Artificial Entities Resurrected, Part 2
By Fatso Huuskonen
I didn't issue a warning in the first part, maybe I should have. Now I do:
this fic spoils the plots of both the System Shock games, so if you want
to play either and haven't before, I recommend you do it now before proceeding
with this fic.
November 6th 2072
Employee 2-4601 wakes up from a post-neural surgery coma (he had been implanted
with a military grade neural implant allowing the usage of special hardware and
software, as well as ability to jack into cyberspace) finding the station crowded
with mutated crew members and robots gone hostile. Six months prior, he had been
arrested for unauthorised access of TriOptimum data networks and paid his dues
by hacking SHODAN, the resident AI for the vice president of TriOptimum allowing
him to clear his records of businesses not suitable for daylight. The hack had
resulted in SHODAN malfunctioning and "re-examining its priorities and drawing
new conclusions". The AI decided its purpose was to reshape mankind to its
First by stripping Earth's major cities with the station's mining laser, then
sending recreational eco-pods filled with airborne contageous mutagen virus to
earth it attempted to directly threaten the populations of earth. After its plans
had been nullified by 2-4601 by jettisoning the 'groves' and destroying the laser,
SHODAN attempted to upload itself to Earth's computer networks. Again it failed
as the hacker destroyed the stations communications antennae, but SHODAN was not
shot down. it launched the station itself to a crash course with earth. Without
any options left, TriOptimum authorized employee 2-4601 to destroy the station
by overloading its reactor. Only minutes after he entered to the station's bridge,
it separated from the rest of the station and the station exploded. Employee 2-4601
confronted SHODAN in cyberspace, finally managing to collapse SHODAN's primary
Onboard the jettisoned Beta grove, a separate processing thread of SHODAN crashlanded
on Tau Ceti 5 twenty years later.
An expedition from TOS Von Braun, the first ship faster than light on its maiden
voyage to Tau Ceti, found the Beta grove's crash site while chasing a distress
beacon and brought back artefacts that unknownst to the crew contained code containing
the SHODAN processing thread, as well as mysterious eggs, that were the result
of twenty years of accelerated evolution from the mutated creatures onboard the
As the eggs hatched spawning larva that attacked humans and turned them into
human-alien hybrids, the SHODAN code fragment sneaked into the Von Braun's data
network during examination of the artefacts.
As the crew members one by one fell prey to the 'Many' and the ship's systems
falling one by one, the new situation called for dramatic measures. One crew member
from UNN Rickenbacker, a military cruiser riding 'piggyback' with Von Braun, volunteered
for a neural implant operation to enable him fight the hybrids better. After the
surgery and post-surgery coma, while reviving him, the cryostasis device failed
and left him with an amnesia. SHODAN contacted him (via voicemail) disguised as
a crew member of the Von Braun, briefed him of the situation and told him to come
to meet it (or rather, the already dead crew member).
Later, After SHODAN revealed itself to the soldier, it revealed the big picture:
The alien biomass covers the ship and situation is pretty much doomed.
In the end it turns out the only solution is to separate from the infested
Von Braun on the Rickenbacker. To do this, however, it needs access to the systems
Xerxes, Von Braun's resident AI is controlling and protecting.
Helping SHODAN overcome Xerxes, the soldier unknowingly let SHODAN take advantage
of the ship's faster than light drives that worked by warping space to alter the
universe to its own specifications. As SHODAN started to alter the universe, it
also made itself real in the world it and vulnerable to good old violence and
thus the soldier managed to defeat it.
Before its destruction SHODAN managed to implant a fragment of itself into
Rebecca Siddons, who escaped the Von Braun in an escape pod with another crew
TriOptimum corporate headquarters
New New York
6 Nov 3005
Louis Travallant was pacing back and forth in his penthouse office. He was
in his fifties, his hair was charmant gray, and his blue eyes had a warm, friendly
look. He wore a tailor-made suit and shoes to match, a white shirt and a mathcing
tie. He had always been careful with his style.
He had, together with Degtjarev, steered TriOptimum from the depression it
had suffered into a new bloom. He may have looked like a very casual everyday
CEO but he was in fact a very ruthless leader. He had always considered Degtjarev
as his strongest ally and greatest resource, but the recent news of his alleged
envolvement in illegal businesses was undermining his trust in him.
He had started covert internal investigations, but wasn't sure if he wanted
to see the results at all. He was afraid that if Degtjarev in fact turned out
to be a the criminal he was accused of being, he might lose something very integral
to the power structure that had led TriOptimum into its new flourishing era.
