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  1. Can you elaborate on this? I don't recall seeing or hearing about this anywhere previously.
  2. The wall weapon in that picture appears to be the Razorback, which is an SMG in the beta.
  3. @PINNAZ You're right, the password has changed. I wonder whether it's just to keep us from viewing it anymore, or if there's a new password we can find. It could possibly update with new info. It's short for the gun. Loved it in Black Ops. I've actually never heard of Aug being used as Augmentation until now. So much info in so little time. Luckily we're all here to catch it. The hype is real my friends!
  4. I don't think so. Everything was there when I read it the first time, including what I posted. However, the part I posted doesn't load in until you scroll down towards the bottom of the page. This is referring to the website where you can view it, not your original post.
  5. You appear to be missing the last part of this. ::MODULE_4.0//:INITIALIZING… Posted 1 week ago Singapore, 2037 The facility Väst mentioned is just a few stops away—no transfers and normally an easy commute. Sadly, the aug’s death has killed that, too. As soon as I input my destination, a barrage of updates confirms it won’t be an easy trip thanks to backed up traffic, pedestrian detours, forensic roadblocks by on-site police. Even delivery drones are being rerouted. Desperate to avoid the congestion, my device warns, attempts to reroute, updates my ETA every ten feet until, exhausted, I cuss technology and turn off navigation support altogether. I suppose I can’t blame the device for not understanding why I would be so stupid as to walk right into a crime zone. I still can barely believe it myself. On day 1, and on Väst’s orders. Suddenly the Roman festivities at Turicum seem just that ancient. Half an hour later and just a few blocks away, Julien messages, asking for my personal line. I shoot the number back and it rings a moment later. “Bastien, ask for the manager of the facility. Then tell him you’d like to see Axcentric.” “What?” “I don’t know. The CEO’s admin just passed that along in ink, said to keep it off company intranet or comms.” “Okay.” He hangs up without another word just as I arrive. If it weren’t for the police sweeping for evidence and interviewing the last of the witnesses, I might not recognize the facility at all. Unlike Coalescence’s typical corporate offices and locations, all that signature glass framed in transparent polymers, this particular facility looks downright prehistoric thanks to an exterior of brick (not even eco-brick!) and zero sprouting. Inside, the Coalescence vibe kicks into higher gear thanks to corporate-provided franchise collateral—advertisements for augmentation services, hormone management programming, all the usual offerings. Projected via holo-signage near the front window display is the franchise’s biggest price-break: lung capacity enhancement. Instantly: a dead boy and dust masks, projected in my head when I remember why this manager was offering a sale. So many suffocated during the Singapore incident that fear caused a major run on oxygen tanks for house, work and vehicles. The next natural step, of course, was for microscopic internal tanks—an augmentation that would allow someone who can’t breathe to breathe just a few minutes longer. It should have been popular amongst swimmers and firefighters but enterprising franchises like this one made it a mandatory amongst everyone else. The anniversary of hundreds of thousands of deaths is quite a bit of free publicity. Upon entering the storefront, a few detectives attempt to shoo me out, but my new Coalescence Corporation credentials come in handy. After what I imagine was some expensive lobbying—and some free augs for a few politicians in need—new Swiss law has made it very cut and dry when it comes to company property in the physical body of a potential augmentation death: individuals from the corporate offices are allowed twenty-four hours to execute a full body-scan parallel to any detective’s investigation to ensure company legal teams can validate the warranty and analyze data logs to confirm and prepare for wrongful death suits. This all came about because price breaks on lung boosts weren’t the only thing to come out of Singapore—it’s also the birthplace of the black-market, which necessitated this whole twenty-four hour amendment. Rumor is that after the Seascraper sunk due to Superstorm Daisy in 2050, a bunch of underwater salvagers found old equipment in the ruins and used them to reverse-engineer some remedial hacks. Like any self-respecting criminal endeavor, the market didn’t just survive the incident: it has thrived ever since. It’s rarer here in Zurich, where most can afford to pay up, but abroad it’s not unusual for a good majority of customers to jailbreak our viral-delivery mechanism and load up on counterfeit augs. The hope, in situations like these, is that we can prove a DNA DRM breach (takes just one errant liposome). Then the company is no longer liable to pay or suffer publicly for the customer’s death. It’s when Julien and the team probably revs up the press on black-market risks and we actually see an uptick in new customers. “Is the manager here?” I ask the room, once inside. The main waiting room is abuzz with detectives and police, but nobody offers anything. They’re busy collecting evidence and scanning the scene for 3D walkthroughs, jury sims, all the stuff that comes later. With a few members of his staff being interviewed nearby, I spy the franchise’s owner sitting alone, leaning on the entrance to one of the application suites. I don’t need to confirm it’s him by asking or muttering Julien’s little safe word—one look at the man’s perfectly pruned, proportionate, symmetrical face and it’s clear: this guy enjoys his corporate discount. He’s probably a Turicum regular. The man smiles a set of dazzling whites as I approach. “Saw you at the door. You from corporate?” he asks, extending a manicured hand. “Yeah.” “I’m Niklas.” “Bastien.” “Thanks for coming, man. Got the full download yet?” “Fill me in, if you don’t mind?” An errant drone peeks its lens through the front doorway and snaps a still. Cops start yelling at each other because airspace is supposed to be clear. Goddamn paparazzi! The cop who ID’d me scrambles together a spectrum scan to ID the snooping drone but it’s already gone. When I turn back to Niklas, the experience seems to have awoken dormant vanities—he’s licking his lips, wiping his forehead of any sweat. He runs both his hands through his hair meticulously, mashing some parts down, twisting other ends up, everything somehow staying locked and spiked in place through product or aug—who the hell knows. “Some kid came in here,” he finally says, “no different from any other. Paid in bitcoins, which was sorta weird. Older cryptocurrency but we didn’t think anything of it. We confirm him as an authentic aug’r, start