By Any Other Name


Please find attached the surviving physical records of Briar. I’m afraid this is it, there’s nothing else. All digital data has been wiped clean, even I couldn’t retrieve it (pretty sure they blamed it on me, but I never even heard of the place before this assignment). As far as the official line goes, Briar was abandoned shortly after the Crown took residence due to “lack of strategic importance and inhospitable local toxicology”, leaving the native population unintegrated. The military hub also lists it as “Extremely Hazardous – Make No Contact”, though there’s no planetary evaluation to back it up, and the few mentions of it I can find on the cortex from merchants and missionaries (decades old now) don’t indicate anything resembling the kind of toxicity an MNC order usually requires. Physical documentation has proven equally hard to get hold of due to a rash of “rebel” arson attacks on Crown archives. I’ll be the first to admit we burn a lot of stuff, but I’m going to guess you didn’t sign off on these ones. I’ve gathered what I could from the surviving fragments, but most of it’s pretty heavily redacted or scorched to pieces. Makes for interesting reading though, so I’ll let you make your own mind up.

Article #1 [Burnt extract from planetary analysis]

…aturally renders Orchid completely uninhabitable. It is fortuitous that Briar shares few of these characteristics, despite operating in all conventional senses as Orchid’s satellite. The large native population reinforces earlier observations on its suitability for expansion, although the primitive technology level indicates the lack of certain key chemical and mineral elements – see Section 03A: Geochemical and Mineralogical Analysis for fut…
…he mineral deposits in the mountains located 27.7464N 136.6823W would interfere with the signal. This geographical quirk would render such an installation almost immune to detection by any conventional means, making it suitable for a…

Article #2 [Three photographs found in the remains of a folder labelled “Staff”]

Photo 1 (slightly scorched): A trio of men in pristine lab coats stand around an empty stasis pod. The detritus surrounding them indicates the pod has just been removed from its packing crate. The image is degraded to the point where the faces are difficult to discern, the only clear difference being their garishly coloured ties. On the one wearing a red tie the name “Prof. Root – epidermal” is scrawled. Neither his green- or blue-tie-wearing associates have names attached, though the words “vocal work” are written over the one wearing green. There is space for a fourth figure in the bottom right-hand corner, but it is impossible to tell due to damage.

Photo 2: The same room. The stasis pod is set up and vertical. It is filled with preserving fluid, yet apparently unoccupied. In front of it, seven people pose for the camera – three of them are identifiable as the tie-wearing individuals from the first picture, though their lab coats are slightly tarnished. Two of the newcomers also wear lab coats, a man and a woman, while the other two wear bulky chemical suits that prevent any guess at their appearance, though they are both exceptionally tall. A handwritten caption reads “All together at last”.

Photo 3 (heavily burned): Close-up of a pale woman in a black shirt. Her hair is pulled back tight and she wears a small pair of magnifying spectacles. The top of a clipboard is visible and she stares directly into the camera as if uncomfortable being photographed. The level of the stasis pod next to her implies she is too short to be either of the figures in Chemical suits. A question mark is drawn on the back of the photo, clearly before the picture was burned.
[No idea. The others I’ve been able to find evidence of, but she’s a fucking ghost]

Article #3 [Heavily corrupted security recording]

View of a canteen area. Individuals identifiable with the previous photographs occasionally walk by, but the audio is too distorted to tell if they are talking.

The individual identified as “Prof. Root” sits with a tray of food, and eats in silence.

A tall woman sits opposite Prof. Root with a tray of her own. From her stature, it is conceivable she was one of the figures in the chemical suits. They talk sporadically, but the audio is heavily corrupted.

The audio clears up sufficiently for some of the conversation to be heard.
Prof. Root: [inaudible] … big day, I suppose?
Unidentified: Well, after all this time, it will be nice to finally… [inaudible] …the work we’ve done on her. You were working on the skin, weren’t you?
Prof. Root: I was doing the epidermal work, yes.
Unidentified: I’m curious, what exactly does that entail? It’s not exactly… [inaudible] …but I find it hard to believe they need someone of your calibre just to remove a few blemishes. Though I can’t deny you made her… [inaudible] …might even describe her as beautiful now.
Prof. Root: A by-product, though not an unwelcome one. But it’s true, people always underestimate the importance of the skin. It is one of the most important lines of defence a body has. Getting the perfect balance of toughness and flexibility, inuring it against potential irritants, or anything that might impede combat… [inaudible] …especially as she is to be deployed in a multitude of environments. Tundra, desert, tropics, each must be factored in. And if it grants her beauty, well, no harm in that. More alchemy than science in many ways, but no less complicated than implanted stratagems.
Unidentified: Technically they’re more instinct than implant. My work on her mind is less about giving her knowledge, and more about making such knowledge irrelevant. If the tactics required are… [inaudible] …without a moment’s hesitation.
Prof. Root: Fascinating, I wonder if you’re familiar with… [inaudible]

The audio is once again unintelligible and the picture quality degrades, but it is possible to discern a short figure in a black shirt approach the table. The figure does not appear to sit, but there is clearly some conversation among the three. The figure leaves and the pair continue to eat and talk.

