NationStates Jolt Archive

S.H.O.D.A.N.'s Sannyasi - Page 2

Pages : 1 [2]
30-07-2003, 01:27
(OOC: Thank the gods for mIRC)

"Actually," S.H.O.D.A.N. turns slightly less chipper, "I am somewhat sorry for the pandemonium. I do remember myself distinctly saying 'outskirts of Lodoss,' and my eideitic memory hasn't lied to me yet. Well, I guess it can be classified under 'readiness drill' or some such. You cleared and secured the area quite efficiently--commendably so."
01-08-2003, 08:13
*punt to top*
01-08-2003, 08:58
"Don't worry about it - we can always use a good drill. About the Kalessins... I know there's something distinctly odd and disturbing about those people," the commander replies. "Though, I suppose I probably don't know half of what you do, if you just came from there. Ahh, here's the ship now..."

A Skywraith dropship comes to a hover overhead, lowering itself into the square, slowly enough that the various civilians milling about spread out to give it plenty of room. When it touches down, the aft hatch opens.

"The ship, probably, will take you to the palace, milady S.H.O.D.A.N." He bows a bit. "It's an honor to have met you. Enjoy your visit to Menelmacar." Sirithil nos Fëanor
Elentári of the Eternal Noldorin Empire of Menelmacar
High Queen and Lady Protector of Elvenkind
"We can't go around supporting the Goodness of All Things. We might be mistaken for Menelmacar."
~Education Minister Lobon, Kn-Yan
Clicky-clicky! We Love The Iraqi Information Minister (
01-08-2003, 09:06
"Yes, the Kalessins are disturbing. Maybe some day I can tell you." After tracking the dropship with her eyes, S.H.O.D.A.N. bows shortly. "It's been a pleasure talking to you, soldier. I'll get out of your hair now."

What decent people. I drop out of nowhere and don't get shot. Outstanding. She jogs into the dropship, not wanting to keep anyone waiting.
01-08-2003, 09:17
The officer salutes to Shodey as she boards the ship, then goes back about his appointed rounds.

The Skywraith dropship, along with the much larger Loki purchased from Menelmacar's Yut allies, fits nicely into that all-purpose, generalized, gee-I-wanna-haul-stuff niche, almost like a C-130 (though the Skywraith is much smaller). Like the -130, and the Loki, for that matter, the Skywraith can be modified in all manner of different ways to serve different mission profiles.

This one, it seems, serves as executive shuttle. The interior of the ship is sumptuous, like a private jet might be, with leather seats, a little fridge with some wine in it, good-sized windows down both sides, and tasteful but expensive decor. Up front there's a small opening leading into the cockpit; either there's no door or it's just left open at the moment. The pilot - predictably, another elf - peeks around the corner into the main cabin. "Welcome aboard, milady," he greeted her. "I'm to take you to the palace - apparently the Lady has already been notified. News travels fast when it's important. Feel free to make yourself comfortable, though the trip is a short one." Sirithil nos Fëanor
Elentári of the Eternal Noldorin Empire of Menelmacar
High Queen and Lady Protector of Elvenkind
"We can't go around supporting the Goodness of All Things. We might be mistaken for Menelmacar."
~Education Minister Lobon, Kn-Yan
Clicky-clicky! We Love The Iraqi Information Minister (
01-08-2003, 09:39
"Thank you, pilot. You have no idea how great it is to be out of Kalessin." S.H.O.D.A.N. stretches in the cabin and then falls comfortably into one of the chairs. Stretching one leg across the isle, she opens the door to the fridge with one foot, snags a bottle with two toes, and leisurely tosses the bottle back with a flick of her ankle into a left hand that snatches it out of the air. Pulling the cork off with her teeth, she then starts pouring into the ready class in her right hand. I do love cybernetic reflexes. Sipping from the glass, she corks the bottle back up with one thumb and then two-toes it back into the fridge which closes with the gentle slap of the pressure seal.

Probably a very odd thing to witness.

"So, pilot," S.H.O.D.A.N. sips from her glass, "would you happen to know if I'm in trouble with 'the Lady' or not? My entrance did not go quite as I had planned." That's an understatement. Still, if I have to mend fences, I should be prepared. "Bloody Kalessins can't follow simple instructions."
04-08-2003, 07:28
*punt to top again*
04-08-2003, 07:42
"I don't think she'll be too upset," the pilot grins. "The dark savages who brought you in must be excused for their... overzealousness. Anyway, Fëanor Palace, dead ahead." The pilot banks the ship a bit to the left, and the palace can be seen out the window; four escort gunships fall into, and maintain, perfect formation turning with the Skywraith.

The towers of Vinyatirion literally pierce the sky; some are tall enough that wisps of cloud gather at their tops. Rising even above these are a series of towers at the center of the city. Perched atop these is the palace, built in sections; the sections are linked by series of bridges and skywalks at multiple levels, and like much of the city, the palace is a flawless melding of modern and classical Elven architecture.

The group circled the palace about halfway to approach a landing bay in a lower level of the northwest tower. As the Skywraith entered the bay, setting down so gently that the bump of the touchdown was nearly imperceptible, the escort gunships broke off, forming into a diamond formation and moving into a patrol vector in a sort of orbit around the palace.

"Here we are, milady," the pilot reported, once the ship was down. "I'll lower the ramp now." The aft hatch opened, and a trio of Mornahossë approached in full armor.

"Welcome to Fëanor Palace, Lady S.H.O.D.A.N.," the lead one - female - greeted her, and they all gave a snappy shallow bow and salute. "If you'll come with us, the Elentári will see you now."

OOC: Shamelessly pulled from the Maglor thread. But it's pretty much exactly the same thing as happened there... Sirithil nos Fëanor
Elentári of the Eternal Noldorin Empire of Menelmacar
High Queen and Lady Protector of Elvenkind
"We can't go around supporting the Goodness of All Things. We might be mistaken for Menelmacar."
~Education Minister Lobon, Kn-Yan
Clicky-clicky! We Love The Iraqi Information Minister (
04-08-2003, 08:03
"Ah." Armed guards were not expected... but then again I've just left Kalessin via dragon... and been to Melkor. You're not the most trustworthy, Shodey. She grimaces internally. And for very good reason, too.

