Friday, June 7, 2013

158: Hush

ENTRY 158: Hush

Capture is worse than death, in many ways. There’s not a lot that can be done to an ego after death. Of course, these days death is cheaper than ever—and with cortical stacks, an unfriendly can dismantle you a thousand ways and still have a back-up copy to play with.

Interrogation techniques have come a long way. Physical torture, sleep deprivation, all the “enhanced interrogation” techniques are primitive, generally counterproductive, and with no guarantee of results—no matter how unpleasant your preferred method is, there’s never any way of knowing that you’ve got the truth out of somebody, because after suffering enough an ego will say anything—do anything—to make it stop. They’ll repeat back what you want to hear. They’ll read what you want them to read in front of the camera. All to make it go away.

For some people, that’s enough. For the rest, things get clinical. Statistics and biometrics (or psychometrics, for synthmorphs) are still the preferred “soft” methods; “hard” interrogations skip the foreplay and go straight to brainhacking, but not everyone has the skill and tech for that. Torture may be cathartic to the sadist’s soul, but ultimately useless, often distorting and degrading the very memories they seek to uncover. Statistical interrogation involves simply getting the subject to talk, and continue to talk. Their speech (or text signal) is recorded and analyzed, compared against their metrics, weighted with probabilities; new questions are asked. The more they talk, even if it has nothing to do with the subject of interest, the more data they feed into the machines. In time, after the database is built up enough, they won’t even need you to speak. They’ll ask the questions, and your reactions will be enough to tell them what they want to know. It’s a science, and it isn’t perfect, but it’s close enough. The software is free, anybody can download it off the Mesh.

Organizations whose employees are likely targets of capture and interrogation know the risks, and at some point they take their people aside and give them a sit-down talk on the realities of it. Instructions differ at this point; compassionate employers tell them to spill everything immediately, less compassionate agencies offer a variety of self-destruct implants. Realistic employers stress only the possibility of holding out as long as possible; for soft interrogations, this means screwing with the data that the sensors and software are getting. Garbage in, garbage out. The preferred option for those that can afford it is Hush.

Hush Mechanics

Addiction Modifier
Addiction Type

Hush is a narcoalgorithm and nanodrug that institutes a controlled form of neural damage which causes the user to operate under the delusion that whatever they say is the truth. The user is under no compulsion from the drug to give out information, but at the same time any statement they make they will perceive as true, no matter how false or ridiculous it may actually be—even if the subject had intended to make a false statement, in the process of making it they will become absolutely convinced of its truth. As the subject never gives off the signals that indicate lying to interrogation software, “soft” interrogation becomes exceedingly more difficult against the subject (-30 modifier to Interrogation tests). The effects of Hush are permanent, though they may be removed with psychosurgery. At the gamemaster’s discretion, cognitive dissonance from the subject believing too many contrary “facts” may cause additional mental stress to the Hush user.

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