Of Corvinus and Systems

December 13, 2014:

Babs finally gets to review the Corvinus' systems and there are some interesting results….

Secure Research Facilty - Gotham

Just one of the little facilities that Oracle has access to when needed.


NPCs: None.


Mood Music: None.

Fade In…

It's taken some time and some doing but after the clone attack in the New York restaurant and some other happenings, Babs has offered to setup a facility so that she can 'delve' into Corvinus and, potentially, repair anything that has go wrong. The facility, located in Gotham, has been fitted out with the equipment Babs believes she'll need and she's sent encoded emails to Pepper Potts with the location, time and date to meet. No doubt about, Babs is keen to do this, but worried as well. She's been there for the last few hours, running diagnostics on her kit, making sure she's ready to do this.


During a previous encounter, Babs had managed to uncover a significant issue within the coding of the Extrapolated Intelligence Corvinus. It was simple enough for a human of technical skill to discern, but further research has needed a much more elaborate and safeguarded facility, which has been months of discussion and negotiation between Jim Reha's employers, Babs, and the security concerns of all involved.

The plans were given a bit of a set-back when very convincing look-alike robots attempted to abduct Jim and Babs from a restaurant in New York — at least, that seemed like the most possible of many options — and another set-back when Jim had gone off the grid for a few days to handle a 'personal matter of importance' that somehow involved the Themysciran Ambassador as well as a few powered sorts from the Tri-City region. That matter, however, has telescoped the need to uncover more about what is 'broken' about the Corvinus, in the hopes that perhaps a proper rendering of events can set things aright.

Plus, of course, it's a chance for Oracle to delve deep into ancient alien computing technology that at least works on some level.

Jim Reha will show up with Pepper now that the details have been hammered out, though he's a bit nervous and fidgety himself. The avianoid he 'time - shares' with hasn't given him much in the way of details, and he's downright paranoid about Gotham after his last trip into town…. and the disrupted dinner courtesy of the madman of crime…

He's wearing a much more battered set of clothing than he normally wears around either Stark Industries or Drakos Recovery Solutions, LLC. The better to blend into the background of Gotham, right?

He'll let Pepper take the lead, she's the boss, after all. The sooner this is resolved, the better.


After receiving the email from Babs and the details from Jim, she arranges for the pair of them to drive down to Gotham for the day, possibly overnight if necessary.

In deference to Jim's nervousness and to avoid drawing too much attention, Pepper did honestly try to 'dress down'. Whether or not she succeeded is … subjective. Wearing jeans, the sneakers she typically wears for running, her oldest, slouchiest, most worn out sweater over a TARDIS blue t-shirt, she's driving Jim to the location arranged by Babs in an honestly lackluster little Kia that she clearly borrowed from someone. Someone with small children who apparently had a huge french fry war in the back seat recently, if the level of kid-mess is any indication.

As they slow to a stop near the location set up by Ms. Gordon, Pepper looks over at Jim. "Hey. You're going to get through this, okay? You promised to help me cook, remember? I'm not letting you out of that one." She looks at the building. "Now come on, I'm sure Ms. Gordon is waiting." Pepper had not realized how spoiled she'd become about cars. She is only too glad to cut the engine on this hateful little Kia and rescue her phone from a cup holder sticky with dried soda before climbing out of the car.


Pepper and Jim will be ushered through the security stations. For a 'makeshift' facility, there's an awful lot of security actually. Maybe Babs is serious?

Babs is clearly nervous about the whole thing, it's a massive undertaking that she's stepped up to and she admires and likes both Pepper and Jim. Letting them down, just isn't an option for the redhead. Triple, or quadruple, checking the results of her tests, she's now waiting for them to me escorted through security. She'll meet them, on the other side of the security checks.


Jim nods to Pepper, thankful that there was an effort to dress down for this situation. "I'm not worried about myself, really. I'm more worried about what might happen to the partner. This is the effective equivalent of exploratory brain surgery without a roadmap. There's so much that could go wrong with this, but it's certain this is the right course to take, so here we are."

With the little pre - amble after arrival and passing through all the Security measures with readings within expected parameters, Jim gives a bit of a shrug and lets the Corvinus take charge. It bows respectfully to Babs and to Pepper, then clears its throat.

"This one advises one to not turn the translation matrix off during this evolution. If one were to do so, this one would be communicating in a language that has been dead longer than this world has existed. Given a lack of local resources to translate, that would cause immediate issues. Also, this one is unable to access some areas directly, so this one would suggest answering any security questions with care, and referring to any local databases that may provide insight into the questions. The repercussions for failure on the questions, which even this one is not privy to, begins at trivial and ranges to extreme. The Creators were not idiots, by any means. Also, this one recommends highly that one not attempt to transfer the entirety of the available data to the local network. That may be problematic given a matter of scale."

Well, it seems someone is ready to rock?

"This one would recommend a direct contact method of data transfer, but failing that either solid-light or a secure local wireless would work as well."


Pepper Potts nods back to Jim, then greets Babs similarly. She's brought her tablet and enough busywork to keep her occupied and out of the way, but she's also prepared to push up her sleeves and help in any way she can. And, okay, yeah. She brought teamaking supplies, because that's how Pepper is and she had no idea what kind of facility they'd be approaching. Honestly, she's surprised that Ms. Gordon set up something this elaborate in seemingly so short a time, layers of security and all, but not THAT surprised. She's done similar for Tony before and likely will again.

She smiles a hello to the Corvinus but stays quiet for the moment. There's work about to begin.


Smiling warmly at Jim, then Corvinus, and Pepper, Babs listen to Corvinus as she leads them to the actual laboratory. "Thank you Corvinus, I will do my best but I will need your assistance, we're going to be a team in this. I've got some understanding but…" the wheelchair bound redhead shrugs as she enters her lab.