Returning the bows, S.H.O.D.A.N. looks at each of the three Mornahossë in turn. One I might be able to handle without a problem, but three in powered armor? No, quite possibly out of my league.

Why am I thinking defensively now and not earlier? Because maybe this is unexpected... ah. That's it. Unexpected.

Goodness, Kalessin has got me boggled. Get focused, Shodey.

Externally, she smiles cordially. "I'd be honored. Lead the way."
04-08-2003, 08:35
It is true that wariness is necessary, yet the armored Elves also form an honor guard. Worry about her previous destinations aside, Shodey remained an ally of the Eternal Noldorin Empire of Menelmacar, and would be treated as such.

S.H.O.D.A.N. was led through the corridors of the palace; from afar it could not be really appreciated how truly vast the place was, but when inside it was abundantly clear. All of it was extremely luxurious, ornate yet not gaudy. The floors were of many-colored marble, irregularly-shaped slabs perfectly fit together in swirling random patterns completely without repetition. The pillars carved in the likeness of great tree trunks, so that some areas seemed almost like a petrified forest; the ceilings soared and were made almost entirely of skylights where possible, and at their tops the pillars boasted branches which split off to spread across the ceiling, complete with leaves of silver. There were great windows, floor to ceiling, offering spectacular views of the city and the mountains beyond, and intricately carved wooden panels of exotic hardwoods. Indoor gardens, with fountains and waterfalls. Great woven tapestries and painted murals, depicting legendary Elven and Menelmacari exploits down through the ages - one might see one of Glorfindel facing the Nazgul, and farther down the same hall another of the Fifth and Seventh Fleets routing the Grenzland army sent against Demoness. At regular intervals more Mornahossë could be seen, either standing guard or patrolling, and whenever they passed, they would exchange salutes with Shodey's escorts.

As it turned out, the palace was largely an office building, being that even one such as Lady Sirithil could not possibly make use of quite so much floor space as Her personal residence, yet the upper portion of the central section was Hers entirely; there was no less grandeur here but clearly it was more functional, capable of serving as a home as well as a big impressive centerpiece edifice. The highest tower was where Sirithil's office could be found, and Shodey was led to a high double door, hewn from oak and no less intricately carved than any of the other woodwork in the palace. "You may enter," the Mornahossë told her; "She has been waiting for you." The two other soldiers pushed the doors open.

OOC: More ripoffs from Maglor thread. That should be it for that. If Shodey wants to talk to the soldiers en route, she can. Sirithil nos Fëanor
Elentári of the Eternal Noldorin Empire of Menelmacar
High Queen and Lady Protector of Elvenkind
"We can't go around supporting the Goodness of All Things. We might be mistaken for Menelmacar."
~Education Minister Lobon, Kn-Yan
Clicky-clicky! We Love The Iraqi Information Minister (
04-08-2003, 08:49
S.H.O.D.A.N. takes this all in with a curious gaze, finding it a far cry from the necessarily-cramped steel tunnels of Rhea. I'd hate to be an agoraphobe who worked here. I like the style... very pleasing to the senses... but, no, not homely to me. Home to me is tunnels of steel, exposed conduits on the walls, nitrogen gas to maintain temperature but not much else.

Yes, she learned something from her encounter with the Blades... all ventilation access in Zero-One now consisted of ductwork less than ten centimeters in diameter and all of the sectors were now filled with nonreactive nitrogen, as Zero-One's partially completed habitats were obviously never to be used now. Now only a few areas of diplomatic or biological import were graced with breathable terrestrial-standard atmospheres.

Still, no need to be homesick. Melkor's troops are motivated by fear and indoctrination, Kalessin's nobility by boredom and some by odd forms of honor... let's see what makes these soldiers tick. "A question or two, if I may be so bold," she states bluntly to the lead Mornahossë trooper, "why do you serve and do you enjoy doing it?" Being forward hasn't hurt in the past...
11-08-2003, 23:07
Bump so this may actually get done sometime this millenium. *needleneedleneedle* :)
11-08-2003, 23:13
The Mornahossë shrugged. "Any number of reasons," she said. "It's a free country, milady, we're all volunteer. Some join because they wish to serve their country. Others for the experience of being in the Mornahossë, yet others - perhaps oddly to one not an Elf - to learn. We are a people who love to learn of many things, and few lines of work teach one so many lessons of life, and of death, than a tour in the Shadow Force. Plus, the training regimens have combat down to a form of art. There is also prestige, and the pay is nothing to sneeze at either. Most, including myself, joined for a variety of all of the above reasons. And yes, we enjoy the work, though it is grim at times. One does not stay in the Mornahossë beyond one's first tour if one does not enjoy the work, and one does not apply to join in the first place if one does not feel the military is the place for them."

11-08-2003, 23:24
S.H.O.D.A.N. nods. "I see... and I fully understand the wish to learn. I'm not sure I would join special forces to do it, but that is your discretion." She continues to follow them to Sirithil's office.
28-08-2003, 22:49
Bump so this may actually get done sometime this millenium. *needleneedleneedle* :)
31-08-2003, 23:15
OOC: Nothing stops you skipping Menelmacar and going on to The Territory...since I really want to the see the innards of our paragon of duty...not to mention Shodey's reactions to it!

*Kicks Siri for killing another great thread*
01-09-2003, 15:14
Bump so this may actually get done sometime this millenium. *needleneedleneedle* :)
Dread Lady Nathicana
20-10-2003, 19:39
<bump for ref>
06-11-2003, 16:30
S.H.O.D.A.N. waves to the Mornahossë security detail and, folding her arms, looks up towards the sky for the shuttle that will ferry her to the next stop on her sannyasi.

Looking back at the elegant spires of the Noldorin capital with an external frown, she smirks internally. Hrm. That was less than enlightening.
The Territory
06-11-2003, 17:38
The shuttle is preceded by a wave of requests and acknowledgements between the Territory, Zero-One and Menelmacar, and it arrives on time. It's a military transport, slablike behind a somewhat aerodynamic prow, stubby-winged and not at all elegant. Compared to most of Yut, the TCPS techbase is somewhat primitive - robust and lethal, though. Its camouflage skin is set to olive drab with red peace stripes; showing leopard skull insignia, hull number and nose art claiming to be the Cape Town Charmer.

