2034-02-28 2300LT The Returning Heroes
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Syd and Dex refused to leave the Warren with the others. Their deep infiltration into the social network of the Warren had them very cofident that they cuold dive deep into the details of the enemy operations while maintaining an airtight cover. Over the next ten hours they came to realize that the cover wasn't airtight as much as the Jade Rabbit network was suffocatingly invasive. When Syd redirected the identities of a Leader and a Supervisor to Dex and himself they were both a bit overwhelmed with the heady rush of hundreds of clone-drone minds integrating with their own. This distracted them from a true understanding of how tightly controlled the supervisors and leaders really were. The Rabbit does not attend to the thoughts of its humans under normal circumstances - that is, as long as they conform to expected behaviour within acceptable operational parameters and performance measures. After just one shift each, the Jade Rabbit has started sniffing around them both. There are two voids in the network that have the shape of two specific minds. Syd and Dex can mimic them for a little while, but the only way to do this long term woud be to reconfigure their own minds to take on those identities. Neither liked that option.
After their shifts the two men met to get ready to get out. Dex gave Syd support-level access to his lace and it's bonded AI core, with special focus on the time Dex spent in training with Boeing. Syd uncovered hidden experiential memory files from that time, showing eight times when Ms. Smith took over Dex and used his body like a meat puppet. She appeared to derive a great deal of pleasure from having a big, strong, healthy body to use.
Not surprisingly this gave Dex the screaming heebie jeebies.
Together, the men figured out a way to shut down Dex's connection to the internet by breaking his radios. The nature of the break will look like it is a consequence of the hacking that Syd did to get them in to the Warren's network. When Dex is ready he can pull the mental trigger and isolate himself in his own head. The follow up procedure - back at Alpha - will be another Syd special: creating a metamantic honeypot for Ms. Smith inside Dex's gestalt. Syd can't do this himself... he's a script kitty and very effective in a narrow domain. On the other hand, he does know a guy who can give Dex the Inception defensive gestalt. (Professor Brad Bradsson the fifth in his less well known presence as PakJak.)
Unfortunately, their actions were noted as unusual by the Rabbit. It strated sniffing around their virtual presences. This provided them a certain renewed sense of urgency. This gave Dex pause. He was capable of thinking a few steps ahead - what with that +5 Clever and all. Looking at the layers and layers of contingency plans that Brian had constructed around himself, Dex began to think about what chance he would have of surviving returning to Luna Alpha. _Clearly Ms. Smith has plans for me._ The recovered memory of her wearing his body slithered through his awareness. With a growing sense of horror it occurred to him that taking over his body could actually be her plan. _Her _only_ plan, though?_ He considered what messing with the radio would buy him with her. _Best case? A little time._ The Inception honeypot Syd had promised would fail eventually, if only because she would eventually find out that he's not doing what he's told. _I need something to trade for my freedom, Dex thought. He looked around while Syd continued to work on him. An idea hatched. When they had decided to stay behind Syd and Dex thought that they would be able to stay embedded in the Jade Rabbit Warren social network for quite a while without being noticed. It was several hours that they realized, with mounting horror, that the force grown clone drones were not the only slaves to the system. The humans were deeply embedded in the Warren's network to the extent that the Jade Rabbit would invade their minds to police their thoughts if it saw enough anomalous behaviour. These identities were not sustainable at all.
Several pieces fell into place all at once.
The force-grown clone drones... that was a technology that Ms. Smith would find very valuable. If they could bring back a functional cloning system, he'd be able to buy his way out. As he was finishing up, Syd noticed a silver thread trailing upward from the Jade Rabbit. Drained from his intense efforts with Dex's lace, Syd's attention was captivated by the shiny (Trouble invoked).
Hm. Shiny. Syd followed the thread out into the aether of virtual space. He could see it was heading to Earth. He turned away, realizing that he didn't have time to really pull that thread... Well, he tried to turn. Something had frozen him in place. A thick fog rolled over him, appearing from everywhere at once. At first it was a light grey, but it quickly darkened to near blackness, tinged with green. The mist was clammy against his skin. Huh. I'm naked.