prepping his selection. Just like we do a thousand times before. It’s a lipid-based injectable, this latest one for the lungs. Shouldn’t even kick into gear unless oxygen drops in the bloodstream to critical levels. Next thing we know, like seconds after the application, my staff’s calling because the guy is breathing deep but motioning like he can’t breathe. Turns red, passes out, dies right on the spot. Right here in my shop! Ruined business for-fucking-ever.” “What’s the official word?” “Suffocation is the technical cause of death. On-site forensics already confirmed high carbon dioxide levels in his blood. They showed me his eyes, too. Creepy stuff, man! All red. Completely bloodshot, which I guess is a telltale sign of suffocation. A normal death turns them whites cloudy.” My mind flickers back to this morning’s dream—the boy’s parents at the end, staring into each other’s eyes—as I wonder if they, too, turned red. It bothers me that aroused eyes in Turicum did the same thing. I’m pulled back to reality by Niklas, flashing those pearlies like the drone’s camera earlier. Something is making him nervous. “What do you think happened?” I ask. “Who knows. Buggy aug? Maybe it deactivated his ability to oxygenize his blood instead of the opposite?” “Where’s the body?” “Still in the application suite.” I follow Niklas up the hall, a few steps behind. Even after a long morning sweating through the police’s questions and interrogation, his odor aug is doing its job. The man stinks of lavender. “In here,” he says, allowing me to enter first. A police flydrone snaps our photo as we enter, immediately switching into surveillance mode. The drone might be fifty years newer than anything else in the room; it’s ancient by Zurich standards, boasting old crank windows and even a socket for wired appliances. The oldest thing in the suite might be the gurney the customer died on; frayed and worn, it looks more mancave recliner than canvas for cutting-edge gene-therapy. The drone, now boasting a blinking red light, buzzes around the room watching, recording, transmitting. “Pest!” Niklas says, swatting at it with a Coalescence pamphlet. I think he could get away with not agitating our civil servants, but the dead kid before me evaporates any desire to say something. It’s my first body. I bring my sleeve up—the lavender’s barely hanging on to its lead. “Police ruled out foul play pretty quickly,” the manager says, flashing those whites again. “Why’s that?” “See here, by the mouth and nose? Looks normal. No bruising. That means he choked to death on his own.” “Do you have the kit?” I ask, looking around the office. “Yeah. Sure.” He comes back a minute later with the small, well-worn piece of hardware. The device, a mandatory piece of equipment in every Coalescence Corporation franchise, pulls down and uploads the data record of any customer. We spent over fifteen hours doing practice runs on it in VR training. It’s how a franchise like this one uploads its purchase logs securely, how corporate roll-out updated versions of the DRM-DNA system, how a tech can load quickscans and complication algorithms into the global database. In the case of a death, it’s how we also download and delete transponder records for the lawyers. “Give us a second?” “Sure.” Niklas leaves, his lavender shadow lingering as I turn the device on and eye the kid’s left ear, the hairline behind it. These days, account transponders aren’t hardware but a data receipt we code right into the DNA of an aug’r. The kit needs a few minutes with a drop of blood for the data extraction. The last generation was an actual physical-transponder formed by a collection of nano-particles injected right under the skin near the temple. Powered by excess electrical energy produced by the brain, those would take longer to sync with the kits—a few minutes at minimum. That’s the one I motioned to Väst but he mentioned there was another transponder, secondary to the temple, but still near the ear. I hadn’t heard of that before. I doubt scanning the side of the dead kid’s head will raise any red flags but I position my back to the drone anyway. I’m thankful it stays in the corner of the room, soaking up the sunshine coming through an old leaded window. The bricks must be affecting its wireless charging. Niklas’s kit scans for any physical transponders and finds just one, right where Väst promised. I set up the kit to mirror into my device and let it fly, but a minute later, we’re at 5% complete. It’s completely throttled. Niklas pokes past the doorway with another of his blinding grins. “So we good?” A long pause in which I think about the drone recording, what this potpourri-scented idiot could say wrong, why the extra transponder isn’t even into double-digits yet. “Niklas, you got a latex glove?” He returns with a pair I use to gently tilt the victim’s head in case there’s interference from this ancient chair—a metal backing that might be interfering with the uplink. Staring back up at me, emblazoned on the leather: the logo of a giant letter “A” fused with a giant letter “X.” My eyes dart back up at Niklas. He realizes I know. His arm drops down off the doorframe and thank god, he’s smarter than he looks. We stay quiet. We don’t say a word. Five minutes later, my device has a new log holding 10% of its total memory capacity. It’s a file format I’ve never seen. I walk out of the room, as far as I can get from the dronefly, still buzzing above the corpse like a real one. Niklas follows me until we’re at the front of the store, under the holo-signage. There are cops everywhere but nobody is paying much attention to us. I lean into lavender and say the word. “Axcentric.” No teeth or smile this time. Niklas’s eyes narrow. “Come back after close.” Posted 1 week ago Singapore, 2037 Christian walks me across 104 to the leftmost bed—one of the quieter victims. Her eyes don’t register us, but dart like a deer’s. Drool has pooled her clavicle. Between checking vitals and swiping through her chart, Christian explains that his research partner won’t get in until tomorrow. “I appreciated your help last night,” he says, shining a light into the woman’s eyes. “and since I have to head to the 99th, I was hoping you might be able to cover the 100th. All you need to do is go room by room, bed by bed, and help launch each patient’s sim-progression. The meds will automatically measure and apply through this apparatus on the side, but you have to sync this code labeling the sim to the applicator. It’s pretty systemic, but this is the one part that requires a little physical input.” He shows me how to check which sim the patient ran last, where to find its label code, how to enter that code to the drug applicator. He reminds me to close the doors behind me as I use my Lofts staff passkey to go from room to room—one of the reasons he says he called me in the first place, besides my tackling skills. “It depends, but most sims are a few minutes each,” he says, “so on your downtime, I’d