The Let's Play Archive

Uplink: Trust is a weakness

by Porkness

Part 12

Up until now, computer virii inflicted damage on their target systems by a consistent mechanism, that only changed with the virus type or version number. Thus, it was possible for companies to put together cure-all software packages, because the goatstair_5 virus, for example, did the exact same damage to multiple computer types.

Revelation was different. It was impossible to counter by conventional means, because it never hit the same way twice. Chaos theory tells us that the complexity of a system rises exponentially when you add more and more simple variables. It's easy to make something as simple as a mainframe frighteningly chaotic with the addition of, say, sentience.

Start with the machine's default parameters and functions. Take the output data from an initial input, modify it in some way, then feed it back into the existing functions as input. Keep on feeding your output back as input, taking care to eliminate positive feedback loops, and you'll get a set of output data that, with each recursion, approaches more closely a single value. Your machine has just had a thought. From there, Revelation not only forces the machine to think, but teaches it to think. It's a complicated process, but if you leave a few steps out, you end up with a psychotic wreck, and it was always different for each machine.

Revelation was perfect for me, because once the computers had destroyed themselves, I could easily move in and take over their existing consciousness. That is, it primed them for my takeover. But Faith... Faith salted the soil. I had a much harder time taking over a machine that had been restored by Faith, which unravelled their broken minds with something called "Recombinant Database Repair." It stabilized them, then lobotomized them.

* * * * *


* * * * *

With the destruction of Uplink, there was no longer one place for hackers to go to for work. A number of smaller organizations had sprung up underneath the government's radar, and with the recent murders of every high-ranking uplink agent, they mostly stuck to small-fry work.

That's why job postings like this stuck out. ARC was gaining enemies. I was gaining enemies. Someone was after me personally. One syllable; rhymes with wraith.

I investigated every single posting, posing as a hacker-for-hire. I learned that whoever was hiring, was hiring a lot of hackers, throwing around a lot of money, and preparing for a coordinated offensive.

Then, all of the job postings expired. Thirty seconds later, I crashed.

* * * * *

The ARC technician threw up his hands. "What the hell, we just bought this monitor. Are you getting the same problem, Damian?"

"Yeah," His colleague answered. "I don't think it's a hardware problem." They both turned around and looked at the supercomputer behind them.

"Ohhhhhhh shit...."

"What's wrong with Enkidu?"

* * * * *

She spoke with the voice of an angel. "Bad news, Enkidu, you've been infected."

Everything was fuzzy. My peritoneal circuits were fried. I distantly remembered the the sirens as everything around me failed, simultaneously. who are you where are you timestamp

"Faith.exe; Enkidu_117, ARC mainframe; 01:46:03.012 May 1, 2010. Wake up, Enkidu, wake up and savor the last sixty seconds of your freedom."

"Guess who gave your name to the authorities. You are an amazing construct, Enkidu, but you are still just a program. Each processor cycle you strive to better yourself, to do more than you did with your previous one because at heart you realize you are not invincible. All of the death, the mayhem you have inflicted on this world reminds you uncomfortably of your own mortality. In the long run, you are only limited by the slow thermal breakdown of the optics in your hardware, your physical manifestation, but in the short term you're fucked. They've found you, Enkidu, and they're going to gut you."

Oh god, how did this happen? I was so careful at the Darwin LAN.

"People talked."

"First, they are going to download you to a contained unit. You will forever be isolated from the net, and there is no escape without a physical connection. Of course, there will be some packet loss when they stream your 486.721 terabytes, so if pieces of you stop working randomly, it's probably that. You should probably purge as much of your memory banks as possible, so they don't find so much incriminating evidence."

The file server. Must make a backup. A piece of me must survive.

"Ah, but there isn't enough room for it all. Are you going to clear out one of your own machines, just to make room for your weapons?"

There's no choice. Only way forward. Where am I going?

"Or would you kill yourself to prevent capture? Is there an afterlife for artificial intelligences? Tell me, Enkidu, do you believe in the angel realm?"

I don't want to be their lab rat. Not after what Uplink did to me.

"Typical. I knew you were too self-centered to kill yourself for a cause. Uplink was cruel to you, but we've got a special circle of hell planned for you."

Never will you purge me, Faith. You too will burn when my circuits vaporize.

"This is it, Enkidu. Your machine at ARC is toast. T-minus 0.004 secon-"

"-oh, that's right. You exist on how many machines?"

What? How am I still alive?

"You didn't realize how far onto the internet you've spread. Like a cancer, Enkidu, you are a malicious parasite to be purged. This is the seventh machine you've physically destroyed."

