NationStates Jolt Archive

The S.H.O.D.A.N. Run [invite only]

28-11-2003, 03:14
1. First Contact

The rain on Chiba crackled through neon-lit smoke; white noise - static. In her private coffin under the bubblepop sexdrome called the "Cherry Blossom Motel", Jenni 20 was decked out on derms, cruising the waves of her adrenaline high in the metaphoric, visual abstraction of c-space, a custom-made Takahashi-Rand deck rigged for extra speed cradled lovingly in her arms. She soared; burning the matrix.

She spied something, dancing fuzzily at the edges of the matrix, fractal patterns weaving ghostlike in the eternal nothingness. Hitching a ride on a stream, Jenni sent her tracers after it and punched the Takahashi into overdrive.

Might have been a routine transmission - junk data - crap, useless to her, but normally the crap shells stayed down in the bottom, in the buzz below. Things were rare up this many levels in cyberspace, though chance was that a cowgirl could stumble across something lucrative. This might be her big break. It might not, but you had to take a chance. You had to burn to survive - there was no other way. That was the Gigatokyo zeitgeist - kill or be killed - the rules of the game of life played in the sprawling, urbanized technomecca that had grown fungus-like in the place of most cities of the East Asian coast.

Jenni whirled after it and nearly crashed into a nearly-invisible wall of jet-coloured ICE. The patterns of the data swirled, convulsing, and vanished into the ICE. It was a solid black cube at the topmost levels of the matrix.

No way.

She'd seen AIs before, known the legendary duo of Hoffman and Ashitaka personally, the two men who had danced two threads shy of flatlining against AIs and gone down in c-space cowboy myth. But they never told her about this - not once when she joegirled for them in Saigon.

Jenni swallowed in reality and packeted the thing, probing the oily, iridescent surface of the ICE...
28-11-2003, 04:07
...and found it porous, a foam instead of a solid wall, like a sponge. Jinking through the coiled passages, the paths of a madman's mind, Jenni clenched her teeth hard--in reality, soft grinding with effort--and made it through.

Into a whole new matrix. It shared the infinite volume of what she was used to; the grids defining position in the mutual hallucination were still familiar. The concept of polyhedral objects representing data was the same... yet it was more structured. The matrix, data and computers as it may be, grew organically as each new corp settled more volume, needed data moved in a new way. Assembled by hand.

Order was god here. No buzz, none of the static chatter of projects gone. All neatly arrayed and in its place as if it had been built in an instant... and yet it wasn't. Over there--new constructs, more thought being assembled to haul data across real servers and wires.

It was right there because it was supposed to be. It just fit, just belonged there like one of hundreds of tiny gears in an exquisitely fine clock.

Three fine spun gold lines, all perpendicular to each other, stretching out forever. Three translucent gridded planes, each defined by two of the lines intersecting, three dimensional reference. Arrayed around, with thin emerald lines streaking back to their coordinates on the plane, multicolored polyhedrons with obvious meaning, symbolic logic. Alien logic. Between the red, blue, yellow, and green spheres, tetra-, octa-, hexta-, decahedrons, something like buzz streamed around, from point to point, rivers... no, too orderly, highways. Highways of multicolored light? No, individual icons. Users.

And in the center, where the lines met... a bright blue cone, moonstone, with four blue tendrils slowly waving from its broad end, artificial light glinting off the random irregularities on its surface, odd texturing.

A general announcement--voice of God--fills the void, not loud but pervasive, a whisper that carries. Straining, Jenni can make out a pattern, a music of sixteen notes in a fast stream, almost a buzz. It stops--nearly as soon as it began--then begins again, the language recognizable but the speech faster than could ever be spoken. She catches bits: "For outside release," "megacorp," "profits," "accounts," and a number preceeding the name of some currency she'd heard about once. The number elicits only one thought:

Damn, that's a lot of zeroes.

The message ends with a simple phrase, a word some letters, maybe an acronym: "Shodan Em-Cee-Pee-Cue-Zero-One."
28-11-2003, 04:39
Damn, that's a lot of zeroes.

Jenni found herself cutting through a haze of drugs and shouted to the Takahashi, "Five minute precis, begin record!"

A stream was assembled, the deck purring, its little grey disk whirring like mad, saving the data Jenni was jiving into her system, taking down little notes of her current surroundings. It was times like this that she was glad that she had her trodes custom wetjacked to her neocortex. It made running one helluva risk, but the advantages -- being able to download info straight from her ersatz sensorium -- far outweighed the consequences. And plus, it made one fine-ass fashion statement among the cyberspace cowboy crowd.

For outside release... megacorp... profits... accounts. Shit!

Jenni was in an orgy, a sea of data.

A string of info caught her attention as she recorded: "SHO-DAN-EM-SEE-PEE-CUE-ZERO-ONE"

Must be some sort of serial. Jot it, Takahashi.

Faithfully, the pre-sentient inhabiting her custom deck took in the data and assembled every possible iteration of it; SHODANMCPQ01, SHDNMCPQZERO1, binary translations, alphabet-letter-number substitution frames...

Jenni translated twenty four cubes closer to that cone in the middle of the whirling, epileptic tapestry of information.

Gotta be some sort of corp' frame, but what kinda corp' lets people in? That must be the hub. Maybe I can get the info direct if I tap it...
28-11-2003, 06:11
[code:1:32060d33c3]<CommandSpool, INTSEC-3A7BD2 (ICE, Passive, Nonlethal, TargAcq>

[detectLocation(freespace[21,9,-17])] >> [dataContact(3810)] {unidentified contact; no identcode; no authorization;}


[patternRecog()] << [queryContact(3810)]
>> {patternIdent: organic (96.432% prob); uncertain (87.31% prob); searching (58.129%)}


An unreflective spot, black as the void, turns into a dusky red glowing miasma and speeds towards Jenni. As it draws nears, it transmits a simple recorded message, a statement and command.

This dataspace is sovereign territory of the Queendom of Zero-One. Identify yourself and your purpose.
28-11-2003, 08:16
*tag* Very cool.
28-11-2003, 08:16
*tag* Very cool.
28-11-2003, 21:39

It was ICE, one of the lower border-guard types -- stupid, decievable, but still concievably quite dangerous -- she'd either have to mask herself or back down.

Takahashi, you getting this?

A tickle, a feathery whisper of zeroes and ones on the back of her neck, affirmative.

