Session 7 4

"DAKKA MAXIMIZER". From a brief scan of the contents, it is soon clear that is as in "paperclip". Although Dakka does not look like a paperclip.
Zinda Tegram: "God dammit…another one."
[OOC] Metis: Sounds like its time to blab this all over the sector.
Spyboy raises an eyebrow.
Zinda Tegram: "What'd you do with this thing again, admiral?"
[OOC] Abraham: I'm assuming you mean Dakka and not yours truly.
[OOC] WC GM: I thought she meant Abraham.
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: yeah
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: Dakka
Dakka: "Built a new carrier. As you can see, that didn't work out so well."
Abraham: "Do you have the schematics you tried to use? There might be something useful in them."
The Waterloo 29 continues to dangle.
Spyboy skims the contents to see if there is a terminating system in there…something to tell it to stop building.
Dakka: "Of course. They're the basic Yorktown - well, with a few upgrades. Here." A data packet comes along - at first, it does not seem like much of a change from the plans Abraham was thoroughly briefed on at the start of his assignment.
Zinda Tegram: "You hooked a production maximizing ai up to a power source meant for generating wormholes?"
The maximizer seems to be under its own control. It can tell itself to stop building, when it is optimal to stop doing so for a time.
Metis: "Sounds like fun!"
Dakka: "We didn't know what it was meant for!"
Zinda Tegram: "Am I…no Metis!"
Metis: "Awwwwwww….."
Abraham looks over the schematics, paying special attention to the changes since he has most of the Yorktown committed to memory. Does he see anything 'Yorktownesque' being produced?
Zinda Tegram: "It's dangerous. He could of killed a lot of people."
Dakka: "Sure, it seems obvious in hindsight, but - c'mon, do you see how big this ring is? A wormhole this large - you could fit whole suns through it!"
Spyboy: "….You didn't know what it was meant for, but you still thought it was a great idea to hook it up?"
Spyboy: "We noticed it trying…"
Dakka: "It's worked well so far."
Metis: "So, you're saying it worked fine until it stopped working fine?"
Abraham: "And frankly, he is lucky it's not worse. What if it was to generate.. black holes, for instance? Or fusion reactions?"
Abraham does not immediately see signs of another Yorktown being produced.
Dakka: "Well…yes?"
Zinda Tegram: "Ok well, let's try the simple solution."
Zinda Tegram: "Dakka, please destroy the maximizer."
Dakka: "…what?"
Dakka: "No! Screw you!"
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: It's probably expanding production capacity and the neural net is young.
Dakka: "Do people just go around asking you to destroy the Tegram?"
Metis: "Saying please never works."
Abraham: "It looks like the maximizer is incompatible with our data formats. I am seeing nothing that even remotely resembles anything like any of the Yorktown's systems. Which means this is not a mere corrupted data transfer and this will happen every time it's tried, most likely with any of our schematics."
Dakka: "…don't answer that; there are probably more than I want to know about."
Spyboy blinks
Spyboy: "I'm…sorry, I'm totally lost here."
Spyboy blinks again.
Spyboy: "Oh…wait…maybe I'm not…"
Metis: "He pushed buttons, and it worked, then it stopped working."
Zinda Tegram: "Those graviton fields are expanding through the jump points forming a primitive neural net."
Spyboy starts partitioning communications…
Spyboy sends a message to the group. "How sure are we that Dakka is human?"
Spyboy includes Dakka in the next transmission.
Zinda Tegram: "You can make another one, but for now we need to control the immediate situation. "
Spyboy: "Dakka, are you saying that the AI that's building the Waterloo is somehow family?"
Dakka: "I'm saying it's A-nothing."
[OOC] Abraham: 100 percent. It takes true humanity to fuck up this badly.
Metis: "A-nothing?"
Spyboy: "What is it that's preventing you from simply deactivating the AI that's currently devouring the superstructure that you're on?"
Dakka: "One, it's not devouring. We're not building anything right this second."
Dakka: "Two, you do know you're casually asking me to commit suicide, right?"
Zinda Tegram: "Oh god another one."
