Comic 947 - Discuss a counter strategy

Posted on 18th Apr 2018, 9:14 PM in Shipping Off to Southden
Discuss a counter strategy

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Author Notes:

Morgenstern 18th Apr 2018, 9:14 PM edit delete
You explain to everyone what you and Dr. Finch have realized about the tunnels.

"So Thale's settin' up some kinda ritual?," Caius asks.

"Might not even be that complicated," Michelle replies. "I don't think we've seen 'em control anything but people... but that don't mean he can't. Ain't much stoppin' Thale from movin' needles or golems just like Blondie does. If he can get enough bioprinted blood inside the city..."

"It's utterly ridiculous, though," Dr. Finch states. "There's no feasible way for him to get that much biopaste and that many bioprinters, he would need an outrageous amount to flood the tunnels in any convincing manner."

Fuse leans his head back, thinking about it. "The monsters we saw at the hospital--not the first one, but Cam's hospital. They had... container bodies and stinger faces, right? Maybe once Thale gets all the biopaste tainted, those things'll be like... reverse mosquitoes. Maybe the tunnels won't JUST be flooded with bioprinted blood."

Michelle's eyes widen. "The biiig ass monster we saw at the hospital--the first one, not Cam's--it could mulch bodies to make itself more biopaste. If Thale could make his bug monsters blood folks, then force them to march into the tunnels... the son of a bitch could mulch half the population. The bioprinters in the tunnels make enough blood to get started, maybe pump out some o' those big grinder types... while the ones in all the hospitals make better bugs. Once he's got enough blood in the city's 'veins' to control it, there's no tellin' what all he can do."

Fuse breathes out slowly. "If he can blood the city itself AND most of its people, it won't be long until he bloods everybody in the city. He might not have a red with infinite mass, but he will have like... what, 8 or 9 million bodies worth of material?"

Dr. Finch nods, working it out in his head. "At that point, he can begin oversyncing those that are still alive. Once he sees them as himself, he can move material between them... and that will be easier once he sees himself as the entire city. I can't begin to fathom what the philosophical ramifications of that are vis a vis the tenuous rules of identity that govern these powers. At minimum, he won't need a red any longer--he'll be able to transpose to and from himself more mass than he could possibly need to... to to to accomplish anything."

"So we bomb his friggen tunnels," Caius says.

You point out what the tradesmen said--that would slow Thale down and limit the damage, but it wouldn't stop him. If he even manages to blood a few city blocks, he can start leveraging that to work outward. If he's really planning to print more of those bugs and spread his blood that way, the hospital bioprinters are still a serious threat.

"Plus," Michelle adds, "blowin' up the tunnels means sinkin' everything above 'em. That's a lot of collateral damage."

"Can we hijack his operation?," Caius asks. "Y'know, slap some o' your blood down there, turn his blood tunnels into your blood tunnels."

Elizabeth suddenly speaks up. "It took more than one whole needle just to reclaim my body. Your blood can overpower Patton Thale's on fairly even terms, but you would need to be approaching his quantity to make a noticeable difference. A counter-attack of that fashion would do you no good if it takes weeks or months to take hold."

You remember what the tradesmen said. Dealing with the tunnels is a solid B plan, and would limit the damage... but to actually stop Thale, you need to prioritize the bioprinters themselves. That means dealing with Gargan and the hackers.

"We've got something for the hackers," Fuse says. "...But it's not gonna be pretty. If this is all legit and we've figured out what he's doing, he's going to be real protective of Howler and the gang. They're a linchpin in Thale's plan. No hackers, no hospital printers, no bugs."

Michelle nods. "He's gonna have big guns watchin' Howler, and if he thinks we're tryin' to find 'em he ain't gonna mess around. When we do this... we need to be ready."


Swagner 18th Apr 2018, 10:09 PM edit delete reply
So, do we counter-hack them? Blood them? Try both at the same time? It sounds like Fuse has an idea, what is it?
Archon 18th Apr 2018, 10:16 PM edit delete reply
Ooof. We could get the blood to flood the tunnels in a short amount of time.
But, uh. Don't know if blondie could put herself together again afterwards.
Plan C, maybe plan D, yeah?

