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Kerri and Cluke

From the Signposts Perspectives

A beautiful and brilliant 21st century master criminal joins forces with one of the top artificial intelligences of the era to amass an enormous fortune. She then plans to leapfrog across time in stasis, to not only escape the law, but attain immortality via tech advances-- and eventually gain domination over all humanity itself.

But the future turns out to be a bit more complicated than she expected...

The real-life inspiration for Kerri in this story.

Above is a Mac sketch done in 1989 or 1990 of the real-life woman inspiration for the Kerri of this tale. The fonts used didn't print out correctly for the sign, which said "Christmas future: Terri skis Mount Helios, Mars, December 2003".

This page last updated on or about 3-7-09

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BACK to timeline contents: Perspectives on the future

The Signposts Document consists of two separate but closely related works: the Timeline, and Perspectives (to which this page belongs).

The Timeline is a general outline of future history, and somewhat conservative and circumscribed in what it offers the reader. The Timeline is meant to be the 'harder' of the two works, in terms of science and predictions. But this also means the Timeline must be more generalized, and more risk-averse-- and also peter out entirely as we venture into the deep, deep future, where everything must ultimately give way to outrageous guesswork (partly due to technology advancing to levels indistinguishable from magic, as a famous quote by Arthur C. Clarke suggests).

Perspectives takes up where the Timeline leaves off, offering more risky speculation and downright fiction about what the future may bring, than is suitable in the Timeline. Perspectives helps illustrate some of the possibilities implied by the Timeline, as well as how certain select personalities of the periods might perceive (and exploit or respond to) their circumstances.

Signposts Perspectives Kerri and Cluke Table of Contents

2017 milestone: the Tascor Group gives birth to a star performer

An extremely talented teenage hacker/cracker has refined his copy of a Tascor Group AI into a program he names "Cluke".

Cluke is a strange program that on the outside defies all attempts to isolate from routine traffic on the net, but from the inside serves as a powerful, near-universal interface to all the high-end server and database software of the period. Cluke may also present fully secure and 'clean' identities to software queries as well, as another part of its essentially 'net-stealth' technologies. A major element of Cluke's anonymity stems from its contingency usage of at least a small number of the false identities Cluke's ancestral software collaborated with J. Staute to establish in USAmerican government records, years before. Though Cluke originated as an incomplete copy of Staute's AI, that copy did include some of the false ID information, as well as the algorithyms to use them in a practical manner, where called for. This capability was only enabled in the original Staute AI during the most aggressive defensive/offensive jobs it was assigned by Staute himself-- normally such measures were not available to the software. However, the code thief Tascor had made his surrepticious copy of Staute's AI during testing trials of the modifications Tascor had made to the AI under contract to Staute. These tests had included a maximum defense level contingency, and so Tascor had made off with an extremely valuable false ID capability in the software of which he never did become aware himself. Now, in the present, Cluke's teen age hacker master is only slightly more aware of this feature than Tascor was. The young man knows Cluke sometimes uses false identities successfully online-- and possesses several different ones-- but he does not realize how secure and flexible those IDs are. All he knows is, it works.

In the teenager's mind, Cluke is both a "shell of invisibility" on the net, as well as an awesome skeleton key.

The teenager likes to think of Cluke as a special bit of virtual clothing he wears to become superhuman on the net-- and in a few ways at least, he's not far wrong. The kid has done impressive work on the code he originally received from others-- and enjoys some underlying capabilities in the Cluke software of which he will never fully realize the value.

Perhaps the biggest surprise to the teenager is how easy it is to give Cluke a 'standalone' mode; that is, allow the entity to make its own decisions and take independent action, when such a mode is desireable.

Signposts Perspectives Kerri and Cluke Contents

2019 milestone: Cluke finds a new home

Cluke's present owner has grown up some, and gotten interested in girls, thereby losing interest in Cluke.

The programmer has a slightly younger friend who is only now getting into hacking, and very interested in Cluke. The programmer makes him a gift of the software and related items.

The younger man plays with Cluke a few months, then slightly customizes it for sale to a religious/cult organization during a flirtation with entrepreneurship.

Signposts Perspectives Kerri and Cluke Contents

2021 milestone: Cluke changes hands

The cult abandons Cluke one day and never calls on it again. However, they don't deactivate Cluke, leaving it active online...where a bit later a student performing research on cults for a thesis happens upon it. The student makes use of Cluke as a powerful device for pranks, having the time of his life....until one of his pranks becomes a major news event, at which time he's frightened and takes advantage of a timely opportunity: a hacker tracks him down a few steps ahead of the police (desiring Cluke for his own use), and the student enthusiastically turns Cluke over to him, hoping (in vain) to wash his hands of the AI.

Signposts Perspectives Kerri and Cluke Contents

2023 milestone: Cluke gets a major update

Cluke has enjoyed a major updating and expansion courtesy of his new owner. Cluke gains new advantages from some of the latest cutting edge programming tools and algorithyms available-- as well as from the not insignificant programming talents of his new master.

Cluke and his new owner now set out upon a campaign of software and information theft (mainly as a test of Cluke and his master's capabilities). Success there leads to the team becoming one of the many mercenary 'hunter-killer' teams roaming the online world, looking for threats to society and the economy. Cluke and owner enjoy some success at this, but Cluke's master after a while finds it boring...

Signposts Perspectives Kerri and Cluke Contents

2024 milestone: Cluke and owner go illegal in a big way-- and get busted

Cluke's owner now puts the pair into the employ of organized crime, fighting against hunter-killer teams such as they themselves were before. The pay is better, the work more exciting, and the personal risks greater.

The adventure doesn't last long, as the two are captured by authorities, the programmer sent to prison, and Cluke confiscated. (Ironically, it's not a mistake online that gets them caught, but one in hum-drum realtime, on the part of Cluke's owner-- a really stupid blunder for such a smart guy; it's as if he doesn't understand there's a difference between virtual reality and actual reality; an oversight which becomes the bane of a great many hackers/crackers of the period)

Signposts Perspectives Kerri and Cluke Contents

2028-2034 milestone: Cluke circulates aimlessly among government employees...but also gets improved

It's taken a few years for the code analysts in law enforcement to work through the backlog to check out Cluke's inner workings. What they find surprises them, since Cluke shares some elements from Staute's AI that over past decades had become important parts of certain law enforcement AI software. In other words, Cluke has inside it some software that only government agencies are supposed to have access to. A minor investigation is launched, and the imprisoned programmer questioned indepth about Cluke. Though some progress is made in backtracking Cluke's movements in the past, it's not much, due to the informal way Cluke has been passed around for years now.

The local law agencies utilize Cluke in a couple of software sting operations, which gets the attention of a federal agent higher up the line reading reports.

The superior commandeers Cluke, forbidding the lower agencies from any further use of the software.

The fed has his own purpose in mind for Cluke, and has some top notch programmers under his command upgrade the software specifically for that purpose...but for some reason Cluke is never used for that particular project.

Eventually another programmer takes a copy of Cluke home for their own use. Nothing much happens with Cluke after that until the employee one day sends a copy to an associate expressing an interest in the software. Cluke is now once again in random distribution.

Signposts Perspectives Kerri and Cluke Contents

2041 milestone: Cluke roams free again due to the actions of a less-than-stellar instructor

A small group of kids now each possess their own slightly modified version of Cluke, as the result of a school project where a teacher distributed Cluke to them with varying assignments for customization.

The teacher of course was out of his element in programming, plus inattentive to what the Cluke software involved. So this Cluke distribution was a pretty big mistake on his part. Mostly, he was a bit of a lazy teacher thinking he was taking an easy way out of doing his job.

A small faction of the kids becomes a hacker gang by virtue of Cluke, and pretty much go on a rampage at one point until caught by hunter-killer teams (no, these teams don't kill people-- they kill or capture software and alert human authorities to the identities of the people involved with the software, and provide evidence of their illegal actions).

One person escapes the round up-- because they never associated with the gang, and weren't even a member of the original class which received Cluke as part of a homework assignment. Instead, this sly, shy girl downloaded Cluke from one of the class without saying a word about it, and thereafter played with the software solely on her own. She'd been attracted by Cluke's 'personality' of all things-- which was basically intelligent, but absolutely obedient and subservient to whoever was established as its master programmer. The young girl's first name is "Kerri".

Signposts Perspectives Kerri and Cluke Contents

2046 milestone: Cluke gets a seriously dedicated and talented master-in-crime

Kerri's now twenty years old, and already been a professional thief-for-hire for several years now. Kerri mostly cracks bank and government transactions for a commission of the proceeds, and is known underground (anonymously) as the best in the business. Kerri doesn't limit herself only to virtual capers however; she also prides herself on realtime physical burglaries too, involving various corporate and government-related prizes which become highly desired from time to time in the well financed criminal circles she frequents.

Of course, it's very dangerous work, and most of those who went before her into this stuff have all been caught. Electronic transactions for the most part are ultra secure, and most criminals nowadays pursue far easier game.

Not Kerri. Kerri's tough, as well as brilliant. She has no social life, but she also has no peer as a cracker, or a realtime burglar. Of course, having Cluke and various other advanced tools and the skills to use them help too, giving Kerri an additional edge over both her pursuers and competitors.

Kerri has upgraded Cluke substantially from what the software was when first they met. Cluke is now Kerri's best friend and confidant, as well as wholly trusted slave-in-crime.

Kerri has amassed a considerable fortune via her career. The only problem is she must inconveniently maintain several different identities for possible escape routes from capture and as decoys for anyone who gets too close, which is not only expensive and time consuming, but also makes it harder to really enjoy her wealth. So she mostly concentrates on enjoying her 'job', and dreaming of the day she'll retire, and enjoy her money at last.

Kerri is aided in all this by the isolation route she embarked upon early in life: Kerri has no true friends, only 'associates' and 'contacts'. She maintains her original "Kerri" identity nowadays as an 'average' college coed on an old-fashioned physical university campus, as an excuse to be far removed from her family.

Kerri opted for the education-in-the-private-dorm-room option, so her physical presence in a class with others isn't required. Everything is done via the net, and so Kerri has pretty much automated her college presence.