just check on all the other patients in a given room. They’ll probably still be reconditioning the memory. Or recovering.” “What do I check for?” “No bruising or bed sores on the ones earlier in their progressions. Enough water and comfort for the ones deeper. And always the restraints.” “The restraints?” Christian pulls up a corner of the drooling woman’s blanket to reveal a kind of tentacled harness holding her in bed. It looks firm but flexible—secure enough that she can’t get out, but can easily move and adjust her position. “Installed them on the higher flight risks after our little chase through the halls last night.” We walk through two patients together—the old man with the paperback and one of the worse-off ragers. I notice each patient has a pair of earplugs, just like Christian and I—that must be how the simulation fed the LA scene’s audio into my ears, but also how they keep from hearing each other. My earplugs block them out but remain synced with Christian, who at some point transitions from instructing and demonstrating to humming as we pace from patient to patient, his pinstriped shadow nodding along behind me. It’s an odd thing, in this mausoleum of silent screams, to hear that humming. Not comforting—but not distracting, either. Another kind of white noise. Christian chaperones one final cycle before leaving me to continue on my own for the adjoining master bedroom suite, where I assume he’ll attempt to sleep off his own long night before heading down a floor. The door closes behind him, unpairing our earplugs. Plunged back into white noise, I help the next patient in utter silence, putting on her goggles, noting the sim-code, setting up the applicator. Nothing for a second. We enjoy a safe, simple stillness. Then, with only the beat of my heart narrating, it begins, my pulse a steady meter for her craning neck and clenched teeth, my heartbeats rising in earnest with her arms, wrestling phantoms and a bedframe, until by the end I am the deafening to veins and eyes bulging, as invisible breaths gasp—gasp—gasp. I am the rising drumbeat to all her muted agony. Afterwards, we exhale. We catch our breath together. I can’t bear to stay quiet during the next one. I start to talk to them. I’m sure Adnan would roll his eyes—there’s Gurmit, always talking—but what else am I supposed to do? The Californians are inconsolable. They’re not even present. They’re compartmentalized in a spectrum of simulated terror, and in the room, and on the 100th, and off-shore on The Isle—compartmentalized no different from their memories—and so in whatever way I can, I break them out, sharing stories about my family, where we live, what I do here. I tell them how when they get better, we’ll take trips up to the roof and lay out by the infinity pool. I tell them about JJ’s practice sessions. I tell them to, no matter what, avoid the lamb gyro at the 24-hour diner in the first subterranean level. Singapore, I tell them, is safe. In this way, I end up talking to all the blank, dead faces of 104. To sobbing eyes and to eyes that look past me, and to all others who look through me. I selfishly don’t shut up because soundproof doesn’t mean blind, and the fits of terror that thrashes them side to side—that arches their harnessed backs in the air like a poltergeist—terrifies me. I don’t know how much time goes by but it’s all twelve patients’ worth, each story playing out on the monitor beside their gurney. I make my small talk with each, chatting with a mother whose stroller they find a block-and-a-half from her lunch on the boardwalk; a teacher taking roll on a field trip, his school’s bus flipping over a freeway’s concrete divider; a pizza restaurant’s line cook, barraged by a storm of bricks pre-heated by the nine-hundred degree oven; a grandfather visiting from out of town, blowing bubbles in the backyard with the kids. I talk to all of them, on and on and on until, behind me, a chuckle. “Pretty nice bedside manner there.” Christian’s rolling his sleeves back down, buttoning cuffs. “Good nap?” I ask. “Oh, far from it. We have a patient in there.” He nods for me to head to the bedroom. “Looks like you’re done in this main room, so in about ten minutes, give the patient in there her first sim. Collecting some baseline data first. Then you’re free to go on to 105 onward. It’s just supplies in 101 and 102. 103’s empty.” Christian does that thing where he abruptly walks away, this time locking the door behind him. It’s silent again besides my mind, racing, as I think about peeling out, heading home myself—another piece of kaya toast and a good, long blackout. I start thinking about what my excuse to Christian could be—and whether his weird IP was a mirror, if he can even receive messages?—and then I backtrack from the whole idea, as Christian trusts me, and that’s worth something—especially since he can probably have me fired—likely worse, given this is off the books. But then I return here, the now, wondering what might happen to them if I leave, these patients, tethered and terrified—observed, then, by just the furniture, pushed up and stacked into stadium seating, leaning against the double-doors separating the main-room from the bedroom—the room I walk into now—distracted by this barrage of random, stupid, silly things until I see who is laying there in the bed, at which every thought freezes, reassembles into one. Her. Centered before me is the woman I tackled yesterday. She’s silent. Sleeping. Maybe dead. Bare feet that sprinted through halls yesterday poke out from under a blanket. I walk a little closer. “Hey.” I sit on the edge of her bed. “You, uh, look good. Better than before.” She’s definitely not dead. Between tiny puffs of breath, her grayish eyebrow twitches. Upon closer examination, I discover a transparent sticker just above that eyebrow. Laid out across most of her forehead, it appears to have some circuits visibly weaved through it, with Electroencephalographic Transducerprinted along its edge. Her workstation has an extra monitor compared to the patients in the main room, where the results of the transmission on her forehead come through as squiggly lines that track the electrical activity in her brain. After last night’s episode, she must have demanded a little extra effort—maybe a new baseline, as Christian said. “So,” I whisper. “Just wanted to apologize about yesterday.” Out of the corner of my eye, on the monitor, the electroencephalographic patch charts a minor tremor. “Know I knocked the wind out of you. Have to say you’re pretty fast for your age, though.” The tremor spikes again, and then the squiggly line sprints up and down like she ran the halls last night, breaking from the baseline every time I say something new. So I keep saying something new. I babble on and on, realizing, sitting here after all of room 104, what Christian meant about my bedside manner. I thought he’d meant it as a joke, but it was true. His humming. My talking. These things register somewhere