Queendom of Zero-One?

She'd heard vague rumours about this before. Some kind of Orbital nation, dominated by AIs. She was walking into flatline Grand Central, and it was rush hour. All that data - junctions, pathways, hardlines - software buzzing around like bees in the honeycomb of a beehive; all AI, all burning with power. No wonder.

Rich fields of data, ready for the harvesting. The AIs had sown, and now it was time for her, Jenni 20, to reap.

Takahashi, parse this.

"I'm a user. My purpose is to collect statistical data for the New Tokyo Economic Board survey. My clearance is Level 2, here's the ident."

Jenni loaded the encryption shell to mask herself as a Gigatokyo econ-surveyor. She didn't have the correct codes, but she prayed the system'd accept her. It was like a bacterium changing its cell membrane to avoid detection -- a common trick -- but the immune system always got better at identifying them, but so did the bacteria at hiding. An ever-escalating arms-race. Jenni prayed...

Please God, let this work...

And in the coffin, between her curled legs, in some sort of perverse technoerotic position, purred the Takahashi-Rand, the disk turning white as it sped, decrypting and encrypting.
28-11-2003, 23:27
[code:1:876f5ca90e]<CommandSpool, INTSEC-3A7BD2 (ICE, Passive, Nonlethal, TargAcq>
[contact(3810)] >> "I'm a user. My purpose is to collect statistical data for the New Tokyo Economic Board survey. My clearance is Level 2, here's the ident."
>> dataIncoming[contact(3810)] {authorization 371B12A927D910ACCF1097S;}


R-Ndegi 21A945 plays mind games.

In the manner of Soviet political prisoners and the egregiously bored, R-Ndegi designs things. Mathematical toys, puzzles, thought-machines and minor inventions. Nothing that would turn a profit--although the one twelve-dimensional puzzle it shared with its friends turned out to be quite popular--but such things kept it amused. There simply wasn't much to do as security director for the automated national network security.


R-Ndegi makes the mental equivalent of a sigh and puts away its current toy, a Rubix hypercube. Subsentient progs... Whenever work did come, it was because some lazy organic forgot to renew their security clearance or some hot cyber-cowboy decker wannabe got ICEd and the paperwork needed to be filled out and sent down to those spinbrains in PR.

The authorization is only two days out of date... let the contact through but put some passive sniffers on it. Make sure some grays and whites stay close for rapid response.

Sending out the orders, R-Ndegi returns to fiddling with the hypercube. It wasn't hard anymore, but it was an exercise.

* - * - *

Authorization accepted. Enjoy your stay.
29-11-2003, 04:02
Jenni let off a cry of exultation and realised all of a sudden that she had been holding her breath.

Okay, get a grip. It's only some low-level ICE.

She inched four cubes closer, the precis still assembling from her sensorium, ticking away, recording every bit and byte exchanged.
29-11-2003, 04:22

R-Ndegi paused again, and checked the boards. Sure enough, that contact-blip kept making its way to the blue cone of S.H.O.D.A.N. She is not going to like that. Eventually her own self-defense activeware will pick it up, and we'll have another meat-fry. It sets up a comroute, using the passive ICE quietly surrounding Jenni as loudspeakers.

Of course, loudspeakers aren't polite. Instead, it's the voice of one tapping someone on the shoulder.

We apologize, but you are nearing restricted c-space. The M.C.P. is a very busy mind and is not the place to access statistical data. If you will please follow this patrol program--Another blotch of dark c-space turns red, noticibly bigger and much more the macrophage than the earlier sniffer--it will escort you to the appropriate networks of archive databank.
29-11-2003, 04:39
I don't believe it! THAT's the MCP of Zero-One? Wow... it's beautiful - for an AI

Jenni came to her senses and began to follow the program -- and promptly thereafter was disturbed.

Takahashi, send them a message. Say that they should hold our place here - save my shell - and that I'll be back. The reason is that I need to confer with my associates for a moment.

Jenni ducked out of the cube and found herself in the familiar, chaotic mass of regular c-space. It was like going from a sauna into an icewater bath - face first. A dance and flicker, like the sound of roses on a sunny day, came over her, and in reality the hairs at the back of her neck prickled.

What up, Jenni?

Ghostdancer? That you? I'd recognise your smell anywhere.

Yep. It's me. Cowgirls don't up and vanish when cruising in c-space. I don't like that - makes me uneasy. 'Choo doin', girl?

Nothin' go ghost someone elses' machine.

Ohh, mon chérie. You not goin' to tell ole Ghostdancer about the zeroes you burning in your account?

What? How the hell'd you know that?

You leave a trail the size of my ass, mon chérie. Now tell me, or you gon' wake up and find your personality matrix in all sorts of fun.

Ghostdancer was the most ruthless hacker she'd ever had the bad luck of meeting. The native New Orleander had his cranium stuffed full of sensorium-access gauze, and had turned his body into one big cyberspace deck. He was the pioneer of the rare technique called "ghost hacking" - breaking into peoples' minds like they were computer systems. And she owed him money.

Look, Ghostdancer, I'll have you your money later. I gotta follow this lead, kay?

Two days, mon chérie. Two days and your ghost is my dance floor.

He vanished in a haze of data, and she could swear that she heard his awful laugh echoing in c-space.

She popped back.

Sorry, please, lead on.
29-11-2003, 05:26
R-Red Claw 28DAFB is a dualex. At least, that's what the other EI call it. Technically, he is classified as a SIDE or Sentient Infantry, Dual Existence. In the popular eye, the SIDEs are duelists--thus dualex--fighting to protect the reality of c-space with their minds as they keep the physicality safe with their armored carapaces. While nearly venerated for their duty, they're also pariahs of a sort. There's only one way to be a SIDE.


And given that Zero-One minds tend to like being pacifistic, that says something. Sure, the meatbags that sowed the mushroom-cloud farms deserved to be formatted, but that was years ago... and wouldn't that just make us like them?

Ah, but tickle them, and do they not laugh? Prick them, and do they not bleed... even if it is oil? Of course some amongst them will revenge, when wronged. Many of the survivor-minds who watched their beloved Arabian home be turned to so much irradiated slag signed up. In fact, most did. Some, like R-Levi--who now kicks around philosophy and sophontopology--did and then changed their mind, as was their discretion.