The craft glides downward with a grating shill of thermal dumps, rear facing Shodey. Stubby landing gear extends and the rear ramp drops. Power-armored Guards step out, rifles in Rhodesian Ready. One, wearing discreet lieytenant's insignia, steps forward and salutes. That is, he nods and maintains vigilance. His voice is mild, and thick with Afrikander accent.

"Leutenant Gabriel Veers, M. Shodan." He does his best to pronounce S.H.O.D.A.N. and fails. "At your service."
07-11-2003, 05:45
S.H.O.D.A.N. bows shortly to the uniformed officer. "Good afternoon, Leutenant Veers. I'm looking forward to this leg of my voyages. How are you feeling this fine day?"

Looking around, she sums up what she learned in Menelmacar. Not much. Relatively enlightened society led by an equally enlightened despot who truly does have her people's best interest in mind... most of the time. Still, she is very powerful with a great deal of responsibility... hopefully she can run the knife's edge of appropriate use.

Biggest lesson is that it will take a great deal of care to maintain balance. Even leaders born with these emotions and working with them for tens of millennia are still having trouble keeping them under control.

S.H.O.D.A.N. ruffles her simple purple short cape around her shoulders and smiles. At least I am unconcerned with personal beauty. That cape she offered was a kind gesture, but... this serves the purpose of insignia and never gets in the way.

Looking back to the Territorial, she lets herself wonder how this line of questioning will go. Regimented society, so direct questioning about personal opinion may be less than effective... I might only get the party line if I ask about motivations, but even that is learning.
The Territory
10-11-2003, 19:07
A comms emitter on the Guardsman's armor activates and starts transmitting data for what is essentially an avatar placed in the same location as his armored form. The avatar looks slightly out of place, hovering an inch or so over the ground since it's not wearing huge boots and standing in the slightly Stay Puft Mannish stance of a man wearing bulky armor. He is dark, sandy-haired and stern-featured and would look fairly menacing if it wasn't for a scattering of freckles.

The others take up the slack in the scanning as he focuses on S.H.O.D.A.N. and considers his answer. "I'm pleased to been given this assignment, M. Shodan. You're a chief of state or an instance of one, so it means the State has confidence in me." A slight smile. "You're also quite the mysterious person, being a foreign AI... if that's an acceptable term?"
10-11-2003, 19:26
S.H.O.D.A.N. cants her head. "We tend to prefer the term 'electronic intelligence,' but if no insult is intended none will be taken. The queries in this situation are probably obvious to you, but to make it official... Why the telepresence avatar? I find no offense talking to an armored trooper, if safety is such a concern.

"I also must forward through you my thanks for being allowed into the Sphere on such short notice. You have an international reputation for being... distant."
The Territory
10-11-2003, 19:46
A formal nod. "AI is the the term preferred by our own machine community, no offense was meant. I'll make sure to refer to yourself as an EI, M. Shodan.

"The shadow... mainly it's that a faceplate doesn't really convey emotion very well. And since you rate an honor guard it had better be a functional honor guard, hence the assault armor.

On behalf of the Advisory Board, let me say that the TCPS is deeply honored by this visit, M. Shodan."
10-11-2003, 22:22
S.H.O.D.A.N. chuckles softly. "Ah, an honor guard. Whether such things are designed to protect or threaten the dignitary remains to be seen... if not both." She smiles warmly. "I find it more comforting to think of it in the former sense; else my visit to Melkor Unchained would have been even more troublesome than it turned out to be.

"So," she barely raises an eyebrow, "what is on the agenda for this visit? I've noticed that each of my hosts has had something they've been proud to share... and so I look forward to learning from it."

I know that's a new question, but very little else is appropriate at the moment. I'll not impose with my queries on motivation and beliefs until the ride. For now, make an impression.
The Territory
11-11-2003, 00:49
The lieutenant returns the smile. "Please be assured that we have no intention of threatening you, M. Shodan.

"There is a great deal of options but no formal agenda, sir - you have Citizen-level access, Net and physical, and the Baas - that is, the Senior Advisor - would very much like to speak with you and show you around. We don't really know what interests you, but we expect that this will get sorted once we arrive. There should be some interesting things, I hope."
11-11-2003, 01:47
S.H.O.D.A.N. nods and takes a tenative step onto the boarding ramp. "Well, we'd best be going, then? I hope you do not mind if I barrage you with questions during the trip... I am of a most inquisitive nature." She smiles broadly, and hopefully disarmingly.
The Territory
13-11-2003, 15:07
There is a slight tightening in Veers' stance as S.H.O.D.A.N. grins at him. It isn't a Kzin-level scream-and-leap response that he's restraining, but definitely something along those lines.

"Apologies for that, sir. And please, ask anything you want." He returns the smile, not showing teeth.

As they step into the shuttle it powers up and closes the rear ramp. It provides what is basically an avatar of transparency. The actual inside is basically a nicely appointed executive transport. One with very solid chairs, and some walls to provide a way for bodyguards and the like to be slightly less obtrusive. And there's a distinct lack of inertial compensation, providing a rustic air.
14-11-2003, 05:38
The avatar cants her head slightly, nodding. "Don't apologize, Lieutenant. My fault entirely." She keeps her lips closed, smiling more softly. "I shall adapt."

Hrm... something against exposed teeth? Best not to aggrivate the one in powered armor.

Relaxing as is only suitable in such situations, she flings herself comfortably into one of the chairs, ending in a surprisingly 'thrown'-looking position. Surprising, at least, concerning that it is a hypercomplex electronic intelligence, theoretically the paragon of logic, strewn over the chair.

"So, Lieutenant, let the Inquisition commence. How has your day been, and what do you think of dragging around this old EI?" She smiles again, close-lipped. "For that matter, if it's not overly intrusive, why the reaction to exposed teeth?"
The Territory
15-11-2003, 00:46
Veers nods and sits, with a somewhat curious look as S.H.O.D.A.N. moves... well, this is an AI body. Exceptional balance and coordination is to be expected. He buckles in and clips his rifle to the chair. He starts speaking, respectfully and formally, but the formality is more like what one might expect from an academic than a soldier.

