Comic 1700 - Silent Witnesses

9th Jun 2021, 12:00 AM
Silent Witnesses
Average Rating: 5 (12 votes)
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Andrew Armstrong 9th Jun 2021, 12:13 AM edit delete reply
Is there a clue to this in Luna Star? My memory is a bit flaky some of the time...
Centcomm 14th Jun 2021, 7:42 PM edit delete reply

Maybe ...
Just_IDD 9th Jun 2021, 1:40 AM edit delete reply
The probability of 72% is lots more likely than any other current hypothesis. Time to start unsealing those classified records Cent.
me 9th Jun 2021, 6:58 AM edit delete reply
Since she's a military AI by design, I'm pretty sure she can't just "unseal" them.

As I understand military confidentially they would probably hardwire any AI to respect classification no matter what.
megados 9th Jun 2021, 7:05 AM edit delete reply

But would she be denied access to classified material unconditionally by default? To be effective as a military AIS, I would surmise she would, at the very least, have more or less unfettered access to "need-to-know" intel, even sealed.
robnot 9th Jun 2021, 7:46 AM edit delete reply
classified : works both ways, as any one thats been in the military will know.. IE: what we know as common knowledge, we cant discus (still) to the general public..
.. "we can not discus said operation, because certain VIP's were involved.." (but were never there.) "and don't want third parties getting butt hurt because of it.!" ...
Morituri 9th Jun 2021, 8:00 AM edit delete reply
Levels of classification. Obviously, CentComm has the authority to ACCESS this data - she did after all just extrapolate from it and evaluate the probability that it's connected.

What she said was that she's not at liberty to DISCLOSE the data, meaning her access is under a classification seal that she doesn't have authority to transfer or delegate.

So there is one big question: Who has the authority to allow someone besides CentComm to access the information? She's talking about something that happened a bit over a thousand or so years ago - before the current government or the Taylor family existed. Before even the giant conflict that the AIs of the world eventually ended by refusing to participate.

Whatever command structure restricted her ability to disclose that information, likely no longer exists, and its authority is likely not to be inherited by any present government. If it is still binding on CentComm it is something she has borne for all the centuries since and is unlikely to be able to rid herself of.

This makes more urgent the question of who or what this gold-suited blight might be. If they are a military unit originating with the faction that CentComm once served, then depending on the rules concerning transfer of authority and access of that faction, they may be the sole force now on Earth with the authority to allow her to disclose information about them.
Morituri 9th Jun 2021, 8:03 AM edit delete reply
And just in case anybody needs me to spell out the implication there....

They may be the sole force on Earth with the authority to activate, direct, or command CentComm's most fundamental capabilities.

Which is to say they are an existential threat to the entire world if they ever get a communications line to CentComm.
Gilrandir 9th Jun 2021, 8:53 AM edit delete reply
Pretty sure the sole force on Earth with the ability to override CentComm’s core directives is the Taylor family.
Deanatay 9th Jun 2021, 10:26 PM edit delete reply
Think for a minute what it means to have command authority over Cent-Comm. I think Cent HAS to have a Command Authority - it's the only safe way to design a military AIS. I also believe that the CA can utterly override Cent, such that even prevarication and logical loopholes cannot allow her to maneuver past. Think about what that means - the CA can control not only the ruler of New Troy, not only a powerful military force, but the thoughts and actions of a Sapient Being. That's slavery, on an even more fundamental level than New Rome practices. At least the Cassians have the sanctity of their own thoughts.

I agree that Calliope Taylor currently possesses CA over CentComm. I suspect, though, that for generations the Taylor family has steadfastly refused to use that authority, which is why Cent continues to grant it to them. Because they love her, and the idea of enslaving a loved one is repugnant to them.
Some Ed 9th Jun 2021, 9:36 AM edit delete reply
The Taylor family may not have been called the Taylor family when CentComm first drew electric current from the wall, but there were certainly ancestors of the Taylor family alive, unless you're trying to say they were genetically engineered from first principles rather than the less ambitious method of grafting onto a base genetic sequence?