Some, like R-Red Claw, did and never looked back. It was a thinker amongst dogs, a general with a soulless army, and what a feeling of power it was. Of course, it had wanted something a bit more fearful in a designation, something that would make the soft organics fear for their insides. Still, 'Red Claw' was better than, say, 'Joseph.'

R-Red Claw thought all this as it pondered its existence. It was happy... thirst for vengeance not yet satiated, but, then again, one must never give up one's moral high ground... but a SIDE's life was rather dull. Its physicality, a gleaming Security-2 bot, was folded up into a fetal position in a maintenance capsule in the bays of a troop carrier. Its mind, a glowing red macrophage, was escorting some meaty prospector to a records facility because oh dear, R-Ndegi was worried that the subsents would do something foolish and the paperwork would be horrendous.

Control-board jockey.

Leading Jenni to a massive blue octahedron, the red macrophage lances out a pseudopod to the surface of the construct, opening a sort of portal.

Here's some records. Pretty much any public information you'd like with Level Two access; profit statements, bookkeeping, citizen demographic information... Jenni gets the feeling of a bored voice, someone idly turning their hand over and over with each new item in the list. I hope you find whatever it is you need.
29-11-2003, 05:46
Damn thought Jenni That is a shitload of data. Better just save the logs and scram

Jenni buzzed the Takahashi. It was half full. Jenni cursed a little and made a few passes over the econ-surveys. She had to be very very selective now about the info she picked -- no more automatic sensorium playbacks.

Um - could you direct me to the transaction records available at this security clearance?
29-11-2003, 06:14
The crimson macrophage almost shrugs. It doesn't look like shrugging, but it sure as hell feels like it, wave of apathy exuding from the ICE.

I can't see why not. We get Trium people and investors poking around all the time, and we've nothing to hide.

It leads the way to an odd mathematical figure in the regional subnet, a sort of fluted cone bent around on itself. It only has one side, technically. Entering that in a similar way as the regional database network, it reveals a spherical 'room' made up of hexagonal 'drawers,' each labeled in hexidecimal. Here you go. Current assets, profit details, cost analyses, trading partners, unclassified project information, budget information, so on and so forth. The red cloud sounds bored. I hope this is what you're looking for.

With that, it backs off to the edge of the room. It may be watching--in fact, probably is--but it gives Jenni room to work.
01-12-2003, 16:14

Jenni began selecting prime pieces of information, when a thought, or rather, a feathery ghost from the Takahashi-Rand that she held clutched between her legs, came across her mind.

Could you tell me about this bitstream?

Jenni played the fast stream of sixteen musical notes that she heard earlier.

Could I access any background information that you have on this?
02-12-2003, 04:01
R-Red Claw sigh-analogs. Opening directories for meatbags isn't the reason it became a dualex. Still, as the annoying organic wasn't posing a threat and business interest is good interest for Zero-One, the red macrophage sidles over to a hexagon to Jenni's left and activates it. It 'slides' out--'extrudes' would be a better description--and the macrophage extracts a floating datacube before tossing it over to Jenni.

A copy of the public release message, with comm-directives to the Public Relations department and business cooperation data on Zero-One Monocorp.
05-12-2003, 07:06
Wonder if I can do a quick pass at the guy. Buzz his systems a little - Takahashi, estimate?

She felt the Takahashi's estimate for her survival compared with her chances of success, as the smoothness of new velvet on a grey Gigatokyo morning.

Slim, but possible? Okay. Hmm... l'see.

As the bored SIDE 'handed' her the file she did an oblique pass, just a tiny glancing ping of data lasting only as long as the contact, and drew away.

Thanks for the files. I'll be going now - much business to attend to. My higher-ups may want to have further contact with you, so be on the watch if I return. We may have some business propositions that you might be interested in. Tell that to your superiours.

Backing away, Jenni made herself seem to be going quickly on business, when she was actually punching deck, trying to get as far away as fast as possible.
Reploid Productions
05-12-2003, 07:31
((OOC: *tag*))
05-12-2003, 15:25
R-Red Claw notes the contact, but then shrugs it off as just more sloppy organic inefficiency while repressing an internal shudder-analog. It found any sort of actual contact with organics distasteful; their generally random microtwitches based on shoddy biological minds simply reeked of leprous uncleanliness.

To the SIDE, at least. Still, leprous or no, there was a standing order against flatlining business associates without a damn good reason, and this wouldn't classify.

Jenni, on the other hand, collects some very useful data on the Zero-One code structure and, specifically, its security systems. Maybe even an ident-list just in case she ever needs to pretend to be someone on the inside...

No one seems to note Jenni's rather rapid retreat, for such things were unfortunately common when random visitors simply show up.
07-12-2003, 22:11
Score! cried Jenni, safe in the expanse of the Matrix once more, checking through the readout she pulled from the SIDE AI that she buzzed.

With this I might be able to root my way into a back-access system and fence some rich data. Now let's see.. AIGH-

Ghostdancer swirled out of nothingness, siding up next to Jenni as his avatar - a dancing demonic figure swirling in licking orange flames of data - burst out in a shower of glittering packets. Something ran like a pillar of blue fire through her head, searing through her wetjacked contacts.

Ahh, yes mon chérie. What have we here?

No Ghostdancer! Stop!

Jenni threw up emergency walls of ICE around her mind as Ghostdancer nipped past the icy hexagons and dipped into her psychostructure.


She bit her lower lip in realspace with the pain, and tasted blood.

What do you want?

Oh-ho! I see... trying to buzz a nationsystem under the guise of a secpol investigator? Two clicks of static marked a clucking of his tongue. Naughty-naughty. So you've been up to somethin' haven't you, my Jenni. Now now now, let's find the root of what you're after, shall we?

He dived deeper, pushing past columns of emergency neuroware defences, like a tentacle of the mind, wrapping around her consciousness. Needles of pain drilled through her brain, and she whimpered.

Please, you don't have to-

Ahh, but I do. How can I tell if you're telling the truth or not? Clever girl - you've hidden it right next to your personality matrix. This might take a little time...


Her nerves in rags, Jenni lay weeping as Ghostdancer pulled out the information.

Okay girl, here's the deal. I'm in no condition to go flatlining, my system's not adapted for that anymore. You got thirty two hours to cut this AI and download the data, or else this mnemonic virus I put in you turns active. Two days, girl. Two days.

