Ah, Okuden park. A beautiful mixture of technology and nature, with a stronger emphasis on the latter. Not far from ACDC, this beautiful spot of land has been a favorite among the locals for literal centuries, and is very carefully cared for to this very day. Normally, the park is full of campers at this time of the year, with children running around playing in any direction. However, today they're strangely absent, as the only one here is a lone man in a dark coat who stands under a tree gripping an old, iron cane with both hands. His sharp eyes look out across the park as he motionlessly awaits his upcoming meeting.
It took her some time to get here -- as she was already on her way to Netopia before turning around at Edge's request -- but not more than an hour had passed since Faith's encounter with Tuttle at OEL.
It wasn't a particularly cherished memory, as short-term as it was, but unsurprisingly, she was still eager enough to get more information that she'd come out here to the woods by herself to meet an individual she'd nearly confirmed was involved with WWW -- something she had been arguably rebuked for in just their last conversation. To be fair, she most likely expected the park to have plenty of other people around it today, but even in their absence she approached audaciously to the meeting spot.
" I expect this isn't about that private jet you still owe me, hmm? "
Well, technically it wasn't hers to begin with, but semantics. Her attitude clearly hadn't changed, that much was for certain: a confidence that indicated no uneasiness even in the somewhat eerie setting she found herself in now.
As Faith approaches Tuttle, the rather tall man's spine goes rigid. He stands tall and looks to her with a stern expression, making his demeanor very well known before he slowly and methodically turns his cane as he holds it, pointing the face of the skull pommel at its end towards her.
Tuttle: I owe you nothing, Ms. Nymphra. Quite the contrary; you owe this world a debt for your actions, and I'm here to give you an opportunity to begin repaying that debt before we all suffer for your misdeeds.
Tuttle pauses for a moment, looking down on faith with borderline contempt before he continues.
Tuttle: I expect you to share what you experienced on Lynux Island with me, so that I may give you the direction that you so obviously require even now.
She was a little caught offguard by his drastic change in persona, but in truth, it made perfect sense in whichever narrative she chose to spin out of her recent discoveries.
" Touche. "
Her own facade subsided as well -- speaking much more directly now than in her usual, beat-around-the-bush manner.
" I found one Exa Hikari there. Of all the things he had to say, his attitude towards you was most prominent to me. "
That was probably a stretch of words considering everything else Exa had to say -- or just a statement to Faith's true feelings on the matter.
" Geminus' Subordinate was how he described you. He claimed you unwittingly helped them in his plans, but was suspicious when projects you'd touched would inexplicably fall apart. "
She wasn't withholding information for the sake of playing coy anymore, but plenty of details had obviously not been covered yet simply due to the order she chose to present them in.
" Whatever else he said was a mixture of lies and truths... "
Her mind remembering back to the falsified life-or-death situation that Exa had put her in still made her uneasy, but her pause was hardly noticeable amidst that brief thought.
" ... and so I came to OEL looking for you as a sort of verification to those claims. "
And abruptly, she stopped there and waited for his response.
He'd probably picked up on her gimmicks by now: this was more probing. If he was feigning interest to get her to admit her knowledge so that he could close a loose-end, then he had sufficient information from that angle to move forward. But if he meant what he'd said a second ago, then he'd need to know more and would likely demand it.
Either version of the story would be a verification for her, and whether or not she needed to continue would be based on that.
Last Edit: Apr 21, 2022 21:41:04 GMT -8 by Warrior
Tuttle's eyes roll, and he releases an exasperated sigh at Faith's answer. With sweat forming on his brow, he looks to the girl with a mildly angered expression and begins his next small tirade.
Tuttle: My God, Ms. Nymphra; do you always prattle on when such important matters are on the table? What did he say about soul net?
Tuttle practically growls his answer, obviously impatient at this point for whatever reason he may have.
Tuttle: I've spent years sabotaging Gate's plans from the shadows, and setting myself into a position that was too conspicuous to simply "be rid of", but the project left the OEL when Exa "disappeared", and I've had no hand in its "development" for quite some time now. If I'm to be of use to you, then I need to know when it will be deployed, and as much information on its development stage as you are able to supply.
Tuttle glances up at the Electopian sun with squinted eyes for a moment before turning them back to Faith, awaiting an answer with his stern, stoic expression very much unwavering.
That seemed sufficient enough confirmation, then -- Faith not showing a hint of offense to his words as that was the response she was more hoping for, all things considered.
" No, I only prattle while gauging. "
A sheep in wolf's clothing is still threatening to other sheep, after all.