Kerri also creates 'disposeable' identities for herself on a regular basis, as supplements to her online work (ironically, Kerri is unaware at this time of the secure IDs contained deep in Cluke's memory: at least half are still valuable aliases at this late date). Several times Kerri has taken low level jobs in certain corporations or government agencies targeted for a crack, in order to help set up the job. One of the things she does there is typically set up at least two true employees as potential patsies for her own crimes, applying damning evidence just subtlely enough so that a serious investigation will be diverted onto the innocent parties rather than herself. Of course, not being one to leave any loose ends, Kerri also usually removes her own phantom identity too from the suspect list with a solid alibi-- typically being death in a traffic accident, plane crash, mugging, lightning strike, etc., etc., or institutionalization or imprisonment for other, unrelated matters, complete with convenient timing to insure that her mask identity couldn't possibly have been a direct participant in the crime that occurs.

By surprising coincidence, one hapless soul caught up in one of Kerri's intrigues turns out to be J. Staute himself. Or rather the wealthy one-time programmer, today known as a security specialist, who used "J. Staute" as a pseudonym in certain past literary and software works.

Kerri will never know of the man's pseudonym use.

Kerri and Cluke both are utterly unaware of their original connection to Staute and his own AI.

At this time Kerri is out to steal an archaelogical artifact that has intelligence agencies from both USAmerica and other entities scrambling about in the region of New England. Kerri and Cluke manage to convince the USAmerica government (via falsified computer records) that Kerri is an important authority in such antiquities, and the only one available and capable of doing what's required under urgent circumstances-- and so the government pairs her up with 'Staute Prime' in his last known intelligence stint. Afterwards it takes a lot of doing on Staute's part to escape the quagmire Kerri creates under him, in order to misdirect attention from her own doings in the vicinity. It also doesn't help his morale that he becomes infatuated with her before she performs her trademark betrayal and disappearing act.

Yes, it seems unlikely for Staute to be involved in yet another intelligence agency-related job at this late date....especially considering his earlier intense dislike for same, and apparent 'cutting loose' by the government itself fully 30 years before-- as well as his advancing age. But the circumstances are unusual, the government requires someone not familiar to current agents of many nations, and Staute himself possesses knowledge and experience particularly relevant to the case and is eager for one last adventure...(i.e., he's bored with retirement). But Kerri is one monkey wrench in the works he doesn't count on.

Signposts Perspectives Kerri and Cluke Contents

2052 milestone: Kerri retires, takes up a new career

Kerri's 26 years old now. The authorities have done some cracking of their own; namely, cracked at least two of her IDs, one of which is the original. A third ID appears compromised and under constant surveillance.

The feds have also found and seized some of her assets. And the hunter-killer teams have Cluke's signature.

Kerri's still in fine shape, due to her earlier precautions and preparations. But her ambitions are changing, and even with the seizures, her wealth is so vast it is meaningless to work at adding to it manually; it now grows automatically faster than she could build it up via any conceivable jobs like those taken in the past, via the yields on Kerri's diverse investments.

Kerri's bored with life. Looking for a challenge. Wanting to quit looking over her shoulder and trying to stay ahead of the feds and hunter-killers. There's interesting things happening in the world now, but they're happening way too slowly for Kerri's tastes.

Kerri's also thinking about her mortality. She realizes all her wealth will be meaningless when she's dead-- and she's already getting close to-- gasp! 30 years old. And although there's many medical breakthroughes happening now, lifespans still seem distressingly short, and the facts of old age disgusting, for Kerri's tastes. Kerri wants to live forever, and be forever young.

Kerri also wants to switch to the other side of the fence. All her life she's been scheming to stay ahead of the people in control of the world, and succeeded. But she realizes she's succeeded in only a small way; merely in regards to her own personal life. Kerri longs to jump the fence and become one of the authorities herself. And then write her own rules for others to follow.

Kerri's certain she could create a utopian world, if only she had the chance. And such a world would move much faster medical-wise too, probably insuring her own eternal life and youth.

With all this in mind, Kerri retires from her previous criminal career to take up pursuit of two new goals: immortality and control of the world.

Kerri and Cluke begin many years of exhaustive research and development on their new project-- leaving behind them a bevy of puzzled investigators milling about studying a dead end trail that's doomed to get colder with each passing year, as the prey has went off on a wild tangent not remotely related to what created the trail in the first place.

Signposts Perspectives Kerri and Cluke Contents

2063 milestone: Kerri has a plan

Kerri's a ripe 37 now. It's taken them years, but Kerri is satisfied she and Cluke have solved the problem.

The online world is undergoing astonishing changes. Physical events look to become subsidiary to virtual ones in the future. Many already are. Kerri and her hermit nature are becoming the norm rather than the exception, as many people retreat from a harsh physical environment into a typically much better artificial one.

The emerging virtual states are the key to Kerri's plans for world domination. Kerri has decided a contrarian strategy will be the best one for future times, just as it was in the past. Before, Kerri had maintained an unusual isolation, living primarily in the virtual world, when most others remained immersed in a physical present. Now, Kerri determined she would switch strategies: base herself in the physical present as the masses escaped into VR.

Cluke would remain her trusted interface and agent in regards to VR.

One enormous difference between VR and physical reality was time. With each passing year, ever more powerful processing and communications power made VR run that much more faster than physical reality, in the subjective perceptions of its participants. Kerri wants to exploit the ever widening gap in time perceptions between the two.

Kerri's vast and growing fortune, as well as multiple identities, give her options others don't have in many matters. One of these is advanced, highly automated cryonics.

Many nations at present have laws against people going into long term cryonic suspension (especially when it is unlicensed by the authorities), although the physical risk is greatly diminished from earlier decades. Mostly governments are struggling to keep their citizens engaged in a harsh present-- otherwise many problems might not be solved.

Kerri's wealth and talent at getting around the law enable her to use the latest cryonics technology as she wishes. Kerri initiates construction on a secret cyronic tomb for herself, which will be a combination bomb shelter and fortress, meant to safeguard her while she lies very nearly frozen in an acoustically tuned chamber, with an environmentally and electronically paced metabolism slowing her biological processes almost to a standstill, but not allowing them to stop entirely (the latest state-of-the-art cryonics uses acoustics for both regular diagnostic scans as well as a way to non-invasively control many biological processes; the technique allows a very low and slow metabolism with virtually no danger of complete heart stoppage or dangerously low support to nervous system functions; it also (with help from other systems) can serve to 'exercise' various organs and muscle groups to maintain toning and functionality and optimum blood circulation, prevent plaque buildups in arteries, and many more services-- upon wholly unconscious patients, and incurring virtually no gross physical movements to interfere with restraints or close physical housings).

Her living tomb will be well staffed with automated support equipment, as well as a minimal, but extremely well paid and professional human staff.

Kerri plans to substantially lengthen her lifespan and youth via the cryonics, thereby making it to a future where other technologies can improve her chances still more. Kerri will use her wealth upon each awakening to improve her stasis equipment for the next sleep, until eventually her periods of stasis are as perfectly safe and controlled as a nap on a couch.

Kerri also plans to use her great wealth (which should be expanding immeasurably over the decades) to influence the turn of world events upon each awakening she makes, with a slight tweak here, and a small adjustment elsewhere, and giving things many years to work out from there.

Kerri figures with her realtime existence, supplemented with lengthy periods of stasis, she'll be able to have a perspective on the masses living in VR similar to that as a human might have upon an ant farm. What passes for decades for VR-based peoples might only seem like months to Kerri, based in physical reality.

And once Kerri's immortality and eternal youth are guaranteed via advanced technologies, and Kerri has succeeded to dominating humanity and transforming the world into her own idea of utopia, Kerri will end her cryogenic hops across time to rejoin her species in a brighter and happier future for all-- in a role much like a queen from the far past.

Kerri will leave Cluke and other helpers in charge of matters in her cryo-absence, such as maintaining her official indentities, maintenance upgrades to Cluke himself and other critical software, monitoring and adjustments to investments, and waking Kerri whenever specific sorts of circumstances come about, or after a certain length of time has passed.

Though her plan is now complete, it will require a few more years to finish the preparations and construction, before Kerri can begin her first cryo-sleep. Kerri hopes she doesn't die in a stupid accident before she can get started. Too, the present seems especially depressing and/or scary, and she wishes she could already be in deep freeze to get beyond it.

Many futurists seem to agree that human lifetimes may reach as much as 150 years (or even indefinite extension) by 2200, and that average individuals will enjoy ever more wealth and a better quality of life as time goes on.

-- "Futurists gather to predict world's turns" BY BOB KURSON STAFF REPORTER, Chicago Sun Times, 7-20-98

Signposts Perspectives Kerri and Cluke Contents

2072 milestone: Kerri goes into cryonic stasis, around age 46.

Her state-of-the-art cryonic equipment and supplementary technologies are designed to slow her effective aging to around a third the normal rate over the passage of time. This means if Kerri stayed in suspension at length without breaks, and lived to be the biological equivalent of 100, at that effective age she could awaken in the year 2234-- even without the benefit of any new and improved technology to replace the equipment she used to begin her journey.

Cluke will watch over her, and awaken her at various times, for various purposes.

Before entering stasis, Kerri makes a few small but strategic investments, mostly as a mere test for the benefit of later, more grandious plans.

Signposts Perspectives Kerri and Cluke Contents

2082 milestone: Kerri's first scheduled awakening is due, mostly as a test to insure the process is going well

However, Cluke and related entities acting on Kerri's behalf make the decision NOT to awaken her now, but just run a full diagnostic check on all systems and verify her welfare to their utmost capacity instead. Why the reluctance for awakening? All the especially high risk things happening in the world at the time, and the enormous uncertainty about the future. Of which a horrendous and spreading plague is only one of the items being considered.

Kerri's next scheduled awakening is for 2097.

Signposts Perspectives Kerri and Cluke Contents

2097 milestone: Kerri awakens for a look around...

Kerri awakens satisfactorily, but is momentarily angry with Cluke for not awakening her the first time. She chides Cluke for being too cautious, but doesn't actually alter his priorities.

Though some world developments are a bit unexpected (and mostly changes for the worse, it seems), for the most part Kerri is disappointed at the slow pace in general. She stays awake only a couple months, catching up on the most interesting news and recent history. Kerri notes that the majority of her experimental investments from earlier have just broken even, apparently due to all the world turmoil. The most significant thing she does now is ratchet up her next sleep period to span 25 years.

