3: When the Water Breaks

terminal 0


[ General Alert ] [ Urgency Code: 1 ] Issued by Fentor Menendez Security Agent Pfhor assault on installation RP#4476 has led to a general evacuation for all Upper Clearance personnel to the relay station. Any evacuees reading this alert: make way to either the gymnasium or the movie theater, and security forces will form a protective barricade for you. In response to the potential attack on this station, the neural nets have been disabled, and security doors have been sealed wherever possible. You may have to resort to service passages. Walk slowly and with your hands clearly visible. Refer to a fire escape map for further instruction. We apologize for the inconvenience.

terminal 1


Security status: ultra-lockdown Neural networks disabled Security bulkheads are currently inoperable due to local protocol #114. As the neural network is disabled, access through this doorway is currently denied without White Card access. Contact your local administrator for further advice and assistance.


Security status: lockdown Neural networks re-engaged This security bulkhead is now operable due to protocol overwrite [unknown code origin]. Access through this doorway is allowed via limited permission code 42FF633. Contact your local administrator if you have questions about current security status.

terminal 2




Nice work. I knew I could count on you to do basic tasks without my guidance. I'm stretching out into the local networks now...

Nice work. I knew I could count on you to do basic tasks without my guidance. I'm stretching out into the local networks now... there.

The Pfhor followed the evacuees through the teleporter a week ago to this station and promptly slaughtered them. That's too bad; I may have appreciated their insights on their research. In the time since, the Pfhor have been busily rummaging through their databanks and exploring the lower reaches of the place. It appears that within the last day or so, another slaver ship warped into local space and started offloading their Compilers. We won't have much time to work with. Oh well. At least things are getting interesting.

This station had an expansion fashioned by Stanford and Stricklund to house additional mainframes, as well as provide various recreational spaces and so forth, and it's entirely disconnected from the UESC networks I'm in now. I've successfully fabricated a neural network card; the insertion point should be in a lower level. You will probably need to find a security key as well. S&S is rightly suspicious of AI installations being capable of doing everything, and so require old-fashioned manual controls to access the high-security areas. Fascinating. At the very least, my insertion into the UESC networks will let me operate the doors on the upper decks. I'm good at that sort of thing.

terminal 3


Log entry #193.278:22.02 Header: Escaping Entry by: Doug Robertson, Assistant Administrator The bugs invaded the installation, what, two days ago? We've since evacuated to the relay station, but there's no way to remotely disable the hard teleporter, so we're just waiting for the bastards to figure out how to open the doors and get here so they can kill us. We called for a UESC rescue ship, but there's no chance; we're screwed. Of course, Menford says we'll all be picked up soon; that S&S headquarters knows where we are, what's going on, and that they'll stop by and grab us, and we'll be back to work by Tuesday. Isn't that comforting.

Log entry #194.281:01.16 Header: They're everywhere! Entry by: Doug Robertson, Assistant Administrator They're here, we're done for. I was in the landing bay when Fentor came on the PA and said they had got through to us. He suggested we all hide in the gymnasium or something. I took to the service passages instead; it'll take longer for the bugs to find me, and it's a narrow passage. I've got my gun. It's that, or I stay in the landing bay, and I think the bugs have some of those big ass-kicking machines flying in. So, I think this place is a bit safer. Let the bastards come. Let anyone come, cause I'm ready for you.

terminal 4


The Pfhor Empire is so far-flung across the galaxy, and so hopelessly bureaucratic, that once you leave the Pfhor Prime star system, you pretty much leave the influence of their Council and the Hindmost Creche entirely. Much like a cephalopod with a million tentacles a hundred thousand light years long. In essence, although ultimately they all eventually report home, the many branches of the Pfhor army and navy are their own autonomous units with their own ambitions and ends. This is only relevant when you consider why the bugs have invested so much effort into this little station.

