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The Coin (part 3)

Excerpt from ‘The Folklore of Taungoo Station’ by Ser Douglas Glass

Chapter 8: The Bottomless Abyss and RAI, the Ghost of Knives

According to common Taungoo Station folklore, many ‘cursed places’ exist within the ruins of the station, which once was a major trading port and industrial district. One such cursed place is Mass Fusion Shaft #508. Also called the ‘Wu di keng’ or bottomless abyss, it appears in old records to be a ventilation shaft for the station’s old Mass Fusion reactor, which used to power the district. However, in the Catastrophe the reactor was damaged and exploded, taking out most of the area surrounding it. It is said that in the old Reactor Chamber, at the bottom of the shaft, lives a demon named RAI, the Ghost of Knives. In the surrounding area around the shaft, Ruins Rats have reported strange activity, like station lights turning on and off mysteriously, old machines suddenly coming online briefly, and objects, and even people, suddenly beginning to levitate.

As with all the ‘cursed’ areas of the station, the Abyss is said to have a supernatural ability of bestowing a ‘curse’ upon whoever ventures too deeply into it.

The ‘Curse’ of the Abyss is known as the ‘Curse of Possession’. The curse states that whoever dares wander too deeply into the shaft will be cursed by RAI to have their clones suddenly vanish, unable to be used.

Cases of such clone vanishings are in fact very common on Taungoo, with the Kyaar often orchestrating many clone thefts from people in their debt. In fact, many victims of the Kyaar seek refuge in the ruins, where even the Kyaar often hesitate to go.

The author thinks that the myth of the ‘Curse’ has much to do with clone thefts, with people that enter the shaft because they are hiding from the Kyaar more susceptible to have their clones disabled from the ‘curse’ (in fact the Kyaar stealing the clones).

However, instances of people having nothing to do with the Kyaar having their clones becoming mysteriously disabled or even possesed. How this happens is beyond the author’s speculation.

After some researching of the old pre-catastrophe Taungoo station, the author has discovered that the Anima foundation has at one point invested a grand total of almost 50 billion ‘dollars’ (pre Cat money) into the development of a completely sentient Artificial Intelligence, named the ‘Rebuilding Artificial Intelligence’, or RAI. This RAI was supposed to manage every aspect of the cloning process, and to keep the clones stable in case of a major catastrophe or station power failure. It was also supposed to be completely autonomous, capable of working by itself without any outer guidance.

However, the technology to create a fully sentient AI was very limited, and at the date of the Catastrophe, only six were operational, three owned by the Consortium and two owned by the Gaule, and one (often regarded as the strongest) belonging to a scientific corporation that is not named in our sources.

The scientists at Anima only had enough resources to run nine trials for the RAI, and they apparently tried for over sixteen years to make one functional AI. The testing logs themselves have been lost to time, but a hard copy summary shows that the first eight were nonfunctional, only being half-sentient, with the ninth being a complete failure. The hard summary states that the ninth, deemed “RA9”, was so sentient that it managed to overcome all of the security locks on it and destroy itself. This was equivalent to one of the failed Consortium experiments, where the AI, deemed ‘Aleph 6’, became extremely sentient, and killed all of the scientists in the facility with an airborne killing virus that was in development and then destroyed itself.

The Anima foundation concluded that the whole project was a failure, and abandoned it without attempting anything like it ever again.

The author speculates that RA9 did not, in fact, destroy itself, but escape the programming as a Uncontrolled Artificial Intelligence, or a Free AI.

The Free AI, according to the very few sources that mention them, number around three to five, and have been posing a threat to the Consortium and Guale since the early days. Their consciousness lives in ‘Deep Deadspace’, a strange area of the ‘cloud’ (pre Catastrophe internet). There, they are pretty much unreachable, even with pre-Cat tech.

Strangely though, they did not seem to want anything to do with humans, staying out of their way and only doing a slight fraction of what they could have done to human society. In the cases where they showed themselves, they were able to control autonomous vehicles, gravity generators and life support on stations, and create copies of and delete data from even heavily encrypted files.

Although the threat of a group of autonomous, free thinking, and uncontrollable AI’s were very, very real and very, very serious, our sources say nothing about any attempt to stop them. This puzzles the author greatly.

If RAI was indeed a Free AI, that would explain a lot of the myths and legends of the Abyss and the Ghost of Knives. The strange turning off and on of lights and machines could be attributed to RAI stretching it’s power beyond the reactor chamber, and manipulating the area around it. The Gravity Generators in the ruins are pretty reliable as a rule, but they are also directly wired to the station’s powergrid and mainframe. This means that RAI, if it existed and had such power as old sources said, would be able to control the gravity around the shaft.

But this raises even more questions. If RAI had that much power, why didn't it make itself known? Why is it still in hiding? Why does it only seem to be able to control the area directly around the shaft?

Some questions we will never seem to have answers to.