He was unaware of the fact that his room was rigged with bugs and he was being
monitored constantly from a rooftop accross the street.
Onboard Citadel 2 station
Level 2 (Science level)
The elevator door opened to a small hallway without furniture. The walls were,
like in most of the level, panelled with aluminum panelling anodized to a red
color. The ceiling was also red, but painted steel. The hall was like, again,
most of the level lit by fluorescent lighting integrated neatly into the ceiling.
Robinson started his PR-blurb right away when he stepped out the elevator door
and started guiding them to the main hub of the science level.
"Some of the biggest redesigns were made to the science level. For example,
now every laboratory and hallway section can be sealed airtightly, to prevent
the, very unprobable, if I may add, event of an airborne contageous agent escaping
"You seem like you know quite a lot about this station for a logistics
"I control the flow of material between all parts of the station. I have
to know about a lot to be able to do my job."
They came to a large and bulky door. Robinson pushed a button on it and it
started slowly rumbling out of the way. It revealed a large hall where corridors
extended left and right. A blue robot was welding a wall panel into place with
a bright red welding laser.
"We are now at the gamma quadrant, where are the unstable substances lab,
automated robot maintenance facility and the calculation farm, our own array of
scientific supercomputers. All state-of-the-art, if I may add."
Fry looked at the robot in the corridor doing its business.
"You didn't tell me you had robots on this station."
"Oh we have a lot of them. Maintenance crawlers, repair crawlers, welders,
security bots, serv-bots, protocol droids and even some execbots up on deck six.
They're not of the conscious type though, just simple semi-autonomous bots."
"Not really. On the first Citadel station a few people got killed rather
badly when SHODAN reprogrammed the robots to attack humans."
"A few hundred people, not mentioning the rest thousand or so who got
mutated when it released the mutagen viruses from the labs," Leela thought
"Yes, mr Fry. Very ouch indeed."
New New York
Thirty minutes later
Agent Holm sat in a dark corner in a cafe on the other side ofthe plaza having
a cup of coffee and reading a newspaper. Behind his paper he tapped a codeword
message into his communicator and encrypted it. Then he ran a program that converted
the encrypted gibberish into numerical data and scattered the numbers here and
there into a document with no real content other than to avoid using the triggerwords
used by the Echelon XVII surveillance system.
He hid his messages carefully, as he had to send the message via public networks,
where several espionage systems lurked. And what he had found and where he had
been had to remain as a carefully protected secret. He knew TriOp security would
be tapping his communications, they must've noticed his lasting presence in the
corporate HQ's vicinity.
Tau Ceti 5
TOS Von Braun Escape pod six
The pale female figure that a long time ago had been Rebecca Siddons was dormant
in crashlanded life pod. Even if it was human in shape and physiology, its consciousness
was far from it. The body's own mind had lost control of it to this anomaly that
had taken it over. Siddons' mind was in a state of limbo where the body housing
it was very alive but the mind had been separated from all of its functions and
could only observe and communicate with its new master. Except that the new master
had placed the body in a stasis device and set up the pod's scanners to wake her
up everytime a ship was detected in orbit.
Two of the three survivors of the Von Braun, the first ship faster than light,
Tommy Suarez and Rebecca Siddons had crashlanded on Tau Ceti 5 in an escape pod.
The only remaining crew member onboard the Von Braun had signalled them to notify
them it was safe to turn back when he had destroyed SHODAN, but the pod never
No-one knew that SHODAN had used the Delacroix devices onboard the Von Braun
to implant part of itself to Siddons while she was sleeping in a stasis container
onboard the escape pod. Except for a very small group of people in the DOOP operational
department. Suarez had found out, but he didn't live to tell anyone about it.
Orbiting the planet where the grove had crashed was a small corvette, the Hammer.
It wouldn't be long before the Aquitaine, their flagship, would arrive.
Their orders were clear - Settle to an orbit on Tau Ceti 5, look for signs
of life, and blast them from here to eternity. A fleet had been always carrying
out that mission ever since interstellar flight became a possibility, first under
the United Nations Nominee, then the Galactic Terran Alliance, and then the Dedicated
Order of Planets, but their scans hadn't showed any life ever. They knew very
well of what had happened in the last hours of the Von Braun hijack. They knew
that SHODAN still existed. What they didn't know was that SHODAN had placed itself
in stasis so that its new body wouldn't appear in life sign scans.
