Magnificence 2.0

Report of Bypass Authority Berriole, OS-I6 1, for Owl Sector records, assigned to incident TRANSMISSION.

I have been tasked with returning to the Dust Palace on Mars, which as far as we know is the only link between the Guardians first affected by these overrides. Appropriate contamination equipment has been requisitioned, although specs are for the Dawn Calamity and have not been adjusted.

The Owl Sector has determined that our acutest need is information. Which is where I come in. The area of interest includes former Clovis Bray buildings, so I expect my skills in cryptography, biosignature falsification, and historical architecture to be thoroughly exercised.


Report of Bypass Authority Berriole, OS-I6 2, for Owl Sector records, assigned to incident TRANSMISSION.

Nothing unusual to report during approach and landing. Standard Cabal and Vex presence, still in conflict, and easily evaded. I was drawn to signs of disturbance in a section marked as unexplored. Following those signs, and unlocking the doors in my path, I climbed five floors to a derelict laboratory with a view of the rosy plains and a computer half buried in dust.

Jackpot.

I love these vintage rigs. So graceful. So elegant. Mementos of a brighter time. They tend to be banged around a bit before I get my hands on them, but this one was pristine. I powered it up, ran a few traces and queries, and brought up the last authentication: one Dr. Shirazi, a scientist, working for Willa Bray. Something secret. The hashed password is twice the average length. I will submit my next report when I have cracked it.


Report of Bypass Authority Berriole, OS-I6 3, for Owl Sector records, assigned to incident TRANSMISSION.

Quist, Shun, I'm hearing the strangest things from you. Is everything shipshape?

At any rate, Dr. Shirazi's password was a combination of musical tones and a Persian phrase that loosely translates as "Remember who watches you."

Her entries are individually locked. The first is below, and more will follow.

Z. SHIRAZI CB-PZ-1.1
I am eternally grateful for the opportunity to work with Clovis Bray. No more clawing for research grants. No more hopping universities. The volunteers enlisted for this study are likewise in good spirits.

Patient A, Susan, believes with all her heart in the colonization effort and will do anything to support it. Twelve hours have passed since injection with Magnificence 2.0. Her vital signs are strong, but she complains of phantom insects.


Report of Bypass Authority Berriole, OS-I6 4, for Owl Sector records, assigned to incident TRANSMISSION.

Z. SHIRAZI CB-PZ-2.1
Patient A remains healthy and cheerful, despite a low buzzing in her ear. She has referred to the phantom insects so frequently and with such confidence that I'm starting to imagine them. Blue, darting things. There's a word for this phenomenon, where the patient's reality becomes the researcher's, but I do not remember it.

We did tag this variant with a blue colorant, for our own scans, but the patient should not have known. I will call it coincidence.


Report of Bypass Authority Berriole, OS-I6 5, for Owl Sector records, assigned to incident TRANSMISSION.

Z. SHIRAZI CB-PZ-3.1
I can see them now. Blue beadlike or beelike particles swarming around Patient A's head. I wonder what took me so long.

This effect was not intentional. We directed the nanoparticles to strengthen the subject's immune system, reinforce skeletons, exoskeletons, joints, and musculature, and accelerate synapse and logic board signaling. This should all have been invisible and internal. What does it mean?


Report of Bypass Authority Berriole, OS-I6 6, for Owl Sector records, assigned to incident TRANSMISSION.

Shun, Quist, you've gone silent and I don't know why. I am alarmed, but in the absence of updated orders, I am remaining on site to finish extracting the Shirazi logs. I hope that you and the City remain in good health.

Z. SHIRAZI CB-PZ-4.1
Patient A appears to be walking two inches above the ground. It is unclear why this has happened. The soles of her feet have turned blue. She is alarmed and delighted by turn. This of course complicates our strength tests.


Report of Bypass Authority Berriole, OS-I6 7, for Owl Sector records, assigned to incident TRANSMISSION.

Along the sides of this abandoned laboratory sit locked metal cabinets, cut or melted open. Some piles of freshly broken glass, not yet sandblasted. I would venture that whatever Dr. Shirazi stored in these cabinets for the last few centuries was recently released to the world. I would also venture that we know what that is.

Z. SHIRAZI CB-PZ-6.1
I'll call her Susan. I'll call them all by their names. It breaks protocol but feels like the right thing to do.

Susan took the news in silence. She appears resigned.

I am not resigned.


Report of Bypass Authority Berriole, OS-I6 8, for Owl Sector records, assigned to incident TRANSMISSION.

After a long silence from home, Ramos finally came online.

"Acting Liaison Ramos," she said. I didn’t need to hear more. Almost took off my respirator, it was so wet. But that would put two principals of the Owl Sector in the hospital wing. And I need to be out here. Looking.

Z. SHIRAZI CB-PZ-9.1
These prototypes are too deeply embedded in my subjects' systems to extract by force. Organs, neurons, frontal cortex... Even complete hemodialysis would be insufficient.

I must find another way. For Susan. For Yaris. For Kit. Maybe even for Jun.


Report of Bypass Authority Berriole, OS-I6 9, for Owl Sector records, assigned to incident TRANSMISSION.

Z. SHIRAZI CB-PZ-13.1
Long and sleepless nights. My whole staff in isolation suits, bent over our microscopes. But we have discovered a solution, I think. We have not tested it on patients yet, only pure prototype samples. If we toggle Fibrons 7, 21, and 16 across all nanoparticles with pulses of particular wavelengths, enough interference should be generated to render them dormant.

I go now to try it on Susan, who lost consciousness yesterday. Even prone, she floats an inch above her sleeping surface.


Report of Bypass Authority Berriole, OS-I6 10, for Owl Sector records, assigned to incident TRANSMISSION.

Overjoyed by your last communication, Ramos. Almost at the end of the Shirazi logs, which I will finish transmitting for completeness of Owl Sector records.

Z. SHIRAZI CB-PZ-14.1
At least this much of my conscience is clear. Susan left our facilities today, walking on the ground. Not quite smiling. None of us are smiling. We don't know what the long-term effects might be. But she appears healthy, for now.


Report of Bypass Authority Berriole, OS-I6 11, for Owl Sector records, assigned to incident TRANSMISSION.

I set everything in order and sealed the room. Left the computer in there, lovely as it is, after clearing sand from the crevices. A monument.

On my way out, I looked again at the tracks I followed into that room. Clawed. Fallen, I'd say, but there are no Fallen on Mars. Odd.

Closing mission and coming home.