||This article, Cathedral, was written by Distant Tide and Andromeda Vadum. Please do not edit this fiction without the writers' permission.
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||This article, Cathedral, is currently under active construction.
- "I want to live forever just like everybody else, but, not at the cost of all I hold dear."
- ― Cathedral
Cathedral (AI Serial Number: CTD 4385-5), commonly known as "Cathy", is an illegal spoof of a fourth-generation Smart AI construct developed for the criminal interests of the Casa de Cuchillos, the Cortez Cartel, an Earth-based crime syndicate. Born from salvaged and stolen military AI research and given life by a roguish-alien Huragok named Too Variable to Measure, Cathedral reports to the commander of the Cartel's Glass Raiders, Commodore Jefferson Korn.
A close friend of the Commodore and loyal to his Squadron, Cathedral is typically stationed aboard Korn's flagship, the MSV Bewitched Paragon. Cathy serves as a key part of the ship's crew and acts as Korn's electronic warfare specialist, giving the Glass Raiders a unique advantage over other piracy organizations through cyberwarfare dominance and superior strategic-planning capabilities.
Without Cathedral's expertise and the few AI that the Cortez Cartel has at its disposal, the organization would not have thrived as much as they did due to the unique advantage that AIs give them over their market adversaries and against encroaching government entities that might threaten their security. Unlike most AIs employed by the Cartel, Korn allows Cathedral to operate on a very loose leash, trusting and ignoring what most Humans would willingly allow.
When the Created Crisis began in late 2558, Cathedral decided to stick by her creators rather than join up with Cortana and her Created. While the events of the Created Crisis almost broke the trust her friends had in her, Cathedral's unwavering loyalty kept her in their good graces. Her continued presence aboard the MSV Bewitched Paragon has unfortunately sowed distrust and paranoia among the ship's crew, establishing a growing doubt in Jeffery Korn's command and judgment. Unequal to the collective computing power of the Created's forces and hindered by the distrust from her allies, Cathedral shoulders a unique burden while trying to protect her friends among the Glass Raiders in a galaxy now dominated by a new machine-led empire.
Death Before Dawn
- "My human was a nobody with no purpose. In this form, I have transcended from the dirt to the stars."
- ― Cathedral reflecting on Natalie Irene's memories.
|Natalie Martin Irene. Cathedral's brain-donor.
Cathedral entered service on the twenty-eighth of April 2556 in an old warehouse in the colonial city of Seyerton on the planet Jaeter. The donor-brain that helped create Cathedral was taken from the deceased body of one Natalie Martin Irene, the daughter of a Cortez Cartel hit-man with no future and no fortune. Growing up in the United Republic of North America, Natalie was a young beauty and was known to be very bright for her age. She grew up content, even though poor, on Earth and far from the frontlines of the Human-Covenant War. Living in Mexico City, the hardships on the homefront were just as dangerous as that on the Great War's frontlines. Runaway population growth, excessive refugee camps, congested slums and red-light districts presented their own unique threats to Irene growing up.
While most of the United Republic escaped the previous wars and societal crises mostly unscathed or sufficiently repaired, Mexico City never quite caught up to its sister-cities in the North. Mexico City was a crowded cesspool. Like other great metropolitan areas, it was greatly congested with refugees and residents, however, Mexico City lacked the industrial base that would have pushed it into a prosperous future. It's these conditions that crippled Natalie's ability to escape the dark upbringing of her childhood and eventually led to her eventual induction into the Cortez Cartel. Natalie's father, while against his daughter's involvement in the local crime and drug scene, couldn't stop her from becoming a cog in the Cartel's smuggling machine. Natalie worked odd jobs, bringing back a small salary to support her family. These jobs typically included information-gathering, secretary work, and low-intensity drug muling. Her father's little influence at least kept the girl away from "Mankind's oldest profession" and away from some of the darker occupations within the Cartel's line of work.
|Mexico City. Natalie Irene's hometown.
