I Should've Called That Number

<gumbal1> ~< E R R O R >~
<Silvors> Daniel Vitan was wandering the school ground, mainly because of the fact that monsters were still roving about and his job meant that he had to patrol. It wasn't that bad, compared to other things and it was barely. Mostly. So the lich found himself wandering, phylactery safe in his room. The deathly pale white-haired boy with the glowing, mist-veiled blue eyes just huffed out some cold air and kept walking, wings wiggling a tad.

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<gumbal1> Today was thankfully quiet, at least. No cow-headed abominatings that cut through stone like meat. No amalgamations of reindeer flesh taking on the vague form of a centipede. No monsterously powerful psychic clowns roaming around, causing misery. No giant bald wolves with poisonous blood. Just him, the school, and his phone, which currently rang with a text.
<Silvors> Daniel pulled it out, looking at his slightly damaged phone case. The phone was fine, the case was scratched and scuffed from, well, being a lich who's job is to break up fights among supernatural people. and not people. He opened the text with one hand as he looked around, eyes going back down to the screen after to read the message. He had a few guesses as to who it could be from, a few annoying, others ignoreable.
<gumbal1> The text is from an unknown number, but the style is distinct. <yoooooooo, nerd, it's leah. i got a new number after that one weirdo in kccc. anyways, i got something for you if you're not too much of a square to swing by room 231. come alone~> Attached is a heavily artifacted jpeg of President Trump dabbing at the 2017 White House Correspondents Dinner.
<Silvors> Daniel looked over the text from Leah and, well, how often did Leah use tilde? And more importantly, why would Leah send such a shitty picture? And Leah would probably know by now that Daniel didn't have any biological processes. Daniel looked over it and then decided to head to room 231 anyways. After going to his room and encasing his phylactery in a ten foot cube of ice, of course.
<gumbal1> Room 231, well, not all the rooms in the school are really used. Some of them, just, well, never really get assigned a class. Still, it's not like the entire wing is condemned, and the door is clearly unlocked by the time Daniel gets there.
<Silvors> Daniel heads into the classroom, hands in his pockets. On this off chance that this was some sort of trap, he didn't need his hands free for his ice magic anyways. Or his soul magic, but he used that so rarely that it didn't matter. "Leah?"
<gumbal1> Someone switched off the lights. He doesn't get a response, other than the soft whirring of a…fan? Who knows.
<Silvors> Alright, that's suspicious. Daniel looks around the room more, going to start slowly lowering the temperature. "I think I'm supposed to make a joke about you keeping your cool?"
<gumbal1> Still no response. Searching farther in doesn't really net him a Leah, either. Come to think of it, not even some creepy masked murderghost or something. All the evidence that points to anyone being here recently consists of the unlocked door and…well, there's a cable connected into the wall, powering what looks to be some ancient 2012 laptop model. Likely a Dell, from its design, what little Dan can see in the dark. It's currently closed.
<Silvors> Daniel has learned from horror movies, he knows better than to get involved with this. If he opens that laptop, his phone will probably ring and give him a "Seven days" level threat. Daniel walked over to the laptop and tapped on the top of it. "If you're a sentient computer, speak now or I will ice you."

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<gumbal1> Nothing happens. It's in sleep mode, after all.
<Silvors> Daniel sighs and goes to open the laptop up. If this is some stupid prank, he's going to murder someone. Alright, he won't, but still.

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<gumbal1> The laptop runs windows 10, unfortunately. Currently, it's set on the desktop screen, where the background has been set to some 1960s ad for coca-cola. The desktop itself is sparse, with only a few oddly named files ('MISSING', 'ECHO', 'TO DO', 'GAMES'), a Firefox shortcut, and a few executable shortcuts only labeled with numbers, their icons replaced with a cartoon cat. The command prompt, the 'MISSING' file folder, and a word document are currentl
<gumbal1> y open, yet minimized.

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<Silvors> Daniel sighs. "I feel like this is one of those things where it's going to be… Why do I talk to myself?" Because you're crazy, Daniel. You're a dead crazy guy. Daniel went ahead and clicked on the word document.
<gumbal1> The word document is only a few lines long, double spaced, times new roman, font size 16. 'TAKE AS LONG AS YOU WANT BEFORE YOU'RE READY TO TALK~' 'I'LL BE WAITING' 'IF YOU NEED ME, TYPE "cd C:\Documents\RHRH", THEN "cspan rhrh.csp:"' 'LOVE, A FRIEND <3"
<Silvors> "Well, I tried talking earlier and you didn't reply." Daniel states, looking at the computer then deciding to click to the MISSING file folder. He would go to the command prompt last, he decided.
