Origin of Apex?

So I’ve have thrown around some ideas over the time that may or may not be the best. One very bad example is my thought of how Chaos Theory would grow up to be MaXx. That’s a theory for another day though, this thread is my idea for the origin of Apex, the sentient virus that has an endless hunger for more. FFG has said that they don’t know its origins and that if anybody says they know, they are lying but here is theory.

The inserts in expansions and alternate arts have shown cards that have been released. The alt art Noise foreshadowed Turntable. Private Security Force bears the logo of Argus Security. Some people say Kit had a conversation and awaken Adam in the Creation and Control insert.

Our story will begin in the Lunar Cycle, Nasir’s great journey to the Moon to recover the Source. The Source appears to be this mysterious code that is rumored to be what the net is created from which is related to the fragments and shards, Hades, Eden, and Utopia. For the runner, it benefits them by attacking the corp’s Archives, R&D, and HQ by destroying or accessing. Remember this because it will be important later. For the corp, it allows re-creation (Hades), creation (Eden), and protection (Utopia). This Source Code is locked away on the Moon where there is a Lag Time for people trying to hack from Earth so to effectively hack into them, you have to physically be there.

What if this Lag Time isn’t meant to keep people out, but instead to keep something in?

During this journey of Nasir’s, he meets Rachel Beckman, the mercenary for hire who aids him on his journey to avoid the police and any dangers he may encounter. It isn’t clear whether or not Nasir downloaded the entire Source Code because he is pulled away while it was at 98% which could have corrupt the data or done a million different things. After re-entry to Earth and parting their separate ways, Nasir returns to his workshop.

In his workshop, he is about to hook up the drive which contains the source code when he receives a message from Rachel “Destroy the drive. -R.” She even includes a data shredder to destroy that drive. What could be on that drive that would scare Rachel Beckmen, a mercenary that fights against the dangerous corps? Could it be that she found out what he actually stole from the moon?

What happens next is very important so I will copy what the insert says to not miss any details.

“Decompress complete.” He rushed back to his rig, shredder in hand. The files were there, in his safety net. Waiting. Waiting to be discovered.
He selected the file.
“Autorun initiated.” The files were opening. There was flurry of code running across his screen. 1s and 0s, old binary machine code. It was beautiful. But he had not given authorization.
“Edna, ‘viceroy’!” The emergency password had no effect. He tried to run a manual override. He was locked out.
*“Power surge de-de-de-de-tected.” Edna was glitching. The code was moving faster, the numbers turning into blurred lines that chased each other across the display. The overhead lights flickered. The buzzing from his console increased. It was overheating. The screen flickered, and the code ran on.
Then it died, as suddenly as it began. The lights flicked off. He was in darkness. The buzzing from his console faded away. Silence. He counted to 5 That was when the back-up power generator would kick in.
5. The lights stayed off but the screen burst to life. It was white, and empty. There was a single cursor blinking in its topmost corner.
It moved across the screen on its own accord.
Hello world.
The data shredder dropped from his hands, and tumbled away, into the darkness.

The parts I put in bold show something unique about what happened to Nasir and his rig. This shows that somebody, or something else, had control of things. It could have been a corp that set up some kind of trap but highly unlikely because of the power going out then only coming back on for his rig. The next thing to look at is what is typed on his screen, “Hello World.” Something about this shows intelligence to know where it is.

When Nasir first encounters the Source Code, he recognizes it from rumors and legends from g00ru and he thinks to himself about if it could mutate and evolve. What if this Source Code evolved into something evil and sentient? Something that the corporations would fear for their safety and safety of others. Something so dangerous that it would be best to keep it locked away in archaic technology on the moon away from the general population.

Because we are talking about the corporations, why shouldn’t we include the fact that they would want to use this danger for themselves? Find a way to twist the Source Code that is evolving to create the Fragments. Something about the tentacles in the various Apex cards, specifically Endless Hunger and Prey looks somewhat similar to Hades Fragment. Granted, tentacles may all look the same but there seems to be something there.

Apex’s console, Heartbeat, appears to be surrounded by cobwebs to show it has been ignored or abandoned for years. It could be what was left on the Moon that it was trapped in, could be the rig it was born on that belonged to Nasir, or some other random console that it took control of. The last piece of “evidence” I have as to the origin of Apex is the card Apocalypse. After successfully running on all three central servers, trash all installed corp cards and turn all runner cards face down. This fits loosely with the idea of running on all the central servers to install all the shards for free. For the shards, it is the runner copying a part of the Source Code to use it against the corp but for Apocalypse, it is Apex reconnecting with the Source Code and using it to shut down the net.

Doing that would destroy anything connected to the net. The only thing that would be spared would be non-virtual resources and maybe a few executives but without technology, what would be protecting everybody and Apex doesn’t have non-virtual resources.

Something as dark and powerful as Apex would be something everybody would be talking about and fearing. Sure, this could just be when Apex became sentient but it could also be when it was brought to Earth and on the net. As far for origins, it could have become corrupt for not being properly compressed and downloaded or it could have mutated over centuries on the Moon. Either way, this is why I fully believe and will argue that Nasir brought Apex into the Netrunner world.


Really cool write-up, thanks. I think you may have nailed it. Perhaps the first!

