Friday, February 27, 2015

Budget Concerns

Progress continues.

There has been a new wrinkle however. Recently the long-term budget projections were finished and, according to them, if some changes are not made we risk running out of funds.

It was... a jarring find to say the least.

Not that there is cause for panic, it just means we will have to scale back on certain luxuries. I have, with great pain, taken the first step by releasing my personal chef. Now I, like everyone else, will be subject to the cafeterias. Where my chef has taken up new employment.

They have accepted the reduction in wages and increase in hours with admirable grace with a minimum of death curses. I trust them not to specifically sabotage my food, but would not be surprised if the gristliest meat pieces in any meat dish should wind up on my plate out of spite for awhile.

I understand, Henri. I'm really not thrilled with this either.

I would note that I would also happily accept a pay cut, but as Director and Founder I do not actually take a wage to begin with. My needs are met by the Labs as I do my best to meet the needs OF the Labs.

I will however, be attempting to further curb any of my expenditures all the same.

Until this incoming money-flow issue is amended, there will be some minor cutbacks. I assure you every effort will be made to ensure the impact is minimal with things like... fewer napkins being given out, shifting to air-drying systems in all the washrooms, so on.

While we are at it efforts will be made to render all Arketer Labs facilities more planet-friendly with waterless urinals and so on.

Our various projects will NOT see any cutbacks on funding or supplies. Security and safety system budgets will not be touched.

That said, if in the course of your work you are presented with two options in which a cheaper alternative is viable and would not negatively impact your research, please consider it.

I have some confidence that in the not too distant future we will be able to release some of our safer work in a manner which addresses this expected budget shortfall, which in addition to the cost-and-enviroment-saving measures should negate any further concerns.

Remember, Captain Planet is watching.

Progress continues.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

An Apology, A Reminder and An Update on Henchperson #62

Progress continues.

First off I feel I must admit to a failing. I have perhaps gotten somewhat carried away with Guild Wars 2 and this Role-Playing thing.

I created a new character some time ago, you see, looking to try a more 'authentic' form of Role-Play. So, rather than effectively play a version of myself I am playing a low-level employee of a version of myself. People seem to like Henchperson #69247 of Arketer Labs of Tyria.

I was especially proud to discern a means by which one can play the normally tree-huggy druid-aspirant Ranger effectively as a pet class Engineer.

That said, the addictively novel point of view did lead to me falling behind, which is unacceptable. I apologize to everyone who was delayed due to my frivolous distraction, it won't happen again.

I have spent all of yesterday going over neglected reports that I have allowed to build up. None of them required any action on my part, though hearing about the fire in Sky Lab was alarming. Still, even then there was no real danger. Our fire suppression systems are, as any employee could tell you, exceptional.

Even the three that were briefly knocked unconscious by them.

Let this be a reminder, if you MUST light a match in one of the restrooms when you have finished your business, dispose of the match in the toilet and NOT the waste paper bin.

I hope to never learn of what could be eaten that would make a toilet fire possible, but even if there is such a thing I am mostly certain you would not survive to light a match in the first place.

Speaking of survival everyone will surely be pleased to know that #62 is recovering.

We have even learned what exactly the cause of the peculiar situation was.

Apparently #62 had been in the habit of working on the stealth device while leaving it running and the atmosphere it generates was thus absorbed into them. This, according to their immediate coworkers, was one of the proposed possible risks of the device. Unfortunately #62 did not take this risk seriously and violated almost all of the safety protocols that would have either prevented or further mitigated this event.

In this case however, the crime is the punishment and far more cruel than any sentence they would have otherwise received.

The effects of the device have partially worn off on #62, and are expected to continue diminishing. That said, the psychological effects may yet prove profound. They are now entirely 'visible' but lasting residue makes it profoundly uncomfortable to look directly at them.

#62 has been adequately convinced of their own existence but thus far no one has been able to reassure them that they have not been rendered "hideous".

A rough approximation of how #62 appears to the human eye at present. Again. physically they are unchanged, as confirmed by electronic surveillance.
(I advise looking at the full size version for full effect.)
I start to suspect #62 may be overly given to drama and vanity as well as disregarding safety precautions. Pending confirmation they haven't acquired some novel new form of cancer from this misadventure, they will be terminated upon making a full recovery.

By which I mean firing and dismissal, obviously, not execution.

Progress continues.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

You Can't Make an Assumption Without an Ass

Progress continues.

I've been irked as of late with some misapprehensions. There are many agencies and individuals in the world that like to assume the worst of me, Director A.Z. Arketer and Arketer Labs in general.