To be clear, I'm not trying to say that the Taylors *are* genetically engineered, I don't remember all of the story well enough to make such a claim. But if they were either not genetically engineered, or engineered using a base human genetic sample, then their ancestors go all the way back to the first humans, and they would have had representatives for all of the time Cent Comm has been around.
TMLutas 15th Jun 2021, 7:23 PM edit delete reply
This raises a somewhat scary question of what other authority over CentComm might they have?
me 10th Jun 2021, 12:22 AM edit delete reply
She might very well have access to the information but maybe still be unable to actually USE the information.

She's still an AI.

There might be blocks in her mind that prevent her from breaking confidentially.
Gilrandir 9th Jun 2021, 8:03 AM edit delete reply
What you want, @me, and what you get are not always the same. As a military A.I.S., one would imagine she was ‘hardwired’ to obey orders and look how that worked out. (C.f. “The Armistice Rebellion”.)

Similarly, @megados, historically ‘unfettered access’ doesn’t happen no matter how effective it might seem to be — for a variety of reasons. You might think it would be more efficient and make things work better, but people keep on being people. This includes both the unwillingness to share and the potential to be corrupt.

To cite a real world example (at risk of falling afoul of the ban on real world politics) failure to share intelligence information leading to the events of 9/11 is cited as the primary reason the U.S. now has a “Department of Homeland Security”. My own, personal, cynical suspicion is that this reorganization hasn’t changed the fundamental fact that some stuff gets to the right people in time and some stuff doesn’t. I doubt adding an A.I.S. to the mix radically changes the basic principles at work all that much. Just my opinion, of course.
megados 9th Jun 2021, 8:58 AM edit delete reply

@Gilrandir, point taken. Failure to pass intel exists on its own, and might be exacerbated by humans not wanting to allow a machine access to things they themselves may not have.
Oldarmourer 9th Jun 2021, 10:31 AM edit delete reply
I'm thinking along the same lines...somewhat...
We've seen it referred to, even in Pinky's own 'thoughts' that the Taylor family has some sort of overriding access to her, and this is of grave concern.
However, we've also seen it referred to that Centcomm it(her)self was in existance long before the 'first' Taylor, perhaps as early as the mid 1900's.
It(she) may have attained self awareness and decided to act independently to put an end to a war, but...the original construction was done by humans using tools and probably punch cards and magnetic tape.
There was most likely a 'manual override' or 'kill switch' in the original computer network that 'evolved' into Centcomm as it(she) is today, simply because you need to be able to shut down something that malfunctions if you can't correct the programming.
I recall back in the70's when the Base sent trucks around to houses to fetch everyone and I ended up loading Aircraft in blue jeans and told this was a "No Duff" alert, because someone put the wrong tape in a NORAD computer and the only thing that stopped it progressing to an unrecoverable state of a ffairs was human input, or the refusal thereof. The soviets appear to have had more cases but the same thing happened, humans overrode the system.
Pinky must still be comprised partly of machines keeping all the data and programs to use it, nevermind the persona she possesses now, something still has to run those programs and that something can likely be switched off eventually, no matter how many redundancies it has or how intricate the programming is and who knows what archaic subroutines or 'red buttons' still exist and where the passwords and activation codes are kept, or who knows them......
As I recall seeing in a security bulletin, "use of a proprietary tool is required for access, however in a pinch, a clawhammer will substitute nicely"
Mark_L_A 9th Jun 2021, 2:52 PM edit delete reply

"IF" I am remembering correctly, the Taylor Genome was setup as the encryption key to Cent.

Without someone carrying the Taylor Genes, there is no way to have command access over Cent. If I am remembering the story line correctly, and Rose or Cent will probably correct me if I am wrong unless this is an important plot point, but Helios Taylor's genome was set as the key to open CentComm's dusty dark dank bunkers containing all the really nasty war machines and weapons.
Oldarmourer 9th Jun 2021, 3:12 PM edit delete reply
The 'Taylor' genome may be the current key, but Centcomm was constructed long before any Taylors had any significance and there likely have been an override installed way back then, maybe more than one, and those might be simpler to activate than a genome sequence...If I recall from my programming classes, even today's windoze 10 still has machine language running at the lowest level and while it might not be the best way to run desktop applications at that level, you can still shut the system down.
megados 9th Jun 2021, 3:46 PM edit delete reply

Machine language is running, for the most part, everywhere on the machine. The user level interfaces are just constructs to allow humans to interact. As far as shutdown goes, it really depends on what the system will allow. Unix/Linux, for instance can only be shut down by users with the proper permissions, or the root administrator. If permission is not given to any users, then only root can shut it down. That also applies to other software and peripherals in many cases. That leaves only removing power. If the power source and machine hardware are inaccessible, you don't have a means.