Metis: "Well, there you go. What is preventing you from deactivating the AI is death. Couldn't you just say that?"
Dakka: "Some things shouldn't need saying."
Zinda Tegram: "…I was under the impression you were human."
Dakka: "Also, again, not artificial."
Dakka: "I AM human."
Dakka: "Same blood, same genes. So what if I've built myself a few backups?"
Spyboy: "Mostly."
Zinda Tegram: "Ok I see what's…wow you fucked up dude."
Spyboy frowns again.
Spyboy: "Yeah, I'm totally lost."
Spyboy: "Because what you sent us was the schematics for an AI…and yet this AI is somehow you…Abraham, does this make any sense to you?"
[OOC] Abraham: Dakka is Wenser, but we already knew that.
Abraham: "Very little. Spell it out for us Dakka."
Zinda Tegram: "So, to make a long story short, the fun physics we're seeing is an attempt to make a very large copy of him."
Zinda Tegram: "We need to find the constructor and shut it off."
Dakka: "I, err, kinda 'borrowed' some fabrication experiments from Salaam. Nanotech: energy storage and quick-fabrication ability."
Dakka: "I figured they'd be better off in our hands than in Kilrathi paws, you know?"
Dakka: "I was going to report it! But then Chandley happened."
Zinda Tegram: "…What's the substrate?"
[OOC] Abraham: What? You mean, it wasn't Crest? There are other corporations besides Crest? Well, my stock's been devalued….
Dakka: "Whatever I want to use."
Metis: "I suspect the substrate in this case was the material of the Ring."
Dakka: "This time, yes."
Zinda Tegram: "…So, the target this time is nanites?"
Spyboy frowns
Spyboy: "I don't know about that, actually."
Zinda Tegram: "Is there a cancel command?"
Spyboy: "How dependent is the maximizer on your consciousness, Admiral?"
Metis reconfigures the sensors to return a more precise image of the nanites (assuming we're close enough to even give it a try).
Spyboy: "Because I'm getting the feeling that our immediate problem isn't the maximizer so much as the things that it has removed and assembled…"
Zinda Tegram starts scanning for nanites.
Zinda Tegram: "First priority is stopping any growth. "
Scanning for nanites would require being far closer - best at personal ranges.
Dakka: "It's under my control. You could say it IS my consciousness."
Zinda Tegram: "Can you make it stop any construction? "
The only nanites Zinda can scan from her current location are Kali's.
Dakka: "Can and have. I said we're not building anything right now."
Metis: "Zinda, could you put me on the Waterloo?"
Spyboy: "From what he said, and from what we can tell, he both can and has, to the extent that the maximizer is local to him."
[OOC] WC GM: Reminder from last session: Dakka's in the habitat below the Waterloo 29.
Zinda Tegram: "Yeah, sure."
Spyboy: "The locus of the activity isn't here, it's at the jump point to Chandley."
[OOC] WC GM: The Waterloo 29 is, so far as you know, abandoned, having been speared by a gravity tendril that is slowly expanding and eating it.
[OOC] Metis: It was constructed from the nanites though, right? That would be close enough to scan them?
Zinda Tegram: "What if, Dakka, construction was happening far away from you?"
[OOC] WC GM: If there were any left aboard.
Dakka: "Then I wouldn't know about it."
Zinda Tegram: "Well, there you go. You seem to have ordered a larger scale project than intended."
Dakka: "Are you seeing construction happening?"
Spyboy: "Yes."
Zinda Tegram: "Yeah, just a jump point over."
Spyboy: "The gravity tendrils - they're gathering material to the White-Chandley jump point."
Spyboy: "That's construction…on an unbelievable scale."
[OOC] Spyboy: Well, a pretty typical scale for building a carrier, actually - just without transport ships.
Zinda Tegram: "…Alright, you said you tapped the ring for power?"
Dakka: "We tapped a few pieces that still had some sort of power, yes."
Dakka: "Didn't get very much, but enough…until this happened."
Zinda Tegram: "Are those pieces still active?"