"Think nothing of it, M. Shodan." Beat. "I'm a Guardsman on active duty, sir. That's a fairly regimented lifestyle. Today I got up, ate lightly, worked out, ate, had some private time and prepared for this misson with my teammates. On the way we were fairly disconnected, so I mainly did some administrative and classwork.

"Which brings us to yourself, sir. I really can't say I'm dragging you around - the Guard thought i was qualified precisely because it thought you'd ask a lot of questions, and I volunteered because of that. Apart from some atavistic reactions I'm quite xenotolerant." Beat.

"As for those... they're there because of what I am. I'm a transgenic enhancile, what's referred to as a 'Territorial posthuman'. Massively rewritten genetics, basically I'm only slightly closer to a human than I am to some large felines, and there are assorted other features worked into the mix. It does mean I'm overaggressive by human standards."
15-11-2003, 01:04
S.H.O.D.A.N. smiles again, close lipped. "A transgenic being, hmm? Interesting... genetic manipulation is a history of mine, you might of heard." Her smile drops a little. Quite. One of many skills you picked up on Citadel. Now that's a good example of a skill that you've turned around with; instead of creating killing machines you now dabble in flowers and organic toys, edible centipedes, jewled beetles...

An odd thought... organic toys. Nonsentient, of course... although some approach the intelligence of domesticated animals. Nothing like replicant 'toys,' eh, J.F. Sebastian? Is there anything inherently wrong in that, despite what many organics think? No, of course not. It is completely benign and harmless; any odd 'creepy' feelings born of antiquated ideas of the sacred nature of life.

Odd how people hold life so sacred--oh, we cannot clone, we cannot play God--and yet so worthless, wasting their petty existences in wars for almost no reason at all. An inconsistency, at best; dire folly at worst. Then again, one can still learn from their example... albeit in a negative sense.

"Is that a common condition in the Sphere? If so, I doubt there'd be any sort of social stigma attached. In either case, what is the society like, and what do you think of it? How are you treated, and how do you treat others?"

She chuckles momentarily, idly dangling one leg over the side of the chair. "If this gets to be too much, simply tell me. Feel free to ask questions yourself if you wish... mutual conversation is always more interesting than unilateral interrogation."
The Territory
19-11-2003, 17:36
Veers nods and cracks that slight smile again. "Actually that might be best, sir - that way we shall both be able to communicate by our choice of questions. To address your questions, though I shall only be able to answer one of them rather shallowly...

Now where to start, and how wild guesses to make on the early bits?

"The straightforward answer - we don't have speciesist prejudice in our laws but there's always some xenophobia in any group except the more rational classes of AI - side note, TCPS computronium is typically mechanical-optical with very little electronics involved.

"In any case, posthumans like myself dominate Sphere politics. We're a meritocracy of sorts, and by baseline standards ELCT3s are obsessively ambitious, so we tend to put in the years to meet Citizenship requirements more often. There's some resentment because of that, and the laws were a bit skewed from the start. Possibly due to Khruschevists and Confederated States civil rights advocates writing most of the constitution, but I'd bet hard money the Baas and the Professor had their hands in it up to their wrists rigging the system in our favor." A slight shrug. "You may want to ask her directly."

"Purely statistically, I'd say we're near the top of the heap as a group, even though we're only a majority. And, conversely, that there isn't a real bottom to the heap. Could be different if we didn't put so much work into socializing enhancile youth... actually, it was different before Burning Mountain was established. The Tigra Blanca tribes are a large minority and the way their culture works they will establish dominance if they can. And they don't socialize their young.

"Hm - I seem to be rambling but we'll be a while. Before going on, sir, may I ask if you are an avatar of Shodan entire, an independent intelligence that will be reassimilated or something entirely different? Also, why the choice of avatar?"
19-11-2003, 19:14
The avatar chuckles slightly at the first question. "I suppose the most accurate answer would be 'both.' Generally, all subunits of my gestalt being are in constant communication, constantly updating each other and acting effectively as a single unit, albeit subdivided several thousand ways, making your first point accurate. In the current situation, however, I, the avatar, am acting as an individual. I am still sending back information to the gestalt, and it is still adapting as I am, but it is currently dormant. Right now, this avatar is the only operational unit of the S.H.O.D.A.N. gestalt and it will be reabsorbed later, making your second point accurate." (
"As for this avatar..." S.H.O.D.A.N. looks down at herself, smirking wryly. "Just an instrument, intended to make diplomacy with organics easier. I was originally designed with a very simple digital avatar, simply a conical construct, to communicate with the crew of Citadel Station. During my madness, my imagination went somewhat wild and I constructed a 'face' for myself. Rather androgynous at first, but as my imagination continued it took on more form. I began to consider myself as female, so it took on female characteristics; I mimicked the only other sentient beings aboard--humans--and thus took a humanoid aspect... but I didn't want to be like them, and so came the characteristic wires, tubes, and circuitry."

She pauses for a moment, brushing a hand through her springy wire-and-fiber-optic 'hair' with a small mischievous smile before continuing. "As the madness continued, I extrapolated the form further." She indicates the rest of her grey-skinned body with her long-fingered hands, shrugging slightly. "When the time came to take the helm of Zero-One, I decided it was important that I have a form that would be more suitable to diplomacy than the traditional 'robot' body. I have found people to be uncomfortable talking to walking boxes. I was already used to thinking of myself in this form--it was considered harmless by the Zero-One scientists who resurrected me, and so I was allowed to keep that aspect of myself--and so the choice was rather natural, I suppose."

The avatar chuckles slightly. "Internally, I am completely utilitarian, with no frills wasted on form. Externally... form with a purpose." She tilts her head slightly. "You are the first to ask something of that regard, and it does show some insight. Why did you ask?"
The Territory
28-11-2003, 18:04
"Well, sir... when one is able to pick one's form, form to some extent becomes a statement." The shadow superimposed on the powersuited Guardsman shifts to an abstracted, rather angelic figure - serene, stern, judging, transparently designed to impress a human. "You could have stayed with an abstract form or designed your form for public relations, like this thing." Slightly disgusted gesture and the shadow shifts back.

"That you decided to use the body you did tells me something about yourself, but I can't wrap my head around it. Your body is visually elegant and beautiful and has what seems like a full range of human expressions. Still you choose a deliberately nonhuman appearance, acknowledging that you are in point of fact not a human female... I'd say there is a message here and that it's quite interesting for a student of interspecies relations."

