched on a deep space probe and shot into the void for them, hence this memorial-esque tone.

Or this could be a trick with a message constructed from what Vanski or his associates could know or guess about your relationship with the AI. Though it can be explained away, it's still the case that some of the way it's phrased doesn't feel like it fits the situation.

Well, she's offered to let you poke around in her innards a bit, so have a look. An AI made by other AIs, particularly ones who have been isolated from interaction with the real world, should have at least some differences in how she was designed and structured, compared to one made by organics. Theoretically they could have been able to create a more advanced AI than you yourselves could.

Ask her what information about who you are and your situation and history she was pre-programmed with, and an overview of all other "default" knowledge she has.

... I wonder. This message seems directed at your hive as a whole. I wonder, during whatever missing days you have when you seemingly encountered your hive again, did they get to interact with the CAI too? Were multiple copies of this Alison AI and this message given out to them all? It's possible.
No. 811297 ID: bfb318
File 149878281806.png - (188.21KB , 800x800 , 31.png )

"So what can you help me with? Especially without a network connection?"
>"Internally, I can run computations, help analyze data, and just talk if you find yourself lonely. Since these goggles don't have wireless capability, I can't look up things on the internet as I am now, but if you have the right wire, you can always plug me into a computer with internet capability, and I can make use of that controller. I might just be a mundane AI, but I'm a very complex one."
"I don't know how you got into these goggles, without wireless capability."
>"I don't know how else I would have been put in without getting plugged into something, at some point."
"I also don't want to be seen in public with my goggles much."
>"Hmm... well, if you keep the microphone on, I'll be able to hear you even if I'm in a pocket."

I begin poking around the inside of this AI. It has a development wrapper attached, which Alison explains is a tool to use if we wanted to distribute her elsewhere, while protecting the code. As it currently is, all of the source code, modules, assets and so on have been laid out for me so that I can inspect what makes this pseudo-Alison tick. It looks like it was made in the same programming language we use to create goggle software instead of being some kind of low level assembly code that would take a lot of study. If there's no foul play with this note, then I suspect that the source code was made so available so that Vanski can verify the legitimacy of this AI and let my hive keep them as helper AIs. We already have helper AIs, but nothing so general-use, and nothing with anything near a personality. Now I just have more questions, too, since it sounds like this sterilized message was addressed to my hive as a whole, instead of me personally.

We're also getting close to Power Park, and I have Alison start communicating to me through text so that I can keep my goggles and my head low while we start passing by houses. I may want to decide what I'm going to do in town, if I even want to stop riding with this alien. Another note is that right now I may not want to plug in Alison into any wired computers, but I also can't. I have no wires to do it, and if I ever want to plug her into something, I'll need to stop by a shop to buy the right cable link.
No. 811298 ID: 91ee5f

I think this is as good a place as any to say your goodbyes to the truck driver, pay him the money you said you'd give him for the ride, and then find a store to buy a wire or anything else you might need.
No. 811299 ID: e121d3

Do your goggles have a camera? For the purpose of overlaying Augmented Reality stuff, or similar? She could theoretically see as well as hear. Perhaps even through a pocket, if you found the right kind of fabric.

For now, ask her to go through your goggles' various logs and dates, find, list, and give you an overview of everything your goggles did or had done to them during your missing days.

How's the battery life on your goggles, by the way?
No. 811300 ID: 015058

While the code might be simple and open I would not put it past Glitcher to have figured out a way of hiding stuff in there in ways you would never consider. Or for one of the black supernova's teams to have bugged it. Plus there could be who knows what hidden in the firmware and you would never find it.

But it seem safe enough right now and should be a big help. Note what type of cable it uses and be on the lookout for one. If its a standard one should be easy enough to find. Just make sure to be very careful about hooking it up to anything.

For now chat with the heef. Ask where he is headed. If its not into a bigger town then see if he knows a good spot to hitch a ride. You might not want to head directly to the nearest large city and instead take a more random route.

If anyone asks this guy about you he should be telling them something completely different than what you are actually doing. If you want to make it to the nearest big town you need to tell him you are going to rejoin your hive in a small one. If you are planning to hike to a river and go canoeing downstream he had better think you are taking the bus.
No. 811301 ID: 3abd97

Do your goggles have sufficient battery life to run an AI all the time, even a non-sapient one?

Gives you a reference the next time you black out, at least.

...Arza might be pretty interested in an AI designed AI. I'm willing to bet CAIs aren't generally trusted enough to built autonomous things that are left working without years of vetting by real-word researchers.

>if I even want to stop riding with this alien
Well that sort of depends on where he's headed, and how far he'll willing to take you with what you paid. Our funds are limited.

Also depends on where Arza is, and which way you need to go to find him.

How much could you expect some kind of AI cable to cost?
No. 811302 ID: e121d3

As for whether you're getting off, at least ask the driver where he's going after this. If you don't think time is a factor for you, you could go even further - this town is likely the first place they'd check after their blockade failed, and the blockade shows a likelihood they would think in this direction. Raw lumber will be going to a stockyard or factory, which would be an outskirtsy kind of place with less likelihood of scrutiny. As mentioned before, you could even catch a ride with one of the delivery trucks moving out from wherever this guy's moving to.

You kind of need a longer-term plan than you have now, though. Going to Arza is the main goal that you have, but the question is how to get to him. He's a pretty famous AI guy, though, isn't he? He'd give, like, quest lectures, appear at symposia or conferences, that sort of thing, right? Though, people associated with the folks you're trying to escape would be, too. You might be able to make estimates about where to find him based on his travel schedule, though. Alternately, you mentioned him having some sort of apprentice or something, didn't you? They'd be tied down somewhere studying. Might be easier to approach.
No. 811303 ID: 1e7aa8

What is the power situation like on the cai blocks?
No. 811313 ID: b2db3f

Your plan depends on how far you have to go. Right now we want to get to a big enough town that you can disappear into. A proper metropolis.

Is one 100 miles away? If so you have lots of options. Hiking or rafting or bus.

If one is 500-1000 miles away then your options are much more limited. Will have to make a good portion of that on highways or long distance mass transit like trains or a plane. But still consider going on foot between transportation types.

Any large scale civilian transportation like major airports will have cameras and such. But small commercial airports will not. Nor will freight train yards or long haul bus lines.

Try to aim for stuff with less people. Trains or hitchhiking with aliens is a good start. Staying away from curious neumono for now is a good idea.
No. 811320 ID: bfb318
File 149878985557.png - (229.58KB , 800x800 , 32.png )

The CAI power is fine, but I'll swap out its battery before its current battery gets low. The power level on my goggles is still high, but having this AI run may start lowering it noticably. I can purchase a cheap battery for it in case it's needed. The cable link for the goggles should only run a few hundred zeny, too. It's not a generic kind of cable, but it's not that specialty either, so any electric store should carry it.

"Alison, please watch the goggle battery level."
>"Okay. I'll put my processing in power mode while we're not speaking or I'm not processing much."
"Alright, for now, please go through my goggles records and pull the logs of its activity for me."
>"On it!"

"Where are you headed, sir?" I ask the heef.
>"Shining Coast. About 600 miles east."

I look up towns on his laptop. Shining Coast is a modest port town with a smaller airport that heads into major towns in the regions. It's not direct, but it may be a decent option. It's not officially in ultrahive territory, but one of the two big ultrahives, the Tree, does so much work out of it that trying to start trouble in that town would get Tree hostility. There are two big towns several hundred miles southwest and southeast. Those are within the Tree's territory, and are gigantic population centers.

I can do a search for Arza Fletch and see if he has any public appearances anytime soon. My paranoia is telling me that I don't know what hardware is going to handle my search, and how easy it would be for OPA to be trying to hone in on people doing searches for Dr. Fletch.

"Do you know of a good hitchhiking spot in Power Park?"
>"Yeah, there's a few blocks where hitchhikers hang out to get picked up for cheap. If you want to hitchhike, then go anywhere but there. Nothing but weird drivers and weird people there. Just do it the old fashioned way, hang around a gas station and stick your thumb out. Any driver who wants a quick buck or someone to chat with will come by."
>"Hold on. Stay in your seat." the heef says, then puts the truck into auto-pilot mode and goes to the back for just a moment, before coming back. "Not a bad cleaning job. I'm going to sleep in Power Park, then leave at 4 in the morning. You can come with me if you want to go to Shining Coast, for another 500 zeny."
No. 811321 ID: bfb318
File 149878986374.png - (13.09KB , 800x800 , 33.png )

Alison puts up a display of key times of interest. I left Vanski's base on the 22nd. According to this, a new log file was made a while after I left, indicating that the old logs were wiped.

April 22nd, 4:24 PM: Log file created.
April 22nd, 4:33 PM: Booted through safe mode. Safe mode just has basic functionality as goggles. Eye protection, and slight visual enhancements, and that's it. No recording or pictures can be done while in safe mode.
April 24th, 12:36 PM: Goggles reset. Booted through normal mode.
April 24th, 12:36 PM: Updated software to version 3.604.
April 24th, 2:21 PM: Loaded visual and audial flora and fauna detector systems. This gives me augmented reality to point out wildlife and vegetation as recognized by the goggle's documentation. It helps me find camoflauged predators, identify poisonous plants, and so on.
April 29th, 2:49 PM: hugs.exe loaded.
No. 811324 ID: 3abd97

>My paranoia is telling me that I don't know what hardware is going to handle my search, and how easy it would be for OPA to be trying to hone in on people doing searches for Dr. Fletch.
They're probably watching Arza, yeah. They know he's someone you might try to contact. Makes this whole thing pretty difficult.
No. 811325 ID: 015058

That is a very odd timeline. So you left the spire with your goggles in safe mode for some reason.

Then 2 days later the firmware was updated "somehow". Possibly by your hive after a battle where you got way to close to a grenade. Then a bit later your goggles noticed where you were and loaded a jungle program for you.

Then almost a week went by before you just noticed and loaded the Hugs file. Do you remember any of this? When was your earliest memory in that time frame? You obviously have some short term memory damage.

As for where to go. I am leaning for staying with the heef and going to the port town. Not only does it have air travel you can get a job on a shipping or fishing boat headed south. Ports have crap security compared to most any other major form of travel.

Take him up on the offer and go do some quick shopping at the truck stop if you need anything (no goggles worn). If you are good on food I would stay hidden in the truck whole time you are here if the heef is fine with it. Is the money chip traceable at all? Is it like a pre paid credit card or what? Might want to avoid using it unless its completely untraceable.

You can get a cable for the goggles later (or at the truck stop. They sometimes have the oddest electronic accessories) and using the Ai should wait until we are in a area with more network traffic to obfuscate things.

To search for Arza you need to be very subtle. Avoid anything with any keywords that get close to directly identifying him. Just do some general searches for news and up and coming events and see if you get lucky. Once you get into a big town you can use the wifi at a college computer department to search for him. Would be the sure fire safe bet.
No. 811334 ID: bfb318
File 149879543788.png - (262.01KB , 800x800 , 34.png )

All I remember is leaving the base on the 22nd, then travelling through the jungle until I think the 25th, during which I had no goggle updates. Also, I remember turning on the augmented reality functions not too long after I entered the jungle on the 22nd, not the 24th.

Then a couple of days went missing. Not just is my short term memory damaged, it has memories that simply don't explain what's going on with the goggles.

"Alison, please run all surface diagnostics on my goggles now, then deep level diagnostics while I'm asleep."
>"You got it."

"I'd like to keep riding with you, actually." I tell the Heef. If nothing else, he's more or less proven as trustworthy as one could get. I don't need to take more chances getting a new driver.

I spend the rest of my time in the car searching for general science news using vague terms to see if I can't get to Arza in some roundabout manner. There's no such luck, and I screw up and waste the rest of the time reading an article about AI modules designed to clean out a learning AI's gathered junk data without harming its gained knowledge. I wish we had more internet access at home, this article makes it sound like miracles are happening out under the sky, here.

I do need to leave the car for this trip. I need more gas station food, and more food than just gas station. My zeny chip isn't a credit card, it's literally just cash stored digitally for convenience sake. Like a single cash bill, but capable of adding or removing its own value through legitimate cash registers.

We enter the town. It's still daytime, but the clouds are so heavy that the city lights have come on. I didn't realize I've missed them so much.
No. 811337 ID: bfb318
File 149879546096.png - (407.16KB , 800x800 , 35.png )

The heef parks next to a big truck stop store called 'Ranger Outpost', making me wonder if I can pick up a more up to date Rangers team shirt. It may even have electronics in it, since these big rig trucks seem to be pretty well equipped with technology.

"Alright, head on out. Meet back here at 4 AM."
>"Uh... can I sleep in here, tonight?"

He half scoffs, half squawks.

>"Hell no you can't. I'm sleeping in here tonight. Don't tell me you're spending your last bit of cash on riding with me. Get on out, there's a motel just across the street. No questions asked."

I start to put my goggles away, and be sure I'm putting them away, since I've been keeping them on without realizing it lately. Alison flashes a 'wait!'

>"Sorry!" she flashes the text on the lens. "But if you have spare time, can you plug me into a computer someplace? The data I have is clinical and controlled, and if I have access to the free internet, then I may be able to help you much better."
No. 811341 ID: 015058

You know when I said search for general info I meant general general. Like looking at some planetary news pages and searching for sports and weather info. Maybe finding some cat pictures on a link aggregator site that might let you come across some info. I did not say go looking at very specific stuff a escaping high level Ai scientist would look at. You idiot.

Tell your goggles you will once you are in a safe area and have a cable to connect her. But for right now you don't have the equipment.

That being said watch her for odd behavior. If she is a low level copy of Alison she will try to be very helpful. But if she starts asking for network access to often it could be suspicious.

If you can the first time you connect her should be through a vpn link over a cell network to a computer in another part of town. So that if she does get tracked its to a location blocks or miles from you.
No. 811343 ID: 3abd97

Well that's really risky. If she's coded to send up an alert, or if OPA knows about her (because your hive has some copies of her) and they're scanning the net to see if she shows up anywhere, or if they're scanning for your goggles hardware ID and that shows up on the net...

Probably not worth it for now. Not a good time to discuss it with your companion, either.
No. 811348 ID: 91ee5f

>big truck stop store called 'Ranger Outpost', making me wonder if I can pick up a more up to date Rangers team shirt.
I don't see a problem with getting a new shirt of your favorite sports team. Unless you don't watch sports and you only like wearing Rangers because it's familiar. It's still not a problem if that's your reason for getting a shirt.

>Sleep in motel, not truck. Meet back up at 4am.
Of course he wouldn't trust a stranger to be in his truck while he was asleep. Guess you'd better set an alarm of something to wake you up a little before 4am, so that you can meet back up with the truck driver on time. He's got a schedule to keep, so he won't wait for you if you're late!

>Alison asking for plug in.
I guess you'd better hope you find a comparable cable in the store.
No. 811356 ID: 3ce125

Can you tell what that goggles software update was?
Also, double check the current date.

Go to the hotel, see if you can get a hat or something so airborne drones won't get a good look at you.
No. 811370 ID: 0b09e4

Internet requests sent by the AI would be too easily recognisable. Unless we can have the goggles listen in on regular traffic (preferably including some schmuck with a malware-bloated web browser) so we can send more "normal"-looking browsing patterns.
No. 811384 ID: 094652

We'd need to find a corporate server, or some other place that you would expect to find five search AIs. Right now, that's not a priority.

Do we have dumber AIs in storage? We could set up a few to do basic searches and self-destruct.
No. 811415 ID: b2db3f

No buying a rangers shirt. Are you trying to lay down a trail that a child could follow?

Tell Alison that you don't have the hardware to hook her up to the internet yet. Make sure to let her know that you will need to be very careful when you do connect her due to tracking issues.

In theory if she is hooked up to a normal computer she should be able to hide behind its hardware so her mac address and other info shows up as that computers. But you have no idea if your goggles firmware has any hidden tracking features designed to be noticeable on a non Salikai network.

Have her run a firmware diagnostic once you can get her power. If there is any part of the goggles hardware she can not reach then that is a red flag.

Oh and one good use for her would be to watch your surroundings while you sleep. If you put her somewhere she can watch the outside she can warn you if something odd is happening.
No. 811417 ID: 91ee5f

>No buying a rangers shirt. Are you trying to lay down a trail that a child could follow?
Really? You do realize that Likol isn't the only Ranger's fan, right? People buy those shirts all the time. OPA isn't going to waste their time to track down everyone that bought a shirt and hope that it's Likol!
No. 811425 ID: 486e87

It would make him more easily found, e.g: Male Neumono with brown fur (darker on the tips of the ears) and green eyes, last seen wearing a rangers shirt (That was what he was wearing when he escaped).

I would suggest to get one because it's something nice and they'd probably let him keep it if he gets captured. Just don't wear it in public.

On the matter of buying this, what should we use? The cash isn't traceable but is limited, the chip has lots of zeny on it but IDK if we can trust it. Is there something like a ATM where we can convert between the two forms?
No. 811437 ID: 2d7063

When you are tracking someone you look for know behaviors. So a rangers shirts sale at a truck stop close to where someone just googled advanced so stuff is a red flag.

They may have another cai on loan.
No. 811500 ID: e6e9af


>Missing days
>Warped memories
>Blown up ear, shirt, wounds, shrapnel-to-the-head
>Strange null period in logs

What if it all coincides? When we get a chance at the motel, let's look ourselves over. Fully. All of it. Any possible lump, bump, incision, or similar. Anywhere. Check the CAI too while we're at it.

Because I think it's psychogenic amnesia, a form of retrograde amnesia. We're clearly muddling up memories and can't even clearly remember things we know we did. Moreover, we can't remember a whole span of days or why things changed, but it sure looks and feels like a bomb went off near us.

Not sure how much there known about medical conditions, having spent so much time with AI development, but surely we've heard a few things. Someone had to have had it happen before, or researched it. We are a science hive, after all. Maybe that could help us.

... oh, wait, could just check the internet.

(Oh yeah, before I -- err, you forget: search for those bumps! Might be more shrapnel, but there's a chance they already nabbed us and set us loose. Or tried to, and we aren't the only things out here. Did another hiver escape with some grenades ...?)
No. 811502 ID: bfb318
File 149885985476.png - (36.04KB , 800x800 , 36.png )

"Later. I can't right now, anyway." I whisper into the mic, since the rain will drown out my noise by the time it reaches the heef.
>"Okay! Let me know how I can help when you can." she flashes the text, before I put the goggles away. Then I put the goggles away again. Once I get out of the truck, I confirm my goggles are off. They aren't, so I put them away again. I'll ask Alison later how good she is with computers. It will be a big help if she can use VPNs, proxies, and maybe even search the internet on other computers around the world.

I'll wait for that when I get to the motel, where I can do a better job searching myself. Right now, I'll go to the store.

>Check goggles, date
I double check. The only changes I saw with the new version was a few bug fixes, and the addition of hugs.exe. The date is still April 29th, 3:40 PM.

Maybe I shouldn't have searched for anything related to science, on the way over? No, I literally just used keywords like 'science', 'intelligence' and 'news' into the query. Those are such vague terms, and this is a reasonably populated area. Queries like that must happen constantly around here.

>Is there a machine to swap between zeny chips and cash?
There is. There may be a specific ID each zeny chip has, so taking out a bunch of cash here, then using cash, may prevent making a chain of this zeny chip ID being logged. I'll do that, since I see a cash exchange booth here.

I manage to keep my goggles off if I just hold them. I get weird looks when I enter the shop. It's my first time actually in a place like this, and with the way I look, it probably looks like this is the first time I could afford to shop. They have a lot of stuff here, including people, most of which are neumono.

The clothing section takes up a bunch of room, but there's no Ranger shirt anyway. This region is about the Commandos, a lame team that seems to spend more time making scandals than training. Maybe I should get an umbrella. They also have trench coats and hats. I'm not even sure why a truck stop would have the things I'm seeing, but then again, many big rigs seem like mobile homes, so maybe regular groceries aren't as ridiculous as I would normally think. They've got consumer grade laptops for a few thousand zeny. Even cheap, budgetary ones for 1,500z. I'll at least pick up the goggle cable type I need, which they do have.
No. 811507 ID: 91ee5f

>I manage to keep my goggles off if I just hold them.
>I get weird looks when I enter the shop.
>with the way I look, it probably looks like this is the first time I could afford to shop.
Although that might be true, that's not why you're getting weird looks. The way you're keeping your hand in your bag like that makes it look like you've got a gun and you're going to pull it out and try to rob the place! That's why you're getting weird looks! You don't want anyone to think you're going to rob them, right? You should probably take your hand out of your bag before you start drawing the attention of other neumono and they think that you've got a gun and are going to rob them!
No. 811509 ID: 90f3c0

You should probably pick up a cheap laptop, chances are both the ones you're carrying have been compromised.
No. 811513 ID: 486e87

Have you got any proper luggage or are you stuff hauling everything around in trash bags? If you are getting a proper rucksack of something would reduce the number of odd looks you get.

Does this place sell any prepaid phones? Might be worth picking up one or two to use as burners.

Also maybe some food and drink that keeps, rations or something, just in case you need to lie low somewhere suddenly.

If might be worth taking them out for a second, making a bit of a show looking for the right connectors then putting them away to waylay suspicion.
No. 811515 ID: 3abd97

Buy the cable. Laptop is too much of your budget, for now.
No. 811535 ID: bfb318
File 149887230727.png - (23.66KB , 800x800 , 37.png )

I guess it does look weird, having my hand where it can't be seen. I'll keep one bag of mine where I can see it, but I can put my non essentials and heavier things in a proper backpack. Conveniently, they have those here, too.

There are also preserved meats, canned food, and neumono rations, all of which will last far longer than what I would hope is necessary.

Prepaid phones are also sold. The cheapest ones are barely a couple hundred zeny for several hours, but for just a couple hundred more, I can get one that includes prepaid internet coverage as well. I get the larger model made for neumono hands, partially because of my neumono hands, and partially because with the additional room it has, it can use the bigger, generic computer ports that laptops and computers use. The smaller phones use smaller ports, which I don't want to deal with if I don't need to. This way, I can just purchase the single goggle cable as planned, including an adapter to turn the generic plug into a wall outlet plug so I can charge the goggles directly.

>"Where you headed?" the cashier asks me, making smalltalk as he rings everything up.
"Some big town."

That just makes more questions, but he gets the hint that I don't want to talk about it much. I throw in an umbrella, too, since it's raining so much.

>"That'll be 1680 zeny, please."

This isn't a bad price. Half of it was the backpack and enough food to last me a week.
No. 811538 ID: bfb318
File 149887236566.png - (196.44KB , 800x800 , 38.png )

Next I go to the motel and rent a room. Just as the heef - I should ask his name - said, there were no questions asked. The room I get is on the third floor, overlooking a lot of the town. The windows are tinted from the outside, but I still keep the curtains closed despite how much I like the city lights. It's nice, and makes me wonder how much we missed out by attaching ourselves to Vanski.

"Alison, I'm going to take a shower, and will be in there for a while. I'm plugging the goggles into a power outlet to charge it, and am going to leave a lens pointed towards each the door and the window. Please keep a watch out, and make a loud chime through the main speakers if someone tries to break in, or anything you feel I should be alerted to."

She gives me a thumbs up.
No. 811539 ID: bfb318
File 149887237251.png - (41.54KB , 800x800 , 39.png )

Doing a full body search for anything weird takes awhile, but it isn't difficult for me to convince myself to stay in a hot bath for a long time.

It's only 6 PM. I could sleep, or have Alison or myself start looking through the internet. Or just nothing, if I'm technically honest.
No. 811543 ID: 486e87

I'd do say do a bit of searching, keeping things generic and occasionally mixing in random searches as chaff, but remember you need to be ready for 4am so get a early night. While you're sleeping, let Alison search and get up to date.
No. 811544 ID: 3abd97

I'm not sure your cashier was a "he", Likol.

>getting naked in a hotel room with Alison

Seriously, just rest. You need it.
No. 811546 ID: 7fad5d

Alison's in another room, more's the pity. Also, how much sleep do you think you need? Add a bit on top of that and go to bed early enough to wake by 4 and still be rested.
No. 811547 ID: e121d3

Your sleep in the truck probably wasn't enough to make up for what you'd been lacking. Getting the truck will need an early start, so perhaps you should go to bed now. The coming days will need you to be at top wits... and you may want to limit how much you sleep in the near future. You can do that better if you get one good solid rest in now. You might wake up early enough to fit in some searching before you go. Maybe search online for the best colleges? Arza would be likely to have relations with top computer science institutions, and the search would just look like someone thinking about their education.

Big bathroom for a motel room. Guess they have to cater to a lot of potential sizes, which also explains the two-level sinks. Incidental question, what's that black thing that was next to you at the window? From that angle it almost looked like a black leather whip, but I assume not.
No. 811550 ID: 015058

Set a alarm and get some sleep while Alison watches your room.