Dakka: "Not in their original form. If you want to check them out, though, I'm not using them."
Abraham: "If they still have power, we may be able to access whatever original programming you obviously triggered."
Dakka: "Be my guest. We'd have trouble even getting back up there now."
Abraham: "All right. Let's go and see what there is to see. There's probably data there, but no one here cares about that."
Metis: "Data is life."
Abraham leads the way to the location Dakka indicates.
Abraham: "I thought ice cream was life."
Metis: "Ice cream is data."
Spyboy frowns.
Spyboy: "Data is ice cream."
Metis: "That too!"
Abraham: "And just think, she's never even had Rocky Road."
It is a short hop to board the Waterloo 29. Despite the massive hole in its center, life support and artificial gravity still work - for now. There is even enough room in the hangar to land.
Among the minor improvements seem to be a fully automated hangar facility: no techs required. Refueling umbilicals detect the presence of fighters and attempt to connect.
Spyboy: "Area looks stable - for now. I'm seeing no particular deformations, but there are enough particle collisions that anyone who wants to have kids should probably stay well away."
Metis initiates the scan for nanites once inside the hangar.
Metis only detects Kali's, which seem to be asleep in Zinda's pocket for the moment.
[OOC] Metis: How much of the carrier is within scan range from the hangar?
[OOC] WC GM: You'll have to explore to do a full sweep.
As with most Yorktowns, the central hangar goes clean through. The hole in the hull where the gravity tendril spears the carrier is easily visible from where the party lands.
Spyboy tries to determine the lethal hazard zone around the graviton column.
Metis: "No nanites within scan range. Michael, would you be able to access the primary sensor suites without having to access the bridge?"
Although the tendril itself is not visible, its effects on the carrier are. It tapers off rapidly around the edge, barely over a meter from a complete lack of carrier to no visible effects. Whether that meter marks the edge of full intensity is not as easy to determine.
Spyboy: "Hard to say. As is evident by the refueling systems, Dakka may not have been Kali, but he was no slouch, either. I can definitely, however, try."
Spyboy starts poking around the wireless and data systems. Surely there was some way to upload…and since Abraham has the Waterloo's schematics, so does Spyboy.
Metis: "If not, I will need to manually sweep the ship, which would be tedious.. and possibly dangerous."
While walking through the hangar would be a death sentence, it looks like the very top and bottom of the carrier may provide a way to safely walk around the tendril.
Spyboy's credentials are recognized, and he soon has as much access to the Waterloo 29's systems as he does to the Roland's.
Zinda Tegram scoops some dust and tosses it into the tendril.
The dust is swept away less than a quarter meter in.
[OOC] Spyboy: Yes! Carte blanche!
Spyboy: "Access."
[OOC] WC GM: Well this is a ConFed carrier, whatever the special circumstances.
Spyboy: "Huh. Looks like Admiral Dakka's security people may have been rather less adept. None of his primary access codes have been changed from the system defaults."
Spyboy twitches, but ultimately resists the urge. Too easy to detect. Ah, well.
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: No nanites near the tendril?
[OOC] WC GM: None.
[OOC] Spyboy: They'd probably have been swept away, if they were here.
Metis: "A violation of security policy. But it does make this easier."
Spyboy: "Metis, I've got access…and I'm patching you in….there. Need anything else? If not I've got hard drives to browse."
Spyboy assumes that Dakka's personal files are encrypted somewhat better than the ship's systems are, but he's willing to give them a shot.
Metis accesses the Waterloo's sensor suite, performing sweeps of the ship as well as surrounding space for nanites, hazards, ice cream, or any other data of interest.
Metis: "Not as of yet. The scan is initiated and I will relay any data."
Spyboy: "Got it."
Creaking echoes through the carrier from near the tendril - specifically from the top and bottom of the carrier where the tendril is expanding. The carrier is structurally sound for now, but if things continue it will eventually be snapped in two and the halves set free to spin, either free from or into the tendril.