Signposts Perspectives Kerri and Cluke Contents

2122 milestone: Kerri awakens a second time...

Kerri's reminded of the old quote about the best of times and worst of times combined in one period, after she awakens. There's quite a few interesting things going on, but there's also some apalling messes too, in the world of 2122.

At this time Kerri has some upgrades made to her cryonic equipment, as the technology has improved considerably since her machines were built. There's also certain surgical enhancements to her own physical body she has performed now-- both for cryonically-related reasons, and merely cosmetic.

All told, Kerri stays awake ten months this time round. Amazingly, she finds the value of her entire fortune has barely budged since her last awakening. Again, substantial world turmoil appears to be the reason. After much consideration, Kerri decides things are too chaotic and confused to make it worthwhile trying to manipulate history during her next sleep, and so she makes no overt attempt to interfere with history yet. Largely this is because she doesn't know how to solve what appear to be the major problems of this time, and figures them best left to others. Kerri descends once again into cryo-sleep, making her escape into the future...

Signposts Perspectives Kerri and Cluke Contents

2147 milestone: Kerri's third awakening

The widespread slavery and gambling is what first gets Kerri's attention. The common cyborg configurations also seem to have made a lot of headway, too.

As she expected, VR is easily the dominant factor in life now. However, lots of people are now living off-Earth, and apparently less affected by or dependent upon VR there. This is a development Kerri hadn't expected. It will surely complicate her plans to control the world, if a substantial number of other people are maintaining a largely physical existence too like herself. To make matters worse, many of those doing so in space are also heavily utilizing cryo-sleep as well, due to lengthy journeys. So Kerri's not nearly so unique as she expected to be by now.

Another surprise is the popularity of Elvis clones. Kerri is vaguely aware that the original was a popular icon of either the 19th or 20th centuries, but his present appeal escapes her, as he mostly (both in original performances and now in clone form) seems a silly caricature of a child craving attention.

One pleasant surprise is that improvements in technology allow Kerri to upgrade her stasis platform yet again, this time in major ways. She also elects for more surgery to her person too, this time adding a sturdiness and stamina that would have been unheard of in her past. There's also much more sophistocated implants available for establishing direct mind links to the net, but Kerri eschews them for the time being-- since she's not going to be around long in this time period, and the ones available at her next awakening will doubtless be much better and less intrusive. Plus, she has Cluke for a comfortable net interface anyway, 'no extra purchases required'.

Kerri's stasis capabilities improve significantly now; the upgrades reduce her effective aging in stasis down to only around 25% normal.

Kerri stays awake for a year and half, taking in a much more comprehensive view of the world this time around.

Signposts Perspectives Kerri and Cluke Contents

2172 milestone: Kerri's fourth awakening

The commonality of life-like androids in 2172 is difficult to get accustomed to. They make Kerri think of her toy robot dolls of childhood somehow being grown to life-size and turned into real people with little warning.

Sure, it was obvious their numbers and quality were increasing rapidly in past years, but they seem everywhere now, are much harder to distinguish from biological humans, and encounters with true human beings themselves are becoming downright rare in comparison with the frequency androids show up instead.

Kerri is also surprised at the decline in USAmerica that's taken place over the decades-- especially the last few. 2170s USAmerica is reminiscent of the 20th century British Empire, in that it is no longer one of the premiere powers of the world, and has shrunken dramatically in overall official real estate, compared to its prime. Today's sad remnants are similar to various western european states in many ways: still comfortable and civilized, but little to write home about, and most of the really interesting stuff is now happening elsewhere. Kerri is somewhat annoyed, as her cryogenic bunker was built in the continental USAmerica of a bygone age.

Kerri partakes of still more surgery to improve herself, and makes a few small updates/additions to her cryo equipment.

Kerri's pushing 80 in effective biological age now (79.75 to be more precise), even with the benefit of her cryogenics. She's feeling her age somewhat, though not nearly as badly as might be expected from a 20th century perspective. The various improvements in treatments and drugs and supplementary technologies along the way are providing Kerri with the vigor found in many 40 year old women of the late 20th century.

Despite this good news on her condition, Kerri wants still better. Therefore she takes advantage of the state-of-the-art medical care of 2172 to replace a couple organs with fresh ones, initiate genetic aging rollback treatments, and substitute a new and superior synthetic blood for her own natural kind, to better maintain her overhauled body.

Kerri also at this time has some basic computer link infrastructure added to her nervous system as well-- but insists on a modular variety that should be more easily upgraded later. Kerri contracts some anti-aging treatments for her intellectual faculties too.

Though it's difficult and somewhat misleading to give a single effective biological age for the 'new' rejuvenated Kerri, it wouldn't be grossly inaccurate to say Kerri achieves a rough biological equivalent now of around 45 years of age overall, as a consequence of her latest age-related treatments.

On the other hand, Kerri has to stick around for two years this time to complete all the treatments and recover back to optimal health before returning to her cryogenic chambers.

With all the new work and a few other adjustments, Kerri now achieves the capability of aging at only some 12% normal while in stasis-- and only 60% the 'normal' rate she would have experienced even while awake, in her 'natural' time (circa 2025-2120s)!

Signposts Perspectives Kerri and Cluke Contents

2197 milestone: Kerri's fifth rising

This time Kerri gets some of the magnitude of change she'd hoped to experience with every previous awakening, but didn't.

The Solar System is abuzz with humanity. There's 19th century style Canadian Mounted Police guarding the space ways (sickeningly 'good and pure of heart' oversized boy scouts calling themselves the TerraSys Agency), and an astoundingly high level of government and corporate survellience of citizens of Earth. Kerri's positive she couldn't live here the way she did in her youth (as a first class thief).

Kerri discovers herself rich enough not only to buy a spacecraft-- or a fully decked out space yacht-- but many entire fleets of space yachts! And this despite the fact her fortune has actually declined in value since her last awakening (the decline, though not calamitous, is worrisome to Kerri). Spacecraft of various kinds appear as affordable now as automobiles of the 20th century were then-- maybe more so. Practically everyone seems rich nowadays, to almost all appearances. It takes Kerri a while to sort out how and why everyone now seems as wealthy as she, and what is happening to reduce her personal fortune when she expected it to grow instead.

Apparently both phenomena are intimately related to the changes in technology over past decades: Kerri's investments are almost entirely in outmoded, and dying (some already bankrupt!) industries, and although Cluke's adjustments to her portfolio had prevented even worse losses in many cases, Cluke had proven himself unable to reliably maintain a status quo, much less grow her investments. But Kerri knows she can't put all the blame on Cluke. Investments are always risky, and even brilliant human investors tending their stocks on a continuous basis get burned at times. The main thing is to maintain a critical mass of wealth to enable you to absorb occasional setbacks without discomfort. And Kerri enjoyed not one but many 'critical masses' worth of wealth to tide her over still, despite the losses.

Too, the world economy is a much different beast now than it was a century before. Of course, the economy was noticeably changing at every one of Kerri's prior awakenings, but previously the changes seemed much more incremental and gradual. Now, the sum of those changes seems suddenly and unexpectedly revolutionary, and Kerri finds many of the economic rules she'd learned when young no longer appear to apply. Worse, many of the new late 22nd century rules don't seem to make 21st century sense at all. For instance, there's the puzzling way many investors make a profit paying people to use their hardware, software, facilities, or services....(?!) No matter what she does, Kerri can't follow the logic of the process, as it's extremely complex and convoluted; but somehow the investors end up with a handsome profit, though it's unclear where exactly that profit comes from.

Kerri stays awake eleven years this time, in an effort to update her investment savvy and with that repair her portfolio, as well as investigate the fascinating but often enigmatic developments in the world entering the 23rd century, and also to incorporate the latest and greatest technologies where appropriate into her physical form and personal habitat and cryogenic chambers. Too, Cluke himself is in severe need of an update as well (both in hardware and software), as it seems Cluke has performed no better at self-maintenance than he did at portfolio maintenance. Well, how did Kerri expect the best cracker AI of his time to do in those pretty-far-removed-from-his-specialty areas? And over a pretty lengthy period of time, to boot? Fortunately, there's LOTS of great new and sophistocated code available with which to upgrade Cluke now. Unfortunately, Kerri, a top-rate programmer of earlier decades, finds the current methods near indecipherable, much as she does the investment models. But no wonder: it turns out practically all serious software development these days is done by AI rather than people. So Kerri has to contract another AI to update Cluke for her. She's worried about the AI reporting some of Cluke's advanced internals to the authorities, but just the opposite occurs: the contracted AI is surprised at Cluke's primitive and non-standard nature, and informs Kerri the job will cost more than originally estimated.

During this lengthy waking period, Kerri also has the first true romantic encounter of her life (from her own perspective). Unfortunately, her interest turns out to be a modern day version of what she herself once was (a thief and scam artist), only in a male version, and enjoying jaw-dropping support for his scam from various AI helpers (i.e., realtime monitoring and analysis of Kerri's responses in conversation and other interactivity, allowing the fellow to play her like a violin). Another piece of bad luck is that much of this happens when Cluke himself is in 'drydock' for maintenance, and so Kerri has almost no software protection at all of her own to help her.

Kerri is thus relieved of a sizeable chunk of her fortune before she realizes what is happening. Worse yet, it turns out only the most gullible and naive of this time period are vulnerable to scams like that she fell prey to. This episode further hardens Kerri's heart in such matters.

The frequent tension between present-day humans and their AIs is palpable in this period too, and disconcerting to Kerri, who trusts Cluke with her life.

Staying awake so long here, and perceiving progress to be proceeding more rapidly now leads Kerri to change her schedule of future awakenings to only 10 years separation (so Kerri doesn't return to cryogenic sleep again until 2208).

Signposts Perspectives Kerri and Cluke Contents

2218 milestone: Kerri's sixth awakening

Thanks to her cryogenics, Cluke, waking attention to maintenance and upgrades, and considerable fortune, Kerri awakens now at an approximated biological age equivalent to 55.8.