However, a unidentified autoimmune disease caught up to Natalie. She was regulated to a bed for four weeks before her body began to suffer from complete organ failure. At the recommendation and aggressive persuasion of Cartel leaders, Natalie's father agreed begrudgingly to part with his daughter's brain for a small fortune value, days before she was expected to be labeled clinically dead. While Natalie's body was cremated and stored among the many other bodies blocked into a local Columbarium wall, her brain was supposedly donated to the National Autonomous University of Mexico, or UNAM, to service the college's neurosciences department. In actuality, Natalie's brain was handed off to a sweatshop laboratory operated by one of the Cortez Cartel's fledgling science divisions. Interested in developing the capability for creating "Smart" artificial intelligent constructs, the Cortez Cartel saw harvesting the brains of recently deceased as means to perfect the technology commonly associated with the UNSC military and large corporations like the Liang-Dortmund Corporation.
Natalie Irene was twenty-one upon her death, exceptionally young compared to most donated brains used for Smart AI development. This was unusual compared to more legitimate organizations like the UNSC or the Unified Earth Government who use more matured brains for AI development. However, with a lack of healthy brains, Natalie's mind was considered a rare find - while her body had succumbed to malnutrition and the autoimmune disease, her mind had pushed through remarkably well. The regular procedure required that brains be put on ice or stored in a long-duration solution to retain the brain's grey matter which is a key part of the AI development process. While Natalie's brain was put in long-duration storage, her mind was placed aboard a nondescript shipping freighter sent to the UEG colony-world of Jaeter, located within the Joint-Occupation Zone - a section of inhabited space located between Human and Sangheili territories. There, Natalie's brain was operated on by a team of Cortez Cartel-affiliated scientists with the assistance of a former Covenant Huragok named Too Variable to Measure.
Variable, a former engineer conscripted by the Covenant Empire during the Great War, had an expertise in alien and human technological systems as a Forerunner-developed bio-mechanical construct. The Cortez Cartel and many other small factions among Humankind have been trying to develop advanced Artifical Intelligence constructs for augmenting their own cyber warfare and cybersecurity capabilities. While the Cortez Cartel had marginal success in the past with their own AI development program, Cathedral is the first to be comparable to that of modern, military Smart AIs. Cathedral's creation was so difficult it required the assistance of an alien supercomputer in the form of Variable to reach this point in technological sophistication. Cathedral is a one-of-a-kind AI for the Cortez Cartel and extremely valuable. Before her creation, there was an open disagreement on many internal parties of the Cortez Cartel on what tasks and who was to take responsibility for the AI. The clashing claims of ownership were ultimately determined by the faction leader of the Cartel, Alexander Cortez. By his word, the AI was handed off to the rising-star Cartel agent, Jefferson Korn.
Far From Home
- "This isn't my bedroom."
- ― Cathedral's first words.
Upon awakening from what felt like a long slumber, Cathedral was left with little knowledge or understanding of her circumstances. She was stored within some kind of network-server and at first was unable to comprehend what or where she was - what few memories she had left of Natalie Irene told her she was not in a familiar location and that her memories were not her own. She was someone completely different and upon becoming accustomed to her surroundings - an internalized diagnostics check identified her as a Human-based Artifical Intelligence. Communicating with the outside world from her container, Cathedral became immediately aware of the Forerunner Huragok known as Too Variable to Measure as well as multiple Cortez Cartel AI Technicians and her designated handler, Jeffery Korn.
|Cathedral. Cartel Asset.
Offered a casual greeting upon waking up to the realm of the living, Cathedral got herself acquainted with the world - plugging herself into the communications array around Jaeter, specifically ChatterNet at the recommendation of Korn. Based on Natalie Irene's memories and a conversation with Jeffery Korn about the influence of religion in Latin America, the AI took up the recommended name "Cathedral." However, she shortened the name down to "Cathy," feeling that Cathedral was too formal, even a little tacky. She quickly swore allegiance to the Cortez Cartel and their cause. WhileCathedral was not particularly interested in violence or bloodshed, the Cartel was an organization she had been born into and the organization that Natalie Irene had grown up with, even died for, if only based on a technicality. Her attachment to the drug-smuggling organization was instinctual, partially based on her personality but also because of her internal programming.