" From what I understood about Soul Net, Geminus died testing it, but he didn't mentioned how far along it was to completion other than that. Gate worked on something he called Gamma, while Exa himself worked on an interface between Navis and Humans that he called the Nebula Grey of this network -- his choice of wording sounding like it wasn't exactly the same creature as the one that comes to mind when hearing that name. "
Tuttle undoubtedly knew his history as well as if not better than Faith, so it didn't require any more description than that to indicate which Nebula Grey she was referencing.
" He called all of this Project Alzate, which shared the name with something he said had been embedded into the network as the basis for Soul Net. He made repeated mentions of a virus, but I couldn't discern if that's what he was referring to. The last detail about all of this had something to do with Duo's meteor, and it was around that time when Gate imprisoned Exa and chose to use all of this to further his own agenda. "
The rest of the encounter could essentially boil down to Exa's own prattling on and really just rebuking Genesis at every turn, so that wasn't necessary to include. She removed her Magno Metal amulet then, presenting it to him as if to return it.
" This was what he correlated back to you, so I believe it's yours. If my owning it raises a suspicion of what you're doing, then it's probably best I don't have it. You more or less know the rest of my episode: one of my PETs got infected during the trip and so OEL had it purged when I got back. "
She never ever got Higsby's name, but that was where the story ended nonetheless. Her recollection wasn't a perfect one, as it was difficult to recall all the details of things one didn't fully grasp, but at the very least she hit all of the proper nouns that she could remember and that would serve to correct any of her errors if Tuttle knew more about them himself.
Tuttle wipes the sweat from his brow, and looks to Faith with a knowing gaze at her measured response. As she reaches out with the magnometal pendant, which he responds to by raising a hand and pushing it away.
Tuttle: No. Gate has long since realized my alignment, which is why I'm trapped within my own personal prison of sorts. Your having that holds no liability for me, but may yet hold advantage for you in the future.
Rubbing his brow with his white glove for a moment, Tuttle thinks about the situation and Faith's new information, breathing rather heavily as he does so.
Tuttle: The "nebula grey"... a corrupting force. I actually may know what he was referring to. I discovered files while working on the hardware for Soul Net, files referring to an "administrator" program to govern it. It seems that Gate had been running some form of Soul Net in secret for quite some time, and had been taking measurements of every soul and Navi that he could gather information on. In an extremely odd turn of events, looking into this data showed that he was looking for pure-heartedness and goodness as a basis for this program. He'd been carefully pulling the best qualities from Navis and humans alike in order to average them into some form of amalgamation-sentience that would run the network in one way or another.
But on the other side, I know that Exa got wind of this, as I later found that he'd been using Soul Net in much the same way, but he'd primarily been scouring for the worst and most ruthless that humanity and Navi kind had to offer, which he intended to use for the core of his Project Alzate. However, he also based his work on a rather strange bit of data found within Nebula Grey itself, though I'm not sure what this could have meant in the long-term.
As for the "virus"; the aforementioned "soul" designed to run this network had, for lack of a better word, an intentional hole. It was designed to interface with a very specific program... or perhaps a very specific Navi. I know nothing of it beyond this, as the OEL was not given any information as to what was designed to interface on this level. Perhaps he made a virus designed to fill this hole and interface with humanity on a direct level?
Tuttle pauses for a moment, taking a deep breath before he continues.
Tuttle: That should largely put the both of us up to speed. I've watched you and your group quietly for some time, and I believe that you're worthy of my trust in these matters. However, it seems that we have something far more pressing than this going on behind the scenes.
Much of our world has shifted towards threats larger than what Gate may pose at the moment, and I know that you are in this fight too. Tell me; what troubles do you face, and how may I be of service to your cause?
" It's ineffective against Soul Net, but, if you say so. "
She returned the pendant's laces to her neck so that it was concealed by her scarf again. It had other qualities of course, like its resistance to radiation being why she even had it to begin with, but that was beside the point here.
By now, she had noticed him sweating a lot, and while it was certainly hot here, she didn't find herself sweating to the same degree. Rather than changing the subject though, she listened on to the rest of what he had to say before replying to his question.
" Right now we always find ourselves in a reactive position, but I'd like to make a more proactive move on these New Forces, especially in light of their latest devastation from which they've shown no signs of slowing down even after that. "
Tuttle was up to speed on her knowledge concerning Gate, but even if he'd been watching her latest progress, it was unlikely that he was as familiar with her more recent endeavors concerning the Sunken Library and Psyche's Laboratory considering the confidentiality of those networks.