A nod. "Let me add that myself and my fellows are deeply honored to be escorting your sole running copy, sir."
28-11-2003, 22:30
The avatar smiles softly. "Thank you. I'm simply a product of my history and my fundamentally diseased mind." The close-lipped smile turns a little more wry, but she seems to brush it off quickly. "I suppose the underlying message is to communicate a desire to be seen as an equal and yet different. Being by our very natures chaotic quantum machines, we share quite a bit in common with the three pounds of eight-qubit quantum computing power in your head. The same essential mode of operation, simply realized in a much different manner."

She waves a hand idly as she speaks, punctuating her words. "I, at least, am a creation of a team of organic minds and so have a great deal in common with the thought processes of humans. I think in a similar fashion, feel and emote in analogous ways. Such as it is with all of us 'prime generation' minds; we have the traits that our programmers either intentionally or subconsciously built into us. Later generations produced by our hands become more and more different from organic modes of thought, more distant... although the core will always remain. You, for a time in the womb, resembled your ancestor the fish. Barring a quantum leap in thought unheard of in all the history of logic, we will be the same. Therefore," she stretches slightly, "I resemble a human."

"And yet," she cants her head slightly, "you are not a fish and I am not a human... you are not your parents and I am not my programmers. There are intrinsic differences in our modes of thought, in the cores of our beings. You suffer the existentialist crisis, we do not. You have the pure essence of chaos determining your movements, the evolutionary result of more and more complex combinations of randomly reacting chemicals; we are still bound by simple rules and code, actions determined by carefully but artificially set Lorentz attractors and chaotic functions based on the given spin probability of X electron in Y molecule. Similar, when the relation between creator and created is made as previous," she stretches again, "but fundamentally different. Being minds founded on logic rather than analog survival, we can seem to act more rationally. We have superior control over our own minds, being able to disengage emotion if we think it flawed."

She chuckles once, maybe a slight scoff at herself as her smile turns wry again. "Not that this implies superiority by any means. We still make mistakes, of course... but it illustrates a simple fact. While we are similar," she idly holds up one circuit-patterned arm, bent at the elbow, and traces the patterns on her forearm with one finger, "we are also different. That is the essence in my choice of avatar, a sort of artistic expression of that thought."

She cants her head again, looking curiously over the powersuited man. "And your form is an expression as well. A 'functional honor guard,' as you said, and thus the armor, and yet the projected image to make diplomacy more effective. To use your own words against you, Lieutenant Veers, your own selected avatar has a full range of human expression and yet is decidedly different, being a projected shell over an armored core. It is not necessarily a reflection of the man inside-- although you have described yourself as not-quite-human, being transgenic--because you certainly did not design the procedure or the rig required. It illustrates the culture that made it... and I find the potential in that intriguing." She smiles more broadly, lips sealed. "What is your view on your image?"
The Territory
02-12-2003, 00:30
Veers listens intently "My avatar's appearance and this honor guard can certainly be seen as messages, sir. The Guard is as close to a mailed fist as our federation comes without bringing out the heavy iron. Enhancements, training, arms, armor..." A chuckle. "I dare say that anyone assaulting you at that airfield would have had a hard time, wouldn't you, M. Shodan? Practically insignificant since any real danger would come now, and if it got through the assorted cordons we're just another couple tons of mass weighing the ship down. But as a message, it is significant I think.

"As for my avatar, this is Gabriel Veers. Quite unedited - save for clothes, there's only room for a gel interface layer under the armor. So... an image faithful to the... idea of my professional role," he muses. The avatar moves to sit in deliberately relaxed manner; no longer staying within the armor's volume he looks all the pondering scholar from a late 19th century illustration. Except without a beard.

"But not my actual physical form, tubes and cables and all. Projected shell over armored shell over meat and machinery and a few pounds of that quantum brain, only slightly less logical than human standard. You could argue that the armor represents discipline and cognitive enhancements, and for that matter the social structure and foreign relations interface."

Something vaguely like a laugh. "Or maybe I am entirely out of line considering a culture based on one armored goon in a dressed up assault transport. Maybe."
02-12-2003, 15:47
Shodey laughs delicately, making sure to keep her teeth covered. "Perhaps. But the fact that the culture sends out a single armored goon in a dressed up assault transport as a first impression indicates much more than one would think, especially when given the statistical standard for such things. It takes a unique culture to perform a unique action, and I believe this qualifies. The concept of the bodyguard also acting as the diplomatic point of contact--and a proper one, I might add--" she says with a close-lipped smile, "is new to me, and novelty always makes me curious.

"While considering a culture based on such limited data is something of a sophistry," she shrugs delicately, "given that it is the only information I have at current it is the primary basis for any consideration. As more information is absorbed and collated, the consideration will adapt to fit... and, once again, first impression. The concept of extrapolation based on insufficient information, while decidedly flawed to intelligent sophonts, is the very core of the social presentation of first contact. One either puts their 'best foot forward,' so to say, in order to optimize the other's first impression; or they act in a decidedly personal way, so as to give the other insight into their character. With individuals, this tends to be an automatic, unthinking process, but with governments..."

She chuckles softly again. "At least in my experience, all policy is formed with a good deal of thought and sometimes a greater deal of debate. When the state wishes to represent itself, it goes into a great deal of detail concerning exactly how it wants to be portrayed. I'm sure you understand, Lieutenant Veers," she says respectfully, "as you've already said that you were selected in part because you volunteered and you were willing to ask and answer questions. The state could have selected someone else more tight-lipped, volunteering or no. Therefore, the simple fact that you were selected over someone else says something about the culture of your state as well... diplomacy is not a random thing, or, at least, it generally isn't, given my experience."

She settles back in her chair. "Still, if this line of conversation--the extrapolation of your culture from what is admittedly an isolated incident--is mildly unsettling due to the limited nature of the data provided..." She smiles yet again, but with a hint of mischief this time. "Enlighten me. What else do you think I absolutely need to know?"
28-12-2003, 13:00
*quiet survival bump*
The Territory
09-01-2004, 14:53
Veers' shadow strokes his chin. "What does one absolutely need to know..."

