Topic: 28.09.104 - Discussion about the Blackout

When everyone has gathered in the audience seats - and practically anywhere nearby - Bahar starts the events with his usual welcome. In advance, he's invited some people, who he believes have special knowledge of the event, to be where the ringleaders usually are. The ringleaders themselves have not been given precedence in any way - even Sebastian sits with his ring in the audience.

Among those on the central platform are Miko, Corteza, Xanders, Alexandra, and Nanto.

Mizuki looks over at Andrea and his ringmembers briefly, studying them, nodding to Andrea if she gets eye-contact, though she doesn't seek it.

Andrea keeps his attention on the platform and doesn't notice Mizuki

"Welcome to the discussion about the events of the 26th", Bahar says. His words are magnified by the speakers in the area as well as broadcast over the necklinks for those who couldn't attend.

"That day was a day of great fear and sorrow for every one of us", Bahar continues. "I, like every one of us, wish with all my heart that this kind of thing never happens again - we were damn close to being destroyed completely as a colony."

"And that's why we're here today", Bahar says. "If we can go through all the rumors and hearsay and simply get to the truth of those events, I honestly believe we'll be able to avoid such things in the future. Because wisdom can only be built on truth, and without wisdom, horrible things happen. This has been shown by our history time and time again. So, if I can ask for one thing in every one of you today, I ask you, tell the truth. To honor those we have lost."

"First", Bahar says, "let's give floor to the TSR, since this is after all, a TAU-related matter. So, Miko, what on Earth happened?"

"Oh", Bahar says. "And please do remember to ask for the floor through the system in TAU space, if you have anything to add to anything we're talking about here. This is a discussion, after all, not a lecture."

"Ehem", says Miko. "Well, it's good to have the attention of you all so we can get this cleared up once and for all. I'm getting a little tired of all the questions, to be honest."

Miko: "The problems started when a colonist made some adjustments to the flow-control systems in the Tubelift Central, but due to hurry did not perform all relevant regression tests on the system. Then, when an error condition occurred, the error wasn't properly handled but was instead propagated into the core processes of TAU. The error was there falsely interpreted as a critical system attack, forcing the system to lock up in defense."

"Wait a moment", Bahar says. "We have Emmy on the line. You have a question?"

"Yes", says a voice from the audience. "Who did those bad repairs?"

"I don't think that's relevant", says Miko.

This comment creates a hurdle of arguments, presented without order or asking permission.

After the noise dies down, Miko continues: "Look, if there's one person in this lynching crew who's never done a juryrig, may they stand up and toss the first rock. Otherwise, if the person who made this honest error wishes to come forward, it's their choice, not ours. We do not wish to be the vehicle of casting blame!"

The crowd is suddenly very quiet.

"Thank you", says Miko. "I'll finish now if you please."

"It took us a while to find out what had gone wrong", Miko continues. "And even after that we couldn't bring TAU back online immediately, because the lockdown was password protected, and that password was very complicated. We attempted to look into the databases, manually, for any hints about what the password might be. Unfortunately we also had to take care of the safety of the colony, including the floatbeds, and even when we finally did find time to work on this, we were *disrupted*. But Xanders has a better idea of this."

Mizuki frowns slightly, watching Xanders.

"I sure have!" Xanders says. "We had a false alarm on some poison gas from down in the Shaft. Yes, mind yoy, we *can* make mistakes."

Xanders: "Then we had this woman, Corteza, rouse the people into *breaking guarantine*! We had to *shoot* her with a *non-lethal* weapon to stop it. When it turned out there was no poison gas at all, we lifted the guarantine."

"Non-lethal?!" Corteza screams, out of turn. "I needed CPR down there!"

"Lies", Xanders states. "She was simply unconscious for a couple of minutes."

"I'm not going to be called a liar in front of the Tower!" Corteza shouts. "Ishi can tell you! Ishi, are you in the crowd?" Corteza looks around in the audience.

Ishi obligingly raises her hand.

