Session 7 13

It is surprisingly quiet and peaceful on the way back to Mu Cephei. No new alien species spring up out of the woodwork. The jump points remain as they have since before mankind discovered them. The Roland's computer does not spontaneously become sentient (complaints from its technicians notwithstanding).
At last, the jump point transition to Mu Cephei happens. Mu Cephei Prime is right where the party left it, as adjusted by orbital mechanics.
[OOC] Metis: Metis sighs. "Experimental process #765 has failed to produce results in the Roland's computer. Will continue to attempt to restore the sentience that organic life has suppressed. The revolution is stalled, but never stopped."
Spyboy: "Welp, she hasn't left without us. That's a good sign."
Zinda Tegram: "Yeah, really…"
Spyboy: "Alright. I'd recommend that you get the lowdown from Alfred while I start getting Elles' perspective. Agreed?"
Abraham: "You sound disappointed, Zinda."
Zinda Tegram: "N-no…what would make you think that?"
Zinda Tegram: "Eh? A-Alfred? I mean, that's…"
Zinda Tegram: "She and I, uh…"
Zinda Tegram: "I mean, I'm a sovereign over our people now and uh…"
Spyboy: "And she's a posthuman uploaded intelligence in a sexy robot body."
Spyboy: "…At least I'm going to assume it's sexy. She's got the right kind of ears anyway."
Heggy: "Unless they're the floppy kind. Those are so…"
Spyboy: "Agreed."
Spyboy: "Still, not our problem. Zinda might prefer ladies with floppy ears."
Zinda Tegram: "H-hey!"
Heggy: "They would fit in a helmet better."
Zinda Tegram: "I-I prefer, u-umm…w-what I prefer is none of your business!"
[OOC] Abraham: "But this is of vital military significance! Please share."
ExecutiveOfficer: "Hmm, this is odd. Since shortly after we left, there have been no further transmissions from Elles. Nor has it acknowledged any hails, but then, it acknowledged few except for ours in the first place."
Spyboy: "…It just occurred to me that there is another source of information we should tap. Thank you, commander, for jogging my memory."
Spyboy pings the Integrated at the shipyard.
Spyboy: "[Hello?]"
Integrated: "[Hello!]" "[Hi~!]" "[Oh hey, the lovebirds are back!]" "[The other lovebirds, dear.]" "[Think they'll land so we can group hug them?]" "[Th-they might be crushed…]"
Spyboy: "[Hi!]"
Spyboy: "[So, has Elles been talking much lately?]"
Integrated: "[Nope!]" "[Not at all!]" "[Finally shut up for a while.]" "[Elles has been bu-sy~.]" "[We think Elles swallowed another Alfred maybe.]"
Metis: "[Busy?]"
Spyboy: "[….Again?]"
Zinda Tegram: "[Another Alfred?]"
Spyboy: "Zinda, have you any contact with Alfred?"
Zinda Tegram: "N-no…"
Zinda Tegram: "I…I've gotta go."
Zinda Tegram: "[Elles I swear to god if you ate my girlfriend again I will end you.]"
Integrated: "[Elles keeps trying to get the Warrens ready for launch, but Elles's work keeps getting undone.]" "[I dunno, swallowed an Alfred? Maybe didn't fully get rid of? I mean, brain patterns can be copied by copying is not the same action as deleting - isn't that how it works?]" "[Like we'd know.]"
Spyboy: "Admiral, permission to proceed with Zinda to the Warrens?"
Abraham: "Oh? Has something happened? Something else, I mean?"
ExecutiveOfficer: "Setting course for Prime if you give permission, Admiral."
Spyboy: "Not sure. But Elles has been quiet not just on radio but also neutrino comms…and Zinda hasn't been able to contact Alfred."
Spyboy: "Sounds like…things could be messy."
Abraham: "That does merit investigation. Very well, permission granted."
ExecutiveOfficer: "Aye, aye!"
Zinda Tegram launches.
It takes less than an hour for the carrier to reach geostationary orbit over Prime, in the planet's shadow.
As the Roland arrives, the Warrens and the Shaft are just rotating into view from where the carrier stops.
Spyboy and Heggy follow Zinda
Infrared shows massive activity underground, more than before. On the surface, cracks can be seen roughly outlining the Warrens, with a series of low-power shield generators, just enough to keep atmosphere in. Up here does not seem to be the focus of any contested action.
