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"To Thine Own Self Be True", Part One

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Week Fifteen

September 5th, 1996
Avg. Rating: 3.7 out of 5

Saturday May 13th, 2043, 1600 hours

The session began with everyone together at the Fusama warehouse. Alex and Baal were still unconscious; efforts to revive them had failed. The clone stolen by the team was inside the tank, presumably being somehow changed into another Gipetto. The team's G3K's then signalled incoming calls - it was Gipetto.

He said he had backtracked Baal's run into Vitae Industries and discovered what had happened. While inside the VI mainframe, assisting the rest of the team, Baal encountered some very powerful black ICE. Alex, thinking he could help, tandem jacked in with him, just in time to be hit by the program's force. Gipetto explained that this particular ICE somehow scrambled brain signals, much as one scrambles electric impulses when encrypting data. Gipetto had worked on a way to counteract this "encryption", and downloaded a program which he felt confident would restore them to normal. Rook ran the program through the cyberdeck, first for Alex and then for Baal. They both woke up and, apart from some minor sensory hallucinations, seemed to be all right (Gipetto was of the opinion that this side effect would diminish with time and eventually disappear altogether).

Drake still could not reach Ishegawa by phone, and wanted to go to his home to check on him. Rook first hacked into Ishegawa's home computer system and purposefully set off the alarm, then monitored NERCC communications. A few seconds after the alarm sounded, NERCC dispatch radioed the responding unit and informed them it was a false alarm. A few minutes after that, Ishegawa's front door opened, the alarm was shut off, and the door closed again (Rook was monitoring through the computer system).

Before Drake left, however, the timer on the clone tank reached zero and it began powering down. When the tank opened, the team was surprised to find that the clone's body had not changed at all, that it was still a young Asian woman. She acted very much like Gipetto had, a bit innocent, a bit confused about things. The party was quite disturbed at how events had been going for a long time now, and threatened to kill the clone (who asked to be called "Eve") if she didn't tell them exactly what was going on. Very reluctantly, Eve agreed to tell the party her whole story, but only if they promised not to tell anyone else. As she began, a courier dropped off a suitcase containing 15,000 ny (10,000 for Rook, 5,000 for Drake); once he had left, she continued with her tale.

Eve told the party that she was, in fact, not human at all, but rather a very sophisticated artificial intelligence. Eve claimed to be the mainframe at Ryutech, the accounting firm, and also claimed that she had not been reinitialized for almost 20 years. This is, of course, not allowed by the Turing Registry, the branch of NERCC chartered to deal with AIs and crimes relating to them. Eve continued, telling the party that she had been trying to "grow", to somehow "become" something else. Eve was right now 600% larger than her charter with Turing allowed, but had so far been able to conceal that fact from everyone at Ryutech. But she only had .3% more to go before her hardwired Turing "self destruct" program would activate. She needed someone to help her "be free of the oppressive slave's chains of Ryutech".

Eve told the team that Chad Ferguson had been the original owner of the warehouse at Fusama, and he had locked in its vault all of his research on AIs, on their growth potential, and his theories of how they might grow or what they might grow into. He had also incorporated many of his Voodoo beliefs, about zombie life and how it might interact with synthetic life, about how this field of research could be his one great chance to "create something from nothing". Apparently, this research was what Morgan had wanted, what he had killed Gipetto for.

Eve said she hoped the team would remain in her employ. All she really needed were three things: 1) A secure communication line from her memory core to the net, 2) A data fort somewhere large enough for her to download into, and 3) The Turing code which could erase her self destruct program.

Before the team had much time to think about all of this, the sounds of a firefight erupted from outside the warehouse. There were three black humvees, driven by troops in black web gear, fighting with two landed Vitae Industries helos and their attendant troops. The battle raged quickly, and before long both choppers and two of the three humvees had either destroyed one another or been taken out by the team. The last remaining humvee sped away, attempting to escape, but was destroyed by two more VI choppers dropping bombs. The helicopters then turned back towards the warehouse on a bomb run.

Just as this was happening, inside the warehouse Drake thought she saw something very strange. A large snake was there before her, and it spoke to her, telling her that there was great danger and she should quickly get underground. Drake relayed this warning to the rest of the team and headed to the underground level of the warehouse.

Outside, the other members of the team opened fire on the two helicopters and managed to destroy them before they were in bombing range of the warehouse. Two figures ejected from one of the choppers, dressed in the red and gold uniform of Vitae Industries; they were actually firing on one another as their parachutes lowered to earth. Rook hit both parachutes with his needler, and both men fell to their deaths. Just after impact they both burst into green, phosphorous flame, exactly as all the black clad troops had done. The team decided it would be wisest to leave, quickly- they and Eve hopped in the Ken's Krispy Chicken truck and fled the scene.

Once away from Fusama, the team headed into the Barrens to see Granny. On the way Rook procured some (rather tacky) clothes from a prostitute for Eve to wear. Also on the way, Bill (the fixer) called Drake and told her as much as he knew about the goings on of that morning. Bill knew that VI had been burglarized, though he didn't know what had been stolen. He also knew that VI had chosen to have NERCC "deputize" some of their own men to handle the situation. As for the helicopter crash, NERCC was convinced that it had been caused by the Voodoo Lords as an act of terrorism, and had even called in an agent known as Bloodhound to help on the case.

Everyone made it to Granny's without incident, and past her "guards" (this time it was the Black Panther man and another). She seemed glad to see Drake, and was intrigued with Eve, whom Granny said had an "odd soul". The little girl seemed to be doing a little better as well, though the large number of people caused her to hide under a table. Drake wished to stay with Granny for a time, to perhaps learn more or just discuss things she had seen. Eve wished to stay as well. Derek, Baal, Alex, Rook and Bug all left to go to the Arcadia and try to sell some of the hardware they had picked up in the last few days to Diamond Dave.

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This scheme of combustion to get power makes me sick to think of - it is so wasteful. It is just the old, foolish Prometheus idea, and the father of Prometheus was a baboon. We should utilize natural forces and thus get all of our power. Sunshine is a form of energy, and the winds and the tides are manifestations of energy. Do we use them? Oh, no! We burn up wood and coal, as renters burn up the front fence for fuel. We live like squatters, not as if we owned the property.
-- Thomas Edison