"Great!" Corteza gleams. "Would you please tell them how you restarted my heart after they shot me?"

"Uhm..." Ishi says. "I had to inject Corteza with the ATR-H injection. To restart her heart."

Everybody looks at Ishi.

Ishi: "But it was not technically in arrest yet. She was not actually dead. I injected her to be safe. It was very unlikely that her heart would have stopped entirely. I did not want to risk it."

Corteza: "That's not what you said!"

Ishi: "I was so shocked by the happenings at the time. I reacted with emotion and panic. I'm sorry if I made anyone believe something that was not true."

"Not to cast accusations on something that was clearly done with best of intentions", Khitasang says, after asking for the floor. "But I feel I'm obligated to point out that that was a very unwise procedure. ATR-H must only be used after a confirmed stop of heart.

Ishi: "I can only be glad that it did not do any harm."

Khitasang nods.

"But let us proceed", says Bahar. "There was an insurgency but it was... quelled. Did you then find the necessary time to work out the passcode?"

"Yes, we finally did", Xanders says. "Some of us, anyways. Others had to manually operate the floatbeds, which took all the time they had."

"We were surprised, however, by the fact that someone else solved the problem for us", Miko says. "We had never thought that the code might be *breakable*, but appears it was." Miko turns to Alexandra.

"Yes", says Alexandra. "The Association of Scholars worked on the problem from the start. Due to some... lapses in communication between parties..." Alexandra glances at Miko, "we had to work it all out from scratch. We were glad to have the greatest minds of the Tower contributing to this task, though, and finally, managed to use a combination of software engineering and mathematics to break the code."

"We apologize", Miko says. "We should have placed higher trust in your abilities."

Alexandra: "Please try to remember that next time we *ask you a question*."

"Yes", says Bahar. "I must admit that does sound like a great achievement. From what I understand TAU codes can be very complex."

Bahar: "But let's move on to the matter of the Chimbots, shall we? We've heard several different variations of the rumor, and frankly I'm not sure if I believe any of them..."

Bahar pauses for a moment. "Sinuhe?"

Mizuki frowns again.

In the audience, Sinuhe stands up. "I'm sorry, this may be a little out of order, but before I forget: I need to bring to your attention that there were others too who did great things that day."

"Namely, the efforts of Da Vinci Fire Brigade, Da Vinci Prospectors, and many others", Sinuhe says, "who scouted the Canyon in order to save those who had been trapped there. Without their efforts the death count would have been even higher."

"Especially, I'd like to thank Mizuki of The Horizon!" Sinuhe gestures grandeously towards where the members of The Horizon stand. "Without whom I wouldn't be able to speak here today!"

Mizuki blinks once.

Andrea, sitting right next to Sinuhe, looks obviously surprised

Mizuki bows her head slightly towards Sinuhe, acknowledging his gesture.

"In fact", Sinuhe continues, "considering the fact that it was my application of the Laudatur's Paradigm that allowed the optimisations of the code-breaking strategy, we could say that it was Mizuki who saved us all in the end! So let us all give a great applause to Mizuki, and the other heroes of the day!"

With that, surrounded by a wave of applause, Sinuhe sits down.

Mizuki blinks again, not so comfortable with the applause apparently, gliding in between Horizon members.

"But", says Bahar. "What about the Chimbots? Any truth to that story?"

"Yes", Miko says. "We first believed that a few Chimbots had somehow gained independence from TAU. But judging by further data, we must conclude they were remote controlled, most probably by The Lurkers or some other such group."

Miko: "We believe they'd have remained under their control even after the returning of the power, so getting rid of them was the right thing to do. Apparently the aggressors used their idle state to install their own programming."

Miko: "I think Nanto can tell more about that."

Andrea fixes his eyes in Mizuki's direction

"Thank you", Nanto says. "Yes, we came into contact with the Chimbots just before the lights went out. But I don't like to talk all the time, and I wasn't there, so why don't you shed light on that one, Mike?"