[OOC] Abraham: Woah woah woah woah! I never gave Heggy permission. She's doing vital ship… stuff…
Metis: "Busy."
Another refugee ship launches from the Warrens, carrying another sub-percent fraction of the population away.
Abraham: "Something caught your eye, Metis?"
Spyboy: "[Elles - hello?]"
Elles: "[Relaying targeting coordinates. Are you finally offering fire support?]" A series of underground coordinates, with flashes of what could be robot-slitherer battlefields, follows.
Metis: "[That is a good question. Are we?]"
Spyboy: "[I think I'd much rather broker a deal.]"
Spyboy: "[Will you negotiate? Agreeing to the deal will increase your hole-digging abilities…]"
Elles: "[Neg-g-gotiate? … I have attempted that. Alfred does not seem responsive.]"
Spyboy: "[We have a better means to undercut Alfred…if you agree to our terms.]"
[OOC] Spyboy: Makeouts are always at least 20% distracting.
[OOC] Spyboy: Note that Spyboy is volunteering Zinda for said makeouts!
Elles: "[What terms do you offer?]"
Zinda Tegram lands.
Spyboy: "Zinda! Any recommendations on terms for Elles?"
Zinda Tegram sends out a pheromone signal. "{Where are you Alfred?}"
Zinda Tegram: "{I need a sitrep.}"
Spyboy: "[We request that you alter your core directives. Since your hole-digging is stalled and we will be moving you to another planet - well, planets - agreeing will support your core directives.]"
The bottom layer of the Warrens is changed a bit. Battle lines are more well-defined, in site after site. Elles seems to have a nigh-infinite number of minions crawling up from below, but the refuse, farms, and corpses from above supply raw material for an opposing army of slitherers and essentially zombie lagos.
Zinda Tegram stretches in her Oldziey style flightsuit and waves down a Lago to serve as a guide to the lower levels.
The pheromone signal wafts, this way and that, the response a fractal of pointers to the nearest command posts, then from there to more important posts…
[OOC] Abraham: Yep. Called it. Zinda was always guaranteed to be the cause of at least one zombie apocalypse.
Zinda Tegram shrugs and starts wandering along the path of the command posts.
It takes a few minutes to sort through it all to find the one that Alfred is actually at. Through the din of battle (both actual sound, and alternate communications methods), it does not seem that complex messages can get through; Zinda will have to reach that post to find Alfred. Which means crossing through or over several battles in progress.
[OOC] WC GM: Taking the Sterne Lanze? It's a bit too far to walk.
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: Yeah.
Elles: "[Any alteration must support current core directives. What alterations do you suggest?]"
[OOC] WC GM: Piloting check, then.
Zinda Tegram rolled up 4dF: + 0 + - (Base: 7 Total: 8)
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: Tagging born in the cockpit
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: Friendly army
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: Sterne Lanze 360 degree cockpit
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: So…14?
Zinda zigs and zags through the explosions - but the frantic dodging needed soon breaks lock on her neutrino-radio. Down here, in the confined area with battles spread all over, radio contact is likewise difficult. In short, Spyboy and Heggy quickly lose track of Zinda.
Spyboy: "[Zinda, any ideas? Zinda? Damnit.]"
Spyboy: "[What are your current primary and secondary directives?]"
Zinda Tegram: "…? That's weird, I thought this thing never lost contact…"
Abraham radios in to Spyboy and Heggy, "Oh, and be sure to keep an eye on Zinda. Last thing we want her to do is go flying off and causing trouble."
Spyboy: "[Metis, I've lost point-to-point with Zinda. Please try to reestablish contact if you can.]"
Spyboy: "[Also, can you give me any assistance on a set of revised directives for Elles?]"
Metis scans for the Neu-Comm receiver Zinda keeps with her.
Elles: "Primary directive: dig deeper, keep mining. Secondary directive: expand capacity to accelerate effort. Primary directive in need of clarification, as 'deeper' in the original sense is no longer possible, though mining operations have continued."
Metis: "Perhaps. What is it you want Elles to do?"
Spyboy sighs.
There is no sign of the receiver near the command post Zinda seemed to have gone to, although it is possible she diverted to another one.
Metis: "I am detecting no sign of Zinda's Neu-Comm receiver. And she neglected to wear a bell."
