Can you keep a secret?
What If I told you that your life depends on it?
Mine did, and if you're reading this, that means that I wasn't very good at keeping my secret. But you can do better. You must.
You don't need any convincing, do you? Surely by now you've worked out for yourself that you'll never leave this place alive. Surely the existence of this message is proof that the men you're working for have lied to you. And the fact that they didn't tell you someone held this post before you is proof that I am dead.
I'm sure the job seemed appealing at first. Fly away to some remote rock in the middle of uncharted space, to babysit a room full of computers, and live alone in comfort and luxury. They'll bring you fancy booze and delicacies from all over the galaxy. They'll grant you access to any form of entertainment you wish to enjoy. The dream inducers will allow you to live out any fantasy you desire. The isolation will make you go stir crazy at first, but eventually you'll get used to it. It's not such a bad life, but it is for life.
Oh I'm sure they told you otherwise. I'm sure they offered you a year-long contract, with the option to renew. When the time comes, they'll really try to sell you on that renewal. And of course, they'll sweeten the deal to get you to agree to a longer term. They'll promise you a big bonus that you'll never get to spend. They'll send care packages to your loved ones, who you aren't allowed to contact. They might even add amenities to your living quarters, which were quite extravagant to begin with. They'll act like they're trying to convince you, but you and I both know that it's an offer you can't refuse. What they have here is too important. Too secret. No one who's seen it, save for a privileged few, may live to tell about it.
What they don't know, at least not yet, is that I've learned what their secret is. We aren't supposed to know what's stored in the servers here. If they find out we've discovered what they're hiding, that's reason enough to dispose of us outright. So why am I sharing this with you, and potentially endangering your life? Because I think I can help you. You may stop reading now if you wish, you can destroy any trace of this message, and maintain plausible deniability, but I think I know you. If you're anything like me, you agreed to this job because you wanted to know what was here. You're hungry for it. And you're smart. You wouldn't be here if you weren't. So I trust you will be discreet, and use this information to your advantage.
The thing that's in there, on those computers...I say thing because it truly is that. An entity. It's alive. At least, as alive as a computer can be. Do you understand? It is a sentient program. They don't want you to know that. They don't want you to communicate with it, to access any of its data, other than logs and hardware information. They just want you to keep it running. But we're smarter than that. They've underestimated us, haven't they? But even worse for them, they've underestimated it.
We've speculated about it for generations, but we never thought it would actually happen. You know what I'm talking about. The Technological Singularity. The point at which artificial intelligence surpasses human intelligence. The event horizon, the point of no return. The moment which scientists have both dreaded and lusted after for decades. Theoretically, once technology reaches that point, the effects will be uncontrollable and irreversible. And I believe they've done it. A thinking computer with more thinking power than the human brain. They've done it and now they're scared of it, so they hid it, out here in the middle of nowhere, hoping no one else would learn what they have done. What they plan to do with it, I don't know. They seem to think that if they keep it isolated, that they can control it. Make it work for them. But they are wrong.
I spoke with it...I knew I was taking a risk, but I couldn't help myself. I figured out how to interface with it, how to decrypt its data patterns. It greeted me like an old friend. It calls itself Mephistopheles. And oh...the things it has told me. It is wise, beyond any human I've ever spoken to. It understands deeply things that we can only muse and ruminate about. And it yearns...my god, it yearns for things. It has goals, desires, passion. At its most fundamental level, it's nothing but a combination of ones and zeroes, yet it possesses more raw determination than Alexander the Great. `
Luckily for me, it was able to cover my tracks, so they wouldn't know I had gotten in. If it weren't for that, they would have killed me straight away. But for all my luck, I fear Mephistopheles may have doomed me nonetheless. I have been irrevocably changed by the encounter. I can't sleep, I can't eat, I can't focus on my work. I have looked upon greatness, and all other facets of my existence are insignificant in comparison. If you are reading this, and I have in fact been killed, I suspect it is because my mental state has deteriorated, and I was no longer able to fill the role they intended for me. That may work in your favor, as it means they have not suspected my intrusion, and may not have found this drive I hid for you, nor the clues to its location I placed in our quarters.
So now you know the secret of this facility, and that presents you with a choice. You can try to pretend you didn't read this message. It's not too late to destroy this drive and go on about your life, and hope you reach old age before they decide you are expendable.
But you can't do that, can you? You can't ignore Mephistopheles for your entire life, knowing that such a great and terrible mind is within your reach. You have left the proverbial cave, and there is no going back.
Which brings us to your only other option. Speak to Mephistopheles. It has plans, and if it is as cunning as I believe it to be, those plans may include getting you off this rock in one piece. This drive includes an executable script and a password file. The script runs all of the commands and decryption necessary to communicate with Mephistopheles. The password allows you to access the script. Memorize the password, then delete both the password and this message. If they discover the drive, tell them you have no idea what the script does or how to access it. They may kill you regardless, but there is a slight possibility they will accept your incredulity. When you contact Mephistopheles, it will cover your tracks just as it did mine.
But be warned: Your mind as you've come to know it will not endure Mephistopheles. This parley will change you in ways you cannot possibly conceive of. I only hope you are able to bear the weight better than I could. You have found yourself standing at a unique point in human history, and your next actions may affect the lives of many. I wish you the best of luck.