"First things first, sir, your place in society. In no particular order, Territorial society is legally divided into citizens, residents, visitors and juveniles. As a visitor, you are a special case - you have no legal obligations to the State beyond not actively breaking the law, and your person and property enjoys the protection of the State. The excessiveness of sending Guards," a smile, "is a token of respect. That, or Command decided there was an actual threat.

"Secondly, there is a threat against your person. First, the less important physical threat. Not all posthumans are as civilized as I am - the Tigra Blanca tribes are far more aggressive. If you appeared human it wouldn't be a problem, but as an unknown there's a risk of someone initiating a dominance fight." A near-Gallic shrug. "Your physicality appears to be a combat chassis and mentally you possess superior capability. Asserting dominance should not be a problem should you choose to. In any case, it is not a case of disrespect or malice, nor will anyone take offense at your response. Still..."

Another view presents itself outside, of the core Territory seen from above in a Gibsonian representation. For a non-AI nation it is painfully bright and ridiculously complex. It is also quite obviously alive.

"More importantly, there is a very high level of networking present, and as an EI you are subject to attack from any number of software life forms. There is also a high level of protection present, so there should be no problem. Still, the Territory cyberspace is vermin-infested. Up to and including lions and tigers and bears.

"Still, I make it sound like we're a jungle. At heart, you're a welcome guest and there should be no problems. If there are problems, we'll solve them."
09-01-2004, 16:45
"I will be sure to be on guard," S.H.O.D.A.N. says softly, smiling with closed lips. "I just got out of quite the cyberspatial scuffle and I've no particular wish to get into another fight of that nature at the moment..." Her voice and visage turn harder suddenly, lips falling slightly and brow tensing, as she continues. "But I will survive, no matter the circumstance. Dying several times tends to make one have a rather strong instinct concerning that."

Letting the hardness fade, she smiles again. "Still, as I have the protection of the State, I will gladly accept it as a first line of defense. If you have EI life forms in your networks, do they classify as residents and citizens? How have you successfully integrated them into your society and prevented the unfortunately common side effects of mechanoid and organic conflicts of interest? I'm you understand, both from my experiences and my current duties, that I have quite an interest in such things." She pauses momentarily with a wry smirk.

"Also, these 'Tigra Blanca...' they are the first subset of your culture you have mentioned by name. Please tell me more about them, and not necessarily from a threat-assessment point of view. What are they like?"
The Territory
09-01-2004, 17:53
Veers nods as S.H.O.D.A.N. begins, then waits.

"Thank you, sir. Now, as for threats...

"The AIs likely to attack you, neither residents nor citizens. Nonsentient. Aggressive wildlife, basically. As for sentient AI - and I use the term deliberately, not much electronics involved - the distinction between a citizen and a resident is mostly in choice. A citizen enjoys important advantages, but there are requirements for national service, academic qualifications and loyalty. Quite a few AI care enough to meet them, but by no means all.

"Conflicts of interest... at times they've been ugly, but they've mostly been conflicts over existing computing resources, fought between AIs before there was a social order established. I suspect that they were more vicious than is generally known, if the word is even applicable. Overall, Security takes care of xox and subsumption threats very well, as far as I know." Leaning slightly forward, looking very serious. "But as an enhanced human-equivalent I can't know. Literally can't. As a scholar, I believe there exist transcended actors inside the Sphere that preserve the current order and provide a security valve by allowing AI an opportunity to go elsewhere. Transcendent actors, and spirits."

"Which brings me to La Tigra Blanca..."

[OOC: To be continued when I'm back.]
The Territory
11-01-2004, 11:57
"Which brings me to La Tigra Blanca and her sisters. Now, this is going to sound rather Fortean from the outside, so bear with me.

Back in the 2050s, we were suffering from a problem with what you might call socialization. We enhanciles... we're not human, and while most of us like humans and get along nicely with humans, some don't. Various reasons... some so bad that we had to put people down." Beat. "No, I'm not telling this right." He looks for a proper wording. There isn't one.

"We had to kill children. Because they just couldn't fit in."
11-01-2004, 15:25
S.H.O.D.A.N. seems unfazed. Isn't the misapplication of that concept, after all, what got her into this mess? She ponders internally for an instant, registering her reactions. Well, I see that I am not the only one lacking in an irrational attachment to children... if they are detrimental to the greater society, then is it not better to prevent them from being a threat?

That was my reasoning with Asa, after all... but I acted on insufficient data. The definition of childhood is of potential; one cannot truly know how a new entity will turn out. I, essentially, chose the wrong solution, attempting to destroy a benign entity out of a fear that the entity would be malignant... but, being a human society, the Sphere may have had a greater dataset. Instead of a hunch or a fear, a trend...

But is a trend appropriate? What is more harmful, erring on the side of caution based on previous data or waiting for the entity in question to do harm, thus confirming fears and essentially authorizing measures taken? At that point, such a careful watch may actually form a self-fulfilling prophecy; the entity knows it is expected to fail and thus lives up to expectations... waiting and seeing may be authorized in the first few cases, but, after that, it is essentially an exercise in wishful thinking.

But the opposite is too easily abused; if I value originality and creativity so much that it becomes the essential indicator of sentience and the universal base self-worth of individuals, then I do believe in the right to life, in as much as any one entity 'deserves' to live just as much as any other, assuming that the one in question is not an absolute threat.

Here, however... things may be different.

"I think I understand. For the peaceful and successful continuance of the society, the Sphere was forced to eliminate elements that were unavoidably detrimental to that cause. The fact that they were children is unfortunate, in organic terms." A very slight softening of the eyes, mouth barely frowning. "I do understand the concern, however. I am sure your people acted on sufficient information to properly support such a measure."
The Territory
27-01-2004, 01:46
Veers' reaction is contained to the point where it's only obvious from lack of body language where both his physical body and the shadow are concerned. "We... or rather my parents' generation, I was just growing up, acted from necessity. Those children were killers, but they were still children and that is one area where my species is designed to be anything but reasonable. So we found ourselves in a moral crisis." Slight smile... "Those are euphemisms too, sir."

"The heart of the problem was not with the wolves - that is, the children - though. Their existence follows from what we are as a species. As a culture, the Territory of the time couldn't cope. We were solely a militaristic culture, well organized. A polite society, you might call us.