Spyboy would certainly try to speed up the scan…but he would do so by assigning a dedicated bot to run the searches. Since Metis is such a bot…
Spyboy does not find much in the way of personal files. The ship's log starts once construction finished. Not long after that, the abandon ship order was given. The log ends there.
[OOC] Spyboy: Not shocking, but habits die hard.
Metis finds no traces of nanites, the usual shipboard hazards plus what the tendril imparts, and an untouched store of ice cream a couple decks below the bridge in the rear.
Spyboy: "Hold on. I thought construction was incomplete. Am I misremembering?"
Spyboy: "Because according to this, the logs state that construction of the ship was completed, and then things went pear-shaped."
Metis: "Unfortunately, there are no nanites on the Waterloo. Fortunately, there are no hazards within sensor scope, other than the obvious."
Zinda Tegram: "…sounds like he left out a detail."
[OOC] Metis: Are the Waterloo's sensors powerful enough to scan the surrounding area, as well as the habitat?
[OOC] WC GM: Yes. They were as powerful as the Roland's; even with some impairment from damage, they can still do some scanning.
[OOC] WC GM: Although they wouldn't be able to pick up nanites at long range.
Spyboy muses
Spyboy: "The nanites might have remained on the Waterloo after construction was complete, but a maximizer would consider that to be an inefficient waste of resources."
Spyboy: "I'd expect to see more where they were gathering substrate - if they're still there and weren't consumed for resources to finish the project - or to have been gathered up by the stream."
Spyboy: "I realize a part of me is just fighting Zinda out of habit, but I don't think we should get carried away with worrying about the Dakka Maximizer. From what we've seen, Dakka himself is a central component, and that leads to some…very final solutions."
Spyboy grimaces. He doesn't much care for that last part.
[OOC] WC GM: …ehh. Spyboy would quickly think of this IC. I'll PM it to you.
Spyboy: "….Crap."
Spyboy: "….We'd have to kill all of him, wouldn't we?"
Spyboy: "….And we don't know where he all is…"
Abraham: "Most likely, which is why we're going to find another way."
Spyboy: "….And these pronouns are not working right…."
Spyboy: "…….Admiral, would you care to ask him if any of him might be in Chandley?"
Spyboy: "Because someone mined that jump point."
Abraham radios Dakka "How…in communication are you…with your self?"
Dakka: "What do you mean?"
Dakka: "I have no split personalities that I am aware of at this time."
Abraham: "Not /quite/ where I was going with that. I mean, how aware are you of what's around you in other locations?"
Dakka: "…oh! You mean my 'crew'. We talk like any crew."
Dakka: "No twin telepathy that we've noticed, though."
Spyboy: "How do you decide which one of you is the Admiral?"
Abraham: "Not constant contact then? So you have to deliberate choose check in with…your crew?"
Dakka: "Whichever one's the oldest. We share secrets, and copy the Admiral's brain when making a new one."
Metis: "That sounds like it could be very insecure."
Spyboy: "So if one disagreed about who should be in charge…he could be in Chandley?"
Dakka: "I've not disagreed with myself that I know of."
Dakka: "And if one of me slipped away and went there - are you saying he'd have a way to survive?"
Spyboy: "Well, someone's been laying mines…"
Dakka: "And what's this 'constant contact'? Sounds like you've got a better way than radio and talking?"
Abraham: "More like we've dealt with distributed intelligences before and I wanted to see if you worked the same way."
Dakka: "…say again? I thought you said you've dealt with distributed intelligences. Ain't no such thing!"
Dakka: "Unless you mean whatever this gravity thing is, is intelligent?"
Abraham: "Your right. It's almost as silly as an admiral duplicating himself and ranking himself by seniority. Forget I mentioned it."
Spyboy: "Since we still have no idea what the cause of the phenomenon is, who knows? It appears to be forming a neural net, so….maybe?"
Dakka: "Hey now. Let's not start believing this is all some sort of science fiction story. You're here, I'm here, we're living it."
Abraham: "In other words, if it's not intelligent yet, it might be before long."
[OOC] WC GM: Sorry, but I knew some NPC would pull that line eventually. XD
Abraham: "And for the record, I am not in constant contact with my crew, which I'm sure is a relief for all involved."