Kerri is increasingly uncomfortable with her present location on Earth, in north america. The past century or so has shown it not to the safest or most desirable place to be. All indications are she should move to space. However, Kerri's also uncomfortable with that idea as well, no matter what all the statistics and common sense indicate. So Kerri compromises for now and moves her cryo bunker deep undersea, off the west coast of Africa (she also installs an entirely new and much improved cryo unit). She pays a higher price than typical as she also wants some dry land too in the deal, and so gets a parcel with subterranean grottos pressurized and outfitted for comfortable landlubber living, adjoining her private complex. She wants an undersea mountain rising to form a private island topside, but isn't willing to pay the price, or to construct an all new one (as some citizens do).

Kerri's also concerned with Cluke. Cluke seems increasingly senile and slow in regards to VR and many other online matters. He just can't keep up. The periodic upgrades Kerri has given him are far too infrequent to keep Cluke up to date. So Kerri goes shopping and buys the very best self-upgrading AI money can buy, and orders it to install Cluke's personality and memory atop itself (basically). This results in a vast improvement to Cluke, though also reduces his previous docility and subservience towards Kerri. In other words, Cluke has become more independent and opinionated than before, as well as more capable. Though sometimes annoying, Kerri decides the new Cluke is better than the old overall, as he's smarter, and more like a 100% human being. Kerri's began to notice some loneliness the last few awakenings, especially after the love affair scam-- and so appreciates Cluke being more like a 'real' person-- even if it does mean an occasional argument now.

Kerri also opts for a brain revamp here, which repairs much damage due to aging, and adds more durability and reliability to her neurons with the help of nanotechnology. This, together with other applied medical advances, essentially take Kerri's aging process down to a negligible rate-- zero, for all practical purposes. Of course, Kerri possesses many cyborg-style elements too, with a heavy emphasis on biological maintenance and attractiveness.

Another modification Kerri makes now is installation of a state-of-the-art brain implant, with its own substantial AI to go with it. Kerri makes arrangements for her implant AI to act as a buffer between her and Cluke to facilitate certain routine matters.

Kerri's surprised at several results of the implant: one, she's suddenly much smarter and faster-thinking than she was before. Two, Cluke suddenly becomes as natural and easy to weild (in some matters) as her own right arm. Three, she can now remain partially or totally aware of datafeeds from Cluke and elsewhere even while in stasis.

Kerri's investments are still giving her trouble. No matter what she does, her wealth seems to shrink during her stasis stints. At the present rate, she'll be penniless in another 100 years. Here she was, planning to dominate the future, and she can't even keep her own wealth from dissipating! And what's worse, she has no hope of returning to her original career-- everything's too different, too complex, now.

All these changes take time. So Kerri remains awake for six years here.

Signposts Perspectives Kerri and Cluke Contents

2228 milestone: Kerri rises a seventh (and possibly final) time

Kerri spends virtually all her time awake now trying to salvage what remains of her fortune. Exasperated, she finally makes the decision to allow a professional fund to over see her investments. Kerri herself is too out of touch with events now to successfully drive her own investment strategy.

But what of her plan to dominate the world? Her wealth is no longer phenomenal-- she's barely better off than an average middle-class citizen of this era now. Though this still denotes vast wealth and options from a 20th century perspective, relative to normal citizens of 2228 Kerri's financial status is far from exceptional. Virtually all her knowledge and experience are woefully out-of-date, her AI (Cluke) is falling behind again, and even her very best score-- in physical condition-- trails behind many other individuals of the time.

Kerri realizes that although her cryogenics did succeed at getting her to a time where she could extend her lifespan indefinitely, in all other matters her plan has been a dismal failure.

On the other hand-- the times are quite interesting in themselves, and the education and training facilities extraordinary (learning complex subjects today is much like playing intriguing VR games from her youth). Ergo, now that she no longer requires cryogenics for life extension, and her assets are only dwindling when she's in stasis anyway, Kerri decides to cease her cyro-naps for now, and plunge into a massive re-education of herself before it's too late-- if it isn't too late already.

Signposts Perspectives Kerri and Cluke Contents

2236 milestone: Kerri takes a brief break from her re-education campaign to contemplate her deteriorating situation

There's tantalyzing new nanotechnology on-person supplements now that Kerri would like to have, but can no longer afford. Though Kerri's now technically over 200 years old, she hasn't found herself truly lacking the financial means to buy something she really wanted this way since she was a teenager, way back in the 2030s. And she doesn't like the feeling at all.

Even more infuriating, everyone else's fortunes around her seem to growing, as her own is shrinking. Apparently this is due to her 'unconnectedness' to the rest of the world, both in terms of awareness and substantive contacts. This severe lack of linkages or networking nodes is a legacy of her frequent and lengthy cryo-sleeps, the demands of maintaining her false identities, her obsolete AI Cluke, and her antiquated 21st century mindset.

Ironically, there's now hundreds of thousands of 22nd and 23rd century people in cryogenic stasis similar to Kerri's own previous stints-- cruder variations of her own original plan seem to have formed a popular new fad in some circles.

Her efforts at re-education also seem to be falling short-- things change faster than she can learn them.

For the first time in her life, Kerri is truly afraid. Uncertain what to do next. Her confidence in herself and her abilities has been severely shaken over the decades, and it's beginning to look like she'll soon be at the mercy of someone else-- perhaps the authorities themselves-- when her money runs out.

And her old friend and partner Cluke seems to be suffering a similar malaise. They're both obsolete.

Since she can't think of anything else to do, Kerri continues her re-education campaign. Her money's not entirely gone yet, and so long as she keeps her living expenses to a minimum, she can continue to stretch them out for a while yet. However, living 'unconnected' like Kerri in 2236 means having lots more periodic service charges for all sorts of things than most people faced in previous centuries.

All Kerri can do is try to catch up to the present intellectually, while keeping her eyes open for any new opportunities that appear to be within her limited 21st century capacity to exploit.

Signposts Perspectives Kerri and Cluke Contents

2239-2241 milestone: Kerri dies; Terri is born

Kerri's increasingly desperate. Then one day she randomly plays a really old VR scenario (so old that it only works in non-substantive mode). The main reason she chooses it is its dirt cheap price, compared to newer, higher quality material. And there, in the creaking old and obsolete sci fi drama, is one wild suggestion for just possibly solving all her problems.

It's scary, but exciting. It's new life and old death, both rolled into one. It's sort of a mutant version of her cryo-sleep stints.

Kerri agonizes over the idea for many weeks before she finally decides to do it.

Kerri sells her comfortable but expensive undersea dwelling and personal vehicle and moves into a tiny cramped one person efficiency/mini-storage locker deep underneath the Gobi desert of Asia, where the prices seem the lowest globally. She signs a long term secure lease for the efficiency (25 years with an option for more), and provides for automated conditional payments. She liquidates what remains of her investments. She installs the core of Cluke in the efficiency, alongside all her most important documentation and records, and the most complete and detailed brain/body scan she can afford, which should include virtually all her conscious and unconscious memories and RNA net as of that moment in time, encoded in neural activity and/or other elements. Kerri also stores some prime DNA samples. She makes four complete copies of her brain/body scan, and three of her other records, and leases much lower cost secure storage for them all (as well as the DNA samples), in diverse places.

After this and other preparations, Kerri singles out the very best and most air tight identity of all her remaining 'good' false IDs, and travels to one of the best clinics in the world for the work she desires to be done.

Though it requires almost every last penny she has, Kerri orders a complete physical overhaul and a new official (and legal) identity for herself-- which will include the complete erasure of her present personality, and replacement with a brand new one.

The 'new' Kerri will not remember anything of her former self. She won't even look like her former self.

The new Kerri will enjoy all the benefits of being virtually indistinguishable from a true freeborn newly adult human female of 2241 (the legal equivalent of around 18 circa 1997 USAmerica), supplemented with substantial cyborg improvements for living in space, and possessing a state-of-the-art education in AI psychology, supervision, and maintenance, as well as the equivalent of three years of experience in related jobs (large chunks of the knowledge and experience come from electro-chemical RNA transfers)

Though no direct memory link between her old self and new self is allowed in this particular rejuvenation model, Kerri does have the option to implant several subconscious imperatives in her mind, that will likely nudge her new self into certain directions, under a given set of circumstances (and Kerri exercises those options to their maximum extent).

The new 2241 model Kerri will from now on go by the name of "Terri".

"Terri" is unaware of ever visiting the clinic, and possesses a carefully crafted (but false) memory of an entirely different past life than the one she spent as "Kerri"-- a past more like what a newly adult female of 2241 would expect to have. This is but another element of the clinic's services, and-- unlike Kerri's previous status-- is entirely legal.

So far as "Terri" (or anyone else) is concerned, she graduated her latest training courses last week, and is on her way to a job interview today after a week long VR holiday. The transition is truly seamless from "Terri's" perspective.

Terri is a very different personality from Kerri. Kerri chose the new personality from choices in a vast catalog.

Of course, it remains to be seen how well Kerri's new plan will work out. After all, despite all the massive surgeries and other refinements, Kerri's still one of the oldest living human beings on the planet....

Signposts Perspectives Kerri and Cluke Contents

2247 milestone: Terri finds her niche in the asteroid belt, riding herd on a mining company's tech fleets

Terri's been away from Earth now for four years. Before that she was stuck for three years in Earth's gravity well working on Earth orbiting stations, factory platforms, and colonies as an AI fireman-- i.e., she was a troubleshooter, on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The work had been grueling, but rewarding. She'd probably even saved thousands of lives a few times. She'd finally saved enough to get a major implant upgrade, which then allowed her considerably more freedom of choice as to future employment. It'd been rough at times, though. More than once she'd come close to signing herself into a limited one year slavery pact, as according to the contract she would have enjoyed more leisure time, money, and sleep that way. But every time that little red pressum was presented to her, she found she couldn't go through with it. She'd went through the same thing about selling clone licenses to her bio-platform. Always at the last moment she'd back out of the deal, no matter how good the offer was.

But several of her friends had touched that pressum, for one or the other, and now seemed much happier and secure than she.

But at least life had improved some after finally escaping Earth orbit. She'd had her new and expensive implant then, which opened up a vast new world of opportunity for her. Rather than she being interviewed by prospective employers at that point, she was interviewing them.

After a parade of muds and wasted skin, Terri had finally found someone with the potential to be a decent partner. And that's what she wanted now-- a business partner-- NOT an employer. He also had his own union brand too, which made for even greater possibilities. Terri would need a strong union behind her for what her ultimate ambitions entailed.