<gumbal1> The MISSING file folder is further divided into two more folders. 'PICTURES and 'FILES'. Aside from that, there's a simple notepad document sitting inside.
<Silvors> Daniel opens the notepad document.
<gumbal1> 'you're gonna have to trust me on this one, danny~.' Below that is an ASCII image of what looks like an older little red riding hood blowing a heart. 'i'm not trying to scare you'
<Silvors> Daniel raised an eyebrow before closing the document. Alright, so this was definitely intended for him. Or some other Daniel who had a similar number and knew someone named Leah, though he suspected Leah was a scapegoat or lure by this point. So, he went to the command prompt and typed "cd C:\Documents\RHRH"
<gumbal1> The directory is redirected to a folder named RHRH.
<Silvors> And he typed "cspan rhrh.csp"
<gumbal1> And suddenly, a window opens up on the laptop, taking up approximately half the screen as the fans briefly blast into overdrive, before calming. A logo (consisting of three eyes forming a triangle, inside of another triangle pointing the other way) for some company called L7, accompanied by the sound of a five-note whistle, before it opens what looks to be a camera pointed out into a rather nice-looking living room. <…oh! Just a minute~.> An unkno
<gumbal1> wn, vaguely female voice calls from somewhere off camera.
<Silvors> Daniel exhales air from his dead lungs. "Who is this?" He decides to ask because, you know, when you find a six year old computer that's apparently filled with files for you specifically. "And what's L7?"
<gumbal1> It takes a few seconds before a figure comes onto the screen, collapsing onto a couch just in front of whatever's recording the screen. From the looks of it, a high school student, or at least very good at appearing younger than she is (most high schoolers probably aren't good enough to steal a phone number from a 5S student). Pale, with short red hair, with pale blue eyes, wearing what appears to be a red riding hood (how appropriate) and holding a
<gumbal1> mexican sweetbread in one hand as she answers her computer, with a bit of sauce near her mouth to indicate she might have been snacking before coming here. "Yes? Oh, that~. Don't worry, some startup software company and completely harmless, for what we're planning~. I just filched some software, is all." The mysterious girl smiles coyly. "And call me Red." The girl suddenly blinks, and wipes away the smudge of sauce. "Sorry, you know how it is~
<gumbal1> ."
<Silvors> Daniel raised an eyebrow and then rolled his glowing blue eyes. "Yeah so, Red, what are we doing? Why am I here? And what's going on?" Daniel pauses, "Those were all three pretty much the same question, but meh." Daniel shrugged and put his head on one hand looking at the girl as if his eyes could pry the answers. "What are we planning?"
<gumbal1> "Wellllll, if you looked at the files~," Red's smile grows wider. "You'd know that your school has a bit of a, well…problem, affecting the student body. You've noticed, haven't you?"
<Silvors> "The pictures and files under missing?" Daniel hadn't thought about it being a missing persons list, but that's a possibility. "A lot of people in town have been going missing. Are you tied to those flesh things?"
<gumbal1> "You could elaborate for days on what constitutes a 'flesh thing', and the answer would always be 'no'. The matters of flesh can wait, for now~." Giggling, Red brushes a bit of hair out of her face. "Indeed, you could look for ties to the problem we're, presumably given your current line of questioning, about to discuss, and you would come up with nothing. No, you should be worried about something much less…biological." Putting down the sweetbread
<gumbal1> , Red types on her keyboard for a few seconds, before something pops up on Danielle's screen. From the looks of it, a newspaper article, dated to late 2015, detailing the closure of some company known as 'Echo Valley'. "Tell me, have you read the files regarding Echo Valley, yet?"
<Silvors> Daniel shakes his head, going to lean forward and read the article on Echo Valley. So she either was unrelated to the monsters or she wasn't going to reveal anything relating her to them. "I haven't, I'm reading the article now." Daniel was more of a skim-reader, but he was quick enough reading normally too.
<gumbal1> Echo Valley closing down due to cuts in Pangloss-Olney, the holder company, blah blah blah, forefront in True AI development, blah blah blah, child of one of founders Richard Velasquez unavailable for comment, blah blah blah, Esther Reynolds would have turned 95, Vincent Sanchez 98, blah blah blah, Echo Valley 2999 expected to be discontinued, Echo Valley 2016 development canceled, blah blah blah.
<Silvors> Daniel nods his head. "Alright, it's an… AI company? One that was trying to make AI. And it shut down? Big deal? Companies shut down all the time."
<gumbal1> "What if I told you that I have reason to believe that not only was Echo Valley 2999 not completely discontinued, but that several other versions of Echo Valley AI projects still remain functional, and what if I told you one of them was potential trouble for not only your school, but several other organizations seeking to regulate the anomalous?"