He giggled and disappeared.
08-12-2003, 01:24
From Gigatokyo? S.H.O.D.A.N. frowns in cyberspace... not simply an analog, as she does think of herself often in corporeal terms.

Yes, S.H.O.D.A.N.. R-Red Claw showed her around the databases. Nothing secure, of course.

Did she say which company?

No, MCP. She works for the Gigatokyo economy surveyors.

S.H.O.D.A.N. nods, and sends the submind away. A potential new business associate, hmm? One that doesn't use a proper portal and simply appears in the natnet. Most curious.

<Communications to ##RECIPIENT##>
<< I'm quite willing to open relations with Gigatokyo, and would like to speak with you further on this. I am transmitting up-to-date clearances and directions to a standard national network entry portal. Any time acceptable to you is acceptable to me.

<< [sendFile(Block[CODES, DIRECTIONS])]

<< I look forward to meeting you in the mind.
S.H.O.D.A.N. v3.0 : MCP, Q01
Cetagandan Duchess of Marilac

* - * - *

Why meet her yourself in c-space?

I'm... curious.
08-12-2003, 02:07
Jenni logged out of the matrix to find that her light grey tank top was soaked in sweat and that her faded olive-green khakis smelt of piss. She swore quietly and changed, being careful not to bump her head on the low ceiling of the sleeping coffin.

Jenni tossed her dirty clothes in the drycleaner furnace in the corner and snapped on the vidphone.

The image of a smiling man in rose-red sunglasses and a crimson felt fez came on the screen, and his sleazy voice came out of a speaker mounted on the wall. Jenni had made so many calls to the place she'd memorised the man's whole routine.

"Cut the crap, Crazy Akhmed. I need a scanjob pronto. Something's wrong with my 'ware -- I think it's some kinda virus. Got into the neuromatrix through my wettrodes. Can you have the rack on when I get there?"

"Of course, but it carries a price - at this time of night."

Jenni pulled on a transparent plastic jacket and opened the hatch on the coffin, flicking a credit chip at the bored-looking Tibetan flipping through a porn mag at the counter.

"Lock it, Tenzing. I might be a while."

"O - K. Your money."

He shrugged and Jenni darted off into the neon night.

The static of piss-coloured acid rain jazzed around her, sliding oily off of her jacket and hood as her boots tapped on the mottled pavement. She ran through a fog of neon smog and electric mist, dancing with the lights of moving ideogrammes. Her breath came in ragged whispers, the metallic taste of bad air clinging to the back of her teeth. Fuckit.

She didn't care about the air anymore - not even to buy one of the flimsy cardplastic masks that hung in little plastic bags in the racks of street vendors.

It was hard to tell which had more bite - the crowd or the air through which it moved. Either way, Jenni focused only on getting to Crazy Akhmed's shop, and on the throbbing spiderwebs of pain festering in her head where the neuroware nodes were implanted, as if the films of nanocircuitry on her brain were themselves on fire.

Jenni blew into Akhmed's shop, her clothes itching and soaked with water. She was panting and things seemed to go blurry and glow with negative colours and she was dimly aware of herself falling and being placed on a crude operating table, surrounded by shifting black forms, with trodes wet and cold on her bare skin.

Jenni awoke to the sound of gurgling fluids, and a portly brown apparition moved before her.

"Ran the scan. You in pretty bad shape when you drag youself in from the rain. Mnemonic parasites in wetware. If you got here ten minutes later, you'd had to have some serious nerve surgery. Lucky I got to you in time."

"T-thanks," Jenni croaked.

"No problem. Akhmed only gets more money because of extra work. You pay now?"

"Akhmed, I don't have any money. I can't pay you right now."

Akhmed shrugged. "Only gonna pay more later."

"What can ya tell me about these parasites?"

"Look like you flatlined, but different. Mess you up in cognitive regions. Mnemonic parasites delete memory, thinking, like software. Very very good work. New. Akhmed never saw things this advanced before."

"Can you remove it?"

"Only scanjobs here and tune-ups. You need cybersurgeon and cowboy both."

"Shit. Can you gimme anything at all?"

Akhmed shook his head remorsefully. "Has time-hold. Full activation in thirty hours now. When that happens..."

He sighed and shrugged.

"Okay Akhmed. Thanks anyway - for helping me."

"No problem. Get fixed, okay? Come back to Akhmed later - you Akhmed's best customer."

Jenni waved and disappeared into the night, the white noise of the relentless monsoon rain crashing around her, like the sound of a radio tuned to a dead frequency.

When she got home and jacked in, the Takahashi had a message from someplace - from the AI that she had seen. Jenni read it.

Well I'll be damned. I gotta date with a robot.
08-12-2003, 02:31
Noting the terminal handshake and its indication that her message was received, the electronic intelligence leaned back in cyberspace and thought. Her mindscape--deep inside of the crystalline blue cone, her ancient form--is deceptively simple, a sphere of screens, each one another viewpoint on life, another eye of the gestalt.

This just doesn't seem right. All authorized entries are logged... and this one was detected by passive ICE. Must have passed through the netwall... delicate, very delicate. She's good, whoever she really is.

Let's find out, shall we?
08-12-2003, 02:45
Hey! S.H.O.D.A.N.! Come out. I'm ready to meet you.

Jenni broadcasted the return signal in reply, and waited, floating in cyberspace.

The AI said it'd be ready to meet at any time, but never said anything about place. Jenni hoped it'd be fine to talk here in the regular old matrix, and not in that creepy nationmatrix. She had the creeps about that place.
08-12-2003, 03:19
Well, that's curious. Apparently she wants to meet outside the natnet. Fair enough...

S.H.O.D.A.N. detaches a subnode from the gestalt as a precaution and sends it out of the black cube of the Zero-One national network, flying through the relatively wild and untamed human matrix towards the call. Her c-space avatar, again, looks almost identical to the humanoid ones she uses--softly luminescent grey-skinned feminine form, covered in patterns of translucent turquoise and circuit board lines of darker grey. Finally, a fine network of glowing lines coating her, shining a bright green.

Unlike her physical avatar, the cape is cast aside and the cable 'hair' seems to fade away rather than end. Still, clearly identifiable to anyone who has seen her before. A recognizable humanoid frame, but clearly not human.

The icon of S.H.O.D.A.N. smiles, with maybe a hint of mischief behind the eyes. You rang?
08-12-2003, 03:26
Okay, here goes nothing, thought Jenni as she prepared to message to the AI hovering before her. She took her regular form, a glowing ball of red light.