inside. So I tell her about Lim, how she helped him enjoy his first workout in years. How my mother used to run long distance when she was younger, also barefoot. How she slowed her pace for my father and I when we all ran years ago, when I was in high school. How she would never admit it afterwards. The stories aren’t important but seeing the electrical data animate makes them important. “Let’s get you started, shall we?” The woman is incredibly calm compared to last night, so much so I don’t feel totally comfortable putting the goggles on her or activating the sim. I don’t know what Christian did, what he’s tracking here, but it seems to have already worked. I fear we’ll only regress her into what’s in the main room. I reach down under the workstation and pull out the charged goggles, putting them on my face first to tighten the straps before placing them on her. And I suppose, one day, this will become the precise moment that I decided to embrace all this and go to room 105, 106, and every other loft of patients—why, on the way back to the elevator hours from now, I’ll be too exhausted to notice Lim poking around the front desk, or to care when he starts asking me why I’m not wearing my polo, or worried when he threatens to audit my geotags within The Isle. This moment is why I won’t panic when he asks me why I came out of 120, nor when he begins flipping a shit because his RFID key won’t open the door I just came out from. “I’m the GM!” he’ll scream, “this is my floor!” and I’ll stare back as serenely as the woman before me now, the sensor on her forehead confirming yes, she’s present. I’ll tell Lim these are Lofts guests but Axcentric customers. I’ll tell him to respect their privacy, that I’ve got the foyer: that he can head home. There are no GM duties because the guests won’t be making requests. At some point, Christian will return to the 100th, and we’ll work through the night, and at the end of the shift, Christian will request Lim’s transfer. We’ll spend a week holed up until every one of these patients returns to Los Angeles stable instead of scared. Some time after, back home, I’ll wake up to discover another kind of reflection. One I like. Because this is the moment I put on the sprinting woman’s goggles and see a boyish complexion smiling back at me. I don’t see his beard or hear the whistle of their bomb. We’re before. We’re when the first frames of a black-and-white movie come on, just as a hand folds around mine. I share a moment I’ve shared once already, this time feeling safe, saved, never more sure that what I am doing here is important, or that everything will be okay. Posted 1 week ago ::MODULE_5.0//:INITIALIZING… Posted 1 week ago Zurich, 2063 Four hours and six cups of siphon-brewed New Nile later, I’m jittery enough to bounce off Niklas’s crumbling brick walls. I knock on the door at the back of the facility after the last police boots march off, waiting in the back alley entry like any other vendor or VIP. “Come, come,” Niklas says, locking the door behind me in a hurry. The lights are off inside the store save for the holo-signage, casting a pallid glare on the front doors and sidewalk outside. In that darkness, the only sound I hear is the flydrone, still buzzing in the bodiless suite, and my voice, asking the first of fifty questions I’ve prepared in my head. “In the suite earlier—“ Niklas clears his throat harshly and motions toward his office. He locks the door behind us quickly, which only boosts my caffeinated pulse higher. I worry, for the first time, that this crazed franchise owner will do anything to keep his business. Niklas shifts his attention to the wall next to the door, where I expect maybe a knife, something old school and murdery, but the man’s attention is focused on something small: something he only sees. I hear him peel back a sliver of tape which appears attached to yet another retired relic in this fossil of a facility—an old light switch from back when buildings like this used them. A moment later, the tape is gone and he’s flipped the now-revealed switch, forcing a growl from a back-up generator next to the door. It’s the last sound I hear before the office floods beneath a familiar tidal wave of white noise. I’m sure I cuss with shock but neither of us hear it. Niklas’s white teeth beam two huge rows of shit-eating glee; he laughs noiselessly, if not maniacally. Without warning, his office has become the very opposite of lit-up, loud-as-hell Turicum—it’s a dark black-hole in which I can hear absolutely nothing save for my own heartbeat racing, my own teeth grinding, my own nostrils choking on his goddamn lavender, which is somehow more potent than before. This man with weird, moldable hair and a facility with nothing but old, retrofitted features apparently boasts a soundproofed space that trumps the brand-new membrane we have in One’s most sensitive conference room. The irony: I can’t ask why even if I wanted to. Niklas motions for me to come back behind his desk. He rolls back his chair and the Persian rug it stood upon, revealing an old copper hatch he lifts with a practiced heave. He makes another motion to move along. I comply, and once we’re inside, the hatch is closed down above us. Another pause, another duct-taped switch flipped. At last, the sound begins to creep back into my head in that way waterlogged ears return to normalcy in two, three, four violent shakes—I hear my breathing, and then a machine’s humming, and then Niklas talking. He’s pointing downward at the only lights visible—a dim sequence of glow-in-the-dark patches stuck crudely to the left and right wall of an unlit passageway. My chaperone blasts those high-beams as if to confirm, yes, his smile can light a room. But it’s to egg me on. “Go,” he says. “Follow me.” I don’t know why I don’t ask or stop or worry. I just don’t. We climb downward, the air growing more cold and damp as we make our way deeper into the brick-lined depths. I think of the east elevator bank back at One, the compartmentalized projects Väst keeps from ComAffairs and everyone else. Who’s funding all this? After that first passageway, two ladders, and a small flight of stairs, we emerge into a massive sub-basement our footsteps echo deeply into. When Niklas finally activates the lights, the cavernous villainous lair I was expecting is revealed to be a clean, spacious collection of lab partitions, desks, and equipment. The A and X icon I saw printed earlier on the gurney’s leather now appears tiled across a thousand square-feet of monitors, server racks, workstations, and generations’ worth of VR-goggles and simulators. A lot of it might be older-gen, but almost all of it appears to be functioning and in regular use. It’s like the entire E-Tram has been detouring here, week after week, to drop off Zurich’s most valuable equipment. “Welcome to sub-basement 1,” Niklas says, hair wild and pointing in every direction like an exclamation point. “As in there’s more than this?” “Yep. There