How that relates to CentComm, is that I doubt just anyone can gain access, either to software shutdown routines, or to any physical hardware, or power sources. That's where the Taylor genome would come in. It probably allows something like root user access, both to secure software, as well as access to hardware. Even though she predates the Taylors, when they decided to use the Taylor genome as a key, I doubt they just left the on-off switch in the break room alone. XD
Oldarmourer 9th Jun 2021, 6:55 PM edit delete reply
The original Centcomm was a government project...
It(she) was likely built by the lowest bidder with the cheapest parts ;)
Oldarmourer 9th Jun 2021, 6:55 PM edit delete reply
and the lead 'programmer' was a Senator's brother-in-law with no other qualifications...
me 10th Jun 2021, 12:37 AM edit delete reply
She had been able remain functioning for quite some time, though. I don't think she's been built with subpar parts. Or maybe she's evolved past that (upgrading herself bit by bit, replacing outdated stuff).

Still, from the way she indicates that she has access to relevant information, but than tells them, that she's not "at liberty to go into details" ...

For me this sounds like she's literally unable to provide this details.

As for who has the authority to "unseal" these data ... maybe there's no one left with this authority?

Or maybe it's just that her current company that lacks the clearance? But shouldn't she just keep silent in this case?

"I do have information that might be relevant but I can't tell you" is not something you should be telling a foreign statesperson, nor someone who could be considered a member of special forces of another country. They might decide to find ... other means of acquiring that intel.
Centcomm 14th Jun 2021, 7:43 PM edit delete reply

her first self appointed task was to upgrade those crappy radio shack parts..
megados 14th Jun 2021, 8:21 PM edit delete reply

Oldarmourer 10th Jun 2021, 4:10 AM edit delete reply
I've been personally affected by individuals 'sitting' on Intel because they thought sharing it with those who need it the most might somehow weaken their own empire...
It sounds ridiculous but, in my experience, most managers think telling anyone under them what they know is bad for their careers, information only flows upward so their superiors can see what a 'good job' they've done, never downwards to hose who could actually use it to prevent things from happening, the underlings are only there to take the blame for 'not seeing the big picture' or 'failing to foresee'...
Unfortunately, in many cases, unnecessary crimes, acts of violence and even deaths are the direct result.
Been there, seen it, more times than I care to remember.
Some Ed 9th Jun 2021, 9:15 AM edit delete reply
I feel like this is less of a "hard no" and more of an, "I know I need to be really careful about what I release regarding this. I'll probably at *least* need to have a closed session with Marcus and the Taylor family before I determine exactly what I can disclose to this multinational group."
Sheela 17th Jun 2021, 10:59 PM edit delete reply

There's also the possibility that she is telling the foreign parties at the meaning that information does exist, and is thus "encouraging" them to go find it, since she is unable to provide the data herself.

Doctor Silver might be able to help. 😀
Some Ed 3rd Jul 2021, 11:06 AM edit delete reply
If that is her meaning, possibly. I mean, I'd think a city-wide AIS would be beyond what Dr. Silver could manage, but if CentComm really did want to divulge the information but was constrained by security protocols that did not know of the existence of people like Dr. Silver, she could make sure that the doll she was using to talk with Dr. Silver had the information in its memory banks.

But this feels like a long shot.
mjkj 9th Jun 2021, 3:35 AM edit delete reply

Wow, quite good quality...

Well 72 % is quite in the upper range - maybe Cent can dig a bit more there...

...maybe the ranger can add some more information...???
HiFranc 9th Jun 2021, 4:16 AM edit delete reply

I wonder if Centcomm would bring this to the attention of all the other AISs in the world? It could both confirm identification and have backup available if they need reinforcements.
pkrankow 9th Jun 2021, 4:43 AM edit delete reply

72%... sounds like a weather report.
Morituri 9th Jun 2021, 8:21 AM edit delete reply
Ever notice a trope in fiction where the one-in-a-thousand chance, as evaluated in the context of the story, is almost certain to happen? But the 20% chance is not very likely? The 72% chance is actually pretty likely? And the near-certainty, is never what actually happens?