The video is too corrupted to make out any image, but the audio clears up briefly before the recording ends.
Prof. Root: [inaudible] …not really sure. Don’t even know her name and she’s never in the lab. What’s she working on?
Unidentified: She’s never gone into specifics, something about a safeguard. I suppose… [inaudible]

[End of recording]

Article #4 [Photograph. Unlabelled.]

The seven figures stand in front of the stasis pod. They are clearly celebrating, with some wearing party hats. The pod is occupied by an unconscious figure identifiable as Rose.
[I know, right? Can’t tell you how hard it was to get this pic. This is some crazy shit.]

Aritcle #5 [Lab security recording]

There is a celebration going on among the lab workers, the same one as in the photograph (the taking of the photograph can be witnessed at 01:34:22-01:36:31). While it is hard to discern any specifics among the conversational noise, it is apparent that their subject is to be awoken and tested for the first time. The short woman in the black shirt is present, though she is largely preoccupied with checking equipment and partakes in neither the party nor the photograph.

The woman in the black shirt calls over the technician in the blue tie, whose name appears to be Dr. Cloud, and appears to be questioning some of the readings on the equipment, though the exact words are not discernible. She becomes more agitated and the rest of the conversation dies down.
Woman in Black Shirt: …mean you kept the memories? Those are Rose’s memories, you damn fool! She’ll remember everything that happened to her, including the circumstances of her abduction.
Dr. Cloud: Abduction? We were told she volunteered, I thought…
Woman in Black Shirt: No, you didn’t think! Quickly, we need to shut off the revival process before–
She is cut off by the stasis pod being shattered from the inside.

The Briar Rose steps out of the broken pod and cuts Dr. Cloud’s throat with a piece of broken glass. She grabs the head of the woman in the black shirt and twists is 180 degrees in a single motion. The other scientists run, except for the tall neurologist, who charges her. The Briar Rose sidesteps, lifts the her off the ground and snaps her spine across one knee. The Briar Rose walks off camera.

Nobody re-enters the lab, and the view of the three corpses does not change. Occasional gunfire and screaming can be heard from other parts of the facility.

[End of Recording]

Article #6 [Photograph labelled “HMMP – Evidence – Do Not Remove”]

The Briar Rose is sprawled on the floor of what looks to be a control room. She is dressed in a what appears to be a commandeered set of security armour, with a standard issues Crown rifle lying behind her. She is covered in blood, though not visibly wounded. A cable leading from the central console into her spinal data port is visible. She appears to be asleep.

Article #7 [Final page from a set of schematics sent to the Crown Forge on New Constantinople]

fully integrated. If your analysis of her readouts is accurate, you should be able to use her with little problem. I’ll let the king know that his Capitol shall be all the safer with her watching over it.
One small caveat, though. During transportation and integration of the specimen, take all precaution and care. The REM protocol Dr. Malef was able to install before her untimely demise was never completed to her satisfaction, though it activated as it was meant to upon the specimen’s unauthorised attempts to access a Crown system. Not a moment too soon, either, if reports of the devastation on Briar are to be believed. The fail-safes were designed to be activated in the event of guerilla action or native aggression, but she used them to wipe out everything on the surface of the moon before she even attempted to interface with the system directly. It cannot be overstated how dangerous she is, and if she wakes up during transit I recommend sealing the compartment and flooding it with gas – your guards will already be dead.
Loud noises and most external stimuli shouldn’t be much of an issue, but please caution your people not to make physical contact, especially not with bare skin. Extended skin contact is guaranteed to awaken her – a quirk of the REM protocol Dr. Malef was never able to eliminate. There should be no need to remind you, I hope, that all this is priority 1 classified.
I sincerely hope installation goes well, and please alert me to any problems. I have a feeling the defence grid will be much safer with our “Briar Rose” watching over it.

Colonel S. Khan


That’ll be why all our (by which I mean my) efforts to get the Wolf into the NC defence grid have gone to hell. It was never designed for the human brain, so a mind in the system would stop it dead. I mean, I guess it’s kind of a computer, but waaaay more than the virus can handle. So you can forget about using it on any biomech stuff, and if this is what it looks like, I’ll never get more than a thorn or two offline at a time with her in there. Wish I could tell you I had a solution, General, but right now I got nothing. Still, at least we’ve got proof now. No wonder the modern Rosies are so brainwiped – poor bastards never saw it coming. -R