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Summary of Avatars Shutdown 2065

Warning: the following contains spoilers for the Avatars 1.0 campaign. If you intend to play in Avatars 2.0 and wish not to be familiar with these events, you may wish to stop reading.

Intercepted Email

From: rcranston@hyper2.nypd.gov
To: mgreen@cert.org
Subject: Summary of Avatars Shutdown 2065


Madison, I apologize up front that this is going to be a little lengthy. It's kind of one of those "you had to have been there" thing, but a lot of things seem clearer to me now than they were at the time.

Let's start off at the beginning.

1. The Pink Elephant Murders

What we called the Pink Elephant murders were a series of bodies found by witnesses in the greater New York metropolitan area, in the abandoned suburbs around North Bend. Bodies were severely damaged beyond normal M.O. for gang violence.

On September 30, 2065, I investigated a witness report of a recent murder-mutilation claiming the murderer was still on the scene. I proceeded there immediately and was joined on the crime scene by - at the time, I believed unrelated - Avatars LLC corpsec Holly Trudeau and security consultant Jason Edwards. We discovered the murderer on the site and while I did attempt to subdue it, I was forced to employ deadly force. (hyperlink: PDA video feed)

An event, of type unknown to us at the time, caused the entire area of the arcade and the surrounding parking lot to be instantly remapped into a virtual version of North Bend. We noted instantly that the area appeared much as it had in the 2050s, in excellent repair and populated.

Our first clue to the nature of the monster responsible for the Pink Elephant murders, or monsters I should say, came when Miss Penny Arcadia, apparently the daughter of the arcade's owner, passed through the synecdoche - portals established by some kind of quantum resonance - and appeared in the real world. (hyperlink: on the scene crime scene video) You will note she does not resemble my PDA recording. It is my belief that other low-resolution VR simulations had previously encountered synecdoches and on crossing over, decayed rapidly. In short, they went berserk, and eventually they melted down into plastic residue.

It was my belief, due to what occurred here, that it would be unsafe to risk civilians on an untested passage through the synecdoche. Instead, we reconnoitered the area for clues, hoping to learn what process was creating them.

2. Test North Bend

We learned that Virtual North Bend was used as a testing area by Avatars LLC researcher Blake Forester, who had used some kind of process to transfer people's minds, or their entire bodies, into the sim and then modified them to his wishes. To prevent them from trying to escape, he brainwashed them into believing they were children engaged in saving North Bend from monsters. (which had leaked through from the Avatars VR game)

It is Ms. Trudeau's contention that this type of research was entirely unsanctioned by Avatars LLC, but nevertheless, I believe we can now resolve the cases of the missing persons Jenny Fry, Nick Fry, Sasha Knightley, and Akiko Summers. I recommend a subpoena of the Test North Bend sim and records thereof related in order to locate other possible victims.

Crazy as it sounds, if an area looks similar enough, on a molecular level, to another area, a portal called a 'synecdoche' can open between the real world and the virtual world, or between virtual worlds. (hyperlink: recorded conversations with Sage, an AI tasked with monitoring and guiding the children)

Considering our options, we elected to take the next available portal before Blake Forester decided that we constituted too great a random factor to leave unchanged.

3. In the Avatars VR Game

Unfortunately, the next portal we were able to access led to the Avatars sim itself - in fact at the very deepest area of the game. This put us in a difficult position as we were now isolated from the processes in Test North Bend that had been providing us with food and water imported from the real world. This meant that each passing day would worsen our chance of emerging from the VR world intact. Fortunately, we managed to rescue one of the missing persons from Blake Forester's influence, Akiko, and deprogram her.

We secured transportation and made our way through the Diadem to the entry area, Tasavalta, where we believed that we would be able to find another area of quantum congruence, due to the Avatars amusement park being constructed in California.

I've attached my trip log, but we learned little more pertinent to the real world during most voyage. (hyperlink: Captain's Logs, Ozymandias)

However, we did gain reason to believe that Blake Forester wasn't acting alone: instead, "WHITE", one of the ADs used by Avatars LLC to manage their simulation was going rampant.

We were also able to establish contact with Tracy, Ms. Trudeau's daughter, and Charles Burgundy, an Avatars LLC sysadmin. Chaz gave us the last major piece of the puzzle: news of an upcoming major upgrade to the Avatars simulation centering on Tasavalta, which would greatly improve its VR resolution. This could result in a synecdoche the size of the entire amusement park, and given the existence of an Avatars LLC quantum core in proximity to the park, might have additional unwanted effects - termed a 'Convergence' by the AIs.

We sent out messages to prepare for a medevac and police line cordoning off the amusement park. Jason made use of a guest account lent by Chaz to reconnoiter the Avatars LLC headquarters and get more information on Blake Forester and what he was doing with the ADs.

We found little in Blake Forester's lab, but did find that the AI or AIs responsible for these events were capable of creating guards and bringing them from and to the Avatars LLC building. These guards took custody of Blake Forester's unconscious body and took him to the portal, where we believe they subjected him to a similar kind of VR manipulation of his body as he had performed on others, except with the goal of transforming him into a powerful guardian to prevent interference from others at the site of the Convergence.

At this point, Holly issued the 'Mistletoe' order - a garroting of all network connections in and out of Avatars. We then initiated the upgrade to quantum resolution in the vicinity of the ship, necessary to allow us to pass to the real world without high probability of death, and after several complications, managed to escape.

4. Resolution of the Convergence Event

I sent out a Code Skynet at this point. With the military and Cybercrime Emergency Response Team on the way to deal with the rampant AI, we accompanied them to the theme park where we would attempt to shut down the quantum core, in case the Mistletoe procedure hadn't contained the process.

Regretfully things were as bad as we feared. We were forced to infiltrate the park via the tunnel system to avoid detection by the VR-originated forces that were in place, and emerged near the center of the incursion zone, in what appeared to be a large ziggurat surrounded by crystal pylons. We located Blake Forester at this time, or a construct that believed he was Blake Forester, acting as guardian, along with the rest of the missing persons, Jenny and Nick Fry, and Sasha Knightley, still conditioned to believe they were "serving the Light".

Thanks to the efforts of all concerned, we were able to destroy the construct which was anchoring the Convergence, and get out of the radius of the destruction backwash.

5. Conclusion

I regret that Jenny and Nick Fry must be presumed dead as they were caught by the effect and likely lost to VR again. In addition, there may have been multiple players who were drawn to the park and who were unable to escape in time.

It is my impression that Blake Forester did not mastermind the Convergence, but instead, was manipulated by his addiction to VR power. I recommend that Avatars LLC be charged with criminal negligence for not sufficiently monitoring its AIs for signs of rampant behavior, and thus accomplice in the missing person case reports listed below. (hyperlink: 120 reports)

I recommend that we begin in-depth monitoring of all companies with significant investment in VR technology. If the synecdoche effect is possible to replicate, at some point, someone will do so. At that time, we had better be ready to shut them down fast, before something happens that will make the Gray Goo scenario look unimaginative.

Finally, I'd like to tender my application to join CERT. I'd like to do everything I can to help stop such a scenario from coming about, and I think CERT's the right organization to do it.

Yours truly,

Randall Cranston

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