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EXCERPT from an interview with XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX:

“The first model projected incursions by the 1950s. It was sloppy. Human errors abounded on several levels of the equations used. Once computers were brought into the mix, the models all pointed to start points in the early 21st century. There was still enough play in the string theory mechanics that we had no way to pinpoint anything closer than a decade. Finally, we knew when it would start. However, we had two critical problems: (1) we had no idea what to do to stop the incursions, or even slow them down, and (2) nobody in a position to do anything believed a damn thing we were saying. At this point, one of our more poetic members dubbed our little model the CASSANDRA PROTOCOL. We all agreed the ALLCAPS was a nice touch.

We were all math geeks, gearheads, and computer programmers. All of us dedicated ourselves as much as we could to the work, and we took it to any and everyone who would listen. Finally, we got the ear of one person at the American Department of Defense, who decided to shuffle our work into his division, which was focused on AI research for combat and espionage purposes. Our stuff was back-door budgeted at the best of times, but we were good at working with little resources and the default technology had progressed so quickly that all our models could be worked out on a low-budget laptop when the projected decade rolled around. And some of the military’s new exoskeleton projects and robotic experiments gave our gearhead compatriots some ideas that they thought might give us some countermeasures against the incursions. Then the programmers gave us the real goods.

While the math geeks were refining the models and the gearheads were building stealth and combat operation versions of DOD’s robotics rigs and exoskeletons, the programmers came up with something glorious: fully functional artificial intelligence. They specced each AI they created for a specific function area: either stealth/recon or assault/suppression. Our early tests showed the AIs were able to respond to various situations more quickly, efficiently, and effectively than any of our biological operatives (they like to be called “Field Agents” but we call them bio-ops because they’re mostly assholes and it pisses them off). We even managed to work out a few field tests in Afghanistan and Iraq, where the only real problems seemed to be the environment’s impact on the sensitive equipment on the stealth/recon models and AI. The group decided to go all-in with the doomed Greek theme and called the combat/suppression AIs and robo-rigs “Spartans” and the stealth/recon ones “Trojans.” The double entendres were par for the course for us, especially since most of the brass and management didn’t get them, and we all laughed hysterically when we imagined them reviewing and discussing our reports and models.

You might be asking yourself, reading this for the first time, what these incursions might be? Well, for starters, you’d definitely have the “what” part right. String theory posits that reality diverges for every possible permutation, creating multiple parallel dimensions – one for every single possible occurrence at every single possible point (read nigh-infinite). And this is a VERY broad definition of the possible we’re using here. The physicists and other hardcore mathematicians began working on models for these things a long time before string theory became popular parlance for every bit of science fiction written. Einstein’s theories gave the world even more possibilities to work with. Some of the more complex models began to show that convergences of supposedly parallel dimensions were possible, and even likely at some point. The argument went that just as there might be lots of roads leading to New York – some long, some short, some bad, some good, some stupid, some brilliant – there could be lots of ways to reach a particular circumstance that might lead to a particular set of possible outcomes. At those points, dimensions that had been parallel could converge…with unknown but possibly terrifying consequences for the residents of the dimensions converging.

With that in mind, some of the most brilliant, and probably more than a little crazy, minds on the planet began to work on ways to predict these things and try to discover what they might mean. And it was then that they discovered something that scared the crap out of the ones it didn’t drive batshit insane: the models all began to show everything building to a convergence of tremendous magnitude, where not just one, but many – if not all – the dimensions crashed together at one point. After that point, everything became impossible to predict with any accuracy, even once computers came into the picture. Unless you looked at one set of models.

That one set of models that still worked was designed by Norman Reid, a physicist and mathematician in the mold of Isaac Newton. He was brilliant, driven, full of himself, and had a strong penchant for the weird shit that most scientists wouldn’t even try to set on fire with a flamethrower, lest the ashes drift in their direction. Reid’s dirty little secret was that all his models were based off ancient occult systems – everything from Babylonian astrology to John Dee’s Enochian mysticism to Hermes Trimestigus. The even scarier part about Reid’s work was that it didn’t posit simple operation of strings like his colleagues’ work did; Reid’s operative presumption was that something(s) was actively driving results that would enhance certain probabilities and lessen others, leading to the Big Convergence for some specific purpose. Reid himself argued vehemently, logically, and with only a hint of paranoia, that the Thing(s) driving us toward the Big One were malevolent. He stated he could prove it through various historical convergences and their consequences. The man was completing that work when he met his unfortunate and incredibly unlikely end – seemingly torn apart by a large wild animal in the middle of his university’s physics lab. Some of his students and assistants found his notes. WE found his notes. And once we were able to wrap our heads around where he was going, we all collectively pissed ourselves. Reid was right. THEY were coming. All the monstrous nastiness that all those crusty old occultists, freak-job cultists, and apocalyptical prophets thought was out there actually WAS OUT THERE and was trying to claw its/their way into our space/time. We knew we had to make the world ready to deal with it. Others saw what we did, and they joined us. Our work eventually grew into the now-monolithic CASSANDRA PROTOCOL.

Now, our countermeasures are deployable, even in non-combat zones and urban environments. Our bio-ops are trained to recognize signs of an incursion, since biological operatives are cheap, especially in a shitty economy, and the Spartans and Trojans are still rare enough that we can only afford to drop them if we have a confirmed sustained incursion. Here’s the tricky part – most incursions aren’t what all the whacky occult guys were thinking they would be. Instead of greasy blobs of tentacles and eyeballs, the incursions are showing up as mutations in existing lifeforms. Some of the mutations are almost instantly fatal, with the formerly earthly lifeform becoming something resembling the aforementioned greasy blobs, but we’ve found some sneakier incursions – things like invisible cats who stumble around blind because no light will interact with their optic nerves or a tortoise that is suddenly running down small game and tearing into it like a shrew on methamphetamines. Some of this stuff has required us to fully deploy both Spartans and Trojans to contain and suppress. We’re all just waiting for the other shoe to drop. What’s going to happen when one of the incursions happens to a human? And how do we deal with that? And what’s going to happen when these nutjobs in Congress finally get their way and chop our budget to the bone?"

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The CASSANDRA Protocol inarvan