Quarterly Performance Review
rating: +5+x

POSITION PAPER

ON

THE INFEASIBILITY OF UNIDIRECTIONAL ANALYSIS OF SEMI-RIGID SUBCONSCIOUS
MENTAL STRUCTURES FOR THE PURPOSE OF REGULAR PERSONNEL EVALUATION


1. Developments in the field of mental continuity tracking necessitate an examination of the feasibility of implementing such examinations into existing Foundation evaluation structures. Early research into mental continuity analysis suggested that practical implementations of the process was hindered by large, but not insurmountable, technological gaps. Several advances in the fields of data interpretation and storage have since filled the largest of these gaps. This paper will outline the argument that, despite these advances, unidirectional subconscious analysis of semi-rigid mental structures (UASSMS) is not suited for implementation across the Foundation for use in security or performance evaluations. This analysis focuses on the practical problems of assessing the mental continuity of individuals in any context, the difficulty isolating causal factors in continuity drift, and offers some practical alternatives for protecting employees' minds from anomalous influences. This analysis will not examine the ethical implications of the process or the financial considerations of implementation.

2. For the purpose of this paper, mental continuity can be evaluated by sequential snapshots of an individual's mental state when compared against their personalized standard markers. Their purpose, in short, is to discern the degree to which any tested individual is the same person that they were at the time of previous tests (see: Practical Applications: The Ship of Theseus in Psychological Studies.) In theory, the regular testing of this variety should greatly improve the Foundation's capacity for identifying infohazards and other forms of anomalous influence, as well as form-imitating entities and non-temporally anchored individuals. Evaluations of mental continuity have proved to not correlate closely to evaluations of mental health, and should not be employed for that purpose. This past-future comparison has several implications in how UASSMS could be implemented, most notably that the first set of results are generally meaningless until they are contextualized by subsequent results. Furthermore, [DATA REDACTED]

3. [DATA REDACTED]

4. [DATA REDACTED]

5. [DATA REDACTED]

6. [DATA REDACTED]

7. In short, many of the problems addressed by UASSMS are better solved by training critical personnel in reactionary defensive mindfulness, while the remainder of the issues are unlikely to be fully (or even significantly) addressed by implementation of these processes. Further developments in marker-determining procedures may improve the effectiveness of this technology to the point of meriting further evaluation.


Erin Ahmadi, who was addressed by her last name more than her first, and by her title more than her name, perfectly understood the concerns of colleagues about the minds of others. After all, they lived in a world where minds were easily changed, and almost exclusively for the worse. Given that, the O5 Council's ongoing search for some method to delve into the heads their employees was perfectly rational. If she did not commit herself fully to that quest, it was only because she had already completed it long ago.

Ahmadi's wispy form stood at the foot of a great stone monolith. It towered over her, though not as much so as the frozen waves of the glass sea that surrounded the tiny island on every side. She had witnessed it many times before, but the sight remained crushingly intense, as though the vast sea would collapse in on the island if she tarried. For all Ahmadi knew, it very well might. The acts of entering minds and holding mastery over them were more different than one might think.

A waterfall of symbols poured across the face of the monolith. There were numbers, letters, and even entire words, but far more of them were unintelligible scribbles, absent of any meaning no longer how long Ahmadi unblinkingly stared at the cascade. She picked the few words of the passphrase out of it eventually: artillery, cartridge, stock, and firing pin. The mind of Ahmadi's underling was perhaps a tad too focused when it came to these sort of things, but there was no time further consider as the torrent of text reached out to envelop her. She didn't struggle as the waves smashed into her, and she didn't struggle when the symbols tore through her skin and surged into her veins. In this form, pain was as distant as her body.

There was no sign of the monolith or the sea when the flood finally subsided and the last symbols leaked back out the holes they had made in her. Instead, she stood in a place indistinguishable from a doctor's waiting room, complete with lines of squat chairs, an abundance of magazines, and a bored attendant.

The lanky woman behind the desk pushed a short strand of mud-brown hair up from her forehead and smiled widely as Ahmadi approached. "Overseer."

"Egret."

"We're a bit busy right now. Could you please take a number and wait to be called?"

"There's no one else waiting."

"You're the first one today! Please take your number. It shouldn't be long."

"You know how busy I am, Egret."

The receptionist smiled again, wide enough to show the barest hint of her canines. The humor of it always managed to reach her eyes, but it was not clear whose expense it was at. "Sorry, I'm just a grade 14. Not my call."

"The world as we know it could collapse while you're holding me up here."

"I'll be sure to pass your complaints on to my superiors. If you could please take your number?"