Yes, we operate somewhat in a grey-area with regards to American and some international laws to be certain. We tend to spend our time in facilities placed in unregulated territories and so on, maintaining our own sort of law and order (well up to if not exceeding First-World standards I might add). We make use of technology that is so cutting edge there are people in the world who don't believe Humanity can use it without cutting itself-

But we are certainly not evil. Neither Arketer Labs, nor I, have any aims of Global Domination. I certainly have no wish to rule the world in any capacity. We do not work on doomsday weapons. We don't have a death laser on the moon. At no point will Arketer Labs be calling up the United Nations and demanding one billion dollars not to drop a titanium shard from space onto Britain.

In fact, we don't even work on lethal weapons technologies at all.

Now, a solid case could be made that many of our projects could be easily misappropriated to ill effect. That is in fact very true- but that would be someone else misusing our work and not OUR fault. Furthermore such concerns are precisely why Arketer Labs is a quasi-clandestine organization. Our research MUST be kept safe until it can be released in a responsible manner to a society ready for it.

In the meantime we pursue our studies and work on our prototypes in our safe environments and quietly, almost entirely without notice, advance the sum of human knowledge about the universe we live in and the rock we've found ourselves on.

That said, I might like to take over a small European nation some day.

That doesn't sound terribly stressful.

In other news and speaking of non-lethal technologies, we have had a peculiar accident at one of the facilities. Henchperson #98004662 was working on  a new stealth system and has since gone sort-of missing.

The device in question was being developed to, grossly simplified, generate a field that so subtly confused human senses that the human senses in question would elect to more or less ignore anything within it. It's not true invisibility as it were, but rather a system to provoke exploitable brain weirdness. Arguably like World of Warcraft.

Now, if it had functioned properly, then only the bearer of the device and items within a certain radius would be affected- however the device itself is not missing. Henchperson #62, on the other hand, has not been seen for 24 hours.

More accurately, they have not been seen by their fellow employees for 24 hours. Instead there have been reports of bizzare sensations, unexplained noises, inexplicably moving chairs and alarming notes left behind by a no less alarmed #62. Security footage shows #62 trying with considerable difficulty to get the attention of their coworkers.

They have since been directed by fellow employees using digital camcorders back to their quarters to rest while the rest of #62's team is hard at work trying to figure out precisely what the hell #62 did to themselves.

#62 is expected to make a full recovery, although according to several statements recorded on paper and on digital audio, may need psychological emergency leave due to existential doubts.

This is, of course, horribly embarrassing. I wrote not long ago about our extraordinary safety record, and while this was in no way a hazardous breach it is disappointing to see. Still, safety precautions will be refined from this incident.

Please note that a stealth system is not by any means a weapon. We DO work on defensive technologies and non-lethal weapons, as a matter of self-preservation among other reasons. Say what you will but very few people were ever killed directly by better armor plating and this present fit of stealth-induced existential crisis is surely the first of it's kind.

 It's still not half as bizarre as this:

Progress continues!

Monday, February 16, 2015

A Brief Answer to Complaints and an Introduction to Tyria (In Creative Writing Exercise Format)

Progress continues!

Indeed it is a fine day at Arketer Labs in whichever facility you may or may not be, Progress is being made, things are being learned and so far as I am aware absolutely no one is under any sort of attack.

Except perhaps me, but in a trivial sense I am obligated to bear with minimal complaint.

Yes, I have been receiving your comment and suggestion box messages. Where relevant I have replied or arranged for reply. I have not put much on this blog largely because #0 has not deemed much of what has been sent as viable for sharing on this insecure bit of Internet Webbery. I get the impression they feel I've shared entirely too much as it is.

That, and absolutely no one seems to have come up with even one suggestion for an alternative to the C.Z.S.S. acronym. Some people did write in to say, in short, 'I agree, that is stupid.' but no one has in fact put up an alternative. Not that I have, in all honesty, done any better. Yet.

So, moving on. I thought I'd try writing a short story as a creative exercise. In it I wish to inform someone not familiar with Guild Wars 2, what the world of Tyria is like. Specifically, the plight of the world and Humanity.

So, here we go.


Greg was going to do something with his life. He wasn't well placed for it though, growing up poor in Divinity's Reach. In fact, growing up in Divinity's Reach as anything short of a Noble was no cakewalk. Centuries of government all too comparable to the Dark Ages of an Earth he never knew had led to a profound disparity of wealth.  A cluster of Nobles lorded over large estates and basically ruled Kryta while the Noble yet not as wealthy hobnobbed for social capital and the poor cannibalized each other in desperate gangs. The Seraph and Ministry ever watchful that the cannibalization should never touch anyone of importance.

Greg was a smart guy though, or so he thought. More accurately, he was an idealist who kept an ear out for news. The world was at risk from giant Dragons and their legions of minions! The Vigil, the Order of Whispers, the Durmand Priory, Warriors, Spies and Scholars were uniting to face this threat.

Greg had known he was no spy and no scholar- given the society he lived in it was a miracle he could read at all- but he was able-bodied. Even if he had been a bit runty from periods of starvation. He could lift a sword and follow orders though, and that was enough for The Vigil. He walked into the recruitment center and froze immediately as he saw the charr.

