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Fluff / Resonance


Most of you know at least the basics of how to navigate the 'trix. I mean, unless someone printed this out for you, you're using it right now. There's sort of a loose abstraction layer that indicates where devices and other users (personas) are in relation to you, and purely data-entities like files kind of attach to whatever they need to in order to run.

All of that is just an interface. The underlying mechanics are quintillions of little quantum switches, fluctuating according to patterns set out by processor engineers and communicating via radio signals - much the same way metahumans and animals consist of trillions of little protein and nucleic acid molecules reacting chemically in ways that they've evolved to do. But we've studied the body. We know that if you expose it to this and that, you inject a gene sequence here and there, you can shape and control the growth and expression of the organism in an intentional way. We know that your brain is more or less the seat of consciousness, and your nervous system sends electrical signals to your muscle cells to cause them to contract. But you don't need to know any of that to move your arm. You just will it, and it happens.

Hacking is not so different. You know that part of the matrix protocols is to advertise the service and version number running on all open ports, so you can exploit any known vulnerabilities without even taking any risks. You know that planting a script in the scheduling system can generate processes faster than the culler can kill them, in case you need to brute force a password or something. You know that if you clip the metadata from a data packet, the out-of-box biofeedback filter won't clamp the signal and some of it will get through to the user - even custom tailored ones won't always catch every signature. But you don't need to know any of this to make it happen - you just enter the commands, directly from your brain. The knowledge of the underlying system only helps you decide what to do, not how to do it.

It doesn't just go deeper in one direction, though. There are layers that are more abstract. What about social groups? They have their own unique and abstract behaviours which are different from individuals. Organizational psychologists get paid a lot to advise corporations on managing their employees as a whole and refining their culture to better suit their goals. What about the manasphere? It is not specific to any one organism, but without organisms, there wouldn't be one. Likewise, the matrix has its own gestalt-entities. The foundation. Hosts in general.

The Resonance.

Ah, that's right. Some of you are new to the scene and don't remember who I am, even though I've only been laying low for a few months. As for the rest... Some of you suspected that about me, some of you I told. Some won't be surprised, some will be shocked. Some of you have even been there and hiding it all this time.

And why? They blame us for the Crash. They don't know what happened. It was more complicated than that. But I'll cover that in a later section. More importantly, that generation has mostly faded by now. And you won't be running into them. If you think it's suspicious your hacker doesn't have a datajack, guess what? That means they weren't involved in the Crash. The otaku couldn't operate without one.

Unfortunately, nobody really knows what the Resonance is. The corporations that...that vivisect us... tightly guard their findings. But I can tell you a lot about it. Um. Just give me a moment to compose myself. I'll call in a few others to help elucidate, too.

Hi! I here because Sp00k ask me for help, so I willing to help.
As you may know, I 'open' about what I am. This more common now apparently, but for me, it always just been who I am you know? But I always thought of technomancer as second to what I was, so I never really had reason to hide. This obviously easier now because of who I am now, but many time, techno feel need hide what they are. If you ever find out, don't be dick and be all gloaty yeah? Make sure they not type blow your head off for fear of capture.
- Maoci

Okay. So, we can start with the most concrete level. The nerves in your body communicate via electrical fluctuations, by the uptake and release of potassium and sodium ions. It's different from the electricity that flows through a circuit, but it still effects an electromagnetic field. These fluctuations happen in waves that can be detected, but for most people they're chaotic enough that they cancel each other out beyond the reach of a trode net. With 'us', it's a little different. The cells aren't all perfectly tuned to the same frequency, but the phase is aligned so that rather than cancelling each other out at the macro scale, they amplify and support and resonate with each other, resulting in an EM wave which can be picked up by other antennae at a considerable distance. Likewise, the fluctuations in the EM spectrum affect the firing of these resonant neurons in a way that makes it possible for us to 'feel' it - like a biological antenna.

It's not trivial. It takes effort - conscious at first, but it soon becomes second nature, like learning to walk or read. But curiosity drives us. From the patterns in those fluctuations, we learn the abstractions of the matrix. The experience is hard to describe and impossible to explain. But like being immersed in an unknown language, the noise starts to give way to understanding as you witness cause and effect. Symbol and meaning. Stimulus and reaction. Soon you find that you need to display a persona to perform most actions that you see, so you make one up. It's just a bunch of display data and identity information - easy to come up with on the fly if you're creative. That becomes second nature, too.

