Orpheus II



Scene Title Orpheus II
Synopsis Hana continues her effort to reconstruct something that was lost.
Date January 28, 2012

A Resistance Camp

The tent is small, cozy if one is inclined to soften the Spartan truth of it. Barely large enough to contain one person and a modicum of gear at her feet, it's been staked out on flattened grass, an inconveniently placed stone discovered only after the fact. Stretched out on top of her sleeping bag, Hana can ignore that pebble digging into her hip for now, all the more so because her attention is very much elsewhere.

The environment she perceives is not that of dim enclosed space in the midst of a militant camp, but an apeiron built from ones and zeroes, rendered comprehensible by the instinctive interpretation her ability provides. Within that digital vastness hovers a puzzle in progress, a half-assembled framework visualized as dots and strings, nodes of code connected by lines of information flow and degrees of dependency. Colors light the construct in idiosyncratic symbolism, designating states of completion, the type of intervention yet needed, the level of priority for repair.

Nearly three months ago, Hana despaired at the enormity of the self-assigned task before her. Now, she has no room for despair; any such sentiment has been buried beneath the wearying slog of determination. Hardly a day goes by where she doesn't at least study her project, evaluating the progress made, looking for errors, crafting and recrafting planned next steps, expunging remnants of Carmichael's corruption. Hardly a week goes by that she doesn't at least seek new resources, references, deepening her understanding of what it means to exist in digital representation from the perspective of the computer and the systems a technopath must interact with.

Soon enough, the exigencies of war will put a crimp in that pervasive dedication, paring back days to weeks and weeks to months. All the more reason to get in whatever she can now.

Wireless' very self slides into the quiescent mass of data, threads of code interleaving, her awareness brushing through and scrutinizing the lines and knots and loops that stand in for more prosaic reality of functions, calls, instructions. Something else rides her wake, known only through the impression of hair rising on the back of her neck, the subliminal sound of a voice just out of hearing range, the sense of ghostly presence in moon-dark gloom. There is no voice, no presence — but for all she knows, there might well be a ghost of a ghost, even one that exists only in her own memory. The feeling has certainly haunted her every effort on this work for the past month: at first both goad and burden alike, now simply an accustomed part of the norm.

Her awareness halts at a particularly fundamental knot, expansively large, elaborately looped, connected to positively everything. Or it would be, if it were not shattered and broken, twisted and frayed, even in some places singed as if by fire. Metaphors all, but emblematic of key truths.

It took her a month of off-and-on comparative analysis — not to mention remedial computer science study — just to figure out what this oh-so-very deeply cross-connected module did. How it could be considered the very heart of the entity, its symbolic equivalent of breath and blood and substance all at once, the visceral necessities that allow such a thing to even be.

More critical than that, even, for the biological analogy fell sadly short; there was no equivalent in material life to negotiating changes in the very laws of physics as embodied by encodings, operating systems, fundamental architecture. From one system to another, one interface protocol to the next, a purusha's entire world might change — and the entity itself need never notice, never make deliberate accommodation, never concern itself with the what and how of navigating those distinctions, because this module fielded all that beneath the level of consciousness.

Without this construction, the purusha would not have, could not have any direct interface with its host system. It might not even be able to exist within the system in any meaningful way.

Though dauntingly comprehensive, as the foundation on which all else must rest, at least this makes for a reasonably straightforward place to start rebuilding: distinct parallels exist with the reference structures available to her, particularly Wireless' own.

Hana draws up those parallels now from memory both external and innate, stored representations of Wireless and D.Crypt alike, diligently bereft of substance and boiled down to the essence of their structures. Digital hands pick apart and put together representations of code like building blocks from mismatched sets, puzzle pieces belonging to different perspectives on the same vista. Where Rebel's own code cannot bridge the gaps, she fills the spaces between by trial and error, on intuition and faith, with memory and optimism and sheer obstinance.

Sometimes, as she works her way around the module, identifying gaps and what best to span them with, she finds answers bubbling up almost before the question is even framed. Sometimes, she reaches for a particular function and finds it already in figurative hand, subconscious anticipation of impending intent. But that comes with being deep in concentration, with complete and total immersion in one's task —

— right up until that immersion is broken, shattered by a radio message Hana cannot afford to ignore.

It's with a passing touch of regret that Wireless extricates herself from the data that is both tool and substrate, workspace and medium. She lingers for a span long in a computer's regard but minuscule in absolute terms, taking in progress made, but also the vast extent of work still to be done… on some day other than this.

A flick of directed thought dissolves the dataspace, relegating data to storage, triggering an extra backup cycle. Hana's awareness then settles back into her body, the familiar weight of flesh at once both comfortable and confining. She opens her eyes to that same Spartan tent, now with an ordered ruckus outside as the camp prepares to repel an attack… or just scramble into what cover they may before the fighters arrive.

Not that said fighters are going to be a problem for much longer. The enemy hasn't realized, yet, the full ramifications of drawing a line such that the vast majority of Evolved fall on the other side… or the degree of havoc a ranged technopath can wreak when radio communications, radar, and GPS are integral to system operation.

Stepping away from the complex problem in favor of simple and straightforward, emerging from her tent onto an incipient battlefield, Hana turns her attention outward… and smiles.

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