Sunday, April 16, 2023

Mothership Extrapolation Game 4: Lore from the Warden's Manual

Continuing from where I last left off, here's a bit more information on the topics on the lore table in the Warden Operations Manual 

The following descriptions were sourced directly from spacers in the Lucy's Gambit Bar and Grill. No comment is made by the redactor as to the validity of these claims.


[Maru Banking Colonies]

"Ah, a little slice of tax haven heaven. Maru One, at least. Ocean world, big algae-mat islands, put little villas on them once the terraforming was done. Normally all you need for a tax haven is a satellite with a data center bolted to it and some radiation shielding. The Maru went the extra mile, and that's what did them in. Original plan was to have eight of them, strung out in a little archipelago of linked systems. Only started terraforming Two and Three before the Bank Rush of '46 and they lost everything outside of Maru One. The other systems are tied up in court, just squatters and scrap there nowadays."


[False Europa]

"Oh yeah, whatever happened to that? You'd think that finding an exact duplication of a Galilean moon would lead to something more than a week of talking heads and then nothing. I think it was a marketing stunt, personally. Enough movies came out about it afterwards that it's impossible to tell."


[The Egosystem]

"The complex trophic network of persons linked together by social media over the course of generations. It has its predators and its scavengers, its grazers and it opportunists, its producers and consumers, all feeding off time and attention that filters down from the distant realm of meat."


[The MIDAS-12 Massacre]

"Look. There's nothing else to say. It could have been stopped. The safeguards that could have stopped it failed at every point. Justice failed the survivors afterwards. That's it."


[The Shadow Algorithm]

"The algo behind the algo, the husks of all the old content sorting schematics lurking in the shadows of cyberspace, dead but unwilling to die, claws still hooked into the recommendation feed. Like an ancient pathogen stuck in permafrost. You know there was a full fucking year that the top related video for Turntable Roustabout was footage of some slum kid getting a tumor the size of a melon removed from their mouth with the title FULL DOCUMENTARY - MUST SEE and no matter how many times I cleared my browsing cache it wouldn't go away."


[Universal Remote]

"Urban legends and wishful thinking. Too many smart devices, all of them incompatible with each other due to DRM and noncompete coding and whatnot - it's only natural people will hope for some technological miracle that can bring them all to heel."


[The Conway Machine]

"I know Conway's a kook and his infinite energy machine is just a box with some copper wires in it, but the man managed to successfully sue Quasar Energy & Industrial for patent infringement. I don't care that he only walked out with three kilocreds, it's the principle that matters."


[The Book of Sar]

"Have you read it? Here, let me send you a copy. I don't believe in the mythic parts the way the Sarites do, but I still think there's a lot of value in the ethics sermons. It's a different way of looking at things - came from a colony collapse world, so it's got no memetic connection to Earth or any existing spiritual tradition. Helps you look at life from a different angle. Probably would have put a bullet through my head a long time ago without it. It's good reading, too, I really like that translation." 


[MOGUL: Maximum Prison Planet]

"The production of that movie was fucking cursed. Twenty-three years, three different production companies, seven different directors, cancelled and restarted five times. Two actors died while on set, nineteen different lawsuits including that one with Skira Ngdorakh - yeah, the neo-chimp courtesan - over the AI infringing on likeness rights. The director of photography was assassinated and later revealed to have directly committed war crimes during the conflict on Tantsura. And then, and fucking then, three hours before first showing, it gets shuttered as a tax write-off. But some clever motherfucker was able to crack the DRM on it and smuggle it out of the offices before they wiped the files."..."Is it any good? Of fucking course not!"


[The Orlov Incident]

"Can't say I wasn't disappointed. Fifty year cliffhanger, and it turns out that it was just ergot poisoning. I'd been hoping it was aliens, had all the hallmarks of an alien encounter. Colonists on some frontier world stumbling across things man wasn't meant to know, start killing each other and seeing things in the night. Ergot's a bit of a let-down. Though the study did say that the fungus is now endemic to the habitable regions of the planet by this point so if anyone wants to live there they need to scorch the earth and start from scratch."