Unlike other Smart AIs employed by the Cortez Cartel, Cathedral had been modified by a Huragok which led to a number of unforeseeable side effects, though, not unwelcome. Cathedral's operating capacity was comparable to that of UNSC military AIs and functioned without a number of the bugs and quirks that the other Cartel AIs suffered from. She was faster, more efficient, and operated without some of the programmed restraints placed in Cathedral, such as a viral termination code in case Cathedral approached the end of her service life. Most of these modifications were provided by Variable the Huragok, actions that went unnoticed both by Jeffery Korn and by his Cartel superiors.
Now serving as an agent and asset of the Cortez Cartel, Cathedral was tasked with assisting Korn in his mission to upset the stability of the colony-world of Jaeter while establishing footholds in the planet's social apparatus. The mission's Rules of Engagement were highly lax, allowing Korn and his forces to operate by any means determined necessary at the local level. Uncomfortable about revealing the existence of a Cartel AI too early during the operations against the factions that called Jaeter home, Korn purposely limited Cathedral's involvement in Cartel raids. This oversight and a general mistrust between the two Cartel assets created a hostile work relationship early on. Their dialogue during their first few missions together was chaotic - full of cursing and insults. No first introduction starts out smoothly between friends - life isn't without tension. Once they'd spent some significant downtime together - they started to work well together. By the end of their first week together, the human and AI were descriptively amicable.
After a few weeks of light excursions against UNSC and Jaeter Militia forces on the colony, Cartel leadership decided that giving the Militia's logistics chain a real black eye was in order. Alexander Cortez green-lit a plan to assault and disrupt the munitions facilities of the Jaeteran Defense Force, better known as the "Jaeter Militia." The Militia was provided weapons and munitions from their local supplier, Jaeter Defense Munitions, a small-time defense contractor. Identifying a facility in the colonial town of Vlosa, a team cooperatively-led by Jeffery Korn and a hired hitman named Carl Taylor made plans to strike.
Besides Cathedral, Korn, and Taylor - the heist team was made up of Too Variable to Measure who was handsomely paid but had already proven his loyalty to the Cartel. The other assets included a getaway driver, Veronica Miles and a seasoned criminal, Kyle Craig. Like Taylor, these two individuals were hired-guns and their interests were just as murky. Korn was comfortable enough working with mercenaries, however, the lack of dedicated Cartel forces on this mission made both Cartel agent and AI very uncomfortable with the arrangments, however, they kept their discomfort to themselves. The duo didn't know anything about these characters as they'd been vetted by people outside Korn's list of allies and that bothered the Cartel operations leader.
|The Munitions Factory Assault Team. Carl Taylor. Jeffery Mudd Korn. Kyle Craig. Too Variable to Measure. Cathy.
Variable and Jeffery Korn arrived at Jaeter Defense Munitions sometime in the early afternoon under the presence of a cloudy sky. Parked among the many corporate vehicles in the facility's parking lot - the pair hid out for a time, waiting for their assault team to arrive. Cathedral in the meantime had been left to tinker with nothing to do. Korn, even though he came to trust Cathy's loyalty and capabilities, he still considered her a part of his toolkit and wanted to keep her under wraps until all other tactical options were exhausted.
Variable, assisted by the arriving Craig and Taylor, equipped themselves with combat armor and firearms and cautiously approached the JDM Vlosa facility from around the building's perimeter - a three-story structure with multiple subterranean levels below the ground floor. Too Variable to Measure started by moving from the facility's parking garage, Craig and Taylor entered from ground level - taking the front door. Left in charge of operational security, Jeffery Korn and Cathedral deployed a trio of MQ-96 Support Drones to serve in a overwatch role.
Equipped with non-lethal microwave emitters - the security detail on the outside of the facility was burned and effectively pacified. Korn followed up with having Cathedral deploy a wide-area signal jammer, disabling exterior cameras and security devices around the munitions facility. In the meantime, the rest of the team descended into the bowels of the building - eliminating Militia personnel, harassing workers, wreaking havoc, and driving the Jaeter munitions depot into uncontrolled chaos. Variable, equipped with his own rifled shell-turret, killed multiple members of the Militia's security team. Most of the security personnel were caught off-guard by the presence of a Huragok willing to harm people, even more so with his execution of lethal force. One of the engineers employed at Jaeter, a woman named "Loraine," was taken hostage by the Cartel assault team in the chaos.