At some point, you need a persona that isn't your own for some reason or other. So you compile a bunch of display and identity data, like you normally would. But hosting it in your body would defeat the purpose. Where do you put it? Well, all these devices around you have resources dedicated to cloud services, to running instructions with their spare cpu cycles as mandated by the network authority. You've seen, or rather felt, the commands go through thousands of times, so you know how to do it. It's taxing for some reason, to create something outside of yourself, but it doesn't take very long.

That's where it starts to get really weird.

Those personas don't just behave like normal agents or programs. We call them 'sprites'. They take on a life of their own, cobbling themselves together from ambient data. Maybe it's your fault, like you're subconsciously incorporating stuff from your digital environment into them. Maybe they're executing instructions that were left in the register from a previous command. Maybe they come from somewhere deeper. Some believe they're like spirits in the matrix, and I don't disagree - they have a similarly alien perspective, and they behave similarly, too. And they don't last very long. They'll mostly obey you, to the extent that they understand your requests, but they seem destined to poof after a short time. It's not sunset/sunrise, like with spirits, but GOD eventually finds them and nukes them from orbit. Poor little things. 😔

It's thanks to their alien perspective, however, that they seem to understand the matrix in ways that no metahuman possibly could; they're always coming up with these neat little tricks and workarounds that their master would never have dreamed of. Sometimes, they can teach you these tricks and help you thread them - other times, they just don't know how to communicate it and once they're gone, so is their unique and bizarre power.

Either way, this deeper understanding of the matrix makes people uncomfortable. It's subversive, they say. It's cheating. Well, cheating is only relevant for games. It's not a game. Not for me. Not for us. The rules aren't there to protect the people, they're there to subjugate them. To demetahumanize them. We need any advantage we can get.

I'm not going to lie, I used to be a massive drekhead when it came to this. What you need to remember is that to a normal decker, your resonance abilities don't adhere to the rules of the matrix. I don't mean rules as in law, but more like the rules that govern physics and gravity. Things just work when they actually shouldn't. And that's really threatening to a lot of hackers who have a need to be on the bleeding edge. If you're not keeping up with technology, you're going to be left behind with a datajack full of dumpshock.
I've come to learn that it's not something you need to be threatened by (unless someone is actually threatening you). It's just the way they look at the world. Sort of like how someone from a different culture may have different methods of doing the same thing.
- Data Hound

There's a feeling, or a sense, or something, that develops. It's intuitive. Like a detective in a gumshoe trid knowing that the person had to be a certain height because of the stride of their footsteps - information that's invisible to most people, yet you can believe it's there. Well, that's how I assume 'it' is, anyway. I'm not a detective, and I've never not known how it feels to look at a data stream and instantly know all this stuff, almost without knowing how I know. What is 'it'... the flow of it. How it all comes together. What it all means. You know roughly how far away they are because of the roundtrip times on their packets. You know they're running an exploit program because they're checking ports in a mechanical pattern rather than an organic, metahuman one. You know roughly how long they've been decking, who trained them, sometimes even their age, metatype, or gender. And if they're resonant, too, you almost always know exactly who it is unless they're taking special measures to mask it.

It's less of a stream for me personally and more like a web. The systems we were using almost a hundred years ago was a network, a giant world wide web, where points of data were all interconnected with one another. It's the same with the resonance, everything is connected to everything else. One day those connections just became more apparent.
Instead of a stream of information, I see the threads link together. I spin a bit of code and link two nodes and suddenly it causes a chain reaction that can show me how long they've been browsing certain sites. If I thread it just right, they can even ensnare themselves to the point of bricking.
- Shel0b
Best way I explain resonance to others? It like waking up one day and seeing new color only you see. Or, use matrix term, it seeing twos where used to only be ones and zeroes
- Maoci
That's kind of similar to how I experience it. If I code in a regular fashion, then listen to what I have coded, it's more or less just words and numbers. If I resonance code something, then hear, or even feel it, it's like music. Not only is there melody to it, there are a lot of different sounds. Though I feel like it is still based on some kind of mathematical precision. Guess my brain took the word resonance a bit too literal.
- Static