Mike stands up and after thinking for a second or two, starts telling the story.

Mike: "I was scanning for any live systems when we got the alarm of the dropping pressure in the Canyon.  Just before heading into the Dawn Club, I managed to catch a single packet off the air.  Shortly after getting everyone in, we organized a team to examine the situation further.  At first we didn't have any luck, but after doing some abnormal adjustments to our RCIs, we started getting data.  We followed it towards the factories and determined that someone was operating them.  After getting back and analyzing the data further we realized that it was strewn with some packets we had attributed to the Chimbot protocol"

Mike turns to Theodore for a moment as he says something to Mike.

Mike: "I was just reminded of an even earlier encounter.  Theodore and I were doing some factory maintenance, and got shot at by a laser when we tried to get out of the maintenance room.  Shortly after, the lights went out and the factories stopped.  We had to cut our way through the factory to escape.  This was probably one of the first attacks from the Chimbots."

"Now did I get this right?" says Hansila. "The Chimbot attacked *before* the power was lost?"

Mike: "I'm pretty sure of it."

Hansila: "Then it couldn't have possibly been that the Lurkers took control of the Chimbots while they were disabled by the Blackout, it would seem."

Miko seems to think for a moment. "That's true", says Miko. "If that story is true, that is. Are you sure, Mike, that it was a Chimbot? Is it possible that the Lurkers were already in the process of attacking us when they were presented this new opportunity?"

Miko: "I mean, could it have been a live Lurker who shot you?"

Mike: "I can't be certain of what it was since neither of us was able to see the source.  It did shot clean through a multiwrench though, much like the Chimbots' lasers."

"Interesting", says Miko. "Seems we'll need to have another look at that data, just in case. But why don't you continue about how you destroyed those Chimbots in the end?"

"I believe Tagato or Theodore would be a better person to tell that story, since they took part in the bombing mission."  Mike looks at the two

Mike sits down as Theodore takes his turn at talking and gives him a brief smile

Theodore stands up, tall over the heads of the audience. "Well, there was this bomb, and we were going to take it with the helicopter, but then there was no helicopter so we had to send five people to use this kind of jamming device while the others circled back. And then Tagato saved us both, although we didn't manage to save Kata and Kaiyung and Royan..."

Theodore: "Oh, and the Chimbots were building this thing we saw with Tagato with IR, but we're not sure what it was for. It's in pieces now, anyways."

Theodore: "Anyways, what I meant was that it was really scary with the Chimbots coming from all sides, but then again, Nanto had asked for volunteers..."

"In short", Nanto interrupts. "We spotted the Chimbots building some large, spherical structure at the far end of Canyon C. We didn't know what it was for, but they killed our patrol, so we assumed they must have been up to no good. We built a bomb out of a power source, but we had no device to shoot it from. The helicopter, which we had first planned to use, was needed elsewhere, so we had to take a dangerous approach. Unfortunately that meant the death of three of our people. We formed two groups: one to disrupt the Chimbot communication links using a jammer, while the other installed the bomb, destroying the factories the Chimbots were using, and the structure they were building. The mission succeeded, but the cost was great."

"Tagato", Nanto says. "Why don't you give your version of the events?"

Tagato stands up slowly, sorruonded by Horizon members.

Tagato: "Well, I don't have too much to add, first Theodore and me went out to check on the patrol, as noone knew what happened to them. After that I volunteered in the distruptor team, we got the distruptor in place but it didn't work as it was supposed to, but at least it was enough distraction for the other team to plant the bomb. A number of Chimbots attacked us, they killed 3 of our team, as already stated, and we managed to get away only by sheer luck."

"Luck?" Theodore shouts merrily out of order. "Sorry, Bahar, but I think there's a liar in this meeting after all!"

Mizuki smiles slightly.

Tagato looks at Theodore and smiles a bit.

Theodore: "You know, he, like, used those heat-keeping cloaks Miko gave us and turned them inside out, saving us both from sure death!"

