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River of Stars

Chapter Text

Deep within Blade-01 is a web of machines of incredible data density and immense power. While hardly among the most powerful in the world, the mainframe still runs in a few tens of petaflops, keeping data flowing and bowing to its masters’ whims whenever it is called upon. Exabytes upon exabytes of storage form the backbone of Palisade’s local network, threaded together with a powerful software layer that is one of the most closed in the world. With only a small section of the entire network exposed to the internet, and locked as it is behind its amusingly-named Lavawall, much of Palisade’s data remains inaccessible to anyone not right in front of a server.

There are exceptions, of course. Some clients choose to take on significant risk by allowing their information to be remotely accessible, knowing full well that their data is no longer secure. The occasional disgruntled employee might move data from a closed server to an exposed one, using some loophole or security gap to accomplish that task. When found, such gaps are quickly closed, and the offending employee severely disciplined.

Breaches happen less and less often. Hardening is an art form. It is now impossible to access data not available over the internet without physically accessing a terminal, and this is a privilege reserved for very few. There are a thousand cameras covering every conceivable access point. There is no wi-fi outside of the guest network. And if you are where you should not be, you will not be for much longer.

Few know about the supercomputer hidden in the datacenter, connected to the network, but so closed off that no one can access it without jumping through a thousand hoops. Very few have seen the massive black cabinets, the banks of switches, the miles of cabling, the enormous cooling fans. And almost none have seen the handful of terminals that give access to the machine – access so restricted that no one actually knew what the computer did.

Perhaps if they could dig deeper, they would see.

Countless processors crunched numbers on unbelievable scales. Racks upon racks of storage reaching into the exabytes lined rooms sealed off from human access. Even though the machine was almost completely inaccessible to humans, it was always doing something, tirelessly droning on for days and weeks and months. Those who questioned it were met with either shrugs, or the advice of staying out of it.

There is no name stamped on the monolithic black cabinets, but someone, somewhere, whispered that it has been named, for uncertain reasons, the “Labyrinth”.

Someone further down the ladder reasoned the name was because of its complex calculations and incredible power.

And on January 25, 2030, the system was breached from within.