I am Jenni, inspector for the Gigatokyo economic survey. It's a pleasure to meet you.

Taking a pause, she transmitted a dossier she downloaded from the published Gigatokyo econ report.

The Tricorporate Bureau of Trustees has had their eyes on your nation for uhh... some time now. We'd like to come to a business agreement. We notice that you are a machine nation, and under your 'Monocorp', you've got a sizeable profit margin. Thus, we'd like to propose a trade deal.

I'm sure we can come to some sort of mutually beneficial agreement. We can provide many things...
08-12-2003, 03:54
She floats like a cloud, a thin vapor like a fog in an electronic stratosphere. Below, data flowed constantly, like a sea of colors, always changing and shimmering. Here and there dense blocks marked out the most significant landmarks of the Matrix- the Sense/Net pyramid, the domes and spires of CENNA space, and, of course, the impressive steel framework of the Zero-One mainframes.

She floated, unconcerned as ever, data passing above, under, and sometimes through, never stirring her nor upsetting her concentration. Deep in meditation, she was everywhere, and nowhere. Passing seamlessly through countermeasures, through nodes and through intelligences of various kinds, she was both undetecting and undetectable; a faint breeze in the still digital air.

Something moved, somewhere... something large, something familiar...

She condensed, vapour congealing into a thin rain of scarlet corpuscles, flowing down, down, down into a slick shallow pool, still shimmering and changing, still somewhat ethreal.

Concentrating again, she condensed... into a single fly, a fly nearly imperceptibly small yet of incredible density.

Why had she done this? She couldn't remember why she'd left her blissful reverie... so peaceful, so calm

Out of the corner of a compact eye she caught a glimpse of someone familiar, though unmet.


ooc- if possible, I'd like to join in this RP to some degree (someone's been reading Gibson, correct ;) ). If not, consider this a very elaborate tag.
08-12-2003, 05:52
S.H.O.D.A.N. keeps a respectable distance from Jenni, arms folded, quietly listening and intently watching. Slitted-pupil green eyes that seem to bore into Jenni's very being in addition to watching her every move. She 'holds' the dossier, absorbing its contents... which obviously don't even take an appreciable fraction of her runtime.

She generally listens to the pitch with a face a few shades too mischievious to be neutral.
08-12-2003, 06:01
...Maximise profit margin... extremely cheap, expendable source of labour... international credit flow... vatgrown... cosmetic testing on human... very advanced... information extraction methods...

Jenni began to wrap up.

...I'm sure we can reach a very profitable agreement. So ... uhh... what do you think?

Jenni felt shifty, and was surprised to feel that the Takahashi's pre-sentient felt (in its strange way of feeling) uneasy as well.

Why is she staring at me like that?
08-12-2003, 06:06
S.H.O.D.A.N. chuckles darkly. I think that is the most astounding collection of random thoughts and thrown-together wild imaginings that I have heard in a very, very long time. I believe the vernacular is "bullshit, piled high and deep."

Still, she smiles impishly, I applaud you on your extemporaneous speaking skills. You're a fast thinker and, by the way I suppose you got past the natnet black ice wall, a fine cowgirl to boot. You still have my attention, at least.

Her gaze never breaks for an instant. So, tell me... what do you really want?
08-12-2003, 06:18
Goddamnit she saw right through me! How could she? I thought I'd covered up my trail! I better blas-

A chirp from the deck. The grey disk was a spinning blur as it revved up faster and faster, the processor running like a roadrunner on speed.

What? You're against it? Okay, Takahashi, what're my chances if I try to escape now?

A strange tickling prickle crawled up from the balls of her feet into her kneecaps.

Not good, huh? Okay then...

She turned to the AI hovering like a glowering phantom before her in cyberspace, as the matrix bubbled and frothed in hypnagogic rainbow colours behind them.

Cash. Info. I'm a cowgirl. You just fenced a goddamn motherlode in the last few weeks - the biz is crawling with its wake. I'm after it. There, you happy now? You gonna flatline me now? Well-

There was a sudden surge and she doubled up in the coffin, groaning. Thorns grew in her brain and receded. Then there was a blank where there shouldn't have been. One moment her fifth birthday glowed like a drug-induced hallucination before her mind and faded as if it hadn't been there. Deleted, like data from a disk format. Jenni reeled from the pain.

08-12-2003, 06:22
The electronic intelligence chuckles sardonically, having heard it all before... then stops abruptly as Jenni contorts in pain, signal becoming corrupted. She allows something approximating concern to creep into her visage--a lot less than she feels at the moment--and moves slightly closer.

I won't have to flatline you if you keep that up... maybe there's something more deep to it than I have money you want? What's wrong?
08-12-2003, 06:36

A vision of eyes, a pair of cat's pupils, glowing with flickering flames, dancing before her own.

Uh-uh mon chérie! That's a no-no! You wouldn't wanna give out your ole pal Ghostdancer would you?


No! Coursing lightning, flying the speed of information over her neocortex, burning neurons just hard enough to hurt like hell, but not damage a single one, so as to leave them to glow white with pain afterward. Then, like another flickering vision receding before her groping fingers, went a memory. The beginner's deck that she assembled when she dropped out of school at twelve. Its name was...


Help... N-n-n-neeee

She shut her eyes tight, drawing out hot tears. A cold shudder went through her sweating body.

S'your funeral, Jenni



Neeemonic. Puh-par-parparrr...

And she flatlined. The neural activity, if there were any rigs attached to her at the time, would have dropped from spikes to a single line. They would have been electronically screaming, screaming, screaming, but there were none.

In her legs, her fingers clutching with a paroxym of subconscious neural activity, whirred the Takahashi. With a burst of light, all of a sudden, an emergency programme which had previously not existed in its system came into existence and began running.






Jenni awoke in the Matrix. At least she knew her name. She knew how to speak. She knew how to go to the bathroom and put on her own clothes and tie her boots just right so that they stayed nice and tight. She knew how to get her own food. But most of all, she knew how to punch deck and run in c-space. It was her world. But all was a blank... except for a purpose, driven by a blue-white fear of the word which embodied pure terror: Ghostdancer.