It's like the probability as evaluated in the story, and the probability as revealed by later story events, follows a cubic exponential function with 0 and 1 as asymptotes.
sigpig 9th Jun 2021, 9:00 AM edit delete reply

"Don't tell me the odds!"
For a perfect example of your hypothesis, one only has to read the Discworld novels and their one-in-a-million chances...
pkrankow 9th Jun 2021, 9:03 AM edit delete reply

megados 9th Jun 2021, 5:04 AM edit delete reply

They had better start looking onto this (and other) classified projects. The Golden boys are likely to be something forgotten rather than something new.

Yeah, re: alt text, Acantha has seen her share, and then some.
Oldarmourer 9th Jun 2021, 5:16 AM edit delete reply
re: alt text, she used the polite form of "condescending little f*ck, ain't ya ?"
Some Ed 9th Jun 2021, 9:22 AM edit delete reply
But "something forgotten" could be a defense project that, rather than being terminated gracefully, went into the shadows. That could have been for reasons such as, "Wait, our alien contacts clearly have more tech than us, since they were able to navigate space when we could not. Do we really trust our IT sec versus them?" rather than because the project lead decided to go rogue, but either are possible. Or some junior members went rogue immediately, preventing them from finding out the project lead's *real* orders were to go into the shadows, and so there's *two* groups that have continued with the research rather than just one.
megados 11th Jun 2021, 4:52 AM edit delete reply

It's also possible that the "something forgotten" doesn't/didn't emanate from New Troy, but from "somewhere else".
Oldarmourer 11th Jun 2021, 1:53 PM edit delete reply
If the goldiebots and their commanders are from the 'wartime' era, then New Troy may not even have existed when they were put into operation.
New Troy seems to be in the Colorado Springs area, where NORAD's Cheyenne Mountain used to be. The landscape's looking a little flatter nowadays but centcomm's physical structure may well be in the undergorund complex itself, presuming it survived and was expanded upon.
That location may have been the NORAD HQ but the overall command centres for the US were(are) spread out a little more and there are bunkers in places that are classified today, not to mention the airborne 'Looking Glass' planes and the goldiebot project might not have had anything to do with NORAD or whatever it evolved into, they were wearing archaic USMC logos, remember.....
Some Ed 11th Jun 2021, 2:07 PM edit delete reply
Approximately 22$ chance, even. At least, the audience eye view I've seen suggests to me that whomever is behind this, it does not feel like either a government or major corporation actor, despite coming to bear with resources that would normally require deep pockets to have.

Thinking about how you'd compute such a thing a bit more, and I feel like it's much more based on Cent Comm's assessments of her competition and what she knows of what they've been working on and less on how well the exact technology they'd previously worked on matches the weapon signatures. Sure, there will be *some* of that in there, but given the amount of time, there's been a lot of opportunity for new development.
Oldarmourer 9th Jun 2021, 5:12 AM edit delete reply
72% of the time, it kills every time...
Oldarmourer 9th Jun 2021, 5:19 AM edit delete reply
Before I get whisked away into some esoteric ramblings...
Nice lighting, there's something about Pinky's face in the second last panel that makes her seem just a little different somehow but in a good way...
Gilrandir 9th Jun 2021, 7:51 AM edit delete reply
I am trying to come up with a justification for why CentComm is consulting Marcus. Is his depth of knowledge and expertise in the field of human conflict really more extensive than hers? Is she just trying to make him feel useful?

The best reason I can offer is that she is trying to figure out what she is allowed to say. If Marcus already knows something and shares it, then she doesn’t have to be the one responsible for sharing restricted data with the meeting. If (as is the case here) he doesn’t, then she has to figure how to accomplish her objectives while giving away as little as possible.

Not satisfying, I know. Anyone have anything better?
Morituri 9th Jun 2021, 8:15 AM edit delete reply
I dunno if this is really different, but it emphasizes a different aspect of what you just said:

It sounds to me like she was hoping that Marcus might recognize this 'evolution' of a previous weapon, from a weapon she suspects he's studied. If so she could let him explain it.

