Wednesday, August 28, 2013

240: Dreamcrackers

ENTRY 240: Dreamcrackers

“Sleep is the brother of death. The continuity of your consciousness ceases every cycle as the amphetamines and caffeine crashes against your rising fatigue toxins and weariness overtakes your cage of flesh. You go to sleep…and is it you that ‘wakes up’ the next morning? What happened while your mind was offline? Do you cease to exist, and rise again each day as a phoenix? No. There is a continuity, brothers and sisters, there is a thread of consciousness that remains always running in the background. Even as the higher functions of your brain cease, your essential you continues on…”
- Evangelist Holyfield, the Fist of Sand, Mesh sermon #238

Few morphs with Mesh implants are every fully disconnected from the Mesh. The tech savvy and unbearably paranoid install their killswitches and zip themselves in Faraday hammocks, and the rest of transhumanity just hopes that their firewalls will hold out as they lay themselves down to sleep. Yet some say their prayers and tighten their security settings at night, for fear the dreamcrackers will come for them.

The Dreamcrackers are an offshoot of the Sandman Project, an open technical community dedicated to the exploration of hacking sleep in all its forms. It’s an initiative that appeals to transhumans of every social strata, and many applaud its open databases exploring the neurological, neurochemical, and psychological aspects of sleep, rest, and dreaming. Most of the attention the Sandman Project attracts is for its Exploits though—everything from formulas for chemical cocktails that’ll keep you awake and lucid for a couple weeks, tweaks to circadian regulation and hibernation implants for maximum efficiency or alternative use, lucid dreaming software, tens of thousands of hours of XP from dreamers covering everything from nocturnal emissions to incubus attacks, experimental group rigs for “splitting” a Petal among multiple users through shared hallucinations, unconscious morph transition therapy, psychotronic weapons…science and pseudoscience, presented, debated, recategorized, and added to, one piece of data at a time.

Not all of the tech is legal in every habitat. Not every clique and individual in the Sandman Project has the advancement and understanding of transhumanity at heart. Such individuals often find their access restricted, and parts of the community even made off limits to them. Research materials and funds diverted, isolated from the rest of the community until they take the hint and amend their ways or wander off. Among these offshoots and orphans are Dreamcrackers—philosophically cut off from the purer research, this group of hackers has found a technology that works and continued to develop it in secret. They crack the firewalls of sleeping egos, to record their dreamscapes, either for their own art or to sell to petalcrafters and others, and manipulate the dreamer. Depending on the morph and its implants, their exploits can allow them to control the duration and depth of sleep, tweaking sleep cycles to turn a cat nap into a coma, or to manipulate the reticular activating system, effectively paralyzing the victim. These brain hackers delve into weird and esoteric knowledge, and rumors of their skills have caused some Firewall agents to wonder where they got their skills and software.

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