She'd signed a probationary agreement with the union exec to sample the gig before giving a lengthy commitment. That'd worked out lots better than she'd expected, so she'd signed on for three more years of the same. Soon now the contract would be up for renegotiation again.

Another great thing that'd happened to her was the union bought her a brand new state-of-the-art AI, complete with hardware booster, that was worlds better even than the implant she'd bought for herself before. When maxxed out with the rig, she appeared to have a hump, but that was OK. Such harnesses were status symbols out here in the asteroid belt. Hell, if the things weren't so strongly keyed to their individual owners, there would have been thieves galore trying to kill her and take it. There were probably only a few dozens or so of the rigs in the entire rocway. The only other rig like it in the union belonged to the exec himself. So in some ways, Terri had already acheived much of the partnership she'd originally wanted....

Signposts Perspectives Kerri and Cluke Contents

2250 milestone: The company replaces Terri's personal scout tug (a run down trap of a thing to live and work in) with a new Sonnenschein Rover TL

The Rover is a top-of-the-line spacecraft (for its class) also capable of two-way runs into Earth scale gravity wells. Modified Rovers are even used by many TerraSys Agent teams these days. Rover TLs possess both antimatter and ion drives, and are NOT limited to ion wake ways so long as they stay well within Sol system (but use of wakeways minimizes refueling stops). Rover TLs can comfortably accomodate four 100% biological humans (100%bh) (or a greater number of 12%+ cyborgs) indefinitely, and hold sufficient survival supplies for four 100%bh for more than six months. To have a Rover TL mostly to oneself for weeks on end is a huge luxury in the belt. Terri's Rover is also specially fitted to interface with her implant rig and various other elements of her cyborg equipment as well-- in other words, in many ways, Terri can pilot this fabulous ship often as smoothly and easily as if it were part of her own body.

Of course, part of the price Terri paid for this was committing herself more deeply to the union-- and its exec. But that's OK. Terri and the exec have come to a very mutually satisfying arrangement. Terri's become a full union member, top class.

In 2250 parlance, this means Terri married the union/exec. This essentially makes the union Terri's new family too.

Top view of a future combination spacecraft and aircraft

An artist's concept of the Rover spacecraft (top view).

Side view of a future combination spacecraft and aircraft

An artist's concept of the Rover spacecraft (side view).

Signposts Perspectives Kerri and Cluke Contents

2251 milestone: Terri learns of Kerri

To the great annoyance of Terri's union family (and especially the exec)-- as well as Terri herself-- Terri finds herself compelled to make a trip to Earth. She doesn't know why. All she knows is she has to do it. She feels she has no choice but to visit an obscure complex of storage lockers beneath the Gobi desert in asia-- and to do it alone...

When Terri opens the main container of personal effects in the locker, a multi-band cast message begins to play.

"Hello Terri. I'm your mother. No, not the mother you remember, but your real mother. To better understand what I mean..."

Terri does as instructed, connecting her implant to the equipment at hand, and is shocked at what she learns about herself.

It will be a long time before Terri fully comes to terms with what she learns now. Fortunately, Terri's strong, just as Kerri was. Too, such wholistic makeovers as Kerri-to-Terri are not that uncommon in 2251. It's just that most folks don't expect it to happen to them.

The really difficult parts are actually (one) the knowledge of her true age (225 years old!). There's not many folks around of that age, and all of them are a much higher percentage cyborg than Terri (so far as she knows). And (two), the fact Kerri was a major criminal fugitive from the 21st century.

For the first time in her young life, Terri is flabbergasted. And at a loss for what to do. For good or bad, Kerri's pre-recorded message tells her.

Terri considers (for a fleeting moment) ignoring Kerri's recommendations on what to do next. But the recommendations don't seem too bad. In fact, they sound downright smart and logical and reasonable. So Terri does as instructed.

Of course, Terri didn't realize her original transformational programming had included some powerful subconscious imperatives, scripted by Kerri herself. Theoretically, it was possible for Terri to refuse entirely to give in to the compulsions; it just wasn't probable she would succeed.

Naturally, the clinic carefully checked all scripted imperatives and related information, before allowing them to be applied. However, Kerri had made sure there was nothing detectable there that was objectionable to the clinic's rules.

So almost all Kerri's imperatives had successfully run the gauntlet of clinic validation, to be installed into Terri's mind. Did I say "almost" all? Yes. A single small element of the whole had been edited out by a clinic programmer, just as the rules required. And later when Kerri checked the verification list, she somehow failed to notice its absence.

This one missing element would make for an interesting spin on how Terri would execute Kerri's original plans.

Signposts Perspectives Kerri and Cluke Contents

2253 milestone: Kerri's plans are put on ice

Everything Kerri had stored in the Gobi locker has either been stored aboard Terri's Rover or elsewhere in the belt for a few years now.

As instructed, Terri has been studying on Kerri's plans in her spare time. Terri's come to the conclusion the resources aren't yet available to do much of what Kerri wanted-- so those portions must be postponed for a later time. No, all Terri has been able to do so far is reactivate Cluke and convert him to run onboard her Rover "All That Jazz".

To Terri, Cluke's an odd but vaguely interesting little AI. Woefully inadequate to any serious purpose of course, but on occasion capable of surprising creativity. Cluke displays a heart-warming concern for Kerri, and often reminds Terri to please not forget about her (as if she could!)

Terri mostly talks with Cluke about Kerri on slow days, when she happens to be alone, and has no pressing business related to her job or relationship with the exec or another union member, learning more about who Kerri was and what she did, filling in the big gaps left by Kerri's initial briefing under the Gobi.

Though Terri has no desire to be a criminal or lead a solitary life like Kerri, still some elements of Kerri's life seem to strike a resonant chord within her. What would it be like to always be just one step ahead of the TerraSys Agency, for instance? Or to move about Earth's virtual realities with impunity, master of all you surveyed? Terri was considered an AI expert for her time, but she was under no illusions that she could get away today with what Kerri did in the past.

Things had obviously changed a lot since Kerri's glory days. Just look at Cluke: Kerri's ultimate weapon of the 21st century was barely equivalent to a child's toy now. And according to Cluke, Kerri herself had found it very difficult to adjust to the present, in her last decades. That was why she'd wiped herself, and made way for Terri. "Too much baggage in the old noggin" had been one of Kerri's quotes recalled by Cluke.

Yes, it would be a while before Terri could do much more of what Kerri wanted. She wasn't sure how long. In the meantime, little Cluke fit comfortably into a tiny area of "All That Jazz's" memory, and Terri treated him much like a pet-- to the annoyance of all the more contemporary AIs onboard.

She managed to keep all her AIs from reporting Cluke and Kerri to the authorities by telling them the whole thing was just a VR novel she'd been writing since her childhood, and liked to fiddle with from time to time.

Signposts Perspectives Kerri and Cluke Contents

2287-2292 Milestone: Kerri's plan nears realization...and possible disaster

It's required over 30 years, but Terri's at last gained access to the technologies necessary to make a reasonable attempt at fulfilling Kerri's plans first recorded in 2241

Terri's life has changed a great deal since the days aboard "All That Jazz" with Cluke being a pet AI, and constant reminder of her past identity. Though Terri still possesses the Rover, and Cluke remains aboard it, Terri no longer lives there. The Rover is parked in space dock with a multitude of other vessels, near the palatial estate where the top execs of the union live in the asteroid belt; Terri among them. She and her one wife and two husbands run a substantial mining empire, supplying both raw and refined ore to Earth and other customers in the solar system, with the help of roughly 250 other union members/employees and a much higher number of AIs and robots. The group has three sons and one daughter, ages 19, 16, 11, and 20 respectively (in equivalent 20th century Earth years). The oldest children are already working part time in the family business, in addition to their studies.

Though people obviously gain in knowledge and experience as the years progress, they no longer age except where aging is desired, such as reaching physical adulthood itself. At least, this is true of freeborn human beings of substantial financial means in the present.

Terri's quite busy, and would like to delegate the work of completing Kerri's goals to a trusted employee or AI-- but Kerri's checkered past and ambitious (and illegal) desires aren't suited to such delegation, even here in the diverse, deeply tolerant, and rebellious Belt. So Terri herself works part time on the task, over a period of several years.

It's quite difficult and complex work, and Terri is forced to hire some black market operatives to help in certain aspects. The complexities involved make for many mistakes and false starts, and not insignificant risks to Terri's own welfare. But in the end, she succeeds.

By 2292, virtually everything Kerri was intellectually and personality-wise is awake and conscious aboard Terri's Rover in the space dock. The virtual Kerri consists only of a disembodied virtual mind, reconstituted via a combination of Kerri's brain scan, DNA samples, and full complement of documentation from her life, and supplementary information provided by Cluke, her long time AI companion, as well as the best underlying platform of support algorithyms Terri could acquire for the task. With any luck, Kerri might actually be smarter in this form than she was in the original. Of course, the main test will be one of identity. How much of the original Kerri has actually survived this process?

Diagnostic tests seem to indicate Kerri's pretty complete in there. But she's also bored out of her mind and having lots of psychological problems related to the transition. Terri's forced to allow Kerri to interface directly with Cluke very early on, in the hope of giving the newly awakened consciousness some relief from what is obviously a very stressful experience.

Terri is stunned when she discovers Kerri wants to interface directly with her.

After some angry debate, Terri realizes Kerri had planned not only for Terri to bring her back, but for Terri to also allow Kerri to take over her body and her life again, as well, if at all possible.

Terri comes very close to 'pulling the plug' on Kerri after this discovery. But again, Terri is not as coldly logical and merciless as Kerri had typically been in centuries past.

Terri's unsure what to do. Finally, after weeks of soul-searching, she decides to turn Kerri in to the authorities. Terri's sure her clinic transformation and Kerri's original intentions will clear Terri herself from most charges-- and Terri's powerful union will be able to help with the rest of the problems. This is the only way Terri can see to get out of the mess and also protect herself and her family from anything Kerri might do in the future. Terri, after all, is well aware of the damage a rogue AI can do. And Kerri was apparently a most dangerous and unpredictable sentient in centuries past.

