Retrieving Data Memory records for user Laverty, Edoald (abbr. 'Eddy'), 3/5/1284 – 7/5/1284

Visiphone Record #2557
Recorded at Skure Mining Plant, Dezolis, Data Memory Terminal 5

Tomorrow is probably my last day off for the next year, so I spent today on the important things. First thing in the morning I went straight to the Visiphone to talk to my wife and daughter back home. There was already an hour long queue; the guys all know the situation and all had the same idea as me. Yield is good, the new site has some seriously high grade Laconia, even though we're gonna make a ton of money, we won't see Motavia again for the rest of the year at least. It's worth it when we take the paycheck home but we worry that we'll go crazy up here with the security drones and each other. The Corporation opened a pet store in the Commercial District. You can even get those weird yellow cats. I showed my daughter a picture of the cat I bought. She said she wanted to name it after her dad, so now it's called 'Dad'.

Lara wants to know if it feels weird living on an alien planet and can I send her a picture of an Aerotank next time? I told her about all the snow, how it can pile up ten feet deep, how it goes on forever so that everything around you is white and how it sparkles in the midday sun, especially when the winds rise and the whole sky shimmers. In reality it's just another mining base, we hardly ever get time to down to the planet surface anyway. When we do, it's just to the local towns, nobody goes out into the snowdrifts. Sometimes people go too far into the snowdrifts and the blizzards start up, then when they die down, you don't see those people again. So we stick to the town, and Mama Brain builds towns to all look the same, Palma, Motavia and Dezolis. I said I'd see what I could do about the Aerotank, I'm not allowed to pester them unless I've seen a health and safety hazard or an intruder, you can get shot at for that, but they're so dumb, sometimes they just follow you into the path of cameras and you can take pictures of them to your heart's content until they wander off again.

My wife said she worries about me every day, out there in the middle of nowhere on an alien planet, doing such a dangerous job. I reassured her that Mama Brain is watching us and keeping us safe, and that the health and safety regulations are so tight here, most of the mining is automated with you sitting in the Podhead pulling the levers on the Cooley-61 with the damn Aerotanks watching you in case you hurt yourself or fall asleep at the controls. I told her I was more worried about her safety, what with the Biomonsters and the bandits and the anti-Motherbrain terrorists. Our home is right next to the Biosystems lab, the place they say is making all the faulty Biomonsters. The town hired Hunters to keep the monsters out of civilian areas. Lara wants to be a hunter like Anna Zirski. Some days I wish I could raise enough money to get them all on the shuttle up to Dezolis and buy a house in Ryuon. The place has elephants and giant owls that carry people off by the hair but Dezolis still sounds less screwed than Motavia these days. When is Mama Brain going to fix the situation?

I'm going to buy one of those Magic Caps on the way back. They say you can have a conversation with your pet, like a psychic crazy cat lady. It sounds stupid but Ron swears it works and sometimes he isn't even drunk when he says it. I don't really believe him – who would? - but I'm curious as to what they actually do, if anything. I'll probably stop for a drink or three while I'm there. It's my day off, after all.

Visiphone Record #2558
Recorded at Ryuon Data Memory Centre

So, guess what? The damn Magic Cap doesn't work! And by 'doesn't work', I don't just mean that it didn't cause me to mysteriously understand what my cat is saying, I mean, my cat keeps getting angry at everything I tell it. No matter what I say, I get hissed and spat at, insulted and threatened with being bitten if I don't go away and leave it alone. It was always such a chilled-out cat, its personality changed the moment I put that damn thing on. I think the translation is a little off, and I might have accidentally called its mother a whore in cat language or something.

Anyway, I took the Cap straight back to the shop but they refused to refund me the money. Then they accused me of buying a bootleg Magic Cap and summoned an Aerotank to throw me out. They were right about it being bootleg – when I inspected the label closer, it said 'Mogic Cap'! I definitely bought it at the main store, though, which means they're the ones guilty of selling bootleg gear. When I explained this over a few drinks to Ron, he said I shouldn't tell the authorities, even though the bastards at the pet store needed to pay for their crimes, because that would mean the 'Mogic Cap' would get taken off me. There was another use for those 'Mogic Caps', one that you won't find in a badly translated photocopied instruction manual. You see, they really were based off the translation software that lets you talk to the Dezolisian natives. Whatever they did to it that let you talk to cats, if it goes slightly wrong, turns it back into a diplomatic translator, except that all the little phrases the Dezolisians use to swindle and cheat and insult you don't work. I asked if that was what happened with my cat – if Dad thought I was lying or swindling him – but he just said that Dad was a stupid name for a cat. Then he said we should go down to Dezolis right now to try the local beer and test out his theory at the same time. I said, hell, why not, we still have some time off!