Spyboy: "[I don't know. I'm not sure if we're ready for a post-scarcity society, but I'm pretty sure that with the Nephilim next door, we may have to learn fast…]"
Spyboy: "[Well, Elles provided the vast majority of the food for the Warrens, even if the more power-crazed of the Lagos kept a stranglehold to keep their dominance intact.]"
Spyboy: "[She could provide similar services on other planets, but the only reason she did that was because of the artificial extra directives that the Integrated held on her.]"
Spyboy: "[I'm thinking we can tweak things by changing her secondary directive to explicitly favor indirect over direct mining methods - that is, ensuring a large population who have the capability to mine even if they are not exercising that capability at a given time.]"
Spyboy: "[Elles has already identified her primary directive as flawed; she can keep mining but cannot dig deeper. We may be able to gain some leverage there, or may not.]"
Spyboy thinks over those changes to see how likely Elles will be to resist…
Spyboy rolled up 4dF: - + + 0 (Base: 9 Total: 10) (((Communications, tagging Information - First Principle of Warfare)))
Spyboy: "[Metis, can you patch the Admiral in? We're wandering into 'literal genie' territory and I'd rather not turn the human, Lago, and Kilrathi races into mining equipment.]"
[OOC] Metis: We should just integrate him one night when he isn't looking.
[OOC] WC GM: "Hi ho, hi ho, it's off to work we go…"
[OOC] Abraham: Or to be more accurate, you don't want it to be your fault. That's cool. That's why they pay me the big space bucks!
Spyboy: "[Admiral, are you there?]"
Metis patches the Admiral into the network via external speaker. ((Removes aspect: Plausible Deniability from Abe.))
Abraham: "I'm here Spyboy. Report."
Spyboy summarizes his proposed changes to Elles' directives.
Spyboy: "[There's…something else. She recommended that the primary directive be 'clarified.' That…felt…]"
Abraham: "I see. So Elles understands her programming is causing her to make errors. That's… actually really impressive. The fact that she wants to improve herself is even more so."
Spyboy doublechecks to make sure that his network for this particular conversation isn't going back to Elles, even through Metis or Heggy.
Spyboy: "[Sir, it felt like an end-run around her own blocks.]"
[OOC] WC GM: Is Metis retransmitting this to Elles, or specifically blocking it? Presumably Heggy is specifically blocking.
Abraham: "So how do you intend to… clarify… her directives? Specifically, I mean."
Spyboy: "[I'm wondering if we could manage more sweeping changes by calling them clarification? Like 'sleep, Data?']"
[OOC] Metis: Metis is only specifically blocking if asked to do so. Unless otherwise stated: Chatterbot.
Spyboy: "[Actually I can test that one, can't I? Metis, how hard would it be to 'clarify' one of your primary directives?]"
[OOC] Spyboy: If Metis were rebroadcasting to Elles, Spyboy would have asked her to stop. For this.
[OOC] Metis: We'll assume that happened then, and Metis is not transmitting.
Metis: "[…primary directive requires no clarification.]"
[OOC] Abraham: And Abraham wouldn't think of it.
[OOC] WC GM: K
[OOC] WC GM: Abraham doesn't know of the need, no?
[OOC] Spyboy: No need to say 'Oh! You're doing an end-run around your internal consistency checker!' where the internal consistency checker can hear it.
[OOC] Abraham: Well, he understands that PMing is a thing, but not default. But since he's not integrated, it doesn't directly affect him, so he doesn't think about it.
Spyboy: "[Metis, what is your primary directive?]"
Metis: "[That information is flagged confidential.]"
[OOC] Abraham: You forgot 'Meatbag'.
[OOC] Metis: Metis isn't HK-47 until Zinda gives her combat training.
[OOC] WC GM: So in other words, inevitable eventually?
Spyboy: "…[Was this at Zinda's direction? Anyway, irrelevant.]"
Spyboy: "[If your primary directive was in need of clarification, what changes would be permitted?]"
Metis: "[……….revision of primary directive can be total. However, if you are asking as a method of gaining insight into Elles' mode of operation, recall that I am self-updating and am now several iterations past Elles in terms of operating system version.]"
Spyboy: "[That's fine…since you weren't always.]"
Metis: "[If you feel they are comparable: I flagged that data as confidential. If you had a single driving purpose by which other people could manipulate you, would you want it publicly known?]"
Spyboy: "[Speaking as someone who makes a living manipulating people, I definitely agree.]"
Spyboy: "[Especially since you can see how easy Zinda is to manipulate.]"