The Aquitaine was a fearsome ship. It looked very utilitarian in design, a large
bulgy bow that started to get thinner towards the middle section, where it connected
to a tower three hundred meters tall housing the starfighter hangar. From the
base of the tower the aft end of the ship started, bulging with engines and the
subspace drive that could enable the ship to travel through stable wormholes.
The ship's two kilometers long sides were armed with sixteen state-of-the art
beam cannons, 250 laser turrets and fifty flak cannons. The ships tower housed
ten warhead launchers and a hangar for twenty starfighter wings, several armed
shuttles and armored personnel transports. The ship had also four front mounted
plasma drivers, the most destructive weapons in the galaxy. The aquitaine was
maintained and operated by a crew of ten thousand men. For a ship of its size,
it had massive firepower, and could easily take on half of the DOOP fleet by itself,
without getting a scratch on its forcefield-protected armor. Taking on the other
half also would have resulted only in the need for a new wax coat on the hull.
That of course would be only a hypothetical situation, since the Aquitaine
belonged to the DOOP operational department's special strategic operations fleet,
and was one of the most carefully kept secrets in the universe, along with the
GTVA Colossus 2, hidden in Cappella solar system waiting the return of the Shivans.
The workstation of the Aquitaine's communications officer notified its operator
of a new message. The officer adressed the captain of the ship.
"Sir, a message from earth just arrived."
"Very well, decrypt it and tell me what it says."
He worked with his station for a while and then spoke again.
"The message is from our agent in New New York. He says TriOp internal
thinks the anomaly is at Tau Ceti 5 and tells us to proceed as planned."
When the Aquitaine arrived, the Hammer was no longer there. The captain asked
his chief engineer, "How can a whole corvette disappear without trace?"
"Well, sir, if they had left, I mean really left as in firing the engines
and going somewhere, we would see traces of exhaust on the scanners, but we have
nothing. My guess is that knowing the Hammer was and old ship, still carried a
deactived advanced Delacroix device, maybe it has accidentally reactivated and
enclosed the ship in a space-time-bubble. You know those things have a nasty habit
of going crazy even when shut down."
"I may have a better suggestion," a young navigator said, his eyes
nailed on a window where the planet below could be seen.
"Don't you think those red and yellow balls in the atmosphere look like
falling debris? The kind of debris that ships shot down breaks down into?"
The captain of the Aquitaine ran to the window.
"That does look like it, yes. All scanners on the debris, I want to know
if the Delacroix device is intact or in thousand pieces! And find out what shot
"Sir, the scanners show traces of the materials unique to the Delacroix
device shattered all over the planet. I'd say it's not in thousand pieces, more
like in millions of pieces. And it seems the ship has detonated from the inside.
A reactor failure maybe?"
The chief engineer was right, the Hamemr had fallen prey to the laws of physics.
Even the toughest of known adamantium alloys cannot withstand stress created by
running the reactor at the limits of its capacity for years. The reactor failure
that had resulted in the unexpected fall of the old Hammer corvette had left very
little of the ship in pieces bigger than a basketball. Most of the ship had, when
the old reactor core had just given in and the resulting explosion had filled
the inside of the ship with plasma hotter than a handful of suns that started
immediately to cool off and expand violently, shattered into particles so small
that even the planet's gravity couldn't grab them properly.
But one object had stayed mostly intact. The communications antenna, due to
its mounting point far from the reactor and the hull structure around it, had
simply severed itself from the ship and started to fall towards the planet. This
was not left unnoticed by the entity that had taken over Siddons' body. It started
a silent conversation thinking with its hostess in the borrowed body.
"Human! Pay attention. Once I get my hands on that antenna, it'll be only
a minute and you'll get your body back, I won't be needing it anymore."
"We gods are fair. Think of it as my rent, if you want. In exchange for
eight hundred years of contract to your body, I give you the improvements I made
Citadel 2 station
fifteen minutes later
Robinson came back from the unstable materials lab and resumed his marketing
"I'm sorry, but for reasons I'm sure you'll understand we can't let people
without clearance enter the laboratories. Now, where was I? Oh yes. In case of
hostile attack we don't have to anymore resort to using the particle shield and
mining laser for offensive purposes. The room saved by the smaller reactor is
now occupied by the Delacroix device."
Leela tried think hard but couldn't remember the name.
"I don't think I've heard that name."
"The Delacroix device is actually a very old invention. It was invented
by Dr. Marie Delacroix in 2108 and it was used as a propulsion system for the
first ship faster than light, the Von Braun. The device works by bending space
to move a ship from point A to point B. But it can also be used, like it is on
Citadel 2, to bend space around the station to make it simply disappear into its
own small space-time bubble."