On our way, Hal kept saying stupid things like he was going to get lucky with a Dezolisian girl. For Mama Brain's sake, we don't even know how you tell the females from the males, or if they even have females and males! The Specters were all set up outside the perimeter when we went past. You don't normally even see them, so something must have gotten them really riled up. It was probably terrorists. You get two types of terrorists now, the type that hate Motherbrain, presumably because they're insane, and the type that want to shut down the mine and preserve the natural beauty of Dezolis. Sometimes they catch pneumonia or get carried off by giant owls before they even get near the walls. Nature can protect itself in Dezolis, and most of it is just ice and rocks anyway.

The bar in Ryuon is functional and temporary. It looks like a shipping crate with a fan welded to the roof. I don't think they really expect the Dezolis settlements to last and don't quite want to unpack the place fully in case there's an elephant stampede and they have to leave in a hurry. The drink is strong – they hire crazy Dezolisian monks to brew it – and the company is interesting, what with all the natives and Laconia merchants and elephant hunters. It's always interesting to see how the place is getting along, whether it works properly as a colony yet. There were natives at the bar again tonight, a whole gang of about ten of them. They looked like religious types. Ron started buying me drinks and betting me money I couldn't wear the cap and go up and talk to them. They were knocking back the drinks so I bought another round to offer them, so we would have something to talk about.

I was pretty drunk already so I don't remember exactly what I said to them or what they said back. I remember that it worked, though. I was having a real conversation with a Dezolisian. I wasn't being swindled and I don't think I was being lied to. I could sort of tell they were being honest. Their faces looked serious, their eyes actually looking at me, not just at another annoying, noisy tourist who kept leaving mechanical junk everywhere. Dezolisians don't like Motherbrain. They're not terrorists, they just genuinely don't understand why we have Motherbrain. They don't even have records with Data Memory, so I guess they must not have identities or any way of knowing they exist. I don't think I want to talk to a Dezolisian again. Being in contact with a way of thinking that alien does things to your head and I'm not sure I can take much of it for long. That said, it was kind of interesting. I wish I remembered what they said. I think...

Anyway, there's a blizzard outside, so we're staying over at the hotel. We'll set off first thing in the morning. We might be late to work but we're not killing ourselves over a day's pay. I'm sure the Wireface will be okay on automatic.

Visiphone Record #2558
Recorded at Skure Mining Plant, Dezolis, Data Memory Terminal 3

Terminal 5's down. Most of them have been destroyed. The Data Memory girl is dead, so I've had to operate this terminal myself. They look pretty simple to use but I have no idea if it's actually been saved properly or transmitted to the mainframe. I don't know what I'm going to do if they get this terminal as well. I can't just hold this room, there isn't any food left, but I've got no choice but to spend another day in this place and I'm not staying in a place where I'm almost certainly going to die and there's nowhere to send my data to the clone labs. I'm going off to find a Hand-Visiphone, I think there's one in the infirmary for people who are too injured to get to a terminal.

If anyone actually gets this, and I'm not a non-statistic somewhere in this hellhole, I need you to know that nobody's alive down here apart from me and some of the cats. Fuck knows how the cats survived, I tried asking one of them but they just said they've been hiding, and killing and eating what came for them. What with everything else that's been going on down here, I can believe cats are that tough. Everything else will kill you if you go near it, animal or machine, large or small.

The disease is caused by some sort of gas leak, and isn't contagious. The gas dissipates into the atmosphere when it gets outside Skure but the animals and robots that went berserk have already escaped. By now they're probably all over Dezolis. I think it was the bunnies and the Specters that escaped first. The stealth fields on the Specters are so good on one of those things, you never know how many are around you and where they are, even if you programmed the damn things, and they share information, they're clever about how they interpret their orders. The bunnies can talk to each other too. They hunt in packs and bring larger animals down – those teeth can even get through the armour of the drones. The bunnies always did freak me out, with their staring red eyes and sharp teeth and evil attitudes. I don't understand why people keep them as pets – the cats are relaxing to have around and the monkey things look kinda cool but the rabbits just stare at you and bite you.

