Grave-itas

The graveyard was as silent as its contents might suggest. The planet’s large moon shone down on the cracked marble of headstones and memorials, the spidery vines climbing them from among the grass… and the distortion in the air flattening said grass, from which a low and discontented muttering could be heard.

Perhaps it would be better to say that it was almost as silent as the grave.

I’m quite certain, cousin, one of the figures beneath the distortion – revealed on closer inspection to be a tent-sized chameleon cloak – farspoke the other, that ere we set out upon this mission, I spoke to you quite eloquently upon the need for stealth, inasmuch as while the governance of this benighted world tolerates us violating their taboos against molesting the dead, they do so only insofar as we take reasonable care to make sure no-one knows about it. And thus, I am bound to remind you at this juncture, that this in which you are currently engaged? Is the opposite of stealthy.

It’s bloody freezing out here, the other replied, although shifting to verbal silence, and you’re not the one of us hip-deep in lich-yard mud –

Adept’s privilege,’prentice mine, adept’s privilege. It’s hard to carry out an exhumation without a certain amount of hume being involved.

It’s just… not what I expected.

Let me guess. You were a fan of Alves Sjarra: Soul Hunter.

The silence spoke for itself.

Ah, yes. Well, when you reach my exalted reputation with the company, you might occasionally get a sniff of one of those missions rich in cunning plans, deeds of derring-do, and opportunities to show off just how good you are. In the meantime, welcome to the glamorous other 90% of the soul-repo business. Backwater planets and mud are our bread and butter.

A mental sigh competed in the aether with a mental smirk.

You’re not the first with that idea. I can vouch for that… and at least these missions involve a lot less being shot at. Now, make sure your nose plugs are in tight. They don’t always get the right body in the right hole, and another adept’s privilege is that the apt gets first crack with the crowbar.

Trope-a-Day: Final Death/Deader than Dead

Final Death/Deader than Dead: Very much to be avoided.

Fortunately, rather hard to inflict.  Sure, you can kill the body (corpicide) readily enough, with enough bullets or other regular weapons – get both hearts, or shred the brain, or pulverize the whole thing.  But then the fun begins.  First you need to get the vector stack where the immediate backup of their mind-state is stored (and hope that it didn’t come with an emergency bug-out transmitter, or it’s already too late).  In a biological body, it’s somewhere near the base of the brain, but close enough to the surface to pull quickly in an emergency – in humanoids, the back of the neck is usual.  Cut below it and yank.  Then you’ve got to destroy that, which may itself require some exotic methods, since they’re designed to survive very large explosions up close, but is still possible.

So far, though, all you’ve done is given them some amnesia (unless they’re a Fusion or a synched cikrieth set of full-fidelity forks, in which case you need to go hunt down all their other instances, too.  Actually, you probably want to go assassinate their utility forks anyway, on general principle), because they have a backup.  In the absence of bug-out devices, it’s probably a few hours, maybe a day or two old, but at some point – quite likely right now, if they were on-line when you killed them – their incarnation insurer is going to stick said backup in a new body, and then they’ll be alive again.

So you have to crack their incarnation insurer’s security, physically or virtually, to destroy the backup copy of their mind-state.  Actually, you’re going to have to do that quite a lot, since given the business that they’re in, incarnation insurers generally keep at least triple-triple redundant copies of people’s backups, including keeping older copies, and do so in physically isolated – scattered across multiple star systems – and heavily network-secured locations just to be sure.

But if you can manage that trick, you’re good.  As long as they don’t have any backup backup copies stored in data havens, entrusted to friends, secured in hidden Oort bunkers on long-term proceed-unless-canceled wake-and-restore programs…

(And that’s even before we get to those strange folks who open-source themselves.)

Yes, permadeath is hard to arrange.

(This, incidentally, is another reason why the penalty for cognicide is so high – given all of this, in most cases it’s impossible to do without serious forward planning and therefore lots and lots of cold-blooded premeditation.)

Trope-a-Day: Cloning Gambit

Cloning Gambit: As mentioned under Mundane Utility, the Imperials routinely use their cloning, body-swapping and mental-editing-forking-merging technology to resolve problems as routine as being invited to two parties on the same night.  And the same technology is used to routinely reinstantiated anyone who dies, either from the record stored in the vector stack in their head, or from an earlier backup stored off-site.

In short, Cloning Gambits abound.