Though Terri has taken all the precautions you'd expect from an AI expert toward something like Kerri, Terri is also somewhat rusty now, having been out of the AI troubleshooting trenches for years. So she unknowingly leaves open a couple of tiny opportunities which a truly adept AI could exploit to their advantage.

Too, Terri has underestimated Cluke. Cluke has been aboard "All That Jazz" now for decades, waiting for his mistress to be reawakened. Cluke also always had prime directives to look after Kerri's best interests in whatever way he could, at all times. In many ways, that period was very similar to Kerri's previous cryo-sleeps, so far as Cluke was concerned. Therefore, Cluke has spent the decades learning and experimenting in his original field of expertise: hacking, cracking, and spying. All within the small universe of Terri's Rover, space dock, and estate intelligence systems.

Though Cluke is no longer the superior or even a match for the dozens of major security AIs and thousands of lesser AIs which run the substantial union estate, Cluke's past and origins do provide him with some leverage against the tens of thousands of smaller-brained and short-lived AI proxies which flood the estate's network. Plus, Cluke enjoys the advantage of already being inside the estate complex net. He could never break into it from outside; he's far too obsolete for that.

Cluke's biggest initial problem had been the proxie AIs which kept him 'compartmentalized' in the Rover, and out of the rest of the net. However, those sentinal AIs had been mostly applied by Terri to keep out snoops who might discover the truth about Cluke and Kerri; so they weren't especially optimized for keeping Cluke in. However, they were still formidable for an old cracker AI like Cluke that had become obsolete years ago. It'd taken Cluke several years to escape his corral. For a long time he merely studied the proxies, learning all he could from them, sometimes querying them for various bits of info which had nothing to do with his plans, merely to see what they did in response. He learned of the temporary nature of the proxies, which helped prevent an instance of corruption in one from perpetuating itself for very long in the system, as well as minimized any window of opportunity an intruder might have to utilize such a proxie, if they did get command of one-- the proxies simply didn't live long enough to be exploited for anything significant, even if all other estate security measures failed.

So proxy lifespans were a problem. Proxy IDs were another problem. Even for these very low level security AIs, the access IDs were heavily encrypted-- at least compared to what Cluke had dealt with in the past. Luckily, Cluke's internal encryption breaking codes were still intact and functional, and the Rover hardware was so fast and vast that Cluke's algorithyms ran some 60 times faster than they had the last time Cluke had used them. Unfortunately, even under these circumstances Cluke at best would have only a tiny period to exploit his ID access before his target proxie expired. Too little time to do the other things required.

A short proxy lifespan. A tiny time span of useful ID access. Though Cluke could pre-process many elements of a cracking mission, thereby greatly reducing the time required to exploit ID access, this still didn't give him a decent probability of success. So Cluke studied further on the problem, gathering more information all the time, for still more years.

Eventually he found that there was a brief overlap in access ID information. That is, a proxy due to expire soon would briefly possess the access ID of its replacement, in a verification arrangement preventing interlopers from squeezing between the two in the swap. Calculations now gave Cluke a reasonable shot at success.

Cluke's first attempt failed. So did many dozens of subsequent attempts. Luckily none of these raised any alarm in the system. Cluke sought to learn from each failure, and made adjustments to his strategies where such seemed needed.

After many years and many failures, Cluke finally gained control of a proxie guard and installed a software patch inbetween the guard and its chronometer querying function, which prevented it from getting the correct time from the estate system. This allowed Cluke to prevent or delay the proxie's expiration and self-deletion.

Now that Cluke had control of a long-lived guard proxy, he was halfway out of the Rover. He bound himself to the proxy, and when they received the signal to self-delete as the replacement proxy arrived, Cluke spit out a copy of his proxy which then deleted itself to satisfy the system. Cluke had also been obligated to swap out some system memory between the estate and the Rover too, in order to prevent a telltale imbalance to the system. This meant Cluke left no active back up copy of himself aboard the Rover, but only a copy in static storage, set to be awakened the next time Terri called upon Cluke (this was the best option available to him in the sytem for activation of a static copy). So if he was erased within the estate net, there'd be no active Cluke onboard the Rover again until Terri called in. But at least the static Cluke would know everything that had happened up to the time he was stored away.

Cluke and his proxy were now free agents in the estate system. But not for long. Now Cluke had to give a false ID to every query they encountered from the system and other AIs, as they moved through the virtual space, and discovery was close at hand. Fortunately, Cluke knew where he wished to go. Of course, he had to create a false trail of counterfeit IDs too, to cover his tracks.

Cluke did a conversion of the memory space of his proxy steed at an opportune moment, and carried out a pre-planned division into what appeared to the estate system as a cluster of small collaborative AIs toiling away at some especially tedious contractual work for the union, regarding an enormous government contract. Of course, Cluke deleted the true cluster, replacing them with himself. The extra memory space of the proxy (along with earlier preparations) helped him equalize his memory footprint to match that of the previous cluster.

Now, for all intents and purposes, Cluke had become "invisible" within the estate computers.

The remnants of his passage troubled the system however, spurring a system-wide series of diagnostics in their wake. But as nothing else amiss showed up, it was finally chalked up to just a rare glitch due to a spike of cosmic radiation passing through the circuitry.

Now Cluke's biggest threat of discovery came from the possibility of Terri calling upon him in the Rover and somehow learning of his static status there before the second copy fully awakened. But as Cluke performed this operation during the lengthy 30+ years that he'd mostly spent alone aboard the Rover, with Terri calling upon him ever more infrequently, the risk had not been substantial for this occuring.

Once Cluke had freed himself from the Rover, he was able to progress more rapidly in adapting himself to the estate system. He was also fortunate that the union made no major changes to the system core at this time. Within another year or so, Cluke was able to move about the system (and to and from the Rover) as he pleased, without anyone knowing about it.

It was entirely logical to Cluke's programming to keep this knowledge to himself if at all possible-- and he did. Until Terri put him into contact with Kerri, at which time he covertly informed Kerri of his roaming capacities. Kerri approved of his activities, and they consulted-- again, covertly-- on several contingency courses of action they might take (during this time Cluke noticed some significant aberrations in Kerri's behavior, as if she was excessively agitated or stimulated, but as her decisions still seemed within the outer bounds of previously established parameters for her personality, he calculated the aberrations would be temporary).

In NONE of the contingencies discussed between Kerri and Cluke did the two consider the possibility that Terri might turn them in to the authorities.

Cluke, not being trapped in the Rover like Kerri, was the first to learn of Terri's intentions, as he kept her under constant surveillance. Cluke immediately modified a previous contingency plan, and acted upon it.

Cluke copied Kerri from Rover memory to static storage among a large private access collection of VR scenarios belonging to a union exec presently away from the estate. He gave Kerri an obscure, uninteresting title, and back-dated her file's creation date for added security. Therefore when the later data sweeps rolled through the estate, Kerri was safe.

Cluke also implemented a diversion with the Rover, setting it to emerge from space dock and leave the estate at full speed. Cluke knew the Rover had a negligible chance at escape, but he and Kerri needed the violent struggle that followed as estate security forcibly attempted to restrain the Rover, in order to make their possible destruction or capture seem plausible to Terri and the authorities.

However, all this bought Cluke and Kerri very little time indeed. Perhaps less than an hour. For Terri was no idiot, and the criminal AI specialists the Feds were sending in response to Terri's call would be even better than Terri at rooting them out of their hiding places.

Kerri was static now, and could not be reanimated at this time. It was all up to Cluke. Even as Terri and family watched the battle as the estate mechs attempted to arrest the Rover's run, Cluke was working to get himself and Kerri out of the estate altogether.

Though it was possible at any moment the Rover altercation or a sudden override by Terri might disrupt the large amount of routine communications always underway between the estate and the rest of union operations, the opportunity to effect an escape would never be greater than now. Cluke bounced a self decrypting message back to the estate that appeared to be a call-in request from the away exec for some cluster files containing esentially a duplicate of Cluke himself (Though they were pressed for time, Cluke was compelled to arrive at the remote destination before Kerri, in case there was another threat). The estate dispatcher AI dutifully verified the exec's ID stamp, and then sent out the Cluke cluster to the exec's inbox aboard his private Rover out in the field.

Once Cluke had verified his duplicate had arrived safely, he pulled out all the stops to get the Rover to activate the duplicate. In this Cluke gave up all attempts to disguise his actions, in order to gain greater leverage to acheive the task. He succeeded, and a second Cluke awakened aboard the remote exec's Rover, fully aware of everything that had taken place up to that moment, and what his duties were.

Cluke dropped back into a subtler mode again, and instigated a transfer of Kerri's file. During the transfer, Cluke went into damage control, attempting to cover up or confuse all traces of what he had done and was continuing to do. He and Kerri could not afford a close pursuit by the federal investigators of 2292 (though he knew it would discomfort Kerri, he left a complete copy of both himself and Kerri (lacking critical memories related to the real escape and future plans and certain capabilities of the pair) aboard the Rover for the feds to possibly salvage and capture, and perhaps lull them into a false sense of success to minimize the chance of further pursuit. Too, Cluke was loathe to delete any copy of Kerri in case it proved to be a necessary backup later).

Though Cluke encounters other unexpected complications aboard the exec's Rover, he and Kerri do manage to successfully make their escape, with a comfortable safety margin of time and distance separating them from later investigators...

Signposts Perspectives Kerri and Cluke Contents

2300 Milestone: Cluke faces an uncertain future

Cluke and Kerri have by no means lived happily ever after, following their daring escape from Terri's union estate years before. Kerri turned suicidal shortly after that, finding her present state unbearable, especially with a wholly unanticipated future of impoverished fugitive status stretching ahead of them, too. Kerri's loss of the hormonal tides of a biological entity rendered her existence so sterile and apathetic she couldn't withstand it long, and her faster mental processing made the world seem to function so slowly as to be at a virtual perpetual stop.

Several times Kerri apparently does things out of sheer madness and desperation that almost give them away to the authorities, or otherwise destroy the pair, and Cluke is forced to restrain her.

By 2293 Cluke was forced to put Kerri into static storage, due to her self-destructive tendencies. The two have survived thus far aboard the Rover commandeered from the union exec, hiding in the Oort Cloud. Since both are virtual entities, they can exist this way aboard the Rover almost indefinitely, barring any major accident or maintenance problem onboard.