are three sub-basements.” “Christ.” “Yeah, this is a pretty old building. Nobody would expect it,” Niklas says with pride, like he laid the bricks himself. “Axcentric? Is this it?” “Kind of,” Niklas says with a chuckle. “This is just one facility of what was once dozens. Coalescence Corporation absorbed Axcentric Systems in 2042, and with it, an early foothold in the augmentation and neuron-imaging space. All of Axcentric’s high-class clientele, too.” I take a few steps into the facility and look around. Every garbage can is empty, but the machines are on. Nothing has dust on it. “But didn’t augmentation start with DARPA? In ’26?” “That’s how Coalescence got started, you’re right. But Axcentric, ThalTech, and all their competitors were researching and experimenting in parallel. Different applications and focal points.” “You work here? You work for Axcentric?” Niklas bursts into laughter. “No, man. I’m a Coalescence man. Pension due in five.” “You have colleagues?” “These workstations are all run remotely through other offices. I just make sure the machines stay cool, babysit the hardware. Do tours like this one for partners.” “Partners?” “The less you know, you know?” Something tells me those guys in the combat boots from the lobby have seen all this before. I step more deeply into the facility, looking for any signs I’m being surveilled, reminding myself to do a spectrum scan before leaving. On the desk in front of us is an odd piece of equipment—a silver sort of helmet with a myriad of transmitters on its surface. The dome could be a model of the moon, its craters. I pick the unit up, pointing it toward Niklas. “What are they trying to do down here? What is all this stuff?” “Coalescence has mapped all 10,000 neuron classes. Everyone knows we understand how and where to manipulate memories, shed fears, dampen disorders. Brain augmentation is, generally, safe. The next generation is the rest of the white matter: not just neuron mapping or manipulation, but the nerve highways that connect them. If we tap those, maybe we can access everything directly, and at once. Augmentation is one thing, but instant-access, a hive-mind connection amongst people? That’s the ticket!” Niklas walks over to the closest desk and hits a few keys. “But that’s a ways off. Down here, we’re doing something else.” A holographic bisection of both hemispheres blinks to life above the table. The floating brain flickers once before little beads of light begin to populate in the hypothalamus and hippocampus; soon they’re flying through the toll way in the cerebellum, zooming down the optic nerve—before long, the entire brain is a vast constellation of shooting, burning stars, a universe come to vivid life. “Imagine,” Niklas continues, “that instead of creating a brain’s perfect topography, we can create its diorama. Rather than map regions of neurons, we map neural spikes between each one of those neurons—one trillion one-tenths of a volt every second! You’d have a perfect virtual brain sim that could run any possible hypothetical. We could take all trial and error out of aug’ing—or anything else. John Q comes in curious, runs a test to see the net-effect on his contentedness or depression from a diet change or new meds or a change in salary, social stature, even significant other. You could run a simulation on two lives—see if you’d die happy in one versus the other. All right here, on a monitor, pre-aug, pre-choice—the ultimate neuro-forecasting tool for an individual.” He’s talking about a fucking time machine. An alternate-reality portal. A cross-dimensional dreamweaver. I think of all the old comics I downloaded as a kid—my favorite hero replicated innumerable times, littered across dozens of parallel dimensions with these little minimal differences. A longer cape. A longer hair style. A longer rap sheet. This simulator could conceivably create that. Innumerable Bastiens and Mitzis. None alive, per se, but with a couple aug tweaks and a life change—standing right in queue. I don’t understand how this could be good for business. I think of Mitzi last night, lost on the dance floor but lost long before it—perfecting herself through expensive augmentations instead of having faith that someone will one day see her as just perfect, no augmentation necessary. Rather than waste credits boosting her cog abilities, her liver, a tool like this would let her just live.Measure twice, cut once. It would decimate margins. I’m still holding the silver moon helmet, turning it in my hands. “That thing,” Niklas says, “is a super outdated version of Axcentric’s acquisition tool, from Singapore in the late ‘30s. You dropped that thing on your head, answered questions, did some mental imaging—fifteen minutes later, carbon copy complete.” “Is this what you used on the kid? With the lung boost?” “Oh, no,” Niklas says nodding toward the rest of the sub-basement. “His treatment wasn’t happening here, which is the whole mess of it.” “So what happened to him?” Niklas nods like he knew the question was coming. He walks over to the next terminal over. “Have a seat.” After cycling through a few authentication screens, Niklas pulls up the kid’s file. The directory it’s housed in is bursting at the seams: full video records of every patient interaction, doctors’ observations, prolific data sets—the entire treatment history, nothing redacted or removed. It all seems very transparent. “Looks like he was a volunteer, and in the last stage of the research cycle,” Niklas says. “That’s when the techs drop a more robust transponder in the temporal lobe so as to clone brain activity into the simulator—then they can evaluate everything in real-time. That last stage is kind of a sense-check to make sure his sensory inputs match in with our sim’s outputs. Every candidate does this for a few weeks, on and off, for about half a year. It’s essentially an audit, a dry-run.” “Why’d he die if it’s just in clone mode? If he was just sending data outbound?” “It wouldn’t be much of a field test if we didn’t get in the driver’s seat once in a while, you know?” I grit my teeth, clearly not knowing. Niklas runs a hand down through his hair, whose spikes stay lowered—the tail of a dog caught eating its own bullshit. “Sometimes, rarely, really rarely, we reroute, let the sim execute some decisions. It’s a test. They know we do it. We don’t do it often. We always alert them first. There’s a whole contract that promises we’ll relent all control of an active-sim in personal matters, life-changing decisions, etc. Usually, we do it in the morning, before work. Or right when they get back. To a volunteer, the experience feels like a nap—a short blackout and a little grogginess, but back to normal afterwards. During that time, a tech is in the driver’s seat, monitoring respiration, heart rate, all the basics in the stem, executing basic motor skills. It’s kind of like sleep mode, like laptops used to do. Harmless. The most we’ll do in real-time is have the guy take a