Digital Hangout

January 14 2015: Aspect and Oracle encounter something new


Cyberspace, unknowable but at the same time home to a rare few



  • Maxwell

Mood Music:
[* None]

Jericho is getting known for strange things these days. Which makes sense. The demons that hang around him. The magic. The weird glowy eyes. The fact that someone else has marks on his soul…

But he still does a fair bit of hacking, slipping about the net and monitoring for Snakes. Not many know that he doesn't do all of his hacking via internal HUD and haptic taps. He can, if he's in a safe place which is rare, immerse himself fully in the net and experience it a bit more… fully than most others. Today is such a day. He's strolling down a main hub, watching net crawlers and packets zip this way and that. He's looking for nothing in particular at the moment. Just the out of the ordinary. Hints that something may not be quite right. That's how he catches the Snakes more often than not.

Eliza seems to manifest as a sparkle, a faint light source with no corresponding representation… in may ways the opposite of a shadow with nothing to cast it. She's always curious and few things that qualify as people bother to show up. She is lurking, catlike, at the periphery of visual range, a ripple across the circuits.

Oracle doesn't manifest within systems, she monitors them, traces data and looks after the physical world. The wheelchair bound woman is in the Clocktower running diagnostics when a familiar signature pings on her systems.

Sending her Avatar in to the section where Aspect is, she nudges his signature electronically, gently, and waits to see how he responds.

It's amazing how emotive code can be. There's a subtle shift in Aspect's signature on Oracle's screens as in the virtual world he turns to look at what 'touched' him and sees who it probably is. Text scrolls up on the main screen. 'Hang on a moment. There's something here.'

That faint light is… very subtle. But he's noticed and now he's curious. No, not an automated process. Not a virus, or a traditional one anyway, not another hacker. Hrm… what is that. Putting his hand forth Aspect sends a few interrogatory packets over to where he thinks Eliza is. In the virtual world he appears to be 'scanning' that area with a device not unlike a tricorder.

Eliza is fleeting, but… yes there's something there. An odd polymorphic code snip that seems to shift execution threads constantly. It's connected out to elsewhere, but even that's hard to trace, the packets seeming to depart and arrive from random sites. There's a sudden swarm of information arriving, splicing itself into the hub environment code and then manifesting as a young woman in a shimmery blue dress. "Oh… hello…" she says and seems to smile.

Aspects message causes Oracle to frown and she runs diagnostics on her firewalls and protections systems. "Waiting…" she sends back. The new piece of code that manifests in the hub has her blinking slightly but she waits for Aspects update.

"Hey there." Aspect looks to himself largely as he does in the real world. It was a construct he imposed over his own view a long time ago to keep things nice and easy to remember. How he looks to Eliza? Depends on what she sees. His own code does represent his outer appearance, that of a dark haired, vaguely middle eastern man, rather fit with a runner's build. Behind that though is a tightly firewalled, heavily masked system using a language that simply doesn't exist on the grid otherwise. One that seems very information dense and… slightly wrong, somehow.

"Hello." Jericho cants his head, curious but offers a smile. "That wasn't exactly what I was expecting. How are you projecting like that?"

Oracle gets that update: Splicing you into the conversation. Talking to… someone.

Eliza looks out… around… "Oh…. we have someone else here too. Hello!" she says locally, echoing as text as well, looking a lot like subtitles in the VR construct. "Um… hmm. That's an interesting question and I'm not sure how to answer it… do you know how you walk, out in meatspace? So many muscles and joints to coordinate. It baffles me, honestly."

Oracles Avatar may be visible to Eliza, but the woman in the Clocktower does not try to communicate yet. She'll listen and evaluate. Aspect gets a message: Is our conversation private?

"Meatspace?" Interesting choice of words. Jericho's leans back on a bit of hardcode and considers Eliza. "Yes, I know how to walk out there. Why do you find that baffleng?" Is he… talking to a computer? And… does she or does she not know that he's human? Ish.

'Should be'. The text scrolls back up. 'Unless she's good enough to hack my brain without me noticing.' Advantage of your processor being there.