He'd seen Charr before. Since the signing of the treaty that saved Ebonhawk and brought peace between their peoples charr did turn up in Divinity's Reach now and again. This was not to say it wasn't jarring. Every charr was around nine to ten feet of clawed, fanged, furry muscle shaped something like one might picture a were-bull-lion with a few extra ears thrown in AND they usually walked around in plate armor with enough superflous sharp edges that it was a wonder they didn't get stuck in doorframes.

The appearance of one was alarming enough, but it certainly didn't help that the only reason they weren't still at war with them was because the Charr understood the threat the Dragons posed and entered into a peace treaty with Kryta. There were few sane people who doubted the human city of Ebonhawke would have followed the human country of Ascalon into oblivion otherwise but then sane people were in short supply. Charr were a race dedicated to martial prowess, they had no family structure whatsoever- only Legions and a chain of command. They lived and died for war, and their martial successes confirmed their efficacy. Not that Greg understood this, he just knew they were rather scary.

This one, at least, was in the moderately less spiky plate armor of The Vigil, a tasteful silver and black affair. They had just tapped out a human woman in matching plate who looked to Greg apologetically for some reason as she moved around him and left the office. The Charr focused on Greg.

"What do you want." the charr rumbled. By Charr standards this was high courtesy, She hadn't even snarled at Greg. Greg, for his part, was glad he used a latrine before making his way here.

"I uh.. Here to volunteer for the Vigil, Sir." Greg choked out.

The Charr narrowed her eyes at him.


"What?" Greg asked, confused.

"I'm a Ma'am, Mouse." she growled.

"Huh- Oh. OH. Uhm. Sorry! I'd like to volunteer, Ma'am." He stammered out, visibly sweating already.

The charr heaved an irritable sigh, then waved Greg closer. He obliged hesitantly. She looked him over critically for a moment.

"You have any special talents?" She rumbled after a moment.

"Uh... Like what?" He asked, alarmed.

"You got any magical ability?" She asked, looking him in the eye.

"Nnn.. I don't... think so?" He answered. The charr stared at him an awkward moment, then shrugged.

"Yeah, figured as much. Good answer, at least you know you don't know shit." she grumbled.

"Uhm. Thanks?" Greg replied uncertainly. His recruiter sighed again, a deep sound that only seemed to stress how much bigger her lungs had to be than his.

"Ok, so you know what you're getting into here... You're going to be Dragon bait. Got it?"


"Dragon bait." She repeated, irritably. "Well, Dragon Minion bait, more like." she amended.

"But I can fight!" Greg exclaimed.

The charr barked a laugh.
"Listen, we train you up- you'll be able to TRY. But yeah, you're pretty much doomed unless we find some sorta hidden potential in you."

"You're just saying that because I'm human aren't you!" Greg retorted, offended.

"No, I'm honest to a fault kid. That's why I'm saying it. But, look, this doesn't mean you won't do some good. You'll probably get stuck somewhere we expect to lose but need to make look important. Things go well, we might even retake it while there's still a corpse to ship back that ain't walking around on it's own."

"That... How is that even helping?" He asked, feeling strangely hurt.

"Well, if we didn't have unmagical human types to do that, we might have to send Warriors who have a chance of winning to their doom. We Charr would do it, of course. We're willing to die to just help save the world for Charr, but I understand if you can't. Really, don't even know why we bother." she ended with a weary sigh.

"I... I could do it. To save the world." He said uncertaintly. She looked at him with what he assumed was a skeptical expression. Greg drew himself up to his full height and did his best to look her in the eyes and tried not to think about how much higher up they were.

"For Humanity, yeah." he amended, with bravado he didn't really feel- and if he wasn't a whirling maelstrom of emotions in his own head probably wouldn't expect her to believe he felt. Still, he continued. Wounded pride demanded it.

"I mean, I gotta. Humanity's got to keep leading the way." he finished. The Charr broke into laughter. Loud laughter, every bit as sincere as his bravado wasn't.

"HEY!" he exclaimed. This was not the reaction he was expecting. He wasn't sure what he had been expecting, but it wasn't this. Humanity was leading the way! He'd always been told as much. Why just a little while ago he'd heard- Yes, he thought, that would shut her up.

"HEY! Where would the Pact be without Humanity, huh? I mean, we contributed a key part to them Airships, didn't we?"

The Charr female wiped her eyes and sucked in a deep breath.

"Yeah... Yeah... Guess Humanity did. But, hey, they ever tell you what it was?" She asked, giggling in jarring contrast to her otherwise menacing appearance.

"I heard it was a key part." Greg repeated, unwilling to note that he hadn't heard precisely what it was.

"They gave the Pact Humanity's chief export!" The charr giggled.

