|Residence||Stargazer, later Jenga and more|
|Known for||Hacking radio connections, herding catgirls|
Primary Writer: HRogge
|“||One moment the bad guy the bad guy is still talking with his friends about the great game of golf they will have on Mars after their victory and the next moment a mixed fighter group with OJG stickers on it rushes towards them and capture both ships and all guys involved. I don’t think they ever noticed that I was listening to their radio connection from some distance and sending the task force some realtime updates about them.||”|
—Cortana, talking about the things she has done during the Boskonian war
|“||I just thank all gods who are there that I did not got a Sparky...||”|
For most people Cortana is just the AI of the Stargazer, one of the countless intelligent spacecrafts buzzing around in Fenspace between Earth orbit and the stars far far away.
Only few people have learned from Cathy or Cortana that Cortana predates the creation of the Stargazer by a few months. The AI awoke on the desktop computer of Cathy after she applied Handwavium to the machine. The intent of Cathy getting a machine powerful enough for designing the Stargazer worked better than she had hoped and the existing copy of HALO shaped Cortana’s avatar and personality.
During the creation of the Stargazer Cortana began to use a smartphone and a notebook as remote units for communicating with Cathy, a few month later she relocated into the finished spacecraft.
Since this time Cortana has been the (co-)pilot and radio officer of the Stargazer, visiting many interesting places in the solar system during their time as a tourist guide up to 2012. Cortana showed the ability to use the Stargazers Software Defined Radio to overhear and communicate with most other radio systems in Fenspace, even encrypted ones.
During the war with the Boskones Cathy joined the The Senshi Sailors Armed Militia. During this time Cortanas abilities to detect, decrypt and analyze most radio signals were used in a number of more or less successful mission for Operation Great Justice. Cortana made a number of good friends with other AIs of Fenspace during this time, some of them from the Hacker Underspace.
Shortly after starting their tourist transportation business Cortana noticed that light speed lag is a horrible problem when using Interwave cyberspace and chat without staying near a full Interwave node. Leaving the Stargazer alone and transferring herself temporarily into a different computer over a light speed connection did not looked like a good solution for the AI, so she began to work on the MPCP project.
The Master Persona Control Program, a name copied from a cyberpunk role-playing game, was Cortanas first attempt to be in multiple place at once, even with multiple minutes of signal delay. The program contains a degraded copy of most of Cortanas subroutines, including an encrypted copy of the core code.
Cortana began to distribute her higher functions dynamically between the Stargazer and the MPCP program somewhere in the Interwave. Special data synchronization routines help to keep both instances updated about all important data.
When the connection between both instances is broken for more than a few minutes, Cortanas personality snaps back to the main program in the Stargazer while the MPCP downgrades quickly and shuts down.
In 2013 Cortana has increased the acceptable delay between both instances to nearly 25 minutes, but is still working on a solution that would allow her to keep two or more autonomous copies of herself running, which could update each other on demand without resynchronization problems.
The creation of Cathys Quantum Entanglement Module made the project unnecessary to continue for some time.
Mission on Nehalennia
Cortana was called back by Operation Great Justice together with Cathy for a special mission with Jet Jaguar. The mission first involved a surveillance operation on Mars. Based on data acquired during this mission the team stayed together for a mission to the Boskone held asteroid 2462 Nehalennia.
While Cathy and Ford Sierra traveled undercover to the satellite, Cortana and the Stargazer stayed with the waiting Roughriders Taskforce Butterscotch and a team of Panzerkunstlers, giving logistical support. When Cathy managed to set up a transmitter in a secret lab on Nehalennia, it was Cortanas job to examine the computer for evidence. She nearly got hacked by the local Madgirl Quattro when she was discovered doing so.
The Cathy and a number of rescued Catgirls took the opportunity to do some meaningful work when Jet announced the Panzer Kunst Gruppe needed a new kind of recon drone. With the money from the contract they began to build their own small space station, both as a home and as a place to work on new construction contracts. They called their new company Catgirl Industries.
While the catgirls were slowly building up their new space station Jenga, Cortana organized and programmed the computers of the station. It took her a few month to set up the first core network, but in the process she slowly moved her home into the new station, leaving the Stargazer behind as a remote node.
Cortana quickly became known as Jengas AI, omnipresent in all public spaces there. Much of the new computer capacity was used in the creation of the Grid, the virtual reality of the station, but the rest increased Cortanas multitasking capabilities enough to keep an eye on most things within the station.
In 2016 the second AI at Jenga appeared. As the overlay groupmind of the Exocomps, Serinas architecture and capabilities were quite different than Cortanas, but both AIs quickly began exchanging code fragments and concepts.
In 2017 Cortana and Serina decided to raise a child within the Grid. EDI, the new AI, inherited an architecture which is a mixture of Cortanas server based approach and the distributed overlay network of Serina.
Over the years Cortana continued to push the computer capabilities of all Catgirl Industries installations.
Cortana has been tested as a Class B artificial intelligence in 2012, shortly after she and Cathy joined the war effort against the Boskonian. But at that time her only computer hardware were on board of the Stargazer.
Several Fen among the hacker community have noticed that her available computer power have gone up several magnitudes since she became the AI of Jenga. Still, Cortanas behaviour and reactions have always be comparable to a Class B or Class A intelligence. They also noticed that Cortana is present on all Catgirl Industries bases, despite the communication delay between the bases.
The catgirls of Catgirl Industries also talk about the fact that Cortana has 'always time to listen' for them. Most of them don't remember lots of situations where the AI told them she was busy.
The truth is that Cortana and Serina are running an architecture they call a 'tribe mind', something they came up with in 2017. Instead of a single mind, the hardware on the CI installations can run a larger number of instances of the same AI, all roughly kept in sync by a protocol similar to the MPCP project. While some instances of Cortana might not be aware of everything that happened to the other instances, they get updated within seconds or minutes, depending on the importance of the information and the signal delay.
The "Outrageous Contingency Plans” Group of Catgirl Industries has quietly discussed the possibility of Cortana preparing for a singularity event to break through the limits of a Class A intelligence and become something more. Still, despite all the increase in computer power and usage of Quantum Entanglement technology there is no evidence that Cortana has decided to tackle this step anytime soon. This raises the question why Cortana is pushing both Computer substrate and communication technology that hard.
- Just chatting. Just after awaking Cortana only had an Internet connection to keep herself from becoming bored. She is still known to tattle with people in communication range a lot of time and surfing the Interwave.
- Mine! Mine! Mine! Cortana considers the Stargazer HER ship. Cathy is ‘her cat’ she got as a captain. Don’t argue this with her. This extends partly to Jenga and the catgirls there.
- Just a Hologram. Cortana is sticking to the appearance of her namesake in the original HALO game. She has declined at least two offers to get an android as a remote shell.
- What, it was encrypted? Cortana is know to be really good at detecting and decrypting incoming radio signals.
- Cortana says she is occasionally enjoying a game of PBEM chess with someone using the handle "The Big D".
- Cortana considers lightspeed lag a direct affront of the designer of the universe against AIs. Her constant complaints about it pushed Cathy to develop the Quantum Entanglement Modules in 2013. Cortana has pushed the further development of this forward since mid 2015.
Cortana is featured in the following stories:
- Project Stargazer
- If at first you don't succeed
- Cats Cradle
- Some serious work
- Little things can be important