dump.” Niklas sighs, slaps his leg. “I guess it was during the reboot cycle back from active-sim that he saw the ad for lung boosts as he’s walking by my shop. You gotta understand: he’s half in, half out, but to me, he’s just another doomsayer. I have no idea he’s primo Coalescence Corporation property. No clue he’s even rebooting from some remote technician’s morning run. The kid just comes in, asks for a lung boost, and I pop him in the chair over there. I guess since he wasn’t completely rebooted, the decision didn’t get double replicated—it was in our server bank, but not in his memory bank. We injected the lipids into his bloodstream and when he did regain full consciousness, he didn’t know why he was here, what was happening. Went into a little shock. Started hyperventilating. The problem was the lung-boost: it did its job and kicked in to give his bloodstream a boost of oxygen. That, combined with the transponder, the sheer panic—the kid just had a stroke. Died in the seat.” Niklas leans back and sighs again. “Just bad fucking luck that he ended up here. Of all the offices.” Some of it makes sense. The bloodshot eyes could still have been from a stroke, I suppose. Behind Niklas, I glance over the list of all the other individuals who signed up to clone their brain activity, wondering how many are at similar risk. On the screen, I see launch dates that range from today all the way back to the mid-2030s, including patents in Singapore and the States. “That’s the story you’re telling me?” I finally ask. “That it was luck he ended up here?” Niklas doesn’t high-beam or do anything salesy. He nods sincerely. Clucks his tongue. The hologram of the brain spins on behind us, a specter haunting brightly, waiting to see what I say or do next. I turn the helmet over in my hands, tracking my fingertips across the transponders like they are Braille, some hidden message that might explain how a simulation that can make sense of a trillion little shocks every second could do anything to help a child in a playground avoid trillions of windblown spores. It dawns on me it doesn’t matter whether Niklas is telling the truth. The kid could have died down here and they smuggled him back up. All that matters is dead’s dead, and there’s no coming back from that. Just like a stroke, or a chemical leak. The issue is there will always be an unknown force, never forecastable, that will delay a train, or surprise you at work. Like Mitzi. Because no matter how badly my know-it-all sister would want to be first in line for a crystal ball brain that could forecast her life and maximize its every hour, if she could see what I see—all these data-records, decisions optimized by dynamic databases, she’d be the first one to say the obvious: a forecasted life isn’t a life at all. With no pain and scars, without a few stupid decisions, life would devolve into an idyllic dream you never wake up from. You’re better off getting weird. Posted 1 week ago Singapore, 2037 After the PTSD woman’s sim, I check back on her husband, who seems calm, if not present. I roll him into the bedroom so they can be together, executing all the remaining rooms on the 100th afterwards. By the time I’m done, Lim has arrived early for our night shift, those big interrogating eyeballs dishing out one hell of a wheezy death stare. I don’t let him into 120, nor let him in on what we were doing inside. I don’t bother explaining my civilian clothes or why I’ve been working a dayshift. Exacerbated, Lim latches onto the one thing a customer couldn’t have demanded. “Why the fuck is the front foyer desk off?” This one’s trickier. It’s a fireable offense. But then…I’m not sure who I’m working for at the moment. Technically, I’m not even clocked-in. “Just stop, man.” “Stop what?” Lim asks with a sigh. “I get here and the desk’s off, my shift’s cancelled, and you’re here, sneaking in and out of rooms. What the fuck am I supposed to think?” “Don’t do that. Don’t think.” “How can I not escalate this?” “Because if any of this mattered, somebody would have already flagged it. It’s been this way all day. The day shift didn’t even come in.” “You’re here,” Lim says, pointing at 120, “ducking in and out like you’re sleeping with the guests.” “Lim. Plausible deniability. Consider it.” “I don’t even know what you’re saying anymore.” “I’m saying let it go. All of it.” “One of us is going to be let go. That’s for fucking certain.” A long silent beat in which I consider my options. There’s my job here. The Isle means security and stature. It’s a good job for someone like me. And then there’s my boss. Lim is insecure and has a huge stature. Bad news for someone like me. And then there’s the patients. Dozens. All getting better because of Axcentric’s work here. I’ve seen the effect one day can make. “Lim. Remember last night? That guy with the pinstripes? I want you to think of him as your boss’s boss’s boss’s boss. Remember what I told you about how he works for Axcentric Systems, and The Isle is like one-third Axcentric? Well, it’s Axcentric who now owns the 99th and 100th, and believe me, if they can do that, they could give a shit about your workflow and the end-of-week security audit and data backups back at the desk. Who cares if there’s a gap in the logs—these guys can flip the fucking turbines off. Or just transfer you down there to hump it with the morlocks who run that thing. I’m looking out for you. I swear I am. Take the day, go supplement the teams below the 99th,, do anything as long as you find a way to let this go. You will not work here if you don’t.” A much longer silent beat in which Lim considers his options. “You have a mouth.” He walks away in pursuit of something to put in his, mentioning dinner, the lower level, the reason he came in early anyway. I remind him to avoid the gyro as he walks away, and a few minutes later, long after Lim has waddled around the corner, I hear a chuckle. In my ears, like he’s still standing next to me, Christian. We’re still paired up. “That you?” I ask. “Yeah. I heard the whole thing.” “Are you back up here?” “No, not really. I never unpaired, just kept my unit muted. To keep tabs on your first day.” “Didn’t know you could do that.” “You never asked.” He chuckles again. “You worried about my boss?” “No. You did well. Insulated us. I’m heading back up, can you meet me in 104? * * * Christian enters the room and immediately makes his rounds, another left to right rotation through each patient’s sim-progression, their basic vitals. He visits paperback guy, deer eyes, all of them. While wrapping up, he begins to explain that Axcentric is growing. This is an exploratory new division, but it could blossom into many more. Enhancements instead of treatments. Preventative technologies. Ways to improve memory instead of recondition it. Maybe even militaristic applications one day. “Things like that,” he says distractedly. It isn’t a sales pitch so much as it is a forecast. Christian hangs both coats—lab and pinstriped—and