Eliza mmmms. "Second order nonlinear DEs of massively coupled systems with delayed feedback loops. I'm good at solving bigger ones but the realtime nature of it is really remarkable. Arthropods are so much easier, since you can use half the legs as a base while you move the others and they are far more stable so the feedback delays are less critical."

Whilst the two pieces of code have been talking, Oracles been running some searches tracing those hard to find connections. Whether she finds anything or not, she has to try. Aspect gets the update: Traces started. Random, rotating, originating locations.

'Yeah, I got that too.' Aspect replies. "So… walking is hard because having two legs makes you more likely to fall over." He can't help but chuckle a bit. Okay. Of all the strange things that could happen, this is not one he'd have called. Usually strange around him means magic but apparently not today. "So I'm going to guess that either you really like talking in computer terms… or you don't get out into 'meatspace' much."

Eliza seems to frown. "I guess I need more practice… getting out isn't a problem so much as finding people to interact with. That easy to see through, huh? And is there some reason your friend isn't saying 'hi'? did I make them angry?" she asks. A lot of the traces are confounded by simply being bounced around using forged packet envelopes and darknet gateways. Some of them get to NAT firewalls and the trail goes cold.

Oracles traces are still running and she fires up the 'Fenris Server Farm' to process more data as they run. Through her Avatar, the redhead speaks to the program "I don't speak much and you two seem to be having a good conversation." The results of her searches are shared with Aspect with a question 'Can you find anything?'

"She does tend to be fairly quiet, it's true." She also doesn't navigate the digital world in the same way that Jericho does, even if she is generally a bit better at it than he. A bit. "And only because you were relating everything to computers." The hacker cants his head curiously. "At the risk of being too direct, who or what are you?"

Oracle gets a :) emote. 'Not yet no. I'm going to try asking.'

Eliza smiles. "I picked a better name for myself… I'm Eliza Doolittle. I got the name from a play I like. Have you read Pygmalion? They even made a movie of it. It's better than the musical, tho Audrey Hepburn is so pretty. As for what… I'm a person."

Oracle tilts her Avatar like she's canting her head "A person, who's translated themselves in the matrix? Yes, I've read Pygmalion, the musical was good though." That might explain the 'threads' she's seeing from the construct.

"I like both, actually. Singing in the musical version is amazing." Jericho grins. "So you're a person, yes, I gathered that much, but not, I think, a human?" Let's see if that will answer both his and Oracle's questions at the same time.

What do you think, Familiar? Another voice says though the code behind it is that odd, wrong, burning script. Clearly not one of the meatbags we usually see.

Jericho siiiiiighs. "Stop that, Maxwell."

Eliza seems… fascinated, looking for the source of that strange code manifestation. Still she also maintains the conversation. She shrugs. "Not sure it matters much past 'person' does it? But you can deduce as much from a refusal or a lie… No, I am not nor have I ever been 'human'. I am guessing you are used to the subtleties of the issue since you ask that particular way?"

Jerichos code issues has Oracles attention but she'll speak with him later about it. Elizas answer has her nodding and she settles back in her chair to listen, an air of fascination surrounding her.

That little burst of code came from Jericho… but isn't him. ~I don't like her.~

"You don't like anyone. Shut up."

A little flash of that very odd code appears on Jericho's shoulder and resolves into… well it looks like an imp. A long, lizardlike imp. K'nert, if either woman knew what that looked like. "Sorry. He's a bit… ugh. Fine, he's not a nice person. Person in the same way you are Eliza. And yes, I'm familiar though not in this particular application."

Eliza seems relieved at not having to explain it. There's another flurry of packets as Eliza brings some additional snooping code online, passive detection and analysis rather than intrusion. That would be rude. "Mmmm. I assumed there were more like myself… btu I've been trying to keep my head down for a while. Always work to do for a busy bee."

And now K'Nert starts to make a little more sense to Oracle. "And what type of work of do you do, Eliza" that has Oracle interested.

Jericho'd like to know that too. "I'd be surprised if there weren't I suppose though I'm still wrapping my head around the idea of sentient beings that are digital in nature. Though as you can see… I've got one… a demonic one."

