Splendor 2.6

Records of the Vanguard, OS-I6 1

CY6: I don't see the harm in it. A little mysterious fun, some ka-ching to our usual pew-pew. Didn't you take candy from strangers, when you were newborn in the Light?
ZAV: No. I did not.
IR: This isn't candy, Cayde. The Owl Sector reports a highly contagious armor systems override. If you'd stop clowning for a moment and think—
ZAV: What protocols are the Owl Sector implementing?
IR: The Liaison asked me what to do.
CY6: That's a new one.
IR: Both the Owl Sector and my Hidden have been unable to gain control of these overrides. I suggest quarantine as a stopgap.
CY6: Lodging an objection, based on previous experience.
ZAV: She's right, though. It's the best option at the moment.
IR: The only option.


Records of the Vanguard, OS-6I 2

CY6: All right, what's the next option?
IR: If you're so brilliant, you tell me.
ZAV: I suppose we should have known better than to tell Guardians to stand still.
CY6: It's not their strong suit. They’re not good at staying off my table, either. Stinkers.
IR: Focus, Cayde. This is an emergency.
CY6: You mean opportunity.
ZAV: Cayde—
CY6: I'd like some of that Splendor that I'm seeing on Guardians. I look good in yellow, and I'm due for an upgrade.
ZAV: I am going to forbid you, Cayde.
CY6: Always the life of the party.
IR: We need you as you are. Healthy and in sound mind.
CY6: All right, all right. I'll sit on my hands. This time.


Records of the Vanguard, OS-6I 3

ZAV: All Guardians are observing the prohibition on City visits. Ikora reports that appropriate crisis protocols are in place in the Owl Sector.
CY6: A watch-and-wait operation? You know I'd rather be shooting something. Can we sprinkle some of this stuff on the Fallen?
IR: Be careful what you wish for, Cayde.
ZAV: The Bypass Authority's researches have borne some fruit, I hear?
IR: It's slow going. I'm offering backup computational and decryption support, but she's fiercely self-sufficient, like most of the Owl Sector.
CY6: You mean she isn't asking you for help.
IR: I think she likes having secrets.
CY6: That doesn't sound familiar at all.
IR: In spite of my reservations, she's earned my commendation, Cayde. It's high-risk work for a civilian.
ZAV: Speaking of civilians, this Dr. Shirazi troubles me.
IR: Her choice of passphrase is interesting. As is her decision to lock each separate entry, a security precaution disproportionate to her project's classification as Level 2.
CY6: Not the probable association with a high-velocity technological mite that could bring the City's defenses to its knees? It's her passphrase that bothers you?


Records of the Vanguard, OS-I6 4

Transmitted from Owl Sector's Bypass Authority, Dust Palace, Mars.

Z. SHIRAZI CB-PZ-2.3

Patient C reports yellow artifacts on the edge of her vision but remains excited about the potential of this project. She argued for taking strength and intelligence tests three times a day rather than daily. I saw no harm in this. There were clear improvements in her performance six hours after injection, in line with results from the other conscious patients.

This innovative therapy holds great promise for our colonization program. We can cut years off the construction timetable of a city. We can reduce the decompression and adjustment period of new colonists. This is a world-changing study, and I am glad to have such a motivated subject.


Records of the Vanguard, OS-I6 5

IR: Was that Saladin who just stormed out? He’s been on edge lately.
ZAV: He demanded to know what the mite was.
IR: His guess is as good as ours.
CY6: Don't mind him, he’s always like that. Have you seen Shaxx? His poor Crucible. "What is this stuff? Get it out of my Crucible!"
IR: You’d think he’d appreciate increased aggression.
ZAV: He cares more about fairness.

Transmitted from Owl Sector's Bypass Authority, Dust Palace, Mars.

Z. SHIRAZI CB-PZ-3.3
Patient C insists that I call her Kit. She says she has been fighting all her life for an advantage and finally has it, and she's not about to let it go. She has broken several pieces of equipment in exhilaration, in addition to a large quantity of glassware.

"Let me at 'em!" she said. "Give me something to fight!"