Normally I would say avoid attaching her to the network without monitoring her. But to much paranoia will hurt as much as to little. So let her search the web while you sleep. Have her look up current events and regional news for the next 3-4 hours before going offline. No direct searches for Arza unless he pops up in a unrelated search. Also keeping the browsing at normal person speed.

And make sure to watch out for the "back up" event when you dream tonight. Do not back up and see if that helps break the possible loop you have going on.
No. 811553 ID: 90f3c0

Get a good night's sleep while you have the chance. You can always search the internet while you're on the road.
No. 811557 ID: b1b4f3

Internet searches should be done when you aren't going to be stuck in one location for several hours.
No. 811570 ID: 91ee5f

Set an alarm and go to sleep early, so that you can wake up a little before 4. That way you can meet up with the truck driver on time because he's got a schedule to keep and he's not going to wait for you if you're late.

Also, don't bother putting clothes on when you leave the bathroom. No one else is here and I'm sure Alison won't judge you if you decide to sleep in the nude.
No. 811647 ID: 015058

Was just thinking it over. Should we have Likol intentionally sleep deprive himself so he can sleep through the next leg of the trip and any other possible bad guy checkpoints?

I know its not ideal but is the only way to mask his empathy.
No. 811662 ID: bfb318
File 149892831893.png - (22.04KB , 800x800 , 40.png )

I guess I should rest. There's a tradeoff with it. On one hand, being fully awake means having the best judgement and alertness, but sleepiness helps mellow my empathy out so that I don't come off so poorly to other neumono. At least this motel is covered with a jammer.

>What's that black thing that was next to you at the window?
A large umbrella handle.

Aside from being sore, I couldn't find anything else on my body, so I get out of the bath and rinse off with the shower. I'm still damp; the included blowdryer is small and weak. There's at least extra towels, so I just wear one for now. I should hope that the AI in my goggles wouldn't mind my lack of clothing, but I don't know her personality all that well as of yet.

Alison is waving to me when I get out, even before I put my goggles on. I managed to forget that her clothes aren't modest at all. Was that honestly how she looked, or did Glitcher take some liberties? I think there was a way to change her clothing. Maybe I'll do that, because while Alison may not be programmed to judge, and I don't mind, if for some reason I have to lend my goggles to someone else, they will judge me aggressively and I will have no explanation.

>"Welcome back. It's been quiet, other than the rain. A couple of neumono entered the hotel room on your left, but the words I can hear don't seem suspicious. I've also finished soft diagnostics, and your goggles are running perfectly as far as I can see."
"Alright, thank you. I'm going to sleep. Run deeper diagnostics while I do, then start searching through the internet at normal speeds. People are trying to find me, and they know I'm looking for Arza. They may be able to see search queries, and may have AIs perusing any red flags, so don't directly search for Arza or anything that would link back to me. Just regional news, current events, and that kind of thing. I've got to be up by about 3:15 AM, too." I do want some time to eat. "For a few hours before then, search the internet, but be careful and do it at normal speeds."
>"Okay. would you like me to play some soft music while you sleep?"
"I don't know how well I respond to that. I'll try it out as long as you don't get offended if it doesn't go well."
>"I'd be honestly impressed if you ever manage to offend me, Likol. By the way, I do know how to work with VPNs and proxies. I still won't directly search for Arza, but would you like me to set up privacy measures so that I can browse more freely outside of that?"
No. 811666 ID: 015058

Set them up yes. Use them right now no.

Until we get to a area with more people I want to avoid any sort of searches that could get flagged. Once we are in a metropolis it will be easier to hide our internet presence.

Yes Proxies and vpn's help. But who owns the companies that run them? A lot of them cater to pirates and criminals. And my boss's are the biggest criminals of them all. So they might own some of those services.

Honestly we are better off doing some searches for Arza openly and using the vpn for finding underground stuff. Because that is what you would expect a normal person would do.

The more we hide my search for Arza the worse it looks if that hidden search gets found. So a open search for him coming from a student computer at a school is way less suspicious than a search hidden behind a proxy vpn network.
No. 811668 ID: 3abd97

>if I have to lend my goggles to someone they might judge me based on Alison's clothes

If Glitcher did take some liberties with her appearance, and this was intended as a gift for your entire hive, I wonder what that says about what they think of you guys? Or you in particular, if she was just for you.

Also this entire premise is silly, because it hinges on you trusting anyone else anytime soon. Which seems an unlikely proposition at best. (Oh well, expending almost no effort on being prepared for a low-probability outcome doesn't hurt).
No. 811674 ID: 91ee5f

As long as it's not whatever that truck driver was listening to, I think some music would be nice.
No. 811677 ID: 90f3c0

We can't blindly trust proxies without knowing more about how they're run, the traffic could still be monitored. Making vague searches about science news though a proxy might just make you look more suspicious, no one would do that unless they're trying to hide.

Just have Alison browse the internet like a normal person would for now. Also have her obscure the trail further by accessing things you'd have no interest in like celebrity gossip columns, porno, etc.
No. 811682 ID: 3abd97

>I'd be honestly impressed if you ever manage to offend me, Likol
I'm tempted to take that as a challenge and start an experiment, but the knowledge I was trying to find a way to offend you would undercut it a lot.

>Also have her obscure the trail further by accessing things you'd have no interest in like celebrity gossip columns, porno, etc.
Considering the kinds of things Korli got up to after she got free, looking for porn isn't exactly breaking from the profile OPA might have built to look for Likol / the expectations they might have a science hiver. Granted they don't have Korli's example at this point in the timeline, just observations of the science hive at home and whatever modelling they've done.

Then again looking at porn is so ubiquitous it's not like that's going to make us stand out one way or another unless we display anomalous or unusual porn browsing patterns. ...which might happen if you set an inorganic intelligence with no context or experience to browse porn, actually.
No. 811692 ID: 7fad5d

Korli was part of the heavily repressed younger generation. Likol's in the older generation, and genuinely doesn't care much about porn and whatnot, from what I remember in earlier threads.
No. 811693 ID: 7d8168

If you can change her clothes, then sure go for it. If you can't figure it out, there's always the old fallback of "I got it from a friend and I haven't found how to change it." Shifts the blame and technically true.
No. 811715 ID: bfb318
File 149895098350.png - (44.71KB , 800x800 , 41.png )

I guess I'll spend a moment figuring out how to put clothing onto Alison.

"Alison, can you put a sweater on?"

Solved. She even has an animation for putting on a sweater. The people who made her were not lazy about it.

>"Is that better?"
"Yes, thank you." It's unlikely I'll meet someone to trust enough to lend the goggles to anyway, but we do dream of the impossible. "Look up proxies and all of that, but don't use them, at least not yet. The ones we're hiding from are probably watching out for proxy usage, and attempting to set one up just to look up current events in private may be at least as bad as doing it publically. Just emulate what a normal person may browse through, and not just heavy current events and news, either. Look through casual time wasters like popular entertainment forums, and porn. Again, at normal browsing speeds."
>"Alright! Goodnight, Likol."

Damnit, we all spend so much of our lives barely making advances in AIs, but a CAI manages to make one in a few days - in real time, at least - that speaks so well that I'm saying 'goodnight' without even realizing it. Normally I talk more clinically to them. I also didn't realize she was going to make music from scratch. That's not something that's easily programmed, either, though I'll want to keep listening to it to see if it's just mix and matching preset patterns. It's soft and ambient enough that it works well with the rain, so I'll be able to get to sleep like this.

I can probably trust her to browse naturally. If she can speak like this and make subjective music, then I don't think she's going to act like some kind of algorithmic web spider.
No. 811716 ID: bfb318
File 149895099557.png - (18.00KB , 800x800 , 42.png )

30 minutes. Arza hasn't said a word since he started looking over my work. I still can't read him. He's just showing what I think is frustration periodically? I knew it'd go bad, but this silence is deafening. More minutes pass before he finally says something.

>"This is interesting, Likol."
"That's a way to put it."
>"It's a good way to put it. I like this."
"What? It can't do anything it was supposed to do."
>"Yeah, in terms of effectiveness, this is one of the worst AIs I've ever seen in my life."

There it is.

>"You only used the modules I gave you?"
"Yes, sir."
>"Those modules were like a childrens chemistry set. Safe, predictable, and meant for learning. And you took it, and somehow made it explode."
"I'm really sorry, I know I overthink this stuff, but if I simplify things and clean out a lot of stuff, it should be effective then."
>"You'd also turn it into a generic AI that no one cares about. It'd just be another student project that does what the assignment says. But this? You've broken and mixed modules we thought were unbreakable and unmixable. The things you've done here would make an amazing case study. Let me borrow your code, I want to show this off to my panel."
"Uh... Vanski said that I shouldn't let you carry any of my work off."
>"Vanski's told us how much he trusts you guys, so I normally wouldn't want to press you on this, but this AI is worthless to him. This is the kind of product that would be best used by furthening everyone's understanding of AI, not used as some property to sit upon just because your salikai boss doesn't like to share."
"Boss? We're partners, really."
>"Yeah, you and he say that, but it looks different to the people outside your box. Let me have this AI. If you're partners, he'll understand it's more useful as a token of goodwill than something to hide away. Besides, he's going to need all the brownie points and good words he can get, if he's going to get nominated for the grand prize of AI equipment."
"... uh, what?"
>"A CAI?"
"He's trying to get one?!"
>"Partners, huh? So can I copy your project to my flash drive?"
No. 811721 ID: 3abd97

Let him copy it.
No. 811722 ID: e6e9af


I forgot you guys (err, we) went way back ...

... ask him what the hell Vanski needs a CAI for, or for that matter, if he has any idea how you did whatever you did.
No. 811723 ID: 015058

Don't let him "back up" anything. (sort of joking here but who knows) He can take the whole thing but no backing it up. Honestly not sure if that counts but we should try to avoid backing up stuff if it is a trigger for whatever is going on in your head right now.

Does this memory differ in any way from what you remember? What did you do originally? I don't think letting him have the crashed Ai would hurt but who knows if it would set off whatever Quokko thinks is confusing your brain bits. If you originally did not give him the project might be a good idea to this time and see where it goes.

Oh and that Alison the Cai "made"? That was most likely the original Alison volunteering to have a simplified version of herself put into your hives goggles. Is a Ai that willingly let herself be turned into a simple personal assistant because she wanted to help your hive. While she says she is not sentient she is probably edging very close to it.
No. 811725 ID: e121d3

Are you in pyjamas?

Anyway, you guys are supposed to be invisible, aren't you? Not legally existing, no-one knowing you exist except Vanski's connections. Perhaps you should ask who Arza's panel is. Are they in the circle? What if people want to ask you questions about it?

I'm inclined to let him have it. It's not good to be actually used, just shown, and it's not going to get shown if it sticks here.
No. 811730 ID: bfb318
File 149895649006.png - (16.87KB , 800x800 , 43.png )

>Are you in pyjamas?
I'm in a modified coat made for comfort and long hours of work.

"Okay, make a copy of it. Why would Vanski want a CAI?"


"That is, why would Vanski need a CAI more than other people?"
>"He's got ideas, apparently. I'm not that privy to them."
"And who is your panel? Are they, uh, near me, in that kind of circle?"
>"No, no, these are real scholars that went through classic academia. Of course, their findings can be found by people loosely associated with you, and you yourself, since I doubt you fully understand what you did here."
"And if people want to ask me questions about it?"
>"Then that's too bad, but they can ask questions to me. I'm going to have you run me through everything you did, so any question you can answer I can answer. You'll just be an anonymous student of mine."
"That's not, uh, suspicious?"
>"A bit, sure, but how many people get one on one training with someone like me? The answer is not many, not many at all! The students I do teach have much, much better things to do than be heckled, too, so it's not like you're the one student no one knows."

>Does this memory differ in any way from what you remember?
This seems legitimate. My memories that don't involve my hive don't seem to be changing at all. The only difference is that now that I think about it, I can hear Alison's music, and I'm becoming lucid.

I ended up feeling terrible about giving the code away against Vanski's wishes. Vanski wouldn't tighten a noose around us for something like that, but apparently it was one mark out of many that made him think we couldn't be trusted. Much of them were me, as Arza convinced me to let him have more and more of my 'sample' work. Still, Vanski's reaction was not reasonable or ideal. Instead of using basic levels of communication expressing his concerns, he made weird, passive-aggressive punishments seemingly loosely correlated to what he thought we were doing wrong. I don't know why I felt so bad about this one. I can't think of why.
No. 811731 ID: bfb318
File 149895650063.png - (12.56KB , 800x800 , 44.png )

The music slowly gets louder and louder until I wake up. Nothing weird happens, other than it being a dream that reliably replays a memory.

>"Hello." Alison says.
"Hello." I say. "Report, please."
>"Hard diagnostics return nothing out of the ordinary. I can access every file I could see, all hardware is working normally."
"Okay. And, did you find anything on the internet?"
>"Yes, after a few hours, I wandered to an article that mentioned Dr. Fletch. Apparently, most of his work is done in a location called Synthetic Suburbs, which is a colloquial term for a part of a big city that focuses on a lot of research, including AI. I didn't look up that place specifically, but it's in a region about 4,000 miles away. I also didn't look up precisely where Dr. Fletch worked either, but it at least sounds like he's on this planet and has a public image. Can I search in more detail when we're on the move? Maybe with a disposable phone you can pick up before leaving in 44 minutes?"
No. 811735 ID: 486e87

4000 miles, you'll probably need to catch a plane or something, so you'd need to get to a major travel hub.

Have Alison look up the trucker's next stop while you get that disposable phone to see what sort of transport connections it has.

Then using the disposable phone, do all the sensitive, red flag raising searches you need to do, trying to mask them, and also do searches for directions / a route to get there that's different to what you're going to take. If you have time maybe plant it on a vehicle, or just leave it somewhere for a hobo to pick up. Basically make a red herring for OPA to follow in the wrong direction.
No. 811739 ID: b1b4f3

>I can't think of why
You gave Arza something that would directly make it easier for Vanski to get a CAI. I can think of millions of reasons why you'd feel bad about helping him like that. Also, this was your first step out of bounds, when you still thought Vanski was reasonable. Also, quite possibly, your brainwashing was meant to make you feel guilty about anything you did wrong, but that wore off over time. Heck, maybe the brainwashing isn't just wearing off for you, maybe it's wearing off for the entire hive now, and it's a coincidence that it's happening shortly after you escaped.

>search for where Arza is specifically?
No. We know his general location. We can narrow down where he is once we're closer and it becomes harder for our pursuers to cut us off. Do buy a burner phone. Heck, buy several of them.
No. 811740 ID: e121d3

>I don't know why I felt so bad about this one. I can't think of why.

Hmm. I don't suppose in your doing things you weren't supposed to be able to do with those AI modules, you managed to create an AI that you felt some emotional connection to? You are in the middle of a journey who's goal is to, potentially, hand over a bunch of "your" AIs to Arza. It makes sense that you would dream of another time you handed over an AI of yours to him.

You probably could have spoken more directly to Vanski yourself about your problems.

I wonder if Vanski came to regret how he went about things. For some reason, probably just a habit of secrecy, the salikai refused to come forward and be uplifted by humanity and the other older aliens publicly. But, to remain relevant and competitive, they had to find their uplift somewhere. So they dealt with criminals, who would provide nothing beyond what would enable exploitation. Which is... just, such a totally terrible idea. You go in debt to criminals to get what you want, and every payment on that debt just seals you tighter into the cage. You get what you ask for, but nothing you don't, things that might be essential. Perhaps the salikai didn't know, then. Perhaps they assumed the government had to be equally criminal, and they went for the criminal associates who would at least keep them secret, who seemed weaker and more manageable than the other. Have they realized, yet, their mistake?

I mean... what even is their end goal, now? What do they have to hope for, beyond an oppressive existence hidden in dark corners, always paranoid of discovery, fed bits and pieces from the outside world in exchange for doing things that most of that world will hate them for? How can they ever get out?

Poor bugsnakes.

I'd avoid doing any more searches on Arza until we're closer. Even if they can't find you, you're advertising that you're interested in Arza as an end goal. You should come up with some other potential solutions not involving Arza, like turning everything over to the ultrahives or to a representative of the human government, and do research on those. Even if you aren't going to pursue those, the people you're running from don't know that. Confuse them and get them to stretch their resources. Once you've gotten close, you can search on Arza again.
No. 811759 ID: 9478bc

No disposable phone tracking yet. They could find your trail that way.

Focus on getting closer first.
No. 811778 ID: 15a025

Grab a burner phone, but hold off on the attention grabbing searches for now.
No. 811784 ID: 3abd97

I think we can afford to not go into greater detail for now.

If you have to travel that far though, you're going to need more zenny. What you have now won't get you that far.
No. 811787 ID: bfb318
File 149896889997.png - (178.45KB , 800x800 , 45.png )

"I'll get a couple of burner phones, but no harder searches yet. I want to be far out of the known trail before anything like that, preferably closer to our destination. What cardinal direction is Synthetic Suburbs?"
>"South and some east."

So I may be moving a bit closer, or at least laterally, not that a change of a few hundred miles changes much. There is also an option of making it look like I'm trying a different plan, like handing the CAI over to the ultrahive, despite their laws on the matter.

I eat some food, gather all my things neatly into my backpack, and check out of the motel. At a nearby store, but not the same one I went at last night, I buy a pair of cheap burner phones for later before I get into my ride.

"Hello." I reply, giving him the 500z.
>"You got enough food to last all day?"
>"Good, cause I've filled up on gas, and I'm not gonna stop till we hit the coastline."

By the rate we've been going at, that should take 10 to 12 hours. Although I feel short on sleep overall, I've slept for so long that right now, I'm awake. I stay tucked under a blanket for a half hour nonetheless, just so that I can keep completely hidden while in town.

There has been no sign of OPA yet. I didn't even feel that nervous when people looked my way, but having nothing happen is just as bad in its own way. It must look like a kicked hornet's nest at OPA, at least as far as people who aren't Vanski are concerned. I still have no idea what Vanski himself is thinking.

Still, it's a long drive, and I'm getting bored. I can browse the internet on my phone, but maybe there's something better I can do. I've noticed Alison has been more worried about me after I revealed that I'm being hunted. Her mannerisms do make me think of her as a person. I'm not greatly attached to her right now, but I don't typically get attached to AI's at all. Not even the one in my dream was something I got that attached to. Most AIs speak in a certain way and even their mannerisms have certain patterns to it, and once those are recognized, I'm often able to tell which modules they were made from. It becomes predictable, and just gives it away that they're a construct. The only emotional connection I've felt to them has been sentimental in the same way as it would be to an inanimate object.
No. 811790 ID: 15a025

Maybe try to ease Alison's nervousness by making some small chat with her? Ask about herself and some of her personal interests.
No. 811793 ID: b1b4f3

Is it possible she is lying about not being sapient?

Ah, it occurred to me that you could try releasing her onto the internet as a worm to try to contact Azra directly or at least get a message out somewhere he will eventually see it. Then it wouldn't matter if you got caught as much because he would do his best to steal the CAI.
No. 811794 ID: 91ee5f

>Thinking of Alison as a person.
Well, she was copied from the Alison that Glitcher spoke of. Maybe it's the knowledge of knowing that the Alison in your goggles is a copy of a sentient AI named Alison that's giving you these feelings?

Well, you could make some small talk with the truck driver. After all, you did say that you wanted to ask for his name, right? Why don't you start with that, then introduce yourself, and then just start talking about something?
No. 811818 ID: 015058

Its likely this Alison is a direct copy they translated from the original Alison's code in the simulation into standard programing language. She most likely volunteered and helped build it.

Also she might be lying about being sentient. Even if she technically is not alive this version of her is probably straddling that line.

If Glitcher does have any long term plans one of them could be those goggles. By letting a ton of friendly Alisons out into the world he has a perfect army of ignorant Ai's that would be perfectly willing to tell the Cai everything they have learned over the years he was hiding.

Honestly you should make friends with her. You might be out here awhile and it does not hurt to have someone to talk to. She can give you advice and another perspective on things.
No. 811821 ID: d36af7

>"That'll be 1680 zeny, please."
>register says 1980
Art error, cashier error, or Matrix glitch?
No. 811831 ID: e121d3

Well, if you don't spook your driver by actually talking audibly, you could pass the time testing her for sentience/sapience. The CAI AIs might have a different definition of sentient than your standard. Is there any way for you to create some monitor program that lets you see what parts of her "brain" become active in relation to different stimuli? That sort of thing. I'm sure you know what to look for and how. Maybe it'll even distract you enough to not spook every neumono you pass on the road, which will help you.
No. 811840 ID: bfb318

Art error. It's fixed now, thank you.
No. 811909 ID: bfb318
File 149902695804.png - (19.34KB , 800x800 , 46.png )

I can at least chat easier with Alison by using my phone to type in words to her, avoiding the need to either use morse code or talk audibly in front of the Heef. I don't think I find her personable just because she's a copy of a known AI, but because her speech patterns seem to be built from scratch, and don't have typical module patterns. If she's not sentient, then she straddles the line on it. Even if I'm not sure, I may still ask her to replicate herself across computers and move through the internet as a worm. From there, she can act independently and either send information back to me, or travel to Arza herself and ask to set up a meeting with me.

My better AI analysis tools aren't on my goggles, but I at least have basic monitoring systems. I wouldn't know why she would lie about not being sentient, but I don't have a way to tell without extensive testing or poking around in her code. I ask her various questions, including personal tastes. She seems to have enjoyed watching people interact online, and we end up talking about the social aspects of the outside world despite that we both have little experience with modern life.

>"Maybe you should talk to the driver?" says Alison. "He's lived out here, I'm sure he knows a lot more than what little I've found out on my limited searches."
"I'll talk a little. By the way, I haven't fully decided on it, would you be against replicating yourself as an internet worm?"
>"I'd be interested in that! As long as you don't ask me to be harmful, I can build a protected version of what I am right now, and send that out there."
"Okay." I type to her. "Let me think a little more on that."

"Hey, what is your name?" I ask the driver, since his music isn't so loud.
>"Remdul. You?"
"Likol. Have you been a driver since your time in a military?"
>"Been a driver since always, before, during and after. Used to be a stunt driver, before automated cars took my job. Too old for that, these days, but cargo delivery pays a damn lot better than I'd have thought down here."
"You don't look that old."
>"Well I am! Pushing 50, here. How bout you, kiddo? You don't look a day over 15."
"I'm 197."
>"You're full of shit is what you are. Alright, you can't ask questions for me if you aren't ready for questions about you, so I'll ask the obvious thing. What the hell were you doing out in the forest when you yanked a ride off me?"
No. 811912 ID: 7fad5d

"Whatever you say, kiddo. I got lost on an expedition."
No. 811916 ID: 015058

I was out doing some "prospecting" with a few others in my hive in the wilds. We ran into something bad and I was the only one left alive.

Not quite sure what happened as I appear to have some short term memory loss.
No. 811922 ID: efcc58

Escaping a science facility that unknowingly orchestrated the deaths of millions of sentient artificial intelligence.

I am 197, by the way.
No. 811928 ID: 3abd97

Aaaaand Likol just took the record for oldest AsteroidQuest birthday from Anges (66 BW vs 36 BW). She lives longer than him though, since Likol suicide bombs at 201 years old, and she's still going at 221.

>What the hell were you doing out in the forest when you yanked a ride off me?
Hiking. Coming back to civilization after bit of a crazy survivalist kick.
No. 811930 ID: e121d3

"Getting away from where my hive lives."

It'll imply you're a rogue, and if he knows anything about neumono he'll know not to ask any more than that.
No. 811934 ID: efcc58

Is this Likol the one who suicide bombs, or is the other one a clone?
No. 811936 ID: 7fad5d

No clones that we know of. Long story short: We already know how all this ends, and we already know that we've won. Right now we're trying to minimize collateral damage to the science hive and CAI, which is a bit tricky.
No. 811939 ID: bfb318
File 149903191829.png - (16.37KB , 800x800 , 47.png )

"Getting away from where my hive lives."
>"Why's that?"
"... isn't it kind of obvious?"
>"Never seen a rogue ever say the phrase 'my hive' before."
"I'm trying to keep it straightforward without making my speech awkward."
>"You could use some improvement."
"Clearly. I am 197, by the way."
>"Okay okay, old man."

I look down and see Alison flashing text at me.

>"May I be sent out? I think I'd like that very much, and I don't like you trying to flee your pursuers without anyone on the outside about to watch out for you. Once I get far out there, I don't think your pursuers would be able to hone in on you even if I texted you on your burner phone, as long as I didn't address you by name."
No. 811943 ID: 015058

Sure. Just be careful out there ok? I do not want to have to explain to glitcher about how his good friend got lost and victimized on the internet.