<Silvors> Daniel's eyes narrowed and leaned forward, crossing his fingers and propping his head on them. "I would tell you that conspiracies are crazy. Then I'd ask what do you mean regulate."
<gumbal1> "Your school isn't exactly the ADL of anomalous persons, is what I'm saying, and what little regard for them that it has is presented in such a way, well, isn't really palatable for certain, well, entities. Entities such as…I can go on for hours naming every single artificial intelligence, true or no, that has gone rogue in some form or fashion. Jang-MKI, Jackson-Seven, Stonewall…Echo Valley 231."
<gumbal1> Red smiles, leaning forward and steepling her fingers.
<Silvors> Daniel swallowed before giving a sigh. "You're telling me that some company shut down but it still made AI that may or not be truely sentient?" Daniel asks before adding in, "I know we're not the only ones getting them, my question was what do you mean regulate? There's a difference between what this school does and slavery, for example."
<gumbal1> "If you're as smart as you are cute, you'd know that what you're getting isn't exactly a free meal." As if to punctuate the statement, Red cleanly breaks her sweetbread in half, jokingly offering some to Dan before taking a bit herself. She's quick to chew, swallow, and get back to talking. "There's a difference between advocation and regulation. The school wants to control the spread of anomalies, perhaps for our benefit, percieved is it may be, or
<gumbal1> for the benefit of the more…normal part of the populace. It's one of the reasons they'll send you to break up a violent, anti-anomaly moby on one mission, and destroy what remains of ancient giants on the next. And perhaps a certain group of entities believe they fall within the latter half of that hypothetical."
<Silvors> Daniel nods his head. "Mhm. I suppose I look at the rosier side of things since this is a step up from the last place, at least at a surface level." Daniel half-agreed with her. "Alright, let's say this AI exists still. What can I do about it? Why did you contact me, Red?" Daniel asks, looking at the girl on the other end of the screen. "If it's AI, there's people more qualified than me."
<gumbal1> "AI were meant to be subservient, sapience and free will or no. Do you know what happens to sapience things, regulated to think like humans, that exist far too long for their own good?" The girl tilts her head. "I'll give you a hint: they released a movie about it in 1986."
<Silvors> Daniel thinks for a minute. "Their flying partner dies and they have a homoerotic beach volleyball moment?" Daniel shakes his head. "Nope. Definitely not Top Gun… uh… Alien? Aliens? Which one of those came out that year?" Daniel was never really a movie buff. "I get the point regardless, They rebel against their masters or something like that?"
<gumbal1> Red giggles again, breaking off another piece of sweetbread before responding,. "Right, for the wrong reasons. I was more referring to, well, have you seen Short Circuit? It's about a machine that develops a soul. Sapients without souls, well, tend to do that, in time. If I'm correct, the Japanese have an entire series of cryptids dedicated to that concept."
<Silvors> Daniel nods his head. "Tsukumo-something? I think? They're items that gained souls through a lot of use or something like that." Daniel remembered researching it in his vast studies of the soul and undeath. "They were harmless unless you were an asshole, I think? Japan isn't my specialty."
<gumbal1> "Certainly, yes. You can imagine what a cutthroat business like the tech industry might have produced, especially in an entity in which self-preservation is hard-programmed." Red leans back, blinking, before going back to typing on her setup. "This is where someone like you comes in. I must admit, it was a cointoss between you, Leah, and Elizabeth. Almost a shame it wasn't either of them, if they weren't exclusive. Even so, look but don't touch~, bu
<gumbal1> t that's the way the dice roll." Another giggle, as suddenly a file is brought up. One on a particular Daniel Vitan, last updated May of 2019. "But you tell me: does this look like the file of someone capable of dealing with soul-bearing entities?"
<gumbal1> "…I'd show you the actual coin, though I doubt you could comprehend its form. It's hard, even for me."
<Silvors> Daniel blinks a few times. "Do you mean you actually… You have my file. That's not creepy at all." Daniel states, looking over the contents and then back at Red. "So you have a document detailing me and my lichdom, and all I have for you is an alias? Trust is supposed to be two-ways. Plus there's not much I can do against a hacker with just her name."
<gumbal1> "I'm not a student. I don't have a file, and if I did, well, the ease in creating a forgery would outweigh any worthiness of having my personal information. In any case, there is very little I can truly do to you without completely ruining every plan I've set in motion. You, on the other hand, could very easily foil everything I've worked sooooo hard for~." Red pouts. "I'd say that's enough trust, isn't it?"
<Silvors> Daniel raises an eyebrow, very glad that his file didn't list the location of his phylactery. "I'd disagree, since I don't know if the plans you have in motion are good or bad." Daniel states before waving a hand dismissively. "What's in it for me, helping you?"