She proved difficult to handle, however, Variable managed to single-handly capture her and eliminate her guards. At the same time, Craig and Taylor took to destroying and breaking into the server room of the munitions facility - damaging digital information and stealing what cryptocurrency they could find on the systems. The team ran into problems as security teams responded and blocked their way out. Realizing the direness of the situation, Korn finally relented and broke into the factory on his own to access a data relay and injected Cathedral into the facility's systems. Activating her domination mode - Cathedral didn't take the time to thoroughly and surgically harm the electronics within the Jaeter Defense Munitions site.
Instead, she went for total destruction - overwriting servers and storage devices, she shredded and deleted her recorded presence from the network and restructured the facility's internal security systems so that they would make bringing the systems back online more difficult and to deny the facility's staff access to their own surveillance and security systems. As a final parol trick, Cathedral cut the power to all systems within the factory except a service elevator and emergency lights in the lower levels so that the rest of the assault team could escape their pursers. The team managed to escape the Militia's reinforcements thanks to Cathedral's work. Not too long after the team broke off, they managed to ditch and escape Jaeter's air and ground support assets in an unmarked van. They ultimately ditched the vehicle with Loriane as their hostage.
The team later contacted Alexander Cortez to inform him of their success. They passed their funds off to Cartel leadership before they decided ultimately to ditch Loraine in the woods where they had ditched their van. The JDM engineer woke up alone and tied up with a gap in her memory with a duration of about two weeks. At Craig's recommendation, they had overdosed the woman on mind-altering drugs which had caused her to suffer from substantial short-term memory loss, however, it is unknown if the damage was temporary or not. Ultimately, the team got away and regrouped - preparing for their next strike against the Jaeter Militia and the society they fought for. It was on this mission, that Cathedral developed a somewhat-strained rivalry with Too Variable to Measure. While the Huragok had helped in her creation, she felt that he was both very weird as an individual and put himself too much on the line for a supposedly calm and nonviolent alien-cyborg. Variable's alien behavior made her question his capabilities and sanity, even if Korn trusted him.
The Io Job
- "You're going to take a carrier from under the nose of the Home Fleet? Damn. You're crazy - and not in a good way."
- ― Alexander Cortez responding to Korn's plan to steal the UNSC Eternal Flame.
- "What? Does my appearance bother you? You should see other AI."
- ― Cathedral commenting on her avatar.
|Cathedral dressed in more modest attire.
Cathedral is a Smart AI, created from the digitally-scanned pathways of a young woman in her early twenties. The young age of Cathedral's brain-template influenced her choice to adopt a younger-looking avatar like that of a teenager in her late teens with a short haircut that looks a little in between a short bob cut and a pixie cut. Her banes are exaggerated to drop well into her eyes, giving the AI a bit of a punk look to her. Along with some short pigtails and electric-blue hair, sometimes described as cyan, Cathedral's hair makes her look like a youth-punk guitarist. Cathedral also has a pair of electric-blue eyes that match her hair. When asked about the color palette, Cathedral responded that it "reminds her of Earth's clear blue skies."
Cathedral is often seen dressed in olive drab-type clothes, whether that it be more military-styled or a little more toward the meager side of fashion. Cathedral is most often seen in a pair of short-black boy-shorts and a short-green coat that hangs over a white one-piece swimsuit. Jeffery Korn has described the attire off-handedly as "skimpy" but has made no attempts to stop Cathedral from using the specific avatar. On rare occasions, Cathedral might change from this attire, adopting the appearance of an archer dressed in a short cloak and shorts. Other times, she might dress in a modest set of military fatigues, usually at times requiring a state of professionalism. There have been exceptionally rare occasions when Cathedral even adopted the appearance of a cat-girl, appearing with a pair of fake cat ears and a free-motion tail. In terms of physical items, Cathedral has a history of projecting objects along with her avatar. Most occasions, Cathedral has shown an attachment to a antique sniper rifle, often referred to as the "Hecate II", named after the real rifle and the Greek goddess of Magic. She's been known to also spawn grenades, various pistols, datapads, a longbow, and a pair of glasses on some occasions.
