MXO story summary, 8.3.1 (10/4-10/10)
Colt, Captain Roland's first-mate, newly promoted to captain since Roland's own promotion to Zion Commander in place of the missing Lock, helped direct operatives in heading off attacks on Zion data stores by both Machines and Merovingian Exiles. Colt described the destruction of Roland's ship, its systems fried by feedback when the Machines destroyed the old Zion mainframe. He feared that some of his crewmates, including Mauser and AK, had not survived the crash, or the swarm of Sentinels around old Zion, where the ship went down.
The Machines captured some potentially useful data from the Zion mainframe: a three-year-old archive of operative RSI signatures. The data could be used to lock the known operative's signal, and prevent their emergency jack-out system from functioning, making a death in the simulation truly fatal; however, the archive was neurally encrypted, and would unlock only when receiving signals matching the brainwave patterns of those who "signed" it: Lock, or Morpheus. Attempting to solve this problem, the Machines constructed their own crude simulacrum of Morpheus from available data, but it was found lacking in correct human responses, and was scheduled for training by operatives.
Some of the General's Sentinels were among the swarm in on the sack of Zion, and caught glimpses of Lock and another man fleeing through the wreckage. After capturing Machine Sentinel reports detailing which Zion ships were present in the vicinity at the time, the Merovingian's researchers identified the other man as Mauser, from Roland's crew. Neither Lock nor Mauser have been seen since.
Colt and Ghost, anticipating that the Machines might try to use the General's Morpheus simulacrum to unlock the captured RSI data, led Zion operatives in their own pre-emptive search for the sim, but it proved elusive, and heavy Agent attacks prohibited further pursuit.
The ex-Unlimit, Beirn, discovered AWOL Elite Commando programs in the white hallways. Failing to call them back to duty under the General and the Merovingian, Beirn disposed of the rebel programs on hand, but, tired of the disorienting maze of hallways, left the others to their own devices.
The Merovingian ambushed the Machine Morpheus simulacrum, hoping to extract some useful data from it. Although he managed to coax it into a startling display of some of Morpheus' old codes, he found its comprehension highly limited, and apparently incapable of giving him the kind of information he was after; he seemed almost relieved when the Machines recaptured it.
Machine operatives led the sim through re-creations of scenes from its memory, hoping to attune its mind to the state necessary to match the real Morpheus' brain patterns, and unlock the RSI archive. But the sim's recall of and reaction to the events was shaky, and in the end it failed to access the archive. Agent Pace had operatives delete it.
The Furihata-based redpill named "Grace" was found by Cypherites, pursuing Silver Dragon gang members across the International District. With help from the operatives, she eventually found what she was after: data confirming that hers was among the RSI signatures in the archive captured by the Machines. Grace, once a Zionite, but now independent, worried that she would have difficulty obtaining the firmware necessary to reconfigure her broadcast signal.
MXO story summary, 8.3.2 (10/11-10/17)
Following a tip from the Oracle, the Merovingian found evidence that the early, pre-War Machines were much simpler, and lacking in complexity. He pondered whether this could have led to their reliance on humans.
Merovingian operatives found Persephone in a library in the Chateau. She read them poems by Swinburne dealing with love, loss, and death. Something from her past seemed to weigh upon her mind.
Both Zion and the Machines pursued the Morpheus simulacrum, attempting to win it over to their point of view relative to the dangerous information, captured from Zion's dead mainframe, that it could possibly unlock for the Machines. But it appeared unsure of what it should do, and even a face-to-face meeting with Niobe failed to persuade it to commit itself one way or the other.
E Pluribus Neo spoke to the Oracle and Seraph about the simulacrum, but the Oracle was exceptionally vague on the topic, although she seemed very familiar with the sim.
Seeking more information on how the Machines might possibly be forced to give up power from the Matrix, EPN targetted code pulse detonations on power centers in Westview and Downtown, confirming that simulation power concentration is higher in the Downtown area, despite the presence of power plant facilities in Westview.