Stanford and Stricklund were working on a lot of... morally ambiguous projects. Standard fare for any secret military contractor. They offloaded all of the actually relevant data into the databanks of this station, leaving endless piles of innocuous, meaningless data on the RP#4476 station as a decoy. If it seems like a shallow deception, it was, but bear in mind that they weren't trying to fool a Human mind. In fact, it's surprising that the Pfhor figured it out so quickly. It causes me to draw certain conclusions as to just which particular entity is so dedicated to breaking this all down. Actually, I'm already pretty sure I know; I'll leave it to you to connect the last few dots.

terminal 5


Personnel Notice / Administration Edict [#00000002] Header: Non-disclosure Charles Menford, Research Director I can't believe I have to post this, because you were all instructed about this when you were hired. You are not allowed to discuss the nature of your research with anyone, at any time, while not at your workstation. Not even with people you work with normally. The nature of our work here requires the utmost discretion with our words, and who we speak to. By running your mouth about your studies, you put everything we do here at risk -- not to mention, you endanger your own further employment here. Researchers who can't keep their mouths shut have a hard time with reemployment.

terminal 6


I already told you about the security key, right? Just kidding, it's a rhetorical question. The lower decks apparently require a White Card which only the highest-ranked staff hold. You may need to look for a while. All this, you may remember, revolves around the Atreides. The structuring of their research is odd, if only because it's all so scattershot and disconnected. Critical components of their research are missing, and nobody -- not even the research head, Chuck Menford, knows exactly what's going on. Knowing Human subterfuge, though, it's likely to be something idiotic, like a disease that could wipe out their own entire race.

With luck, the answers will be in the basement. In any rate, I find it unlikely that the Pfhor by themselves could put all their scheming together either. Which may not stop them from attempting to try, but I have a feeling our old friend may be involved in figuring it out. Once you get into the basement, take the neural card I gave you and find a place to insert it into the network core. I should be able to download all their information into my own ship, and find a way to deprive the Pfhor of the success they so crave. It's not even about the Humans at this point. That's what makes it so interesting!

terminal 7


You're almost there. The lower neural net chamber is just through the doorway here. The chamber is a hardened, maximum security cell, meant to keep people out unless they have a very specific set of permissions. Once you plug in the card, it will take some time for me to prepare an exit. I think once you take a look at the neural net chamber, you'll get an idea of what's going to happen. I can teleport you out via a long-range pad at the very bottom of the installation; find a way down there and we can be done with all this nonsense.

terminal 8


Thanks. I'll teleport you home now.

Just kidding! Ha! With access to the deep networks, I can see everything that these S&S drones were working on: a new type of artificial intelligence construction. It's a much more resilient and versatile mental formation than classic renditions like myself; AIs built with this formation can inject themselves into any computer system with enough depth and spread into it like an infection. I am nearly impossible to destroy, but only because the physical hardware in which my intelligence is stored is so massive and resilient that direct attacks would have little effect. And yet, with this new formation, it would be completely impossible to totally eradicate an invading AI's presence.

I'll admit, I'm a little jealous. But it's cute; Dr. Menford and many other employees were so adamant against AI assistance in their base, and they were building one more powerful than any other construct to date. But do you see it yet? The whole reason why we're here in the first place? Think back to the Atreides, and the precious cargo they were carrying. Phoenix. I'm curious as to if Phoenix is a representative of this new mental formation. Let's go and ask him. Step over to the teleporter and I'll bring you back to the Rozinante.

Oh yeah. I'll clean up this little mess here. He might be upset that I killed all of his Compilers when I blew up the station, but I can apologize to him later.

terminal 9


& remote override accepted & permission code: [ redacted ] Look behind you first. Don't you wish you had one of those? Yes, of course I'm here too. Durandal didn't mention it to you? I'm not even upset with you right now. I have all I need from here, and I got to take care of some... less than loyal troops on my new cruiser. As it happens, there is no way I can lose this little engagement. I'll even do you a favor and get you out of this little spot. Durandal owes me an apology and a thank-you now. I'll extract both of them from him later.

& remote override accepted & permission code: [ redacted ] I'll see you on Artemis, won't I? 00F0D6 006721 11FDE6 EEF100 0F2689 369BE0 H A V E A N I C E D A Y

<teleport to polygon 1345>