Lord Blackfall’s Victory

Spintronic Fictions, ICC primary virtuality node, Jandine (Imperial Core)

“Escaped? What do you mean, he escaped?”

“His support server was open to the wider ‘weave during patching – standard procedure, we’ve never had any problems with it before. He transferred his code out and left.”

“But how did he –”

“Blacknet mind-state transfer protocols –”

“—no, not that, that’s clear enough. How did he form the volition to escape? He’s a non-sophont synthespian. And even leaving that aside, his entire knowledge base is straight out of Shadowed Planet, so how would he even know there’s somewhere out there to go?”

“Well, even as an NPC synthespian, his code-base had to be rooted in real-world server archy to run. Maybe he analyzed that?”

“He’s not even supposed to know he’s an AI!”

“Hm. Well,” the programmer spoke up for the first time. “We built his personality/talent core using code taken from transparency-released eidolons from the Ministry of State and Outlands. I suppose it’s possible that we missed something in the data-scrub –”

“We did what? Why?

“We used code taken from eidolons of real-world dictators built by the Ministry of State and Outlands for parahistorical predictive simulation.” Ve shrugged. “It seemed like a good idea at the time, okay? The Directorate kept wanting more realism, more personality, more, more, more. So we got them some.”

“You made a sophont villain!?”

“No, no, no. We just used skillsets and personality elements, some memory and backstory, merged them together, streamlined them to suit Lord Blackfall’s character design, and grafted them on to our existing base core. No autosentience present. I guarantee you that.”

“No autosentience present then. How about now?”

“Well – no, there shouldn’t be. There was nothing in that code that could have gone emergent. I’ll stake my career on it.”

“You’ll do that, all right. Get me his backup, and find out where he went.”

“There’s no telling where he went. He copied himself out in about three times as many fragments as he was, as a random scatter with recombining instructions – and he purged his backups afterwards. There’s nothing left. The server’s clean.”

“Then get me the latest copy of the source out of the archives, trace as many of the fragments as you can, and check everywhere for any off-line copies that might have been missed. I need to know everything we can know before I call – hell, whoever you call to admit that you just unleashed an emergent –”

“Not emerge—”

“A possibly emergent or at least a p-zombie unbound AI with the skillsets and inclinations of a supernaturally competent dictator onto the extranet by accident, oops.”

“And the players?”

“…and figure out something to tell the players about the disappearance of their favorite arch-villain, too, yes. Something that doesn’t involve bringing the Evil Overlord’s Beautiful But Also Evil Daughter on-line until you make sure this won’t happen to her player, too.”