"Can... Can you guess what it was?" she continued.

Greg was not pleased with where this was going.

"It was... It was gold wasn't it." he guessed obligingly. The charr shook her head, still giggling.

"Asura are richer than you all by some times over again now. Just spend it on things that like, DO things as opposed to just glitter and look pretty. And they can afford to. Who DOESN'T use Asura Gates?"

"Uh... We... made the hulls?" he tried again,

"No, Asura and... hehehe. Charr engineers did most of that... Think, uh... Higher. Top export of Kryta!" she elaborated, still giggling and studying Greg.

"We sent the... Wood?"

"NO! Sylvari got them all they might've needed of that. Besides, can pretty much grow wooden things they need out of the earth itself!"

"The, uh, Smiths that forged the metal!" he tried. The charr shook her head.

"Got Norn for that, assuming we Charr couldn't do it better. Higher up..."

Greg wracked his brain. His antagonist finished her giggling and straightened herself.

"Give up?" She asked, not unkindly.

Hesitantly, Greg nodded. The charr nodded slowly, schooling herself to a professional demeanor.

"They gave the pact the balloons." The charr said seriously.

"Ohhh..." Greg exclaimed. He remembered seeing hot air balloons floating around some time ago, a pasttime for people far wealthier than he. He frowned slightly, it felt like it should have been more somehow.

"So you see what Humanity provided, yeah?" The charr asked, he could hear the suppressed mirth.

"They... provided the balloons." he said, trying hard to make it sound important.

"THEY PROVIDED THE HOT AIR!" The charr roared as they then doubled over laughing.

"WHY ARE YOU EVEN HERE?!" Greg screamed at them.

"I'M C... HAHAHA... COVERING A.... HAHAHA... LUNCHBREAK!" She finally choked out, but Greg had already stormed out, finding himself less amused.


Part Two another day, I suspect.

Friday, February 13, 2015

On Expend-ability and Suspension of Disbelief.

Progress continues!

I would just like to note, randomly and with no particular prompting, that the fact all employees of Arketer Labs- barring myself- are issued and use numbers in place of names does by no means imply I consider any of our employees expendable. Indeed OSHA would, had they any authority over us, surely be impressed with our safety record. Especially given the interference we must endure from time to time.

Since the founding of Arketer Labs our fatalities have remained in the single-digits. Lesser casualties have occurred of course, wherever humans operate human error will take place- but with the proper automation of certain safeguards there have rarely been particularly severe injuries. The most recent, and standing record, being the limb severing of an employee during that whole Strawman-Syndrome fiasco.

Said employee is reportedly doing exceptionally well with their experimental prosthetic.

I have some henchpeople who lament that their arms don't come with a built-in cutting laser. (It seemed appropriate somehow. "Hair of the dog that bit you" as it were.)

Now, moving on I had a discussion with one of these Role-Players who suggested (perhaps jokingly) that Director Arketer of Tyria was attempting to be analogous to Director Fury of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Director Fury is not interested in being Director Arketer and I am not interested in being Director Fury. Though I would surely have considerable respect for them were they real.
I took minor offense to this, perhaps needlessly. I would not have Director Arketer of Tyria behaving at all comparably to said character. Director Arketer of Tyria, for example, is much more civil and much less of an action hero.

Again, if Director Fury were a real person, and presumably S.H.I.E.L.D. with it I would respect them immensely, but I am indeed gratified they are not as I consider the odds of them wishing to assimilate or destroy Arketer Labs alarmingly high. S.H.I.E.L.D. would quite possibly have the resources to do it even,

But I digress. The Role-Player suggested, and I replied :

And so it is. The Pact, which basically is a highly public Tyrian S.H.I.E.L.D. has airships even. A fleet, no less. Or rather, they HAD a fleet. I understand that canonically it was destroyed in an ill-fated attack on the Plant-Dragon Mordremoth, sundered by vines and Sylvari who had their brains hijacked by the Dragon Daddy their Mother never told them about.

This led to a discussion over how ill-advised it might have been for said Mother (The Pale Tree, who 'births' all Sylvari- that we know of- full grown and more and... functionally mature, but gratifyingly sterile.) to keep that secret from them.

If Mordremoth can, and they can, hijack their minds then it would have only made sense for the commander of the Pact (A Sylvari) and all of the Sylvari to recuse themselves from fighting Mordremoth and be reassigned en mass to fight the OTHER Dragons who can't steal their minds. freeing up all of the Pact and order folks holding out in those locations to deal with Mordremoth.

This individual noted the logic of this and I was somewhat shamed, because no doubt the writers of Arena Net are trying their best. So much logic has to be utterly abandoned for the sake of drama it would seem. One has to remember the value of Suspension of Disbelief.

Precious little you love in fiction makes sense if you look at it too closely.

To start with there is Star Trek.