Babs really likes a good cup of tea and has, on the side of her lab, tea making facilities setup. Perhaps not to Peppers standards, but it does include tea that she and Rowan have been sampling. Liquorice blend, Lavender blend and 'Gunpowder' tea all laid out for use. "Miss Potts, do you need anything? There's tea on the side… and I'll try to explain what I'm doing as I work, but please forgive me if I seem distracted."


Corvinus will nod. "The first step of any student is to realize that they know nothing. When one knows nothing, one can learn everything."

That… is not quite the quote, but it seems to convey a bit of a point. It'll step along with purpose to an appropriate designated location, mocking not the primitive nature of the set-up. Humanity has done amazing things with technology that would leave many outsiders scratching their heads in the past few years.

"This one won't fight one, but there may be things that this one is not aware of that may try to fight one. Try to be gentle, this one's mind is unique." Should go without saying, but it wants to get it on record, even as it approaches what appears to be a promising station, settling into a bit of a squat as it places its betaloned hands over two connected USB hubs. No hardware erupts to make a physical connection, which would just be surreal. It would appear that it uses some form of data induction, or at least has that capability.

"This one is ready to begin when one is."


Fenris opens a way and steps in. He's been busy but a chance to check in in Jim, Babs and Pepper at hte same time is not to be missed. Especially since Pepper was recently the victim of some magical (Possibly druidic) chicanery in the form of stolen yheti and mind control (of the yheti). "Ah… well if it isn't the sometimes denizens of Stark Tower… and the Clock Tower. There must be some fascination with tall structures I've yet to decipher."


"Oh, no problem at all, Barbara. I came fully prepared to keep myself entertained as long as necessary." She crosses over toward the teamaking facilities, opening the satchel she brought along to start brandishing a few tins of her own. Mincing Lane blend, Earl Grey blend, one or two others. She looks toward the other two as she offers, "How about I start some tea? Corvinus, I can make you some iced cham…"

Fenris's arrival and and comment startles her badly enough that she actually yelps, one of the tins in her hands leaping free to clatter across the floor. Good tin, though — despite the new dents and digs it's just picked up, the lid did not come off.


Babs is already involved with Corvinus, "Lavender, please Miss Potts" the redhead casts over her shoulder, listening again to the bird. "Let's just see where it takes us, mmmmm?" she says as she moves to her consoles and starts to watch the data feed.

It might be telling that Babs doesn't jump when Fenris appears… between his unexpected appearances in the Clocktower and her dreams and the fact she's already focused on Corvinus, she casts him a somewhat irritated look and murmurs "At least I'm not a fairy tale today."


The avianoid's head swivels to regard Pepper and her yelp, then Fenris — the cause of the yelp. "Old Wolf, one's presence may be useful. This one hopes one's journey has not been difficult, and that one is prepared for any level of possibility. One's more primal roots could be pertinent. Be prepared, however, for the consequences of failure in a manner that the Aesir would regard with caution."

"This one does not need tea as of yet, Miss Potts, though the offer is appreciated. This one is attempting to focus one's self in preparation to assist in this examination process."

The profile is actually rather 'flat' as Babs is looking at it. Almost like someone managed to use some sort of quantum computing to fold the processes on top of each other in some strange way so they almost appear to be non-existent. Clearly as much an artform as a design, as it doesn't have a particular pattern like one might expect from standard coding.

After a few moments of this, there is a command prompt at one of Babs' screens…


Fenris quirks an eyebrow. "Been a while since anyone called me 'primal' in a manner that wasn't vaguely insulting. Hello Corvinus. Barbara. Sorry Miss Potts." The Old Wolf bows slightly. "Useful mmm? I presume this is related to whatever brought you all here?"


Pepper Potts recovers quickly enough after the initial surprise, and puts her tea tins down along with her bags to rescue the one that fell to the floor. "Hello, Fenris." Okay, lavender tea for Babs, check. Corvinus said 'no thanks', check. With a glance at the Old Wolf, she starts prepping two cups of Earl Grey, knowing he'll likely appreciate it well enough. "I'm mostly here for moral support, myself. I have a feeling they're going to break into Tony-speak any second now."


Not really caring how the profile presents itself, Babs wants to see what the source code looks like. She rather suspects a form of Object Oriented Coding, or packaging that will take some time to unravel. As the command prompt appears, she frowns. "Corvinus," she says "I'm going to access your help files but if you see anything that I'm doing that can be done better, do speak up, please." Fenris gets a particularly vague nod and Babs is happy for Pepper to keep him busy. Her fingers start entering commands through the keyboard and she suspects the AI will think this all rather primitive.

Getting a feel for the command structure, Babs starts entering strings of commands designed to get the AI to report its full status, not just the one the UI suggests it should show. Babs is trying to find holes or changes to the system that may have occurred in the last few weeks.


"This one has not seen anything amiss. Continue with current course of operation, though it appears that one is attempting to access administrator functions. If one is attempting to do so, one may use standard equivalences for administrative access. Beyond that command entry, though, this one is unable to comment, as those are user-restricted files not available to this one."

Oddly enough, the EI does not complain at the primitive interface, nor does it seem the least bit concerned as to the capability of the resources being brought to bear.

The visible command structure is very… simplistic in its complexity. The command prompt appears again when Babs attempts to access core memory.


That's a very deep resonant profundo that does not come from the bird entity directly, but rather some short program sent to the speakers in the Lab nearest the Babs access point.


Fenris stares at Corvinus, then at Oracle and then finally to Pepper. "Dost thou? Who mixes Shakspearian English and computers?" Though now he's imagining Corvinus acting out Hamlet in his trademark speaking patterns. This one knows a hawk from a handsaw when the wind blows in a southerly direction.

It takes a small effort not to laugh. Instead he takes the tea from Pepper and sips, watching.