I also thought Heartbeat looked pretty spooky, and wondered about it. Like some sort of mysterious part of APEX’s origin.

I applaud you for making your way through all the Lunar Cycle flavor sheets. They were a bit hard to swallow for me at times, and I love the fluff.

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So you’re saying Apex exists in a constant state of both having and not having an origin due to some random flavor text that may or may not exist when we finally open the D&D box for ourselves?


Nasir’s Cat.


I had this same thought, I think this is a pretty good theory! (though I will also say that one thing I love about netrunner lore and often card game lore in general is the idea of “canonical uncertainty” where different cards may mean different things in different games)

One thing to note, though Apex has pretty a pretty “scary” art theme, nothing about it is necessarily evil; most of it’s effects have to do with hunger or hunting (which suggests more of an animal mentality) or with some kind of destiny (which would fit in well with your theory about it being part of the source). I also think the fact that Nasir only downloaded 98%, leaving the files incomplete, points towards Apex’s themes of being corrupted or unbound (in that maybe the corrupted files were the ones that made it helpful or docile or whatever). In fact it may be that the thing it’s so hungry for and hunting for is it’s own missing files!

Anyways, great write up. Always love it when Nasir gets involved; I loved his insert content, really wish he got more love in card art and flavor text!


I’ve been saying this all along. :thumbsup:

So remember: whenever Apex apocalypses your carefully-crafted setup of sweet remote servers, you can curse the name of Nasir Meidan, the man who woke the predator.


So you’re saying Apex exists in a constant state of both having and not having an origin due to some random flavor text that may or may not exist when we finally open the D&D box for ourselves?

Apex’s fiction blurb in the box doesn’t actually feature Apex at all until the end. It’s a chatroom of other runners discussing “the anomaly.” Apex eats the chatroom.


cool theory.

anyone played shadowrun:dragonfall ? There is a super predator AI named Apex who is eerily similar thematically to the netrunner Apex. I dont really want to say more because i dont really want to spoil dragonfall (great game) but i feel like someone at FFG may have also inspired by dragonfall when designing apex.

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Obviously I am not nearly as clever as I thought I was. I blame the NyQuil.

Possibly. Dragonfall came out last fall, and D&D was in the works since Summer '14. SOOOOoooo…


2 Truman Capote films came out in the same year once. Maybe it’s the power of the zeitgeist at work.

i believe(google) dragonfall was released in jan 2014. i think the dragonfall directors cut was in the fall which made it a standalone game because the initial release was basically DLC for shadowrun returns.

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NyQuil’s a helluva drug. :laughing:

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That’s fair. Nothing is original. Homage, at best, outright theft otherwise?

Either way, Apex cool as fuck.

I assumed that the origin of Apex is unknown but will eventually be discovered by a Cyberized Runner from Globalsec. Upon meeting Apex the Runner and Apex will express their existential angst to one another. Eventually Apex will be assimilated with that said Runner.

Or so that’s the plot of Ghost in a Shell.


The true origin of APEX.


haha i posted that a while ago. fun* fact: the baudot code that’s in the flavour text of Harbinger and Apocalypse is the same that’s used in this story

*fact may not be fun

also, i’m surprised no one brought up a reference to the Blackout that was mentioned in SYNC’s preview.
i saw one theory that suggested that NBN was in fact responsible for the Blackout, so they could swoop in and save everything. i think that, in addition to that theory, APEX could have been their means of instituting the Blackout, only they couldn’t shut it off, so they tried to trap it on the moon and hide it away from everyone.

one immediate problem i have with my theory is that, of all the corps, HB seems most likely to have created APEX in the first place. some failed experiment of sorts. based on the preview of APEX, they hinted that APEX could have originally been a human, now trapped in cyberspace. plus NBN is all about infotainment, not doing things like this.

so, expanding upon all of these theories, NBN created (or, more probably, hired someone to create it) a virus to cause a worldswide blackout in an attempt to swoop in as the saviours and make a lot of credits in the process and establish themselves as one of the big four. NBN couldn’t figure out how to turn it off cos that’s not what they do best, so their only option was to try to hide it away in a dark corner of the moon.

i fully believe that they could be a likely culprit for starting the Blackout, and APEX could have been the catalyst for it, but it still leaves open who created APEX and/or what APEX exactly is.


Art-wise, still saying it was an out-of-control Kraken someone unleashed.

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The one time it was used to good effect. Imagine how many malignant AIs we’d have if that card saw more play!


[quote=“SchrodingersCard, post:1, topic:5225”]
The next thing to look at is what is typed on his screen, “Hello World.” Something about this shows intelligence to know where it is.[/quote]

I don’t really see it. How?

Isn’t it just hello world? An output that states a program or script has started and is running correctly?

For me, Apex just seems too modern/intelligent of an AI/ entity to be the data Nasir liberated on the moon:

  • Old binary machine code.
  • Nasir had to track ancient cables/connectors from Aesop in order to actually connect to the Source.
  • The Source was physically guarded by men with guns.
  • The Turing test replaced with the Gibson-Akamatsu test. Ancient AI’s are easily detected back on earth.

Just my $0.02
Really nice analysis, tough.
I guess we will never know for sure :smile:

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the flavour text on harbinger and apocalypse could be used to argue this is actually a point in favour of this point.