unbuttons the top of his shirt on the walk to 104’s in-room dining partition. “Obviously this whole thing on the 99th and 100th is off-books. Axcentric investors, friends of the board. Major favors pulled, but with a major upside to the company. It’s why it was just me and my partner, and why we’ve been a little bit secret-ops up here. These two top floors are pretty broken in due to celebs and politicians that love the Isle, so they were the easiest to compartmentalize and keep off the company books. Your familiarity here was helpful.” He reaches into the room’s pantry for a couple of beers. My stomach growls its approval. I realize I haven’t eaten since this morning’s breakfast. “Pils or stout?” I choose the heavier stout. Christian drops my bottle on the instant-cooler first. The dark brown glass clouds and frosts as its temperature drops precipitously. He hands over the beer, offering a toast. “To your work today, Gurmit.” “Thanks.” Out of the corner of my eye, I see a patient start whimpering. Christian winces like he heard it, adjusting his earplugs’ fit. “Know we have to get back to it here,” he says. “My partner just confirmed he’s inbound, so I think I can manage both floors for an hour until he arrives. But if you want to stay, you’re welcome to.” I think of life working with Lim. Nights spent watching JJ before a breakfast berating back home. Christian puts down his beer. “None of this was a test, but if you want it to be, I think you passed it.” “How so?” I ask. “My perceptions are that your work here at The Isle has given you valuable experience dealing with a wide array of clients with high expectations. You’re also a fast learner. The last 24 hours have proven that you’re someone who is nimble enough to roll with the unexpected. Most importantly, you have incredible touch with the patients. You tackle well, but talk even better.” “I might blush,” I say with a sip. “Most importantly, I trust you.” For what feels like the hundredth time, I have to keep up with Christian as he walks quickly into the second of the two adjoining bedrooms in 104. It’s the only empty gurney I’ve seen since arriving. He motions for me to lie down. “I don’t have PTSD.” “I know. I’m not offering treatment. I’m offering a job interview.” He nods next to the bed, where the usual pairing of VR goggles and a meds apparatus has been swapped for three large displays and a metal helmet tiled in thousands of tiny transmitters. “That ugly piece of headgear over there is a prototype simulator. I know this thing looks a bit remedial—the structural engineers haven’t polished it yet—but it’s out of beta, and totally complete from software, output, and algorithmic perspectives. Output’s squeaky clean.” Christian turns the helmet over in his hands with pride. “Internal staffing interviews kick off in much the same way our patients’ treatment did. Just like we download the basic architecture and performance of a brain with PTSD, we can map some of the basic building blocks of your own workplace identity to establish a cultural and behavioral fit. Years from now, we can even use it in a predictive capacity. Think of this thing as a cartographer. It creates your neurological map.” “Then what?” “We run simulations to see what job a candidate is the most ideal fit for.” “What if there are none?” “I could always use a professional tackler.” We laugh, Christian setting up afterwards while I sip at the rest of my beer. A few minutes later, I find myself in the gurney. I can feel the transmitters’ hum as they hug my hairline, absorbing who I am, how I operate, what I am and what I might be. “We’ll process this by taking you through a series of memory recalls, aptitude questions, hypothetical scenarios. Then some simple reaction-speed stuff.” “Okay.” “Think about a time when you felt like you were set up for success,” Christian says, “we’ll start there.” I think back almost two years, my first day in The Isle with Lim as he waddled me through the Lofts, pointing out hallway access points, breakaway rooms, geotag dead-zones. Two years on a job that pays few bills but checks my parents’ box—that gave me this tired reflection I wake to, day after tedious day. Then I think back to earlier—Christian walking me through the sim progressions, showing me how to work the apparatuses. The impact I’ve already made easing and erasing so much pain. He appears satisfied with the output. “Great. Now think about a time when you felt cornered or helpless.” It’s difficult to mute father’s voice in my head—that we’re an island country, isolated not only from nations racing to arm themselves, but using us in order to do so. I think back to the monorail to work—flying through neighborhoods instead of dropping into them—and my typical day here, in the Lofts: walking past guests who won’t ever remember me, only the times they had here. A black performance polo unrecognizable from any other shadow. A job, not a career. “Think about your happiest moment.” It takes me a second to snap out of it—to forget the calm, quiet moment outside, splashed in warm sunlight in Los Angeles, for the one inside, this morning, with the ones who love me most. One after another, Christian reads off the rest of his questionnaire. I’m pretty sure I get the rest right. Posted 1 week ago ::MODULE_6.0//:INITIALIZING… Posted 1 week ago Zurich, 2063 The dry run is over. Coalescence Corporation’s new Zurich headquarters did it: One survived Day 1. Forget the first-day frustrations of executives lost in a labyrinth of new hallways, the double-booked conference rooms ruining agendas, the one quantum-dot bug that briefly turned a restroom’s window transparent, and focus on what’s most important—the mini-D.E.A.D. on the roof never fired, our fleet of drones returned to their hangars to charge, and even the encampment of exos enjoyed a happy hour beverage or five. Forget the rest of the dysfunctional world—at least for one building in Zurich, the day was calm. Up in the War Room, my new colleagues in CommAffairs might disagree. It was danger-hot all day long. While some fought editorial teams in three burgeoning black-markets, vowing to pull media spends, others debriefed a fresh-faced new lobbyist, here to help us fight the new fractional distillation legislation. Outside ofOne, we deployed social bots to vote down and discourage the random i-reports around the march on HQ,and also what happened at Niklas’s shop. The fun thing about those social bots is they aren’t real—they’re carefully built algorithms built on authenticated-slang that pretend to doubt the validity of a story’s facts with just enough trollish cynicism, or maybe claim loyalty to the company regardless of what happened, just nevertoo positively to create suspicion. They are our secret weapon—our retainer’d phantoms in the crowd. Very different from what I see, arriving back at One, which is a real one. The original march of hundreds is down to around fifty people. Some hold hands; others raise fists. I hear