The Ghosts of Eden
Louise Session 19/Steve Session 18
Forethought moved to Prometheus (a moon of Saturn) 200 years ago in order to be close to useful resources (eg. the water in the rings). They are a blue skies research company making money by contract work for other companies (either working up a solution from scratch or applying the outcome of existing research to the problem at hand).
Andi arrives at Prometheus first and is taken to temporary quarters by Houston who informs her that dinner will be at 8pm and the shuttle to Titan (Trilon's base) will leave at midnight. They travel in a Star Trek style lift for approximately 15 minutes, presumably through the interior of the moon. Andi "browses" the local intranet and discovers that a firewall has been put in place explicitly for the purpose of keeping Eve out. Andi then amuses herself by watching "Life on the Belt" - a soap opera about asteroid miners. She briefly debates reversing the family fortunes via a Reality TV show involving filming celebrity wannabes as they adapt to life on Thisbe - only to recall that Reality TV died a death in the early 21st century and is now considered an excess at the level of throwing Christians to the lions for entertainment.
The other three arrive and check the publicly accessible intranet. The most exciting recent event appears to be the recently completed refurbishment of part of the base which at least implies the company is currently making money. There is also, apparently, some unspecified but successful work based around a collaboration between the Materials Science department and a gantz fabrication company on the application of Silicon Carbide. Forethought is also, apparently, trying to develop nanotechnology but the area is still recovering from its failure to deliver on the high expectations of previous decades. The problem is in damage control when an error occurs in the system and starts being propagated from generation to generation of nanobot and in repairing such systems when they begin to reach the end of their lifespan. However the intranet, while again unspecific, suggests that Forethought has a potential solution. A search on Ancients related keywords reveals that two papers have recently been published on Ancient Relics on Mimas and Tethys. Miho searches her citations database but can find no mention of an Ancient connection with Mimas. There are several articles in "krank" journals on Tethys however. Miho concludes that these papers were only published internally.
An hour before the meal dinner suits are supplied. Miho, Antonio and Robert opt to wear this clothing. Andi, noting that the supplied dress is unsuitable for low-G, wears her own trouser suit. Antonio and Robert run into trouble with the bow ties. Robert gets room service to help while Antonio decides to adopt a "Casual Air".
The dining room is decked out in Mahogany. There is real fruit on the table. On stepping into the room, the crew find themselves in half G. Investigation reveals no obvious spin mechanisms at the join between the low G ante-room and the half G dining room itself. Robert is interested in field effects and starts working out time dilation experiments, however the crew agree that their watches are not sufficiently sensitive to detect anything useful.
Ichiro del Fuego (who despite his name appears to be of predominantly northern European extraction) arrives. He has blonde hair and is of medium height and build. He is wearing a cream suit in the latest Earth (rather than Forethought corporate) style and amber spectacles. He greets everyone and expresses regret that he was unable to meet them before they set out for Beekhu. They discuss the artificial gravity which he reports is very energy hungry and requires large generators. In response to Robert's questions he explains that the field is uniform although the early prototypes had, in some cases fatal, distortion effects. He produces a jamming device to screen further conversation. Mice are ordered for Clarence.
Ichiro is seated at the head of the table with Andi and Miho either side of him. Antonio sits next to Miho and Robert next to Andi. Small talk ensues for about 10 minutes after which Ichiro begins to ask about Komiko and states that Trilon have released little information about her activities. Her lack of past history is once again discussed and Forethought appear to be as much in the dark as everyone else. In the course of making it clear he knows everyone's secrets he informs Robert that his family history can be traced back 500 years, a fact Robert was unaware of. He also reveals Forethought has made some sort of deal with Kurita, but does not appear to think this will have influenced their change in policy towards Antonio. He reminds the crew of Daisy M'dinka (Trilon head of security) and Elmer Goldberg (Trilon Vice CEO) both of whom objected to Komiko's promotion to the board and both of whom had to leave it shortly afterwards. Goldberg appears to have been blackmailed, M'dinka was assassinated by one of her own staff.
Miho asks about the Ancients research on Tethys and Mimas. Del Fuego explains that Tethys looks a bit like the Death Star with a large crater caused by an impact which must have come close to destroying the moon. Mimas is the same. The name of the crater is Herschel. Silicon carbide traces can be found in both these places. Miho speculates about the war between the Eber and the Ancients and wonders if, instead, it was a Civil War among the Ancients. Del Fuego asks where the Ancients are now.
Del Fuego raises the issue of the supposed Ancient tampering with Human, and other species, DNA. This tampering is thought to have occurred (if it occurred at all) between 40,000-100,000 years ago and between 10,000 and 40,000 years ago. Del Fuego suggests that a further tampering happened 30-40 years ago which introduced the triple insert possessed by the Joyous Venture crew. Incidence of this triple insert is higher in the space-faring population than it is on Earth which suggests that, if it has any effect at all, that it lends some advantage to life in space. As far as Forethought can tell the mothers of all triple-insert people have a double-insert. Forethought's experts have ruled out any sort of viral transmission. Del Fuego is obstreperously vague about their findings on other subjects but suggests strongly that all the Joyous Venture crew are the result of lab-based interference with eggs used in fertility treatment. Robert thinks it unlikely his mother had access to fertility treatment on Beekhu. The crew manage to extract sufficient information from Del Fuego to deduce that although unlikely it is by no means beyond the bounds of probability that Robert's triple-insert could have arisen naturally. Del Fuego implies that in his opinion the crew were not selected because of their genetic make-up but because of some other characteristic they displayed that was related to the triple-insert. He offers no evidence to back this up. Rather contrarily he also suggests that that they were gene-engineered for the task Trilon/Komiko has in mind for them - in fact he suggests that the wide-spread gene-manipulation was in order to generate a large enough population of people appropriate for the task that there was a good chance of recruiting the right people. Miho starts to speculate about the Eber assertions about Ancients but is stopped by Antonio. They have an argument about non-disclosure which Antonio wins.
The crew then press Del Fuego to reveal the purpose of their invitation. This, it transpires, is because he wants Komiko to collaborate with him on a research project. The job is related to communications (and presumably also to all the triple insert stuff unless he raised the topic entirely in order to try and drive a wedge between Komiko and the crew). Komiko has, apparently, avoided meeting Del Fuego (perhaps anxious to avoid him sampling her DNA as well). Del Fuego suggests that no decisions are made until after the crew have visited New Bayern and issues an invitation to the Forethought research facility on Ocean (near the planet) where they hope shortly to have a Pentapod employee. He produces a letter of introduction and offers jobs at Forethought to the entire crew when they return from the next leg of the journey.
Miho tries to find out about Xenopsychology. She has decided that she has sufficient evidence to support the existence of a space-faring civilisation before current known civilisations but is undecided whether any other parts of the Ancients folklore should be applied to it. In particular she wondersg whether it is likely that so many alien races should form creation myths based around Ancients artefacts or whether such myths indicate actual meetings between Ancients and these races' ancestors. It transpires there is no field of Xenopsychology. Del Fuego's information has made Miho doubt the link between the triple-insert and the Ancients. She suspects that the recent intervention, assuming it exists, is more likely to the result of some human agency than secret Ancients among the population. However if Felix Holstein's work is taken at face value then there is evidence of Ancient involvement in the previous interventions. Given the symbology the crew wonder whether the Masons might believe they have Ancient roots.
They arrive at Titan base. Andi still has to meet Roland Sairusso. The crew debate how he might be murdered but conclude this is not possible without Andi committing effective suicide at the same time.