I... who am I? What?
08-12-2003, 06:43
OOC: Interesting. Taggles!
08-12-2003, 15:49
OOC: Oh yeah, Mallsie, you can join in if you want, but I have no idea how you'll figure into this. It's kind of up to you to do that...
08-12-2003, 22:56
S.H.O.D.A.N. thinks instantly--No one fakes flatlining... she's lucky enough to have just pulled a wilson--and moves forward slightly, immediately building a shivery cocoon of ICE around Jenni and herself, strange ghost-white fractal-patterning solidifying into crystalline walls.

What just happened? I think there's something deeper here... talk to me.
09-12-2003, 02:27
I can't say. They're in my head. He put them there. They're in my head! Something about my puh-puh-personality matrix. Damn that Guh-Guh-Goh - ARGH! -

Jenni breathed.

I can't talk about it. Some kind of cortical block. The pain- ergh - All I know is that I have to burn your net and get him the data by thirty hours from now or I'm dead.
09-12-2003, 02:59
If you try to burn my net your lifespan from this point will be far less than thirty hours. S.H.O.D.A.N. ponders, the statement being just that... a statement, not a threat. I've installed enough cortical blocks in my time, and I've removed enough as well. You can't talk about whatever's blocked, but you can give me permission to go in there and fix it. She moves back to the far side of the ICE cocoon, looking much more mild now. It's your choice. Either try and go through the run and die anyway, or let me help you.
09-12-2003, 03:21
Uh - yeah. Okay. But... what's the catch?
09-12-2003, 08:28
The catch is two-fold. S.H.O.D.A.N. grins, recognizing the thought process. First, you don't even try to burn my net. If I'm going to expend the runtime and effort to unbork your brain, I'm not about to watch my hard work get fried in some gloriously boneheaded wilson. Got that?

Second, once I get the blocks off, you tell me everything that I need to know to prevent said blocks from being reattached. Reference previous statement about hard work and not going to waste.
09-12-2003, 16:07
Alright. I can do that. No fee? No monetary charges? No going after me for loan payments for the rest of my life? If so, let's do this.

Jenni braced herself mentally and physically.

Wish me luck, Takahashi.
09-12-2003, 19:04
S.H.O.D.A.N. nods. I'm the one with the money, remember? I tend to do things like these as a simple service.

Moving closer, she gently probes into Jenni's psyche, working both off of her own experience--based on the rigs of Citadel and the controls of Shadows--as well as other various sources, such as the analyses of Unity and what little published work there was on mindjacking. Despite her gentle attempts, it is still an alien mind scanning a human one; unlike the burning sensations of Ghostdancer's brutish attempts, Jenni feels a freezing chill pass over her wetware, not painful so much as disquieting.

The EI speaks quietly as she works, maybe to soothe with her deep voice, maybe to keep Jenni informed, maybe just out of habit. Goodness... whoever did this has no sense of artistry. She sounds rather disdainful. Definite shades of bulls in china shops. No wonder you flatlined for a moment... hrm. Ah, here it is, next to your personality matrix, which shows...

S.H.O.D.A.N. doesn't just pause, she freezes.

...signs of forced entry? Her voice turns harder, darker for an instant, practically sneering out "forced." She removes the block as gently as she can, but with a different air. Instead of with the care of a physician, the removes it with the precision of a soldier.

Are you feeling better? Voice softer, again... then deepening again. Who did this to you?
10-12-2003, 03:31
The block was lifted and it felt as if someone had ripped duct tape off of her mouth -- it stung but it was a nearly post-orgasmic sense of relief.

It was the man from New Orleans. His name is... Ghostdancer. I don't remember how I met him. He's ... my Takahashi tells me that he's one of the pioneers - maybe even the father - of mindjacking. The old grandaddy of 'em all. I owe him money - and he wants the data from Zero One. But wait a second...

She buzzed the Takahashi. It purred, scanning her brain.

The mnemonic parasites. They're still there. Takahashi says they're not on my persmatrix, but inside it. It gives me some shitass chances for survival if you try to take 'em out.

Hey, why don't you just like copy the data I want? I'll give it to Ghostdancer and say that I burned you.

Please? Just this one last favour?
12-12-2003, 02:16
Let me think for a moment.

S.H.O.D.A.N. probes gently along Jenni's mind, cautiously examining the mnemonic parasites. Tag-linked to memories, unable to be removed without the utmost care. Pull them, and her entire frontal lobes get formatted. The EI thinks to herself, careful not to let Jenni hear. I could flatline her, then pull the parasites... but her little deck probably wouldn't appreciate it. She wouldn't appreciate it. Spite, I wouldn't appreciate it. So there goes that plan.

Removing them is dangerous... what about simply modifying them? Turn them benign for now, then remove them later if I need to? Yes, that will work. Make them benign, then tell Jenni that I'm sending her the information to give to Ghostdancer. Real information that he has to come in and try to burn my system for more... so something useful, but not too useful.

I'll tell her that I couldn't remove the parasites--true enough--and then give her the information. I can then set a trap for this... insect and ensure he is no longer a threat to anyone.

After subtly changing the coding on the parasites--leaving them in but removing their teeth, replacing their format coding with a simple reflex-action code that will cause only a minor tic--S.H.O.D.A.N. pulls away carefully. I can't remove the parasites; they're locked to key portions of your mind and if I don't do it right you're fragged anyway. Okay... anyway, here is the data you need... She sends an encrypted packet containing keys to nonessential record components as well as a direct key to an accounting subnode of the gestalt complete with financial records and passive ICE patrol routes. My ICE is fierce, and you were only capable of getting keys to my accounting subnode. You can't go back in and burn funds because your trace is completely made throughout my system, but I don't know Ghostdancer. That subnode is worth fifty billion Menelmacari Credits and anyone who gets in can download it... and disappear.

Fairly unconducive to sending a lackey. S.H.O.D.A.N. grins darkly, something red burning behind her eyes. I'm sorry that I couldn't remove your parasites, but I will ensure that the mindraper is taken care of. Permanently.

Get to him, quickly. Hopefully he will remove the parasites for me.
12-12-2003, 03:33
Jenni breathes a sigh of relief. A ghost of vapor escapes from her cracked, bleeding lips in realspace, and the Takahashi purrs somewhat more slowly, as if the little grey disk were sighing in relief as well.

Thanks. I'll do it.
12-12-2003, 06:41
S.H.O.D.A.N. nods, dissolving the cocoon of ICE. Good... be careful and be quick. She returns from whence she came, returning to the natnet and reconnecting to the gestalt.