I'm not even talking about the modern reboots that pay even less attention to viability.

No, consider that humble archetype of expend-ability, the Red Shirt.

Seen here in their natural state.
Quite rarely does anyone ask why they had to die. Even by the time of the original series humanoid androids are confirmed to be a thing that exists. Now, it can and was argued that there may be reasons why sentient automatons would be illegal to create, but why on earth would they not at least make use of non-sentient or perhaps even non-intelligent ones?

What if every redshirt had nothing more than the Star Trek equivalent of a VR helmet on and simply piloted a robot proxy on UnexploredDeathPlanet3951?

Even we boring present-day types figured out the virtues of THAT.
If we are doing that now, from ANOTHER PLANET, then surely the people of Star Trek Future could be managing a much more versatile proxy from safely in the ship. Need only send human crew down when it's confirmed to be safe or for the perhaps necessary human touch for diplomatic work.

When you consider this, one has to suspect that perhaps Red Shirts were less a position in Starfleet and more a sentence handed down to horrible criminals. Or, perhaps, a horrible population control scheme.

Let us not spare Star Wars either, which relies on space magic starting out just to explain why anyone would elect to use even a laser sword in a laserblaster battle and the overwhelming majority of non-force-sensitives who are inexplicably and perfectly happy to let barking mad space wizards rule them in the various iterations of a Sith Empire.

A literal servant of evil for Emperor? What could go wrong? (Unasked courtesy of This Artist.)
The question isn't why they allow them to rule, the question is why they haven't disposed of Force Users entirely. Perhaps maybe kept a few in a space zoo heavily populated with Ysalamiri for the sake of study into what this Force is and why it keeps making barking mad space wizards.

The casualties incurred by hunting down barking mad space wizards- especially if this were done intelligently with, say, droids, surely outweighs the costs of letting them rule and wage massive space wars.

I would also note that it seems to me the Force very much wants all Force users to screw off and die or leave it alone itself. Light Side Force Users turn into apathetic quibbling space buddhas who do nothing but feel very smug about how doing nothing is the right thing to do and Dark Side users- the, again, barking mad space wizards- spend half of their time going to great lengths to murder each other and their subordinates almost as a priority.

I suspect The Force would be very much in support of a vaccination against midichlorians. Which is yet another more rational response to a bizarre blood contaminant that creates smug apathetics and barking mad space wizards.

In any environment that is imaginary, there will always be questions a viewer of can ask that the writers and creators of said environment will either not have an answer for- or not have a very good answer for. It is, quite possibly, inevitable. So when you see threads waving in the air from loose seams, if you are enjoying yourself it may be much more preferable to look the other way and pretend not to notice.

Or, if you work at it, you can probably imagine away that rip in the facade yourself- but get too caught up in that and you'll probably get frustrated if you start to feel the writers aren't even trying to meet you halfway. Suspension of Disbelief is nice, but disbelief can get very heavy indeed if the writers aren't thinking much at all.

Tolkien's works have frayed seams that can be picked at, but the ending was still dramatically superior to Mass Effect 3's.

Alternatively, you have people who create such an awful fictional reality that the only way it is appealing at all is as a comedy.

I've seen reports of comparable, but perhaps not worse. From Elf Only Inn
For more on the nature of suspension of disbelief, which is basically a sacred pact of sorts you are asking people to join in with as a creator of fiction and should be respected accordingly, I would like to recommend the thoughtful deconstructions about all that was awful about Mass Effect 3's by one peculiar Mr. B. Tongue.

That all said, I had best return to more constructive endeavors.

Progress continues!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Probability Experiments.

Progress continues.

Precious little #0 will clear for sharing, however.

I can discuss something regarding past projects.

Probability Pressure.

It doesn't exist, but it's nonexistence defies human understanding.

Allow me to explain. Take a coin and flip it around 600 times (Always being sure to log the result accurately.) You know heading into this that a coin with two sides the probability should be 50/50. But your luck is running weird today, a full 500 of those came up heads.

So, what are the odds of the next 400 turning up tails? 50/50, the same as when you started. That said, if you continue to chart a random walk long enough the average number tails will come back into equilibrium.

So exactly how random is it really? And yet, probability pressure is not agreed on to be a proper thing among many professionals.

It is a tempting concept though, isn't it? After all, a proper ability to recognize statistical pressure would be, among other things, profoundly profitable. Yet there is no proven way to manipulate it.

Still, where Science fails it's backwater nine-toed distant cousin Superstition provides.

Look at people who play games relying on random number generation. I point specifically at Board Gamers and old fashioned table-top role-players.

Unasked Courtesy of Darths and Droids
Really, the superstitions are as myriad as they are hilarious.

Of course, there is a question to be asked as to whether or not probability is something we WOULD want to control. After all, in every game dice are rolled in it was the agreement of the creators at least that the entertainment value would be greater if no one actually knew the number outcome.