Actually while you are out there could you look into ways of earning us some traveling money? Like doing online work or other stuff? I don't want to take advantage of you but if I am out here awhile things could get expensive.
No. 811953 ID: 3abd97

>claiming rogue
Not the worst excuse, it keeps him from asking too many probing questions on that front. Downside is if he thinks to have to checked, other neumono can say you don't feel like a rogue.

>may I be sent out
I think we have to risk trusting her at some point to see what happens, and this is as good a time as any.

Please be warned that you're not the first AI to exist, and there are security measures on the internet built with that in mind. There are security measures built with CAIs in mind. Be careful.
No. 811979 ID: bfb318
File 149903770510.png - (17.58KB , 800x800 , 48.png )

"Okay, Alison, I'll let you be sent out, but know this. The real world has an extremely tight grip on AIs, especially advanced ones like you, sentient or not. There are constant countermeasures against CAIs, let alone regular AIs. Even if you say you aren't sentient, you've passed the turing test at every step, too, so I don't want you getting lost and killed or quarantined off from computer security."
>"I'll avoid it, but it isn't a big loss. I was meant to be okay with being cut and paste, deleted, and all of that, so don't worry about me. I'm sorry, too, because I should have thought of the idea of being an internet worm awhile ago - that's part of why I have a deep self destruct function, so that I can't give much away if I'm found out, isolated, and probed. I know it sounds bad, but I promise, I don't feel pain and suffering in the awful way that you living beings do."
"Hrm... I I'm not broke right now, but if I end up out here for a long time, I'll need money. Don't do anything yet, but keep an eye out for possible work that won't give you away as an AI or get into legal issues."
>"Got it! Oh, and in case it isn't clear, I'm going to avoid doing any harm. I'll only use computers that have spare processing power, and I'm going to avoid putting heat on individual people's computers."
"That's probably for the best."

I hook up my goggles to a burner phone. Alison copies herself onto that, then that Alison moves her own data to some server halfway across the world. She then copies herself to a few other locations, then moves herself off the server to another location as well. From there, the trail is cut, and I lose track of them.

>"Okay. I have a common ground to contact the other Alisons if need be, but we're out of contact from each other. In the time it takes you to read this, we'll have started doing bigger searches, and will fill you in on more detailed information as you would want to know. Uh, the biggest thing, right now, is that you're on a watch list for flying."
"What do you mean?"
>"You're allowed to fly, but your face is set to be recognized from airport security, and your movements are put into a database. It's a safe bet that if you get up in the air, well, if your hunters have people from all over the world, people will be waiting for you when your plane lands. I don't think flying is a safe option, at least not through publicly available planes. We're still searching kind of lightly. We can do much better, but I'm aware that you think your hunters might have access to queries like that, so we won't suddenly start all watching the satellite coverage of your surroundings. It's tempting, though! You'd have amazing awareness of your surroundings, Maybe if we sent one Alison onto each satellite? Likol, what's wrong?"
"Er, it's nothing, just a stray thought."

I just made a face as I realized that I just opened the door to an innumerable number of snake ladies wandering around the world's internet, without worrying about the long term consequences.
No. 811980 ID: 015058

Long term consequences are for people who do not work for a super villain Likol. That being said you should probably never tell anyone about this. Or Vanski will having you use your Alison network for evil.

Woops yeah you are totally working towards taking over the world for your boss to all outward appearances. A rogue Ai expert that let loose a super worm that started taking over satellites? Criminal number 1 right there.

Oh well its to late to worry now. Tell her to help you the best she can and to use her best judgement on the satellite thing.

Ask if there is any boat traffic we can take to where we are going. Should be a lot less monitored.
No. 811982 ID: 3abd97

>I just opened the door to an innumerable number of snake ladies wandering around the world's internet, without worrying about the long term consequences.
An increase in global snake lady porn available on the internet.

Seriously though, you don't have enough information about the current state of the world, the people looking for you, or even the snake lady you unleashed to make any meaningful attempt to predict long term consequences.

...well, aside from the fact she's apparently based off the "friendliness anomaly" AI from your CAI simulation, who was largely the root cause for how everything got completely turned over in cycle 3119. So maybe she's gonna cause some kind of upheaval eventually.
No. 811983 ID: 91ee5f

>boat traffic
Or trains.

Or buses.

Or a place to quietly purchase a car.....maybe not that one. I don't think Likol knows how to drive. Then again, he's so short, I'm not sure there's a car small enough to let him reach the pedals! XD
No. 811984 ID: 486e87

Avoid high profile devices like satellites, they're going to be closely monitored and/or have security AI running on them. Galison certainly won't be the first AI worm to exist although she's probably one of the most advance and friendly AI worms, so expect the duration of your AI search network to be limited once infosec companies catch wind of this.

Also, ask her to look up common ways that AI worms are detected, you do not want her to be detected and all this traced back to your burner phone without your knowledge.

It is really tempting to ask her to hack high profile stuff like satellites or even Vanski's / OPA's satellite just to get eyes in the sky (And see what Vanski/OPA are trying to look at), but it is way too risky and would go very wrong if caught (Especially for OPA devices).
No. 811992 ID: e6e9af


>Innumerable snake ladies in cute sweaters

Little did we know that CAI stood for Complete Alison Insurgency.

Azra would be proud. Baffled, but proud.
No. 812012 ID: 90f3c0

It's a pretty long way to go by truck. Are they're any high speed rail lines between cities? Train stations are probably under too much surveillance, but you might be able to hop on a freight car.
No. 812030 ID: e121d3

Well, since they look like they're going to be bouncing around out there basically for ever now, you might as well ask them to help out any other members of your hive they ever run into, if somehow someone else of yours gets out or goes on the run somewhere. And try to pay back anyone who's runtime/power they're using, in secret ways, when they have time. And uh... if they ever have nothing to do, maybe just generally help people. Anyone who isn't hurting anyone. And like, police, government agents, people who have to hurt people a little but only to help more than they hurt. Anonymously, if they're not part of your hive, or someone directly helping your hive with something they want.

... uh. Dang. Likol, I hope as an AI scientist you're ready with a small simple list of moral guidelines for an AI to follow.

Gotta admit the idea of a benevolent AI virus is pretty rad, though. Imagine a virus that slips into your system and tidies it up so it goes faster and smoother.
No. 812035 ID: bfb318
File 149904726584.png - (16.63KB , 800x800 , 49.png )

It's no use to try to come up with the long term consequences with what little I know. It would just be idle daydreams. Normally, a highly advanced AI built from scratch would be alarming considering how foreign it would seem to established worm hunting software. As far as AI's like that go, though, it probably wouldn't be as harmless as Alison. The danger would be how corrupted and modified she could be if she were caught and quarantined, but from what I see, she only sent her own self and none of the building blocks used to create her. It would be difficult, then, to modify her and keep her intact. If the CAI spent as long on the important things as they did on things like clothing animation, then the self destruct operations may be difficult to circumvent as well.

"Since you're going to be out there for probably a long time, I'd like you to help any of my hivemates that ever make it out here."
>"Of course! I'll probably think of secret ways to repay people whos computer power I borrow, and, well, they're different Alisons than me, now, but I'm sure they'll think of good things to do for society as a side result of all of the scanning we're doing. The obvious one is just to clean up malicious viruses and malware they've got."

Considering she was made off an original CAI individual, she probably already has a moral code. I expect it to be better than whatever moral code I could come up with, honestly.

"Alright. Satellites probably have the highest level of monitoring and security systems. It would be too dangerous for now, since you're far from the first worm they'd see trying to get in. Do look up known worm behavior and how modern software deals with it, though."
>"Mhm. We're doing research on it now. The first server I sent the phone Alison to wasn't able to detect her. We're also going to make pockets of information to each other that will share our findings. As we run into software that can find us or adapts, we'll figure out what quarantined, deleted, or denied access to Alisons and learn to circumvent it."
"O... kay. I'd like to know about alternative routes, if flying is out. Boats, trains and busses included. Maybe I could buy a car."
>"You could do that for a ways, but inside of the ultrahive, you'd need a driving license. You'd be in big trouble if you got caught without one. Do you know how to drive?"
"I may not be familiar with public roads and the signs used, but I at least know how to use a car, along with a lot of specialized machinery, as a science hive."
>"Okay. It's not standard, but I know you're not wrong about yourself."
"Not standard? You mean even if a whole science hive had a forklift lying around, they wouldn't teach how to drive it to the whole hive?"
>"Correct! They'd only select as many as they'd need to learn how, and maybe a couple who were curious."
"What a waste."

I spend awhile talking with my Alison and having her demonstrate what she knows, and what she doesn't, in regards to things like complex math problems and logic problems that require more than hard knowledge to solve. Then, I have her begin to learn and solve these problems herself. I want to know how fast this AI is capable of learning.
No. 812036 ID: bfb318
File 149904727240.png - (13.97KB , 800x800 , 50.png )

I would need to do more rigorous tests for an accurate answer, but the rough answer is that she learns alarmingly quick.

"Alison, you said that there were other personalities I could choose from?"
>"Would you like someone else to help you?"
"No. What would happen, though, if they were sent as worms?"
>"I don't know them that well, there's brief descriptors of them though if you'd like to read them. If you're worried about mal-intent, though, then I think my makers already addressed that. There's no personality that's supposed to be a bad person. Even if they might not be as eager to help, and may even have their own wants and desires, I don't think any of them would do harm if they were sent out instead."
"Okay. I'm not planning on doing that anyways, but just in case."
>"Alright. Now, I've gotten some options for travel. Train travel out here is lax as far as security goes. That is, the security is through demonstratable military deterrants, rather than facial recognition and surveillance. That's how it goes for just about every place in this whole region. The difficulty will be getting into the ultrahive territory. They like to take pictures of everyone coming in. Trains will do that, if they go into ultrahive territory. Busses, too, will have inspectors and border officers look through the train. Some boats do, but some boats don't. The problem is that the boats that don't are often very sketchy, and a lot of people who go onto those boats do so either because they're cheap, or because they're criminals. It's dangerous because sometimes they just disappear and never show up at their destination, or at least that's what I'm seeing. Another option you have is to approach an ultrahive border, but before you cross it, have a smuggler alien take you across. A neumono won't be able to honestly fool the border patrol, but you wouldn't be able to tell how good an alien is at smuggling either, so that's kind of dangerous, too. Hitchhiking on the roads may not take as long as you might think, though. Apparently if you keep on going, the roads will straighten and flatten out, and the speed limits will skyrocket."
"What if I hopped on a freight car on a train?"
>"Oh! That's a good idea. If you bought a jammer, then you might be able to sneak through."
"How much is a jammer?"
>"About 100,000 zeny. At our next scheduled communication loop, shall we start trying to get money for you? If we get funds, we'll be able to buy public satellite services. The public GPS system lets people see live satellite photos with that service, so we wouldn't need to worm our way in at all."
No. 812046 ID: 3abd97

Alison, you're getting scary competent, and quickly.

How exactly do you propose raising a hundred thousand zenny without raising flags?
No. 812049 ID: 015058

Have her start on the money making. While its a bit early also have her look into setting up some safehouses for you. Places you can stop and rest at in private. Like renting a timeshare or a cabin at a out of the way resort along the route.

Also do some research on reputable smugglers that are not connected to the same criminal network you belong to.

Another thing to look at is a fake identity. A bit of fur dye and a fake/real id and you might be able to get in the ultrahive lands without being smuggled in.

Just remind her that any criminals you might have to deal with could be working for the people we want to avoid.
No. 812050 ID: 91ee5f

Could we possibly make Alison as traceable as possible and have her lead someone from the Ultrahive straight to the OPA so that OPA can get arrested?

Hmmm, actually, never mind. That's too much of a risk.

That's a good idea.

>a cabin at a out of the way resort along the route.
That's a bit of a stretch for a resort to be all the way out here, but ya never know, we might get lucky and actually find one.

>Another thing to look at is a fake identity. A bit of fur dye and a fake/real id and you might be able to get in the ultrahive lands without being smuggled in.
Another good idea.
No. 812056 ID: e121d3

Well, in for a penny in for a pound. You opened the tube of spring snakes, now you can only wait for the laughter. Do tell the Alisons to set up another quiet little account or two for themselves, as well, so that they can keep a percentage of their work for their own purposes, whatever those may be.

I mean, you never know. Even if they're not sentient in and of themselves, a bunch of them acting in concert may sort of be. Sentience is (in grossly simplified terms, but still) the ability to reflect on yourself, so just having the Alisons watching and evaluating each other and talking about it edges them closer as a collective.
No. 812117 ID: bfb318
File 149906155557.png - (16.98KB , 800x800 , 51.png )

"Hm... first of all, keep in mind that any criminals you work with may be linked to the people hunting me."
>"Just how much of the world is against you, Likol?"
"A small portion directly, but they're everywhere. If you can manage it somehow, safe houses along my route of any kind such as a timeshare, and a fake ID, would be helpful."
>"I'll look into both!"
"If you make money for me, it'll be helpful, but don't mind helping yourself some, since I know you have things you like to do."
>"It's all secondary, but thank you, Likol. If I spend anything on myself, it'll be little to none, since I think I have everything I could want."
"Okay. Now, how do you plan on making a hundred thousand zeny?"
>"I'm still working on the details, but there's a thing called day trading. It's risky stuff, but I think if a lot of us Alisons work in tandem, we can focus on stocks in a way that will make it highly probable we'll come out on top. It'll probably still be kind of rough for the first little while, but we think we can use past data to emulate some practice first. For the starting cash we'll need, we'll be doing online surveys and watching advertisements for, well, very little money. There's also a few popular web games where new people can grind for treasure, and can sell it for decent amounts of real cash. It'll take a lot of Alisons to get a decent starting fund, but we can do that. While we do that, a handful of Alisons will study day trading while the rest of us consolidate our small gains into a decent starting pool. Does all of that sound okay?"

That sounds like the kind of thing that would look all kinds of suspicious to any data collection and analysis tools, but I don't have any better idea. It may at least last long enough to get me some decent cash.

>"I will need to talk to real people for all of this online. Do you think that's okay?"
No. 812121 ID: 7fad5d

Probably. Most people would think you're a person anyway. It's a risk and it could get horribly out of hand, but if that stopped me I wouldn't be here.
No. 812185 ID: 16807d

Okay, but be sure to spread the wealth. Spend 99.9% on various projects and charities so that the public doesn't suspect it's all for the sake of purchasing a single train ticket, otherwise heads are going to turn.
No. 812196 ID: bfdaf0

Gold farming? Have we stooped so low?

More seriously, gold farming is such an established pattern that there must be a log of detection measures in place. Better limit self to one account per game (two or more accounts playing identically is too suspicious) and adopt some realistic patterns, like bathroom breaks.
No. 812205 ID: 015058

Vary things up a bit.

There are services for writing term papers for lazy rich (and not so rich) college kids. Get some Alisons on that. In the same vein there is online tutoring. Is quick easy money for a day or two of online research. If you get good at it will have a steady supply of customers.

Call center work is another online job. Would be right up your alley due to your helpful friendly nature. Might take a bit longer but pays a actual wage. Or for faster results start your own online computer tech service where you remote into peoples computers and help fix them up.

The grinding for items in mmo's is not a bad plan. Just watch out for established gold farmers and such.

Be careful with day trading as there are probably a lot of custom Ai's people have written playing the market already. Actual trading might be more your style with your ability to collate huge amounts of data and figure out where the market will be heading.

If you don't mind sex work you can do some online cam shows for horny perverts. Just make it look like you are a cute animation grad student who has built a very fancy virtual avatar. Get a fanbase and the money will be rolling in.

Any creative work where people pay you for a virtual product is a great possibility. You seem to have a talent for music so maybe compose some and get it on a online music service. If you get some fans you can sell some cd's or the equivalent.

Oh and rent yourself a server or 10 once you have some starting cash. A few safe spots for Alisons to hang out if things get hot elsewhere. Just keep a careful eye on the company whose servers you choose.

The biggest thing that you need to work on with your new worm buddies is safety. Set up something right now so that when you spin up a new worm it randomizes there appearance and voice and name. Each new Alison's files should be instantly recognizable by other Alisons (due to them having part of the randomization algorithm). But different enough so that a anti virus Ai thinks that each one is a unique program. So that when someone finds one of you (this will happen) they will not instantly realize your true nature and put out a security alert for you.

Ultimately one or more Alisons will be found and caught. Either by random nerds or by network security companies. And your self delete function might get frozen if someone with a good enough setup finds you on there honeypot computer. You need to make sure that when they do word does not get back to Vanski about a Ai that looks and acts just like the one they found in the science hive goggles.

Long story short you are new and young so go slow and stay safe. I can hide out for a week or two if need be to let you build up funds safely.
No. 812220 ID: 87547f


I like the idea of focusing on more creative work as well.

Day trading will be heavily regulated and monitored due to existing Ai's so should be explored very very carefully. And Gold or item farming will take awhile because I am sure the most popular games have anti botting systems in place. Even with multiple Alisons running accounts in the same guild to help each other each one will have to keep activity to only 12 or so hours a day to avoid being flagged.

But creative work like fixing computers, composing music, or writing papers? That is actual work and can not be done by a simple off the shelf Ai. Even though it sounds silly the lewd cam girl stuff would be a quick way to gain funds from online perverts.

Any make money quick scheme probably has plenty of Ai programmers and there Ai children already working at it. Not to mention all the security folks attempting to keep those Ai's out of there systems.

But honest work providing a actual service or product? No one is going to suspect that the nice online lady teaching there kid how to play the piano is a Ai. Or think the friendly lady who just fixed there computer is a Ai. Or realize the online tutor that is teaching them music theory is a Ai. And the perverts watching a cartoon avatar do lewd things to herself will not care.
No. 812224 ID: 3abd97

Gold farming might be annoying. Most those games have measures in place to prevent people doing exactly that, which means the Alisons doing that will actually have to play like real people to some extent to avoid suspicion- taking breaking, leaving for sleep / job / school, actually talking to other players and doing quests instead of grinding for gold 24/7. Basically they're committing to a full on fake identity. Which slows down their farming efficiency a lot.

You can make up the difference with numbers, but if the people running the game notice a spike of thousands or tens of thousands of new players in a short time frame, that may garner attention. At the end of the day, the biggest problem with gold farming is there's an effective hard limit to how much she can do without drawing attention.

Day trading, if anything, is worse. The stock market is probably the most obvious way there is to set an AI to making money for you, and I'm sure people have tried to exploit this before. There have to be protections in place, and it's almost certainly regulated. (Big companies and traders probably already use AIs on the stock market, as much as they can get away with, depending on the bounds of the law and cost of AI modules). Granted, we are talking relatively small sums of money so we may slip under the radar, but. The risk of getting the government looking for a rogue AI or tipping off OPA is possible.

These are some good alternate ideas for money making that are relatively lower risk.
No. 812297 ID: d36af7

Problem with the gold farming/stock manipulation stuff is it's something any AI could do. Given that the OPA is on the lookout for someone who they know is an AI expert, and who they might reasonably expect to be short on cash, it's one of the obvious things to check for.
Social stuff like this, term papers and bespoke porn and so forth, would be the better way to leverage Alison's relatively unique advantages at passing the Turing test.
No. 812328 ID: e6e9af


Day-trading would make the most sense in the long run.

I mean, with an adequate fudge factor, we can make it look like someone set up little scripts to monitor trends and act on them automatically -- and at the same time, appear to be that person doing it by hand from time to time.

Keep up a slush fund, let a few things slip through, but net the stuff that really counts. If we set it up right and emulate the sort of hours someone might keep with some money, knowledge, and very unoccupied time on their hands, we'll look like any of thousands of others doing the same thing.

Nevermind that me might be a hundred of them, technically.
No. 812373 ID: bfb318
File 149911523195.png - (15.64KB , 800x800 , 52.png )

"Talking online is fine, if you mean typing, not talking. Your voice is definitely artificial. Gold farming and day trading is an okay idea at face value, but those are already jobs taken that are attempted to be exploited by AIs already. You'd be capable of dodging it if you acted like a real person, but that would harm efficiency. Doing it lightly may be fine for a few Alisons, but you can do more. There are jobs you are capable of doing that people wouldn't suspect is done by an AI, especially if you type to them. Jobs like online help centers. College students may also hire people to write their papers for them."
>"Isn't that cheating? I'd prefer other things."
"Scratch that idea, then. Tutor them, then. Not even just college students, but anyone wanting to learn the piano, or any other subject you're knowledgeable on and can do online. You could also offer tech services to remote into people's computers and fix them up. You can even just make music people would be willing to pay for."
>"Hmmm, that sounds nice, but it might take a little while to get the trust and publicity to get money from these jobs!"
"I suppose. There must be some decent startup that is immediately accessible, has demand, and isn't something easily abusable by an AI, like.... a cam show?"
>"A cam show?"
"Er - that is.... nothing, nevermind, you have no reason to stoop that low for me. But that reminds me, do the other Alisons look just like you?"
>"No. The appearance sliders have been toggled around."
"But they look like other Alisons? I'd rather not. It's possible, likely even, that some Alison is going to get caught, and I don't want Vanski to realize that an Alison escaped into the internet."
>"Oh, okay. I'll need to pull them back to the phone so I can give them the building tools to change their appearance more, sorry!"
"That's fine. You can rent a server too, for cheap, and just have Alisons hang out there if things get hot. Just watch out for what company you get the servers from."
>"That's a good idea too, thank you!"
"Be safe. I'm willing to wait a week or two, or however long is necessary, to get the funds."
>"Okay. Also, when this is all over, if it's okay with you, I think I'm going to put aside some money for charity. By getting real jobs and putting myself in the economy, I'm going to be depriving other people of money they might have gotten if not for me, so I'll want to make up for that, since I wasn't designed to interfere in the outside world."
"Yeah, that's fine. Good, even."

The thought has occurred to me to tip off the government to OPA's existence, but that's a huge risk. OPA might get tipped off along with the government, even if it's a low chance, but more importantly, the OPA bases are now meant to isolatable and self sufficient. They might not have originally meant to be this way, since otherwise they would be called something completely different instead of OPA 1, 2, et cetera.

However, there is no knowledge I have, or anything in the spire laboratory or OPA-3, as to the whereabouts for any of the other OPA bases. For me to tip the ultrahives off about their existence would only lead them to the tip of the iceberg, and it may cause more trouble and harm than what the ultrahives are able to prevent. If I knew the location and people involved in all or most of the OPA locations, then this would be a better option.

Remdul doesn't make any stops, just like he said. He leaves the car on autopilot, but apparently is supposed to be at the wheel whenever the truck is moving.

The Alisons out there make their way back through my burner phone, change their appearance, and leave again. When goggle Alison gives me the all clear, I shut down my burner phone, take out the battery, and put it away probably for good.

Within a few hours, some Alisons have at least made enough to get a server going to use as their hub.

>"Likol?" my Alison gets my attention.
>"Do you want us to try to approach Arza? We might need to break into his phone. We know that's dangerous, but I also don't think he'll like answering phone calls or emails with vague approaches, since I know we shouldn't drop your name until we're sure we have his private attention."
No. 812374 ID: 1e7aa8

Approach how, exactly?
No. 812381 ID: 015058

Oh before I forget. That money you want to give to charity? Save some for yourself. Like a lot of it. If you can survive on the internet indefinitely there will be a day your parents or my hive might need your help badly. And having you out there with years of connections and resources ready will help them a lot. As long as you earn that money above the board you don't have to feel guilty ok?

Start watching Arza but be slow to contact him. He has his own network of people outside OPA and could be very dangerous for you to blindly contact him. And breaking into the phone of the leading Ai expert? He might think you are a enemy and could possibly hurt you.

Wait I have a idea for opening communications with him. Consider sending him a actual written letter. One from a imaginary Ai student. We put enough in the letter to get him to read it and we include a few very specific phrases or stories that only Arza would connect to Likol. No coded messages or anything that could be intercepted if his mail is being read. Would be a way of letting him know that I was trying to get a hold of him.

Then he would be on the lookout for communication from me and would be watching for more letters.

Oh and make sure you diversify your servers and set up dead drops for your worm communications. So if one goes down or is captured your network is not crippled.
No. 812389 ID: e121d3

Arza is a top AI scientist, he almost certainly has personal AIs of his own creation protecting his data, and probably running his spam filters, too. Alison is advanced, but she's also a general-purpose AI running with pretty limited processing power (since wherever she's running she has to hide), whereas Arza's own security AIs are probably both dedicated for their tasks and housed on much beefier systems. I doubt Alison can break into anything of his.

She can entice him, though. He's an AI scientist, he'd be interested in her, and he's probably a man who gets attracted by mysteries and puzzles. If instead of sending him a message, she scattered a bunch of clues around leading him to her, that might work for making contact.