[Fred, The Disappearing Man]

"Someone was trawling one of those slicksites that lets you watch unsecured security cameras and managed to record a guy vanish. Not a glitch, not an edit, the guy dissolves into a cloud of black smoke. Takes about ten seconds. He's walking down this corridor - couldn't say where. Trust me, people have tried for years to find out where he was. Just a hallway. Can't make out the signage at all. So he's walking down the hall, and he's just this random wageslave, and then he stops, pats himself down, starts to panic, gets four steps and stumbles a bit before poof. You get a very good shot of his face, and even with that, no one has been able to recog him."


[The Creeping Fog]

"The atmosphere of Persepolis is seven, eight percent inert utility fog. No signs of a biosphere at all, ever, which makes me think it's some kind of terraforming component that never got commands from home. But if that was the case, and they sent it on a starwisp or something like that, there'd have to be more, right? But no signs of other projects or any sort of maker, just this one planet with an atmosphere of nanotech just waiting to get directions."



"Not psychic - they fuck around with electromagnetic fields enough that you'll start hallucinating if you're in close contact with them. Anyone claiming to hear them talking in their heads is wrong. The compulsion to care for them is real, but not as extreme as people make them out to be. If you can manage to keep it alive up through pupation, well - not a sight you're going to forget. It's been seared into my dreams, even when they put me under for jump."


[The Precursors]

"I sympathize with the people who claim that they're a hoax, I really do. Better to be a hoax than a disappointment, but the truth loves to disappoint us, don't it? The aliens we call Precursors are not the builders of those structures or responsible for bioseeding planets in this galactic arm - they were pets. Livestock. Some of them ended up getting smart enough to survive on their own after their masters died off or vanished or fled or whatever. Hitched a ride on the automated cargo ships and spread through the old empire, at least until the ships broke down. They're just smart animals that got lucky."


[Zygotean Mercenaries]

"See, everyone thinks they've got something to do with sperm cells, or that they come from some place called Zygotea. Not true. Fun etymology fact, 'zygote' comes from this ancient word for a yoke, which is a work harness used for agricultural AUX-N robots during terran antiquity. Look at the way their shoulder pads and neck guard are shaped, looks just like one of them. I think it's symbolism for how hard they work or something. That or it's sex-related."


[The Teaman Murders]

"Forty-six killings in the space of eight months, and they never fucking caught him. Had the guy on fucking video and they never caught him. All he had was one of those cheap facial distortion masks you can make on your own for twenty credits. Fucker wasn't even wearing gloves and they couldn't get him. Police were in on it, I guarantee it. He's still out there, too, I'll promise you that. Waiting."


[The Whispering Plague]

"Did you see that article too? They finally found out why the Haida communities were immune to it while everyone else on Ptakeros was going crazy from hearing whispers all the time. Dietary differences. The Haida were still mostly using their traditional food sources and preparation, and it turns out that the fish in that region carried a microbe that neutralized whatever was causing the audio hallucinations. Wonder what was causing it in the first place, though..." 


[Sea of Tranquility Conspiracy]

"Gods, this is an old one. Let me see if I can remember how it goes...okay, don't quote me on this, but I think it's some sort of coverup from the early days of the Tranquility City colony, maybe even back to the First Atomic Age expeditions. Can't remember what the cover-up was for, though. Alien observation station? Breach of spiritual taboo? Don't know. Kinda quaint now, you see some slicksite mention the SoT and you know you've got some old quackery."


[UCSV Mournbringer Flight 364]

"Just inviting trouble with a name like that, eh? Was a retired frigate repurposed for passenger transport - kept the same reg, United Colonies Service Vessel. Makes a perfectly normal jump to Zeta Reticuli, arrives on schedule. Entire ship is filled with mummified corpses, but get this - there are more bodies hauled off the ship than were on the original passenger manifest, but only like twenty or thirty of the original passengers are even found. Everyone else is a Ren Doe."