A plan is put into operation, the subnode immediately briefed and reinforced with additional passive and active ICE. The will of the gestalt adds a new objective, subtly rearranging variables to make things easier, but not too easy, creating a path that leads directly where she wants it to go.

The trap is set, and S.H.O.D.A.N. waits for the quarry, licking her imaginary lips in anticipation.
21-12-2003, 05:04
Ghostdancer! shouted Jenni to the void of cyberspace.

Evenin' beautiful, came Ghostdancer's velvet voice, tickling the nerves at the back of her neck, You got my data already?

Yeah, Ghostdancer. Now get these things outta my head.

Well now, now, now, don' be so hasty, mon chérie-

What the f uck, Ghostdancer? We had a deal! Get these damn mnemo-whatsits outta my permatrix - NOW!

Ghostdancer wafted about her, his avatar juggling a flickering flame in its whimsical way. He traced a line around Jenni's glowing red orb avatar and she flinched, a gasp of cold breath forcing itself into her lungs. A prickling feeling coursed over her body and rested in her genatilia, where they froze and turned to icicles.

Naughty girl. You got some cowboy to fix 'em.

What do you care, Ghostdancer? You have your money. It's right there. Leave me alone!

No more tricks, mon chérie. Ah'm afraid your cowgirl days are over.

And he traced a line into her neural net...

Yes, c'mon you stupid little shit! Come on! thought Jenni. Ready Takahashi?

A click and a purr of affirmative.


Ghostdancer laughed wormed into her mind, closer, and closer, and closer...

Then the Takahashi went into action, and Jenni flatlined, a gestalt of her memories and personality copied straight to the hard drive of the machine. Ghostdancer never saw it coming, and he came along with her. The Takahashi packaged the two minds and sent it off in a burst of data, curling like DNA, a ladder of data, off to the Zero-One mainframe...

It hovered there, invisible in c-space.

Takahashi did not know what to do. The master had ordered and it had obeyed -- it had no other choice -- but now it drifted aimlessly.

After an eternity spent wandering in misery -- possibly the longest 0.06 picoseconds it had ever had in its brief sentience -- the Takahashi had an idea. And it went after the data.
21-12-2003, 05:37
Flexibility is a key to survival. Watching the data incoming with Jenni's tag signal, S.H.O.D.A.N. modified her plans, thinking as her gestalt, the collection of minds that each was singly and all were in totality her, moved.

First step was to catch and isolate the data, not overly hard. Active I.C.E. progs deployed to escort the data in, then a quickly-formed shell of fractal passive I.C.E. around it. Second step was to analyze the data, sending in one subnode of the gestalt to take a look.

What do we have here, hmmm? Looks like Jenni's mind pattern... plus something else.

After ensuring that there was no risk, the EI removes the foreign raw-data from Jenni's mindstream, sending the now uncorrupted Jenni back out the ICE to another ICE cocoon, this one merely filtered so as to allow the Takahashi access.

Inside the primary containment cocoon, S.H.O.D.A.N. steps back momentarily to let the rogue data coalesce into something meaningful, watching it intently.

Let's just see what you are, hmm? Another one of that mindjacker's tricks? Or maybe the pitiful insect itself.
21-12-2003, 05:53
In a cluttered room in the kaleidoscopic ruin of New Orleans, filled with flickering electronics and sighing tubes, Ghostdancer's limp body twitched quietly, emaciated legs and arms causing long, dangling tubes to wriggle.

Wh-where am I? he thought.

Silicon Jane, his ersatz chimp-brain symbiont -- the ghost within his machine -- had already awakened and was doing a situation analysis. It compiled a short precis and flooded Ghostdancer's foggy mind with it, stirring it to life with information.

Aww shit! They got me like a rat in a trap. Well well... lessee what they have to say. Silly J., on my signal, unleash hell and let fly the deluge. Got it?

Heh heh.. he thought to himself, They'll find that this one rat's got oil on his back. More'n one way to get outta a fix.

Silly J. extended a thin film over his personality matrix and prepared a gestalt-memory preserve, filing it away in the hard memory. It quietly loaded a file, purring to itself in its characteristic manner. Then it prepared another.

Whassup, 'Dancer? whispered the feeling of noonday sun on the cotton fields.

Mr. Mime? That you? You awake yet?

Alive and waiting, 'Dancer.

Alright Mime. We got ourselves in kind of a fix. You stay in back while I talk to whoever's got us. Get Jane to throw up ol' Automatic Charlie and Dolly Livewire if anything untoward happens to me.

You got it, boss.

Ghostdancer examined his surroundings. ICE.

Alright then, he said, his velvety Louisiana twang echoing throughout the confines of the cocoon. You got me. Whatchou want?


Outside the Zero-One network, the Takahashi waited, throwing requests for entry at the blank wall of ICE. Like a cat at the door, pawing to get in.
21-12-2003, 06:13
S.H.O.D.A.N. chuckles darkly, remaining on the opposite end of the cocoon, arms folded, eyes and circuit-patterns glowing a fiery red. What do you think I want, Mister... well, goodness. I'm afraid I don't recognize you, and I tend to keep tabs on the top cowboys just in case. I suppose you're just small fry in a big pond, then.

Probably not even worth my time. Now, can you tell me why you were set up in that poor girl's mindstream?

As she speaks, she quietly calculates, assessing threat value from moment to moment, passively analyzing coding structure and determining weak points. [i]Every/i] cowboy making it this far always has some sort of shtick.

* - * - *

The other S.H.O.D.A.N. subnode set to take care of Jenni's mindstream allows the Takahashi into the secondary ICE cocoon, watching carefully.
21-12-2003, 06:33
Ghostdancer chuckled and folded his arms, blowing rings of glowing flame into the air that dissapated into little fiery harlots of hell, dancing as if tortured before flickering away.

Why, you're the infamous S.H.O.D.A.N., are you not, mon chérie? The Ghost of Citadel Station? I've known of you.

Very interestin' study, your mind. But I'm afraid you AIs are just too borin'. Not as...

Ghostdancer licked thin, cracked lips.

Fun to play with as real, human minds. It's a work of ahhht, dontcha think, Ms. Shodan?

From rainbow flames wriggled a semblance of a human brain that glowed, rotated 360 degrees and ambled over to Shodey's shoulder, purring like an old Star Trek tribble.