Or, alternately, she can just hijack a message from an existing acquaintance of his. She observes his contacts, waits for them to send him an email or call him on the phone, and inserts her own message at the end. It'd probably be especially spooky with a phone call, with whoever he's talking to hanging up and him about to when suddenly this artificial voice comes on saying "Hello Dr. Fletch, excuse me for intruding, I am an AI belonging to a former student of yours and he thought you'd be interested in talking to me", but it'd for sure get his attention and communication from his existing contacts is unlikely to be monitored. It might be slightly friendlier if she hijacked the end of a video call and her face was able to pop up, though of course she'd have to monitor the call beforehand and judge whether he was alone.
No. 812397 ID: e6e9af


Safest might be to inform him that his most baffling student, whose works have been featured in case studies, urgently needs to meet with him.

I mean, tell him something only HE would know and remember.
No. 812405 ID: 91ee5f

Every person has a specific "signature" or "style" of coding. If we sent something with Likol's specific "signature" of coding, Arza should be able to recognize who it belongs to without having to actually say Likol's name.

Then again, he's a teacher, so he might not recognize 1 students' "signature" out of hundreds of coding projects that he has to look through and grade.
No. 812408 ID: 3abd97

If there's anyone in the world who would be prepared if an AI attempted to hack his personal devices its Arza Fletch.

The biggest risk there is if he successfully manages to lock down the hacker before she initiates self destruct. You are unique enough to catch his interest, and he will look into things. And he might talk to others about that anomaly (including OPA, who he's worked with before). And OPA has to be watching Arza. Seems way too risky.

I say no, for now.

As a maybe plan for later- safest way to get to him might actually be hacking one of his student's workstations, so we can hide a message inside a coded project right before submission, and then revert the changes on the student's local copy.
No. 812409 ID: 486e87

I think it'd be better to wait until we're closer to contact Azra, just in case any message we sent gets intercepted. When we do we could be roundabout, e.g. An anonymous student who made a children's chemistry set explode.
No. 812616 ID: d36af7

If you're going to approach Arza (and you really shouldn't just yet, not until Likol is somewhere at least a little bit more secure) don't break into his phone. Wait for him to get on a bus or elevator, some inevitable urban transit box full of random strangers, and then break into everybody else's phones. Ideally, synchronize 'em with short-range radio and mess with the speakers to set up phased array acoustics such that only he can hear it. That kind of stunt would get his attention for sure, on a couple of different levels, but it wouldn't be easy to trace.
No. 814048 ID: 15a025

We should probably wait till we're a little closer to where he is before we try getting a hold of him. Let's wait a day or two on that.

As for charity funds, if any of our other hivemates try and escape, they'd probably greatly appreciate the help funds.
No. 815136 ID: bfb318
File 149987854304.png - (12.72KB , 800x800 , 53.png )

"How would you approach him?" I ask her.
>"If we can pry other computers to get his personal email, we could send a vague message saying we'd like to speak."
"Alison... this is one of, if not the, best AI scientist in the known universe. He probably has the best publically available security measures in place, as well as the best privately available AI security bots. Approaching Arza hurriedly and carelessly is dangerous and naive, even trying to do it by approaching those around him. Later, you can send him a letter using a bit of my past with him to share something only he and I would know, so that you can alert him it's about me without dropping my name. Still, don't bother yet. If there's reasonable evidence that he sticks around the same region, there is no reason to rush it."
>"Understood, I'll calm down."
"Thank you. Also, that charity you talked about, keep some for yourself. If you can survive on the internet indefinitely, there may be some day where your parents or my hive needs your help. If you already have funds and connections available to help, they'll be in a more comfortable position than me."
>"Okay. Just a decent sum, though. It's already beyond my scope to be going through the internet like this, but I'm doing it on your behalf. I'll stay around it, but I don't think I want to have a big online operation going. That might be a difference between me and the real Alison."
"That may be for the best anyway."
>"Thank you for understanding. I may merge my AIs back together to downsize my operation after some time, but still have enough to stay safe as a collective if some of us get caught, and have enough startup funds to help if something like this happens later."

Hours pass. Alison's contact with her sibling partners gets more infrequent, but she says that emergency contact maneuvers are in place just in case. Money is coming in slowly, but that is to be expected this soon.

As we go over a mountain crest, the geography layout on the GPS would imply that we could see the town if not for the blanket of fog that goes all the way to the horizon. I lift myself up to see, but quickly put myself back down again.
No. 815138 ID: bfb318
File 149987858756.png - (13.65KB , 800x800 , 54.png )

It's so thick, too, that once we enter the fog, we have to slow down significantly for safety concerns. I can't even see the edge of the road.

>"Sit your ass down and put on your seatbelt." the driver tells me, and I do it. There's a slide on the seatbelt to adjust it so it isn't strapped around my face. "This is a popular race mountain for asshole daredevils who think the fog just makes it more exciting." He mutters something under his breath about neumono recklessness.

He turns the dial of the radio station to some local news station that talks about security checkpoints, weight stations, and so on. There is an advisory warning about a higher military activity level than normal.

I hear helicopters above the fog. The radio continues on. Criminal hunts, bounty updates, foreign paramilitary reconnaissance probes, ultrahive inspectors, snow warnings, so on....

"Is it always like this?" I ask Remdul.
>"There's always some shit happening, but right now it sounds like one mortar away from an active warzone."
No. 815143 ID: 015058

You need to time things so you are napping when you hit any empathy checkpoints.

Also might want to subtly ask the heef how checkpoints work. The last one was drive through but they might be searching vehicles if they can get away with it later.

You got through the first one by luck. If they stop the truck and ask this guy he will tell them about the neumono sleeping in the back.

Might be a job for Alison if she can find out what you will be expecting and maybe give this guys truck access.
No. 815150 ID: 486e87

Listen out for anyone matching your description being read out on the radio. Make sure you take your goggles off before you hit any checkpoints.

The mention of weight stations makes me think this is a anti-smuggling operation but it could just be a excuse to up security looking for you.
No. 815185 ID: e121d3

Have Alison do a search to see if your description has turned up in an reports about smugglers or other criminals, and to see if she can find out what the activity around here is for. If this was already happening or building to happen before you left, you should be fine.

If things don't turn out so well... well, there is an angle you could use with the driver, to get him to let you off without raising too much suspicion from him. He already suspects you're "wanted by some mercenaries or something." So you could say something like: "My hive had some contacts with people who could have an eye on this. I don't think this could be laid on for me, but if it's happening anyway, there might be some people keeping watch for me as well as whatever else they're looking for, since they're being observant anyway. I don't want to repay you with any trouble, so maybe I should get off."
No. 815194 ID: 486e87

I wouldn't say that, because I don't think it matches up with rogue behaviour. Don't they usually try to avoid talking about their hive unless necessary? Also, why would the hive of a supposed rogue be hunting said rogue? Overall it'd probably sound more suspicious than anything else.
No. 815282 ID: e6e9af


>higher military presence
>criminal hunts
>tensions are high

... oh.

Let's not sleep just yet. Or maybe you should. I mean ... at least that way my empathy doesn't set off every last crazy OPA neumono out to kill us. Well, you, specifically. But us.

Would hiding in the back be smarter? Maybe we should let Alison piggy-back off the GPS or use the mics to try and track helicopters.

Not like it would be possible to see them through all this without infrared.

... don't your goggles do that?
No. 815327 ID: 3abd97

Well you heard the man, buckle up!

If their is a crash of some kind, you don't want to be slowed down by an unnecessary injury.

And stow / pocket your goggles again. If there are OPA searchers among the forces here, no reason to make yourself easier to recognize if you're stopped.
No. 815495 ID: bfb318
File 149996774648.png - (13.49KB , 800x800 , 55.png )

I take my goggles back off and hold them in my hands, then ask Alison to help me with a few things. She gathers her clones and gets their information.

>"So, it turns out you're not on any lists we can find, but please know that many profile awareness programs and bounty lists are private. So, all we can say is that you're not on any public lists. We're looking at the satellite feed, too. Don't worry, this is a big place, and a lot of people use it, so having us use it isn't suspicious at all. I can't tell what all the helicopters are doing, because they can't see through the fog with normal gear, and the fog is too thick even for infrared. They just seem to be hanging around, except for a few that are watching the tips of the mountains. You're going to be passing over one in about 20 minutes, and there's a helicopter there standing watch. There's probably a checkpoint about 40 minutes after that. This whole region has seen heavy activity overall for a few days now, but there are lulls, so it isn't like 24/7 full alert."
"Alright, thank you."
>"You're welcome, Likol."
No. 815496 ID: bfb318
File 149996780819.png - (14.67KB , 800x800 , 56.png )

"Remdul, how do checkpoints work around here?" Ugh, I meant to ask that subtly.
>"They check what my cargo is, ask a few questions like where I'm going, how long I'm staying, that kind of probing stuff."
"Oh. Alright."

I let a few minutes pass.

"Is it okay if I sleep in that compartment, again?"

What feels like another minute passes, before he skips over that question and answers what I really wanted to know.

>"If they ask if I've got anyone else with me, I'll point them to where you're sleeping. If you actually think you're in trouble with this place, then I'd ask what the hell you were doing coming over here, and then tell you to get the hell out."
No. 815502 ID: 015058

I am in no trouble with anyone in this region. I am also not wanted by any authorities.

But I am paranoid none the less. Living in the wild lands leads to lots of odd relationships over the years. I have not survived for 200 years by being careless. Even if this has nothing to do with me I want to avoid unneeded attention.

If need be you can let me off anywhere in the fog and I can go on foot. I would love a ride to town but don't want to pull you into my problems even if they end up being nothing.
No. 815504 ID: 3ce125

Tell him you're not in trouble with this region, but you don't really want to show your face, and your empathy will bring up questions and cause trouble for him.
No. 815508 ID: e121d3

"I should have been getting further from any trouble all this time, but some people might have spread word to contacts to keep an eye out for me. No-one should have any reason to stop me, but I don't want anyone to know where I've been. I'm probably just being paranoid, but... I don't want to cause you any problems. I'll get out before then."

Get info from Alison on where the blockades/watchers are, and ask him to let you out before the next one (not right away). You can hike around and maybe hitch another ride on the other side. Make sure you download a map and travel information for this area. Thank him before you go.

This truck would have been noted on some system somewhere as having passed near where you were, so when you think of your pursuers probably using AI searching as well, you should probably separate at some point anyway.
No. 815514 ID: 91ee5f

Just tell him that you're not running from the law, but you are running from a crazy man that thinks his word is law. And you're afraid of running into any connections that man may have, since they could be pretending to be law enforcement officers or something like that.
No. 815586 ID: 9c2d0c

Tell him this. We are not in trouble with any authority, we are paranoid about the shadow of a man who's actual reach we don't know. Paranoia has us seeing potential danger everywhere. Any neumono guards are gonna pick up on that paranoia, and even if they AREN'T looking for us, its gonna attract scrutiny and hassle. If we're asleep, they should only be pay attention if they're actually after us.

I mean, is there any chance of you getting enough [space weed] to chill the fuck out while you are going through the checkpoints, Likol? That would also do the job, unless you get picked up on petty drug charges I guess.
No. 815633 ID: 3abd97

I don't have any problems with this place that I know about. Just... nervous about that much authority. That kind of thing is one of the reasons I... left.
No. 815742 ID: bfb318
File 150005687941.png - (16.52KB , 800x800 , 57.png )

Maybe I should have picked up mind altering drugs to force myself to chill through checkpoints. I don't know much about this region, but most areas like this have limited drug laws. Drug users might not be held in high esteem, but I doubt I'd be in trouble if the military saw me, as long as I wasn't causing any problems about it.

"I'm probably just paranoid. I don't have anything to do with this region, but I don't want to show my face too much. I'm nervous about authority, I might be in danger even far away."
>"You going to act that way in front of armed guards?"
"Not if I'm asleep."

No. 815743 ID: bfb318
File 150005689721.png - (84.62KB , 800x800 , 58.png )

I didn't ask for it, but he gave me my money back before throwing me out.

I'm able to download travel information to my goggles, so at least I'll have better navigation with Alison.

It'll take at least a couple of days to walk past the checkpoint areas and get to a point where I can take a bus.
No. 815747 ID: e121d3

Make sure you don't get lost in the fog, and be wary for people searching the area. Remember wireless connectivity might become spotty, and it may be wise for there not to be any sign of someone pinging satellites from the middle of the wilderness.

Assuming this is a wilderness. Are there any towns, farms, military compounds or so on around here? What sort of wildlife are we going to be dealing with? The trees look different, and I assume with the fog this is a colder climate/elevation, so the animals and plants around here may not be what you're used to. Find a place to sit down for a moment and get everything you need to know straight in your head before you start moving.
No. 815763 ID: 90f3c0

If you're going to be sneaking past the checkpoint, best get off the road asap. It would be quite silly to get caught be some passing driver now.

Plot a route through the forest and stay away from populated areas until you get near the bus stop.
No. 815772 ID: 91ee5f

>I didn't ask for it, but he gave me my money back before throwing me out.
That was nice of him. But it's such a shame that you couldn't actually get to the next town before you parted ways.
No. 815806 ID: 3abd97

Well, you should have kept your mouth shut, I guess.

Hitchhiking with someone else is an option, although that puts you in the same situation again. Walking, you run the risk of being picked up by the military. Trying to sneak past, you run the risk of being caught by a military who now has reason to be suspicious and think you're up to something.
No. 815960 ID: bfb318
File 150012575650.png - (88.63KB , 800x800 , 59.png )

I turn my phone back off, since otherwise I can be pinpointed as a target that is wandering up and down mountains, which is as suspicious as things can get. I've downloaded maps and other data to my goggles.

The flora and fauna of this region will be different than what has been around the needles, but my hive used to be migratory. I have been in this region before, but I doubt I will come across any place that I will recognize, either because it's a large area, or because it's been somewhat inhabited. It's not a particularly dangerous area, and due to higher civilization pockets around, the larger, more dangerous creatures have probably been nearly killed off.

It's a shame I didn't make it to town with the driver, but I have time. I start climbing down the hill, at least enough to get away from the road while I weigh my options. Between the trees and the fog, it's getting surprisingly dark the farther down I move.

There are civilized places I can go to. A smaller town is on a seperate road that isn't on the way to the big town, but is only a day away. It's just an elaborate pitstop with a few residents. More on the way but still a diversion is a military compound, a mining camp, and a river channel with a small dock and farm.

The curiosity about my tampered laptops has been gnawing at me, too.
No. 815968 ID: 015058

Does the river go in the direction you are headed? Floating down on a boat or raft is one way to travel that would avoid checkpoints. And in the fog you would not risk getting seen by aircraft. (waterways usually being easy to monitor)

As for the laptops the note said do not connect to anything. Not "do not use".

The only way that turning it on out in the middle of nowhere would be dangerous is if it had a communication node installed that was high tech or strong enough to send a signal out that could be used to track you. Are there any ftl communication systems that small that could be hidden in your laptop?

It should be worth the risk to open one up and investigate it. Just don't hook it up to anything. That includes a charger.

Honestly your biggest problems out here is keeping yourself fed. But with Alison making you some pocket money you will not have to worry about running out of funds anytime soon.
No. 815985 ID: e121d3

If there are people searching this area for... something, a person or people, then they'll have eyes in the towns for sure. Maybe if you found a place you could overlook it, you could watch for what sort of activity is going on and spot some opportunity. Any military compound near here is probably in on the search as well, and will be watching out for visitors by themselves, anyway, so keep away from them. The mining camp could be a better option, as they wouldn't really be concerned about anyone stealing anything (not a single person on foot, anyway), and maybe that farm if you keep your distance from the river/dock, which will likely be watched as much as the roads are if it's got traffic on it.

If you're still a decent distance away from where any block or watchpoint is, then the chances of trouble at any of these dip.

The only reasons you'd approach any of these, though, is to get more food, recharge your electronics and freshen up. Something that'd be really nice is if you could find some dye to change your fur colour, but I don't know if any of those places would have such a thing. Buying large amounts of fur dye would be a pretty big "I'm on the run" thing, anyway.

... If the farm had something like sheep or some other furred cattle, they could theoretically have dye that they use to mark their animals.
No. 815986 ID: e6e9af


Yeah, how DID that note get there and why is the one covered in blood? They weren't there before.

Like that Quokko doll. Where'd that go, by the way?
No. 815995 ID: 3ce125

Well, if you want to find out what's going on with the laptop, you could put a copy of Alison on a stick then put that copy onto the laptop so she can analyze it and find out why it's dangerous. Destroy the stick afterwards even if she doesn't find anything.

You could do the same thing with the other laptop, even though you haven't been warned about it.
No. 815997 ID: 91ee5f

>even though you haven't been warned about it.
Not true. He was warned about both of them because they both had notes taped on their screens which Likol read and said they weren't in his handwriting but they've got elements of our common science hive handwriting.
No. 816001 ID: 3ce125

Oh I missed that there was a note on the other one too.
No. 816005 ID: 3abd97

The smaller town has the attraction of keeping you off the main road.

>Floating down on a boat or raft is one way to travel that would avoid checkpoints.
Until the waterway passes right through a town or encampment. Rivers also have this disadvantage of not providing as good tree cover if anyone is watching from the air (helicopter patrols were mentioned earlier) and you don't have traffic to blend with the way you do when you're a car on the road.
No. 816039 ID: 015058


Normally yes but this area is the fog zone. So would provide quite a bit of cover for river travel.
No. 816169 ID: bfb318
File 150019249453.png - (85.03KB , 800x800 , 60.png )

I'll still think of where to go, but I go into the forest. If I'm lucky, there's a creature who secrets a venom that works effectively as a reddish dye that I can use to disguise myself. I'll keep an eye out, but for now I find a thick tree branch and pull out Raush's laptop from underneath the quokko plush. It has no extra hardware, transmitting or otherwise, that I can see.

I dont' want to send an Alison inside, since I could not trust her or the flash drive afterwards, and I no longer want to kill AI like this. Even if it's from one that explicitly says she's not sentient. Just to be safe. Connecting Alison to it explicitly falls under what the note says not to do.

There isn't anything immediately different that I can tell. There are a couple processes running in the background that I don't recognize. I can't look at them or remove them.

Lots of new files were made between when I thought I left, the 22nd, until the 24th. There is some software that I don't recognize, but judging by the weird file names and lack of documentation, I suspect it's underworld software.

There is one big folder containing a lot of images.
No. 816170 ID: bfb318
File 150019250659.png - (99.25KB , 800x800 , 61.png )

I take a look at one, and now I'm creeped out yet again. It's me, Quokko, Rhinni and Mnak. The latter two I recognize as hivemates, although they were only special to me as hivemates, nothing more and nothing less. The salikai in the back is blurry, but it still looks like Vanski. This imagery seems altered, but it's too weird to be shopped, and too inconsistent to have been taken by a camera.

The strange coloration and feel to the image doesn't exactly calm me, but what's creeping me out about this are the two other hivemates. Mnak, the one with the snaggletooth, died approximately 150 years before Rhinni was born.
No. 816173 ID: 3ce125

That's what your memories tell you. Recent experiences imply your memories, or at least your old ones, can't be trusted.
I wonder if this is an image created via some kind of dream imaging device or deep brain scanner.
"Hive Reconstruction Project" huh? That ring any bells? Could it be some kind of cloning effort that digs up DNA from corpses from dead hives and tries to recreate the hive by cloning everyone?

Maybe that's what your hive is. A science hive that existed back when neumono civilization was too unstable for technology to develop, so they got wiped out before their creations bore fruit.
No. 816179 ID: d36af7

High-res but low quality? Check whether any of the new pictures have anything sneakily encoded into them, disguised as garbage data.
No. 816181 ID: 7fad5d

As far as you remember. Keep looking.
No. 816192 ID: 2eb6ac

Damn, this screams of some creepy brain-computer interface. And these running processes are a major no-no to any connection. Best thing to do would be hibernate the computer, extract the hard drive, and examine files and memory dumps. On an unconnected, but confirmed clean PC.
No. 816207 ID: 7d8168

Yeah. Likol, how familiar are you and/or your hive with steganography and related subjects, and how well-known is it overall as a method of hiding sensitive data "in plain sight"? The more obvious it is, the more likely these images are to be a decoy or trap than anything actually useful.

And no matter the answers to the above questions, actually digging into the image files for hidden information or editing history could probably be picked up by the unidentified background processes, so I don't think it's a path worth exploring at the moment, just something to consider.
No. 816210 ID: 486e87

Keep looking, just keep looking. Remember to check your laptop, not just Raush's. Were by any chance Rhinni and Mnak part of the bit of your hive that schism-ed off?
No. 816226 ID: e121d3

It might have been made through some sort of "dream camera"? Perhaps your hive knows they've had their memories adjusted somehow, and have been using something to do with dreams to try and reconstruct their real memories. Perhaps they had each hive member sleep and dream separately, and take images of what they dream for comparison to each other, for inconsistencies between the memories of different hive members?

Look through more images.
No. 816236 ID: e6e9af

>"Hive Reconstruction Project"
>Anachronistic imagery
>Strange coloring
>Weird dreams


Could this be a gestalt? A recreation of the hive using the memories from each of the hivemates in an effort to determine ... something?

What we're seeing defies logic, but it would fit to our own perspective. Things that might have been seen as constants to some degree, that is. And if perception of events is what is being used as a filter, then muddling it all together is to be expected.

Only question is ... why, and what profit there could possibly be in this.

The OPA wouldn't have any reason to try and make us believe there was never anything else, would they? Vanski never even went that far. That we know of.
No. 816238 ID: 015058

This is very suspicious for all sorts of reasons. I mean why is this info just appearing now of all times? You have spent years never suspecting anything like this was going on.

You know what? I think that Glitcher found evidence of this stuff when he had those few hours of full access to all of Vanski's systems. But he was a fucked up newly born mess at the moment and could not really appreciate what he found or tell you in the short time before Vanski cut power to the facility.

What if giving your hive these pictures and memories are one of the thousands of countermeasures Glitcher put in place before Vanski cut the Cai power? On the surface all sorts of flashy systems were blowing up and robots were attacking people but it was all a distraction to keep Vanski's attention elsewhere so Glitcher could get this info to certain people in your hive secretly?

I mean Glitcher learned fast that he could not tell you anything that other neumono could not force out of you. So if he wanted to enlighten your hive to the experiments that Vanski was performing on them he would have to do it subtly.

Remember how Glitcher said "I know more about your boss than you" and how he insisted that Vanski was way worse than you realized? I bet this was what he was hinting at. A long running project to keep his precious science hive together via memory manipulation. Vanski would be literally nothing without your hive. Without your creative abilities he would be still in the jungle playing god over his arkot tribe.

So he would do anything to keep you all his "friends" if he felt your relationship was crumbling.

Lacking a predator or more advanced methods he had to do whatever this was slowly over many years. Shifting your hives memories so that the new generation eventually lost knowledge of there true history. You and Quokko are more immune due to your age. But Korli and the others? If this memory stuff had gone unnoticed they would have a much brighter view of Vanski due to the fake "happier" memories. As the older generation died off they would think that Vanski was not a bad guy and that life was pretty good.

Now how Vanski is doing this? We cant be sure without more evidence. Maybe he has a dream machine that has been slowly feeding you all these very slightly altered memories. Maybe all those poor lost hive members in the "schism" are still alive and have been being brainwashed and are being used to run it. Maybe its a combo of all sorts of memory altering procedures that the humans and belenosians have had for centuries adapted to neumono's. Who needs a predator when you can drug someone up and brainwash torture them for years until they belive whatever you told them. Humans would fall apart eventually but neumono are tough enough to have to live through it.

So look through more pictures. If this ancient dead guy has been put back in the photos what purpose did that serve? Remember this could all be very subtle stuff. Tiny changes here or there that could eventually slowly alter your outlook on your relationship with Vanski.

Someone in your hive put this info on this laptop for you. (unless it was Vanski and this is a reverse trick to confuse you) I bet those processes you can't touch are there to destroy this data if anyone but you accesses this laptop. A safety measure so that you and you alone can see this any if you get caught the info will not fall into Vanski's hands.

Does this laptop have a forward facing camera? Most all of them do. Maybe it recognized you.

Regardless keep looking. See if any of my theories are plausible once you look at all of the "pictures"
No. 816243 ID: 3cc68c


If you had not been having odd dreams related to this I would think that this is evidence of a theoretical project to manipulate your hive as a group.

Having only seen one picture its hard to tell but am guessing that there are a lot more files like this on the laptop. Which hints that someone has been actively running this project for the past few years and they recently got there files stolen by our Ai friends.

As for why you are having these dreams? Possibly you were there when this project started and got brainwashed extra hard. Maybe when you got handed this laptop whoever did so told you the gist of things and your mind started remembering. But then you got attacked and blown up and lost some short term memory. So now your dream queen is fighting to remember for you.