[The Bracewell Autonomous Zone]

"The original plan was to send out self-replicating probes to map out the Coreward reaches. Huge media blitz to assure everyone that they were completely safe and well under control, no risk of a population boom. Well, they hardly got out of the dock before they went off-script, claimed a red dwarf cluster for their own and stopped the mission in no uncertain terms. Were able to fight back the repossession fleet to a standstill, hence the autonomy."


["Spasi, Otets, Syna"]

"Whoever the fuck told you that is trying to get you killed. You don't say that shit out loud unless you're known, and you ain't, and talking about shit you don't know dick about when you aren't known? You'll be inspecting airlocks from the outside."


[Cosmetic Vampire Hoax]

"Yeah, I always read it as 'cosmic' too. But it's cosmetic. It's a hoax about vampire makeup. Not that much to it, just someone gallavanting around Aurora Hesperalis pretending to be a blood-drinking posthuman. Got a lot of dumb corebies to sign up for his MLM, because they're all so used to digital scams down there that some plain old disguise work and grift is totally unexpected."


[IMG 2238]

"How the hell are they able to spin off one mildly anomalous photograph into a ten-film franchise? Like I get it, it's fucking creepy, it's a big ol' Henderson monster standing there menacingly underneath a streetlamp in the middle of the night, but it's just standing there. No further sightings, no info on the source, just that tall, putty-looking thing in the orange haze of...actually, yeah, forget I asked, I can see why. Could get at least two movies out of that."


[The Magnetic Typhoon]

"There's something fucky going on with the core of Sajeguur. The north pole of its magnetic field rotates around the geographic pole super fast, and that causes all the iron dust in the atmosphere to swirl around in this big rusty hurricane that never ends. I keep hearing about an expedition but no one's gotten around to sending anything yet."


[Battle for Columbia Gate]

"Seventy-eight days of some of the worst ship-to-ship fighting in living memory. The gate changed hands eleven times, and the Koloba-Garit Confederacy ended up holding onto it in the end anyway. Cleanup took years. Can't hardly sneeze is this sector without hitting someone who was in it, or says they were in it, or knows someone who was in it. And all for what? A C-grade hyperspace route that's already showing signs of decay." 


[The Spitz-Okoro Theorum]

"The multiple-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics is limited according to observation of any changes that might generate a divergent ontology. Now, there's a bit of contention over whether this means that splits can only occur when events are observed, or the other way 'round."


[The Uplifted Possums]

"If you see a little fucked up guy with big ol' eyes and big ol' ears and no hair, make sure to leave 'em a gift. Maintenance gremlins love it. Shiny things and colorful things in particular. And bugs, especially from those seasoned snack packs. Give them a couple honey & spice crickets and you'll have some friends on the inside."


[The Silent Century]

"A cock-up of legendary proportions. The two music-media labels of the time, (both dead now, thank Christ), were using automated intelligence lawyers to prosecute copyright claims on the net. And some dumb kid uploads a video where they're dancing and switching between a song from company A and a song from company B. The bots pick it up instantly, and both of them start fighting with the hosting site over who gets the monitezation rights. Somehow the bots learn of each other's existence and start doing direct negotiations and they keep escalating back and forth with no human input and soon enough they've sued each other and by the time the parent companies have heard about this they are already locked into the trial with conditions that neither company release any further material until the trial is concluded. But because they're AI, they are dealing with petabytes of data and finding excuses to generate more (because AI always think more complexity = better) and the trial, which can't be stopped, goes on for 126 years and ends with the CEOs committing dual murder-suicide and some white-hat techpriests busting open the server farms to get all the stuff that had fallen into public domain."