Pepper Potts pauses, having just given Fenris his tea cup and carrying Babs' cup of tea over to her when she hears that deep and resonant voice. "That's not ominous at all. It's almost … if James Earl Jones were the Star Trek computer. Or…" She stops abruptly and shudders. "Nevermind." She sets Barbara's teacup where she can reach it easily but it's not in the way of any typing. It's almost like she's done something like this before. And then she scoots clear again, going to claim her own teacup. Though, first she glances around for someplace to sit.


Picking up the tea, Babs has noticed Peppers response. "Miss Potts, what was that response about please." the young redhead asks quietly "I can try to hack through this prompt but who knows what it will result in. You've had some experience with this type of thing, if I don't miss my guess…" She's not trying to be unkind, Babs really wants to avoid blowing up the lab if she can. Looking at Fenris, she shakes her head "It's a challenge response pair, like a password. The response we give has to be phrased correctly…" she's obviously thinking about that. "That Corvinus here is not aware of it… speaks volumes. The question is, how to phrase the response."


"One is now in — partner term — Terra Incognita. This one can only offer best wishes and hopes that one's resources have an appropriate resolution. This one will continue to monitor for increases in system resources indicating possible countermeasures being put into play."

And this is only the prompt to ask if a person wants Admin privileges. What will the security questions be? Definitely the sort of thing one does not enter into lightly, which perhaps Corvinus' Creators had in mind when they set this down, so many ages ago.


Fenris doesn't add anything but a soft chuckle. Apparently some things never change. Wizards and Ancient AI programmers apparently have a lot in common. Who knew?


Pepper Potts holds her tea cup in both hands, smiling perhaps a bit sheepishly now that Oracle has called her out on her reaction. "Oh, I was just reminded of a fairly recent episode of Doctor Who. An entity living just outside the edge of the universe who draws the TARDIS in to kick out the existing ship's AI and take residence himself to get back to the rest of the universe. Deep-voiced, and completely insidious. BUT. Fiction, honest. Nothing to worry about." She relocates her bags and teacup to a table close to the teamaking station as she doesn't see anywhere closer to the workspace (probably for good reason). "So, Fenris, how have you been? We haven't had a chance to talk without some manner of crazy interruption for a while."


Babs hands, that have been hovering over the keyboard, pull back at Peppers suggestion. "Alright, let's work this through…" the redhead murmurs "Some being is targeting him because he is the scourge of his kind… or something… so … we start meddling, and push his AI out and let something take control…. " she blows out a deep breath. Arcane meet technology. Looking at Fenris, she frowns "I'm still keen to try, but can you ward this area so nothing Arcane or otherwise gets in or out?"


The avianoid remains squatted down as it attempts to pick up on conversation and the like. "This one appreciates the caution one is exhibiting, and does welcome any other precautions one may consider to put in place. Better safe than sorry, indeed."


Fenris chuckles. "Mmmmm. Yes I can do that. A moment Pepper…" He stands up. Actual wards require etchings and the like but he can cast his will over the room for a decent temporary one. The number of creatures that can directly contest his will… is low and most of them would be more inclined to just bring down the building. "I'm well enough Pepper. Been busy putting out fires and looking after friends. Sorry I've been a bit absent. How have you been?"


Pepper Potts blinks at Babs almost owlishly. "Wait, what? I joked about a British sci-fi show aimed at kids, and you're taking me seriously? I only mentioned it because of the deep and serious version of the Star Trek computer voice." She looks honestly unnerved now, standing up after Fenris and looking openly worried.


The young redhead looks at Pepper and sighs "In my experience, nearly everything has some basis in reality. Joke or not… your words triggered something. 'Better safe than sorry' hmmm" Babs is trying to be reassuring and she hopes Fenris will do the rest. "Thank you Fenris… please be ready, I suspect if I get this right, we'll see some form of attack. Now the passphrase… " the wheelchair bound woman thinks before typing

~I, Barbara Gordon, Request Admin Privileges~

Babs shrugs and waits for the end of the world.



Oh, right, the security questions! Yet oddly enough, the gatekeeper doesn't seem to be interested in a particular identity, but rather that someone is attempting to access off-limits areas.

An image of a large egg appears next to small egg on Babs' monitor she's using to ask for Admin Privileges.



Fenris doesn't look too worried. Yet. The two eggs are rather curious. Value is an odd thing. Worth more monetarily? What are the conditions? Worth more metaphysically? To whom? Oy, sounds like Corvinus now.

"this reminds me of the kind of riddle my father would pose…" Fenris rumbles. "However…" He cants his head. "I rather doubt this is a trick."


Pepper Potts ohs and calms again, deflating a bit. "Okay, that makes sense." And really, even with the usual 'you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup' vibe that Fenris throws off just standing in a room, the fact that he's actively working to keep them safe (just in a way she can't see) is about as reassuring as possible. "It's asking you a riddle?" She collects her teacup and looks at the two eggs pictured on the screen." That's it. Which egg is more valuable?


Blowing out a deep breath, Babs considers the question before entering

~They both are~

"Crap" she says, "I hope I phrased it correctly."


There's a brief pause, enough to put anyone's nerves on edge, even ancient wolf-gods. And then the resonant voice is back.


There is a brief pause.

"How many other sentients can honestly and accurately adjudge thine Enlightenment?"

Well, looks like the first question was answered easily enough. Apparently the concept is more important than the exact wording.


"Oh dear." Enlightenment. Another thorny question. Depending on who you ask, no one. Not even yourself. "Question the third." Fenris growls. "Were thou programmed by ancient fortune cookie bakers."


Pepper Potts is just about to take a sip of her tea when Fenris quips and she comes THIS close to a spit-take. But she doesn't. Because she's effing Pepper Potts. Instead, she carefully swallows the sip of tea, turns toward Fenris, and puts one hand on her hip while giving him the level of glare that would make Tony start apologizing for anything and everything just to get her to look elsewhere.