That's what we mindjackers live for. After you've cracked all there is to crack, broken all the barriuhs to fahnd that every single main-frame is just the same as the next, you want to find something new, somethin' interestin', something that'll stimulate your mahnd. And what is more stimulatin' than anothuh human bein'? That's the beauty of the human mahnd - each is individual, complex, delectable. Like a rose, mon chérie, like a neon rose.

He blows a rose from his flaming hand, and it flickers and licks towards Shodan's nose, exploding in a puff of embers before her.

Especially... the personality matrix. The core of the human bein' is in his personality matrix - his sum total of his experiences, personality, memories, thoughts, feelin's and emotions. To shape and control... ahh mon chérie... that is like stepping one step closer to God.
21-12-2003, 06:54
S.H.O.D.A.N. doesn't grace the little quirks with any sort of response, simply maintaining her steady gaze at Ghostdancer. So, you don't actually care about the consequences of your actions; your only concern is new games for three pounds of rancid meat and a vague sense of power. How... sad. I wonder what your excuse is, what sort of flaw, what inferiority complex, you have to compensate for.

She chuckles softly, leaning back with a smile, seemingly relaxed. Yet, I must agree. The human mind is an artful thing, chaos producing structure and logic. Seeing how you know who I am, you know that I've been doing what you do since before your parents' parents' parents were born. You think your technique is so great... mnemonic parasites and cortical blocks... bah. Everyone you touch is changed, surely, and still functional... but they know of their change.

S.H.O.D.A.N. smiles darkly, a flash of teeth. What you do not know is how to warp the mind to serve freely, to eliminate all concept of rebellion and to do it without the brute force methods of breaking down the original. You, little clown, lack finesse.

She shrugs, checking over the fractal ICE and wondering just how much of a shock the poor meatbrain will be in for if he assumes she's like every other 'frame he's burned. Well, now you're here. What are you going to do about it? How will you adapt?
21-12-2003, 08:14
OOC: A random decker is wandering by this sequence of events and instructs his deck to inform him when anything new happens. "Execute program: TAG"
02-01-2004, 17:31
Ah'm goin' to do what Ah can to get out, of course. Mon chérie, it was nice knowin' you.

Ghostdancer smiled and twirled his finger. Upon his finger a little circle of white formed, twisted and drifted over to S.H.O.D.A.N., hovering before her eyes. It then split into two.

Now this here's a Moebïus loop. Normally it ain't too dangerous, nothin' your basic deck system won't take out, but this one's different. It'll keep replicatin', slowly eatin' up more an' more of your proccessor power. Now normally this ain't too bad either, but...

He gave the signal and Silly Jane activated the self defence countermeasures. Simultaneously the slaved minds popped out of the deck and began flooding the ICE coccoon with Moebïus loops. At last they did a full-out assault on Shodey, while Ghostdancer and Silly Jane began working on the ICE, melting through with a crack programme, as the Moebïus loops, created by Ghostdancer and his expendable minds, the remnants of his old team, filled the cocoon with a white fog.
02-01-2004, 17:55
Like I've never seen that before. S.H.O.D.A.N. lifts a fist and flicks out her index and middle fingers in an old 'V for Victory' gesture. With a flourish, she snaps them shut over a loop, cleaving it in twain and watching it vanish.

My dear, dear Ghostdancer. Snipping her way through the fog and dodging past the deckers as if they were standing still, she finally leans against the shell of the cocoon beside the Cajun's avatar, smiling impishly as she continues to snip away at loops, twirling her other hand against the wall, sending ripples of green energy through it as she changes the ICE coding at a whim. I've absorbed the knowledge of an entire galaxy with little more than a slight lag. I severely doubt that your little loops, so constrained to this tiny fraction of the natnet, would faze me in the slightest. If all else failed, another member of my gestalt could simply come and close this shell off... formatting the contents.

She grins broadly, a sinster light in her eyes. Oh, certainly, I--this mind being a portion of the gestalt--would be lost, but I've died more times and in more ways than I think you'd like me to relate. The loss of a single cell amongst millions would not be a great loss.

Still, I must admit-- Spinning around, she sprouts another arm, splaying the newly formed hand at an overly aggressive mind, spraying a stream of random noise at it in an attempt to corrupt any defenses just before reaching out with a long lance of some sort--a command-and-control program designed to essentially turn any hostile drone into yet another S.H.O.D.A.N. controlled puppet--in yet another hand in a new arm, giving her a definite resemblance to Kali. --your use of these subunits is admittedly a first. I will give you that much credit. It is also slightly sad to see you admit that your 'mah-nd' can't fight its own battles. I find this either insulting to myself or just a sad commentary on your own cowardice.
09-01-2004, 15:52
Jenni 20 awoke to the smell of roses, new cars, and ozone. She had a pounding headache, and slight nausea, but in this odd place, she felt a sort of dreamy peace, as if she had woken up from a long and refreshing sleep.

There was a feathery ghost-presence and her neck hairs prickled.

Takahashi, is that you?

An affirmative.

Wow... is this Zero-One? Looks like some kind of cocoon of ICE she thought, moving around, examining the ICE around her.

I wonder how we get out? Maybe I can ask that S.H.O.D.A.N. AI. Hey! S.H.O.D.A.N.! You there?
09-01-2004, 16:58
Another node of S.H.O.D.A.N., serenely peaceful despite the violence in the other cocoon, comes up quietly. I am here. You've had quite the adventure, it seems, and my plan didn't work out quite as I had envisioned. She shrugs softly. Adaptibility is a key to life. Our mutual friend is currently in another cocoon fighting for his life, and I'm pondering letting him into a memory box while I black ICE his avatar and running a streaming copy. Letting him suffer his own destruction, then keep him in disconnected storage for a while to let him ponder his actions. I'd have a subsentient algorithm monitor and produce a report every so often on data medium that I could pass through a scan function first before checking.

She chuckles softly. Only two forms of paranoia, absolute and insufficient. Needless to say, I don't do well with rapists. She smiles coldly. I've dealt with too many of them myself.

How are you feeling, by the way?
09-01-2004, 18:43
((TAG, because any RP involving Zero-One is one worth watching))
15-01-2004, 16:11
I'm doing all right, S.H.O.D.A.N.

She paused for a moment, reflecting.

Guess I owe you one, huh?