Eclipse phase (think before asking)
Nicotine Eldritch Hab
“Dreadful solar weather, isn’t it? The magnetotail is going to be so diffuse and turbulent… although that tends to attract some of the stranger presences…”
Nicotine Eldritch is run by the Onuphrio Muralto, a peculiar grouping interested in techno-spiritism, creeping out visitors and interactive architecture. The habitat is mainly built out of black fullerene and graphene compounds, producing what looks like a black, sprawling Victorian ghost house extending in zero gravity. It has balconies in all directions, twisted spires, gargoyles, diamond windows letting in the van Saturn light and even spider webs (actually to catch and analyse nanomachines in the air). The interior is escheresque, with stairs twisting in strange topologies, long hallways where perspective is warped using clever optics and dark Victorian sitting rooms where every side is simultaneously floor, wall and ceiling. Child-like robot creatures, injurons, creep around the mansion using the numerous hidden passages in the walls acting as sentinels, pets and security. The layout slowly shifts when nobody is looking. Faded or glitching holographic paintings not only look at visitors, but somehow seem to represent scenes, friends or acquaintances the hab is not supposed to know about.
The habitat is largely the work of Theodora L. Warren, a mildly eccentric nanoengineer. Beside an interest in finding new ways to creep out post-Fall transhumans (a real challenge: she and a few friends are working on “eeriness algorithms” and “Verfremdung intelligence” that respond to the emotions of people) her real Big Idea is catching ghosts. The Onuphrio Muralto collect used cortical stacks (blanked or otherwise) and try to catch ghosts with them. Their idea is to expose them to cosmic rays and solar wind, acting as antennas for souls and parts of souls drifting through space. As they accumulate bit errors the group somehow (they are very secretive on what they actually do) produce infomorphs from these fragments. Maybe they are just random noise shaped by the constraints of a cortical stack neural encoding architecture, maybe they are some kind of AI, maybe they are vapors… whatever they are, the Onuphrio Muralto then let them loose inside the habitat network. Visitors accessing the mesh (and even more hackers) tend to find the interior just as unsettling and wrong as the physical architecture – which Theodora admits is partially controlled by the presences.
Of course, running this kind of operation requires plenty of reputation and trading. The group does have expertise in cortical stack recovery that sometimes proves useful, and no doubt eeriness algorithms have their uses. But getting hold of enough cortical stacks is always an issue. Hence several habitat members are running various side activities. Dolores Hutton (herself going for a classic guro lolita look) maintains the shuttle Fleshly Diatribe that makes occasional long-range runs to various Brinker communities