Babs thinks about the next question and casts Fenris a quelling glance. "Enlightenment… is subjective… therefore, convergence or agreement can't be guaranteed. In fact," the redhead purses her lips "even the suggestion that sentients must agree for enlightenment to occur rankles…" Babs thinks before entering

~Just One, Enlightenment is in the eye of the beholder~

She holds her breath as she hits enter.


There was the slightest bit of a catch as Babs entered the answer. The pause on this one is a good five minutes, which is enough to make anyone think they are going grey, and perhaps the equivalent of decades in computer time given the processing power available to the ancient entity.


The typical question pause takes place once more…

"If one's existence were to end one light-cycle after this question, would one save for others: (A) Weaponry (B) Wisdom or (C) Wealth?"


Fenris knows how he'd answer this question: Whatever others would find most useful. It's easy to think that 'wisdom' is the answer sought here, but the truth is that what is wise to save for others depends on the needs and in such a vague question all three have equal value. Which seems to be a running theme here really. He watches Pepper and Babs as the latter works and the former glares at him. He quirks an eyebrow. What?


Pepper Potts huffs near-silently at Fenris and takes another sip of tea. Quickly, though, so the big ol' smart-alec wolf guy can't say something else that'll have her choking on the beverage and trying to not bust out laughing. Loudly. Then when the thing asks the third question, she can only shake her head silently.


To Babs, the answer is self evident. Wisdom. Wisdom as to when to use Weaponry. Wisdom as to when Wealth. Wisdom when neither would do. Wisdom, is hard won… obtained fight by fight; battle by battle … metaphorical or real… The answer is WHEN and HOW to use the learning you've accumulated. The redhead enters on her keyboard

~ Wisdom. To determine how to apply everything else. ~

"I really hope that's the last one" the wheelchair bound woman breathes. "I'm not sure I can do many more of these." And the real work hasn't started yet.


Again the troubling pause, then a cheerful tone that isn't *quite* as intimidating or deep sounds off.

"Congratulations, I Barbara Gordon, you have gained ADMIN PRIVILEGES for unit Corvinus. Remember the questions you have been asked as you peruse the data files, and remember to secure the access point when you are finished with your work. Have an Enlightening Day!"

The warning that Corvinus gave earlier about data-files and not trying to download them? It becomes painfully clear what ages of datafiles look like, even with compression. It is nearly a virtual galaxy within the filing system!


Fenris stretches a bit. "Well, congratulations. You can poke inside Corvinus' head. May I ask why in the nine realms you wanted to do that?" He had asked Babs to help Corvinus once, but hadn't known it'd involve tech-telepathy.


Pepper Potts just shakes her head and heads back to the table. SHe's got some emails waiting for her replies.


So… Babs looks looks mightily relieved about now. She's not been immolated or any other number of 'fates worse than death' she can imagine. Fenris gets an amused look "You asked if I could help…" the redhead shrugs "I like him, the Partner and Corvinus, I'd save both if I can."

Babs stills, hitting 'help files' in the AI's scripting system, making notes, trying test after test. It might seem to those watching that she repeatedly gets the same error message time and time again. Still, Babs pushes on, entering code, documenting results. The Corvinus AI does not come with a user manual.


Epochs upon epochs past, an ancient race mysteriously referred to as the 'Creators' apparently designed and created the Extrapolated Intelligence Corvinus.

One of its charged tasks apparently ended poorly, causing it to somehow earn the ire of some people known as 'Thanagarians'.

In an effort to try and discover WHY, Barbara Gordon, who also moonlights in some technical fields under an alias, undertook a somewhat risky yet hopefully step along with the assistance of the Eater of the Sun, AKA 'Fenris Wulf', and Pepper Potts, CEO of Stark Industries.

So it was that Babs had been granted Admin privileges, and now she is faced with a far different quandary than simply getting those privileges… the enormity of the data involved is so incredibly dense that she could run all the test patterns and basic algorithms through the ancient entity… and she'd probably die well before they were complete. Another solution is apparently required…


Fenris is leaning back against a wall watching the proceedings with interest. This is more Oracle's wheelhouse than his. He gets technology but he understands magic better and he's far from an expert on either. Mostly what he's here for is containment. If the Corvinus becomes a threat, then it'll be up to him to make sure Babs and Pepper get out safely. Which he's happy to do for them anyway. They are, after all his friends. And his. It's a wolfy thing. Don't ask.


Pepper Potts has no idea that she's considered 'his' by Fenris, and maybe that's for the best. She's never been too keen on the whole 'I will protect you because. Just… because', as it hits a little too close to the whole 'you can't do something because you're female' battle she's fought her entire adult life. After Barbara settled in to picking away at the Corvinus' internal operating system (a VERY Tony-esque behavior pattern and oh so familiar), Pepper fell back on her usual time-spending tasks. She's — by the amount of typing she's done on her tablet — answered no less than twenty emails, she stepped to the far side of the room a handful of times to make or answer phone calls, and is now reading over a document on the same tablet, using a stylus to mark up the document as a teacher would use a red pencil to correct a student's essay paper.


Babs is frustrated, more than frustrated infact and her red headed nature may be about to reveal itself. "This is just way, way too slow. Too much data and not enough bandwidth to process it all." Pausing she glares at the Corvinus processor… and muses "Alright, admin privileges have given me access to the data… where the hell are the self test and diagnostic systems. Let me try this…." and she enters

~ Self Test Mode ~

"The problem with relying on the internal systems is they may be compromised, but lets see what this gives us." She's not happy about this at all.


The ancient bird-thing twitches every so often, a wing moving, a head tilting, more as if some sort of autonomous method of maintaining integrity and flexibility as the research continues. It has been quiet as the work has been happening, for it is incredibly patient.