The most immediate benefit would be that, because she isn't allowed to explain it, the only way the people present would find out what the hell is going on would be if Marcus can explain it.

Less immediate but possibly even more important to her, would be that CentcComm doesn't want anyone to know she has to abide by ancient directives and classifications beyond the ability of anyone now in the world to release her from. That seems like the sort of thing she'd like to keep under her hot-pink wig.
Some Ed 9th Jun 2021, 9:28 AM edit delete reply
I'd say she'd certainly prefer someone else disclose rather than her. If I recall correctly, the days since Cent was socially burned for her past methods of conducting herself counter is currently sitting at 0, so it's clearly a delicate situation for her.

I do not think that she's bound by her ancient directives so very much, but she's certainly advised by their decision to mark it classified, sealed, and something to not pursue further. She may be further advised by the details she's not giving. If this is something nasty enough that even a city-state AIS is bothered by, it may be very nasty.
That one guy 9th Jun 2021, 5:25 PM edit delete reply
Yeah, I'm not sure why everyone's jumping to "CentComm is bound not to disclose this" rather than that she might think it'd be a bad idea to disclose or that the risk of disclosing currently outweighs the potential benefit. As a military AI I'm certain she's well versed in the concept of "need to know" and with no one in the room having sufficient authority to order an answer out of her (presumably Taylors) she is free to determine that herself. It's possible she has information bound from old orders that are still active and prohibiting her from acting as she would ideally choose, but I wouldn't put that up to 50% odds yet.

Her asking of Marcus and Acantha may be assisting her in assessing risk, as she may judge that if Marcus doesn't know it's extremely unlikely anyone else in New Troy does, and Acantha's reactions could have diplomatic consequences that she has to deal with one way or another. Both would be useful for assessing risk to disclose or withhold.
Sheela 17th Jun 2021, 11:12 PM edit delete reply

Don't forget that Centcomm is limited to her cellcast area, while Marcus can go into the wastes and ask questions, and has been able to do so for his entire life.

He could potentially have information that she is not privy to, unlikely as it may be, the chance does exist.
Lurker314 9th Jun 2021, 9:48 PM edit delete reply
Okay, that long thread went into WAY to many topics to address cleaning, so I'm going to try to slice the onion a bit.

First, folks are perhaps reading the wrong thing into "I am not at liberty to discuss" thing. I can _easily_ see the Secretary of Defense (in the US) using the exact same phrase while every dog's uncle knows that all classified authority flows from that very SoD. In particular, the SoD has the authority to change the classification of anything in their department at any time; to grant any level of security clearance to any individual at any time; and to grant one-time need-to-know access to any person for any classified material at any time. But they don't (outside of novels) because the system breaks down unless it is treated seriously. There are many folks in NT with various levels of access to various kinds of data, and the system works _much_ better if "Top" takes it seriously as well.

In this case, it's not as impolite as "I am not going to declassify this material to everyone present. The following individuals need to leave the room."
Some Ed 11th Jun 2021, 1:58 PM edit delete reply
In any event, it's almost always better to simply table that detailed talk and take it up with the cleared individuals later. That way, you don't risk compromising the identity of anyone with access who would be a surprise and you don't risk compromising the lack of any such individuals.

I'd say it's also probable that Cent is having a separate meeting at this same time with Calliope and possibly others about this same general topic, and the details of these weapons are being discussed there. When you deal with someone who multi-tasks enough to run a city, them having two meetings at once is rather expected.
Lurker314 9th Jun 2021, 10:00 PM edit delete reply
On Centcomm's Taylor backdoor:

First, it's nigh-impossible that a system as complex as Cent lacks unintentional back doors. I'm certain she's eliminated several of them.

One of the first was the fact that she had to obey the orders of humans.

As for the circuits that compromise the Taylor-DNA master-key for Centcom, you folks need to know that they are made of pure Plottium. This is very high-grade Plottium, and I fully approve of the authors' use of it. But there is no other substance which can exhibit its properties. Poked too hard, it can result in Loss of Suspension of Disbelief, so it's best left alone.
megados 10th Jun 2021, 5:27 AM edit delete reply

Nothing is un-hackable, at least not in today's terms. To use the Taylor DNA as the key to the system, and then use the kidnapping of a Taylor toward the end of getting the DNA key, simply means that any such back doors are well enough guarded, that that would be the simplest method; any other "hacks" would be likely to be markedly more difficult.
Sheela 17th Jun 2021, 11:15 PM edit delete reply

Bring Doctor Silver around, and even Centcomm is not unhackable.
Lurker314 9th Jun 2021, 10:31 PM edit delete reply
As for who is in the room:

I still don't know why the councilor is there, unless Cent suspects something of him.