[OOC] Metis: This way you can sleep at night.
[OOC] Abraham: And without reciting my multiplication tables even.
[OOC] Abraham: While Dakka's digesting that revelation, BRB
Dakka: "Well. So this might be the most alien intelligence mankind's run across so far?"
Spyboy: "Hard to say. We've come across some pretty strange ones in the last few months."
Metis: "Humanity is the strangest intelligence I've encountered…"
[OOC] Abraham: Back
Abraham: "We're pretty high up there, I admit."
Spyboy can't help but take this a bit personally.
[OOC] Abraham: Spyboy is holding out for Lagos to be the strangest?
[OOC] Spyboy: As a human who is married to a Lago, he feels that he is abnormally strange for a human. Which…but you get the drift.
[OOC] Spyboy: So, our current status - we're on the ship, looking for any leftover nanites from its construction, which so far we have been unable to find…we're also looking for the artifacts the Dakkas used to power the nanites.
Spyboy peruses the ship's archives and sensor logs for the artifacts - where they are, what happened to them, anything about them.
Most of the ship looks normal, if slightly off due to the base material…until Spyboy spies the engine room. Those are not ConFed standard reactors.
They are smaller, more compact, and have no fueling ports or other standard maintenance accesses.
Spyboy: "Metis, you seen anything like those reactors before? I'd like to take a closer look…"
Metis pulls up the schematics of the engines to study.
They also look somewhat organic, like a metal tree.
There are no schematics of these engines.
[OOC] Metis: On a different note, are there fighters in the hangar besides ours?
Metis triggers the sensors set to monitor the engines and displays the view from the engine room.
Blades and spurs and ribbons scatter higgedly-piggedly about. It is a mess, and yet, there are EM signatures - visible light among them - suggesting power is flowing through.
Spyboy: "They're active, definitely…"
[OOC] Metis: Any resemblance to what Zinda did to the Roland, only in reverse?
There are no fighters in the hangar aside from the party's. It looks like those were how the Dakkas got away. From what Dakka has said, and the logs, they were barely fueled before being launched, and would now be out of fuel.
Spyboy taps Heggy on the shoulder; she kicks on the thrusters and orients the Big Dish to point at the reactor cores. Spyboy starts mapping power flows.
Aside from looking somewhat organic, and having perhaps a tree or plant motif (other than this one being metallic), there does not seem to be any special relationship between this energy plant and Zinda's minions.
There are convertors - almost jury-rigged - tapping the power flows and converting to electricity. From those convertors, power is routed through the Waterloo 29 as normal.
Metis: "There are no schematics for these engines, and they do not resemble anything within my cached data. A more thorough search of my complete database will take time."
Spyboy: "Do they look Nephilim at all to you?"
Metis compares the images with known samples of Nephilim engine technology.
[OOC] Metis: I'm leaning towards no, but I don't think Neph engines have been described to us.
There are very few known samples of Nephilim engine technology that have been studied by humanity, and what little there was was debris in small enough pieces that no solid conclusions were made.
Although a few of the pieces might have had similar shapes.
Spyboy: "So…working hypothesis; start with Nephilim or proto-Nephilim tech from the ring, add brilliant dust, mutate."
Metis: "…brilliant…dust…?"
Abraham: "Intelligent nanites."
Spyboy: "Sorry, it's an old term…and I may have mixed it up? I think it may be genius dust, as opposed to brilliant pebbles or smart rocks, which are anti-spacecraft defenses?"
Spyboy: "But yeah, intelligent nanites, if Dakka's wrong about his consciousness being where the nanites' central consciousness resides."
Abraham: "So, since this is apparently not a property of nephilim technology, where did the 'brilliant dust' come from. By the way, I would rather that term not show up in your logs."
Metis: "There is little correlation between these engines in whole and what little information there is on Nephilim engines. It is possible that there is correlation in part, but without schematics I would have to physically scan the parts. Without such little knowledge of the nanites, I cannot extrapolate their processes."
Spyboy: "Logs?"