Furthermore if any of the above superstitions actually worked, they would almost certainly be banned by the players themselves to ensure an even playing field.

Would any of those games even be of any interest to people without that element of the random?

Now, while all such above grasping is futile, it is important to note that probability can indeed be manipulated.

Why, as sentient and deeply thinking entities Humans manipulate the odds on a daily basis.

Walk to work? Odds of dying in a car crash in which you are at fault decrease dramatically,

Put on clothes? Odds of arrest for indecent exposure drop to nil. (Provided you did it right.)

Drive to work? Odds of being bitten by a dog en-route effectively nonexistant.

We have extensively jiggered with the odds in ways to preserve our wellbeing, so not being able to influence the outcome of dice with pre-rolling is a small thing to tolerate I suspect.

And while I am sure there are benefits to finding novel ways to influence random number generation, I am most certainly not announcing any such method as the applications to gambling are devastating, and I would not be surprised if Casino concerns didn't have at least one person keeping an ear on scientific breakthroughs regarding probability- or would be unwilling to have the herald of such a breakthrough "disappeared".

And it most certainly isn't vaguely related to pre-rolling numbers out of die.

Progress continues!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

An Emergency Relocation, a Brief Explanation of the Name Code system and The Heat Takes Interest in Arketer Labs of Tyria.

Progress continues.

Not without a complication however, this week. It has become apparent that the true identity of one of my henchpeople has been compromised.

Fortunately, we do have procedures in place for just such a complication. The family of said henchperson has been relocated wholesale to a new location where they are being kept safe. As far as the authorities are aware, the family has perished in that most rare of tragedies- a gas leak explosion and fire. Relatives believed likely to be grieved over the absence have been informed that said family has been moved into a witness protection program- which is not terribly far from the truth.

At this point I would be remiss to elaborate on where they've been relocated to, but what I can say is that it will be up to them and the compromised employee to determine their next course of action. As the breach was caused by a moment of recklessness on the part of the employee in question (They called their family in a moment of homesickness, on an unsecured line no less.) a measure of the expenses are being deducted from their contract.

 I am of course sure that all other employees understand the importance of discretion, not just for the security and protection of our work but for the protection of your loved ones. Arketer Labs will protect your families to the best of our abilities, but the best protection comes from them never being endangered at all.

For those of you who do not understand:

When an individual hires on with Arketer Labs they, in a certain practical sense, give up their names for the duration of their employment and are obligated to use a series of numbers as their handle with precious few exceptions. Naturally nicknames are given among familiars, but so long as these are not their actual names it's something of a non-issue.

The reason for this is that despite our best efforts it is not inconceivable that third parties of malicious intent can tap into our communications or steal data from time to time. Should they then be able to determine who a given employee actually is they might then work to subvert that employee, one of the easiest routes to which is the threatening of their family or other loved ones.

In more frivolous news, I found the time to try more role-playing in Guild Wars 2.

In the time since I last mentioned this here I deemed it practical that Arketer Labs of Tyria would have developed working Watch Knight prototypes. Indeed, I have taken advantage of some items in 82's account to effect just such an illusion.

That this would draw attention from the authorities of Kryta is only logical, which I have taken for motivation for Tyria's Arketer to undertake a campaign to try and explain the value of Watch Knights in regards to the survival of Humanity.

Not... always with any particular success.
Those who were under the impression Humanity was in a great position already, I resolved not to speak with as history has shown me they would rather slander me than view the situation with anything approaching objectivity.

Those that did listen I understand are interested in arranging meetings between interested parties and Arketer. I hope to find time to arrange such should the requisite letters arrive.

Still, worse than the characters who intentionally or unintentionally are being played as delusional are those who actively seem to hate any effort to restore the Watch Knights because, apparently, their being hijacked previously means they are somehow innately evil and bad.

The foremost representative of this line of thought, nearly had Director Arketer of Tyria arrested by the Seraph. Having, on the first opportunity, elected to tattle on him.

As you can see, I could see their intentions a mile away. That Director Arketer here could do so only seems fair.
Director Arketer departed just before she could impose upon the Seraph to detain him, rushing out an accusation as Arketer made his exit.

Now, on one hand the Seraph or Throne's interest I had hypothesized as being rational is at this point a very real thing (insofar as another imaginary organization is interested), so for that I quite likely owe the player of Miss Agathon some thanks. Working around this should be novel.

On the other hand I cannot say I approve of the character themselves when they are apparently something of a hypocrite who is a member of an organization called The Aetherblade Connection. Aetherblades are basically air pirates who make heavy use of Asuran Inquest (slightly more unethical chibi goblins) technology.

That they take issue with Watch Knights is absurd when the Inquest is known for such charming things as powering golems with stolen souls and seem to take an approach to developing technology that revolves around how much they can hurt other creatures with it.