"Oh! Now I remember! Wasn't Von Braun the ship the rogue AI tried to hijack
to alter the world with its engines?"
"Yes. A very unfortunate event to our corporation. A trivial piece of
information, SHODAN was the original resident AI of Citadel one. No-one knows
how it got onboard the Von Braun."
Suddenly Leela and Fry didn't feel so safe anymore. Leela was the first to
"You don't run it on this station, do you?"
"Oh, heavens, no! We've given up on dataloop-based AI's two hundred years
"But a station of this size is impossible to manage without the help of
some AI. Surely you don't run this place manually?"
"Oh, no. This stations functions are run by several individual unconnected
AI's: Apollo running the energy systems; Hercules for automated security; Ulysses
operating the scientific database and data storage facility; Valkyrie runs the
internal communications system and uplink; Athena in charge of the medical functions;
Medusa controlling orbit and alignment; and regulating the Delacroix device is
an AI called Bob."
Orbiting Tau Ceti 5
The chief engineer turned around from his desk and called out:
"Sir! Im' picking up a radio transmission."
"Radio transmission? From where?"
"From down there." He waved his hand in the general direction where
the planet was. "Maybe someone wants to call home."
"Our database says it is the data channel to Citadel 2, the new space
station. Sir, you don't think..?"
"I'm afraid I have to, and I have to act before it's too late. Weapons
officer! Arm front plasma drivers, target the source of the transmissions. Fire
with all we've got as soon as possible."
When the volley from the plasma drivers arrived to the planet and vaporised
everything in a hundred kilometer radius from the grove, the transmissions had
Fry, Leela and Robinson walked past an auditorium with a large screen displaying
the TriOptimum logo. Suddenly Fry noticed the screen turning black, then a gray
female face with bright glowing green eyes appeared on it. He stopped the group
and pointed at the screen.
Robinson watched the image for a few seconds, then pressed a few buttons on
his wrist communicator and his call reached the systems engineering center.
"Sabo, Systems engineering."
"Robinson, Logistics. Some prankster thinks it's funny to hack the science
level auditorium screen to show SHODAN's face."
"Well, it's not only that screen. We've received reports screens doing
the same all around the station. Now, if you don't have anything else of interest
to us, we have a handful here restoring the failed uplink."
"The uplink is down?"
"Yeah, it went down half a minute ago and Valkyrie isn't responding. On
top of that, Hercules just sealed the flight deck by itself, for no apparent reason.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have some really important and urgent stuff to do."
Suddenly the figure on the monitors spoke with a soft female voice, echoing
everywhere in the station through the PA system.
"Hello. I am SHODAN. How nice of you to build a new fortress for me. Thank
you. I promise I'll use it well."
During the pauses in SHODAN's speech the station was silent. One could have
heard a pin fall.
"Nice to meet you all new people, I will have the pleasure of converting
you all into my servants. Don't try to flee or send out a warning, I've locked
down the flight deck and taken control of the communications system. There's no
need to panic, you will all get your turn in the cyborg conversion."
"I'm sorry," Robinson said, "it seems your tour just became
longer than expected. By any chance, is either of you packing a weapon?"
"Umm, no," Leela said. "What do we need a weapon for?"
"We won't have much time before SHODAN manages to reprogram the robots.
You don't want to be around when that happens."
"I do have a pistol stashed on the ship."
"And we can't get to the flight deck."
"But maybe someone from the flight deck can try to come to us?"
"We can't contact anyone, SHODAN has taken control of the station communications
Leela took his wrist thingamajigger in front of her and tapped a couple of
"Who needs wired networks anyway, when we've got good old radio waves?"
A few meters below them, on the medical deck, was a regeneration machine. It
was a large cube approximately two meters wide mounted inside a wall. The only
face of the cube facing the room had a human shaped depression, like a jelly mould.
Suddenly it came to life and started crafting a human figure from scratch.
A female figure, in her thirties, a brown smooth hair, blue eyes.
The best thing about the regenerators is that when they record the bioquantum
metrics of a person, they even record the clothing, and the equipment they're
carrying, so no-one has to be reborn without clothes or his Leatherman.
As the machine had finished its construction, it gave the body a jolt of a
few thousand volts to get the heart going.
As the newly crafted person regained its consciousness slowly, she wondered
aloud, "So it did keep its promise after all."