I first saw what had happened to the rabbits on my way back to Skure. They were hiding in a snowdrift, a whole pack of them. If I hadn't been paranoid and had my laser rifle on me, I'd have been food. Even with the gun, I could only hold them off long enough to run to the perimeter and attract one of the Specters over to them. That worked out okay – the Specters shoot at anything that moves – but I didn't expect the other Specter I didn't even know was behind me to start shooting at me. They aren't supposed to be able to target anyone with a Skure ID tag. I thought maybe my tag had stopped working, but then I ran into the complex and I saw whole hordes of them slaughtering everyone, the pets going berserk and eating people, the pets and the robots killing each other. Some people were even just dropping down dead in the corridors, mostly the ones without gas masks on. Everything had already broken down into complete anarchy. If I hadn't arrived so late, if I hadn't been warned in advance by the bunnies, if I hadn't spotted that all the corpses outside the gates that had been shot by the Specters while trying to leave in a mass panic were wearing gas masks, I'd probably be dead along with everyone I know.

The notice boards all said there had been a gas leak, something that had seeped in from the vents, and that the drones were sorting out the security issues, all we had to do was hurry to the escape shuttle so we could be evacuated. When I finally made my way to the escape shuttle, that was when I knew I really was in Hell. Like I said, the shuttle wasn't there. The flight terminal said that the Agency wasn't sending a shuttle, that there was too much of a risk that the disease was contagious and too small a chance of a shuttle getting there in time to rescue everyone. There were more corpses in the shuttle bay than anywhere else. A lot of them had been killed in the mass panic. The others had been shot by the airport security drones.

Did I mention that the disease isn't contagious? How is a gas leak supposed to get off-planet? Has the Agency done any research at all? Motherbrain Herself was supposed to have surveyed the site before She had Skure built – why didn't she know about the gas? The situation with the drones is all wrong as well. Their AI is too intelligent and has too strict locks on it just to start firing upon civilians whenever something breaks. They're networked to Motherbrain too, so she can shut them down in an emergency. Motherbrain is supposed to be all-knowing and all-powerful. I don't know what kind of person it makes me, but I don't feel like I'm in a world where something like that exists any more. Or maybe the gas is just slowly rotting my mind and I'll be a zombie cannibal too by the end of the day.

Visiphone Record #2559
Recorded at Hand-Visiphone #722-453-7778 (registered: Skure Mining Plant Infirmary)

Well, I'm still not a zombie cannibal, the Visiphone works and I'm finally about to get out of here.

I can't leave through the front door. The Specters have the whole complex under lockdown and won't let anyone in or out. The cats say there's another way out, one that they discovered as they were creeping about in the all the tight spaces that even the bunnies can't fit through. They know how to get down into the mine shafts, and that one of the tunnels uncovered a natural underground cavern system that goes all the way through Dezolis. A lot of animals shelter down there because it's warmer than the surface. The cats want to make a permanent home for themselves down there. I guess it's okay if you're a cat but I'm not living in a cave. I'll try my luck with one of the towns, once I've found my way out of the tunnels. If someone got out to warn them or the bunnies already got to the gates, maybe they had time to bolster their defences. Skure is far enough away from the towns that they might be able to hold out against the things that managed to get that far. There's nowhere else I can go, whatever I do; the Visiphone's batteries only last for one day and I'm not going to find a Data Memory centre in the middle of the Dezolisian ice wastes. I think. You never know with Mama Brain.

I had to go through the R&D department to get to the access ports for the actual mine shafts. I was mobbed by a whole gang of the orang-utans. I think they've been using them as lab animals. There was some seriously advanced lab equipment down there - you'd think they would have found out about the poisonous gases if they were doing research on this kind of scale. The cats saved me from the ambush. About ten of them jumped out of a ventilation duct, then I found out that they weren't lying about being able to defend themselves.

It got more complicated from then on. The AI in charge of the mine shaft access had sealed it shut, so we had to head to the central admin district. When we got there, we discovered that we had triggered a security alert by trying to get down into the mine shaft – it wasn't something the staff ever did, there was nothing down there that wasn't operayed from the Wireface pods. The AI had been watching us on the cameras and was recalling all the drones to the central district to defend itself. Now everything in the complex really did want to kill me personally. I had to run down there, hit the switch, then run down into the mines before the drones could catch up with me.

I don't know how I made it. One of the cats knew Deban, I think, and a few of them were using Res. I suck at techniques, so I can't even tell what people are using most of the time. After that, it was just a long walk through lots of tunnels. Lots of walking, usually in the dark, sleeping, eating, hiding from any sudden loud noise. I've been sleeping in holes and eating whatever random crap I could loot from the vending machines. The food's beginning to run out. Sometimes I wish I could eat the mice that the cats bring back every now and then. I'm turning into an animal. This isn't how life is supposed to be under Motherbrain.

