Retrieval Missions

WARNING: Um. Okay, look, I think this post is amusing. I am also a bit on the morbid side. Some people may possibly find this post upsetting? Maybe? Anyway, if you’re feeling kind of fragile, I’d read something else. Literally anything else on this site, for example. Or call again tomorrow.


Retrieval Missions

by Ethelbertha Littledove, Missions Coordinator


Right. Me again. Again, I have no time to mess about. I have several Agents out in the field, and several more who need briefings before I shove ‘em through their Doors. As for the Byzantine mess I’ve got from Scheduling… but I don’t have time to whinge, either. Perhaps they’ll all succumb to Nervous Disorders and we can get some competent folks up there instead.


I’ve been told that this subject must be approached with “openness and sensitivity.” I don’t really have time to learn how to do either of those things, but I’ll try my best.


Remember that thing I mentioned in Basic Missions about scanning for iDictaBrain messages from dead Agents? The reason that is so important is that someone will eventually be sent to collect, not the bodies of the Agents, but the precious, precious data stored on their iDictas.


We call this kind of mission a “Retrieval Mission.”


Finding the Body

Your iDicta will help with that. As soon as you step into The Past, you will scan for Death Messages. Each Death Message you pick up will be stamped with a distance and a direction. You will walk in the specified direction for the stated distance. Then you will be there, looking at the corpse of a former colleague. If you don’t see the body right away, have a look round. Is there freshly-turned earth in the vicinity? Someone has probably buried the body there; time for you to get digging! Do you see a cellar door standing ominously ajar? Probably the body is on the other side of that slightly open door. Go and have a look.


At this point, I’m going to assume you can find a body when you’re within a couple of feet of it, and move on to the next section.


Retrieving the Data


The iDictaBrain is, in living persons, powered by bodily processes. Blood flow, movement, temperature changes, even breathing: all help to keep the iDictaBrain charged and fully functional.


When a Lighthouse Agent dies, his/her/their iDictaBrain automatically enters Low Power Mode. It takes in no new data; it abandons all partial calculations; it quits all programs. It must conserve all of its remaining charge for the final Data Transfer. Until that Transfer is initiated, it does only one thing: it broadcasts the Death Message. As the charge dwindles, the range of the broadcast shrinks. With decomposition, the iDicta recharges (yes, decomposition is one of the many bodily processes that will charge an iDicta; isn’t nature wonderful?), and the signal will grow strong again. The range of the signal is calculated by the iDicta to be the maximum range it believes (yes, it is hard to talk about iDictas without anthropomorphizing, isn’t it?) it can afford.


When you (and, more importantly, your iDictaBrain) are in range of the dying iDicta (yes, we say they are “dying,” both in order to avoid clumsy phrases like “The iDictaBrain in the brain of the dead Agent” and also…anthropomorphizing…vide supra, yadda yadda), it automatically begins Data Transfer.


All of this is by way of breaking to you gently the contents of the next section.


Getting At The Data

Method 1: Data Transfer:


Right. Prepare to be horrified. Because here’s the thing: “in range for Data Transfer” means “about an inch away.”


So, yeah.  When you find the corpse of your former colleague, you are going to have to get up close and personal. Really, really close. Staring-into-its-dead-eyes close. Actually, we recommend not staring into its dead eyes, because this job already provides you both with ample nightmare fuel and with plenty of humbling little lessons about man’s mortality. You don’t need to learn anything those eyes could teach you.


Close your eyes and try to relax. Maybe play some of those happy-place files you thought you were tired of.


You can choose to autoplay audio-visual files as they are loaded, but we strongly recommend not doing that. One of those files is going to show you the Agent’s last moments. Again, why go upsetting yourself?


But you do need to get comfortable, because you’ll be there for a while. If the dying iDicta has a decent charge, the data transfer may only take twenty minutes or so. But transfers have been known to take up to six hours. And sometimes the transfer takes six hours and then fails out, and you will have to either start over again or use Method 2.


Make sure that you and the corpse are somewhere pretty private before you begin Data Transfer, by the way. Residents tend to react badly when they discover people cuddling up to corpses. Remember, once you get in position and Data Transfer begins, you’ll need to stay in range (i.e., basically nose-to-nose) until the Transfer is complete.

So, get comfy and stay positive.


Oh, and don’t fall asleep during the Transfer. Just don’t.



Method 2: Crude Surgery:


Sometimes, the dying iDicta has insufficient charge to allow for Data Transfer. If this is the case, you are going to need to do a little crude surgery. Yes. I mean it. You will have to cut the iDictaBrain out and bring it back to The Lighthouse with you.


There are many ways into a skull. None of them are pleasant. I am not going to go into details about the various ways to get at that iDictaBrain, because a) it depends on several factors, including the level of decomposition of the body and the sort of tools you are able to steal, and b) I recently had lunch. I will just hint that, while saws are nice, a hammer, or even a nice big rock, might have more utility here. If you are going to smash, though, I’d smash at the right side of the head, as the iDicta (which, though hardy, isn’t actually unbreakable) is located on the left.


Again, you really, really don’t want to be caught doing this. Depending on what era you are in, forensic science may or may not be a thing. Even if the concept of establishing a time of death is one that Residents are familiar with, they may just decide that you probably murdered the guy you were found carving into. “Found kneeling over the body, opening the skull with a saw. Said saw was stolen from shed of old Farmer Giles.” Not a good thing to hear at your trial.



The Bright Side


Neither Method 1 nor Method 2 actually lasts forever. And when you’ve gotten the data, your part is over, and you can go home. Hiding the body is Someone Else’s Problem. Probably, it won’t ever be your problem. Body Disposal requires a high level of natural intelligence and rather a lot of special training. Retrieval—well, why don’t I stop there?


Remember, Agent: you’re all my special little snowflakes, and also valuable members of a team. No, more than a team.

A Community.


And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some Missions to co-ordinate.

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  1. Data retrieval is always a pain in the neck. Time for an upgrade?

    Oh, and…it may just be me being super tired, buy your last drawing (left ear; iDicta): am I just being befuddled, or is that the right side?

    Never mind. I think it’s time for a nap…at 9:30 am

    Tale Spinning

  2. Oof. Unpleasant, but makes sense.

  3. Dark humour – nothing better. Excellent little asides, I remember liking this one before 🙂

    A-Zing this year at:
    Normally found at:

  4. Errr… should I enlist, do you think I’m likely to do any of this? Because I think someone else then would have to retrive me!

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