" Our latest clues led us to two sets of coordinates on the moon. I really don't even have a heading on how to pursue that lead. Other than that though, each time we've fought any of their members, we've gathered fragments from them that we haven't been able to analyze. If we were to bring them to somebody that could, I have no doubt we'd learn something useful and we could take a more productive direction from there. "
Tuttle's eyes narrow in thought as Faith speaks, weighing the options carefully.
Tuttle: I may be able to be of service on your first issue. While working on the WWW's Soul Net, I discovered that Gigamerica was being used as a launching platform for a substantial amount of hardware. Some was extremely advanced weaponry, others cutting-edge networking equipment. I would wager that Soul Net extends into space by quite a distance, and that our moon is likely not out of its reach.
Tuttle places his hand on the pommel of his cane and pulls back the skull, revealing a small compartment that houses a strange looking chip. He takes the chip from its holding place and hands it off to Faith before taking a step back.
Tuttle: I programmed a small back-door into the hardware that I worked on, just enough for a small number of Navis to enter without official credentials. That chip holds the code for accessing what you require, but be warned; once it's used, Gate will likely shut it down quickly, meaning it will be a one-time-use option. If you can't find your way to space by other means, this will give you what you need.
Tuttle pauses for a moment before he continues.
Tuttle: As for the strange data, I would be willing to investigate your findings, but only if you can give me access to a lab of some sort. Bringing anything out of the ordinary into the OEL would be far too dan-...and then Tuttle falls face-first like a domino into the grass before him, having passed out from the hot day combined with his heavy, black coat. The strange man lays lifeless for a few moments before suddenly springing back to life and effortlessly wiping the dirt and grass off of himself, missing only a bright green grass stain on his rather pronounced nose.
Tuttle: ....too dangerous.
I also have a bit of a warning for you; recently the OEL has discovered that the normal EM-radiation in space has suddenly shifted, and it seems as though the beings that previously used it for transportation are stranded. When looking deeper into our current issues, be aware of two concepts that can be inferred from this:
First, we have opponents with a weapon capable of entirely collapsing the electromagnetic spectrum of a vast area of space itself. Second, despite the fact that they have shown themselves able to traverse these "roads" for the sake of transportation, and a lack of digital media in space outside of Soul Net, they must be capable of moving about despite the new disadvantage. Discovering how they manage this may be a key to understanding your foes, thereby defeating them.
Taking the chip, Faith understood the caveats associated it and placed it one of her large pockets for now.
" I'll have to get back to you about the la-- Tuttle! "
Seeing him suddenly collapse led her to lunge forward in attempt to catch him, but to no avail. She would have removed his coat and brought him into the shade had he been out any longer, but then seeing him up and on his feet, continuing as if it hadn't even happened, left her sounding a bit upset after he finished his dialogue.
" Take this thing off, you're gonna get yourself killed in this heat, you crazy old man! "
She still heard what he had to say, but instinctively disregarded giving a reply to that in favor of enforcing his personal health's interest onto himself as she reached for the coat.
Last Edit: Apr 22, 2022 13:49:58 GMT -8 by Warrior
She insistently began removing the coat anyway, bringing him further into the shade despite them already being under a tree.
" I'll have to get back to you about the lab. Any of my own resources would be in Gigamerica, which was a long ways away even before recent events -- ever since the Juno Incident, traveling's been pretty restricted globally. I know a rich family in Netopia, which is closer, but I just lost a plane that they let me borrow so right now we're probably not on the best terms. Perhaps I'll see if there are any options to work with ONB in Electopia -- like I said, I'll just have to get back on that. "
It sounded like more rambling as she thought outloud, but she was giving information rather than prodding for it now, which was further testament to her skepticism of him being revoked.
" I assume this EM Road is like the Wave World? I only just learned of it by name, but I'll look deeper into their relationship with it and why they were keen on getting rid of it. Would anybody know more on the subject? "
Tuttle grumbles as Faith helps him deeper into the shade, insisting on at least holding his coat as he stands in his wool turtleneck all the surlier.
Tuttle: I'm unfamiliar with the term "wave world", but I'd assume that we're talking about the same thing. It's largely a new concept to basically everyone on this planet, for the most part. A professor by the name of Stellar was working on something related to using the innate electromagnetic spectrum for high-speed communications, but he disappeared rather abruptly a few years back. If he has any sort of documentation remaining, I wouldn't know where to find it.
Oh, and something of note; kindly take care of that chip. As strange as it may sound, it was actually a part of my cane when I received it a decade or so ago. The data that you now possess was added by me, but it also has an archive of some form encoded in an unknown format. I'd wager that it contains quite a bit more knowledge than we may realize.
And then Tuttle's eyes spark and he turns with a surly expression to Faith, suddenly remembering something.
Tuttle: ...and as for the "old man" comment; I'm only 37.