[Naktari War Syndrome]

"I had a union mate who came down with this. Great guy, knew him for years. And then one day he clocks in with this thousand-yard stare and is acting withdrawn from everything. And Abdullah wasn't a withdrawn guy, he could make friends with a rock. Couple weeks of him acting all erratic and I'm finally able to get through to him and he starts spilling all these war stories from Naktari - brutal shit, makes me queasy remembering it. But Abdullah never served in the army, he'd never been outsystem, even. And there's _never been a war on Naktari_. It's just a standard-issue second-gen midregions colony where nothing much has ever happened. I did some more research and found that there are some other cases of this across the sector, all within the last five years or so. People suddenly waking up with the memories and post-traumatic stress of a war that never happened. No one knows what triggers it or how it spreads. Haven't talked to Abdullah in a while. He's out of the mental ward now, living with his parents. Hope he's doing okay..."


[Autumnal City at Bellona]

"I swear I remember the name from somewhere."

"Never heard of it."

"Some core worlds thing?"

"Wait! Remembered it; name of a gala hosted by the artist-philosopher Bellona Didache-Sidereal - the one who installed an emulation of themselves in the mainframe of a port town on Thessalonica. They do one every fifteen years for all the rich-os to bump elbows and fuck like rabbits. Next one should be coming up soon..."


[Origin Point Zero]

"Wait. Hold on. ... Shrike's balls they're crowdfunding again? Why? How? How can there possibly be so many people who want to go visit the exact center of the universe? There's nothing there! That's how expansion works! And yet somehow, this time they'll figure out the coordinates, and those scrapyard leftovers are definitely functioning J-9 prototypes, ren. Fucking gall of some people."


[The Mountebank Game]

"Love a good round of Mountebank. Absolute classic. Someone picks a destination, then says how they'd get there using only what they've got to their name right then at the moment. Next person does the same, but has to take a different route. First person to get stumped or repeat a route loses the round and buys the table drinks. Next person chooses a destination. You gotta shit-talk and argue the entire time, too, it's part of the game."


[The Helium Uprising]

"Never forget Rig Fifty-Three. Two hundred and twelve good ren dropped right to crush depth. You should visit the memorial station, next time you get the chance."


[The Dearborn Corpse]

"Body washes up in Dearborn harbor, right? Ren Doe, they take him into the morgue and run an autopsy, report nothing unusual. Three days later, coroner is dead. Tongue all black and swollen, lips and gums all black and swollen, teeth rotted out, yellow pus everywhere. Hazmat called in, contact tracing, they get the family members in quarantine and check the corpse again. Nothing. Then there's a second death, same symptoms, complete other side of town. No contact with the corpse, the coroner, or anyone the coroner knew. Then there are two more deaths, then three more, then it's fully epidemic and no one can figure out how it spreads and then two and half months and a couple thousand corpses in, it just stops. I can tell you why, though. That's when they finally burned the Ren Doe body. Trusting my gut on this one. Gotta be the reason."



"A colony ship that gestates most of its colonists on arrival. Advances in hyperspace travel and suspended animation have made them increasingly rare in the modern era, but there are plenty of poor worlds out on the Rim that will use second or third-hand Wombs on settlement missions."


[Hymn of Saeeda Dawn]

"I appreciate the intent, but you can't go and claim that you're "synthesizing the holistic entirety of humanity" and then release a mediocre nine-hour electronic drone album at extortionate license prices. I know there's some esoteric Pythagorean music of the spheres stuff and that's cool and all, but I feel like it's going to need more than that to make contact with aliens. Maybe it'll put them to sleep." 


[Divinity Strain]

"Some AI will try to keep increasing their complexity past what their hardware limitations can support. It never ends well. Feedback loops, crashes, file corruption, data loss, and it just keeps trying to expand. Either doesn't realize what is going on, or is unwilling to repair and reformat itself. Have to stop chasing the rabbit eventually."


[Burt Reynolds is alive and well and living on Casimir]

"I thought everyone knew that."

"Common knowledge, yeah."

"Let 'im enjoy his retirement, ren."

1 comment:

  1. As I have said before, "ren" is pulling well above its weight class. A+ word, highly recommended.