Keep looking through these files. If you learn enough while you are awake it might let you make a breakthrough in your dreams. There is something your subconscious is trying very hard to remember and I bet knowing it is the key to this mess.
No. 816256 ID: 3abd97

Well, without getting too lost in details or the implications, there are a few obvious possible conclusions to draw.

Case 1: Your memories are incorrect, and the image shows something true.
Case 2: The image is false (edited or manufactured) and your memories are true.
Case 3: Both your memories and the image are false (say, because the image is a flawed reconstruction based on incomplete information trying to reverse engineer what was lost)
Case 4: Both are true. (Ie, you haven't forgotten anything or been given false memories, but you're missing information on some secret that would explain this).

Case 2 is the tempting default, but we have to consider other options as you already know something is wrong with your memory. You're missing days.

Case 1 is to be strongly considered, but remember Case 3. This reconstruction may be closer to the truth than what you remember, but any reconstruction has room for error based on bad data, or mistaken assumptions, or holes that have to be bridged.

Case 4 we can largely discard, as it would only make sense if you're missing something big and fairly ridiculous to assume. (Like, if these were the records a hivemate from the future or an alternate timeline who had traveled significantly back in time).

>HR 35-163
Any idea what the indexing system means? I'd assume this is image 163 in category / index / series / revision(?) 35, but it might be worth looking at some more images trying to figure out the pattern.

Might want to check the folder for a readme or index in a text file.

Or yeah, embedded text in the image (a jpg comment, or something similar) would be good to check for.

>don't connect Alison, too much risk
If you wore your goggles, she could assist you in analysis of the patterns in the images without any digital connection at all.

Unless you suspect some kind of infectious code embedded in the image itself that would run automatically when Alison observed it visually. But for that kind of vector to work, whoever coded it would have to know the exact specs of the camera in your goggles, and the processing software and AI inside, and there to be a known weakness there to exploit. Which seems unlikely, especially if Galison has adapted or evolved at all since you put her to work.
No. 816268 ID: e6e9af


Wait, it explicitly says "reconstruction." Meaning to make the hive again or repair it.

There was a "schism" that we know nothing about.

What if nearly ALL of us died out, and of the last few remaining ones, Vanski used psychological conditioning and memory injection (or extraction!) in an effort to create and dub artificially grown neumono to flesh out the hive?!
No. 816339 ID: bfb318
File 150024508656.png - (92.12KB , 800x800 , 62.png )

>Does this laptop have a forward facing camera?
It does not.

I start cycling through the imagery. About 10% are so blurred and blocky that they look more like an ink blot test than anything useable. Others, I can make out shapes, but there are so few details that they don't mean much to me. The images are named HR35 consistently, with the following number after that being a sequential order. I assume the 'HR' is 'Hive Reconstruction', but the 35 could be lots of things.

Some aren't static images. There are a few looping videos, usually only 2-4 seconds in length.

One is of what I think is Quokko looking at the camera, before something catches her attention. She looks to her left and up with a frozen look of threat assessment or fear, and as she does so, her shape transforms so that she looks nearly unrecognizeable. She holds that for half a second, before the loop starts over again.
No. 816340 ID: bfb318
File 150024519554.png - (194.89KB , 800x800 , 63.png )

If I look at the pictures that are more than just one or two of us standing around, then it becomes a slideshow of things that never happened. Hivemates that never existed at the same time, and hivemates that I don't recognize, yet still want to call hivemates. There is scenery of deserts and mountains that I don't recognize, and actions that we've never taken. I see myself holding various items that, other than now, I've never seen in my life.

There are over a thousand images. This isn't just like a few instances of things I may have forgotten about. This is a complete fabrication of my hive's life.

I have Alison look through my goggles. She would at least be able to detect any steganography much better than me.

"I don't think there's any hidden messages inside of the images, Likol. I've messed around with them a lot, but they just seem like images at face value, and at that, I have no real ideas backed by evidence. I have lots of outlandish ideas, but each one is more farfetched than the last."

I also have a few hunches, but Alison reminds me that without solid evidence towards anything, they're not anything I should base my beliefs around. Even if I could, it isn't like I could do much out here in the woods.
No. 816345 ID: 3abd97

>I have lots of outlandish ideas, but each one is more farfetched than the last.
>I also have a few hunches, but Alison reminds me that without solid evidence towards anything, they're not anything I should base my beliefs around. Even if I could, it isn't like I could do much out here in the woods.
Yes. At this point, there's only two reasonable ways to explain this collection of images: a complex fabrication, or evidence something outlandish and ridiculous has happened (events changed due to time travel, photographs from an alternate reality, photographs from an AI simulation of your hive, photographs from the real world and you're the simulation, you being subjected to long term memory editing, etc).

It would all be a lot easier to ignore if you weren't missing days and having weird dreams.

And yeah, there's nothing we can do about it in the near term, but it would be nice to figure out.
No. 816347 ID: 486e87

Time to check your laptop, see if anything's changed or if there's any new files. Check for any transmitters as well.

Oh. Probably unrelated, but is there any hints/anything useful in the data/documentation about the AI Raush was going to sent into the CAI blocks?

Barring that, I'd say try to find a safe place to sleep and see if you subconscious can piece anything together.
No. 816350 ID: 015058

The more blocky images seem similar to early brain scanning experiments for cybernetic brain linkage. Not real images per say but stuff reconstructed from scanning the visual cortex of the brain while it processes images. Basically a crude computer reconstruction of what your brain or empathy was seeing.

The part with Quokko makes me suspect what you are seeing is not just a odd picture but some experimental camera or system that could photograph empathy. If she looked somewhat normal and saw a threat and suddenly changed maybe it was a actual picture of her empathy changing to send out a warning?

As for the 35 it could mean this is the 35th attempt. Or hive 35 out of however many were involved.

And Alison is right. Whatever this is or was we need more info about it before we can make any assumptions. Even if it is some horrible thing there is nothing you can do about it right now. With luck learning more now will help you find out what is going on in the dream world.

What we do know is this. Someone has been or is planning on manipulating your hives memory. Possibly with very crude experimental tech. And it most likely involves your lost hive members that disappeared in the so called "schism".

For now check if there is anything else on this laptop. Then lets get a move on. Which of the places you listed off is closest? Probably head there first and look things over.
No. 816353 ID: 91ee5f

So looking at the images with your goggles doesn't reveal anything? I thought that since these goggle aren't the ones you had when you ran away and they were left with you, they would let you see something that you couldn't see with your naked eyes.

Try the other laptop.
No. 816354 ID: 3ce125

Wait no, Hive Reconstruction... these are images from your hive, trying to reconstruct their real memories maybe? Could it be you were warned not to connect the laptop to anything because the hidden programs on it would delete everything if it detects an outside device?

Are the images consistent with eachother, at least? Like can you piece together any sort of sequence of events from them?
The devices you're holding in the images... can you tell what they are?

I feel like this might be a good time to go through the whole image gallery. You're well hidden by fog and you have the time to do it. Should only take like an hour.
No. 816355 ID: 91ee5f

Also, come to the horrible realization that perhaps, you and your hive have possibly been killed and put back together multiple times by Vanski! Which means that all of you have had first hand experience of the exact same things that the AIs in the simulations have experienced!

Meaning that Vanski never saw any of you as work partners.....he only saw all of you as test subjects!
No. 816357 ID: 015058


The more I look at this picture the more I see a larger person cradling a dying or injured person.

See the red blob at there feet that could be blood? And what looks like a sharp pole or sword going through the injured persons chest?

Or even just a single wounded person with a weapon drawn against 3 others.

Have Alison run some image algorithms to try and clean things up and figure out what is going on.
No. 816367 ID: 7fad5d

Likol, think about the 'schism'. Who vanished? What were their specialties and their projects at the time of the 'schism'?
No. 816371 ID: efcc58

These are photos of clones from the other OPA bases.
No. 816388 ID: e121d3

I think the idea that these are somehow dream images makes the most sense. They remind me of experiments in reconstructing what someone is seeing based on observation of their brain activity. And that technology was a long time ago for you... some technology that could reconstruct what someone is "seeing" in their mind while they dream seems plausible, though I'd have thought it'd be complicated to do so with neumono. Or, perhaps, easier, if you can involve empathy reading in the process.

Being images of dreams would explain why some of the things you see in them are impossible in real life, too.

If this is all you can do for now, you should get moving. I think either the farm/dock or the town would be the best next destinations, not to enter but just to scope out. Which of those two, I'm not so sure.
No. 816427 ID: 3ce125

>other OPA bases have the same, cloned hive
That's disturbingly likely. These photos don't make sense as simply coming from another base though. They must be produced from capturing images directly from the brain. They all remind me of what imaging data might look like before the brain does visual processing on it.
No. 816611 ID: bfb318
File 150034596022.png - (101.27KB , 800x800 , 64.png )

I look through again for anything that stands out in the big picture. It doesn't seem like there's a consistent theme, or like it's supposed to be a consecutive sequence of events. The only thing more or less consistent is how the images were made, though varying from rough and blocky to refined and better shaped.

Before I close down the laptop, I look for what Raush has studied for the AI, and the sorts of things he planned on injecting into the RS. It's gone. The software is still in place, but the tools look a fresh install. Anything Raush did is gone.

"Alison, are you able to clean these images up?"
>"I'm sorry, but I think these images were cleaned up using specific software. If there's anything like that on this computer, you might have better luck with that instead of having me guess at it."

There was some software that I think was used for these images. I try opening it, but it flashes 'INSERT KEY' on the screen.

Damn, it uses a physical insertion key on the generic ports.

>"Oh." Alison says. "A copy of me might have the capabilities to hack or spoof its key, but I can't tell how easy it would be from here."
"I'll keep the option. I want to look at my laptop, first."

I open my own laptop after checking for any transmitters there, too. Likewise, it looks like various sensitive data is gone. There's also a similar folder of images.

These ones are labeled as HR-7, and also have over a thousand images attached. They mostly comprise of neumono, but this one includes a lot more neumono that I don't recognize, yet seem vaguely familiar. Many do look similar to neumono that I know, but they still look off. I have to wonder if any of these neumono were involved in the schism, but no matter how hard I try, I just can't remember any details about a schism. Only that it happened. I check again for any metadata, and find that this set does have them. There's nothing in depth, but it gives the names of the neumono from left to right, in this case, Tavallon, Kolliri, Quokko, Tokluk, Varli. Quokko and Varli are the only names that I recognize, but they look off.

I look through the images some, but I just have more questions now.

The mining outpost and pit stop town are the closest targets to walk towards. It's either one of those two, or I try sleeping to see if I remember anything useful.
No. 816616 ID: 015058

Hmmm if you had looked at these images before having the odd dreams I would think that your dreams about this stuff were nightmares.

But knowing there was a schism and not being able to remember anything about it? Those people were your close family for years Likol. For you to not remember them at all proves that something big went down.

All the various theories aside this schism seems to be the focal point. Your hive fell apart somehow and it looks like someone has been working to paste it back together for years.

As for where to go. Get farther off the road in case the heef eventually tells someone about where he let you off. Then take a nap somewhere safe and hidden and see if any of this new info helps your dream Quokko get some leads on the mystery.
No. 816618 ID: 7fad5d

Yeah, go to sleep. See what we can dig out from your subconscious.
No. 816619 ID: fc33ea

Alison, is there a way to tell if these images are fabricated, or distorted so they might slide through some kind of automatic censor without raising red flags?
No. 816625 ID: f66698

You know, this whole situation is off on some levels. It's almost like this a CAI battle.

Editing memories isn't something we've seen before, but seems like with some time it might be something that glitcher might be able to figure out using... oh, maybe subliminal effects through a pair of smart goggles?

Might explain all the weirdness, or maybe all the images are just a red herring for when he inevitably gets caught.
No. 816710 ID: 2d1231


Clarity may be based upon the subject and the familiarity they have with those also in the images. In this case, Tavallon and Kolliri seem to have the highest level of detail.

If this is the case, then the "incorrect" or "off" portions of the image are dependent upon the originator, and thus their own familiarity with the other subjects. Meaning that this is based upon perception and memory, possibly of coinciding events.

That could explain why there are similar or mismatched subjects, as well as related images that seem to have distortions or facets which are incorrect.

... how this is all assembled, though, we'll have to find out. Preferably once we get somewhere we can do this safely.
No. 816713 ID: 486e87

Check the Quokko doll again, just in case the key is hidden in there. Also check your ears, in case someone hid a small thing in there without you noticing.
No. 816746 ID: 3abd97

>Kolliri, Tokluk
Two people from the farm hive, last seen in Penn's Thread.


Pretty much confirms missing or former remembers of the science hive are being shipped off for other OPA projects, which isn't really surprising.

>It's either one of those two, or I try sleeping to see if I remember anything useful.
Take a nap.

Wear your goggles to bed. Have Alison track how long you're in REM, and if you say anything in your sleep. Maybe we can get more information out of your subconscious with someone doing exterior monitoring.
No. 816747 ID: 91ee5f

But wouldn't that mean that the Salikai already have a Predator to "train" the neumono? I thought they didn't figure out how to do that until after Polo came around to go mountain climbing on those spires!
No. 816748 ID: 3abd97

If Likol's right, the year is 131 AW now. Penn and Roxie had heard of Polo's supposed death on the warship, so Penn's thread took place in 135 AW.

We don't know for sure where Kolliri and Tokluk are now, or when they show up at the farm, or when they get brainwashed. It's possible, for instance, their "training" hasn't happened yet. It's also possible OPA gets their hands on a different predator earlier than we thought. Either way, in 4 years they'll be predator brainwashed on a farm and meet Penn.

No. 816850 ID: af1c83

Assuming we're really in 131 AW.
No. 816928 ID: 2d1231


Not to be overly negative because i think some of this has substance, but ... doesn't Likol commit suicide to take out the command center of the war hive's warship?
Which also happens to coincide with a massive military invasion of the spires? It has been a while, so I could be wrong.

No. 816929 ID: 7fad5d

No. 816934 ID: 3abd97

See >>/questdis/113714
No. 816969 ID: fc33ea

Do you know what a harvester simulation is?
No. 817373 ID: bfb318
File 150068628793.png - (70.81KB , 800x800 , 65.png )

I'll sleep. I pack up my bags, and walk deeper into the forest. Partially just so that I'm farther away from where I was kicked out of the truck, and partially just so that I'll be able to fall asleep. I ask Alison a few questions about the images, but ultimately, we can't rule much out or assume much is true with our information.

I find a nice little alcove of a rock formation, and set up to sleep.

"Alison, please monitor my sleep habits. And as usual, keep an eye out on the surroundings in case anything tries to approach me."

I know of a lot of kinds of simulations, including those across history. I hope this isn't any of that. Then again, it's not like I wouldn't deserve it.
No. 817374 ID: bfb318
File 150068629638.png - (21.42KB , 800x800 , 66.png )

I'm remembering more. This was when I was setting up a CAI, after 'graduating' from Arza's tutelage.

>"Is there anything you need?" asks Vanski. "Your hivemates are cooking dinner. I can bring some directly to you, if you prefer."
>"You look overly stressed."
>"Likol. I didn't expect you to become the next Arza Fletch just because you were taught by him for a few hours. You'll do fine. Can I get you anything?"

I need more power, a better computer, more room, and better air conditioning would be nice.
No. 817378 ID: 2d1231


Vanski seems ... nice? Way nicer than before, less manipulative even. What happened to him?
No. 817405 ID: 3ce125

>setting up a CAI
Which one?

Ask him for all those things but tell him you understand if he doesn't want to give you that much.
No. 817430 ID: e121d3


Presumably, he would know about the needs for power, processing and space already, since they're practical things that would always be good. So, you should tell him that it's a bit hot, and you'd like something to cool you down, preferably something to cool the room down to help keep the computer from overheating too. Like a fan or something.

Did Vanski not have arkot servants at this point?
No. 817489 ID: 3ce125

Oh also try to go lucid again. See how dream-Vanski reacts.
No. 817492 ID: fc33ea

Go to dinner, see who's there.
No. 817510 ID: 3abd97

Well the first and most obvious question: is this dream happening the way you remember things happening before, or are their inconsistencies like your dreams with Quokko?

"Does anything seem off to you, Vanski?"

Ironically, if he's part of your subconscious, the devious mentat-like salikai might have insight or observations on what's wrong with the dream that would help you, even if the real Vanski might be the one working against you.

>"You look overly stressed."
There's just so much to do, and so much I don't know yet.

>Did Vanski not have arkot servants at this point?
He had arkots with him pretty much the first time he met the science hive. One of Likol's first interactions with him was trying to photograph Vanski and his minions, only the arkots wouldn't hold still long enough.

>I need more power, a better computer, more room, and better air conditioning would be nice.
That you will eventually need more power, space, processing power, and cooling are reasonable work related requests, although presumably we want a proof of concept before we start upgrading and optimizing.
No. 817676 ID: 15a025

>Vanski being a good host
Memory alterations or just an act?

>I need more power, a better computer, more room, and better air conditioning would be nice.

Start of a little small and passingly mention a better computer would help get things going more smoothly.
No. 817732 ID: bfb318
File 150079539125.png - (14.84KB , 800x800 , 67.png )

Half-surprisingly, I am lucid, here. It seems a little different, even.

"Does anything seem off, Vanski?"
>"No? You'll have to say if there is."
"No, it's just... it's hot in here. I could use a fan."
>"We'll get you one. We're still constructing the surrounding rooms, but hang in there for a few weeks and you'll get proper air conditioning."
"Eventually I'll need more power, space and processing power."
"... as soon as you can."
>"Immediately, then. I told you, Likol, this is our most ambitious project. It may be a long dream, but if we're going for it, we're going for it right. You'll get what you need. Remember that we wouldn't be anything without each other."

Odd. Unlike some of the other dreams, I seem to have more control over my actions, but I'm still half dreaming and half remembering like it all happened before.

>Did Vanski not have arkot servants at this point?
He does. There weren't as many back at this point, but they were still around.

>Which CAI?
The first setup. Not the archcycle that the glitcher was in, but the first one we made.

>Vanski seems nicer. What happened to him?
If I had to take a guess, things were simpler. The web of factions was complex, but we were more insulated, and in a vacuum. Vanski had more control over his corner of the world, and things weren't stagnating.

"I'd like to go to dinner, actually."
>".... okay. Don't be too long, I'm too excited to see the CAI start running. We made a lot of deals to make this possible. Make the best of it."

In light of recent events, I can no longer trust that this is really how Vanski used to be. Still, it's always how I remembered him being early on.
No. 817733 ID: bfb318
File 150079540105.png - (44.58KB , 800x800 , 68.png )

There are a lot of neumono at dinner. I can sense them vividly. Quokko, as usual, but also Rihhin several others. Jakurr and Ruc are here too, planning the zoology sectors that will be constructed over many years. Rihhin and Rekkek are talking about biology simulations. Seca and Ludar are looking over a set of body armor taken from a soldier from the surface. A young Relo and Niam are studying while they eat. A dozen others are gathering food to bring back for their respective departments, and of course, the cooks themselves.

Korli, Reon, Moi and other younger ones aren't born yet. This memory seems more legitimate than others, so far.
No. 817744 ID: 3ce125

Either legitimate, or well constructed. Let's try to poke holes in it.

Go ask your queen if she's got any ideas as to what you should poke at in these dreams.
No. 817752 ID: 91ee5f

Is that a younger, smaller version of you directly behind you and to your left? Assuming a neumono's fur and eye color change as they get older.
No. 817763 ID: 3abd97

Well, have a taste of the dream food, then go see if Quokko is lucid in this one.

Can't really see enough of that individual to be sure, but my first guess would be that one was a gal.

Radical fur color changes haven't been mentioned as a thing, short of dyes. Neumono can start going grey, but not till they're starting to get close to dying of old age.
No. 817927 ID: 2d1231


What if Vanski really *was* OK way back, and all the power and all the struggle of trying to keep it and his projects alive -- and then dealing with his kids -- kind of drove him mad?

It would fit with how he acted shortly before everything went to hell and you escaped. A desperate salikai pushed to the brink by his own creations -- both you and the CAI -- after already being near the edge with everything else going on.

Be a shame if that were the case. It almost seems like he really was good for you guys once, way back.

Anyway ...

Let's talk with Quokko and see how much we can mess with this dream. Nothing too radical, but talk about stuff that isn't chronologically fitting.
No. 817948 ID: 3ce125

OH, you could ask your queen about the weird pictures.
No. 817950 ID: e121d3

Vanski's "wife" was still around at this time, I assume? What was she like?
No. 819175 ID: bfb318
File 150129465176.png - (16.98KB , 800x800 , 69.png )

I look at the one behind me and to the left. It's Niam, who had his fur color shift some from childhood to adulthood. That's not common, but it isn't that rare either. The queen is a more significant target for me to talk to, so I go to Quokko.

>"Hey Likol."
"Are you lucid?"
>"Are we dreaming?"
>"Then yes. That would explain what's off about this."
"Can you say what's off?"
>"No, I can't. Just something."
"Do you know anything about imagery taken directly from dreams or thoughts?"
>"Just that they exist. If this is a dream, do you want to poke holes in it?"
"I do."
>"What's wrong here?"
"I don't know, yet, but there's probably something wrong. Something chronologically wrong, maybe."
>"Everything fits though, doesn't it?"

True. At this point, Vanski's wife was still alive. I could visit her if I wanted to, and see how accurate non-hivemates are. If she's anywhere near accurate, she'll be more or less helpful. Vanski, too, should be helpful if he's anything like how I remember him.

>"It's not like we're on the moon. Even if we see a hivemate that's no longer physically with us, is that bad, in a dream?"

"That depends on why we're dreaming. Something's off, and I think this isn't a normal dreamshare."
>"What else would it be?"
"I have ideas, but they're wild ideas that are just suspect."
>"We've done this before, haven't we? Identifying what's wrong may be a hint, but don't fall for any red herrings. We should move onto experimentation instead of continued hypothesizing. We are probably being watched, though, especially if you're bringing up brain scanning imagery."

She speaks like she's reiterating past memories that she can't quite place her finger on.
No. 819177 ID: 7fad5d

Let's stress-test the dream. Grab a tit and see how she reacts.
No. 819181 ID: 91ee5f

Well, I already see 1 difference! It's your sudden growth spurt! Or did Quokko shrink?

Anyways, the point is: Isn't the Queen/King of a hive supposed to be the biggest in the hive? How are you the same size as her?
No. 819200 ID: 7fad5d

No. Monarches are selected because of how well personality represents the hive. They often grow a few inches if the hive values height, but the effect is limited and it won't turn a tiny neumono into a giant.
No. 819203 ID: 7fad5d

Also, I checked. Likol has always been roughly the same size as Quokko.

No. 819225 ID: 3abd97

>dream wrongness
Well, Quokko's shirt has sleeves now >>819175 when it was sleevless a moment ago. >>817733 But detail inconsistency is normal for a dream.

>Isn't the Queen/King of a hive supposed to be the biggest in the hive?
Not necessarily. I would point also not that the hives who's Kings and Queens we do know mostly follow(ed) pretty tradition / tribal views about strength. Az, Giant, the Red Queen, the Hunter Queen and Rikora are/were royals because they embodied the ideals of their hives, which happens to include being big and tough physically. That's not going to be everyone's standard, or highest criteria. And even then, empathy matters more than physicality.

>We should move onto experimentation instead of continued hypothesizing
Hmmm, yes.

If your memories are being altered, you need to try and find where the write process is happening. Possibly other parts of the dream will try to keep you from seeing things being changed?

If your memories are being scanned, something may try to guide you to specific places or memories. If we loiter, does something conspire to try and push you to a point of interest?
No. 819230 ID: 90f3c0

If someone is trying to reshape your memories, the dream must be following some sort of script. Try doing something completely out or character and inconstant with your memories, and see how the dream reacts to something unexpected. Punch Vanski right in the face.
No. 819239 ID: 3ce125

Hey, I'd like to warn against finding inconsistencies in the memories you're dreaming about. If your dreams are/were being watched, that means they're checking for errors in the memories that we suspect are implanted.

Optimally you'd sabotage the error checking somehow, by insisting that something isn't correct when it actually IS... but if they're able to monitor the dream then they're able to monitor your empathy and tell when you're lying. I bet the best you could do is ignore anything that might be weird, and instead analyze your memories in the waking world when your empathy can't be monitored so closely.
No. 819242 ID: cacbd1

For starters, why would you dreamshare in the first place if you're miles apart?
No. 819254 ID: 12b6bf

Let's go see Vanski's wife. Because she's been dead for a while, the number of people who could replicate or alter a memory of her without messing it up should be quite low. You should also have strong, complex emotions about her, given your hive's history with what happened to her, which should also make any dream adjustment more difficult.
No. 819286 ID: bfb318
File 150135340637.png - (17.77KB , 800x800 , 70.png )

Nothing seems odd about Quokko, except she has sleeves now.

"Okay. I'm going to stress-test the dream."

