Comic 974 - Strengthen the imprint

Posted on 27th Apr 2018, 10:42 PM in Hope
Strengthen the imprint

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Author Notes:

Morgenstern 27th Apr 2018, 10:42 PM edit delete
You report to everyone what you've heard--that there's a ghost in the bathroom area, it's just... weak. Something about program Rhetoric Delta, with the password Old Heretic Rat.

"Mars base has a couple of old Z50 computers," Fuse states. "I could try looking for that program, or tossing the password into random places."

Dr. Finch nods. "We... we we we have a ritual for strengthening a ghost's presence, as well." He almost trips over himself going for Geoangular Control. "I know I saw one... we can make an attempt at that to try and strengthen the imprint's presence."

Michelle grins. "Man, you guys are gettin' into this."

"Hell yeah," Fuse replies. "Cryptic passwords from old scientist ghosts? I know we're getting desensitized to a lot of shit but that's awesome."

While Fuse heads to Mars, and Dr. Finch begins thumbing through the pages of Geoangular Control, you continue messing with your newfound ghostliness. You try to shove a hand through the wall--however, you can't seem to. Even when you reel yourself back to feel less resistance on normal objects, you can't seem to phase through the bunker walls. Whatever they're made of--or whatever runs through them--seems to explicitly block imprints from passing through them. It makes sense for Bunker E, which had holding cells for Faraday, Tesla, and Edison, but it seems to apply to this bunker as well... probably all Zone Fifty bunkers.

"I found it!," Dr. Finch declares. He and Caius begin setting up the ritual where you think the ghostly presence is the strongest. He reads out the words from the book, and...


"I found the address for Site 6 and Site 15. I had coffee yesterday, with one of the guys from Site 8. What I'm saying is... there's a hole in the information wall. We're supposed to be kept separated, the left hand never knowing what the right is doing... but our e-mails are vulnerable, and our system's not as strong as it's implied to be. If I can figure this out, what are sites with higher clearance than us figuring out? What are the numbers guys, the organizational freaks, the code cracking junkies figuring out?"

The imprint runs a hand through his hair, heaving a sigh. "They'll probably kill me for this. I'm revealing a vulnerability, exposing the entire process. I know things I'm not supposed to. I know too much. Even if Zone Fifty doesn't have... I don't know, black ops ninjas showing up at my house, then someone upstairs trying to actually exploit these holes might have me killed just for screwing up his plans."

His expression sinks. He hesitates, but... he keeps going. "I have nothing to lose, though. The other guys here, they... they have friends, families, and I don't know who knows that. I don't know who's got a list of addresses or or or names at this point. If I blow the lid off this thing, if I'm the fall guy... it ends with me. I'm the only one who CAN do this, and somebody HAS to. ...Because the idea that someone has documentation on all of us, the idea that someone can swoop in and pick up what we've developed... what EVERY bunker is developing, that scares me. The thought that... that all the insane research we're doing, all the weapons being developed, all the technology being explored... that one group or even one person could get their hands on the whole pile, that terrifies me. It should terrify everyone. We're kept in the dark for a reason, even Site 1 isn't supposed to know anything."

The ghost tugs at his lab coat. "We were going to make the world a better place. Scientific developments not owned by anyone in particular... inventions for the good of the world, not dancing to the tune of any one organization or any single leader. I don't want that to be corrupted. I don't want that to get turned on its head, and this all to be the... the back story for some atrocity. What I'm doing... it might be the end of Zone Fifty, or at least the start of it. Once everyone knows there's leaks, once everyone knows we're not as quarantined as we thought... they'll have to start shutting it down. Zone Fifty's too dangerous otherwise. I'm using redundant methods to record this, making some of the data visible but encrypting a few copies, as well. If something happens to me..."

He pauses. "If they try to cover it up, I want the truth to still be out there somewhere. If someone wants it bad enough, they'll find it. Look for program Rhetoric Delta. It'll be buried... it'll be spread so thin that not even Site 1's bureaucrats can find it. They can wipe everything but they can't wipe this. I built a career, a life, out of hiding before I got here... if anyone knows how to mask data, it's me. The password is Old Heretic Rat."

