ENTRY 103: FORBIDDEN REACH
Extinction is coming, at the speed of light, and with the inevitability of gravity. Deep space probes and radiotelescopes are giving very different pictures of the Milky Way than are visible from pictures taken from within the solar system, and comparison with archive stellar data confirms that something—probably some things, ultradense objects whose gravitational pull is sufficient to distort starlight—are moving, just beyond the limits of the solar system, manipulating the million-year old photons to create a new picture. The project is of such a massive scale and so subtle that at first only a handful of astronomers and astrophysicists noticed it; it took years for Firewall to become aware of the phenomenon and its significance, when said scientists began looking at their models and suffering seizures and spontaneous generation of the exsurgent virus.
Basically, it’s a basilisk hack. Being executed on a cosmic scale, using technology and resources beyond current transhuman abilities, and when it is complete the entire solar system will face constant risk of annihilation. For while the effected visible segment of the Milky Way only covers a miniscule fraction of the visible sky, all it takes is the wrong look out of a habitat window or a glance through a telescope to be affected. Firewall classifies all knowledge of the phenomenon and its containment protocols as FORBIDDEN REACH, and is actively trying to keep a lid on possibly-tainted astronomical data, but anyone can download the necessary software to model the movements off the ‘Mesh. It could be forty or fifty years before the basilisk hack pattern is visible, and Firewall is already dealing with a potential exsurgent crisis.
They will fight it. Programs are already underway, satellites and deep space probes suborned and repurposed to the task. The objects responsible for the distortion are being catalogued, tracked, examined—out of the reach of transhumanity just now, but there is time yet to look, to understand, and if possible find a way to stop or destroy them. Still, the niggling question remains in the back of everyone’s mind: if it took us this long to see this threat, if they can plan this far ahead, then what else is waiting, out in the dark?
When complete, the FORBIDDEN REACH asterism will function as a sensory reprogramming basilisk hack (Eclipse Phase p.364-5), although this configuration will not be complete for about 50 (+/- 2.776) years. In the meantime, the main risk of exposure is high-resolution models of that section of the Milky Way at the period when it is in the correct configuration. The mathematical modeling programs and raw astronomical data are openly available on the Mesh, but relatively few transhumans have access to the vector data associated with the unknown objects necessary to accurately render an image of the basilisk hack.
- A datathief named Minoataka has lifted the private datastore of an astrophysicist named Jinjin, a Firewall associate who was working on a neuroprogramming “vaccine” for FORBIDDEN REACH. While Firewall isn’t sure of the exact contents of the datastore, a worst case scenario is that it includes a weaponized FORBIDDEN REACH program that Jinjin was using in their work. The PCs are given a briefing on FORBIDDEN REACH and made aware of the consequences of what Minoataka may have—and asked to retrieve it, by whatever means are necessary.