Records of the Vanguard, OS-I6 6

IR: This mite now affects a third of our Guardians. While it appears to do no substantial harm to Guardians, we have one civilian casualty.
ZAV: I propose tightening restrictions for the safety of City residents. And we should stay vigilant. Dr. Shirazi's notes suggest other undesirable or unexpected effects, in addition to those we’ve encountered.
CY6: What, walking on air? Singing? Dancing? Strength? Readiness to fight? I'm not seeing the disadvantages, Commander.
IR: Liaison to the Vanguard Shun Li is unconscious in the hospital wing right now. I would call that a disadvantage.
CY6: Ah. Shun.
ZAV: Ikora is correct. Our commission is to protect the City, under all conditions, in all circumstances. We cannot risk the health of our citizens for this, this—whimsy.
CY6: Fun. The word you're looking for is fun.


Records of the Vanguard, OS-I6 7

Z. SHIRAZI CB-PZ-6.3
When I disclosed Patient B's clinical outcome, as required by exception 31B in the Research Regulations Handbook, Patient C said, "How could you do this to us?" I had no answer. My predecessor's experimental records had not suggested any lethality. A 20% mortality rate would counterbalance the increase in colonist strength, intelligence, and speed.

ZAV: Doubt in Clovis Bray communications? That's rare.
IR: It could be why she sealed individual research logs. This Dr. Shirazi appears to have been fond of Persian poetry. The Bypass Authority has been able to reconstruct entire ghazals by rearranging her passphrases.
CY6: I imagine the two of you purring with happiness over that.
IR: I am not as fond of poetry as Zavala, but I do appreciate the historical insight.
ZAV: I did not purr. Purring is not something I do.


Records of the Vanguard, OS-I6 8

Z. SHIRAZI CB-PZ-8.3
"I am doing everything I can," I said.

"That's not enough," she said, and turned her back.

I do not have the training, or the knowledge, or the wisdom for this.

ZAV: She's been dead for hundreds of years, but I can imagine her standing here with us.
CY6: Frantically apologizing.
IR: As she should be.
CY6: Do I detect some jealousy, Ikora? Are her investigations so much more fruitful than yours? Or is it that she's created a puzzle you can't solve?
IR: None of the above.
CY6: It can’t be that civilian in the hospital wing, can it?
ZAV: Cayde.
CY6: I’m just funning, Zavala.
ZAV: Do you want her to bring up that frame of yours? Because she will.
CY6: Close the records, Ghost. Thanks.


Records of the Vanguard, OS-I6 9

Z. SHIRAZI CB-PZ-14.3
They did not see me behind the door.
Jun said, "We have to tell the truth about Clovis Bray. We know. They don't."
"We have to be cautious," Kit said.
"We'll be alone for a while. No one will believe us. At first.
"I've been through harder things.""
"You're in?"
"I'm in."

IR: Strange. I do not remember so much as a lone protest against Clovis Bray in our histories.
CY6: Patchy as they are.
ZAV: Colonists standing against their colony? You might as well jump into deep space without a suit or ship.
IR: Yet you look sympathetic.
ZAV: Authority exists for a reason. Rebellions tend to squander strength and vitality that should be conserved. And yet I can't bring myself to disapprove of them. Jun. Kit. Shirazi.
CY6: It was a different time.


Records of the Vanguard, OS-I6 10

IR: Neutralization is ongoing throughout the Tower. We should be clean soon.
ZAV: About time. These prototypes contaminated too many of my Guardians. Infiltrated their systems. Altered their behavior.
CY6: Brought joy and delight. Ruffled Ikora. Put a bee in Saladin's bonnet. What more could I ask?
ZAV: All told, I prefer corporeal threats. Enemies we can fight. These particulate, self-replicating, amoral things disturb my soul.
CY6: I still think they're cute.
IR: The misfortunes of Liaison Shun aside, Zavala is right. We should be exploiting Golden Age technologies. We've never had Golden Age technologies exploit us. We did not know they possessed such capabilities. And I worry.
CY6: Even though we've solved this problem?
IR: I think in terms of unifying theories, Cayde.


Records of the Vanguard, OS-I6 13

CY6: This Shirazi character had such promise. All the potential of humankind at her fingertips. Then, scruples. Poor Clovis Bray. Poor Willa. How human.
ZAV: How lucky for us, you mean.
CY6: Now all the play's been played and all the fun's done. Back to the strategy table for old Cayde. What's next?
ZAV: We wait.
IR: Until the next unexpected menace rears its head.