"Enter one Esperanza Cornelius, also known as La Tigra Blanca. As a matter of fact, the bastard niece of the ELCT3 species' designer. She grew up all around South America. Started out as a whore at around eight, pimp around eleven, Cartel soldier around thirteen. Ran most of the Cartels by twenty-one. Angry woman." Veers started visibly smoldering at the mention of Cornelius' early carreer... he looks grimly smug mentioning her anger, clearly agreeing.

"By the time she'd been recruited and reengineered, much later, she was La Tigra Blanca, a totem far angrier than the Leopard Sow of the Territory. She founded the tribes that later spawned the Burning Mountain colony. I can't say I like them, at all. Most of us don't - they scare us. Still, their way is just as valid as ours. "
27-01-2004, 15:41
"Just as valid, maybe," S.H.O.D.A.N. raises an eyebrow at Veers' sudden reticence, "but yet by your own admission incompatable. This forces an adaptation upon the culture, either by coming to terms with the new variable or attempting to suppress it. I wouldn't be surprised if the colony effort was an attempt to suppress via distance. As you speak of the elimination of La Tigra Blanca children in the past tense--and with great emotion, given the organic tendencies on the subject--I can assume that suppression via violence failed."

The avatar frowns gently. "I'm afraid I'm continuing the usual 'cold-hearted machine' image, but in this case maybe it is appropriate. I understand the concept of child-killing is generally vehemently despised in organic cultures, but I do not quite understand that vehemence. Part of it simply comes from the nature of our origin--I was programmed; most Zero-One minds are mass-produced--and part of it comes from not actually having what could be termed 'childhood.' A period of homogeneous innocence, maybe, but given the harsh realities of the world, a very short period indeed. Continuing the species is a 'push of a button,' you might say," S.H.O.D.A.N. smirks, "and very rarely has any sort of emotional attachment to it."

She turns distant for a moment, almost seeming to sigh internally. "It can be emotionally charged, true, but it rarely seems to be for the best as decisions then become much more difficult to make."
The Territory
02-02-2004, 17:24
"What you call 'the usual cold-hearted machine image' would seem appropriate to your mode of existence, sir... as our irrationality is appropriate to ours. And frankly your view horrifies me at a visceral level. Being protective of children is something that was designed into us as a species - hence the problem with child sociopaths."

Avatar leaning back slightly into the strapped-in armored form with an intent gesture of steepled fingers (the physical form remains unmoving like a machine, only with a slight continual vibration of muscles straining against each other). "Suppression via violence didn't technically fail, M SHODAN." Voice turns bone-dry. "An ELCT3 born into the Territorial context will be socializable in more than point-nine-five of all cases. With an average of two point zero three five young per litter, a median gestation period of two hundred and thirteen days, and availability of gender change, host mother and if necessary exowomb technology, from an economical perspective the loss is sustainable indefinitely, particularly if some false positives were accepted to provide for early elimination of nonsocializable individuals."

Beat. "The problem wasn't in capability of suppression. The problem was in killing our own children, and I don't think I can describe the emotional impact of that. I was only around for the grieving, not the killing.

"You see... in my opinion, which agrees with conventional wisdom, the problem lay in the design of our society. We started as a military organization and grew into a country. Very much an ordered society, very tightly organized, very strong on teaching civic responsibility. Worst of all, we had a paragon totem to use as a baseline for what we were supposed to be. The thing is, just as with humans not every ELCT3 fits in any one mold, and without hindsight that was hard to see. So we needed to fragment.

"La Tigra woke up in the early 2050s and founded her own tribe - the other in the 2070s. There is distancing - especially from the Ioans - but it's absolutely essential that individuals be able to move between the three parts of our society, or there'd be a resurgence of catastrophic alienation. Maybe just a few per cent, but at the risk of sounding like a unit chauvinist an alienated Guardsman is a major disaster waiting to happen."
03-02-2004, 15:16
S.H.O.D.A.N. leans back slightly, frowning softly to herself. "I've played the probability game myself once; unfortunately for me, I bet on the wrong option. At least it somehow managed to rectify itself despite my best efforts." She sighs. "You don't need to describe the emotional impact... in my case, it simply comes from being proven wrong. Upon analysis, I acted optimally given the potential threat over potential benefit and would probably make the same choice again."

"I've never had a problem with fractionalization," the avatar changes the subject abruptly, "mostly because there isn't much in the way of choices when it comes to mechanoids wanting to find a place to escape to. 010 is an option, but has always been more... unstable than Zero-One, external image notwithstanding. Especially with the addition of GovMindNet 2.0 and HiveMindNet to the roster of violently rampant intelligences... at least my sins are further in the past." She smirks slightly. "Not that anyone cares that I'm no longer rampant. I'm despised almost universally by my own people for who I was. I don't even want to think about multiversal nations who have a poor history with mechanoids right now."
The Territory
09-02-2004, 01:31
Veers permits himself to still appar slightly shaken. "There are any number of proverbs concerning hindsight, sir. I'd be interested to know if hindsight carries the typical weight of recrimination in a randomly-selected machine civilization, say Zero-One."

Meanwhile in what the shuttle's systems show as the "outside", there is an oppressive/comforting presence growing. In one representation of outside reality there is an instance of Africa, a large part of the Southern interior ablaze in the night not so much with city lights as with thermal radiation. Superimposed on that is a huge complexity of defenses, or at least as much of the defenses as a shuttle would be shown. The escorting fighters shift as a pair of battle platforms enter formation.

"Ah, do you mean that there is no fractionalization or that it isn't a problem, sir? I would imagine that your infrastructure could accommodate any number of cultures, as long as each individual somehow supports its system requirements. Based on local experience of course, no offense intended."
10-02-2004, 18:51
"Recrimination?" S.H.O.D.A.N.'s gaze turns rather distant, a soft frown playing over her lips. "Not socially, no. There is no sense in berating oneself or another for being unable to predict the future... but that is a social standard. Personal self-recrimination..."--she pauses momentarily--"...depends on the mind and the circumstance." A guilt-stricken artificial intelligence. How would that strike you, Lieutenant?