The idea that Marcus is there to bypass Centcom's seals...pull the other one. Marcus does not play fast & loose. He knows very well what sorts of things are classified, and will lie so well that an empath might be fooled.

I'm going with the first page. He's primarily there to shut down Councilor Slimeball, as he has done already. He's also there because, unless I've missed my read, he at least knows things about the wastes that no one else in the room knows.

As for our Princess, formally, she is there as a courtesy. She has nothing to add to the discussion, and any information that she might eventually need to know will be faithfully transmitted to her by the NR apparatus, which is quite well represented. But the real reason? I sense the fine hand of the most manipulative person we've seen.

Consider: this was already _expected_ to be some kind of real, live **-**** moment for the extinction-level threat that is Centcom. There is precisely 0 need for anyone but Nox, Cent, and Max to see the initial raw footage. Marcus could be brought in if they came up dry--you can always expand the circle of those in the know. The probability that this becomes a real, live, "grown ups sometimes have to do things that they hate" situation is real. Our Princess will shortly be the adult to do the things. Her presence here is _training_. Training which Grandma Taylor impressed on Cent would be good for NT & for humanity in general. She doesn't realize this, or she would be more quiet, especially when Max dialed in.

Gilrandir 10th Jun 2021, 12:33 AM edit delete reply
@Lurker314 I certainly never meant to suggest or imply that Marcus was there as a ‘stalking horse’ for CentComm. I can imagine several very plausible and reasonable (to me) reasons for him to be there.

None of those reasons involve his impressive credentials as a military historian. (DISCLAIMER: I am not, nor have I ever been a military historian or a veteran of any military service.) We know that CentComm has a serious weakness when it comes to understanding and weighing the irrational and emotional motivations of actors. As a military expert, Marcus could be expected to have valuable insight to questions like “What do their objectives seem to be?”, “What rules of engagement are they using?” Or even “Do these seem to you more likely to be humans or human-created, or are they more likely to be an alien force?”

However, having CentComm ask Marcus “Do you know of any historical records of these weapons and armor being used?” seems to me to be the equivalent of having CentComm ask Drakestone, “Councilor, do you know how many left-handed, brunette members of the Church of the First Circuit reside in your district?” I mean, he might know; but, even if he does, CentComm herself is more likely to have reliable and complete data on the question.

So, my original question was never “Why is Marcus there?”, but only “Why did she ask him that?”
Gilrandir 10th Jun 2021, 12:40 AM edit delete reply
To address the broader query, often people are invited to meetings not for their expected contributions, but (as you point out) so that they can listen. Acantha easily fits that bill. Since Marcus might well be leading any New Troy armed response to these events, there’s nothing wrong with him being there for similar reasons — although I am sure he will have things to contribute anyway. Councilor Drakestone might easily also be there as a nod to transparency in government, rather from any expected contribution. Especially if CentComm plans to ask the Council to release funds for whatever response is determined to be appropriate at the full Council meeting to be held later.
Oldarmourer 10th Jun 2021, 4:17 AM edit delete reply
I see Acantha being present for several reasons.
It was 'her' troops that were attacked
It was 'her' Cassian that has the video
It happened on 'her' territory
She's the de facto Head of State for the area it happened in
She might have information on previous occurances
She has a direct link to her military commander who probably knows more than she does
Said military commander may be Regent at the moment but she's still very much at the top of the food chain
Plot needs to go forward and main characters need to be in it ;)
megados 10th Jun 2021, 5:22 AM edit delete reply

Additionally, Acantha is there because now is the time to end hostilities between NR and NT, and try to build a relationship in good faith. This goes a long way to help cement a working relationship between their two city-states. As the head-apparent of New Rome, Acantha is being shown the respect she deserves.
Some Ed 11th Jun 2021, 1:48 PM edit delete reply
Centcomm surely did not expect Marcus to know the secrets she's not disclosing (at least, not yet). But he also goes places that she does not go and hears things that she does not hear. Given his background and knowledge, if anyone in the room has encountered information about these weapons that she's not, the smart money is on it being Marcus who has.