The ghost smiles. It's a sad, distant kind of smile. "If you're smart... if you can read between the lines..." He taps at his forehead. "You might not even need that data. Just those two names can tell you the most important part."

The imprint fades away.

You hear the front door of Bunker A slam as Fuse returns. You and Dr. Finch return to the lab.

"So, scope it," Fuse begins. "No such program, nowhere taking that password, but..." he takes a deep breath. "I looked up the terms online. Doctor Jalen Calloway was found dead in a hotel room not long before Zone Fifty shut down. He had Old Heretic Rat written all over the walls, and all up and down his arms. Dude died to a gunshot to the back of the head... police still ruled it a suicide."

"Damn," Caius exclaims. "So whatever tha hell this is... it's pretty legit."


undeadDreamer 27th Apr 2018, 11:30 PM edit delete reply
weird that it's an anagram isn't it?
Archon 27th Apr 2018, 11:31 PM edit delete reply
Hrm. Wild guessing time, the data contains information on twisting the function of rituals.

If we want to investigate further, we should locate the hotel and use the ghost-imprint ritual in the murder room. Should provide more information on the subject.
Archon 27th Apr 2018, 11:34 PM edit delete reply
Oh, and while Jane is still spectral, could see if the ghost ritual works on her current state. The effect seems temporary, and strengthening the ghost form might have a use in the future, even in a limited area.
chaosblitz 27th Apr 2018, 11:46 PM edit delete reply
would that be dangerous, though? I mean, we don't want to get TOO separated from our body, and making our ghost form stronger might make it harder to go back to flesh and bones. It's a good suggestions! I just think we should run it by Dr. Finch first.
Archon 28th Apr 2018, 12:12 AM edit delete reply
Fair enough. Can set aside some time to try it out when we're well rested.
Macheman7 27th Apr 2018, 11:39 PM edit delete reply
"Or or or".
That is so distinctly a Dr. Finch thing that I'm questioning this due to him being there.
Maybe the key is in the meanings of 'program' and 'password'?
We're assuming computers, they seem obvious, but where also could 'program' and 'password' show up?
My only guess is to get a proto-Jury alone, probably the one we fixed, and try them.
pkrankow 28th Apr 2018, 1:28 PM edit delete reply
It is a type of stuttering. I have encountered several people in real life who speak something like that. Some develop it as something other than "um.." or similar placeholder sounds.

Dr Finch seems worse than typical, but not really bad.
Fishbulb 27th Apr 2018, 11:46 PM edit delete reply
Rhetoric Delta anagrams to Director Thale.
chaosblitz 27th Apr 2018, 11:47 PM edit delete reply
(O_o) Oh no.
lil Joshu 28th Apr 2018, 12:26 AM edit delete reply
lil Joshu
Oh Snap
Blue_Elite 28th Apr 2018, 12:40 AM edit delete reply
But remember, Zone Fifty closed about 100 years ago. Likely it won't be Patton Thale specifically. That'd mean it would likely be an elder Thale: either his father who funded various projects, including methods of prolonging his own life, or possibly a grandfather.
Swagner 28th Apr 2018, 2:55 AM edit delete reply
Unless he's artificially extended his own life, which would be consistent with what the tradesmen mentioned about his plans having been in motion a long time.
Blue_Elite 28th Apr 2018, 3:55 AM edit delete reply
Actually, I had a thought after posting that comment: Patton Thale IS the original Zone Fifty director just under an alias so he doesn't have to explain how he's managed to live for 100+ years.
On top of that, Thale's, "family," are just clones of him. All of them. One of the nice things about males, genetically, is that if you remove that one Y-chromosome, you can easily shift a clone's sex from male to female without affecting anything else.
a_name 28th Apr 2018, 6:53 AM edit delete reply
Desmond Thale is Patton Thale's grandfather. He has already been mentioned, I think he was a friend of Gargan's.
Espylacopa 28th Apr 2018, 10:10 AM edit delete reply
"Which Thale?"