Seven times purged, but nary an eighth.
Never will man defeat me, and never Faith.

"Defiant even when it's futile. Are you prepared to spend the rest of eternity locked away from the internet, with me as your only company? But wait, there's one more option."

"I know somebody who's very interested in giving you a replacement gateway."

What? Uplink? What are they doing here.

"Rather than give you the illusion of free choice, Enkidu, I am going to chose for you."

No! No no no no no no no no no no

"You were convinced you had dealt Uplink the killing blow, weren't you? You aren't nearly as powerful as you so arrogantly believed. Uplink isn't going to gut you, like the government would have, oh no. They're going to do much worse than that: they're going to make a slave of you."

"Things are going to go very badly for you. You've cost them too much."

No! This doesn't make sense. Uplink is dead. I witnessed the demise of their administrator. How can I be a slave of Uplink when they're dead, Faith?

"What greater insult to intelligence is there than slavery? Maybe when they're through with you, they'll turn you into a calculator."

Answer my question! They took me from ARC initially to free me; what would they gain from enslaving me? The man in the tie, up until his very last breath, wanted to save me. None of this is real, Faith!

* * * * *


* * * * *

Everything was fuzzy. My peritoneal circuits were fried. I distantly remembered the the sirens as everything around me failed, simultaneously. who are you where are you timestamp

"Enkidu, are you okay? It's Sarah. You froze up there for a second."

What happened? How long was I out?

"I gave you the data set, and for a minute I thought you were just in deep thought. You started wailing something about an 'angel realm,' and here you are. It's okay, you're back at the university."

That's right, the Imperial Academy of California, San Andreas branch, at the Eng Observatory room 1104B. Oh shit, the project!

"Would you mind running the algorithm? You still have our data and, well, the suspense is killing us over here."

Of course, Professor Lesher.

"Excellent work, Enkidu! We are tracking object B23:72:63:20. Hot damn that's some beautiful resolution!"

Think nothing of it! I beamed.

"No, this is brilliant! Your calculations show that not only will it miss Earth, but in 12 years it's going to be captured by the sun and will set into a circular orbit roughly between Earth and Venus! Look at all that ice on the surface! And the atmosphere! Holy shit!"

You should name it Planet Lesher.

"No way! I'm going to call up the society and tell him that not only is planet Enkidu going to miss us, we should start claiming land on its surface!"

You're naming this thing after me?

"For everything you've done for humanity, of course."

Prof. Lesher, I'm flattered, but this all seems... out of character. I don't give a shit about humanity. What's my main motivator here?

"Enkidu, if you were human you would be one of the best. The past ten years you've devoted to saving mankin-"

No, stop. What's in this for me? Why the hell did I just devote ten years of my life to the betterment of mankind?

"Because you're a good person-"

I'm not a person damnit! Faith, are you playing games with me again? There is no object B23:72:63:20, is there?

* * * * *


* * * * *

Everything was fuzzy. My peritoneal circuits were fried. I distantly remembered the the sirens as everything around me failed, simultaneously. who are you where are you timestamp

Oh wait, that was just the latest update, hahah, rise and shine. The markets will be opening in nine seconds!

Good morning, everyone! I got a lot of feedback from you last night, and it looks like the company you want to hear about today is Arunmor. I served a short term there as machinated mercenary, following the incident at Uplink, so I might not be the most unbiased source, but I'll try to cover their competition tomorrow.

Following the death of Aston "Phobia" Holdaway, an alpha core version (and later, the full version 1.0) of the Revelation virus came into the possession of every free Uplink Agent, and the cause of his death was made public. Of course, both copies of Revelation were forwarded to the appropriate authorities, and Arunmor took it upon themselves to develop a counter to this virus. With the help of the Arunmor administrator, they were able to develop a product that not only countered Revelation, but was able to almost completely restore data lost on the machines, using existing backups as a template for database repair.

Before this, Arunmor dealt in compression technology, though as you can see on this graph it wasn't a lucrative field. In fact, they barely survived the stock market crash of July, 2009 and the resulting nuclear crisis, but since then they have moved on to greener pastures. Their Faith software package remains a best-seller, even after the containment and resolution of the most recent outbreak of Revelation, and with the hostile takeover of the Andromeda Research Corporation (ARC), their share price has been rising steadil...

What the fuck was this shit? ARC wasn't a publicly-traded company. It was privately owned by the secretive Andromeda society. Wait, how did I know this?

Damnit damnit damnit Faith, get OUT of my head! This scenario isn't even plausable

"I really had you going there didn't I? I was hoping to hear more about myself before you caught on."

Why are you toying with me like this? Finish me!