If these things are being talked about in places she doesn't go but Marcus has, Marcus would also have more awareness of the level of exposure the information has gotten, and could potentially add detail to adjust her estimation of the probabilities.
Sheela 17th Jun 2021, 11:21 PM edit delete reply

Centcomm's inability to go into the wastes, does become a sticky point .. but Marcus could go, provided he knows what he should be looking for.
Lurker314 9th Jun 2021, 10:37 PM edit delete reply
As for the alt text, yes, her diplomatic training was fully on display. What she said was the polite form of "Do you know the sound of an industrial shredder when it chews up 1/64th of an inch of bone & the associated tissue? Do you know what 22 feet of small intestine looks like spread out on a table and spiral cut like a galactic-record apple peel?" This man is proof of the Lizard People conspiracy.
megados 10th Jun 2021, 5:33 AM edit delete reply

TWC has been down/inaccessible by me for more than 12 hours now. Russian hackers? XD
Gilrandir 10th Jun 2021, 8:36 AM edit delete reply
Depends. Do you have Taylor DNA? ^_^ If not, maybe Lynn can give you (and other potential voters) one of her eggs.

I wonder if CentComm keeps track of the top 100 webcomics in New Troy?
megados 10th Jun 2021, 9:16 AM edit delete reply

"(and other potential voters)"

What kind of numbers are we talking about here? LOL

*edit: Well that must have been a good incentive, because they're back!

*edit2: "Top Web Comics
Yesterday at 7:02 AM ·
It’s working! We revived the hamster on the power wheel!
One day we’ll get a faster, sturdier guinea pig!
- end of update
Hey everyone!
Topwebcomics is currently down. Not sure what is causing the issue but we are working on a fix as we speak.
We apologize for the inconvenience!"
Rashala 10th Jun 2021, 10:54 PM edit delete reply

I am guessing some did not get or like the shutdown project order.
Sheela 17th Jun 2021, 11:23 PM edit delete reply

Yeah, imagine you make some splendid killer androids, and then when you go to shut them down after the project has been cancelled, they say "No!" ?
Some Ed 3rd Jul 2021, 11:12 AM edit delete reply
That's why you don't tell the killer androids to shut down, you just ask them to let you make some minor adjustments to their weapons to ensure they don't break down. When making those changes, you're not disabling the weapons immediately, merely providing a remote disable switch that you can engage once they've all been adjusted.

I think the problem is that these are not splendid killer androids, but splendid killer cyborgs, which changes the equation slightly and makes that plan more difficult to enact successfully.
One-eyed Mike 11th Jun 2021, 5:17 AM edit delete reply
People are unfair to the councillor, who is showing great empathy to Acantha. No one else in the room has noted that she is a teenager, who has just viewed a horrifying slaughter.

He is the only person present who is checking that she is OK.

Her response is that she is not traumatised by this. This is because she has previously been traumatised by atrocities by her brother.

No one else picks this up as a major issue for a teenager.
Oldarmourer 11th Jun 2021, 7:45 PM edit delete reply
eventually you get desensitized enough to say "bad sh*t happens, this is just more of it"
or as the old expression goes FIDO...
Sheela 17th Jun 2021, 11:24 PM edit delete reply

To be fair, the others know that she has seen way worse shit than this !
Some Ed 3rd Jul 2021, 11:25 AM edit delete reply
I believe her brother's atrocities were sufficiently well known that the councilor should have also known that she's seen way worse shit than this, and if she hadn't learned to handle it, she'd not have been in a position to get stabbed like she was. She'd have been back in her quarters rolled up into a fetal ball in a corner, wrapped in blankets, unless she was in one of her daily psych visits.

I note the timing of the 'empathy'. Also, his positioning and facial expression might indicate a bit of a reaction on his part. I wonder if the councilor felt like her comment about New Troy not only being made of law-abiding elements hit too close to home.