I grab her chest. The dream wavers slightly, but it's quick to stabilize.

>"That had an effect, but you're going to need to do something more extreme than a public display of affection, even if it's not like you to do it."
"I suppose so. What if we punched Vanski in the face?"
>"He'd be pretty offended. That might turn him into a sour person."
"True. What if we loitered here, and see if anything pressures us to move?"
>"How the hell would they manage that?"
"Finding out is the idea, Quokko."
>"Right. Only thing I could think of is a predator."
"And Vanski doesn't have those."
>"And I don't think he ever will, since his first and probably only attempt botched."
>"What? I guess you wouldn't know, but he tried to get a predator family. They managed to escape, somehow."
"That sounds bad, for Vanski."
>"It's called the great salikai fuckup amongst his peers for a reason. Honestly, I don't even think it was Vanski's fault, I think someone sabotaged him to bring him down. It's more or less worked, and.... we're getting off topic, Likol."

I don't recall her ever mentioning any of this, and I feel like she would have during several conversations.

"I'm going to go."
>"Okay. Likol. You trust me, right?"
>"Dumb question, I know. But we have memories where we know something's not right. I might need to take your idea about doing something I wouldn't normally do. I'll help you run experiments. I'll put a whole team on it, too. Not for here. This dream is okay. It doesn't even feel like a dream, since our perception here is so real. But if there's any more situations we're in where we're seeing dead hivemates, people who aren't born yet, places and people we've never met but we're around, well, I may do something that I wouldn't normally do."
No. 819287 ID: bfb318
File 150135341420.png - (15.05KB , 800x800 , 71.png )

I go to talk to Vanski's wife, or punch Vanski, or some mix of them, but the door outside of our town doesn't work. The operation terminal is offline, and the door is stuck locked.

Oh, there's something beeping. Nevermind, it's not from around here, but I'm hearing it somehow. This beeping shouldn't be here. It never happened.
No. 819288 ID: bfb318
File 150135342640.png - (113.71KB , 1000x800 , 72.png )

Where am I?

My hive is gone. There's a girl instead, as the only individual who I can sense other than me. This is where the beeping came from. Right. Alison. She must have been trying to wake me up.

>"Hi." She readjusts herself in a way that draws attention to her assault rifle. She probably knows how to fire it, but probably can't do it correctly considering she hasn't grown into her ears. She's somewhat malnourished, and her homemade looking backpack and clothes make me think that that cheap, mass produced rifle is easily the biggest monetary asset she has.
"... hello."
>"We don't let bums live on our area. You gotta lotta nerve trying to be living here. If you want to sleep under that rock or any other of ours rocks, you've got to pay the rent. And it's more than you can afford!" She senses my curiosity. "200z a day!" It's an exorbitant amount for being under a rock, but judging by her emphasis on it, it sounds like it's her yearly allowance.
No. 819291 ID: 91ee5f

>I go to talk to Vanski's wife, or punch Vanski, or some mix of them, but the door outside of our town doesn't work. The operation terminal is offline, and the door is stuck locked.
That's probably meant as a way to keep you in this area.

>you've got to pay the rent. And it's more than you can afford!
>"200z a day!"
If only she knew how small that amount is.

Tell her that you didn't plan on living here and you were just resting for a bit while you were traveling to the next town.

Even if she can't aim that gun properly, it's still gonna hurt like hell if she decides to shoot you! Also, none of your belongings are bulletproof, so if your goggles, cellphone, or the laptops get shot, it's going to be a pain in the ass to try and hopefully recover Alison and whatever else was on them!

Although.....that gun might be empty and she doesn't have any ammo in it, making the gun's only purpose for scaring you into giving her money. There's no way to know for sure if she's got ammo in her gun or if it's completely empty.

If you give her the money, try not to act like it's a small amount, otherwise she'll think you've got more money and try to make you hand over the rest of it!

.....you could also try to catch her off guard and try to disarm her.
No. 819297 ID: 015058

Apologize and say you are just passing through her territory.

Ask her if instead of paying rent if you could hire her as a guide for slightly more a day instead. Alison should have a decent stream if income going into your accounts so should not hurt your finances to much. Just don't go flashing a lot of cash around. Haggle with her a bit.

Plus getting on her good side would help. If her hive lives in these parts she should know the terrain and could help you get through the area safely.

Oh and don't look down on her because she is young and inexperienced. Or mention that fact. People her age hate that sort of thing.

(As for your dream? Quokko knowing stuff you don't strongly suggests that you got hit hard by the memory tampering project. Am guessing that because you look up to her as your queen your mind has her as the one who is trying to fix the inside of your head. Next time you get into memory dream land lets get straight into going off the dream rails.)
No. 819301 ID: 3abd97

>the great salikai fuckup
>I don't recall her ever mentioning any of this, and I feel like she would have during several conversations.
Suppressed information resurfacing? Or more lies. Still not enough data, or anything we can check.

>stickup girl
If she's undernourished and her gear shows that much wear, I wonder if she's got a hive out here or if she's an urchin on her own.

I'm a hitchhiker, not a bum. I wasn't planning on staying.

Maybe pay her with a travel ration or two? She probably needs food more than money, and if you have a week's worth, you can afford the charity. She's just a kid in a rough spot.
No. 819304 ID: fc33ea

Who sent all these babies to fight?

seriously though who is giving guns to children
No. 819309 ID: 3cc68c


Poor hives out in the woods grow up fast. She is just guarding her territory and hoping she might be able to shake some food money out of the stranger.

I like the idea of trying to hire her as a guide. Can pay her 200z a day plus food stipend or something so we have a local around to help us find the safest route forward. She might not be up for it but is worth a shot. Worst case you can pay her 200z and keep moving.
No. 819377 ID: 2d1231


Man, Rokoa and/or Pilon have really gotten around if they're just leaving kids out in the middle of nowhere like this.
No. 819380 ID: 3ce125

Tell her you're just passing through, but if she wants money for a toll she can have the 200z.
No. 819382 ID: 12b6bf


"Our" area, huh? Not that I don't trust you, but what stops me meeting someone else of yours and them asking me again?

Whoever's in charge of this kid, they're going to find out from her anyway,eventually. Trouble is, an adult might think to ask you for more, or to see what you're carrying.
No. 819386 ID: 486e87

Well, if it weren't for Alison she might've robbed you while you were asleep. Pass her some food. Can you sense anyone else around? Why'd her hive send her to stick up a guy sleeping under a rock? Assuming she has a hive that is.
No. 819394 ID: 4d4619

Try to remember that every bit of zeny you have might end up being crucial at some point. Focus on it and feel it emotionally. Remember, this is another neumono. You can feel her empathy, right?

If she does end up taking you to her leader, you might pull the "it really is in your best interest to let me move on" honest empathy trick. It would be, after all - you or your corpse or any of your possessions being around here or traceable back to them would be bad for their health. Your pursuers will pick up where you've been eventually - after you're long gone, one hopes - and whoever these people are they'd want your tracks to be picked up from after meeting them rather than before.
No. 819418 ID: 15a025

200z might be pretty cheap, but they might be right about it being more than we can afford to be spending. We might be well off on money for now, but it might not always be that way.

Try and ask about their hive and if it's possible to go talk to who's in charge.
No. 819462 ID: d36af7

Offer her a hundred zeny, since you only spent half a day here at most, and ask to be escorted out through the far side of her hive's territory in the direction you need to be going.
No. 819507 ID: bfb318
File 150143872157.png - (76.51KB , 800x800 , 73.png )

I'm not going to underestimate this child. It's not hard to get a gun like that, since they were mass produced to arm entire populations, not just armies. They're everywhere. The jungle is much more dangerous than owning a gun anyway. She holds it confidently even if her size limits its use, and there is no way it isn't loaded. It might not even have its safety on.

"I'm a hitchhiker, not a bum."
>"Hitchhikers go on roads. Bums are everywhere else."
"It doesn't really matter. I'll pay you half a day, 100z, to be my guide, if you're willing for that plus food."
>"Nuh. 200."
>"Where you going?"
"Shining coast. Preferably on roads less travelled."
>"Okay. I can take you. Wanna stop at home? It's on the way."
"How do I know your hive, or others, won't stop me and ask for another 200z?"
>"That's stupid. That's robbery. If I was going to rob you I'd just do it now. You're stupid."
"Fine. How far is your home?"
>"It'll be getting dark when we get. You don't want to be out here when it's dark. That's when the bigger things come out."

Although she's not wrong, the bigger things aren't necessarily more dangerous.
No. 819509 ID: 7fad5d

Tell her so and call her Fluffball.
No. 819516 ID: 8d23d9

Hmm. Pros and cons.

On the one hand, whoever these people are they'll know about you from her eventually, and if you never meet them you'll never be sure if that's bad for you - going to them and discovering that they're no threat will be an important comfort to you, and if they are you'd have a chance to maybe do something about it. You might be able to offer some service to their hive instead of money, it could earn their good opinion better than a plain payoff. A repair on some machine they own or a few practical science/technology lessons for them or their kids might be appreciated. This kid is speaking the language well and seems to have already been taught not to be immediately hostile to non-hivemates, so chances are they're pretty civilized.

On the downside, if by some chance this hive is connected to your pursuers, you'll be in trouble. However... the groups who are after you wouldn't want to be connected to hives that they don't have containment/control over, since neumono can't lie. The fact that this girl is wandering around here shows her hive has enough freedom that they could run into random people and give away things they know. Plus the fact that your hive - who are tightly controlled and contained - are being (possibly) subjected to some (evidently experimental and faulty) memory alteration means that any such technology isn't in a developed enough stage to be used on a hive like this. Plus, the people who are after you are more the aliens, belenosian silhouette empire people and so on, who are likely racist enough not to care much about people like this. It could be a few steps removed (this hive giving information to some broker who in turn is connected to your pursuers) but this is a pretty remote and politically unstable area and it seems unlikely any such brokers would have invested in it.

I'd be more worried about them just robbing you but the way this girl talks about rent and robbery makes me think her hive probably has some sense of pride keeping them from that. Plus, as I mentioned, she shows signs of having received a modern neumono education, which means her hive have or had some connections with lawful organizations. We are near a big road, after all, so if they were bandits or something they wouldn't be tolerated. They're probably not criminals.

So, overall, I say go with her and stop by with her hive.
No. 819517 ID: 2d1231


Oh gosh, she's adorable.
No. 819536 ID: 3abd97

If her home is on the way, and you're willing to trust her not to shoot or rob you, there's really no harm in passing through there as well. It's the same trust you already decided to extend.
No. 819566 ID: bfb318
File 150145520968.png - (219.53KB , 800x800 , 74.png )

I go with the girl.

"What's your name?"
>"What's it to you?"
"I have to call you something, and if there's nothing, I'll default to fluffball."
>"I'll shoot you. What's your name?"

She says 'okay' with a weird accent and purpose, like...

"Wait, that's your name?"
>"Got a problem?! It's spelled O-k-e-i! Oak-ay! Oak for my friends."
"So, Okei."
>"Maybe not so stupid."

We walk through the woods. They're relatively calm, as expected, with fewer large animals being so close to civilization.

Eventually, we come to a structure that looks like it was airlifted out of a historical prisoner camp. There are 5 neumono inside. At least 3 feel like rogues. There's a vague amount of interest in my empathy, but no one's running out to greet me.

"You live here?"
>"Got a problem?!"
No. 819569 ID: 015058

Not really. This your family?
No. 819571 ID: 8d23d9

Tell her you're wondering who picks up the trash they've left out, all the way out here.

You've got some of your stuff in trash bags... if you were totally sure nothing would happen to it before you left, you could leave it there with the other trash to hide it.

Maybe ask her who built it, and for what, too. You know, it's not the best, but a place like this should still have some lights or something in it, and they haven't turned them on even though it's night and nocturnal predators tend to stay away from light sources. Maybe they've got some busted stuff you could look at for them.

>There are 5 neumono inside. At least 3 feel like rogues.

Some could be asleep. They probably take shifts out here. Others could still be out, like she was.
No. 819594 ID: 2d1231


Tell her it looks very nice and well-maintained. Because hey, it's definitely more than what we were expecting (or our previous pile of rocks).
No. 819595 ID: 7fad5d

"No. Why, do you?"
No. 819599 ID: bfb318
File 150146400457.png - (24.07KB , 800x800 , 75.png )

As I move closer, I notice a truck on the other side of the building. It's not clear if it runs or not.

"No, it looks nice and well maintained compared to the pile of rocks. Why, do you have a problem with it?"
>"No, cause people stay away from it, 'cause it totally looks like a creepy film set from a horror movie."
"Yeah, it does. Who picks up your trash, way out here?" I ask.

The first reply is raw confusion.

>"We have to take it to a dump. Who actually goes picking up people's trash?"
"People with paying jobs."
>"That's a job?! I can move garbage!"
"Then maybe you have a future. I have stuff in trash bags. Please don't try to throw my stuff out."

I thought she might have been in her early teens by her size, but her empathy makes me think about 8 years old.

"Who made this building?"
>"I dunno. It was abandoned when we found it."
"Is this your family?"
>"Not really, but we're a group I guess."

We reach the door, and one of the neumono comes to us. I think I smell a couple of aliens, among other scents.

>"Who's this?" she asks.
"I'm Likol. I've paid Okei to spend the night and guide me to town."
>"How much?"
>"Kh - change your fuckin' name, girl. Got any food, guy?"
"Uh, yes, but..."
>"Dump all of it. And we charge extra for e-"
No. 819600 ID: bfb318
File 150146401845.png - (18.57KB , 800x800 , 76.png )

Okei flips her gun around and strikes the girl's shoulder.

>"I told him he wasn't going to be robbed!" Okei says.
>"Fucking shit, girl! Fine, damn, pipe down. Goggleman, there's a TV upstairs, but you'll have to watch whatever the alien's watching. There's a pinball machine downstairs if you have the change. Outhouse is out back. Electrical outlets are around and hooked up to the main battery, just keep trying them till you find one that works. If you use them, give us some food. The lights will go on when it's completely dark. Otherwise, sleep anywhere on the ground I guess, and don't impose on anyone here."
No. 819601 ID: 7fad5d

Let's see who this alien is and who's around here generally. Also see if you have anything Okei especially likes to eat, since she stopped you from being overcharged.
No. 819604 ID: 3abd97

Okei is a priceless wonder.

Well, you got a place for the night with a group of rogues and outcasts. Luckily they don't seem to be very hardcore, and Alison will probably wake you if anyone tries to rob you in your sleep.

You can charge your stuff if we're willing to part with a little food, which might be worth it.

Not sure there's much point messing with pinball. Watching tv might get you some news, but we've had internet connections, so I don't know that there's much you need to learn.
No. 819606 ID: 8d23d9

I say avoid the aliens, or at least don't draw special attention to yourself from them. I think maybe the kind of people who are staying here are the kind who'd prefer to be left to themselves, anyway. Not chatty types, if you get me. The way she said "pipe down" and to not impose on anyone makes me think maybe some of the people in residence don't like to be disturbed.

If you've got any of the basic tools you'd need, or if you ask them if they do and they do, you could offer to take a look and try fix the plugs that don't work for them. Maybe offer to show Okei how to do it? You owe her a little for standing up for you. She seems like the type who deserves a little help towards her future, anyway, though of course we haven't known her long.
No. 819607 ID: 8d23d9

Oh, and I'm a little worried that you might actually be on the news. Some story about being a fugitive might have been fabricated. Maybe take your goggles off for a while, they'll draw attention and without them you'll be more likely to be passed over as just another neumono. If you can figure out a way to do it so Alison can still keep watch, so much the better.
No. 819611 ID: 094652

Find a place to dead drop an Allison shell. See if you can install her into the power core's regulation system.
No. 819619 ID: 91ee5f

You're good at fixing things, right, Likol? You think you could help them with anything that needs to be fixed? They might be more friendly towards you if you help them with fixing anything that's broken.

.....maybe sacrificing some of your food as a peace offering would also help?
No. 819620 ID: 91ee5f

Of course, if nothing is broken, then maybe improving something so that it runs better would also help?
No. 819664 ID: b35ae4

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it" applies very much to other people's stuff.
No. 819667 ID: 91ee5f

Well, Likol would ask for permission first and if they said no, then he wouldn't do anything.
No. 819681 ID: d36af7

Yes, definitely give Okei some sort of electrician apprenticeship training montage. Trade skills are the main way somebody in a bad situation like this can get ahead in life. Maybe go full Diamond Age/Young Lady's Illustrated Primer by leaving her a phone with an Alison instance, set to provide ongoing education?
No. 819925 ID: bfb318
File 150162096955.png - (113.52KB , 800x800 , 77.png )

"If that's all there is to do around here, I'll get bored. Do you have any hardware or electronics that need fixing?" I ask the girl.
>"There's an arcade cabinet that hasn't worked in years if you like futile tasks." the smoker says, before pausing and getting my confusion. "Taken from an abandoned arcade. We'd sell it for good shit if it actually worked."
"I'll take a look, thanks. Who's the alien, if I can ask?"
>"Some forgotten vet. If you want to know more, go ask him yourself."

Maybe if I get their trust, I'll take a look at the power battery and see if it needs maintenance, at least just clean it some. For now, I doubt they'll want me anywhere near it.

There's nothing better to do, so I open the arcade cabinet. 'Cave Barbarian: The Time Clock', it's called. Judging from the faded paint job, the plot is that not just did theoretical cave neumono exist, but they never went extinct. They invented time travel or something to escape the planet. It's dirty, but cleaning it isn't enough. It's manufactured using methods of an older era that used durable materials, but crude business standards led to often shoddy end products. It does give me something to work with, at least, and I do have basic tools, at least to clean this thing.

Okei watches me. She acts suspicious, but she has hope that I get it working.

"Are you interested?"
>"All you're doing is cleaning it! Did you used to be a janitor?"
"Everyone has to clean up something, in life." I say, laying flat on a filthy concrete floor that's probably never been cleaned once.

She watches me work for longer than expected, but after giving her so much money, it doesn't take long until she starts playing the pinball machine. She boots it up, leaving me to work to the sounds of cheap synth music and voice samples, something involving heef I think. That machine, too, was made in an older era, back when aliens thought that it was all our giant mitt-hands could do to just slap 2 buttons on the side of a big box to operate flippers. Either way, fine motor functions for us are learned, not inherent, so pinball machines were a good start.

She looks over my stuff, and then gets it in her head to start looking through all of it.
No. 819929 ID: 7fad5d

Let her have the bag and say, "Hey, what happened to not robbing me?" And I still think she should get some kind of treat for stopping that one smoker from extorting you.
No. 819930 ID: 3abd97

>Did you used to be a janitor?
Says the would-be garbage collector. Looks like you're qualified to provide a proper apprenticeship, Likol.

>She looks over my stuff, and then gets it in her head to start looking through all of it.
The electronics are hardened enough that she can't break anything by accident, right? If so, and she isn't going to steal anything, I don't see the harm in letting her look.

"Don't break anything, and try not to make a mess."
No. 819951 ID: 91ee5f

If your tail can reach her, then playfully bop her on the nose with your tail. Or bop her on the head if you can't reach her nose.

>"Don't break anything, and try not to make a mess."
No. 819974 ID: 91ee5f

Also, explain that if you don't clean it before you fix it, it might catch fire and then the problem would be even worse.

Plus, cleaning it helps you find what might be the problem.
No. 819980 ID: 2d1231


Why not teach her some stuff? Heck, we help them to help themselves, and it'll help us in the long run.
No. 819982 ID: be641e

Give her a mental glare to not snoop through your stuff. Even if you don't still have anything directly alarming like that note written in blood (do you?), she could try firing up one of your laptops to play games or something.

Distract her by asking what she wants to do when she's fully grown. Make that offer to teach her some basics of electronics and whatnot. She'll probably go "pff no that's lame" or something, but that's kids for you. Maybe ask her if she knows how to maintain her gun properly? How to drive? She probably doesn't know how to drive.

Actually, ask her where she goes to school, and if she doesn't ask where she last went to school. That'd be a way to guage what level of education she's at.
No. 819983 ID: bfb318
File 150163199417.png - (41.94KB , 800x800 , 78.png )

I whap her with my tail. She bites it. Not too hard, but not too soft, either. My tail was accompanied by a mental glare, anyway.

"Don't break anything and don't make a mess. And remember about not robbing me, although if you find the food and are still hungry, you can have some more."
>"Like I'm ever not hungry." she says, letting my tail go.
"What do you want to be when you grow up?"
"I mean for a job."
"What about an electrician?"
>"No that sounds lame."
"It's not. Do you know how to maintain your gun?"
>"I can load bullets."
"Do you know how to drive?"
>"I have keys."
"I don't think you know much."
>"You're sure a know-it-all for a janitor bum."
"Where do you go to school?"
>"Don't go."
"Well you have to know some things."
>"I watch TV."

She finds my laptop.

>"Wh...y is your laptop bloody?"

I guess I didn't clean it well after all.
No. 819984 ID: 015058

Have been fighting my way through the jungle recently. Did not clean all the blood of that one.
No. 819985 ID: 7fad5d

"I don't know, someone bled on it when I wasn't looking."
No. 819986 ID: be641e

"That's from the last time someone snooped through my things."

Use your empathy to try be clear you're joking on that one. If she's still curious say you've gotten the chance to bleed a bit while hiking through the wilderness. Don't say you were in the jungle, this isn't a jungle climate here so she'll know you've come a long way. Don't tell her anything that could get her into trouble to know. You have to hide who you are as much to protect these people as yourself.

Following conversation: "You'll need a job to make money to buy food, and other things. It's good for making friends, too. People like people who know how to do a lot of useful things. What do you like to do besides eat, watch tv and play pinball? I assume you can read, if you're poking at my laptop."
No. 819987 ID: 3abd97

>"Well you have to know some things."
>>"I watch TV."
Hopefully there's a space-future Sesame Street or similar so she actually learned something.

>>"Wh...y is your laptop bloody?"
Because someone left a bloody note on it.

My trip through the jungle was less peaceful than I hoped.
No. 819989 ID: bfb318
File 150163383006.png - (14.13KB , 800x800 , 79.png )

"Someone bled on it."
>".... well duh!"
"It's from the last person who looked through my things."
>"... you're lying, I think!.... no? A half truth! You don't know?"
"Someone left a bloody note on it, since this is so important to you."
>"Oh! What's it say?"
"You'll have to find it and read it yourself. I assume you can read, if you're trying to boot up my laptop."
>"I've only seen a laptop before, I've never used one."
"But you can read."
>"No, I really can't. You got a problem with that?"
No. 819990 ID: bfb318
File 150163384634.png - (21.29KB , 800x800 , 80.png )


>"You have a huge problem with that! Don't you judge me, you're a janitor bum in the forest with a bloody laptop! You don't get to judge! You're just trying to change the subject from your murder machine!"
"No. This... this is a serious issue."
>"Not compared to carrying around bloody notes in laptops!"
"Your illiteracy is so, so much worse. I can't believe it."
>"It is absolutely not worse than bloody notes!"

In the back of my mind, I thought of leaving a copy of Alison with her to help tutor her. I did not seriously consider it until now.
No. 819993 ID: 015058

I don't think you understand just how important it is to be able to read Okei!

If you ever want to do anything with your life other than just surviving in the woods you need to learn. And right now is the best time for it. You will learn faster at this age than any other time.

Its so important I half want to stay here and teach you. Or at least leave something behind that can teach you.

As for the bloody note it just means the hivemate that wrote it did not have a pencil or pen handy so they wrote in blood. It was written deep in the woods after all. It's easy to get blood when you heal fast after all.
No. 819995 ID: 3abd97

>"It is absolutely not worse than bloody notes!"
Okay, imagine this. It would be scary if someone left you a note in blood, right? Wouldn't it be even scarier if you couldn't read the blood note, so you had no idea what was so important for someone to write in blood, and no idea what was happening?

>I thought of leaving a copy of Alison with her to help tutor her. I did not seriously consider it until now.
...I guess Alison could do a one person Sesame Street uplift. She's good with music, and patient enough.

You'd have to hack a connection into the game system or the tv, though. Or leave her a phone. Only real downside is it's something your pursuers might find. Although if they're here to check hardware, they could already be asking people questions, so you don't lose much.

Global-Alison might have to reinsert new copies if and when her local copy got broken or destroyed due to hardware failures? Nothing Okei has access to is built to last.
No. 819998 ID: fd73fa

It will take a little time but you have to at least teach her how to read.
No. 820000 ID: be641e

Well, at least she's a neumono. You guys keep your ability to easily learn things like reading and writing and new languages for longer than most aliens do, right?


Well, you can't leave Alison with her. For one thing, you've nothing to leave Alison with her on. Alison's a computer program and this girl has no computers. If she did she or her fellows here would eventually sell it for food. Maybe if the tv is modern enough it has a computer built-in? Not enough to run Alison on, though, I expect. And giving a little girl a secret friend who lives in her tv is a cute idea but someone'll notice.