For vigilance, the deity is probably one of the best, and one of the documents Pepper tears into (though it shows incredible promise in theory-craft, if not practical application) is one that was ironically penned by Mr. Reha, indicating a few methods using current technology hybridized with old paper/slide-rule for a higher efficiency.


That would appear to be the 'gatekeeper' bellowing once more.

That twitching that the avianoid was doing stops as it freezes in place.


"I wonder…" Fenris murmurs half to Pepper and half to himself. "If it pulled the old English out of Jim's mind for some inscrutable reason or if that's just the way the programming language translates into English." The logisitics of making programming suit an alien languagae kind of boggle the mind and Fenris is doing his best not to think about it because he's fairly sure Loki would think it an opportunity for some wonderful pranks.


"I'm more willing to bet it's a combination of those two. Translating to English in a way that makes sense to Jim's mind. You know?" Pepper makes a few more marks on her tablet juset before she practically yelps in surprise at that voice bellowing out again after so much time, and the stylus goes spinning through the air to clatter to the floor a few feet away. She looks over at Barbara and Corvinus wide-eyed for a second, then takes a deep breath and sets her tablet down to stand and move about some.

Checking her wristwatch, she makes a mental note of the time. "Babs, you'll let me know when you're ready to eat something?" She knows if it were Tony, he'd completely forget about eating, but she doesn't want to presume that she can just plunk a sandwich down in front of the redhead and have it be well received.


Babs breathes a small sigh of relief when that message is delivered… but she still looks dubious. "Asking a system to test itself" she mutters "A fools errand. Like asking a child what they've done wrong." Blowing out a breath she enters one word

~ Yes ~

Until Pepper addresses her directly, Babs hasn't really heard the discussion and taking a moment she blinks owlishly at the other redhead "Ummmm, how long have we been at this. A small something would be nice thank you" the response is delivered absently as she returns her attention to Corvinus.


Despite the fact that the Corvinus is self-testing itself, the lights in the facility dim a bit, and every bit of electronics then lights up with insane speed. Every monitor that is visible is displaying a different testing algorithim, along with its level of completion. Most of these whip by so fast that the eye can barely catch them.

Then some of the monitors go dark. And then others. It doesn't appear that the testing is so much complete as that those appear to be the areas where the self-test is clearly failing due to lack of information/access/damage/or some other factor.

Then some of the darkened monitors spring back to life, as if they skipped the damaged areas or had managed to cycle 'through the bad sections' and are testing other areas…


Fenris watches the monitors with some interest. It's not so much that he understands what they say as it is that he understands what they're doing. What he's most interested in is the conclusion that the Bird-Machine comes to. If it concludes that it's operating within normal parameters the god-wolf will slap Jim and then go eat Bill Gates because clearly he's taken over the universe.


Pepper Potts nods to Babs and is turning to break into the provisions she and Jim brought for this visit when every screen in the building starts going haywire. That's the word Pepper's mind uses, okay? She looks around in brief confusion, then goes to pick up her tablet when something occurs to her, just in time to see the same data flashing there, and a warning message from JARVIS: System compromised. Powering off.

"Wait, no, I hadn't saved my…" And then the tablet's data blanks out making it look like a framed panel of clear glass and nothing more. Worse, Pepper's attempts to power it back on fail, like it refuses. She then moves to dig her phone out of her purse, and actually looks distressed when it's as glass-like and unresponsive as the tablet.


Babs turns and watches the monitors and electronics dim, darken and light up, a curious look on her face. Peppers distress is noted and Babs looks over to her "It got them too?" Opening a compartment in the arm of her chair, she pulls out her tablet, it too is showing the same types of responses. "Mmmmm" and entering some commands on the tablet gives a self satisfied smile.

Fenris gets a look too "What about you, phone, tablet? Anything data like that might be affected?" She's fascinated by this, it's clear. "It's using everything it can to run these tests. I'm sorry about your tablet and phone, Miss Potts, but really this is quite exciting." Of course it is! Sitting back in her chair, Babs simply waits for the testing to finish.


The flashing lights continue for a few more minutes though it feels like hours, then the lights come back on full, and the various screens are returned to whatever functions they were performing before. At least, those that were on. Those that were shut off by reasonably paranoid AI, are still off.

Babs can easily determine, at least based on the readout of the self-test given, that there is only about fifty percent of the system resources available, yet the Corvinus is showing one hundred percent system availability.

THAT one isn't hard to figure out.

What is harder to figure out is how there can be 'something missing' yet the system didn't just stop testing. It's almost as if there is data there, that even the self-test is not seeing. With the 'research area' narrowed down, it may be possible to select a given 'test sector' for display, even if the test over it failed…


Fenris pulls out his phone. It's a flip phone. What? They're cheap, the coverage area is good and if they break when he has to break something, unexpectedly go swimming or what have you, it isn't the end of the world. He is after all both a god-wolf and a park ranger. "Nope. This thing works fine." He looks over at Pepper's tablet and phone. "Oh dear. Has Corvinus appropriated that?" He did hear something about system compromise. Seems Pepper's bound spirit of intellect didn't take kindly to that.

Spirits of intellect are so persnickety.


Pepper Potts looks at Babs then back at her paperweight devices. "I guess I'll just… work on lunch." Still clearly unsettled, she leaves her phone and tablet on the table and spends the entire time the lights are flickering puttering with whatever food items she and Jim brought. By the time everything settles down again, she's set a plate with a croissant sandwich, potato chip-like vegatable slices, and cubed fruit where Babs can easily reach it and is offering a similar plate to Fenris. "Corvinus, are you hungry at the moment?"


