Saturday, April 8, 2017



The case dubbed "UNLIMITED CLOCKWORK" by Firewall analysts is an interesting one. At first blush, this substance appears to be an actual silicon-based lifeform, a simplistic, naturally replicating microbe which resembles a few extremophile forms formerly found on Earth, or which exist in certain other Exoplanets. It was reported in small clusters through several Gate networks on [REDACTED] and [REDACTED] before it got Firewall's attention. Unfortunately, this spread kind of turned it into a jurisdictional clusterfuck in terms of major servers and operations, until some high level Crows were able to get real data on it, and sort it into it's proper classifications. This means there may have been some de-compartmentalization among Sentinels investigating, which may even have spread to non-Firewall friendlies and contacts. It's also still up in the air which other agencies and groups may know of this.

Original reports from the field indicate that at certain exoplanet sites, gatecrashers were locating strange silicate deposits which A( appeared to "grow" or change shape over time, and B( had active radiating emissions which could resemble active tech or even lifeforms - the exact emissions reported depended a lot on what gear the crashers were actually carrying. Initial reports from experts (Including Firewall ones) in the field was that apparently there was some kind of silicon-derived microform, not quite a nanoscale worker, which naturally replicated and assembled more of itself into large colonial deposits, almost like coral - but with semiconductors. "Large" in this case refers to the macrofauna scale, very few colonies of UNLIMITED CLOCKWORK were initially spotted larger than a small shrub or a large dog. Samples were taken by a few groups following normal protocol - who also noted the system seemed to heal itself over the next couple days.

Complex examination of the samples is what really got Firewall interested, and further probing. The best way to describe it is "self-replicating silicon". By current definitions of transhuman science - it isn't quite "alive", in the same way viruses often miss technical definitions of "life", but it does self-replicate, consume resources, and its semiconductor colonial growths structurally resemble many other forms of xenofungus. It doesn't interact strongly with many organic compounds, or carbon-based life, and thus also doesn't harm nanoscale "rod and pin" computing made from dimondium compounds. So, it is not a direct "grey goo" risk to transhumanity, but it can be the source of a couple of unpleasant scenarios.

The first is that, while not as potent or sophisticated as some of the exotic materials used by the TITANs or some alien relics, or being developed in secret black labs - the structures formed by UNLIMITED CLOCKWORK are an idealized computing strata. If carefully boxed or even if cut off and sterilized, it makes great computers - the source of which heals itself back in days if properly resourced. If combined with a solid source like a silicate asteroid, this could produce a significant hellfarm rig without much effort by the creators. Observations at Firewall's HOTFIRE labs have also indicated if given new resources, a colony can fairly explosively grow in a short amount of time. Luckily for us, the UC itself has no apparent sentience or "programming". and do not actively use their own structure for much "thinking". Since it is not a conventionally organic compound, it can lie dormant for quite some time before reactivating. The second risk is that it could pose an informational problem. While ideal computing in of itself, it can also "eat" extant computers based on silicon semiconductors if they're put into direct contact, effectively reformatting the machine to become part of the UC's structure. While there are alternate computing materials in use, a lot of machines are still based on silicon chipsets, and dumping a load of this into a server farm could lead to an unpleasant result. It also can work on ceramics, which might cause structural damage.

Firewall immediately began tracing UNLIMITED CLOCKWORK, securing or destroying whatever samples or instances of it we could find. Best guess is that this was some kind of colonizing method of a long-dead alien race who needed ways to build computers fast - perhaps a heavy automated or digitized society which did not reach nanofabrication first. The other, less accepted, theory is that this arose naturally on a world with a Gate, and that visitors accidentally or intentionally propagated it through several systems. Through multiple network connections, Firewall has found what may be UC's source, but the exact Gate Address is classified with "need to know", and scattered and heavily redacted reports only referring to it as "[The] Clocktower". The reports indicate it to be a bleak, terrestrial planet with a barely breathable atmosphere, with massive colonies of UNLIMITED CLOCKWORK which grow to be the size of buildings and heavily cover the surface, the only other remnants being shattered and broken metallic objects, some even resembling primitive weapons, scattered across the surface, and ominous storm clouds circling the largest UC colonies. Through friendly contacts in Gatekeeper and the Titanian Science Ministry, Firewall has managed to cover up the Clocktower's addressed - though it's always possible an alternate gate chain will lead there. Some reports of UC colonies through Mars-connected Gates were not suppressed in time, and were picked up by Pathfinder - who has since locked out those locations and put them under supervision of Oversight for possible TITAN activity, which means Project OZMA is now probably involved.

Standing field order from the Server(s) studying UNLIMITED CLOCKWORK is Destroy or Contain, Firewall has enough samples to Study. The material should be fairly easy to neutralize. Guardian swarms will treat the UC microforms as hostile nanotech, though Bio Defense Swarms do not seem to recognize it. Disassemblers and Saboteur nanobots treat it as normal computing material to work on. While Silicon has a relatively high melting point, it conducts heat very well, which seems to still disrupt the delicate structure of the UC itself without destroying the colony structure. The material is also still fairly brittle, and can be destroyed with explosives or physical force - though be careful of spreading particulates. Sterilizing radiation also appears to "harm" the underlying microform. However, acids, caustics and other chemical methods which typically harm organic compounds have minimal effect on the UNLIMITED CLOCKWORK colonies.

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