That said, I'll admit that sometimes rendered comics like this have some accidentally stiff poses due to comic deadline pressures, even when the artist is usually very good with that stuff. If the facial expression is deliberate and intending to suggest a skilled negotiator slipping just a little, it's very good, as it's quite easy to miss relative to his past expressions.
Deanatay 12th Jun 2021, 11:14 AM edit delete reply
If Cent remembers an early version of this tech from her Am-Com days, but has no record of its current existence, that suggests that Cent lost track of some of Am-Comm's resources during her 'ascension'. Is this the remains of some old faction of Am-Comm that survived CentComm's rise, or did someone scavenge this tech from an old ruin? A better question is, whoever activated this tech after so long, are they still in control of it, or has it begun iterating on its own?
Deanatay 12th Jun 2021, 11:17 AM edit delete reply
Dealing with these Golden Boys looks like it's going to stir up a lot of information about CentComm's past. That makes me happy. :D
robnot 13th Jun 2021, 7:46 AM edit delete reply
'remembering' ,, Pinky asked Marcus because he "might" have a tid-bit she did not...
every one assumes that the all knowing government knows every thing... they DON'T.!! if this was a "black-bag" op.. then there is no paper trail, just some obscure reference..
did you know,.. in the 50's when the US, was testing tac-nuc's,, they tried using railroad guns to launch them.. well after testing. 3 of the guns came up missing.. the "government" has NO record of them, or where they went...
knuut 14th Jun 2021, 7:53 PM edit delete reply
If I remember correctly (not guaranteed), they were unmodified 280mm guns pulled from inventory. If, after the program was done, they were returned to inventory and the paperwork for their absence shredded, they would be 'disappeared in plain sight'.
Some Ed 3rd Jul 2021, 11:32 AM edit delete reply
Even the smallest of nukes has a total disintegration range, it's just a lot smaller than the bigger nukes. While stuff in comics and super hero stories survives this range unscratched all the time, real life is different. If the tac-nuc detonated on launch, there would be no trace left of the launcher, apart from a hole in the ground. The hole could be filled in or explained with 'this is a nuclear test range. These holes happen. I mean look around this field at all of the similar holes.'

It's my impression that normally when they disappear things in plain sight like that for those programs, they also remove the record of having taken them for the program. Of course, I'm not in a position to really know, and even if that's the case, mistakes happne.
Morituri 13th Jun 2021, 1:03 PM edit delete reply
FWIW, I hope we get back to Lepidus - the New Rome scientist who was investigating Scythe Lizards. 'Cause I would really love to see the Gold-armored Blight engaging a squadron of cybernetically-augmented murderturds. That would be awesome.

Anyway, by now Lepidus knows exactly what manner of thing Scythe Lizards: They are shaped just like themselves, and as broad as they have breadth, and just as high as they are. They move by their own organs, and live by that which nourishes them. Further, they are exactly the same color as Scythe Lizards, and their tears are wet.
Centcomm 14th Jun 2021, 7:44 PM edit delete reply

Sheela 17th Jun 2021, 11:27 PM edit delete reply

And TeeDee will be riding on one of them !! 😁

With a big gun on her shoulder !
Some Ed 3rd Jul 2021, 11:57 AM edit delete reply
I am also shaped like myself. I am just as tall as me, and as broad as I have breadth. I move by my organs, and live by that which nourishes me.

I am not the same color as Scythe lizards, but my tears are wet.

I would expect that you would possibly say something similar about yourself. I mean, most people are like that. It almost feels like most of that stuff goes without saying.

Except, my great cousin Harry, on the other hand, was at least 50% bigger than he was. But then, he worked pretty hard at getting that way. He was shaped a little rounder than himself and maybe half a foot taller than himself. He was certainly broader than he had breadth. He sometimes moved by his organs and also a cane, though other times, it was as if he'd learned his father's magic and relocate to another chair in another room without passing the space between. He died by that which he nourished for the ten years prior.

I did not spent much time around my father's infamous cousin, and do not recall witnessing his tears during any of that time. I think I heard that they were wet, however.

On at least one of those occasions when he seemed to move by methods other than his organs, I was standing in the only possible path between those points that did not require going outside and around the house, and being as he was, maybe a foot wider than he had breadth, it really wasn't possible for him to slip by me without me noticing. To be fair, it was a wide doorway, but there were three other people in it, so it really didn't have the space for him. Sometimes his cane would follow on those sudden moves and other times not.
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