Ahmadi grit her teeth, yanked a ticket out of the machine, and turned to sit in the chair closest to the desk. The cushion felt like a hundred bearing balls stuffed into a burlap sack. Faint music began leaking from somewhere in the room, a pathetic chain of six slow notes repeated again and again. Ahmadi found herself tapping her fingers again her arm along with the slow music, and minutes later was scratching at her skin with the same steadiness. She glared at the woman sitting behind the desk and considered saying something more forceful, though arguing with most mental constructs was pointless. Thankfully, people usually only had a few rattling around inside their heads.

"Ma'am?" chirped the fragment of Egret. "Overseer? They'll see you now."

"About time."

"Just go straight down the hallway here," she said, gesturing to a door that had not been there moments before. "Oh, and could I please have my number back?"

"The ticket?"

"It's the only one I have."

Ahmadi bit her tongue, handed the bit of paper to the receptionist, and walked past. She was not going to waste time berating a fragment of her employee's subconscious.

The hallway beyond the waiting room was covered in doors. They lined both walls, each bearing plaques with titles like Office of the Subcommittee of Interdepartmental Emotion Integration. They lined the floor too, and the ceiling on top of that. Ahmadi stepped gingerly as she walked across them, well aware of the kind of trauma that might arise from a tumble through strange parts of a mind, especially Egret's. Her agent's particular set of unhealthy experiences was something Ahmadi would prefer to keep at arm's length.

The door at the end of the hall had one more piece of signage than any of the others. Right below its plaque (Office of the Chairwoman of the Prime Committee for Subcommittee Non-Conformity Management) was taped a piece of paper, bearing two lines of neat, handwritten text: 'Closed for construction. Detour through summer vacation memories.'

No, Ahmadi did not think she would be putting up with that much. That the rest of the world could be falling apart even as she dawdled had not been an idle comment, and her own time was more valuable than this regardless. She should be able to correct any momentary harm to Egret regardless, or at least fix it well enough that no one would ever notice. Ahmadi reached out and turned the doorknob in one swift motion, and the door beneath her feet opened.

The first reflex she had was to simply fly back up. That instinct served her poorly in a place where thaumaturgy was useless. Her second reflex was to reach out and grab a ledge, but there was none to be had. Her third instinct was to furiously curse as she fell, and thankfully no one was around to hear her words. There would be very unpleasant consequences if some of them were uttered in a more conventional reality.

Ahmadi landed with a distinct lack of grace. She paused to brush non-existent dust off her intangible form before looking down into the vast stone pit stretching out just in front of her feet. It crawled with distant figures, each dragging squat objects toward the fire furiously burning below. Ahmadi squinted, and saw that the countless fragments of Egret were dragging filing cabinets down to be incinerated. None of her previous inspections had ever led her to such a place, but that was no excuse to stop and gape at it, not when she needed assistance to get back on track. Not that she expected it to be very hard when she could just follow the screaming.

"Move, you jackasses! This was supposed to be done ages ago!" The distant crackling of a thousand burning libraries eagerly rushed to fill the space in between hoarse words. "Do you want to get out of here or not? Just two more vacations to go after this!"

After an indeterminate amount of time (and a much more determinate amount of yelling) Ahmadi came across a fragment of Egret in a baggy green jumpsuit making vigorous use of a megaphone. She saluted sloppily as Ahmadi approached, hair flying wildly in the hot wind. Except for the soot stains across her face, she was entirely identical to the other pieces of Egret's mind all around them.

"Egret."

"Overseer."

"You've sidetracked me again."

"It's not my fault, ma'am. The higher-ups wanted all this cleaned out."

"You realize that you're all the same, don't you?"

Egret's smile crept across her face like sludge, distorting an otherwise wholesome expression. "I wouldn't know, ma'am."

"I assume you can send me onward. I don't plan on loitering here."

"Sure. Of course." The fragment reached into one of her sleeves and pulled out a phone receiver. It looked old and cheap, faded beige plastic connected to a tangled cord. She pressed the receiver to one ear and paused, rolling her eyes at whatever was going on at the other end of the line. "Yeah. Yeah. I know. Yeah. Look– Yeah, okay. Yeah? Well, fuck you too." Egret jammed the whole back into her sleeve with a snarl, which she quickly replaced with the same unpleasant smile. "Someone will come for you in a minute."

"It would be best if they hurried."

"Why wouldn't they? You're our Overseer." She turned away before Ahmadi could say anything, and began screaming again at the countless versions of herself toiling below. The comparisons between the workers and a long list of stomach parasites were particularly vivid.

A bird appeared in the far distance as the list of comparisons reached encyclopedia proportions, black wings steady as it glided down toward the pit. It neared Ahmadi faster and faster, until it was closer to falling than flying. It flapped its wings deliberately, then desperately, and then hit the ground in an explosion of feathers and gristle. When the air cleared, all that was left in the bird's place was another piece of Egret, this one in a dark greatcoat and bearing a particularly grim expression.