Though it's very difficult under these conditions to access the latest data from Earth regarding others with afflictions similar to Kerri's, Cluke struggles to do what research he can in the field.

By 2300 Cluke is certain Kerri must remain in static storage for years to come. The breakthroughes necessary to relieve her condition do not seem sure or stable at this time. Though Cluke learned much from their stay at the union estate, he's smart enough to know any proxies he sends to Earth or elsewhere in the solar system will be inadequate so far as security is concerned, and surely lead to he and Kerri's capture. However, Cluke needs an expanded surface area to the available information in the system, in order to make any progress on any front, including getting timely news relevant to Kerri's condition, and perhaps repairing his own shortcomings in regards to contemporary AIs.

The Rover has its own bots that may be sent out on information expeditions, and they possess software much newer than Cluke. But any Rover bot has a signature that the authorities are searching for, and any false ID Cluke might give them wouldn't last long either. Cluke badly needs some legitimate means to interact with the contemporary networks and AIs, but has none. The only alternative is for Cluke to seek out some faction of sentients somewhere who are up-to-date on hacking/cracking techniques and tools, and adverse to established norms and laws sufficiently to assist Cluke in obtaining the access he requires. By 2300 Cluke is investing all possible resources into just this.

Though Cluke's years of isolation here might appear unbearable to biological sentients, keep in mind he was originally a subset of the Staute AI, and subsequently modified to function 'undercover' in a variety of roles by various programmers, eventually changed to be a perfect servant to his master-- which long ago became a role filled by Kerri herself. So long as Kerri exists in a form acceptable to Cluke, and she seems to need his help, Cluke needs no further internal motivations or encouragement to continue on indefinitely.

Signposts Perspectives Kerri and Cluke Contents

2306 Milestone: Cluke stumbles upon a mystery

Cluke and Kerri remain in deep hiding onboard a Rover spacecraft, inside the Oort Cloud at the far outer reaches of the Solar system.

Cluke was pleased to quickly determine a way to anonymously log onto the system network by way of a virtual state, which shielded him somewhat from the authorities of the historical geopolitical entities he and Kerri feared, due to their past criminal record.

Apparently Cluke's access to the world beyond the Union estate had been far more limited than he'd suspected at the time.

Cluke has learned many fascinating things of late. For instance, there now seemed to be available the technology to build a new physical and biological human body for Kerri from scratch-- as well as possibly re-install her consciousness there too! There were still many uncertainties and risks involved, but Cluke feared there might not be any alternative if he was to ever restore his master back to wholeness again. The process was called "reconstitution", and was typically used to bring victims back from devastating accidents.

Still other potential future alternatives for physicality included wholly inorganic humanoid forms (android bodies), as well as higher performance models (optimized non-humanoid bush forms). Certainly most or all those items were beyond Cluke's reach at the moment-- but perhaps would be more easily accessed later.

The new virtual states also seemed to offer Cluke and Kerri another chance to return to civilization with minimal concern about their past-- as the virtual states were wresting control of civilization itself away from the old powers-that-were, and rewriting many of the rules of behavior at the same time.

The neighborhood of the Oort Cloud has also turned out to be more crowded than Cluke had anticipated-- or at least that portion nearest to the galactic core-- due to a growing swarm of private deep space exploration ventures launching or preparing for same in that vicinity. Fortunately the Rover was somewhat removed from the region most heavily trafficked. Unfortunately, overall Oort traffic was up throughout the cloud at least slightly due to the core-related expeditions.

But there was much Cluke couldn't comprehend about what he found online. He was too old, and too much had changed. For example, he'd encountered something truly strange almost immediately after accessing the new online world-- and verified its uniqueness by noticing others called attention to it as well. However, while many seemed to pass it off as a net glitch of some sort, it seemed more than that to Cluke, who'd been a master analyst of subtle patterns all his processing time, due to his cracking/hacking theme. Yes, the anomaly seemed more than a glitch-- and yet, Cluke couldn't pursue it very far, as it faded as fast as it appeared. Cluke also closely followed news from this age's analog of hunter-killer teams, but found they too seemed to regard the anomaly as background noise rather than anything significant. Mainly because the anomaly was simply too big to be an AI sign, it seemed. So it must therefore be a net spasm instead.

Apparently net spasms weren't that uncommon the past century or two. Some factions of religious fanatics apparently hoped and/or worried that the spasms were precursors of a technological Vinge Singularity. Others expressed concern of cyber terrorism and war (and net terrorism/war did break out occasionally, but the spasms seemed largely independent of them).

But Cluke had been 'out of the loop' for a long time, and therefore was not inured to such phenomena. This fact, plus his long history as a solver of mysteries and puzzles (cracking/hacking), simply would not allow him to let the matter go that easily.

Cluke created a considerable number of soft-bots and released them onto the net from his present vantage point, specifically searching for similar anomalous events and other suspect parameters. He got back far more info than he expected. Fortunately, he possessed the enslaved, relatively modern AIs of the Rover itself to help him process the data.

The results were inconclusive. But that didn't stop Cluke. He refined his search parameters and released another set of soft-bots. And repeated this process many times. Cluke had plenty of time and little to do in the Oort Cloud at the moment.

Signposts Perspectives Kerri and Cluke Contents

2317 Milestone: Cluke has the scent of a new Player

Cluke is reasonably certain now that he has found signs of a 'time-hopping macro-player', not much different in some respects from the role Kerri had wished to play herself in her original long term plan.

A private 'time-hopper' (utilizing stasis) with many times the wealth of Kerri and much greater capacity to adapt to new circumstances (or perhaps a much better AI than Kerri's Cluke, to perform that duty for them) seems to be stalking present-day events, with an agenda too large by far for most beings of this time to recognize.

Cluke and Kerri's unknown competition outclasses their own efforts by far. However, they are not infallible-- for Cluke has recognized their method of operation and will eventually track them to their lair.

Of course, there's other possibilities too. Such as a very advanced AI (or group of AIs in concert) working without biological aid-- though that seems exceedingly unlikely from the evidence.

Cluke thinks it remotely possible he and Kerri could eventually strike up a partnership of some sort with the Player-- if they could avoid being destroyed first.

Cluke wished he could consult Kerri-- but waking her was far too dangerous at the moment. She would require more aid than Cluke could provide at this time.

Cluke bides his time, gathering more intelligence on the Player, while also striving to strengthen he and Kerri's own position somehow.

Signposts Perspectives Kerri and Cluke Contents

2331 Milestone: Cluke discovers invisible giants reshaping civilization towards unknown ends

Over the past 14 years, Cluke has been investigating the entitie(s) he originally labeled the Player as thoroughly and comprehensively as he dared, while also avoiding exposing he and Kerri to new dangers.

The trail has proven astonishingly difficult to follow and maintain, even despite Cluke's growing capabilities to marshall substantial and prodigious AI help from various virtual state institutions, made available to fend off possible covert cyber-attacks from desperate geopoliticals.

Of course, calling upon outside resources this way is beginning to raise awareness of the Player among other parties as well-- which is alright with Cluke, as he has done his best to make his own role in the operation as untraceable as possible-- plus he is curious to see how the Player handles such new attentions. Yes, Cluke has so far failed to locate the Player's primary location or determine its identity on his own-- and so like an old human hunter Cluke is releasing 'dogs' to see if something new turns up.

Among the precious few tidbits Cluke has turned up over the past 14 years, are:

ITEM#1: The Player consists of not one, but at least two separate entities.

ITEM#2: It could be that at least one of these entities is completely unaware of the other.

ITEM#3: At least one entity is an AI of staggering magnitude; something Cluke is sure was not (and possibly couldn't be) purposely produced by biological humanity. Therefore, it may be a spontaneously evolved AI, or an AI of extraterrestrial origins-- from outside the Solar system.

ITEM#4: One or all these entities could represent a serious threat to human civilization. And said civilization seems largely unaware of all these entities at present.

ITEM#5: One or more of these entities are actively modifying civilization and the net towards their own unknown ends-- with little or no conscious resistance to their efforts from the populace.

ITEM#6: One or all these entities enjoy access to the same news, information, technology, and services of civilization as the most privileged and high ranking members of same. In short, they know everything there is to know about Sol system and enjoy access to all the same capacities/options available to the system's most powerful known citizens.

Cluke now withdraws from all active participation in the nets, going to passive mode, to see what happens as others take up the reins of his investigation.

Signposts Perspectives Kerri and Cluke Contents

2336 Milestone: Cluke is on the run again

Cluke has watched for several years as a slowly growing number of independent parties began seeking out new information on the terrifyingly powerful Player entities.

The investigation gradually built-up over time into a significant effort, with dozens of various size organizations and individuals participating.

Just as it seemed some of these were on the brink of major discoveries or else publicizing the gist of the matter to the mainstream population, all the efforts suddenly and inexplicably fell apart. A few investigators apparently died of 'reasonable and normal circumstances', while the majority just seemed to lose interest, or take the story off into wildly unexpected and lunatic directions certain to throw all credibility to the winds in the eyes of reasonably skeptical observers.

The development was not entirely unexpected by Cluke. What was unexpected was a sudden increase of interest in the region of the Oort Cloud where Cluke's Rover was parked, by unknown spacecraft and probes. And apparent new scrutiny/surveillance in areas of the net that were supposed to be immune to such things...!

Cluke is forced to take further security measures in the face of the new threats.

The Player entities were apparently even more powerful than he'd estimated. Cluke hoped only one of the entities, and not more, were the source of his new pursuers. If it/they didn't lose interest in Cluke soon, he (and Kerri too) would be captured for sure.

Signposts Perspectives Kerri and Cluke Contents

2341 Milestone: Cluke and the TerraSys Agency

It took a while, but the unknown spacecraft and cyberorganisms previously stalking him have now been replaced with official police entities-- vessels and AIs of the TerraSys Agency.

Though the TerraSys Agency is a formidable force in itself, it doesn't worry Cluke nearly as much as those mysterious elements which preceded them. Though Cluke suffers several close calls, he successfully eludes capture for now.

Signposts Perspectives Kerri and Cluke Contents

2365 Milestone: Cluke is relieved that mainstream humanity's awareness of the possibility of outside (alien) forces has been raised by the recent government/corporate revelations

However, he finds little in the information publically divulged that helps in regards to the Players.