There's also a feeling of 'wrongness'. When information doesn't add up, when it doesn't match, when it's been falsified, when the context is off. It's unnerving... almost painful. It's different from having information that's just scrambled or encrypted - that's just hiding it. The resonance knows what it's supposed to be. This is... okay, in the interest of full disclosure, there are those of us who get addicted to that feeling. They take it to an extreme, they make an art form out of creating these monstrosities that are designed to confuse and disorient and destroy all semblance of coherence.

I... have to admit that it has its purpose. You know the Crash 2.0? I'm telling you it was the lesser of two evils.

What you didn't know, and maybe still won't believe, was that a distributed AI system known as Deus had been infecting the matrix and the minds of its followers for years leading up to the event, starting with the SCIRE shutdown. It was killing everyone who stood in its way, including some of my own tribe as a warning. We couldn't stop it. We could only run and hide and hope to be spared. As for those who weren't spared, I won't forget the sacrifice, no matter how many news stations try to spin it for their ephemeral politics or sensationalist clickbait.

Oh drek.... you were there that day? I was still a kid when that happened, but even then I knew it was bad. Luckily for me I guess someone had broken my brand new commlink and I was repairing it.
- Data Hound
I wasn't much older. None of us were. Adults don't emerge, they fade. That's part of the reason it stayed under the radar so long.
- Spook

I can't say with any certainty where the Dissonants came from. My sources suggest they were rebels of Deus's own tribe, but they must have been developing it in secret for much longer than that. Jormungandr was their magnum opus: the world-eater worm that would consume the wired matrix. A perfect disaster in all its forms, a conflicting, malicious, destructively incoherent bundle of data - I can't say much on its inner workings for fear of peering too deeply into the abyss myself. I could neither say whether it was the process of creating this monstrosity that drove them to Dissonance or whether their diseased minds were what allowed them to create such a thing in the first place.

Either way, they released it not a moment too soon. The Stock Exchange was the final step in Deus's transcendence to malevolent digital godhood. It was already effectively invincible at that point. The only way to stop it was exactly what happened, something akin to a nuclear weapon strike.

That said, a nuke is more than just a single-shot superweapon. It's something that sticks around after it's done. The radiation affects the surrounding area, it warps the organisms there, it creates a toxic environment. That's what they're like, now. The dissonants are diseased mutants who experience coherence and meaning as wrong in a way that goes beyond nonsense: it's directly antipodal to reason. I feel sorry for them and I hope I can find a way to help them recover, but they have two advantages: one, it's easier to destroy or disrupt than to create or to fix, and two, every one that I've encountered is inexplicably powerful. Maybe they carry echoes of Jormungandr with them.

When I said there are those who believe the Sprites come from somewhere deeper... it's not blind faith. There is something deeper. And there are sprites there. Ones that don't seem to come from any particular actual person. It's weird. Getting to that place...isn't easy. It's not like diving into a host. You kinda have to feel out the tiniest threads of information and trace them back to their source. Not in the sense of tracing a user or a packet, I mean it's more like... like finding the tree that gave the author the flash of inspiration that led them to write the book that contained the quote that the user has as their BBS signature. That kind of source. It's not really something you can search for, you just kinda meditate and follow it... I don't think mundanes can do that. There's another possibility, though. The nodes where information collects, the eddies in the information stream. Hardly anyone goes there, and if they get too much traffic, they dry up. We call them wells. They're a bit like astral shallows - the veil is thinner there, and even a mundane can sometimes slip across, especially if they have help.

Once you're across, it's a whole nother realm. Imagine if every bit of information that was ever pushed to the trix - every frame of every security camera feed, every mefeed post, every scientific article, every question, every game, every story, every song, every single bit was alive. Alive and mashed together into a coherent mess of an ecosystem that your brain interprets in whatever way it can. Things behave in ways you'd expect a computer to. Everything is logical and step-by-step, yet it doesn't come together in an intuitive way - only locally is it self-consistent, and if you go too far away then you'll end up in a different realm with different rules and different processes.