Pepper and Fenris get vague recognition as Babs begins to assess just what she's being shown, talking out loud as much to the others in the room, it's a thing…. "So, Corvinus thinks it's operating at 100 but these tests show that it's only 50. I'm going to assume that these areas are two things, log files and areas that have been sectioned off." Pointing to one of the smaller looking datapoints, she frowns, "That's probably a log file" and then to a much larger one "and that's likely program or scripting, if you like." She's silent for a long time as she works through what she's seeing. "Lots of the 'log' files are all the same size… where is the first larger… ah there." She indicates a log file that is larger than most "Let's see what this one says first." and she enters some commands into the interface.


The response from the avianoid is slow and is nearly a screech akin to fingernails down a chalkboard.

"This… one… is… busy… please… try… again… later…"

It doesn't appear to be in any sort of pain, but it sounds sort of like Tony might after a raucous party (more screech, though). Could it be experiencing some sort of intoxication… or perhaps a low mental band-width at the moment as system resources are taxed?

As the log file is brought up, there is first a comment in the 'data' section.

Message received via *untranslatable term*. Message marked 'URGENT'. Play file?

One of Babs' commands indicates an affirmative, and a monitor lights up.

There is some sort of strange bird-like being, apparently recording the message. It's a much more 'alive' version of Corvinus, if such a thing could be imagined. Behind it the scene is one of organized chaos as more of the bird-like folks are running around, shouting directions, and generally reacting as if to some horrific impending disaster or attack.

"Corvinus. By the time this message reaches you, we will be no more. We cannot tell you what brought this end about, for we do not know. Your continued progress with Thanagar brings hope to us, though, that the Wisdom we Gifted you with will not die with us.

Do not mourn our passing, but put your continued and fullest efforts to bringing Enlightenment to the client people, that they might one day know the joy of the stars, and the grace to walk among them as we have. As you know, it is a hard job, but we have every confidence in you to carry our legacy. May you—"

File ends. Save to local media (y/n)?


Fenris straightens to study the figure in the the screen. Avianoid yes and not one of the races known to the Nine Worlds. Out of his experience, then, largely and out of the experience he's accrued here on Earth. Apparently, this message was to have been delievered to Corvinus some time ago and it's creators are long since gone. "Mmmm. So the question is, being as this resides in a corrupted sector of Corvinus' memory: Did he ever get it? And what happened if he did?"


Pepper Potts watches also, reacting as much to the organized chaos behind the speaker as to the foreground avianoid himself. After the video ends and Fenris poses his question, she follows it with, "If he hasn't, how can we in good conscience keep what we've seen from him?" She rubs at her forehead and goes to sit at the table with her powered off devices, now glad she hadn't started to fix her own plate yet. She's not sure now that she could handle eating anything.
Babs shakes her head "I don't think it was corrupted, I think it's been sealed off from Corvinus… this half of the system that we're looking it, it's perfectly functional. That message ended prematurely, I'm assuming because something happened at the other end." Of this, the information goddess is sure.


Entering a 'y' to save off the data file locally, she looks at the logs some more. "Where did it start happening…." she sighs "let's move to about half way through what we're seeing here… if the system was partitioned out there, then I'll move backwards, if not, I move forwards."

The food Pepper has put out for her goes ignored, not really unusual for Babs to do … this has her full attention.


The bird-like being remains stock-still and doesn't appear to be registering half of what Pepper and Fenris are talking about, perhaps due to that system resource usage.

About halfway up the logs there's a chunky one that looks useful.

Datafile: Candidate Falls-From-Stars.

An image of a primitive bird-woman appears on the screen, along with the following legend in the lower right corner…

"Race: Thanagarian
Gender: Female
Age: 18 years
Mental Aptitude: 90th percentile
Physical Health: 50th percentile
Enlightenment Status: 98th percentile.
Candidate approved? (Y)

There appears to be an extensive data-file attached to it, which seems to be a life-recording of the entire time the 'Candidate' was 'with' the Corvinus.

As Babs goes up and down the data files, a notable trend makes itself painfully obvious. The 'Enlightenment' percentile climbs until it reaches about 99.999th percentile, but the Mental Aptitude and Physical Health numbers decline the closer the number gets to the 100th percentile… and going back, the Enlightenment values start at 50th percentile with 100 percent Mental Aptitude and Physical Health…


Fenris is watching that. "Hrm… well I think we've found at least part of Corvinus' problem with his client people. The AI seems to have been very, very hard on its hosts. In fact… it appears he either breaks them or drives them insane." It's interesting, actually. Fenris has observed that in many cultures closeness to the cultural idea - the gods, enlightenment or what have you - has been equated with madness. Some ideas are just too perfect for motal minds to comprehend, or alternately jealous deities punish those who approach their station too closely. Either way that seems to be the case here.

Someone may want to tell Jim.


"Not yet" Babs murmurs to Pepper and Fenris. "I would like to get a look at Jims file before you do say anything." She pauses "Soooo…. it looks like this half of the system is primarily data storage, which explains why Corvinus thinks its running at 100 percentage, it is essentially." She nods to herself as she talks.

"What we don't know is why Corvinus has lost access to this part of the system. First… let me see if I can find Jims file, that might provide some insight."


Well, then! Jim's file is relatively EASY to access. Sort of. Because it's also running in a virtual state on a folded quantum wavelength, what is actually being 'seen' is a 'saved file' version of his profile.

Datafile: Partner James 'Jim' Reha
Race: H. Sapiens
Age: 42 years
Mental Aptitude: 65th percentile?
Physical Health: 40th percentile?
Enlightenment Status: 20th percentile?
Candidate approved (N/A)
NOTE: H. Sapiens grasp certain levels of Enlightenment as the play of children, yet remain woefully and in some cases willingly ignorant of the greater whole. Yet this appears to provide the species as a whole a much more resilient and adaptive response to environmental conditions. Despite the unsuitability of the Partner, he appears to have a far greater grasp of how the universe works than the last one hundred Candidates. If only he would take up a fitness regimen, so this datapoint could be analyzed more thoroughly…


Hrm. Fenris grunts. 20th Percentile enlightenment. It's interesting that his mental aptitude is measured so relatively low. The God-Wolf had observed that Jim is actually fairly sharp and mentally adapatable which are the hallmarks of an observant, intelligent person. This brings up a whole new set of problems. Jim falls most solidly under Fenris' protection as a living being in his hunting grounds. The Corvinus is an interloper whose presence he has thus far tolerated both to avoid a potentially very destructive conflict and because he seemed fairly inoffensive. That may change if the alien AI turns out to be habitually destructive to it's hosts. Now if only there were someone he could ask more in de- wait. Jim had been hiding out away from a Thanagarian. A female Thanagarian. He needs to locate her in the near future for a little chat.