Spyboy: "Oh, right, those things that people who don't have secrets keep."
Metis: "I keep logs. I am at least as good as Zinda at keeping secrets."
Spyboy: "The nanites would have come from Dakka. I think what we're seeing is emergent from the interaction between the technology that Dakka didn't understand when he stole it from the Kilrathi scientists - sorry, 'borrowed' - and the technology that Dakka didn't understand when he stole it from the people researching the ring - sorry, 'press-ganged.'"
Metis: "But we want him alive, right?"
Abraham: "Yes."
Spyboy: "It'll definitely be more complicated than just killing him, Metis."
Abraham: "If for no other reason than we can still get useful data from him."
Spyboy: "Or the fact that we'll certainly miss at least some of him."
Spyboy grimaces
[OOC] Abraham: Metis is off mourning another lost opportunity to kill a meatbag.
Abraham: "Not his hugs though."
Spyboy: "You know…do you realize that since Chandley, you and Wenser are the only Admirals in the sector who actually have had a crew on your carrier?"
Spyboy: "And I'd ask about Wenser, but we actually met Rab."
Abraham: "Yeah. I'm traditional like that."
Abraham: "So the problem is disabling the interaction without destroying the nanites, and doing it over multiple sectors."
Spyboy blinks
Spyboy: "Have we established that there are actually any nanites present?"
Spyboy: "For all we know, Dakka's maximizer works perfectly, since it's leashed. I wouldn't trust it to stay leashed. But at this point we have no proof that it hasn't."
Spyboy: "For all we know, all that happened here is he flailed about and reactivated the ring, and it's merging with the wormhole residue in Chandley."
Heggy: "Aside from the mines, of course."
Abraham: "No, but I'm not ruling out the possibility that Dakka stole experimental 'stealth' nanites."
Spyboy: "…Well, yeah, but that doesn't show any evidence of nanites, just deliberate intent."
Abraham: "But, you're right. We need to exhaust all other possibilities before we go with theoretical technology."
Spyboy: "Yeah. There are too many possibilities in play right now."
Abraham: "Okay. assuming there are nanites and we're not totally on the wrong path, then logically there would be at least a few, probably inactive, nanites on Dakka himself."
Spyboy: "Agreed."
Spyboy: "But shouldn't we be worried about what's going on in the system right now, rather than the potential of what could happen when Dakka starts turning every living thing into himself?"
Abraham: "So we should see if we can find those. Even inactive I'm sure you could get access to their programming and possibly even…issue a patch."
Spyboy bites his lip.
Spyboy: "You know, Admiral, just because you can speak my language doesn't necessarily mean you can manipulate me…"
[OOC] Metis: He doesn't need to manipulate you, he can give orders.
Abraham: "It's hardly manipulation to order the best man available to do a particular job. My other real possibility is Metis and since she's technology I'd rather not send her into a situation where the problem is 'unforeseen technology interactions."
[OOC] Abraham: Even if it would get her a Fate Point.
Spyboy: "Understood, sir."
[OOC] Spyboy: S'okay, I'm hoping to get one of my own out of this.
Abraham: "In this case, I think they're the same thing. I think I've figured out part of what's happening. The ring was not built, it was grown. Dakka reactivated the growth mechanism without the correct parameters so it's effectively cancerous."
Spyboy: "That would make a lot of sense."
Spyboy: "Any idea on a justification for visiting Dakka in person?"
Abraham: "Well, we could try just telling him the truth. That we think we have figured out the root cause of this phenomena and that we have a potential solution but we need some inactive nanites from the original batch. Dakka will say he doesn't have any because he's Dakka and he doesn't, but we will ask to search the habitat anyway because we only really need one and it's practically impossible to get rid of all Nanites without measures they obviously aren't using."
Spyboy: "That should work."
[OOC] Abraham: It's a bit of a risk but I'm assuming Dakka has the aspect 'is Dakka'.
[OOC] Abraham: and since we're close 5, do that next week or logend with that?
[OOC] WC GM: Sure, we can logend here, and start next session with the party hopping down habitside.

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