ENTRY 166: Firebreak Protocol
Firewall is dedicated to maintaining transhuman existence—at any cost. There are levels of existence that may be hellish and unthinkable to most transhumans, but are acceptable to the Firewall organization. While they will strive as long as they can to preserve transhumanity as it is, if Firewall is faced with another extinction event there are several less-than-optimal alternatives that may come into play. One of them is the Firebreak Protocol.
One of Firewall’s greatest fears is a mass outbreak of the exsurgent virus, particularly if realized through a basilisk hack through the omnipresent Mesh or the FORBIDDEN REACH scenario. Information is one of the hardest things to contain, and a substantial portion of Firewall’s research is dedicated to find ways to detect, counteract, or vaccinate the population against a basilisk hack exposure. Illicit transhuman experimentation has led to the development of the technology beyond the Firebreak Protocol: a specialized basilisk hack that infects the subject with a low-lethality (72% survival rate) variant of the Watts-MacLeod strain of the exsurgent virus that renders the subject immune to further basilisk hacks. The basilisk hack would be broadcast in a habitat in response to a suspected local outbreak, immunizing the remaining population and preventing the further spread of the exsurgent virus.
The Firebreak Protocol is a basilisk hack (Eclipse Phase, p.364) which infects the subject with a variant of the exsurgent virus. This hack is particularly severe, designed to be difficult to overcome—victims take a -30 penalty to COG + INT + SAV Test to see if they are susceptible. About 28% of victims suffer a series of grand mal seizures every minute until they die or receive medical attention. The rest are changed, their brains rewired in several ways to resist basilisk hacks. They gain:
- The Psi Defence (Level 2) positive trait. They do not have to pay CP for this trait.
- Two Neural Damage negative traits, often (but not always) dyslexia, color blindness, or amusia. They do not gain any CP for these traits.
- A +20 modifier when resisting further infection from the Exsurgent virus, including basilisk hacks.
- Reduce the character’s Trauma Threshold by 1.
Using the Firebreak Protocol
The Firebreak Protocol is one of Firewall’s dirty little secrets. It is not pleasant, it is far more lethal than most characters would like, it is far less effective as an immunization agent than Firewall’s limited testing has shown, and it is currently being deployed to habitats throughout the solar system, hardwired in to be triggered remotely in the event of a mass basilisk hack outbreak. It is currently being planned as the primary countermeasure if FORBIDDEN REACH ever comes to pass (see entry 103). And the player characters through their missions for Firewall may have helped it be developed, tested, and installed. The Firewall agents aware of the Firebreak Protocol are those dedicated to preserving humanity in some form—and they are willing to pay the cost. The player characters may agree or not; some may even volunteer for testing, hoping for psi powers. Other PCs may argue against it—and, if sufficient evidence is ever brought to Firewall’s higher ups that the Firebreak Protocol is not as effective as they think, the program may be dismantled, at least until it can be refined.