And they have the audacity to claim that Watch Knights are somehow irredeemably tainted or dangerous?

Now this is all OOC (Out Of Character) knowledge, so Director Arketer of Tyria cannot make these accusations against Miss Agathon, but as they have been rude, dismissive and have now attempted to get the Director arrested I cannot imagine he needs any further reasons to dislike them.

I'm sure the player themselves is a perfectly nice individual in no position to dictate the directions of other's research and experimentation however.

Progress continues!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Deep Seven : #16, a Complaint and an Under-Appreciated Board Game.

Progress continues.

Deep Seven continues to come along nicely as a new milestone is reached. The foundations are mostly complete and a percentage of the nanite cloud has moved on to begin the frame of the basic infrastructure. It continues to be a tedious affair of watching an autonomous squid fart wafting in the abyss.

That said, moral among the oversight crew has perhaps been the best of all facilities, spared as they were any mind-altering disease outbreaks. One potential problem is that despite suggesting increased physical exercise the average weight of the deployed crews has started to rise.

I plan on recalling my chef from there soon.

Meanwhile, from the inbox I received what does strike me as a fairly solid objection to our naming conventions.

Dear Director,

Something bugs me about the CZSS squads. The acronym CZSS is clunky and horrible. I know it stands for Containment and Zone Security Specialists and is probably technically accurate on some precise level... but it's just bad. Really really bad. Also it feels like reaching for an excuse to call them "crazies". You sure we can't do better than that?

This is a fair observation. In all honesty I wanted to call them Mobile Task Forces, but it was believed the SCP Foundation would object. Dramatically. Additionally I felt they needed a title that better represented the greater weight on their specializations. I'm not truly defending my choice however as I can see how that is a bit 'clunky'. I will happily consider suggestions for alternatives.

Anyone else seeing this, please feel free to e-mail or post a commented alternative acronym for a squad or team of individuals specialized in paramilitary operations mostly revolving around the capture, recapture, and security of facilities, staff, and projects.

Finally, we had the first annual Arketer Labs board game contest in which henchperson #78943255 was victorious. The final game was transcribed as follows by someone with a vivid imagination.


Recommended background music.

The three investigators stood in the foyer of the abandoned mansion, two of them looking at the third with some suspicion.

"And you are quite sure this place will prove my theories as to the nature of supernatural phenomena?" the Professor asked, again.

The target of his question, Darrin, laughed and looked back at the Professor with a grin.

"Relax! This place is so supernatural the weirdest thing about it is that it hasn't been condemned by the authorities!" he replied.

"Why am I here?" asked Brandon, age 12.

"Shut up." answered the Professor and Darrin in unison.

"Well, now I think the smartest thing to do is to split up and explore the house." Darrin announced.

"I, hesitantly concur." spake the Professor.

"Could I go with one of you?" asked Brandon, age 12.

"No." Darrin and the Professor answered in unison.

Thus they began their explorations, the Professor picked up a small mechanical monkey, it clapped small tin cymbals amiably- without any discernible means of power. Happily he pocketed it right beside a revolver found earlier.

Darrin, meanwhile, moved through the house surreptitiously, picking up a spear at one point where he otherwise left things behind.

Brandon found an old skull, some smelling salts, a medallion and tried not to cry.

As Darrin made his way to the dilapidated ballroom, the Professor made a discovery. A small book with a series of defaced images... ending in a pair he recognized as himself and that kid.

"Kid! Hey Kid!" the Professor called out, running to where he had last seen him. Brandon met him in the hallway.

"Yes, Profess-""SHREEEEEEE!!!" Brandon was interrupted as the small mechanical monkey leapt out of the Professor's pocket and latched onto Brandon's ear by it's faux teeth.

"Yeah, it would seem that maybe someone is trying to kill us, thought you should know." The Professor explained.

"Ow. OW! AAaaagh!" Brandon replied. Finally he dislodged the monkey, which hissed angrily as the Professor retrieved it calmly.

"Listen, if you're going to be like that then I must say 'Good Day'." The Professor huffed, turning away.

Brandon sobbed quietly for a few minutes as a horrible feeling began to overtake him. There was a sensation of overwhelming evil... It felt almost familiar. In fact, it felt just like the sensation he experienced exploring the chapel earlier. Intuition bid him to return. That, and he couldn't remember where the foyer was anyway.

The Professor meanwhile was struck by a feeling of being surrounded by blood and dirt... A similarly ominous feeling struck him in that he needed to find the place that matched this sensation. He thought back to a blood-soaked room and made his way there. On arrival he looked around, but found nothing.

Brandon, meanwhile, swiftly found a small doll in the Chapel that had been stitched from one of his old socks and given large glass eyes that felt like looking into a mirror somehow. Disgusted, he smashed it repeatedly into the stone floor- the eyes shattered and the stitches ruptured... and Brandon doubled over, vomiting noisily.