S'gonna be rough getting ready for the raid. Some proper soldier golems would be nice, but we lack both the time and experience for that.
What we could do instead is make a bundle of golems, throw em in the upgrade circle alongside whatever electronics and weapons we could spare. Won't be pretty, but we can use all the help we can get right now.
pkrankow 18th Apr 2018, 10:19 PM edit delete reply
So...bunker X or boss fight?

What makes for ready? We can literally flood the tunnels with our Red... but that might be too much spreading thin.

I doubt a sword is waiting at the bottom of bunker X. More likely harder challenges that may help us use our abilities.

We need to converse with Liz regarding abilities. Thale had WAY more than a couple syringes in her. Thale also uses abilities we haven't thought of. Similarly we use animals and other abilities he hasn't thought of.

We need to continue reparing Liz's frame, although I am unsure how much more is urgent. Her mind will sharpen from interactions.

We need to finish reading the rest of GAC. (Closest thing to RTFM)

Our friends cannot be trapped on Mars when we boss fight.

It sounds like we need a supercomputer sooner than later.

Have Pierce look at the map.
37212513 18th Apr 2018, 10:45 PM edit delete reply
The only problem with the bunker X trials right now is time. We really don't know how long a floor/level will take. We can make a run during the next lull, but right now, we're on the clock. Tick Tock!
Blue_Elite 18th Apr 2018, 11:09 PM edit delete reply
Ya, I was thinking we should give 1 round of Bunker X a go before starting the hacker assault plan to see what sorta resources we might get from it. If the 1st floor gives us a rocket launcher as a prize, it's definitely an avenue to consider for preparation. If we just get a one-of-a-kind plushie from the 1st floor, it'll definitely be more of an, "on our off-hours," option to explore.
37212513 18th Apr 2018, 11:16 PM edit delete reply
But it's thoughts like this that suggest we need to study it instead of just making runs. I still think the floor doesn't actually exist until the first time it's tried.
EclairForce 18th Apr 2018, 10:21 PM edit delete reply
If we're gonna do this we nee a ride of legend. I think its time to up the ante on operation space car while we get the specific of finding the hackers worked out.
Hambone 18th Apr 2018, 10:35 PM edit delete reply
Remember, that's gonna be a whole project. It may very well pay off, but it won't be without consequence. Namely, whatever time we spend on it can afford Thale more time to prepare either his offense, or dig his defenses in deeper. Same reason Fuse only went with one cynernetic leg instead of two.
37212513 18th Apr 2018, 10:33 PM edit delete reply
Whatever Fuses idea is, we have access to a powerful computer, the one below Howlers place. Best access that remotely though and maybe a few dozen more. Make the logic do the work, bounce the results back to you. This is basics when learning any code more complex than a spreadsheet. Bouncing the feedback is basic security protocol. Fuse only needs a fast enough link. If we don't have a good start point on that, ask Macland Row. He or Gesenai Shirai should have an awesome computer to use. A few extra minutes to shave time fast and react to countermeasures faster would be worth it.

I do apologize if that seems a bit everywhere, ya'll might want to discuss pros and cons, especially if you have programming experience.
Swagner 19th Apr 2018, 12:14 AM edit delete reply
The issue with planning an attack is that the computers in this setting are already rather non-analogous to real ones; for example, "pillar servers" as described don't make a lot of sense for the stated use of video games unless somehow network speeds have at least nearly matched that of connections between parts within a single computer and/or game physics/graphics have been broken down into an "embarrassingly" parallel problem.

A parallel setup has limited use-cases: even if we're trying to DDoS all the bioprinters in the city, the most significant factor in that isn't the processing power of the devices, but how many network requests per second they can submit. Using Howler's computer specifically seems risky, getting high-end hardware from Mac is definitely the safer approach, assuming we need it in the first place.

Using some sort of proxy (does TOR still exist?) is useful since we don't want to get tracked, and hopefully any latency it adds is irrelevant because the hack is ideally automated. At most we'd want him to feel out how to do it manually on a couple, and then copy+paste that into a shell script.