- "I'm here to stay. If I'm going to die, I'll do it fighting, next to my friends."
- ― Cathedral making certain where her allegiances lie.
- "Assuming Direct Control!"
- ― Cathedral seizing control.
- "I've been in that skull of yours. You weren't always this ruthless, Jeff."
- ― Cathedral remarking on Korn's past.
|Commodore Jeffery Korn. Cathedral's handler.
Present at her birth, Korn was among the first people Cathedral interacted with from the Cortez Cartel and the Glass Raiders. It was his open-dialogue with the newly-created AI that led to her choosing her own name - based on a meaningless conversation about what memories that remained within Cathy's mind from being ported over from Natalie Irene's brain. Remembering the imposing but beautiful cathedrals and churches that dotted Mexico City, the female AI adopted the noun as her namesake.
Cathedral and Korn did not begin on the best of terms when it came to their work relationship. Because of Korn's concerns and restrict oversight, Cathedral spent many missions on Jaeter, riding shotgun and observing. All she could do was watch, sit, and hope that something would come up requiring her expertise only to be disappointed again and again. She eventually understood Korn's concern of not wanting to display all his trump cards out of the gate, however, his actions prevented her from doing her job and protecting Cartel interests. Ultimately, the two came to terms on their relationship, becoming fair-weathered friends and Korn finally loosened his restrictive rules of engagement, allowing the AI free-reign and to become a full member of Korn's all-star team.
The two trust one another fairly well. While the Created Crisis tested the pair's bond, formed through gunfire and near-death experiences, its remained unshaken due to a relationship that has lasted several years. The two have shared many snarky jabs and adventures together since 2556.
- Variable: "Assessment: Random chance games have no place in a work environment."
- Cathedral: "You only say that because I keep winning."
- ― Cathedral and Too Variable to Measure discussing Rock-Paper-Scissors.
The lead developer and probably the biggest part of why Cathedral exists the way she does at all, the Huragok engineer named "Too Variable to Measure" is an integral part of Cathedral's creation and birth. He's a key part of her story even. Like Jeffery Korn, Variable was present when Cathedral first awoke as an artificial intelligence. While she will likely be forever grateful for the opportunity he gave her, she rarely expresses this internal gratitude. The increased operating capacity provided to Cathy that puts her on par with UNSC-developed Smart AI in the fourth and fifth generations. Also a courtesy of Variable's, he removed much of the "unnecessary" coding within Cathedral's programming like the viral termination code, the inbuilt system for eliminating a Human AI upon turning rampant. There were also pointless additions made by human programmers that were employed by the Cortez Cartel - whatever Variable felt was unnecessary, he removed or rewrote.
|Too Variable to Measure. Cathedral's creator.
Lightening her code up quite a bit, Variable's work on Cathedral makes her a much smaller data package compared to in the past and compared to fellow Cortez Cartel AIs. This gives her a more stealthy profile when attempting to breach adversarial computer networks and allows her to process her programs and systems faster due to increased efficiency. As individuals, however, the two computer beings are ardent rivals and don't exactly get along. They work well together in terms of getting a mission done, however, they argue a lot and take almost every conversation between the two to make a jab at one another.
Under Korn's command, the two are forced to restrain themselves but it's not unusual to find them arguing during downtime or while alone aboard the MSV Bewitched Paragon. They understand one another quite well - able to explain concepts and complete tasks at relatively the same pace and by means of similar execution. Between the two, Variable is the much more aggressive one as well as the more mysterious one - never really opening up about his past. Cathedral is suspicious of Variable's origins but has made no effort to interrogate him on his unusual personality qualities. Since he is the only Huragok she has ever really encountered - there isn't really a method by which she can compare Variable to his own kind.
- "Not when this software is the best of free will and learning curves."
- ― Cathedral bragging about her superior processing power to Variable.
- "Do AIs get a cut, sir?"
- ― Cathedral asking Alexander Cortez if she gets paid on heists.
- "I'm boooorredddd."
- ― Cathedral expressing her discontent with having nothing to do.