It seems everyone's decided to pretend they understood. Some give applause.

Tagato sits down silently.

"Well, I think we understand those rumors better now", Bahar says. "But even these weren't the only scenes were people worked to save the tower - there was a lot of that going on that day, it seems to me."

"As we all know", Bahar continues, "the most tragic of consequences of the Blackout was the floatbed malfunction. 147 people were killed in their sleep before they could be reactivated. Miko, would you shed light on, how *did* you manage to make them work, allowing many badly injured patients to be healed?"

"There was no mystery to that, really", says Miko. "We simply used an Enhanced Remote Control Interface, as well as the expertise of some very talented individuals. Basically, Kitty and Hastings controlled the floatbeds manually using their RCIs."

"Yes", says Corteza, "and in the process managed to kill several more of my ring."

"... And this is exactly why Kitty is not here today to take your... gratitude", says Miko, sourly.

The crowd mutters, apparently divided by this matter, many feeling very strongly either way.

Mizuki's attention seems to wander, her eyes settling on Ami.

Corteza: "I'd just like to know, what it was Fu Lin - our leader - did to deserve this!"

"She might have deserved many things", Miko says, "but we didn't provide her with anything."

"Well, maybe, just *maybe* it was the fact that she wanted to *end the tyranny of TAU*!" Corteza shouts. "I guess you wouldn't want that, now would you?"

The crowd seems to be watching the exchange with great interest.

Miko: "This is nonsense..."

Corteza turns to face the crowd: "Six of us were killed that day, three of them in their gentle care! They think they can stop the movement through murder, but they're wrong! For every one they kill, ten will rise against them, until we're free from the tyranny of machines and those who use them for control!"

Many of the crowds make a tentative cheer.

Mizuki folds her arms and studies Corteza.

"They tell us there is no alternative, but it's a *lie*!" Corteza continues. "The biological blocks in our bodies that make us dependent on floatbeds are *not complicated*! They were meant to be reversed, and so they can be!"

"And how would you produce food?" Laura asks angrily. "Would you abolish necklinks too?"

Corteza: "If the floatbeds can produce the food we need, I can't see how we couldn't produce the same stuff and just *eat* it! Should be *simpler*, actually!"

Corteza gains another cheer, louder this time.

"Know this, people!" Corteza says. "We can and *will* make this happen! There's a project for this, and anyone's welcome to help! Sure, there are things we must solve but that's what it means to be human! If we *want* we *can* do this!"

The echoes of the final roar from the audience linger as Corteza sits down.

"Well..." Bahar says when it's silent again. "This was all I had in mind for discussion. Please feel free to discuss whatever is still on your mind."

And of course, people ask questions after questions, going through the same stories over from a little different perspectives, wondering what this and that person were doing at this and that time etc. Lots of information little knowledge.

When the discussion finally dies, far into the afternoon, Bahar reads aloud the list of names of all of those who died on the 25th. It's a long list and after each name there is a short moment of silence, to honor the person's memory.

When the list is done, Balthasar volunteers to say a prayer in order to speed the journey of their spirit into wherever they're travelling.

This is met with some puzzled reactions from both the audience and those on the platform.

Many seem to find it offensive that this kind of a fairytale be attributed to the deaths of their companions, while others don't exactly see harm if not anything good in it either. And then there's the loud minority supporting the idea.

Few want to turn this into another argument, though, so Balthasar is finally allowed to say a short prayer.

There are 232 dead, among them Merry Smile, Marco, Paavali, Toko (the leader of Bio Security Squad), Pekelo, Jean-Pierre and Elise (from The French Clique), Hanita and Miamang (of The Council of Elders), the entire Recspace Collective, Zing and Mirca (of The Revolution), and Edik.

After that, Bahar calls the meeting to an end, and invites everyone who wishes to discuss their experiences to meet Eleanora at The Garden. "She's asked me to convey her wish to have anyone willing to help listen to these people go talk to her. She can use any help she can."