*Edit: rambling less
37212513 19th Apr 2018, 12:50 AM edit delete reply
I didn't say that we would need that many for long, and the hard part, finding the hackers and breaking the initial firewalls on the printers, is, as you said, embarrassingly parallel. Once you have the path data, defense is the only reason for multiple machines. Otherwise, you right on.

Stage one is the only offensive part of a hack that gains from multiple computers. As for defense, bad trace-back and white-noise attacks.

As a side thought, Fuse should probably ready a forkbomb as a backup plan.
37212513 19th Apr 2018, 12:56 AM edit delete reply
Eh, probably doesn't matter anyway. Fuse said he has a plan. Mr. Morgan will probably do that regardless of what we come up with... still fun to think about.
Hambone 18th Apr 2018, 10:41 PM edit delete reply
Hey, odd question... how much of a "coprocessor" do you think Big Red and Meatball can act as? For highly parallelized workloads, simple things able to repeat the same process over and over efficiently have greater value than things that can solve a single complex problem quickly. Beings with the ability to neuraly adapt such as Big Red may have a natural ability to function as programmable General purpose processing units... in short, biological computers.

(Edit: meant Big Red, not our Red)
37212513 18th Apr 2018, 10:48 PM edit delete reply
That's..... not a bad idea. Been trying to figure out how to include her anyway. Props.
pkrankow 19th Apr 2018, 7:50 AM edit delete reply
Try throwing some wires into Red and hooking them up to a low voltage data port. An amplifier circuit may be needed, but I would skip that at first.
Crestlinger 18th Apr 2018, 10:43 PM edit delete reply
Seems like the easiest solution is to test out the Destroyer ritual. Either way we still have other avenues to try, we should check in on Zene, Lydia, etc. as well, it Has been awhile.
Blue_Elite 18th Apr 2018, 11:23 PM edit delete reply
Well battle-prep-wise we should blood some bandages + scalpels combo; load the blood-dart gun; see about getting Caius a makeshift shield of sorts (if not a genuine riot shield) so he can act as a tank AND advance to take advantage of his close-combat abilities. We could make a bandage-bomb: a weighted object we (by which I mean Caius or Michelle) can throw wrapped with blooded bandages to give us range for attacking or binding.
We should also probably get Jury in on the operation if possible. She's good with a gun and death resistant (she can be dismembered and put back together with only her pride seemingly damaged).

I also want to give the first floor of Bunker X a go both as testing for the combat prep AND to see what kind of resource it is. I'm hoping the first floor will be a cake-walk to lull us into a false sense of overconfidence (a slow and insidious killer) and so make a good practice ground for tactics. Also if the prize turns out to be helpful, all the better.
Loki 19th Apr 2018, 1:32 AM edit delete reply
I think Jury should sit this one out, im worried about what might happen if we expose our programmable friend to a bunch of hackers.
Loki 19th Apr 2018, 1:39 AM edit delete reply
With most power being wireless, it seems like attacking the wireless power infrastructure or rigging it to send a surge or emp could be used to knock out the bad guys’ computers once we know their locations.

That or blood a bunch of bugs and sacrifice them to short out components of the hackers computers.

Also, how bout jars of blooded mosquitos as something like a blood grenade. That trick would probably only work once though, and not well against people who are heavily cybernetic.
Memo 19th Apr 2018, 9:34 AM edit delete reply
We should definitely tell Jury what we have learned, and I would like to hear fuses plan.
And I vote for gearing up the party and going for a boss battle.
I expect the first won't be to hard, and we could use some rewards.
AlphaDragon 19th Apr 2018, 9:44 AM edit delete reply
One thing is relatively certain. Thale has probably blooded the hackers. We will have to strike quick or he can try to force an oversync. If that happens it won't matter if we get the bodies if he has their knowledge.
fellow 19th Apr 2018, 11:40 AM edit delete reply
Thayle doesn't really absorb the knowledge though. He is so many brains at once that he just overrides the person.
pkrankow 19th Apr 2018, 1:36 PM edit delete reply
Even we don't retain knowledge well after sync is over.
lil Joshu 19th Apr 2018, 1:52 PM edit delete reply
lil Joshu
Put spare door in red. Pipe another door to tunnels. Open doors.

This is plan B.

Plan A is stop hackers.