Now I'm thinking there might be more behind this question than Patton having more than one of himself.
Madd 28th Apr 2018, 12:01 AM edit delete reply
Search for Director Thale... (And Tetrachloride)
Search in the computers for extra data hidden in files, I have a feeling the program might have been encrypted and the encoded into extra bits of images, sounds, and programs.
Blue_Elite 28th Apr 2018, 12:04 AM edit delete reply
IF we're done testing ghost things we may want to return to our body. Caius had no idea just how drained he was from the experience until he stepped out of the ritual circle. Not to mention, if we want to give another go of this at Bunker E today, we need to conserve strength.

If we end up as drained as I'm guessing we're going to be, we can see if we still have the mental fortitude to work on Elizabeth next. Otherwise either make armour (if that's less taxing) or just take a break.
Maybe even take a moment to have a chat with our Red. She's been through a lot lately (speaking through empty-Jane just being the latest in less-than-desirable situations). Might be good just to hear her out so she can vent.
Also, if we do talk with her, we should ask her about how she seemed to... interalize after being externalized by the ritual? We might even want to get Mom's Red in on that discussion - can Reds re-interalize after being externalized? If she can, we might want to consider making a project out of making an entire spare Jane body she can hop to to operate. Not only might it be a good way to keep her out of stressful situations, if we don't give the body duplicate our blood, she can practice being human without fear of going Eldritch or misusing blood powers.
Archon 28th Apr 2018, 12:05 AM edit delete reply
Ah. It hadn't clicked before, but the specters tone is very interesting.
It suggests to me that this specter was intentionally created, intended to be found by someone who found the same flaws in bunker security that they did, and put the information to use.
echo 28th Apr 2018, 12:40 AM edit delete reply
Rhetoric Delta
Old Heretic Rat
Director Thale!
Memo 28th Apr 2018, 12:41 AM edit delete reply
Could they be passwords to the 2 bunkers he found?
Reiko Lupus 28th Apr 2018, 12:41 AM edit delete reply
...Director Thale.
Damn, this has sense.
Even if Thale got things of Zone Fifty, how can that be enough? You need a LOT of knowledge in the subject to make use of the Blood in First place, creating clones of himself and transfering his identity to them, and being able to trace a plan where his identity is divided in a Hivemind where nobody knows everything but is prepared to make the center of it a god without the center even knowing what the rest is doing.
Him being the Director of the Zone Fifty makes it possible. He didn't buy things of Zone Fifty and got the Blood by chance, the good SHUT DOWN ZONE FIFTY AND TOOK THE BLOOD WITH HIM. He took the things he needed for his plan, and put it into motion.
Well, fortunately for us, he didn't considered important to keep the information about everything in Z50 in the knowledge of the next Thales XD. If he passed the knowledge of the Gate, then we would have robots and mutants visiting our home XD.

Well, for now let's check if we can get some information about Director Thale in the computers of Z50. And return to our own body.
Espylacopa 28th Apr 2018, 1:24 AM edit delete reply
Jury may once have known about the head of Zone Fifty in the past but she has no recollection of him now.
Maybe the director(Thale) isn't responsible for Jury's missing memories of him but, instead, Dr. Calloway encrypted those memories to hide them from the director as well as prevent their deletion and the data is still in her somewhere.
We know Jury was familiar with this bunker too, so it's completely plausible she and Dr. Calloway had met.
pkrankow 28th Apr 2018, 6:42 AM edit delete reply
Yes ask Jury... might get weird so make sure she is somewhere safe first.

The PJ's might also have information.
PurpleKetchup 28th Apr 2018, 5:00 AM edit delete reply
"I built a career, a life, out of hiding before I got here..."
Grizwald wouldn't happen to know about the Calloways, would he ?
Frission 28th Apr 2018, 8:04 AM edit delete reply
Oh, good idea! He'd be a great person to ask about this sort of thing.
Espylacopa 28th Apr 2018, 9:57 AM edit delete reply
Conspiracies and cover ups, yeah, good call.
fellow 28th Apr 2018, 2:33 PM edit delete reply
You're all overlooking the real implications of the anagram. Both the program and password match the phrase "Theoretic lard". Zone 50 has clearly developed an unethical and previously impossible way to deep fry.
Blue_Elite 28th Apr 2018, 2:51 PM edit delete reply
I thought that's what trans fats were all about.
pkrankow 28th Apr 2018, 4:00 PM edit delete reply

I suspect tetrachloride is a false positive.

It should be little effort to check the fire suppression system lables.