asi5_icon.gif elliot_icon.gif

Scene Title Non-Zero
Synopsis Elliot weighs the decision to include Asi in on the information pulled from Renautas-Weiss Nanontech's system during the mission to rescue Kaydence Damaris.
Date March 2, 2021

The Bastion

Elliot has been operating in a low-grade panic since reviewing the data he stole from Renautas-Weiss Nanotech. The information is valuable. Worth a fortune, likely. It’s also important, and dangerous.

Who to give it to? How to release it? Yamagato would almost certainly give him immediate retirement money for this. Richard Ray would probably do a lot to keep it from falling into the wrong hands, considering how so much of it is built on a foundation of his company’s intellectual property. Renautas-Weiss might also pay good money for it, since they were apparently trying to decommission and delete these projects immediately following the merger. But they also have shapeshifters and kidnappers working for them, and Elliot has no contact he could trust there.

Asi would know what to do with this, surely. And there’s the complication. He runs over what he knows for the hundredth time.

Dana takes off her earphones and leaves them hooked around her neck. “Asi’s brainwaves are way more active than we’d been led to believe. Every time Asi is recalling a memory her mind goes into overdrive. I’d say more than three-hundred percent of the ordinary human baseline. Whatever systems are in play here can’t mask the waking-dream situation, and that’s definitely happening, but the whole of her brain is on overdrive.”

Worrisome on its own.

“I wonder if it’s different for,” he begins, then cues up a memory of his own and draws Asi’s attention to it. For kicks, it’s his memory of breaking into to the Bastion the day he got hired back. “Stream this memory.” He turns to look to Dana, “And you tell me if the effect is different.”

Asi drags her attention back to Elliot once, and then a second time when for some reason the first attempt to focus on him didn't quite stick. Only for her eyes to glaze over after locking on, reaching for the link opened to her to Elliot's perception and memory. She observes with the idle back and forth to her gaze like she's thinking rather than watching something like a television screen. Her focus sharpens after she realizes just what she's looking at, letting out a scoff. "Elliot, you're lucky you didn't break the door," she scolds him.

After a moment of listening, Dana shakes her head. “Same. I’m not sure if that’s a peculiarity of however your ability works — which I would love to run some tests on in a lab environment — or a quirk of whatever hardware has been grafted into Asi’s brain.” Dana slides her tongue across the inside of her cheek. “But so far, identical results.”

Potentially very bad when taken as a whole. When combined with Asi and The Biology Department’s hypothesis that they were in fact androids of some kind, built from the ground up. When combined with what Avi showed him, the reason he returned to Wolfhound.

“Anyway, she’s been pouring over some shit we pulled out of Praxis’s systems and…” Avi makes a noise in the back of his throat and shifts in his seat, retrieving a folded sheet of paper from his back pocket. He opens it up and slides it across the table. It’s a piece of a technical dossier, unfamiliar names at the top, some Chinese-language text mixed with English. “Bottom of the page.” Avi says.

particular systems allow us a higher level of fidelity than was previously believed possible. With the research done at Sunstone lost, however, we need to fall back on older and proven systems. Project-0 remains the only other successful iteration of this design. If we are going to develop a quantum wet-network, incapable of technological hacking, we need to reopen these old project files.

When combined with what Joy told him last year, the impetus for the theft of this data when the opportunity presented itself.

“There are answers to the what and why, though.” Joy asserts. “The Institute’s records were claimed by your country’s government after the war. The Deveaux Society once held a comprehensive archive of them all, but they were lost to the machinations of Mazdak, those who serve Uluru.” Her dark eyes narrow for a moment in thought. “Yamagato may have some answers, they claimed ownership of a portion of the Institute — the Renautas company — after its collapse. Praxis may have others, but China and the Dead Zone are both far from your reach.”

But there was nothing. No reference to Project 0 in any capacity. Maybe it’s nothing, maybe he was wrong. But maybe whoever built Asi can stream her sensations just like he can through the network. Maybe her memories. In the worst case, would they be able to then stream his own memories?

He doubts that such a system could get past his telepathic firewalls. Maybe only what he shared with her directly. Which could include what he shared with her from the Index in Canada.

He pings Asi's attention and sighs with frustration. "Crescent," he says, tagging an indexed memory for her alone. Elliot is smart enough to know there could be traces of the application that could lead back here, to Asi. “I can tell you that I don’t have an opportunity to deploy it yet,” he says. “But if the opportunity presents itself I need to be able to take it.”