It's got to be because of Tony's influence that Pepper waits silently for Babs to find the information about Jim she was wanting. Fenris' reaction, though, sets her to worrying. And that erodes her patience faster than anything else. "What does it say?" And yes, her worry is clear in her voice.


Babs reads and then rereads what is presented on the screen. "First, Miss Potts, the record says that humans understand certain levels of Enlightenment as children do but that we" and Babs smirks a little "are generally willingly ignorant of the greater whole… I suppose that's true." The redhead sits back as she reviews the record "Jims physical condition is of concern to the Corvinus, being rated in the 40th percentile but his mental aptitude is rated in the 65th percentile. It's a very odd mix of statistics, given all the other records we've reviewed." She chews her lip as she thinks and then points to the first line in the record "This is also, the only record where the word ''partner'' is used, all the others use ''candidate''."

"My next assumption, is that it is when the Corvinus bonded with Jim, that this section of the system was locked off to it. It made a choice, no further analysis was required." Babs shrugs as she enters more commands into the system "Let me see if that assumption is correct… I'm not always correct."

Looking to Fenris, she frowns "I believe that you wanted me to check if his systems were fully functional? However, within these files, I think you may have found why he is being pursued. I'm not sure how many ''candidates'' the Corvinus took but there's a number of files there."


That is a very solid assumption, based on the data available. It does appear that the resources that had been devoted to finding further candidates have been retasked to other duties. It also appears that while fifty percent of the processing is being used, the other fifty percent being data storage, there are notable 'gaps' in 'peripheral' devices/abilities. Historically, looking back through files the Corvinus had been a lot more… terrifying… in terms of capabilities.

Its highest 'build-up' of capability was the last Thanagarian Candidate, and it has an attached videofile that Babs is able to bring up. There's no sound to it, but there are many bird-folk, bearing strange weapons that crackle with electricity, and they brutally assault the bird-being before it is able to flee to space — apparently it had the capability, but it appears to be no longer available — and depart at significant speed. That, too, appears to be no longer available…

Despite this, there's also an impression that if the right resources were available, it could improve itself… though the scale seems to be variable based on environmental factors….


Fenris straightens up "This is… interesting. It was forcibly driven off world. Pepper I believe Jim has recently encountered a member of this species. I'll follow up this mystery with her if you don't mind. Perhaps an alternate point of view can provide some clarity." Or muddy things further. That's always a possibility. "In the mean time, at least Jim's partner appears to be functional if… rather mysteriously forgetful."


Pepper Potts looks from Babs to Fenris, finally standing and moving closer. "So he's … shut down some of his functions? Like… putting a limiter chip into a car's engine?" She looks at Fenris. "I'd like to be there for that talk also, if possible." And despite the sweater she's still wearing, she folds her arms tightly as if cold.


Once that file is played, Babs returns to the screen where the data files are shown and after a few minutes of looking at the listing sits forward suddenly, frowning. The conversation between Pepper and Fenris mostly unheard. She can be seen scrolling the files, opening seemingly random files and closing them again.

"This is …. rather odd." Pointing to the listings she indicates a symbol that 'tags' each one. Approx. half the files have one tag, the other half a different tag. "This tag here," and she opens one of the files "seems to indicate the Corvinus was looking to build up defenses or prepare for war." Waiting a few seconds so Pepper and Fenris can see the information, she then closes that file "Whilst this tag" another file is opened "would indicate the Corvinus was pursuing Enlightenment." Again she waits before closing that file.

"It's like there are two personalities here…. or one personality that has been separated" Glancing at Fenris and then Pepper she murmurs "Would you mind standing back, I'm going to try something…." and yet more commands are entered into the Corvinus system "Let's see what we can find about that." Oh, Babs is having an awfully good time now.


The differentiation in the files in their extremity doesn't appear until after the 'Farewell' message was received. Prior to that, there was a relatively even blend of a nice balanced whole. But after the message, well, it shouldn't take a psych major to figure out what may have happened. That was a formative event in the entity's datafiles, though one would think an ancient entity built by an enlightened people would have the capacity for handling such a trauma.

That is, of course, until one looks at the underlying diagnostics. Humans have this problem a lot. In fact, they even have doctors for it, chemistry they've developed, several branches of science related to behaviour and how it impacts the individual. And while the ancient entity may have the Wisdom of the ages within it, or even a portion of it… it was created by sentient beings with all the foibles and flaws and inherent mental weaknesses thereof.

Given that Corvinus has existed well beyond the scope of normal life-spans save for the very long-lived…


Fenris rubs his temples. He's not up on high tech science but he's had two thousand years to learn and behavioral science is something he has studied at length. Granted he views issue from the perspective of an immortal god-wolf but that's actually helpful here. "Oh goodness… he's got Chronos' syndrome… he's lived so long with a mind not designed to do so that he's developed… faults." That explains a bit too. Also perhaps why he was viewed with increasing hostility over time. His behavior patterns likely changed, and he may not even know it.


Pepper Potts knows a bit about behavioural science as well, because of her job. She has to out-think people who are often better educated than her. "What can we do to help, then? I don't want to add to his stress." She steps back over toward the teamaking area when Babs asks them to move back a bit, and starts brewing more tea — a smooth black Yunnan for Jim, and chamomile for Corvinus.