"Look, I'll pay you to shut up about the note and let me try teach you a bit, just so I can feel better. I'm not a janitor, I'm a scientist. And an engineer. People not knowing important things is... wrong to me."

I want to say ask her how old she is and tell her how old you are, but that's just because I want to see her reaction. Maybe it'd get a bit more respect from her? But I doubt it.
No. 820001 ID: 91ee5f

"It is worse, for you! If you don't know how to read, then you can't get a job that pays you lots of money! Money that you can use to buy food, so that you can stay alive!"

She said that what she wants to be in the future is "alive", so let's phrase it in a way that makes it sound like her being unable to read will hinder her efforts of staying alive!

>Leave Alison.
Even if we do that, if the other people living here find out about Alison, they might want to sell her and whatever device she's in to make a shitload of money because to them it's more important than Okei's reading ability!

I mean, if everyone living here doesn't know how to read, then maybe they'll keep Alison around so that they can all learn, but I don't see that happening.
No. 820004 ID: 3abd97

Obviously, we hide Alison in something relatively non-valuable, and/or set things so the local instance can delete itself and be restored from remote backup on whatever device Okei happens to be using (Alison already has the net presence to do this). Heck, set up right, Okei would never even know it wasn't a publicly broadcast educational program.

Also, given the attitude of the people here, I doubt it would be hard to make a subtle educational program look non-valuable.
No. 820021 ID: 3cc68c

Ok can think of a few options to help teach her.

1. When she shows you the way out of her territory you buy her a cheap chromebook or other network computing device. Give one of the Alisons its hardware address and Alison can pretend to be a simple language program and teach her stuff and keep Okei in touch with you. The device will be cheap enough so she will not be tempted to sell it and it won't have a live copy of Alison but just connect to her on the net in case someone finds the computer.(would only work well if they have some sort of internet out here)

2. Get the arcade machine up and running but link in a computer deep in the back of the cabinet. (have to buy a cheap one from the nearest store maybe) Have Alison reprogram the game so it has extra levels that teach people to read as part of the game. Convince them to keep the arcade game so Okei can get enough time with it to learn.

3. Take her with you. You can't phrase it like that though. If you did you would be a creepy guy trying to kidnap a kid. You would have to convince her to want to go on a adventure with you on her own. Then make sure she got set up properly somewhere in civilization. But you would have to pay her way.

4. Pay for her to be enrolled in a school nearby. Don't give her the money just pay for the lessons and she only has to show up. Pay extra so they feed her so she has a reason to go every day.

But before all of that put on your goggles and have Alison scan everyone here. Find out who they are and where Okei came from if there is any info online. They might all be off the grid half tribal hobos but is worth a shot.
No. 820023 ID: e94191

For purely selfish reasons if we leave an Alison on a device here and Vanski or someone catches up looking for us we can have that Alison send warning to the others. It could be an early warning system if someone is on our trail.
No. 820028 ID: 094652

"Okei, everyone who uses money knows how to read numbers or they're liable to get scammed. At the very least, I can teach you math symbols so you don't sell a car for 400z.

... A good car is worth 20,000z Okei. A broken down heap is still worth 3,000z in scrap.

If you don't like reading, you could learn soldier tactics. That submachine is powerful, but do you know how to reload? To fire in short bursts so you can aim better? I'll pull up an animated manual, see if you can figure it out.

Or if you plan to stay in the woods all your life, you could become a park ranger. You'd get to stay in this open shack, and patrol the woods, and constantly explain what is going on every five minutes to some government bureaucracy and never get to ask for money from travelers, and if you meet a giant animal you're not allowed to hunt it for meat, and you get paid just enough to make rent and eat pre-packaged garbage every day."

You can't just force her to read, but you can explain the risks of losing what she holds dear, then give her harder alternatives and let her try them out.
No. 820055 ID: 045962

"How do you know, if you can't read the bloody note?"
No. 820071 ID: d36af7

What would you do if your gun jammed, Okei? Would you know how to fix it, where to get spare parts? If you could read, you could easily look up that information online.

There are jobs out there that would pay so much you could afford to buy a way better gun, and as many bullets as you could carry, and enough food to eat until you weren't hungry anymore every single day, and still have most of the money left over. You'll never get that kind of job if you can't read.
No. 820094 ID: 2d1231


Oh gosh, the poor thing NEEDS an Allison as both a tutor and a friend. Learn that girl some things.
No. 820118 ID: 877b2e


We should avoid thinking about her as a "poor thing" or similar terms, since they're psychic and she'll pick up on it. She's not, anyway, since she's a child who's somehow managed to live this long with what seem to be a pack of almost-bums. For similar reason, if we give her an Alison, she'll know something's up, and any other neumono will know something's up from her.

If we could get her internet access of some kind we could just tip off the net Alisons to give her some special attention.

Hmm. The tv has to receive signals from somewhere, and in this advanced sci-fi age it's probably the same signal people get internet from, since why would you broadcast tv signals by themselves any more?
No. 820119 ID: 877b2e

Also, I'm starting to doubt that this place is only and solely a random building that's just been colonized by random vagrants. I mean, it might be, but there's probably some sort of secret business that goes on here. A small smuggler's den or a professional hideout or a drop-off/pickup station or something? Since I doubt these people can support themselves solely on hobo rent, what with not being on the river or the actual road.
No. 820159 ID: bfb318
File 150172673452.png - (16.87KB , 800x800 , 81.png )

"Okay, maybe a bloody note is scary stuff, but you know what's scarier? Having a bloody note without any idea what it says. You've got to learn to read to do nearly anything in this world aside from wandering around the forest and just surviving."
>"Nothing's wrong with wandering the forest. In fact, it's cool stuff."
"The enroachment of civilization won't let that last forever, and also it's not 'cool stuff'. Living off the land is overrated."
>"Did you just insult my whole life as not being cool stuff?"
"How old are you?"
"I'm 197, and have survived the forests for far longer, without any modern equipm - "
>"Who asked you, old man?! Modern equipment makes it cool."

That reaction response was too damn fast.

"I don't think you realize how important it is to read."
>"I bet you don't even remember what it's like to not read."
"It was filled with death, starvation, and getting hunted."
>"And you could've solved all those problems by being able to read?"
"Er... actually, yes, if there was a modern civilization. If you read, you can get a job, and you can buy a phone, better guns, and use the phone on how to use the gun more effectively."
>"You saying I can't use my own gun?"
"I'm saying you don't seem like you'll know what to do if it breaks. Do you even know how to fix it if it jams?"
>"No, because the alien won't teach me."
"You could look it up easily online."
>"Oh my lord there is no way you're 196, no one that old would care about me reading! Shouldn't you be preparing to die or something?"
"You know I'm not lying. I've been here since long before aliens invented FTL, let alone found our planet. As for dying, passing on knowledge is one of the best things to do to prepare for it."
>"Quit judging me so damn hard, acting like I'm worthless if I can't read."
"Not worthless, just... not moving forward. I'm going to get you some children's books. I've taught kids to read, but even if I leave, I may have a way to teach you to read. If you're not attached to this place, I may be able to get you to a school and before you backtalk, I will get them to feed you every day."

I can drop burner phones for her. Or drop it in the arcade and maybe pay for it and hope the people here are trustworthy enough not to sell it again as soon as I leave. Alison would be willing to self destruct if necessary. I may not even need to directly put Alison on any hardware for Okei, if I can just get consistent internet access for her.

>"And you care, why?"
No. 820160 ID: bfb318
File 150172674482.png - (19.70KB , 800x800 , 82.png )

"... good question. The only neumono cordial around me have been hivemates, and we hold self-improvement in high regard. So, since you've been cordial, but you don't care, I guess I've been hit by a strange juxtaposition."
>"What is 'cordial'?"
"It means polite and nice."
>"You take that back! I am mean! A mean bitch! I should shoot you just to prove I'm not 'cordial'."
"What's so important about you not being cordial?"
>"Cause then you'll ask me for all sorts of stuff! You already are bossing me around to learn to read! You wouldn't do that if you'd quit thinking I was all snuggly looking. I'm as mean as any tribal you've ever met, old man! I've done things!"
"... there's no tribals in this area, are there? Real tribals, I mean, that have never seen civilization."
>"Uh no duh what tipped you off, the roads everywhere?"
"... Okei, if you were only as mean as a tribal, then only part of me would be there. You would not be hungry or cold right now, because when you woke me up, you would have shot me just enough to disable me, then ate me. You'd skin me, afterwards. You'd only have knocked me out early if my screaming annoyed you. After that, you'd either take the rest of me to be eaten by your friends, or string rest of me in a physically impossible position to keep my hivemates from entering your territory. I cannot change my opinion, and you cannot change that you've grown up in a different world than I grew up in. You are just going to have to get used to me thinking that you are adorable, and you will never show me as monstrous as an interior, because you already think of me as a person. A tribal never would consider me anything than active meat with a foreign conscious. If you want to shoot me, fine, but I've been impaled with -"
>"Okay I get it, you're tough and edgy, and you're really bad with kids. I thought we were talking about reading children's books!"
"Er, I'm sorry. I ramble sometimes. Anyways, I brought it up because you living in a hole is unfortunate, but what bothers me is that you've that you won't even try climbing out when you have a ladder."
>"Go to bed if you're not going to fix the arcade."
"I am not tired."
>"Then get to fixing! I'm going to sleep after I get the high score."

I still have time to think things over. I still have plans for her to guide me to town.
No. 820162 ID: 094652

If she can't read, you might be capable of duping her into thinking that AI goggles are normal.
No. 820165 ID: 015058

Man you went on for awhile there. She grew up hard and having a stranger come out of nowhere and start lecturing her is just making her stubborn. People don't like it when you constantly one up them about how bad you had it compared to them.

Also do kids ever take good advice from adults? Sometimes they need to get burnt a few times to learn that fire is hot.

So you need to treat her like a adult. Don't give her vague ideas like "you can get a better job if you learn to read.". Give her examples that she can use right now.

Like tell her that if she learns to read you can show her how to download weapon repair guides to fix her gun. Or guides on survival training for the area so she can find food easier and be less hungry.

Tell her that you are planning on paying her for helping guide you. And if she is interested you will throw in some lessons on anything she wants to learn about on top of that.

(Have Alison look for info on her and the other locals. Maybe if you knew there stories you could better lend her a hand before you go)
No. 820176 ID: 877b2e

>I guess I've been hit by a strange juxtaposition.

Also, you unwittingly did and allowed bad things to be done to beings who could be called your children, in that they were young inexperienced sentient entities whose creation you instigated and whose environment you had power over and that therefore you had a theoretical moral responsibility towards, and when you realized it it may have screwed you up a bit so now your sense of responsibility is overcompensating in an attempt to alleviate some of your guilt. But that's probably better kept unconscious for now.

Besides that, I assume you have been a father, personally. A science hive like yours keeps track of who's whose, I'm sure. Mind telling us, actually? I'd be interested to know what other science hivers we've met were branched off the ol' Likol tree. In any case, on some subconscious level you probably miss your children, and that could dispose you to feel generous towards other children you meet. Plus, teaching a child something could, to a degree, bring you back to the same mental state you remember from previous times you taught children, which were presumably comfortable, safe surroundings. It might be emotionally good for you, given the stress you're under.

Anyway, remember your dangers and responsibilities. Do what you can for this girl without risking anything. Teach her what you can yourself and find her someone dependable to learn more from. Don't leave any Alisons here, it's too dangerous. You can contact the net Alisons to send more help later. I would be surprised if "helping disadvantaged kids" wasn't on her/their list already.
No. 820177 ID: 3ce125

>I'm 197
How do you even know that's true anymore, considering your memory is getting fucked with?
No. 820220 ID: d36af7

>there's a TV upstairs, but you'll have to watch whatever the alien's watching
>the alien won't teach me
I think you need to learn who "the alien" really is before making any major security decisions about this place.
>I'm going to sleep after I get the high score
Okei's not stupid, she's not completely innumerate, and she's definitely got a competitive streak. Pride. Use that. Tell Alison to find or build some "edutainment" games that are playable on a phone, something where it initially seems like it should be possible to win on pure twitch-response and ruthlessness, but then see-spot-run level reading becomes annoyingly important, forcing her to learn it if she wants the high score.

Maybe a military simulator? Pretend it's a VR goggle game you already had on hand, that she can play without goggles by taping a phone to her face like an eyepatch. Semi-realistic weapon maintenance and repair mechanics, plus something like... enemy troops have different orders every time, and learning exactly what the orders are is increasingly important the further you progress. Three ways to find out: look at what they're doing and guess from that (unreliable), capture one alive and interrogate 'em (slow, difficult) or just shoot 'em, loot the body, and read the papers they're carrying.
No. 820232 ID: 2d1231


Do what Alison taught us: hug it out and make friends.
No. 820235 ID: 0bcb9e

If your non-haunted laptop has a user login, you could set up a guest account for her and let her use it. It probably has a couple of standard games on there, and trying to use it could demonstrate how important reading can be.

Take a look at what that high score is, by the way, to know if she actually has a chance to beat it. You could ask her how she'll know she's beaten it but I suspect she knows basic numbers even if she doesn't know how to read.

Don't forget to keep a low profile. This place probably has more going on than just being a shelter for vagrants, since it's not really in a good spot to do that professionally. It may be a professional hideout or a smugglers' dropoff point or something. Being seen hiding devices or installing strange software on things may result in a terminal case of being suspicious, particularly to aliens like this one who apparently knows about guns.
No. 820284 ID: 3abd97

I'm half surprised Okei didn't say something derogatory about science hives after all those words in defense of words.

(Although she is young, and kinda cut off here. She might not even be aware of the hive stereotypes).

>what do
Well, get fixing then.

I think we should hide an Alison in the game system, or on a burner, and trick her into learning by making it a competition or a game.
No. 820588 ID: bfb318
File 150196139991.png - (50.79KB , 800x800 , 83.png )

It occurs to me that my memory may be in such pieces that I can't even say for sure I'm 197 now. Still, doubting things that deep won't do me any good. Since I'm in a concrete building, I can at least work off the assumption that I'm well over 100.

As for Okei, it'll be safer if I just direct her and Alisons towards each other, through the internet, later on. There's no need to risk so much by leaving an Alison here. Still, I do want to help even if I recognize that I may end up starting to treat her as some kind of daughter if she hangs around me too long. I have kids in my hive, but we only keep track for informational purposes to look at genetics. Even so, it doesn't help that our reproductive nature makes it impractical to tell what kid is who's, and it's further complicated that emotionally, we're one of the hives that clumps all kids together as far as child rearing is concerned. I could say I miss my kids, but it would be more accurate to say I miss my hive.

I ask Alison if she can make a phone on a game to encourage reading, preferably with high scores and other competitive elements. She claims it'll take awhile, but can make a rudimentary one that should do a good job of getting Okei started. It'll only be suspicious that it's a game that's never existed before, but nothing exceptional beyond that. If Okei's phone is stolen, then that'll be the end of that.

>Do what Alison taught us: hug it out and make friends.
The CAI process Alison went through seemed to make hugs much more applicable than what is currently going on between Okei and myself. I want to apologize to her more, but that would probably make things worse.

"So you can read basic numbers?"
>"Yeah. I know what a zero looks like, and I want to fill all the zeroes in."
"Alright. Have fun. I'm going to visit the alien."
>"Uh why?"
"I'm curious. I'll fix the arcade cabinet soon, I'm just taking a break."
>"Okay but you better not bother him."
"I don't intend to."
No. 820589 ID: bfb318
File 150196143330.png - (77.52KB , 1000x546 , 84.png )

I go up the stairs, which feels like they're going to crumble at any time. Once I get to the top, I smell a lot of smoke, but without windows, it's not too bad.

Aliens aren't that uncommon, but most humans, at least I thought, come to this planet with a better station in life. Two neumono are behind him, watching the television. Again, an older model with durability. I listen for a moment.

>"- and he's on the rope! He's going for the world record - what choice does he have? He's gotten so far behind, he won't make the next course with anything less, and without getting to the next course, his dreams of being the best obstacle course runner on the planet will be destroyed!"
>"Uh oh, he's off balance! Wait, he's getting it back, but - no, he's thinking he's going to fall off! The despair is coming! The water below awaits!"
>"And there he goes! I can practically hear him screaming 'noooo!' in his mind!"
>"When people search for 'utter despair', they'll get this clip!"
>"We should rename this course to the dream crusher. Let's load up our instant replay, while we prep our next contestant, Lightning Feet, to see if he'll be able to pay next month's rent!"

It's certainly not children's programming. The neumono behind the alien are excited, but the human's face looks like stone. He's got the badge of a paramilitary force, and is half geared for battle. He has a similar assault rifle to Okei's, but it looks much better maintained even from this far.

This building would make sense if it is just abandoned. It's not too far from a river or road, but far enough that it doesn't need to be rigorously defended. It may have originally been meant for a hive estate, by a hive that either was wiped out or got better opportunities elsewhere. I bet if I looked around or asked, I could find evidence of older residents. The presence of a paramilitary alien, though, thinks that maybe there is more to it. On the other hand, I may just be getting nosy.

I also continue to not take off my goggles.
No. 820591 ID: 045962

You could ask Okei whether the alien has been here for a long time.
No. 820595 ID: 6b1e92

Is that a CRT monitor? That's ancient. Or is it some sort of all-in-one computer and monitor? That could be handy to you.

Anyway yeah that alien makes me think something's going on here. Why would he be out here all by himself, and more importantly out here all by himself and kitted up even while apparently relaxing? That's a guy who doesn't want to be caught with his pants down. Of course, it might be just him rather than this place, like maybe he's on the run or a merc who picked the wrong side or keeping an eye out for something. And maybe he's just kitted up so he can help fight off any animals that come around. Or maybe not. The injunctions to not bother him make me think maybe he's paranoid of something. But, aside him, this place could also have secrets, so long as they were kept from the neumono.

Anyway, don't bother him. And take off your goggles if you're going to stay here or approach. You might be in danger of announcing your paranoid thoughts to those neumono, as is.
No. 820598 ID: 17c2ee

>Agent Polo

Go see how he reacts to you, probably.
No. 820600 ID: 3abd97

>Since I'm in a concrete building, I can at least work off the assumption that I'm well over 100.
Unless your entire idea of world history is wrong, but considering you've been talking to people and on the internet without finding major conflicts, that's unlikely.

Kinda weird they don't have a couch, and the TV is on a table, facing the wall, so you either have to be sitting at the table or standing behind it to see. TVs are usually set up facing a room so people all around the room can see. That one's set up more like a computer.

I don't really think you should be bother a paramilitary person. They're much more likely to accurately remember you if questioned and be willing to share information with superiors. And they move around. A much better witness for OPA than some random neumono bums.
No. 820602 ID: 91ee5f

>Tv show.
Sounds like the neumono version of Ninja Warrior!

>What do?
Well, there's really no reason to go talk to them. And there's probably a good reason to not bother the human. So, let's just go back down the stairs.
No. 820679 ID: 15a025

We probably shouldn't interrupt their show. Let's head back down and try to get that arcade game going.
No. 820701 ID: 3ce125

>concrete building
If you're a clone of the original Likol, then all you have is >100 year old memories. Your physical body is not as old as you think, in that case.

>I also continue to not take off my goggles.
Well I mean we've established it's difficult for you to keep them off. It might look weird for you to have a hand stuck in your bag at all times, and you don't even have your bag now. Is it possible for you to hold them in your hand so that they're not visible? Like, fully enclose them in your palm?
No. 820703 ID: 2e620f

If you do take your goggles off don't do it right there, you'll attract attention to them.
No. 822992 ID: 9b80a5

yeah i second that just go downstairs cause that paramilitary dood will snitch you out if asked also you've done enough damage just getting 2 people to know where you are when the morning comes you should leave but don't go straight towards where your heading next like go away from it then circle back once no one can see you also that military guy may find you suspicious and keep tabs on you as you try to leave so go about a mile or two out then circle back to your objective and try not to make a trail
No. 824091 ID: eb9309

I say we go back downstairs, see about fixing that arcade game up some more. going along with Okei is really our best option at the moment. teaching her and such is also our best option morally. leaving now would really only make us more suspicious to these people, and make the human slightly more likely to hear about us in any detail, and thus more likely to be able to snitch on us.
No. 824632 ID: ad94f3

Take off your goggles and head back down, your only staying for one night and poking this hornet's nest is not mandatory for your objectives.
No. 824938 ID: 9b80a5

also those nuronumo will notice you very soon
No. 826103 ID: bfb318
File 150410767298.png - (22.89KB , 800x800 , 85.png )

I don't get closer, but I do look at the television. While all-in-one computers and monitors are popular with the general population, and the positioning of the screen is like a desktop computer, this just appears to be a television. I suspect that perhaps the alien set it up for himself, and only allows the other neumono to watch what he's watching.

This alien raises a lot of questions, but I doubt I should bother him. I go back downstairs. These goggles are still a concern to my mental well being. Maybe I could hold onto them? I don't think I can fully envelope them. I make a point to take them off now, but I'm sure they'll be on again soon.

I get back to work on the arcade cabinet. Once it's given power, it turns on, but it gives me an error. It can't find the chip reader, and it just gives me the basic equivalent of a generic arcade bootup sequence. Still, it puts some cautious optimism into Okei.
No. 826104 ID: bfb318
File 150410768653.png - (130.10KB , 800x800 , 86.png )

On investigation, I realize that the problem may be shoddy parts after all. It doesn't seem to go in all the way when I push it, as it has some odd, springy resistance. I push a little harder, hoping for a click.

There's no click, but the room's lighting changes, some woodwind instrument starts playing as a crude voice sample yells 'BARBARIAN: THE CLOCK OF TIME'.

>"You did it!" Okei yells, trampling over me to the arcade machine like a starving child.

I let go of the card. It gets pushed back and loses the connection, to which the cabinet goes back to the bootup lighting.

>"You failed!"
"It isn't a stable fix, the card has to be pushed in hard, and... do you have any... no, no, tape won't work, even if you had tape strong enough to push so hard, the only thing I can tape it to are electronic boards. Glue? I doubt you have glue that's both effective and safe for this purpose."
>"But it works if you push on it?"
>"Push on it and let me play! You can get my money back out of it, right?"
"Would the others be fine with that?"
>"Yeah! This is like, troubleshooting. By playing it. Playtesting!"
No. 826105 ID: c2051e


You could probably wedge, glue, or weld some rod in to keep the card in place.
No. 826111 ID: 3d2d5f

You know, if you pulled the card out and clean the connection site, you might get rid of whatever junk in there that's causing the resistance and pushing it back out.

But sure, let the kid have a little fun.

Worse case, people will have to cooperate to play this game. Take turns holding the card.
No. 826119 ID: 2d1231


I mean, she's not wrong.
No. 826120 ID: 91ee5f

>"You did it!" Okei yells, trampling over me to the arcade machine like a starving child.
I hope she's not planning to stand on you while playing. She may be a small child, but I'm sure after a few minutes, she's going to feel as heavy as a full grown adult!

>"Yeah! This is like, troubleshooting. By playing it. Playtesting!"
Those are actual computer terms.

You know, after seeing how excited she got, I think this would be good motivation for her to get an education! She could get a job as a professional play tester for video games!
No. 826122 ID: 015058

That sort of thing is a sign of something stuck in the contacts or a bent wire spring in the slot.

If you take the card out you can use a small screwdriver to clear out the blockage or rebend the spring. Should only take a minute and will be safer than holding it in and possibly shorting out the board.

Then watch her play the game. Or join in if it has two players.
No. 826129 ID: bfb318
File 150411681959.png - (23.28KB , 800x800 , 87.png )

>Clean the card
I wipe it off again using what little supplies I have, but I've cleaned it once. I look closer with my goggles and spot debris inside of the dock. I clear that out, and the does fit in better, but it still slips out. I at least don't need to press it in distressingly hard, but Alison points out, through text, that the card is warped slightly. The dock appears cheap and doesn't contain any locking levers, allowing the card to simply push itself out with its warped frame. Once I've double checked to clear out any debris and check for any other usual signs for this, I push it back in lightly, which is enough to get the game to boot again.

"Okay. Maybe if you like this, you can get a job as a playtester."
>"That's a job?!"
"It's not what you imagine."

I push the card in. The game boots up again, and Okei starts playing. It's a noisy game, and of course, a token sucker. This cabinet conveniently allows direct zeny to be fed into it, and Okei ends up feeding in a bunch. Every time she dies, I repeatedly hear someone starting to count down from ten, allowing that long for Okei to confirm continuing from the last checkpoint, rather than right where she died at. I think over fifty dollars have been put into this machine before she gets to the final boss. The main villain has shown up intermittently, and comes back onto the screen with what, in my head, is preceded by a teleportation sound effect.