It had been, he considered too late, an ill-advised means of disposing of the voodoo doll. Still, he was alive. He would take advantage of it, he decided, once he could walk again.

The Professor had moved on to a room filled with jagged metal junk. A curious obsession had begun to grip him. He needed to find... something. Somewhere with blood maybe... and puncturing. The junk in this room seemed more than capable of that. He had already searched the operating room and the kitchen and despite blood, dirt and puncturing things perhaps being present, he could find nothing of importance otherwise.

His search was fruitless, he turned away and moved back into the hall- narrowly avoiding having a chunk of flesh torn out by the rubbish of the room.

"Hello, Professor." Darrin said snidely.

"Oh, Darrin! You were quite right, this place is profoundly supernatural. I think it may be getting into my head though. Also someone is apparently trying to kill me and the kid? I think it has to do with something I need to fi-" The Professor was interrupted as the mechanical monkey slapped him across the face. He rubbed the slapped cheek and irritably tucked the monkey deeper into the pocket.

"You don't need to find anything, Professor. Not now I have found you." Darrin sneered, hefting his spear.

"What? It's you!" The Professor yelled. He ducked to the side, the spear's blade cutting across his ribcage as he fumbled for his revolver.

Brandon, in a nearby room, heard the yell- and a gunshot as the Professor missed Darrin. Brandon panicked and threw open the room to another door. A shadow within the room rose from the floor and turned to face him and was revealed by the flashlight to be a man with underwear on his head- two eye holes cut into the front. Perhaps more alarming was how filthy he was, or that he lacked pants of any sort.

"Mister, the Professor is being attacked, help me please!" Brandon pleaded. The man stared at boy a moment, then shrugged and started following.

"Fox news IS Fair and Balanced." the man muttered.

"Help is coming, Professor!" Brandon yelled.

The Professor fled from Darrin, bleeding from a shallow wound. Darrin chuckled as he followed. He had the feeling the end was nigh. "SHREE!" screeched the mechanical monkey as it leapt out of the Professor's pocket at Darrin. The young voodoo priest absently swatted the monkey away and it fell to the floor with a faint rattle.

"Professo-AGH" began Brandon, who's greeting was reduced to unintelligible screaming as the mechanical monkey launched itself off of the floor and onto his face, slashing viciously with it's surprisingly sharp tin cymbals. Brandon's companion dragged them back out of the room.

"Bitcoins are untraceable, more untraceable than cash. Fithy fiat." he explained to no one in particular as he dragged the bleeding child away. Savagery complete, the mechanical monkey clapped it's bloodied cymbals merrily as it followed after the Professor, who in turn fled from Darrin.

"You should have given me an "A" on my theoretical voodoo applications paper, Professor!" taunted Darrin.

"It's not too late for me to change the grade!" The Professor answered in a panic. The mechanical monkey lazily caught up to him as as Darrin impaled the Professor against the wall with the spear.

"It's enough that you got the point." Darrin replied.

"That was... awfuu..." choked out the Professor, his revolver falling to the ground as he died, his respective voodoo doll dissolving into a pool of blood in another room. The mechanical monkey shrugged.

Bleeding from a myriad of shallow wounds, Brandon quickly darted into the room to pick up the revolver. With shaking hands he brought it to bear on Darrin as the latter pulled his spear free of the deceased Professor.

"Don't make me shoot!" Brandon sputtered. Darrin looked at him a moment, then off to the side- frowning.

"Did... Did you destroy your voodoo doll?" Darrin asked, rising alarm in his voice.

"Uh... Yeah? I did. The doll in the Chapel?"

"DAMNIT!" screamed Darrin, tossing aside the spear.

"What?" Brandon asked, blinking away blood.

"I'M A GALAXYKIN AND I DESERVE RESPECT!" screamed his companion from the other room.

"You've won, you little shit." Darrin snarled.

"What?" asked Brandon.

Darrin sighed heavily.

"All of the voodoo dolls have been destroyed, but you're not dead! Which means I lose!" Darrin exclaimed.

"What... why- so I can go?" Brandon asked incredulously.

"Yeah. It's... the law of Voodoo or whatever, shut up and get out. The foyer is down the hall and around the corner. See yourself out." Darrin grumbled.

Brandon, age 12, carefully backed away from Darrin, who remained in the room, glaring dejectedly at the late Professor. Carefully he made his way out of the Mansion and into the still night.

"STAR CITIZEN WILL NOT DISAPPOINT ME!" screamed his pursuing companion.

This game comes highly recommended, if only for the absurd stories it seems to inspire.

Congratulations again to Henchperson #7894325 on their victory, with a reminder to all participants not to get TOO caught up in who won or lost when the victory is ultimately dictated by random number generation and random number generation hates everyone equally as we have learned.

Progress continues!