"Overseer, I'm your grade three liaison."

"Egret, I'm not doing this with every bit of you I meet."

The fragment tilted her head slightly to one side. "I'm sorry?"

"No, it's nothing. Please, let's conduct the inspection. I'm in a hurry."

"Of course." Egret stomped one boot on the ground, and an elevator car burst out with barely a rumble or puff of dust. The door opened with a ding, and the same grotesque music that had been playing in the waiting room leaked out. "After you, ma'am." The two of them stepped inside, and the elevator lurched upward at an uncomfortable speed.

"Have there been any problems?" asked Ahmadi.

Egret grimaced, an expression that was still more pleasant than her smile. "There's been some… lingering contamination from the incident in China. It propagated through a section of childhood memory storage. As you saw, the grade twos ordered a purge."

"Isn't that serious?"

"It won't impact our performance, ma'am."

"I meant, aren't those memories important to you?"

"It won't impact our performance, ma'am."

"I see. Is there anything else?"

"No, nothing comes to mind." The elevator dinged, and the doors swept open to reveal a long, high-ceilinged chamber packed with row after row of desks, each hosting fragments of Egret clattering away at ornate typewriters. Snow drifted in through the tall, empty windows, only to be crunched underfoot by the higher grade fragments patrolling the space between desks. Each of them wore a greatcoat identical to the one worn by the piece of Egret at her side, are bore equally grim expressions. "By all means, Overseer, conduct your inspection."

The two of them walked straight down the middle of the great hall on a path of melted snow and discarded paper. None of the Egrets looked up at them, but Ahmadi could feel their eyes on her all the same. It was no secret why she was there.

"You," she said to one of the Egrets at random.

"Yes, Overseer?" she chirped.

"How did you start working for me?"

"You saved me from early retirement, what else? Alpha-1 didn't appreciate me enough."

"Do you think I appreciate you?"

"Of course."

Ahmadi nodded curtly and continued down the rows, one fragment still at her heels. The answer was correct, and more importantly was nearly identical to the answer she had received the last time she asked the question. Forty-five desks down, she stopped again. "Egret."

"Yes, Overseer?"

"What was the first job you did for me?"

"I put down three of those Committee shitheads sniffing around after you." Her smile oozed out like crude oil through cupped fingers. "They didn't die easy."

"How did you feel afterwards?"

"Satisfied."

Ahmadi moved on. Two-hundred and twenty-five rows down, she halted again. The fragment she spoke to was no different from any of the rest. "While working for me, do you do good things?"

The fragment stared up at her with empty, longing eyes. "Of course not." The senseless chattering of countless typewriters ceased in an instant. "What? You all know it's true. All of us know that everything's super fucked up! This whole thing is a nightmare! I'm the honest one here!" She went on yelling at the sea of silent fragments, unceasing even as the Egret next to Ahmadi calmly drew a pistol from inside her coat, leveled it at the head of her perfect twin, and fired. The shot was loud as a canon, and the force of it scattered bits of brain and bone in a wide arc.

"Tch," said Egret, lowering her gun. More shots rang out in the hall seconds later.

"Egret, what's happening?"

"There might have been a bit more fallout from the thing in China." Heavy metal shutters slid over the open windows, adding a harsh sound to the echoing cacophony that had already become overwhelming. "We'll handle it."

"Egret–" The the elaborate chandeliers above them flashed bright red as sirens sounded from hidden alcoves.

"Overseer, you should go. Everything's under control. I promise.

"Egret, I don't think–"

"Will you just listen to what I'm telling you and let me do my fucking job!?" the fragment howled at Ahmadi. It was not nearly loud enough to carry far over the din, but she had heard it, and this piece of Egret could tell. Even wide-eyed with what might pass for fear, her smile still managed to curdle the moment it formed. "That's just the infohazard talking," she continued weakly, raising her gun to her temple. "The rest of us are loyal. You'll see." With that, she pulled the trigger.

Yes, perhaps it was indeed time for Ahmadi to leave.



Overseer-6 awoke with one clammy hand still pressed to the forehead of her most valuable employee. Egret followed her into consciousness as soon as Ahmadi moved her hand away, bolting upright on the examination table.

"Well, how did I do?" she asked, more chipper than anyone had the right to be in her situation.

"You'll need some extra rest before going out again."

"What? No, I'm… ugh." She collapsed back onto the table and clutched her head in her hands. "Yeah, maybe." She looked up at Ahmadi, who was still staring intently at her. "Really, what is it?"

"Have you ever thought that working for me might not be particularly healthy for you?

"No. Never."

All things considered, that was the only answer she could have expected.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License