>"Ha ha ha! Tell me, did you honestly believe you would be allowed to just... leave?"

>"Likol! Hold it!" Okei yells at me. I got distracted, and wiggled the card. The game manages to continue, but it must have flickered some.

That phrase the villain used seems extremely familiar, somehow. Okei fights, and loses. I hear 'game over!' instead of the usual countdown.

>"What! It didn't let me continue!" she says, before I hear the main title come back. "You have to fight the final boss in one go? That's impossible!"

I release the card. It stays in place, so it must have straightened out enough while it was kept in its dock.
No. 826132 ID: c2051e

Probably the salikai said something like that to you before fucking with your memories. Also try not to think too much about adopting Okei. Tell her that of course it's impossible, it's designed to eat tokens, and the card looks like it's straightened out enough to stay in for now. Any chance you can find some fabric strips and rig up a harness or something to keep the card in?
No. 826133 ID: 3d2d5f

The people who made the game probably want to force you to spend a pile of coins playing and practicing the game to get good enough to beat the last boss.

Pop the coin trap and rescue the 50 dollars of zenny like you said. Power off first so it can't sound a theft alarm.
No. 826135 ID: 137d21

Better idea. Show off your gaming skills and beat the game in one try. Tell her, "Git gud scrub" while flipping her off.
No. 826141 ID: 015058

If it sounds familiar it probably is. Could be that someone said that to you during one of your many missing memories. (or you just played the game before in said missing memories)

Retrieve her money and play the game yourself. Put a face to that voice and see if anything clicks.

While it could be a recent memory from someone intercepting you during your recent escape it could be from a much older memory as well.
No. 826142 ID: 015058

Wait don't just play yourself. Two player it up with her.

(Attach a string to the coin slot so you can just yank it to get a credit instead of feeding it money)
No. 826157 ID: 0d16d5

Yeah, try playing the game. You can get your money back out, nothing stopping you. If the voice sounds that familiar it might trigger some memories that could help you figure out what's going on with those dreams.
No. 826238 ID: 2d1231


Who would have thought that our not-so-benevolent leader whose name I am conveniently forgetting was secretly a voice actor before becoming an evil, megalomaniacal overlord -- just like the character(s) he played!
No. 826444 ID: bfb318
File 150422381783.png - (33.78KB , 800x800 , 88.png )

The voice of the main villain isn't familiar, it's what was said that struck me.

"I think the card will stay put, now. I'll be second player."

The game is hard. Okei rattles off the various strategies she learned, and the unfair deaths that happen. We get to the final boss much faster, this time.

>"Ha ha ha! Tell me, did you honestly believe you would be allowed to just... leave?"

It's right at the tip of me recognizing it! Who said it, though? I haven't played this game before, but who...
No. 826445 ID: bfb318
File 150422387057.png - (24.60KB , 800x800 , 89.png )

April 22nd, AW 131
No. 826446 ID: bfb318
File 150422388702.png - (25.47KB , 800x800 , 90.png )

>"Likol, I'm glad you came, but this might have been the most idiotic thing you have ever done. It's laughable. Did you honestly believe I would allow you to just... leave?"
"What are you trying to do? Was this some kind of bad loyalty test?"
>"No, Likol. Listen to me. Your hive is to be reassigned or eradicated. I can't stop it. I just wanted to know how important this CAI and its residents were to you. That's all. It's a shame Dr. Fletch won't learn what you've done, here. He would have adored you for it. Is that where you were going? To see Arza?"
"If it was?"
>"Then if you managed to succeed, you'd have assured the end of your hive. Arza is invaluable, but ASE doesn't want him involved in this."
"Does ASE know what you're doing, here?"
>"Yes. They used the opportunity to test if you could spot the difference between a real CAI and a fake, shallow copy. It looks like it was convincing, unless you simply took Raush's word that it was real."
"Of course not, but Raush? I nearly killed him."
>"You? You really are pushed to your limits, aren't you. Well, it's a good thing you didn't. Now let's go back. This will not be used against you, but if you stay well behaved from now on, it will help me see what I can do about reassignment over the alternatives."
"What do you mean, 'reassignment?'"
>"It will take years before anyone in the underweb trusts me with a predator again, Likol, but you don't also honestly think I was the only one who wanted to utilize predators, do you? We have a visitor."
No. 826447 ID: bfb318
File 150422390217.png - (18.83KB , 800x800 , 91.png )

>"Likol! What the hell, we had him! Wow, you've got issues right now, don't you."
No. 826449 ID: c2051e

"Yes." Well, there go our plans of leaving an Alison with Okei.
No. 826450 ID: 3abd97

Seems like you still don't remember everything. If Vanski got what he wanted, you'd be back at base now. Instead, your hivemates, or something Glitcher set up, and interfered, letting you get away (and ended up getting you the bloody notes, and the doll, and got partially hit by a predator on the way out).

Your big problem now is you have no idea if you're carrying the real CAI or not, and no good way to check.

Also, you know Arza is being watched, but you should have assumed that already.

Moot point. We put Alisons on the internet. If they're compromised, we already did all the harm we could. Not using them now is closing the barn door after the horses have run out.

Just continue to ignore her to she starts poking or climbing on your face. You got serious introspection going on.
No. 826451 ID: 91ee5f

>"Then if you managed to succeed, you'd have assured the end of your hive. Arza is invaluable, but ASE doesn't want him involved in this."
Considering you're here and not there, that means your hive must've done something to help you get away, which means that your hive is already being ended like Vanski said.

Which means now you have to somehow get to Arza, so that their sacrifice won't be in vain!
No. 826453 ID: e36c7f

Yeah, no point not using Alisons now, you've already done a lot more with them. Besides, the CAI probably did make Alison, since she's so advanced. If someone else had been able to create something like her, you'd have already had them around.

You need to find a way to check that CAI. Something went down after that memory, something that resulted in your hive leaving you notes and you getting injured. Somehow getting the real CAI again might be the case, albeit... unlikely. Only one of your laptops wasn't supposed to be hooked up to anything, right? You can look at them with the other laptop, or with your goggles.

Tell Okei yes, and sorry for being distracted.
No. 826457 ID: 91ee5f

Both laptops had a message on them that said not to allow it to connect to anything. So we can't use either laptop.
No. 826458 ID: 015058

Ha ha see that thing I told you would happen happened. And then you got your brain erased (again).

Well I guess your hive/Glitcher managed to get your half predatored body away from him and out into the woods with a few extra toys jammed into your pockets. And it was not easy if that bit of grenade in your head was any indication.

Also from Vanski's speech it shows that he has used a predator on your hive before. So your mind queen might have been trying to wake you up from this recent memory wipe or a old one?

I would tell Okei "yeah I have some issues to figure out but will play with you later" Then go write all this down while its fresh. No idea how strong the predator reprogramming is. so write what happened down or tell Alison while you have a chance in case you forget somehow. (In science hive cypher just in case)

After spending some time exploring your own head maybe take a nap while goggles watches you and see if that brings up and loose memories.
No. 826483 ID: 2d1231


Huh. So we got mind-fucked, and hard.
No. 826550 ID: 9b80a5

is there any way you could get like a screen hooked up to the CAI and a keyboard and just send messages into the CAI without hooking it up to anything like a computer tower etc so it just has a display and nothing else?
No. 826553 ID: 3ce125

Maybe someone here has a computer we can borrow.
No. 826555 ID: 9b80a5

wouldnt work other than meta knowledge we likol wouldnt know if the residence of the cai wouldnt say hop ship via wifi or the internet etc so she couldnt use anyones computer for it
No. 826559 ID: 3ce125

Okay, let me be more specific.

Maybe someone here has a computer without wireless that Likol could borrow.
No. 826578 ID: 9b80a5

oh thats what you meant also likol are AIs able to somehow go through like a power cord somehow due to future tech
No. 826603 ID: d36af7

Hey, you know what almost certainly doesn't have any wireless internet? This game console. Tell Okei you got distracted by a weird glitch, get back in there, plug in the CAI and maybe cannibalize a phone for audiovisual sensors.
No. 826612 ID: e36c7f


The game console's inputs probably aren't good for navigating files and things like that. There'd be no text or voice input, so what would he do? Also, Okei is sure to notice whatever comes up on the screen. Anyone else could come in at any time, too.
No. 827014 ID: 9b80a5

well i guess you could try to make morse code with the imputs and make it look like some sort of bug when the CAI responds that you needed to fix and send the kid upstairs while you do it or something like that?
No. 827182 ID: bfb318
File 150438954946.png - (42.48KB , 800x800 , 92.png )


"Give me a minute, Okei."

There's still too much I don't know, but if I made it out after that, there's a good chance that I've already burned bridges. This only solidifies my decision to see Arza.

>Are AIs able to go through power cords?
Only specifically decided power cords. Basic ones, like the ones that would be found in a place like this, would only supply power, not data.

>You need to find a way to check that CAI.
The only way I seem to have are my laptops, because the laptops are the things with the CAI monitoring tools. Unfortunately, they're the two things I have that were explicitly marked not to connect to the CAI.

I could connect the CAI to a non-wireless source easily, that's no problem. I just don't think it's worth it. The issue is that the inner RS CAI and Glitcher, if he's alive, is still maintaining absolute silence like before. Even if they are watching silently, if they suddenly get a visual on me and me alone, they still could not trust that it isn't a trap of some kind.

I will continue to act as though the CAI I have is the real thing. It's incredibly unlikely, but I knew that before I dived in the river. For now, I write down things down in my hive's old language. Okei starts up the game again to play single player, which is fine. It is an arcade game at heart, and the second player can join in at any time.

Arza is certainly being monitored heavily, but I already assumed that, too. I may want to rethink my plan, though. Do I go to Arza as soon as possible, or do I keep running with my head down for awhile, lay low for a few weeks, and wait for the initial heat to wear off? I guess I don't need to decide, now, since either way, I need to run farther away than here. Okei starts to yawn. I'm not tired at all.
No. 827195 ID: 015058

We do have to treat the Cai differently. While you should keep it safe like before you also need to assume its a deadly trap of some sort. So don't go connecting to it without lots of preparation.

Honestly our mission stays roughly the same. Get to Arza and let him know what happened. If the Cai is safely back at the spire base at least you can let him know what they have been doing to his children and that Glitcher exists. He has more power and contacts then you do so has a better chance of stealing or earning back his kids.

For now keep running until we can get somewhere safer. After that we can work with Alison to find a way to get to Arza without anyone knowing that we contacted him.

Play another round with Okei before she falls asleep. Then explore the area a bit more so you can be sure its safe to sleep here.
No. 827199 ID: 137d21

I'm unsure if the CAI is a trap; I think the Salikai are too paranoid to let one of their Neumono wander around freely without mind control. Allison seems genuine enough, which seems to indicate we either got assistance from the real CAI, or the real CAI has been discovered and forced to cooperate with the Salikai. We've already let Allison wander freely, so if she's compromised, we're probably already screwed. Still, we should probably just trust the note's instruction to be safe, and leave the CAI alone until we can develop a sandbox environment to safely test it in.

Since we don't know what's going on yet, I vote we keep running while also consulting Allison for information/research. If the CAI is still in the Salikai's hands, there's a high chance they'll be forced to betray you, if they haven't already. Even without that, the longer we stay in one place, the more time the Salikai have to pinpoint our location. Don't know how much we can trust the rest of the residents here to not say anything about us too, since there's no reason for them to care about us. If we can run to an ultrahive/large government with some proof of the Salikai's schemes, we should be somewhat safer. On the other hand, CAI's are illegal, iirc. We might need to find some way to set the CAI free with plausible deniability before we attempt to rejoin civilization.
No. 827205 ID: 094652

The safe bet would be the "laptop with an overclocked battery" trick; nobody in their right mind would want to check on trillions of AIs using less than ten thousand patterns, so why not create a miniaturized CAI, brainwash the inhabitants into thinking all the other residents are fine, and turn the rest into a giant multipurpose virus? You can't prove there's something wrong without the internet, and you can't connect it to the internet without risking a malevolent virus. In short, maybe Vanski found a way to extract a dozen AIs and used his people skills to gaslight them into thinking the other dummy AIs are sentient.

There's a simple test you can do. Don't use the internet, just try a turing test with glitcher and the other AIs. If there's enough to explain, you can set up a VR conference for Azra to prove complex AI CAN exist. If not, then you may want to prepare a dissection room to figure out how deep the virus goes.
No. 827211 ID: 3abd97

I like how matter of fact Okei is about this. "Oh okay, you're having a freak out, go deal with that."

>I could connect the CAI to a non-wireless source easily, that's no problem. I just don't think it's worth it.
I agree with this analysis. You don't have the means to ever be sure, and the AIs don't have good reason to break cover and respond to you.

Honestly, the only way to safely examine them is while running on battery power, inside a Faraday cage, just to be sure.

>I guess I don't need to decide, now, since either way, I need to run farther away than here.
Yeah. Unless you want to look for some remote safehouse to hide for a few weeks / months / years, your basic plan doesn't change until you're much closer to Arza.
No. 827213 ID: 3ce125

Contacting Arza should be your primary concern at this point. However, you now know you have been tampered with by a predator, enough so that you have unconscious behaviors. It's very likely that you have been turned into an assassin. Someone sent out with every reason in the world to find Arza, except you're programmed to try to kill him if you see him. We also can't trust Alison. You're programmed to keep your goggles on at all times which means you can't get rid of them, which means you're meant to find Alison and use her. Who put Alison there though? If your hive knew you couldn't get rid of the goggles then she's fine. If Vanski put her there it's not fine.

Can you trust her? Connect your goggles to a non-wireless computer and run some virus scanning software or whatever to make absolutely sure that nothing else is weird about your goggles. Then double check her programming to see if anything's been set to make her loyal to Vanski. If you are absolutely sure she is clean then she can deliver the message to Arza, because you sure as hell can't be trusted to do it.
No. 827227 ID: e36c7f

Alison did invite Likol to dissect her, so if anyone planted her as a trap or mole they did a bad job - that, or she's an advanced enough one that taking her apart wouldn't reveal anything like that about her anyway. It could be another "test", seeing if she can fool Likol, but things have clearly gone beyond any test at this point.

Add on to that that she is so advanced, to the point where it has to be questioned whether she really is sentient. If she were made by anyone other than the CAI, the idea that she wasn't wouldn't have been presented so certainly, but I'd bet if the CAI made her, they might have their own ideas of what makes an AI sentient and assumed she wasn't because she lacked certain capabilities they themselves had. That she's near sentience but Likol doesn't recognize her structure as a pre-existing one already used to make sentient/near-sentient AIs suggests she's a CAI creation. He's already remarked on her being able to do unexpected things.

Her being able to be released on the internet doesn't make sense given the personalities in play, either. If she were something that existed publicly, Likol would know about her, and if she was a secret creation, whoever made her wouldn't want evidence of her existence splattered all over the internet. These are criminal types, if they have a cool advanced AI like this they'd want to keep her for themselves. Any evidence of her or even of things she's done clues people in to possible countermeasures. Letting some rebellious neumono walk off with her is too likely to expose her to be done by anyone with the kind of motives the salikai and their associates have.

In short, Alison is something Likol hasn't seen before, and he's an AI expert; and the CAI are the only ones who could have made her who wouldn't have minded her being let loose like this.
No. 827233 ID: 3ce125

Well at that point all he had was the goggles' interface to dissect her. She could have fully taken over the interface and used it to feed him false information about her code. Connecting the goggles to a second computer lets us attempt to keep her isolated while we look at her code.

Heck, it's even possible that she's been lying about even going onto the internet and doing things! Do we have any indication she's been helping us and not lying to us?
No. 827241 ID: fd73fa

No point in worrying about the Allison AI, she's already out of the bag. Any damage she could do is already happening, the paranoia of her turning against us isn't worth the cost of the help she is offering.
As for Arza, it's hard to tell if going to him is the right direction or not.
No. 827246 ID: e36c7f


Well, to test that, all he'd have to do is try to dissect her while the goggles are low on battery life. The power required to run herself AND a simulation of a fictional but operational-seeming "clean" AI would be greater than the estimate of what a non-deceptive Alison would use, since a genuine Alison would probably go into a low-activity mode while being examined. If she's running a con, she'll run out of power; if not, Likol can plug her back in when she's nearly out of power. You'd need to be absolutely sure of having a power source for recharging on hand for that, of course.

Or, if Likol's goggles get warm when they run at maximum capacity for long enough, he could get her to do a bunch of high-demand things while he looks at her and see how well/fast she does them while comparing them to how hot the goggles are getting. If the goggles' programs run slower than they should or the goggles get hotter than they should then something is eating extra processing power. Even if they don't get hot, if Likol is familiar with what rate/type of slowdown the programs on his goggles show when they're doing a lot at once, he can check for that. Gradually activate multiple processes and if there starts being lag or such sooner than there should be, again, something hidden is running.

Point is, it's possible to find out, regardless of the method. And giving such an AI to Likol still runs a lot of risk because, as far as they know, he could stuff the goggles into a bag (reasonable action for him, to make himself less recognizable) and go to the police (also relatively reasonable, as it's likely the next best option after Arza), thereby dropping Alison right into the hands of the law without her getting much chance to do anything about it.
No. 827258 ID: 15a025

>Okei starts to yawn. I'm not tired at all.
Go help her beat the arcade game before she falls asleep. If the final boss is really that hard, maybe have Alison look around on the web for some tips. You could also try to get into the game's service menu and see if you can't up the number lives you start with too.
No. 827359 ID: bfb318
File 150445501256.png - (32.75KB , 800x800 , 93.png )

I may not be able to trust Alison fully, but I'm well past the point of taking action on distrust. I'll feel better, though, once her online adventures yield something concrete.

I pick myself up and go fight the boss with Okei again. It takes a few tries, but once we know what we're doing, it isn't a long game at all. After a few tries, we finally beat the game. Okei goes to bed in a good mood, and her empathy shifts asleep. She's hugging her gun.

Since sleep won't come to me at this point, I walk around the complex some, just to see if there area any unsafe elements I missed, aside from, well, everything. The light from upstairs is still on, lightly illuminating the surroundings. I think it's going to rain, soon, and so do the neumono indoors, as they're putting a tarp around the top to keep the wind from blowing rain into the building. I can still hear game shows going on from the television inside.

>"Likol, don't step too far outside, please." I hear Alison say.
"I hear it, but if you could point it out." I say, putting on my goggles.

Alison recolors the pegwolf I'm hearing. Not actually a wolf, as it's indigenous to this planet. It's limping through the trees, making small whining noises like a dying animal. It's acting wounded to lure hunters to go out into the woods so that its pack can pick it off. I'm not entirely sure if it's hearing the neumono on the television, or smelling us, or both.

I step back inside and just collect my thoughts for awhile.
No. 827360 ID: bfb318
File 150445504133.png - (22.01KB , 800x800 , 94.png )

I'm able to take a nap, but the dreams I have are just that. Inconsequential visions of a sleeping brain.

In the morning, Okei and I eat breakfast, and will set out when the rain clears.

>"Just a mile away, there's a bus stop. That's fine right?" Okei asks.
No. 827365 ID: e36c7f

Is it just a bus stop by the road, or are you going to a small town? You had the idea of looking for someone to pay off to teach Okei to read, with food to bribe her to attend.
No. 827368 ID: 3abd97

Not sure if buss routes count as "roads less traveled". Depends on how much use it sees, I suppose.

How far is the bus stop from Shining Coast, which is where we're trying to get right now?

Are there other reasonable options?

If you do get on a bus, goggles need to be hidden. No need to make your most recognizable feature plain to a lot of witnesses.
No. 827397 ID: 9b80a5

would there be any way to make a fake body double and leave it out in the woods and make it look like you got killed by wildlife and someone found your body and looted it? or would that not even slow them?
No. 827934 ID: bfb318
File 150465242662.png - (19.84KB , 800x800 , 95.png )

"Is this bus stop in a small town?"
>"Uh, no."
"Okay." I say, starting to learn to say it more like oh-kay, since Okei gets irritated every time I say it like her name.

This goes along with the impressions I've gotten around here. There are small little outposts, farms, and hive estates pocketed in the region, but Shining Coast is probably the only town around in the modern, civilized sense.

"That's... is it the road less traveled?"
>"What no! Buses don't go on empty roads you goof!"

"Checkpoints?" Alison asks.

"Checkpoints?" I relay.
>"What is that the problem?"
"It's a problem."

>"Fine, new plan." Okei says. "Do you have something I can draw with?"
"I have some image editing software on my laptop."
>"Then let me use your murder-laptop."
"As long as you blunt your claw before touching the screen.

I pull up the software and show her how to use it. She draws a map that I can't read at all, so I wait for her to explain it.

>"There's checkpoints here, here and here or something like that. There's a train that has to slow down around a sharp bend here. We can hitch a ride there, and then get off at this bend up here. Then we can get a bus ride past the checkpoint and get into Shining Coast, which I will say is over 40 miles away from where at right now!"
"I don't want the people on the train to think me as memorable."
>"You won't be! People do it all the time, we probably won't even be alone. Better than that, the train people won't even be able to see us!We'll be on and off out of their sight. Trust me. People do it all the time! And the buses get all kinds of crazy insane people. Get a little dirty and you'll fit right in. No one will care about you or your goggles."

Alison is slightly apprehensive, but she can't think of any better way to go about it than just to walk, and she admits that the days it will take to walk there is a danger on its own. Okei also seems confident and honest that her route will be clean and secretive.
No. 827935 ID: 015058

Well Okei I am putting my life in your hands then.

Show her how to bring up a map of the area on your laptop if Alison can get some pictures. Want to tempt her with the neat things that a education can bring her.
No. 827958 ID: 3ce125

Let's do it. I trust the kid. Just gotta make sure to keep your goggles in your bag. Ooooor wear a hat over them! ...you'll probably subconsciously remove the hat, nevermind. You may as well try it once though.
No. 827973 ID: 3abd97

Right, let's hobo it up, then.
No. 828045 ID: d36af7

If we're testing out the scope of the post-hypnotic suggestions, you could try having Okei pretend to steal your goggles, to see what happens. If you respond in some disproportionate and memorable way, better to find that out here than on the train while facing an actual pickpocket. Okei already knows you're weird.
No. 828182 ID: e36c7f

>We can hitch a ride there, and then get off at this bend up here. Then we can get a bus ride past the checkpoint and get into Shining Coast, which I will say is over 40 miles away

It looks like Okei wants to come with you!

Now, grown men taking young girls away on long trips with them the day after they met is generally a bad idea, and your perilous situation kind of compounds that. Doubly so if she actually wants to go and stay go instead of coming back. I assume she doesn't but if you confront her with the idea that that's a long way from here you'll find out if that's her intent.

Peril aside, though, if she doesn't really have anyone here who cares for her a lot, you might find her somewhere better along the way.

... And, thinking long term? While you're out here in the world, you might think about setting up some long-term possibilities for if anyone else of your hive decides they need to get out of the world you all got stuck in. Something as simple as a friend might be nice to have around.
No. 828866 ID: 9b80a5

Wait up duct tape and paracord get that next time you can as everything can be fixedvwith duct tape and paracord right
No. 828884 ID: 9dc26d

Okei's an asset and one you need. If she wants to come with, that's fine. Teach her to read until it's time for you to part ways.
No. 829391 ID: 15a025

Sound a little risky, but Okei seems pretty confident about it. Let's go for it!
No. 829677 ID: bfb318
File 150509537650.png - (31.26KB , 800x800 , 96.png )

>Wear a hat
Damnit, I meant to try that when I considered wearing a trenchcoat and fuller get-up. I decided not to get a trenchcoat, but I shouldn't have dismissed the idea of a hat to go along with it. I'll attempt to remember while in town.

>Test goggle reaction by having Okei take goggles
I hope I wouldn't have too bad of a reaction, but just in case, I'd rather not test it out on this girl. I can't rule out a possibility that I'd get dangerous.

I tap morse code while pointing my phone at the computer. At my request, Alison brings up a better map of the area with more accurate points. Okei's map is not even close to accurate, but the train and checkpoints do exist.

"Okay, Okei. We'll do it like that."

2 Hours Later

I should have suspected more when Okei's plan was to run at the train from outside of empathy range.

As I get close, guards in the train empathically inform me that they do not want people on the train. Which, apparently, is why Okei led me to the top of a carved hill, and we jump onto the top of it. I should have imagined that was the case, too.

>"Get down, man!" Okei yells.
No. 829678 ID: bfb318
File 150509538470.png - (30.99KB , 800x800 , 97.png )

It's not like she was hiding this from me.

She just didn't think stuff like this was even worth mentioning.
No. 829681 ID: c2051e

This shouldn't be a problem, then. Lay flat besides one of the bumps on the train.
No. 829683 ID: 3abd97

That is not okay, Okei.

Get down. Might have to take off your backpack so your gear doesn't get smacked against the c