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In All Systems Red, Murderbot says that

HubSystem downloaded an upgrade packet for me from the satellite before we left for DeltFall.

implying that the an upgrade was transmitted to the satellite in response to detecting the plan to depart for DeltFall. But given the remoteness of the planet that Murderbot is on, how could enough time have elapsed for a light round trip between the formulation of the plan and the transmission of the update to the satellite?

Are we meant to conclude that the upgrade packet was always present in the satellite and that HubSystem made the decision to download it locally, on its own; or perhaps that HubSystem created or contained the upgrade and just claimed to have acquired it from the satellite?

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Short answer, based on comment thread:

The timeline is inexact, but the events described - which include multiple indications of interactive sabotage - span over several days, showing the aggressors (GrayCris) both acting in near-real-time, and undertaking time-consuming actions:

  • The initial sabotage indications of 'abort command' during the emergency, the missing map sections, and the doctored survey package.
  • Hours, or most of a day, seem to pass between the fauna attack and the communication with DeltFall, which would have been monitored by GrayCris.
  • The map expedition happened "at the beginning of the day cycle, in the morning light," so that was at least the day after the fauna attack. They return to their habitat that afternoon, and that's when MurderBot receives the download. At the end of that "day cycle," they realize they can't contact DeltFall group, indicating that within these days GrayCris was able to mount an involved attack upon DeltFall.

So the amount of time elapsed - at least two days - would have been plenty for GrayCris, who could interact with HubSystem via the satellite, to interactively manage the escalating interference. The implication is that they were directly responsible for the upgrade packet.


Original answer:

implying that the an upgrade was transmitted to the satellite in response to detecting the plan to depart for DeltFall.

Actually, the upgrade was transmitted before PreservationAux was even aware of a problem with DeltFall (page 45):

I'd just done another perimeter walk and checked the drones, when the feed informed me that HubSystem had updates from the satellite and there was a package for me. I have a trick where I make HubSystem think I received it and then just put it in external storage....

It was a typical, boring day, in other words. If Bharadwaj wasn't still recuperating in Medical, you could almost forget what had happened. But at the end of the day cycle, Dr. Mensah called me and said, "I think we have a problem. We can't contact DeltFall Group."

The decision to send the upgrade packet to attempt to compromise MurderBot was made in response to the awareness that PreservationAux was aware of issues (the missing map sections, the elisions about dangerous fauna in the Hazard Report). GrayCris would have been aware of this very early on when PreservationAux contacted DeltFall (page 32):

Mensah leaned back in her chair and steepled her fingers. "All right, this is what we'll do. I want you each to check the individual sections of the survey package for your specialties. Try to pinpoint any more missing information. When we have a partial list, I'll call DeltFall and see if they can send us the files."

But given the remoteness of the planet that Murderbot is on, how could enough time have elapsed for a light round trip between the formulation of the plan and the transmission of the update to the satellite?

Well, by definition, the satellite isn't all that remote; it's orbiting the planet. It is close enough to be used to time "equipment failures" closely:

I was distracted, but still caught the moment when the autopilot cut out.... [Mensah] just made some thoughtful grumpy noises and adjusted our course away from the mountain the failing autopilot would have slammed us into.

It's communication and action through the wormhole that's got noticeable latency, not the satellite.

  • 1
    Wow, yes; I hadn't realized those two passages refer to the same update, but the main questions remains: which of three possible sources are there for the decision to respond by sending the upgrade? I would think not further than the satellite given latency, and it sounds like you agree. – orome Feb 15 at 22:51
  • @orome I'm not sure what you mean by which of the "three sources". GrayCris was snooping on everyone else's HubSystems, and had a full day between PreservationAux contacting DeltFall with their initial suspicions, and the time that the download was queued up (and, in the time in between, they sabotaged PreservationAux's trip and sneak-attacked DeltFall). All three groups on the planet, low-latency comms being bounced off the satellite. – gowenfawr Feb 16 at 0:55
  • Sorry, perhaps my question wasn’t clear. It is about what we and the characters are thinking at that point in the story, with the information available to them then. – orome Feb 16 at 0:58
  • @orome at the point that MurderBot mentions the download, it's in the same paragraph mentioning the other instances of sabotage: the "abort command" at -4 days and the "autopilot off" at -2 days... and of course the murder of 25 DeltFall employees at -1 day. So at the point they're hearing of the download, they're very aware there's an outside agent who has been meddling in near-real-time. – gowenfawr Feb 16 at 1:10
  • That would be a good short answer to the question. – orome Feb 16 at 1:11

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