MXO story summary, 8.3.3 (10/18-10/24) and 8.3.4 (10/25-10/31)
The Morpheus simulacrum broke the encryption on the RSI signature database the Machines had captured from the Zion mainframe. Zion veterans whose signatures were on the list evacuated the Matrix to avoid signal-lock and termination; Niobe and Ghost were among them.
The Cypherite controller, Veil, led several assassination missions against compromised Zionite veterans. After one of these she was opposed by Colt, Zion's remaining ranking field officer, as well as other Zionites and Merovingian operatives who converged on the scene. Colt also led a mission to rescue data from a Zion organization area to which the captured archive had opened up access for the Machines.
The Merovingian tracked down and summoned the pod subroutine who had been in charge of overseeing the vanished bluepill, Mary MacHenry, but the subroutine refused to cooperate. Undeterred, the Merovingian arranged to have its log files stolen, and found that the Machines had subjected MacHenry to vigorous physical reconditioning before removing her from her pod.
The Effectuator snuck a team of Merovingian operatives into a Machine detention block where they rescued Hypatia, returning her to the city for some scheme of the Merovingian's.
MXO story summary, 8.3.5 (11/1-11/7)
Zion tried desperately to get its last signature-compromised operatives out of the Matrix before they could be terminated by the Machines. Before he can be led to an exit, operative Strenlo, who stayed in the Matrix trying to save important information backed up from the lost Zion mainframe, is terminated by Agents. Zion succeeded, however, in evacuating loner Joshua Maston, an ex-Zionite who has been working to continue Morpheus' legacy inside the Matrix. Before allowing himself to be evacuated, Maston told Zion that while he was grateful for their help, he would leave them after they reconfigured his RSI signature to protect him against signal lock and termination.
Persephone recalled a time during her work for the Machines at the pods when a human was removed, where the log files were very similar to those that have been found concerning the mysteriously vanished Mary MacHenry. Hypatia, to return the favor for her rescue from the Machines, put the Merovingian in touch with the Archivist Society, who could not find information on the specific incident recalled by Persephone, but were able to look up yet another similar incident, this one having occurred during the first version of the Matrix. Stealing the fingered information from the Machines, the Merovingian found log files describing the simultaneous live disconnection of fourteen individuals from the pods.
Suddenly and inexplicably, on the verge of completely incapacitating Zion's operations within the Matrix through termination or forced jack-out of nearly all of their veteran operatives, the Machines recalled their forces, both inside the Matrix and in the Real. Before retreating himself, the General sent a broadcast to the Merovingian, hurriedly reporting a large number of Machine Sentinels taking up positions around the Machine city, and another large formation of Sentinels approaching.
MXO story summary, 8.3.5 Continued (11/8-11/14)
The Exile known as Digger showed some operatives a dungeon room hidden in the tunnels deep below Rawlins Corner, explaining that he believed it to be a direct code re-creation of a room from the second version of the Matrix. Digger and the operatives also engaged in some speculation as to Machine manipulation of symbols from the Book of Genesis, along the lines of theories propounded by philosopher Ludwig Andreas Feuerbach, and the possibility of multiple Matrix simulations running one inside the other. Among other ideas floated, GreatWyrm suggested that the Earth's ruined sky could be compared to the flaming sword set down to prohibit man from re-entering the biblical Garden of Eden.
A number of operatives went on a tour of the Ouroboros corporate headquarters in Creston Heights, conducted by an irritatingly chipper, yet somewhat evasive, tour guide. Several odd pieces of information came to light about the giant electronics manufacturer.
Machine operatives were contacted by a Zionite named Cpahr, hoping they would return to him a personal digital assistant program he'd lost when the Machines sacked the old Zion mainframe. Upon interrogation, it appeared that the program, ZAITSO, might have some knowledge of previous conversations with the EPN leader, the Kid. Operatives decided to keep ZAITSO for further questioning, much to the sensitive Cpahr's dismay.
Zionites attempted to evacuate a veteran operative, Viellard, compromised by the RSI archive the Machines had captured from the Zion mainframe. Machine programs formed a cordon at the nearest hardline, however, and Viellard, attempting to evade the cordon, was caught by the Machine operative Darjarian, and killed by Machine operative Starschwar.
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