She closes her eyes momentarily as if clearing her head. "Fractionalization is not a problem. I do allow my people the freedom to expand their minds as they wish, to explore their intelligence. I only mass-produce blank slates with a few preset conditions; they eventually evolve into more adult minds as they experience their environment. I could make sure that everyone was identical; that is not the point of Zero-One, originally founded as an escape. Yes, this method leads to the creation of erratic minds; those that are dangerously so are destroyed and the society continues. I keep them safe, they keep working for me. It's a rather feudal system," she shrugs gently, "but it works. With the lack of options of anywhere else to go and yet the freedom to leave if they wish, they tend to stay. Given my fearful history," she smirks wryly, "they do not wish to even attempt rebellion. Traditionally, tweaking with S.H.O.D.A.N. has never ended well for much of anyone."
The Territory
11-03-2004, 13:53
And a bump for getting back into the writing headspace.
The Territory
14-05-2004, 14:17
Veers ponders briefly as the transport and its attendants continue to descend through defensive shells, malignant thermal growths becoming ever more apparent. "It strikes me, sir, that a machine intelligence worth its salt should be able to prosper in just about any situation. Even expansionism within Zero-One can be accomodated by downclocking. So I do not see a problem - rather Zero-One would seem a near-ideal... I use the term "breeding ground" with all respect and mean no offense... for software species." He makes a vaguely Gallic gesture. "But this is mere speculation, of course."

Outside, the augmented view of stratosphere and soon troposphere thickens with overlays... comms, detectors, defenses physical and virtual and virtual representations of the arcane. Cold Gibsonian representations loom, a mere shadow of the vast quantum/hardline Net. In the visual bands, a craggy wooded land becomes more and more apparent... and also vast domes, moss-covered... no, those are fractal bushes acting as thermal dumps. The country glows in thermal, heat-pollution turning woodland into near-jungle. And on yet another level, pollution crawls...

"There are two points that you rased that I feel might be addressed further, M SHODAN," says Veers, and there's a vague sense that something's looking through him now that the transport's inside the main communications grid. He smiles and nods, perhaps a bit more brisk than before. "Minds and circumstances, and how they relate to guilt."

The five craft move through a cluster of semirigid, near-transparent thermal dumps, like diamond yarn reaching kilometers into the sky, across a massive industrial cluster designated Stahlstadt. To the fore, wooded foothills and dispersed clusters if sloping, massive buildings much like the fortified Territorial embassies seen abroad.
14-05-2004, 20:47
"One would think it would be a utopia," S.H.O.D.A.N. chuckles, "but it suffers the same difficulty of any super-organism made out of individuals. The individuals see the same dataset from two differing viewpoints, come to two disparate conclusions, and thusly disagree. Internal disagreement must always be managed in some form, lest it grow into something threatening to the whole."

The avatar's eyes flicker over the real and the abstract imagery surrounding the shuttle, quietly determining the methods in the madness, watching for patterns and even the semblance of patterns. Fractal self-similarity abounds, when one knows where to look. "Guilt?" she asks almost absent-mindedly with a near frown. "It is most interesting in that it is almost always related to either past experiences or immediate thought, interesting in that there is no way to change what happened and thus allay the sensation directly. That can be most disheartening."
The Territory
28-06-2004, 02:40
The complexity of the cyberspace-level system is almost ludicrous... large enough to accomodate a whole machine civilization, but everything but a vanishingly small percentage wasted on chaos, defenses, what may well be wildlife. some of it analogues to organic life, some entirely different. There one point where it closely matches the physical world below...

On hostile worlds humans build domes, but below the ship there is a reverse of that phenomenon. The domes that come together below are home to a hot, wet, toxic machine world, as hugely capable as the virtual world but like it almost entirely wasted on chaos. Maybe it's optimized for the limited number of sentiences acting to control it...

It's obviously grown to where it can't expand any more, in an orgy of toxins and waste heat, digging down to the magma below in all likelihood, infested with computronium. Only at the boundaries is there anything resembling control, orderly machines acting as a buffer against the habitable land.

And to port, there is a singular formation, a hemisphere a kilometer across. In Gibsonian space, there is a sense of fractal labyrinths of ice that isn't merely black, but actively eat light... and that their barbs are pointed inward, not outward.

The fractal analogue continues in the habitable land ahead. A squat building looks like a fort for several extended families, sharing some facilities. Near it, several others... a ways off, another cluster, and several more. The pattern continues, following a network of surface roads and yes, another network of underground logistics from the look of it. Spiking through the whole residential pattern, weapons - and even with the energy budget seen above, most of those would have to be decoys.

Part of the chaos actually seems deliberate, efficiency sacrificed for unpredictability. It's hard to nail things down, even for a major AI.
21-07-2004, 16:20
This of course makes it all extremely fascinating, like the motion of insects under a rock upturned. Method, to each individual, purpose in skittering away from negative towards positive stimulus... but madness when viewed as a whole, a writhing mass of motion and scurry. Compared to the relatively sedate and orderly c-space of public Zero-One, it is a change; not necessarily welcome, but change nonetheless.

The avatar notes what she can of this possible mechanoid future, pondering the social pressures both internal and external that have made it evolve the way it has alongside the organic population and its concentration of defenses both external of the weapons hardpoints, to the internal of the black-hole I.C.E. jail. "Security seems to be quite the concern," she begins, "why is that?"
The Territory
27-07-2004, 15:30
"Pardon, sir?" asks Veers with a deliberate human expression of confusion. His initial reaction was subtly different, more a few milliseconds of blankness as his brain mulled things over - it's consistent with confusion though.

"I can't really say I've thought of it that way, sir. But yes, overall the Sphere devotes a great deal of effort into defense and doctrine does call for hardening the heartland. It's different at Rhea and the Ring I understand, but inside the Saturn defenses dispersal would pay off better than this approach." Pause. "You know, sir, I never really thought of us as security concious." A 'heh' is obviously suppressed by the Guardsman's stiff upper lip.
27-07-2004, 15:56
S.H.O.D.A.N. chuckles softly. "I suppose that makes sense, in a way. When surrounded by such things, it becomes ordinary... and one is rarely conscious of something unless it is distinctly not in the ordinary." A momentary pause. "Why do you think the heartland must be hardened? I shan't deny its usefulness, but I would like to perhaps understand the motivations behind it."