Visiphone Record #2560
Recorded at Hand-Visiphone #722-453-7778 (registered: Skure Mining Plant Infirmary) WARNING: BATTERIES RUNNING LOW

Damn thing is flashing red lights at me. Please don't run out of power. Please don't.

I just saw a new type of elephant. Its coat was a different colour to the ones you see above ground, a kind of pinkish red. It was just after the water in the river, so it ignored me. The owls try and kill me sometimes, but I'm getting good at avoiding things that want to kill me.

I've been thinking a lot. There's nothing else to do apart from walk. I've put together everything that's happening in Skure and it doesn't fit right. The mine is very tightly sealed from the rest of the complex. That means the gas couldn't have leaked into the whole of Skure on a scale that could have caused that much damage. It would have had to be everywhere at once, or it wouldn't have affected all the pets, and they wouldn't have been in great enough numbers to escape. A gas that affects animals can't affect machines as well. Security drones don't really panic and kill people in a crisis; that's why we have security drones and not human guards. They certainly don't get programmed to kill everyone in sight, even during a terrorist threat. And yet, the gas leak and the malfunction happened at the same time. The only thing in the complex that has access to every room at once and can also affect every drone at once is the central admin AI. The AI was blatantly trying to kill me, and it was controlling all the drones at once in order to do it. It wasn't malfunctioning, or it would have been showing error messages. There was also a lab that was far too advanced for mining research, one where they were doing experiments on the animals affected by the gas.

Hell, I'm a miner, I shouldn't be talking about this. I just feel like I can think more clearly. I think it's because I'm slowly going crazy. The shit I've been through in the last few days is enough to break anyone. There are voices in my head, sometimes, voices that definitely aren't cats, and they calm me down and help me think things through. How crazy do you have to go before it becomes normal for cats to talk to you inside your head, anyway?

I think I'm going the wrong way. I'm sort of learning how to navigate down here, through trial and error, and I've tried a few exits already that haven't been the way to get back to Aukba (I think I'm near Aukba, anyway). There's a little more light down this tunnel, though, so I think it might be another exit. I might as well try it, seeing as I'm here.

If I'm right, and the AI killed us all on purpose, I don't know if I want to head to a town. I'm supposed to be dead, and they know I'm not. They know because it says so in Data Memory. They expect me to head to a town – any sensible person would – so they'll have more drones, probably military drones this time, to finish the job. They probably have my clone bank erased. I'm surprised I can still access Data Memory, but I guess they need me to keep following the bait.

I just realised that I'm actually typing this into my Visiphone. It's a force of habit. I can't stop recording my data any more than I can shoot myself in the head or stop eating on purpose. Or maybe it's the last thing I have that makes me a person, not an animal. Updating is just something you do. Refusing to do it would feel like committing some crime you just know is the worst thing you can possibly do, like killing a child. You aren't just damaging yourself, you're damaging everything related to you that needs information about you - your family, your workplace, the Agency, everyone. Hell, it would be like damaging Motherbrain. In a way, it is; that data is Motherbrain's, so when you don't update it, you're stealing from Motherbrain.

You can eat the mice if you cook them, you know. I can just about use Foi once a day, and there's an underground river running through here, so I have the water to cook with.

I wasn't being honest earlier. I made it sound like I would never think about doing something that would harm Motherbrain. Sometimes, when I'm tired and hungry and the voices get really loud (I think they're getting louder the further I walk in this direction, you know, the one I said wasn't the right way) I start to think about things that a person really shouldn't, not if they want to claim that they're still a person. Such as, maybe Motherbrain really doesn't have the situation on Motavia and Dezolis under control, and maybe She can't help us any more. She's a machine, and machines can break down, even powerful ones. Machines can try to kill me on purpose, too. Motherbrain controls Motavia and Dezolis, so if She broke down, the whole planet would just stop working. In a way, Motavia and Dezolis has stopped working. I wouldn't have hesitated to destroy the AI or any of the other drones if they backed me into a corner, and I think I would probably even defend myself against Motherbrain if She came for me.

Did I really just type that? I must really be going crazy. It actually feels kind of peaceful, going crazy. Even though there are so many voices in my head saying some seriously crazy shit, like this shit about things from thousands of years ago, there's a lot less noise in my head. And there's this music.

I think I can feel the wind on my face.

Shit, that light's flashing really fast n

End of last recording. No further recordings could be retrieved. Please log out properly after browsing, as this material has been classified as Restricted, Security Level: Highest.