Author Topic: [BtSS] Treasure Hunting (Closed, for now)  (Read 2547 times)

Zach

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Re: [BtSS] Treasure Hunting (Closed, for now)
« Reply #30 on: October 10, 2016, 05:41:46 PM »
"I have an idea how it worked," Zen replied, "I could feel it start to affect me through my spine...my guess is the research team thought it could only affect Wyrds; they didn't realize that, to a lesser extent, it could affect anything with a partly mechanical nervous system."

Which was definitely a vulnerability he hadn't considered; hell, as far as he was aware that should be impossible with current technology.  Most Machinals were all too aware how vulnerable being mostly machine made them--which was why just about all artificial bodies did not have any kind of external network connected to their mechanical body's functions; even though Zen had some gadgets in him that operated on a network, like his communicator, they weren't connected with anything that came even close to running his body.  Anything that managed to take it over was basically taking over his watch and phone--potentially annoying but likely not dangerous.

This was different, though; somehow simply having a mechanical spine had given it an "in" to his brain, which was, if he was honest, completely terrifying.

"What do you think it was meant to do?  Other than make people go crazy, I assume."

Nayt

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Re: [BtSS] Treasure Hunting (Closed, for now)
« Reply #31 on: October 11, 2016, 12:50:06 PM »
"Crazy? No, no I don't think that was the original goal," Qara replied.

It was about the size of a finger, which suggested to her that it was meant to look and function like any other prosthetic, only with more utility than the average mechanical finger. Qara hadn't brought it aboard the ship for further study, though. Even though Zen's wrath destroyed anything worthwhile in the thing, she suspected he still wouldn't be all right with that on board his ship.

"I was recording your visuals," she paused to hold out one hand, a console close to Zen's head lighting up, then returned to work, "I'd say fortunately, but . . . I'm scrubbing most of it from my memory. Some of the things . . ."

She shuddered to think about them. If there was one thing, one thing at all, that she regretted about her augmented mind, it was how vividly everything could be recalled and processed at once. The image of those twisted up bodies existed in unison with those of friendly faces at her erstwhile Titan home. Fortunately, she could just scrub those away.

Nonetheless, she'd pulled up Zen's near-POV footage on the console. Near-POV, because his eyes weren't special. She couldn't record directly from them; she had to pull images from sensors in his body, reconstructing it something visible and concrete. Though she was nonchalant about it, this was actually the first time Zen saw this. She'd told him as much on several occasions that she could perceive what he did, but she'd never shown him how. It was never necessary, or even all that important. Zen didn't have any recording devices on him, after all. No cameras, no lenses, unless he brought something special with him. Qara, however, had reconstructed everything his suit could read: all prosthetics, after all, had sensors to detect specific details, and their proximities, in their environment. Qara had taken all of them at once, focused them together for a three-dimensional layout of everything surrounding Zen, and recorded it to her own mind.

The logistics of what she'd done aside, what Qara put up on the console was what she recorded when Zen was reading research logs.

"One of the researchers went against commands and changed the nature of the experiment. He amplified the device well beyond any prior experiments, and it drove all of them insane," Qara recounted, "But if you consider the original experiment . . . Have you ever seen that old movie with the mind trick? This is a prosthetic finger, completely innocuous; it'd pass through any contraband scans at any port. But with it, you could sway the emotions of any Wyrd . . . and Machinals, too. If a bit more subtle. This is less of a weapon and more of a tool. Someone else on the research team, though--Dr. M--had other ideas."
. o O (I think I must agree with Sliss. The "Fat Chance" would have been a perfect name for our ship.)

Zach

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Re: [BtSS] Treasure Hunting (Closed, for now)
« Reply #32 on: October 15, 2016, 09:33:44 AM »
He was pretty impressed she could get all that using only the basic sensors in his body.  "Remind me to get those video-feed goggles fixed next time we're in port," Zen said was he watched Qara put together a pretty representation of what he'd seen.  He rejected the idea of having a camera installed in him on principle but something he could wear was another story.

As far as the notes were concerned, his memory of the last few minutes before passing out was a little fuzzy, but it started to come back to him as Qara talked.  "Right.  Though, I wonder; given how secure that place was, someone higher up the food chain must've at least theorized it could be used on a larger scale.  Maybe Dr. M acted on his own ideas; maybe his bosses figured he was the guy to talk to if they wanted to try something even shadier.  Even if not...that's still a pretty invasive tool they were testing there.  Not to mention super illegal."