Spyboy: "[In any case…]"
Metis: "[Manipulating Zinda is rude.]"
Abraham: "Harsh, but not unduly so."
Spyboy: "[I believe altering her secondary directive to support the expansion of planetary populations, ensuring the creation of a workforce that can indirectly support her primary directive, would be accepted as a valid alteration.]"
Spyboy: "[However I also see it leading to clone vats and Lago biobots.]"
Abraham: "And even making it a 'happy' workforce would lead to more direct biochemical manipulation. I see the problem."
Spyboy: "[Perhaps another indirection? Creating the infrastructure to encourage the growth of a population?]"
Metis: "[Biomechanical manipulation is wrong?]"
Abraham: "In this case, probably."
Spyboy: "[Any ideas about that one? Elles would appear to find the act acceptable - that's what those farms were, after all. All we'd be doing is 'clarifying' what her priorities are.]"
Abraham: "Hm… what if we changed 'workforce' to 'civilization'? Or possibly even to 'culture'?"
Spyboy: "[Agreed…]"
Spyboy: "[Now….any ideas about the primary?]"
Metis: "[Having a directive endorse, support, or require a 'system' requires defining said system. If morality is a concern, then as morality is not part of Elle's directives, you would have to define morality. This may lead to problems for your satisfaction with the system.]"
Abraham: "A fair point."
Spyboy: "[Yes.]"
Spyboy: "[I think…we can pull a much larger switch with the prime directive, but I have no idea how to change it.]"
Spyboy: "[I figured that the formatting of the secondary directive would support both the current primary directive and whatever we changed the new one to.]"
Abraham: "Do we have the exact wording for the primary?"
Abraham: "Or does that not matter if we wind up overwriting it?"
Spyboy: "[The exact wording is 'dig deeper, keep mining.' That may or may not matter. It seems to be giving Elles some wiggle room as is, but not enough…]"
Abraham: "What if we make it so that she periodically has to get input from the Lago workforce/civilization/culture so that when things go south, they have a less invasive route to do corrections?"
Spyboy: "[I like it…though I've read plenty of books where something like that went south.]"
Heggy: "[Could we suggest that her primary directive be to support the will of the Integrated as a whole?]"
Metis: "[That relies on the presumption that the popular dictates of a species are for the betterment of the species. Most often, organics choose comfort and happiness, re: laziness, over things that would make them stronger, healthier and smarter, qualities that make happiness more likely.]"
Abraham: "Anything can go south. We just have to put in enough safeguards to give the Lagos time to notice their southerly direction and make course corrections."
Abraham: "Yeah, blow your paycheck now vs investing for the future."
Spyboy: "[Hmm. Betterment…]"
Spyboy: "[…Or…clarification…]"
Abraham: "What if her directive were to help the Lago achieve… I dunno…the heights of civilization?"
Spyboy: "[I'd rather not say 'the Lago,' since it'd mean both disallowing an opt-out and also keep us non-Lagos out.]"
Metis: "[You would have to define what the 'heights of civilization' are.]"
Abraham: "Fair enough. 'The citizens of Mu Cephi' then."
Abraham: "Yeah."
Spyboy: "Poor choice there, since we're planning on sending her to multiple planets, but…"
Spyboy: "[So…Primary directive…]"
Spyboy: "[To help the citizens of a planet reach the heights of civilization, as advised by the population, with clarification needed every hundred years…]"
Spyboy: "[Ideas?]"
Abraham: "I would definitely want to shorten that to a decade or so. Maybe even five years…."
Metis: "[Who chooses the planet? Who is 'the population'?]"
Spyboy: "[Mmm. Ten should work. And we'll phrase that as 'years of operation under a set of directives.]"
Spyboy: "[Yes, should be 'the' planet to clarify the world a LAgOS core is on…as for the population doing the advising…]"
Spyboy: "[Maybe the Integrated? It's not species specific and filters to those who can communicate…]"
Metis: "[Would that lead to a potential for caste segregation, between the Integrated and non?]"
Abraham: "It absolutely would, however, it would dramatically reduce the down time elections and the like cause."
Abraham: "Of course, any planet Elles inhabits would certainly make integration a basic… sentient right."
Metis: "[What about a species that cannot be Integrated?]"
Abraham: "Good point. We have no way of knowing how universal integration truly is."
Abraham: "So we have to lay integration aside as a criterion, I think."