Babs frowns as she reviews the data presented and looks at Fenris and Pepper "I would think that Jim is actually the ideal partner in this case and possibly why he was chosen. With enlightenment so low, there's a high possibility he'll never grasp the issues at the level the Corvinus is dealing with."

Removing her glasses and then putting them back on she shakes her head "Corvinus probably needs a shrink. I don't know about Chronos' syndrome, but if you had seen your people wiped out and were the last person, um being, standing, what would you be doing? Its responses are really quite logical in that respect." She shrugs "Then again, with everything partitioned off, is the Corvinus still experiencing those issues?" Babs really doesn't know "I can shut the diagnostic system down, and we can ask it. Or, perhaps, another time would be more suited to that. Computers are my speciality, not people."


During this discussion, the birdly AI has been standing quietly, not moving as it resources have been taxed to extremes it cannot fathom. It was created to last a long time, it is a being of the ages, it is fully capable for doing this for a while. However…

Once again, that sort of screech of low-speed words…

"The… partner… wants… to… know… if… if…"

The tone changes, and it's almost childish, but clearly Jim's tone… "ARE WE DONE YET?"

Despite the outburst, it does not move.


Fenris chuckles. "I think this is best saved for another time. Which is well, it will give me a chance to track down the Thanagarian." The old wolf looks over at Corvinus carefully. "Jim, did you ever learn her name? Or have any idea where she is?"


Pepper Potts finds herself a bit irrationally laughing at Jim's tone in Corvinus' voice. "I agree." She looks over toward Babs and the uneaten food a bit pointedly. "How long will it take to end the admin session you've been using?"


Babs looks over at Corvinus, and Jim, as they speak and back to the group. Shrugging at Peppers question she returns her attention the system "We're done now Corvinus, Jim. Just give me some time…." her voice trails off as she enters a command in the system. "That should do it." Sitting back again, Babs cocks her head to watch Corvinus and makes sure her job is completed. The food…. she'll get to soon, she's sure.


As more resources become available, the bird-thing goes what could be termed best as a 'pre-flight checklist' as various limbs are moved through their ranges, feathers fanned out then drawn back in, and it lifts its hands up, cracking its neck.

"The partner is wanting to come on out, so… first things first…

It strides over and gathers up the tea Pepper prepared for it, chugging it down with a solid swallow before chuckling a bit and sort of shrugging back into Jim

"That was the creepiest thing. It was like someone was kind of poking at me for a bit there. You weren't doing the space alien thing, were you?"

He's kind of joking, but it's a nervous kind of joking, like an attempt at a tension breaker…


"The probing you mean?" Fenris grins predatorily. "You'll just have to ask your Partner. He'll probably give you a fortune cookie about it. Meantime, Jim, we found out some interesting things. I'll let Pepper and Babs explain them to you but right now I need to know if you know anything about the Thanagarian that was stalking you before."


Pepper Potts blinks at the Corvinus, having wanted to ice the chamomile for him, but, oh well. So instead she offers Jim a reassuring smile and a just-poured cup of Yunnan. "I could try to make a joke about it, but maybe it's better if I didn't."


"Oh, I am sorry Mr Reha…" Babs is apologetic "It really was fascinating and I don't think I was as fast as the Corvinus' people would have been. My thanks though, for you patience. If could pass that on to Corvinus, I would appreciate it."

Looking at Pepper, Babs smiles faintly "Is there any chance of a tea" and with a small guilty glance, she picks up the plate of food and starts eating.


"Her name is Shayera Hol." He wants to say more, but he really can't come up with something good to speak up for her or against her.

"Last time I saw her was around Midtown, I think? It's not like she can hide those wings of hers. Just… try not to start a war, please?"

He accepts the tea and sips at it. Stupid bird, starting with the un-iced chamomile! "Thank you, Pepper."

The portly fellow gives Babs a shake of the head. "Hey, it's okay…. and he knows pretty much anything I see or hear, unless he's hiding. You were able to find out some interesting stuff, huh?"

Jim's stomach growls a bit.

"Sorry, apparently getting probed works up an appetite."

He really needs to work on that humor…


"I just want to talk. Shayera, mmmm?" With a full name he has a chance of scying her out. Fenris is good at dropping in on peoplem as Pepper and Jim and Babs all know. "I'll let you know when I find her Pepper. I know you wanted to be in on that as well. I should head out soon. Babs, did you need a lift?"


Pepper Potts smiles and quickly enough has a plate ready for Jim to claim before she pours another cup of tea to take to Babs. "Thank you, Fenris. Babs, is there anytihng else I can help with, or are we ready to be going after everyone eats?" Yes, Pepper's going to se someone eat here if she has to seatbelt them into their chairs.


"Thank you, no, Fenris, I have a driver today" Babs responds around mouthfuls of food. Putting the, nearly empty, plate down she takes the tea from Pepper with a grateful look "I'm fine here, thank you Miss Potts. I've got my people standing by to help." To Jim she nods "Interesting and good, I'll leave it to Miss Potts to explain, or arrange a time to debrief." Closing her eyes as she sips her tea, Babs sighs. "Oh that's good."


The portly fellow sits down and sips at his tea quietly, and slowly eats.

"The big dollars and cents question, did we learn enough to justify going through all these hoops? I mean, I appreciate the effort and all, but this could not have been cheap by any means?"

Leave it to Jim to ask how this all boils down.


Pepper Potts finally fixes herself a plate and moves to sit with Jim. "I think we did learn enough to make all of this worthwhile. Of course, we have more questions now, but at least we know where to start looking for answers. We didn't have that before." She eats sparingly, more because she's lost in thought than anything else. Oh, hey, maybe it's safe to turn her phone and tablet back on now.

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