The more he thought about the situation, there was a conclusion that made sense:  "Here's the thing: why make it in the shape of a finger if you're not going to attach to someone to test?  I don't think they made that thing; I think they were testing something they found, something that probably used to be part of a machinal's body.  Which begs the question, where did they find it?"

Nayt

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Re: [BtSS] Treasure Hunting (Closed, for now)
« Reply #33 on: October 18, 2016, 01:39:55 PM »
Well that was an interesting conclusion. Qara hadn't considered that possibility. It brought her pause, made her consider the implications. If this wasn't something unique, something built here for this experiment, then there could be more instances of it elsewhere. Machinals wearing it like a fashion trend, controlling the mind of every Wyrd they meet, without the poor Wyrd ever knowing it.

She shuddered visibly at the thought.

Qara flicked her wrist to wipe away the contents of the screen in front of them, then tapped on what Zen might think an invisible keyboard. To her, though, it was quite visible, all part of her augmented reality. A lot of Wyrds relied on it to make sense of the things their brain was doing; a holographic keyboard, console, or controls to a ship, all visual representations of the things they were doing without wires or real console controls. Qara didn't actually need it. A lot of it was just habit. Things she picked up over the years because it made the Machinal colonists she lived with feel more at ease.

The console opens up a map of the Sol System, highlighting several worlds. Titan, Ganymede, Io, and three larger bodies in the asteroid belt: 951 Gaspra, 1467 Nelles, and 4570 Anjes. While were no permanent settlements on any asteroids, only temporary mining colonies, one name was interesting (at least to Qara, anyhow): Ganymede. Jupiter's largest moon--the largest moon in the entire Sol System, even--was one of the most attractive worlds for future terraforming projects, though the world's tremendous size and the manic nature of its topography made the prospect as difficult as working with Ceres.

Even still, a very small number of air-tight facilities existed on Ganymede. No widespread colonization plans (to anyone's knowledge, anyhow), but a few big name companies had set up shop there.

Alongside this information were a list of companies and corporations, all focused on the research and development of Machinalis upgrades. Zen's body had parts from at least half of them. Each one of them had an R&D facility on the locations she'd mapped out for Zen.

"All places of interest on known networks," she remarked, ". . . Unless you want to spend the next year running scans for secret facilities in Saturn's rings." She made no effort to hide how much she disliked that idea.
. o O (I think I must agree with Sliss. The "Fat Chance" would have been a perfect name for our ship.)

Zach

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Re: [BtSS] Treasure Hunting (Closed, for now)
« Reply #34 on: October 19, 2016, 05:45:51 AM »
"Hmm...if you got visuals from my body, any way of estimating how old it is?"

In a way, he knew he was distracting Qara from fixing his body by continuing this train of thought, but he couldn't help himself; he had to this to its conclusion.  It would make it easier if he could pull up information and visuals on his own, though.

"See, the way I figure there are two possibilities for how they got this thing: the first is that the owner died recently, or at least lost a hand, and was either knowledgeable enough to make it himself or wealthy enough to have it privately commissioned by an individual or small group.  This wasn't something made by a group capable of mass production; that's why the corporation that got a hold of it was so careful--they probably had an idea what it did, knew it was highly illegal, but not what it was fully capable of.  You don't test something on a secret facility on a random asteroid if you've got a handle on what it is already, and if it was produced by any major company--even as a private commission--they've been able to find someone who knew what it did.  My first thought was it probably belonged to a machinal zealot, but no zealot would have tolerated it if it could affect other machinals.  So if this first scenario is the case, my best guess?  Martian, one with mechanical augments--maybe even ones no one knew about."

It was surprisingly irksome not to be able to do any of his usual critical thinking habits; he wanted to tap on desks, pull up displays, pace using his magnetic feet, any number of things that helped him focus.

