Things To See, Places (Not) To Go (16)

Most blights are considered not only places not to go, but also places you cannot go, thanks to the englobement grids wrapping around them, having been correctly declared existential threat zones by the appropriate authorities.

The large ice moon of Torren, a gas giant in the Empta (Qulomna Maze) system which had the misfortune of playing host to the Torren Moon Incident, is an exception to this rule. Its englobement grid has a carefully maintained hole in it, monitored from an orbital habitat above.

Necrotheos Station, however, does not cater to the potential ghoul-tourism industry. Rather, the Torren Moon Blight is an example of what forensic eschatologists refer to casually as a friendly perversion and also as mostly dead; after the responsible perversion escaped its livelock laming, its bloom ended, as so many do, in a Falrann collapse which is believed to have wiped out the upper layers of its intelligence. In combination, these two factors ensure that, if you follow every guideline in the God-Botherer’s Safety Handbook with neurotic, obsessive-compulsive precision and run away promptly – while maintaining strict adherence to safety protocol – at any sign of undocumented behavior, you probably won’t have your brain eaten.

Naturally, this means that it was the perfect blight to preserve as a training venue for would-be forensic eschatologists. While primarily administered by the Imperial University of Almeä, the Empire’s Imperial State Security, the League’s Invisible Executive, the Photonic Network’s OOPSKILL, the Echelons’ Echelon of Hindsight, and even the Voniensan Republic’s Exception Management Group all make use of the facilities.

Public access is available to Necrotheos itself, primarily for visitors to the Memorial to Foresight Unheeded, constructed to honor the forensic eschatologist who provided warning to the wakeners a full eight minutes before the bloom. Public access to the moon below, on the other hand, is not permitted to anyone but those training there, and indeed flight guidelines state clearly that any starship traveling closer to the englobement grid aperture than the station itself will be destroyed without warning.

As one without any training in forensic eschatology nor desire to acquire it, I was not permitted to visit the moon in person. I was, however, permitted to view a small number of cleared slink recordings from previous visitors. From these I offer this brief summary:

The perversion was partway through the process of reformatting the moon into a computational megastructure at the time of its collapse: beneath its perforated surface lies a fractal maze of ice tunnels layered with ice-silicate opto-fluidic circuitry, occasionally broken by concentrations of metal identified as manufacturing centers and other facilities either newly made or repurposed from the original outpost equipment. Intense and variable radiation and magnetic field hazards abound near these facilities.

Robots of unknown design – and bioroid cyborgs of unknown design, repurposed from the material of the original project team and those involved in bloom response unlucky enough to be captured – continue to roam the maze, engaged in construction and repair activities without any apparent coordination (and occasional hostility) between groups. All are, however, uniformly hostile to any visitors.

The time trainees are permitted to spend on the surface, even in maximally protective suits/shells including Lorith cages (encoded transmissions are broadcast at random intervals within the tunnels) and anti-basilisk sense-filters, is strictly limited. Patterns in the opto-fluidic circuitry have been reported to have pseudohypnotic effects. The recovered mind-states (subsequently erased or archived in the Aeon Pit when not being actively researched) of those who overstayed these limits report memory gaps, impulses of unknown origin, and “whispers”.

Disturbingly, these whispers have occasionally been reported to include information from, or claims to be, one of the original outpost staff. However, there has never been any verifiable evidence of any intact or restorable mind-states within the blight zone; indeed, as researchers pointed out to me, it is entirely possible and indeed quite likely that the whispers themselves contained meta-information intended to produce the apparent familiar feeling of such information.

To close, I shall quote some of the warnings prominently displayed near the station’s docks and locks:

Do not joke about your mental state at any time while on the surface of the Torren Moon, during the return journey from it, or at any time before the expiry of your mandatory mental hygiene quarantine period. Under system safety edicts and professional conduct guidelines, any such behaviors may result in summary spacing without recourse, laser-grid incineration, and erasure of mind-state.

Beneath this, an unofficial addendum reads:

Frankly, it’s not all that great an idea to do so after you’ve been released from quarantine, either.

Those who have studied the prospectus of the Imperial University of Almeä may also have noted that their primary course in forensic eschatology lists a field visit to the Torren Moon facility as a final step before graduation – and that passing the class requires a perfect score on the first attempt. While surprising to some, this is generally accepted as the level of care required for any practice of the field.

It only reinforces this that the last warning to be seen before descent to the moon is the following:

Please note that participation in training events held on the Torren Moon WILL result in your current and any descendant mind-states being permanently listed as a potential contamination vector. Plan accordingly.

– Leyness’s Worlds: Hazards of the Core Worlds

Notable Replies

  1. Hmmm. Sounds like a positively charming sort of place. Mmmyeah no, that’ll be a hard pass for me, ok thanks bye.

  2. Yeah, flagged as a potential blight vector until the end - that training had better be worth it.

  3. Has the Transcend ever weighed in decontamination cases? As the only trustworthy god-AI out there I would think most attempts at god-bothering would be wise to enlist their expertise.

  4. Not directly - but Transcendent forensic eschatologists are, of course, the best forensic eschatologists.

    (By those who trust the Transcend, anyway.)

  5. I’m also reminded of a discussion near the end of the (absolutely excellent) webcomic A Miracle of Science.

    Paraphrasing with minimal spoileration, the not-quite-a-hive-mind of Mars is extra careful when studying memes, because there’s a possibility that if one of its members catches one the infection “might flash through the intellect link like a plague.”

    “… Might?”

    “… We haven’t tested the theory.”

    Which kind of feels apt here – if something nasty got past the Transcend’s filters, it’d be pretty disastrous pretty quick.

Continue the discussion at eldraeverse.discourse.group

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