Maybe, even if the perpetrators of Asi’s kidnapping can share her experiences, it’s digital. Radio. Not quantum. A faraday cage could be enough. He sighs, drums his fingers against his leg. Stands from his desk and leaves his office for Asi’s. Presents himself with a light knock on the doorframe.

It takes a few moments of waiting before anything happens, no noise coming from the other side. She pulls the door open with one hand, leaned back in the chair she's rolled back from her desk. Asi considers Elliot's presence, combined with his expression, for the space of a blink before she decides to admit him after all. "Come in," she says, door handle released with a dull thud as it springs back into a neutral position.

Pushing the door away and open also leverages her some needed momentum to make it back to her desk. She lays a hand on her laptop, shutting it in favor of the situation at hand. She levers herself into a standing position only to lean back against the desk, arms folding tightly across her chest.

"I've been wondering if you'd stop by," Asi admits. "Did you find what you were looking for? Was there anything on the drive at all?"

Elliot answers with a short sigh and a shake of his head, favoring the partial lie for now. He leans back against the door jam, partially to keep an ear on the corridor. “I’ve been thinking about the LSD experiment,” he offers, closer to the truth than not.

“When Agent Carrington said there was no difference between you retrieving a memory of your own and you streaming on through the network.” There’s a pause, mostly to put words in order, as his eyes darting around the top of the wall opposite him. “Started thinking about the network at the hard science level. If your assumption is true about your current physical state, what do you think the chances are that somebody on the backend could be streaming your sensory data through the implants? Or memories?”

"The chances are non-zero," Asi answers immediately. That fact bothers her less, visibly at least, than admitting, "My state isn't an assumption anymore. Whatever I've become, whatever happened to those in the crash, we're… not ourselves anymore. Manufactured, is the best term I have for it. An autopsy done by one of our own, against one of our own revealed what…"

She almost bites her tongue, but the light shifts in her eyes as she decides to extend her trust. After all, Elliot's seen personal details of hers more intimate than this, and has kept— mostly— those secret, too.

"—What Yamagato and the forces at work in Fournier-Bianco have kept hidden from us. Those forces partly being Yamagato, and also apparently, the CDC." Asi lifts her eyes to Elliot again with a cool to her expression. She's days past emotional reactions over this news, at least ones that come to the surface.

"Given we suspect we're missing needed hardware or software, and that likely caused the malfunction in…" She lifts a hand to tap one finger to her temple. Rather than elaborate further, she goes on, "And the fact the seizures and strokes happened at the same time, perhaps even the same minute, split across two batches of us— speaks to something being triggered remotely."

Her brow begins to furrow. "But if whatever was attempted remotely resulted in a failure so severe we ran the risk of dying, perhaps we're defective. Perhaps they can't communicate with us properly, owing to how we never made it to our final destination." Asi relents carefully, "So, the chances are non-zero, but my gut feeling leads me to believe that… it's closer to zero than not."

"Otherwise, there have been so many vulnerable moments the last 9 months they could have capitalized on, and didn't," she reasons without clarifying if those vulnerable moments belonged to her, the organizations she's privy to the inner workings of, or something else entirely.

Non-Zero on my end too, he thinks with a chuckle that could be attributed to disbelief. At it all being somehow even worse. “Jesus Christ,” he says, shakes his head while processing all of that. Makes him discount releasing the data to Yamagato a little more thoroughly.

“Do you think that could be the reason for the memory retrieval quirk?” he asks, “That you’re actually piloting a drone from somewhere else?” More out of curiosity than assuring himself of security.

Asi blinks a look away while she considers that, her teeth hovering halfway between an answer and clenching. "It's possible," she submits finally. "And could account for the waking dream readings. But that could additionally be chalked up to the fact that we're running on non-standard hardware."

The joke comes without mirth, made in a flat deadpan. "There's not really precedence for this, after all," she adds after.

Elliot nods, offering another chuckle of existential dread about it. At the absolute least, whoever kidnapped Asi and the others were capable of building some sort of biomechanical duplicate of a human that was able to pass close inspection by the closest of acquaintances.

“In that case,” he says, meeting Asi’s eyes for the admission, “I lied. I need you to see what I got off that drive.”

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License