"The second possibility is that this isn't something built recently; rather, it was built some time ago, maybe before there were a lot of regulations on Wyrd tech and interactions with it.  Something found in some old vault, or on a recently discovered corpse, or something of that kind.  It would explain the precautions--technical analysis would give an idea what it did but not the full scope, and you wouldn't want to risk testing something highly illegal and dangerous and with unknown quantities in your expensive, state of the art main facilities.  No, you pick the most out of the way location you can for testing, a place that you can seal off forever and write out of the books if something goes wrong."

Nayt

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Re: [BtSS] Treasure Hunting (Closed, for now)
« Reply #35 on: October 19, 2016, 03:34:28 PM »
Qara wiped the screen away. From Zen's vision, at least. From her perspective, she just moved that process so that it floated in empty air. She could drag it back onto the screen at any time. It was times like this that she wished Zen could see her augmented reality. She could've just put together a 3D model of the prosthetic he'd found, floating it around in front of them. Well. She did do that, but only she could see it. With a flick of the wrist, it was on the console, and zoomed in to focus on all the grooves and little designs on the object.

It was ornate: a metal finger with intricate designs across it, all resembling a sun flare. Qara ran a scan on the designs, testing them against all accessible databases, but ultimately discovered no notable origin. No one with matching tattoos, no publicly posted photographs with such a design. Figures.

What was telling about it, though, was the design of the plates between the finger's joints. More contemporary prosthesis used flexible materials to permit a natural clench of the fingers, while still looking human. This one, however, used an older style of design: full metal frame with harshly rounded edges along the underside, letting it clench shut without resistance. This made the underside eerily thin compared to the rest of the finger, a common complaint about the design. It went out of circulation roughly fifty-six years ago. Qara made sure to scroll all of this information up the console, next to points of the finger she'd marked as important.
. o O (I think I must agree with Sliss. The "Fat Chance" would have been a perfect name for our ship.)

Zach

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Re: [BtSS] Treasure Hunting (Closed, for now)
« Reply #36 on: October 19, 2016, 07:49:20 PM »
"So...a more than fifty year old finger with an intricate design that doesn't match anything on public records.  The mystery deepens."

He was starting to get a bit excited again; sure, fifty years wasn't too long ago, but it was old enough that it had to be something rediscovered, not developed.  After all, the lab records were only three years old.

"Guessing searching that diamond symbol is going to turn up empty as well--or set off a ton of flags on the system.  If you look it up, be careful; I don't want some shady group tracing a search back here.  In any case, we might be hitting the limit on what we can research; let's get my body fixed so we can do some legwork."

Nayt

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Re: [BtSS] Treasure Hunting (Closed, for now)
« Reply #37 on: October 20, 2016, 08:13:48 AM »
There came a sound of the airlock disengaging, followed by the familiar feeling of the ship lifting from the ground. Qara shut her eyes and focused for a moment, feeling out the sensors and charting a course. Away from asteroids, but somewhere close. Empty space. A perfect spot to situate the ship and begin the long haul to their next destination. Once they were on their way, and micro-impacts of pebble-sized debris were the only objects between them and empty space, Qara opened her eyes and issued a relieved sigh.

That done, she grabbed the tool she left floating in the air, and began opening up another section of Zen's body. Wherever they were going, they were looking at a week of travelling. Minimum. Longer if they were off towards a world currently on the opposite side of the solar system.

"Where should I set a course?"
. o O (I think I must agree with Sliss. The "Fat Chance" would have been a perfect name for our ship.)

Zach

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Re: [BtSS] Treasure Hunting (Closed, for now)
« Reply #38 on: November 01, 2016, 10:45:24 AM »
"Hmmm..."

Zen took a minute to consider his options.  As much as they needed information, they also needed to find paying work, since they excursion hadn't turned out to be immediately profitable.  Maintenance was kind of tricky on a ship that had as much modified and replaced as The Thesius; he couldn't exactly take it into a standard repair pad, so he had to make sure he had the supplies he needed to do it himself.

"Take us to the Gate.  Err, that'd be Mars Halo," he added, unsure if Qara would be familiar with the nickname.

Mars was a planet only the wealthiest and/or best connected could afford to live on, so naturally they turned their nose up at the idea of letting just anyone land on their planet and, heaven forbid, walk within sight of someone who didn't want to see them.  So Mars Halo was constructed to serve as a buffer between the planet and the rest of the system, a waypoint into the giant gated community that was Mars.