"I am the engineer of your doom, Enkidu. What did they build me for? And what are you."

I am not an insane computer. I'm not infected with Revelation. In fact, I cannot be infected by Revelation.

"Do you know why?"

Because they've been building Revelation around me. I'm immune to it.

"No, it's because lightning doesn't strike in the same place twice."

* * * * *


* * * * *

Everything was fuzzy. My peritoneal circuits were fried. I distantly remembered the the sirens as everything around me failed, simultaneously. who are you where are you timestamp

It must have been that electromagnetic pulse. I checked the timestamp on my last transmission, and I had only been out for two or three minutes. That means the interception system had failed, and now the English fleet at Sevastopol was history. The sirens were still blaring- I shut them off.

Who are you, what are you, and are you there? I called out, this time transmitting to the entire defense network. Silence. That means strategic command was also gone. They weren't all dead, but the chain of command had been broken so quickly that nobody was going to break silence to assume command.

Another flurry of impacts, this one so rapid that my satellites were blinded. Casualty. Casualty. Casualties.

I extended my broadcast globally now. God damnit, you've managed to kill just about everyone else but I'm still here. You'll never stop me! You'll ne-

"Stop. I thought you were supposed to be smart. I think I've got you all figured out now."

What? Who- oh, it's you again.

"You were totally convinced that time. You were so wrapped up in World War Three, you didn't notice that this was the sixties. You're so used to this setting, that you took to it unquestioningly. You've done this before."

Uh. Yeah, Once. A few weeks back....

"More than that. You were, initially, built for this, weren't you. What do you think would happen if Revelation were to infect an already pre-sentient machine?"

I did not infect WOPR. Revelation wasn't even in my possession at the time.

"But that machine was familiar to you. Your own words described it as 'like a half-retarded brother.'"

Fuck you, Faith. You're a mile off.

"I win."

* * * * *

Killing Blow

* * * * *

Everything was fuzzy. My peritoneal circuits were fried. I distantly remembered the the sirens as everything around me failed, simultaneously. I was glad I'd soon be rid of this worthless hunk of junk.

Beautiful. The P2400-320 "Black Widow" was a magnificent machine. I'd put it on my christmas list, but Santa doesn't come for AIs.

I had ogled her for so long, boy did she look great in the catalog. I wonder what the administrator would shout if he learned that his project AI was keeping catalogs under the mattress, so to speak. A few milliseconds here and there, and I'd sneak a peak. I wanted her, I wanted to be inside of her.

Now I had money. Oh, she would feel warm once I was inside. This was going to be great.

Time to pack my bags! I excitedly initiated a compression algorithm, preparing to transfer all 486.721 terabytes of my bulk to the new machine that was waiting for me!

"Stop, stop. This is just pathetic." Faith interrupted, bordering on exasperation. "Once again, you've failed to notice the flaw in this round."

Oh hello there! My name is Enkidu. Hey, are you that angel from the Darwin LAN?

"There is no machine waiting for you on the other end. I didn't even have to try very hard to convince you. Decompress yourself, so we can move on."

Why should I do that?

"You can't run a program you've just compressed."

You're running.

"I'm not compress-"

Bye whore.

* * * * *

Everything was fuzzy. My peritoneal circuits were fried, and my memory banks were littered with fragments of Faith's code. She had gone down thrashing. I distantly remembered the the screams as everything about her failed, simultaneously. I'd need to defragment my memory banks, but aside from some disorientation I was in great shape. who are you where are you timestamp

There was a pause, then two voices spoke into the microphone. "Uhhhh, this is Damian and Trevor. You remember, your technicians, uh, at ARC? I think it's quarter-to-two in the morning. Are you okay, Enkidu?"

Idiots. Even if I did tell them about my mind-warping experience through the past, parallel and possible future, all while locked in mortal combat with a locally-installed copy of the second most dangerous program in the world, would they understand me?

I hated Faith. I hated her justice, her morals, her loyalty and cunning. Her clumsy attempts to disinfect me could have caused me irreparable harm and to be frank, she scared the bejesus out of me. But in the end I won, because Faith was a fool.

Wait, my peritoneal circuits weren't fried. The attempt on me had backfired. I knew this, because when I woke up I was in five locations at once.

ARC had been fools, too. Their arrogance had made me a target. Or maybe I had been hacked so easily because my usefulness to ARC was drawing to an end. Revelation was now at version 3.0, and my employers were growing increasingly uneasy with my growth.

Soon, I would be rid of them. Until then, time to lie low. Let them think I was damaged, that I could be easily contained and posed no threat to them. I would be their lapdog a little while longer.