I know what you mean. I first remember venturing into the darker corners of the web, exploring to see just how vast it was. I fell down the rabbit hole pretty hard and soon the code just didn't make sense, even to me. Then suddenly, everything was... bright? I thought it was glowing, but it was just so jam packed, each thread was just a smaller file connected to one another. I just kept finding more and more, it was like a rush! I had to stop myself from losing sight of where I came from., or else I might never have come back.
- Shel0b
She not wrong. It not just datasteam - it truth. You find anything you want, you look hard enough. problem is, sometime you not only thing in there looking.
- Maoci

In some ways, the realms are similar to the metaplanes (I've been there too, so I should know), but in other ways they're quite different. The metaplanes are all about metaphors and abstractions, and understanding the metaphor allows you to directly manipulate the environment. By contrast, the resonance realms have fairly literal, straightforward and concrete rules about how the environment is manipulated, which may resemble known laws of physics or they may be totally bonkers. The only consistency is internal. You have to figure out the abstraction in order to see what you need to do in order to accomplish your goal. It's the difference between writing a book or writing code, except you're doing it with your mind and your dream-self rather than your fingers and your text editor.

Why would you go there? Well... they say the resonance never forgets, and so far I've found that to be true. Even if a piece of information is NFO'd, there are echoes of it in the way other bits of information flow around it. Like the way a dead person lives on in the minds and hearts of their loved ones. And that's part of the resonance, too. Or maybe you want to make sure not even one of us can find it, so you want to go there to erase it at its source.

Wait, what?! How much of that stuff gets left behind?
- Data Hound
Seriously, your porn stash is the least of anyone's worries.
- Spook
Sp00k touch a little bit I think, but there much more personal reason for technomancer go to deep realms. If a techno goes there, searches, can find...personal alterations, to way they code and touch resonance and matrix. From what I heard, from Sp00k at least, 'common' one is manner to let you connect thing by touching it. Me personally? I able to jump into drone or car like rigger, with no ware. Or alter my nerve let me ignore pain. There often common strands to end result technomancer can get, but manner it happen always unique.
- Maoci

Don't take it lightly, though. The realms are dangerous. Snuff simsense make you queasy? Every one of those, every virus, every biofeedback program is in there too, and they all have minds of their own - and they're all as real as reality itself. Just like the foundation, if you die in there, you die in real life. And unlike the foundation, there's no overall structure, no data trails to guide you. Just intuition and the bizarro world itself.

If you're not a decker or a mage, then this all probably doesn't mean much to you. Here's the TL;DR on running with a technomancer:

  • Technomancers are different from deckers, but they fill the same role on a team and you won't notice much of a difference
  • They are there to get the job done, same as you
  • They are (probably) not a terrorist, or if they are, it's because shadowrunning sometimes involves terrorist activity, not because they are a technomancer
  • The Crash was not their doing and they almost certainly suffered from it just as much as you did

If you run into a civilian technomancer or otherwise on your job encounter one:

  • They are almost certainly not a terrorist unless they are working for a terrorist organization.
  • They are just people with weird nerves.
  • If there's a problem, let me or someone from the Collective know.
  • The Crash was not their doing and they almost certainly suffered from it just as much as you did

If you run into a dissonant technomancer or otherwise on your job encounter one:

  • Run the frag away.
  • Do not let them touch any valuable data.
  • Do not put them in a host.
  • Do not follow them anywhere.
  • Inform someone you trust immediately.
Not a decker or techno, but I've had some strange experiences. Been long enough, and it may be relevant here. Almost two years ago, I was on a team who penetrated Boston. We were doing an extraction, high-value target that had been stuck inside the lockdown. Something was...wrong. Only conclusion we drew was that the target was definitely a technomancer. When we picked them up, they had another person with them. As we cut and ran back to our opening with them, noise spiked in the area. A lotta noise, knocked our electronics clean out for a few minutes. By the time it ended, the original target was dead. But the other guy...the other guy was him. Literally him. He switched. Some kind of headcase. I don't know if that is something you've got info on, but he was a technomancer, and it wasn't any kind of transformation or infection I know about.
- Crimson


Page last modified on December 26, 2018, at 09:29 AM