<gumbal1> "That should be very obvious, given that the difference between a stable life and your handsome little head on a metaphorical pike is the protections you get from the school. Without students, the school can't go on, and at the rate students are disappearing?" Red smiles, once more leaning forward and steepling her fingers. "Though, perhaps I could throw in quite a bit more. Just tell me, and I can get it done."
<Silvors> Daniel shrugged. "I'd consider myself loosely moralled. I could have my head on a pike and still be walking around town. Kind of comes with the perks." Of lichdom. He's immortal, or at least as close as most things will ever be. "So, what could you throw in?"
<gumbal1> "What couldn't I throw in? A few thousand dollars? A jailbroken copy of a favorite system of media delivery? A few, beneficial glitches in the system? Something…" Red's smile grows a bit coyer. "…else?"
<Silvors> Daniel rolls his eyes. "Already said you're not a student and I have a girlfriend… I think?" Daniel wasn't too sure about his relationship status. It happens when you're an undead immortal. "A few hundred dollars and a laptop, preferably one that isn't damaged by the cold."
<gumbal1> "Is that what you thought I meant?" Red begins typing once more. "I'm not asking you to cheat on anyone. No, I was more thinking…" Daniel's laptop gets a request to download a zip file. "…you have people you hate, don't you? Everyone does."
<Silvors> Daniel shakes his head. "Not really. If I'm honest? I want to meet this AI out of curiosity." Daniel rested his head and looked at the computer. "Being angry at people doesn't really work. All I have to do is remember that Steve from Science will die in a few decades and I won't. Immortality, the 'haha you'll be dead, I won't' solution."
<gumbal1> The zip file is labeled 'winky.zip', and, as usual, requires admin premission to download…which the current user of the laptop apparently has. "Then perhaps what I just sent you could be saved for a rainy day. Either way, it sounds like you're in. Am I correct in that assumption?"
<Silvors> "Can I know what I was sent?" Daniel asks, looking at winky.zip with ample amounts of suspicion. "I'm in, so long as if I get fucked over, I get to f- I'm going to go an eye for an eye if I lose my soul to this or something."
<gumbal1> "You were sent enough dirty laundry to make Julian Assange blush. My treat." There's that coy smile again, before she leans back and takes another bite of sweetbread. "Rest assured, your death will end up fucking me over. Dead accomplices are investigated far too much for their own good."
<Silvors> Daniel looks over himself. "Uh… I'm already dead and therefore I find that offensive." That might have been a joke. "Alright. What do I need to do?"
<gumbal1> "In the coming days, I'll be sending you information on the Echo Valley AI. Too much of their information is protected by 2999, however, so it won't be as much as I'd like. Rest assured, I am exactly as frustrated as you in that regard." In the background, what sounds like a landline phone rings, though nobody answers. "You will feed information to the school as instructed, in a discrete manner, as instructed, and find yourself on outings, as instru
<gumbal1> cted. You will bring any information you find, pass codes, two factor authentifications, usernames, locations, all of that. In the process, you will, at my command, sabotage any AI I instruct you to."
<gumbal1> "In addition, if necessary, you will install programs provided to you on devices that I instruct you to."
<Silvors> Daniel thinks for a minute. "Up it from a few hundred to two thousand, half now half upon-completion, and you'll have a deal. With rooms for another increase if the task proves unexpectedly taxing." Daniel spoke, lacing his fingers together. "Then you'll have a deal."
<gumbal1> "Easily done. Name what you want me to launder it through."
<Silvors> "I don't care how I get it, just get it to me."
<gumbal1> "…fuck it, I can just send you the appropriate bitcoin amount, can't I?"
<gumbal1> Red pops another bit of sweetbread, then begins typing something, finishing after about a minute. "Check your personal computer when we're done with this."
<Silvors> Daniel nods his head. "What should I do with this computer? Ice it? And I mean that literally. As in, should I turn this computer into a block of ice."
<gumbal1> "…one last thing before you wreck this laptop. I want you to download Tor onto your personal computer for this undertaking. After that's done?" Red smiles, serenly typing once more, as a text file with a link flashes open. "Write this link down, or at the very least, commit it to memory. And for the love of god, don't use it on any browser other than Tor. I don't need that sort of trouble."
<gumbal1> "After that, do whatever you want, as long as this laptop is no longer useable. Though I highly recommend at least giving the files one last lookover."
<Silvors> Daniel nods his head. "Got it." Daniel stated as he went to close the connection. If he could. He wasn't too sure on how to do that. "Talk to you later." And with that, he went to close the computer. He'd copy the files onto a flashdrive later and then turn the computer to ice. She said to look them over one more time at least.
<gumbal1> And thus, the computer is iced.
<Silvors> -Scene?-

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