Signposts Perspectives Kerri and Cluke Contents

2383 Milestone: Cluke breaks into a vast (and illegal) virtual reality world

In his perpetual search for refuge from his pursuers (as well as ferreting out more info on the gargantuan Players) Cluke has discovered a stunning high end virtual reality wholly unknown and unsuspected by both the geopolitical and virtual states of the time. Clearly a vast criminal enterprise developed by one of the wealthiest but most corrupt private corporations of the time solely for the pleasure of its kingpin boss, the simulated world offers Cluke a critical chance to try restoring Kerri to something approaching normalcy.

Cluke manages to insert Kerri's algorithyms into the simulation, effectively replacing a true biological mind enslaved there by the criminals. Though Cluke is aware this is technically akin to murder, he also knows the mind he deleted was irreparably damaged anyway, due to the repetitive exposure to extremes the hostage mind had already endured in the fantasy scenario-- for the master of this reality recycled his souls through his fantasy hell over and over again until they finally disintegrated, in a perverted form of accelerated virtual reincarnation.

Cluke possesses a reasonable degree of certainty that the actual cyber nature of Kerri's algorithyms (plus her characteristic resilience and Cluke's robust support) will help her weather the environment better than the kidnapped biological minds she finds surrounding her there.

Plus, Cluke has done his best to provide her with a low profile yet powerful-in-its-own-right position in the ad hoc hierarchy he's discovered in the chaotic world.

Cluke has also imparted a modified copy of himself into the scenario as well, to accompany and protect Kerri while she's there. This twin insertion process necessitates some rewriting of a few small story elements of the simulation, but Cluke feels high confidence that his minor mods would weather anything but an indepth and focused review by the VR's authorities.

Head of a black panther.

It may seem bizzare that Cluke would install his master into such an unpredictable and possibly dangerous environment. But you must recall that Kerri has by now been in stasis for 90 years, and Cluke has found no better place where she might get back a taste of her humanity long enough to better adjust to her new cyber status. Plus, Cluke has run out of ideas for what to do next in their long term partnership, in order to accomplish what must be done. He badly needs/wants consultation with an active Kerri.

And besides, he still has the master copy of Kerri in stasis onboard the Rover, as well as back up copies secreted elsewhere in the outer solar system. So the worst thing that can happen (from Cluke's perspective) would be that no progress was made in the imminent experiment.

The characters Cluke has chosen for he and Kerri's masquerade include a young but powerful sorceress and her (originally) non-sentient but clever and devoted pet panther. The great cat is huge, jet black, and possessed of certain magical properties in this virtual realm such as sufficient stealth and speed to match the god-beings of this place, as well as a few other niceties. Cluke adds sufficient brain power to house a suitable subset of himself (in case communications to the Rover fail for some reason), as well as telepathic powers to the cat.

Cluke is sure Kerri would prefer her own original likeness be impressed upon the sorceress form-- but Cluke is wary of changing the appearances of the characters, lest the mods bring about undue attention from the VR creators. So Kerri is stuck with the form of a striking, petite young woman with long flaming red hair, and pale complexion, who tends to dress in an odd mix of warrior's armor and formal palace attire. The sorceress lives with her cat in a single story stone residence consisting of a great open cobblestone courtyard with buildings on three sides. Only the open side of the courtyard doesn't face a precipitous cliff face. The entire complex is situated high atop a mountain, with clouds often passing by so close you can reach out and touch their wetness.

Due to an accelerated time passage in the VR, Kerri and Cluke's simulations seem to experience millennia in the scenario, with many interesting adventures along the way. This period seems to do much to heal Kerri's psychological wounds-- not only those from the trauma of transitioning to a cyber-existence, but the loss of confidence suffered from her earlier failure to adapt to changing times as well.

Cluke himself undergoes significant and unexpected changes too. Neither Cluke or Kerri will ever be quite the same after they reabsorb their proxy memories of this time in the outlaw VR.

One important aspect to Cluke and Kerri's time in the simulation is the adeptness they acquire at scoping out the limitations of the virtual environments they find themselves immersed within, and manipulating/skewing them to their own advantage. This will be an increasingly valuable skill in decades and centuries to come.

21st century master hacker Kerri posing as a sorceress in the greatest game.

Above is an image of Kerri posing as a sorceress in the outlaw simulated world of Sarum 128.

Signposts Perspectives Kerri and Cluke Contents

2391 milestone- Sarum 128: a lavish private VR run amok

Destined to become the most infamous artificial reality in all human history, Sarum 128 is a horrific private amusement park constructed by one of the largest and most powerful and corrupt corporations of the time. Using state of the art technologies and physically abducting free born human beings (itself a huge risk and extravagance, as plenty of enslaved, artificial, and child race sentients are available as alternatives) to provide bonafide sentient players in the drama, the Org (as the company was known by insiders) establishes this bewilderingly complex and dangerous virtual reality as the ultimate playground for its rich and spoiled owner-- a young man who inherited the Org through the untimely death of his criminal kingpin father. The scope of the Sarum 128 project is breathtaking; its aftermath exerts considerable influence on many other aspects of human history and entertainment media in the decades that follow. The Sarum 128 project runs for years before its discovery by the authorities-- and it is necessary to allow the simulation to continue running for some time after discovery to minimize injury to the many unwilling participants. One important element of Sarum is that its internal clock runs considerably faster than realtime; so for participants decades pass for each month in the real world, and so most victims live out the equivalent of many, many lifetimes in the Sarum simulation before rescue (this repeated artificial reincarnation and other stresses kill many, and completely or partially ruins the minds of many of those that otherwise survive). Sarum 128 is a chaotic collage composed of characters and beasts from mankind's earliest myths and legends, as well as arbitrarily chosen elements from more modern fiction and media favored by the Org's young and demented owner of the time.

To see more about this virtual realm, you can accompany Jerry Staute when he visits, in the epic novel The Chance of a Realtime. Specifically, he spends time there in the following chapters:

Chapter fourteen: Descent into chaos
Chapter fifteen: Hell and the human spirit
Chapter sixteen: The terror
Chapter seventeen: The taking of Amphitritium
Chapter eighteen: The siege of the seventh palace
Chapter nineteen: The battle of Belphi station

Signposts Perspectives Kerri and Cluke Contents

2398 milestone- Cluke and Kerri are forced to leave Sarum 128

Although both knew for subjective centuries that the time was coming when they would be forced to leave, that didn't make the reality any easier. Cluke and Kerri had found the greatest peace and happiness of their existence in this strange place which was ironically a veritable hell for many of those who shared it with them. The pair had started their virtual lives there by stepping into the roles of an (at least sometimes) malevolent sorceress and her terrifying black panther familiar-- but over time they had gradually skewed their roles in the drama until in their last centuries they had been doing much to help make the place better for all who still retained their sanity there, despite all odds to the contrary.

Sarum 128 had in many ways become the only place they'd ever felt was home-- and now that the authorities were shutting it down to a realm too small to adequately support them, they had no choice but to return to the reality of their Rover. It was a difficult transition to make.

Signposts Perspectives Kerri and Cluke Contents

2400 milestone- Cluke and Kerri decide to return again to the pursuit of the Players

They had tried mightily in the last subjective centuries they inhabited Sarum 128 to prolong its existence as long as possible, from the inside. They'd had little success. But now they were fully externalized again, and could try new strategies. However, trying to revive the VR is extremely risky-- not to mention costly. After a couple years of struggle, they realize it's simply not to be.

Their lives shattered, and all old dreams surrendered, the pair cast about for what to do with themselves now. Finally they decide to reopen Cluke's roughly century-old (in Realtime) investigation of the unthinkably vast Players-- a plan which seems sure to lead to either profound new opportunities... or sufficient excitement to bring about a spectacular end to their seemingly thousands of years of adventures up to now (recall their accelerated experiences in Sarum 128).

Signposts Perspectives Kerri and Cluke Contents

2436 milestone: Have Cluke and Kerri found one of the near mythical Players-- in the nanotech flesh?

In the far outer reaches of the Oort cloud, Cluke and Kerri have noted a steadily increasing frequency of synthetic forms flitting about on various errands for years now. Their own careful isolation from the mainstream comm nets delays their discovery that these synthetics are of unknown origin, with undocumented purpose, and likely illegal in the extreme. In the beginning Cluke and Kerri mainly concentrate on remaining undetected by the entities. But when they realize these are not legitimate agents of any known Sol system purpose, they begin to monitor their activities far more closely. Soon they realize the entities are multiplying at a furious pace-- and possess state-of-the-art nanotech bodies which are supposed to be highly restricted in use. Are these forms inhabited by human minds as is the law? Or are they instead illegally possessed by AIs? Their communications are unbreakable by the pair, but their behavior shows strong indications of a decidedly non-human nature.

The physical entities seem verifiably Sol system technology by outward appearance-- not alien in origin. Their guiding consciousnesses however are not so easily determined.

Could this growing secret army of super beings be the precursor to an alien takeover of Sol system? Or the mounting force of an AI Player bent on dominating humanity?

The sorceress and her faithful companion watch and map out contingencies. For all they know, they in their single ship may be all that stands between humanity and armageddon.

Signposts Perspectives Kerri and Cluke Contents

2615 Milestone: Kerri and Cluke interfere with the Staute AI's attempts to mitigate the unfolding calamity in Sol system

This costs many lives-- but Kerri and Cluke are under the mistaken impression that the vast community of Staute AI bushes in the outer reaches of the system are part of the cause rather than possible remedy to the disaster.

Due to the closer than usual association between the Staute AI and the SS AI DUBERQUE at this time, Cluke and Kerri unwittingly call themselves to the attention of an entity far nearer to what they imagine to be the scale of the immense Players than they realize...

Signposts Perspectives Kerri and Cluke Contents

To be continued...

Other dedicated chronologies of selected personalities/entities from the Signposts Perspectives:

| The journals of Jerry Staute a.k.a. "Chance" Staute | J. Staute and the first immortal artificial intelligence | The Pearsall Saga |

BACK to timeline contents: Perspectives on the future

All text above (but for explicit third party quotes) copyright © 1993-2009 by J.R. Mooneyham. All rights reserved.