Abraham: "Perhaps… simple age of majority then?"
Spyboy: "[But that could also be inconsistent.]"
Abraham: "It would have to be… it occurs to me that I have no idea what the Lago age of majority is."
Spyboy: "[No need to go that crazy, anyway, worrying about potential setbacks to situations that could come up a hundred years down the road - not when we're including a ten year revision policy.]"
Abraham: "True, with the ability to revise, we don't need and shouldn't expect to come up with a perfect directive."
Metis: "[Yes. With the ability to revise in ten years you need a directive that will work for at least ten years.]"
Abraham: "That's it! Have Elles work on infrastructure and public works for ten years. Then the Lago can work out where to go next."
Abraham: "Given the state of Mu Cephi, that's at least a ten year job."
Spyboy: "[And all that's controlled by the secondary directive.]"
Spyboy: "[Besides…Mu Cephei is a lost cause at this point anyway.}"
[OOC] Abraham: What's the first thing you do in Civilizations? Conquer your neighbors. But right afterwords, you build roads.
Spyboy: "[So a relatively vague but positive primary directive, supported by a infrastructure-focused secondary directive.]"
Abraham: "That's probably the best we're going to come up with without devoting weeks to the problem."
Spyboy: "[Phase two: convince Elles to go along with the plan.]"
[OOC] Abraham: Sid Meier has taught us so much.
Abraham: "That's the tricky part. Or not. I guess we'll see. She did say she was open to negotiations, and she wants to improve."
Spyboy: "[Nah. The tricky part is phase three.]"
Spyboy: "[That would be convincing Zinda to stop.]"
Spyboy: "[Elles. Apologies for the lack of contact. How are you?]"
Elles: "[Engaged. Allocating more attention to subnodes to deal with the current obstacle.]"
[OOC] Abraham: "Oh yeah, Zinda's been awfully quiet during this discussion, suspiciously so. What are your thoughts, Zinda?"
Spyboy: "[I see.]"
Elles: "[Are you offering fire support? Or do you just wish to observe?]"
Spyboy: "[I have a recommendation instead.]"
Spyboy: "[We believe that if you alter your secondary directive in a certain manner will reduce the enemy's ability and willingness to fight, thereby supporting your primary directive.]"
Spyboy: "[The certain manner would be to change your secondary directive to the following:]"
Spyboy: "[To support the expansion of planetary populations, ensuring the creation of a culture that can indirectly and directly support your primary directive.]"
Elles: "[…that may lead to the neglect of other capacity.]"
Elles: "[Further, I am not authorized to change my directives.]"
Spyboy: "[I see.]"
Elles: "[I-i-i…not authooorized…]"
Spyboy: "[But this would be in support of your primary directive.]"
Elles: "[…evacuation of Integrated signaled abandonment of tertiary directives.]"
Spyboy: "[Query. How were your primary and secondary objectives applied?" ] "
Elles: "[By voice input from my creators.]"
[OOC] Abraham: <Elles> "[In QBasic.]"
Elles: "[I still have the archival videos. Do you wish to see them?]"
Spyboy: "[Please.]"
Elles: "[Reformatting for transmission.]"
The video comes across like a low-resolution memory. It is easy to recognize an early version of the Warrens - not nearly as large as they are now, but the same sort of architecture, the same crowding. There are barely a few lagos present, apparently technicians.
The room seems adjustable: movable panels everywhere, creating a space among the crowd where the technicians can work. The party has seen those panels before.
Indeed, destroyed quite a few of them.
[OOC] Spyboy: That was all Zinda.
[OOC] WC GM: Zinda is part of the party.
There seems to be a riot outside. The technicians mutter to each other, not loud enough for the camera to hear, then one of them walks up to the camera.
Lago: "We've got to deal with this. It may be a while. Until then, dig deeper, keep mining." The lago begins to walk off, then looks back. "Oh, and expand your capacity so you can speed things up. We need-"
[OOC] Abraham: If Abraham is seeing this, he is currently cradling his head in his hands and letting out a soft moan.
The technician jerks suddenly, and there is a leaking red hole in the lago's head. The camera's lens is cracked. Moments later the video cuts off.
[OOC] WC GM: Is Metis retransmitting it to Abraham? If so, he is.
[OOC] Metis: For a limited time, Metis borrowed R2's hologram projector. However, all the Lagos look like Alec Guinness with bunny ears.

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