the word “truth” from about a block away. I check my mobile for any warnings but the last alert was two hours ago. Security says to go ahead and enter through the front, business as usual. I approach from behind the group of protestors, flashing my IR-badge in case geotagging is down. One of the last exo’d guards spots it and motions for me to go around the crowd control barrier, erected to ensure the larger mob from earlier doesn’t go up the ramp or near the building. He gives me a nod as I pass the last of the crowd—three teens in leather jackets chanting for “FRAUD AUG JUSTICE.” One of the teens, a baby-faced girl in a bright pink beanie, jogs past me, tapping my shoulder. “Hey!” I shouldn’t pause but I do. “You work here?” The soldier in the exo swings something very high caliber in our direction. I nod him off. “It’s my first day,” I say to the girl. “Thank god!” she says, hands on her head in relief. “My cousin was the lung-boost victim, the one who died yesterday. Nobody’s telling us anything!” I know ComAffairs has waited to make a public statement until I get back. The delay has been bad for business but necessary, as Julien and I know now that I can’t exactly shoot over updates in case a channel gets subpoenaed. This’ll have to happen like it did with Niklas—soundproofed and off the record. I suspect that east-bank elevator is waiting. The girl in the beanie wipes her nose. “He was the best kid. Healthier than I am. He thought all of Singapore was a scam. He would’ve never went in for a lung boost.” “I’m sorry for your loss,” I hear myself say. “There’s something you guys aren’t telling us. We just want to know what happened.” “Everyone at Coalescence offers you our most sincere condolences,” I hear myself say. “Please. Our family just wants some closure.” “We can’t offer any other statement at this time,” I hear myself say robotically, feeling no more human than the social bots deployed online, or an extension of the team up in the War Room, or an active-sim going through the motions, designed in some Axcentric sub-basement to execute the most efficient, high-utility decision. There’s a moment where all I see is pain in her eyes. It sticks with me for a second as I watch the back of her head as she walks away. In that moment, I see my future upstairs—real, quantifiable impact on an ever-changing world from the city it looks up to most. A job I was probably born to do. But then I see something else. A new thought pierces the numb, muted soundproofing that has been this day, this whole life, and from somewhere far away, somewhere I don’t even recognize, I see myself go after her. I ask her to wait. DECISION PROMPT: OPTION_1// BREAK PROTOCOL OPTION_2// REPORT TO VÄST Posted 1 week ago Singapore, 2037 [Chapter is empty as computer boots up the final simulation grade for Z’65 compared to S’37…] Posted 1 week ago
  6. So I found an interesting glitch on Five today. After killing the Pentagon thief with the death machine I was able to switch between my two guns and the death machine. I could do this until the death machine power up went away. Just thought that was kind of neat.

    1. YdaJdiMstr®


      Want to see an awesome glitch on 5? Your teammates can kill you between rounds with a bowie... http://www.twitch.tv/ydajdimstr/c/5076325

  7. Those two pictures, both from this thread http://www.callofdutyzombies.com/forum/index.php/topic/178522-future-zombies-treyarch-hints-from-dice-chat/: http://www.callofdutyzombies.com/forum/uploads/monthly_02_2015/post-117086-0-44278900-1423094658.jpg http://i.gyazo.com/7ce25101cad29fac787d983c6e079dd8.pngThanks, I had seen them in a thread, but I couldn't find them again. Also the filename has the letters jfk in it. Could that refer to the portrait on Five being of John F. Kennedy? The one on Kino doesn't necessarily have to be him as it could be a reused texture, and the one on Kino could be meant to be someone else.
  8. This reminds me of those two pictures from Mark Lamia's presentation that had Richtofen crossed out. Sorry I can't find them though. If I remember correctly it was the Origins Richtofen crossed out in both pictures. This leads me to believe that there's a possibility that the unknown portrait could be the Origins Richtofen, which would make sense as that portrait could exist alongside the larger portrait of our other Richtofen. However, the possibility of the unknown portrait being Origins Richtofen isn't my main point. My main point is that what @Tattoo247 said about the time travel having to do with the portrait could also have to do with the new images of Richtofen being crossed out. So... this could possibly mean in the future we need to eliminate Richtofen in the past. A possible reason for this would be to prevent all of the events that have happened since Richtofen started working for Group 935 in 1940s from happening, therefore possibly no massive zombie outbreak and no rockets destroying the earth. The alternative to this though, is the crossed out pictures of Richtofen could hint that Maxis's side of the Buried easter egg is canon, and Richtofen was eliminated at that point. Just something I thought kind of made sense when I thought about it. Also would be greatly appreciated if someone could find those two images.
  9. What should I do?

    1. Delta


      Get 340 Kills on No Man's Land.

      Or play 2 Box Hit, and Jug + free perk bottles only on any map.

    2. AUG


      Sounds like a plan... for tomorrow!

  10. I still have to do the Buried easter egg on Richtofen' s side. We could not get past the sharpshooter step. If anyone needs help you can add me Xbox.
  11. I like the idea of challenges in zombies. Like the others have said they shouldn't be too difficult, and should also be rewarding. They need to offer a good reward so that instead of feeling like you're being forced to do them you actually want to do them. My idea for challenges has to do with pack a punch. Say you have a Galil. Instead of just spending 5000 points to upgrade it, you have to get 50 headshots and kill 115 zombies before you're allowed to. Or you can complete the challenges for that weapon and get a separate upgrade from a different machine. You could also pack a punch your gun like normal, but if you complete the challenges first than you get something extra when you upgrade it, like extended mags or a red dot sight.
  12. Hey guys anyone up for some Black Ops 1? If not that's cool. Feel free to add me on Xbox. Gamertag: Emory11112222

    1. Boom115


      I'll be on in about an hour. If it's not too late.

    2. AUG


      That's fine with me. See you on later.

  13. My connection is pretty bad, so when I play with friends in public match it usually puts only us in a lobby. Otherwise we just wait until the other people leave and then we are good to go.
  14. Welcome to Codzombies! I'm interested in the story myself and I am sure you will enjoy your time here. :D
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