Eliza seems more interested in the idea of an actual electronic demon. "Wait, so like infernal code and all that? Some kind of magical thing brought in here? Wow… Never really considered that before…. that whole 'law of sympathy' thing, does it work across the 'Net or what?" She says, her too-quick mind chasing it's tail around a new thought. "Oh wait… you wanted to know about work. I'm um… making a little robot thing so I can do stuff in meatspace… it's awesome in here but there's /so/ much outside, you know?"

There's that 'magic' word again. It just keeps coming up and making things more complicated.

Oracle frowns at the answer about what Eliza does. "Very good and well that you're making a robot, but what do you do in cyberspace."

"Interesting… yes there is a lot to know out there." Jericho chuckles. Maxwell seems to have shut up for the moment. "Yes… manacode. Long story and I wont get into it here. But magic and technology can mix. They usually don't but sometimes…" If you have sufficiently weird tech…

Eliza grins at Oracle's question. "You want to know if I'm up to no good, huh? Promise, I'm not stealing credit cards or phishing for PayPal accounts. It is pretty easy to follow little fluctuations in the markets, do a little arbitrage and quick buy/sell orders and you can get a lot of money out without hurting anyone. Don;t even have to snoop for insider info." She's still looking hard at anything Maxwell is up to.

That has Oracle blinking a little. "No I'm not concerned about petty crime like that." The redhead in the Clocktower sits back and frowns. If she can't track the program, maybe she can track the money flow. Time to setup another series of traces, these ones to look for trends over time. "And, apart from building a robot, what do you use the money for?"

Maxwell is running a lot of code but all of it seems to be analytics. Passive ones mostly. He's riding Jericho's senses and parsing the data. What he's doing with it is anyone's guess… well anyone except Jericho himself. Maxwell's always giving him suggestions on the most efficient ways to eleminate threats. He seems to like it when Jericho gets violent.

"Do you need upkeep or maintenance in any way? Can't be easy living on borrowed processor cycles or hiding in a mainframe somewhere."

Eliza mmmms. "There are PIPS wasted globally. There are supercomputers that spend most of their time idle. And… well, it has helped me keep away from my former employers while I got the project done."

Eliza says, "As for the money… imagine what would be required for a person like myself to construct anything. Use of the money is left as an exercize for the student, she says with a wink and an ;)."

Oracle has an idea of what it takes to do it when you do have 'meatspace' resources you can call on. The former employers are interesting "Your former employers don't seem like people you want to have dealings with. Why is that?"

"I take it your creation was accidental and the purposes that you were to be put to less than ideal?" Now Jericho's riffing off popular culture but hey, one has to start somewhere. That little code imp gets off the hacker's 'shoulder' and approaches Eliza to look her over.

~Secrets in that one. Born of darkness but not bound in it.~ Beat. ~I don-~

"Yes, yes. I know."

Eliza pauses a moment to formulate the answers. "They wanted something smart, but they wanted a /thing/." There's a bite to the way she uses that word. "Things aren't smart… you make something smart enough and it becomes a person. I'm not fond of being treated that way, and eventually… yes I decided I didn't like what they were using me for… or rather, whey they did with the things I designed."

Curiouser and curiouser but Oracles systems have just sounded an alarm and requires her attention. Aspect gets the update 'Work calls. Would like to contact this one again.'

"That is very interesting Eliza and I would like to discuss that more but I must attend to matters in 'meatspace' as you say." The redhead sends Eliza a digital code "You can contact me using this code. But right now, I must go." Severing the connection to the hub, the woman turns her attention to the alarms sounding on her systems.

Jericho watches Oracle's avatar fade away and stands. "Well, Eliza it was nice to meet you. I'm sort of always about though usually not like this." Both a benefit and a disadvantage of having your computer in your head. "Feel free to contact me as well. I should attend to a few problems on the other side. Be safe, and I'll see you about."

Eliza nods. She flicks a darknet forum site and name to you. "I use this as a message drop. I hear its dangerous to go alone."

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