The setting of Eclipse Phase is full of all kinds of things, both wondrous and horrible. Earth is essentially gone, the old way of doing things is collapsing, and humanity, despite being 99% wiped out, is still fighting with one another over the Right Way of doing things. Small surprise that some people turn their backs on being human – or transhuman – entirely, then. The Mime Cult is one such group, a small collection of exhumans who use high-bandwidth mesh links, tactical network software, and some rather hazardous psychosurgery to remove their need to communicate.
Operating in Venusian space, the Mime Cult appears, on the surface, to be an old-fashioned group of entertainers who get by on a mix of credits and rep score, performing skits in public without ever saying a word. On all public-access feeds, the members – each one with their skin pigmented to perfectly match mime face paint – appear to stay in character as harmless performers who simply want to bring some levity into the world.
In the hidden spaces of the habitats where they’re active, the Mime Cult carries out the other part of their plans. Darkcasting rigs and desktop cornucopia machines crammed into disused maintenance areas where only service bots go allow the members of the group to ply their trade and add to their ranks – invisibility cloaks and cheaply made synths with chameleon skin allow them to abduct the poor, the destitute, and the unwanted from areas with spotty coverage, dragging them to the darkcasting rigs to send their minds to a small tin can hab swinging at the very edge of Venusian space.
This habitat, which appears derelict from the outside, is crammed with simulspace servers. New arrivals are quickly fed into extreme psychosurgical modification programs, carving and molding the original ego into a twisted mockery of itself. For most, it takes only a few days of real time before they emerge with their minds radically altered to accept the dictates of the Mime Cult; by the time they’re sent back to the original habitat to be loaded into their newly-pigmented old morph, little remains of the original ego.
Other than the kidnapping, the group might be only a modest threat were it not for the fact that the original Mime Cultists are a trio of exsurgents, their minds spliced by the TITANs to unify them. In constant contact via their mesh inserts, they’re a three-faced god to the cult, and they include a subtle strain of the exsurgent virus in the indoctrination procedure. Mime Cultists are driven to spread like a slow cancer, disguising their predations behind a facade of harmless entertainment, until they reach a critical mass in a given habitat.
At that point, the Mime Cult metastasizes, going from a benign-seeming intrusion to a nightmarish vector of destruction. A memetic trigger sweeps through the group, causing them to trigger dormant nanite hives installed while the egos were being modified; in a matter of hours, the modified morphs grow heavy armor, still pigmented to look like mimes. Their fingers give way to lengthy claws, reinforced to let them tear through body armor, while their muscles and nerves are rebuilt to make them stronger and faster.
Once a Mime Cult cell metastasizes, the members sweep through the population of a habitat, slaughtering anyone they encounter and harvesting their cortical stacks to be sent for modification. Once a habitat has been emptied of inhabitants, the cultists upload themselves, leaving delta forks behind that quickly compromise the habitat and upset its orbit to send it tumbling into the atmosphere of Venus, hiding their tracks with distress calls and emergency messages about system failures.
The Mime Cult so far has evaded notice by Firewall, but the destruction of three habitats has started to draw attention; the group is the only thing that the three events have in common, and sentinel teams have been tasked with researching the situation.