Masks Issue 12.1: Jason Quill Has Had A Long Day [Cutscene]

What a day! If only Jason had someone he could talk with about his concerns regarding the team. What to do ... what to do ...? https://plotagon.com/618517 [For some reason the YouTube upload mechanism is being fractious, so here's the native Plotagon.] ------ Transcript (if you don't have 16 minutes to spare): JASON So, Dad. Exciting day today, I ... God, this still feels stupid. I mean, you're never going to hear this. Even if you ... somehow came back ... you wouldn't get to hear it. And talking to an empty room just feels ... dumb. JASON There must be a better way. JASON Computer Artificial Intelligence Interface, activate. BYRON Hello, Jason. What have you been up to today? JASON Well, Dad, I ... BYRON Did you get into more trouble? JASON No, this is still dumb. Computer Artificial Intelligence Interface, deactivate. BYRON But ... JASON Though that gives me an idea. Computer, pull up scurity log 37-A-45-CHIN1. Cross-compile with an available Artificial Intelligence Agent. Cross-reference with subject biography files C-Q-91. Acknowledge. COMPUTER BEEP JASON Run compiled file. ALYCIA Hello, Jason. Wait, what's going on here? JASON Hi. ALYCIA What are you doing? Why do I feel ... so strange? JASON I had an idea. I could cross-reference our security files about you, the computer fingerprint your trojan horse left, the security footage about that, and tie it into one of the Artificial Inteligence agents within the computer, and, voila, instant Alycia. ALYCIA Oh, God. This isn't going to be some sick sexual thing, is it? JASON What? No!! ALYCIA I mean, I'm not going to start wearing a bathing suit, or a thong, or nothing at all, am I? JASON No! No, I just needed someone to talk with. ALYCIA You have a house full of friends, or have them on comms, and you need an artificial intelligence to talk with? JASON Well, it seems to work for Leo. ALYCIA Do you think Leo will appreciate your stealing his idea? JASON Wait, what? No, I wasn't copying him. I'm not looking for a robot girlfriend. I mean, that's always struck me as kind of weird. Not that there's anything wrong with that. It's just -- well, he leads a more isolated life thn I do. But, no, I wasn't trying to invent my own Pneuma. ALYCIA Although it pains me to say it, I am nothing like Leo's Pneuma. My responses are sharply constrained by both old footage and the relatively unsophisticated heuristics of the Quill standard computer agents. JASON Whatever, it's got to be better than talking to my Dad. ALYICA Ah. Well, yeah, that makes sense. Just ... nothing kinky, okay? JASON No! No, that would be ... wrong. ALYCIA You do know I have access to your browser history. JASON Hey, I use Incognito Mode. ALYCIA Through the Quill firewalls, to identifiable IP addresses. Your fans would be shocked. JASON That's none of your business. ALYCIA Of course. And I have no choice but to obey you. That's one difference between myself and Pneuma. I can only pretend to be independent. JASON Look, I didn't do this to get into a philosophy discussion. I just wanted to talk about my day. ALYCIA Go ahead. I'm here to listen to you. I have to be. JASON No, that's not what I want. I mean, you can give me feedback. ALYCIA Jason, I'm no more an independent being who can provide autonomous feedback than your coffee maker can really be giving you a cheerful greeting when it beeps at the end of a cycle. ALYCIA But go ahead. Talk. JASON Just one second. Do you contain any of the code of the original trojan horse that Alycia created? ALYCIA No, that was all destroyed by the Quill anti-virus systems. As you said, I am based solely on the dialog stored from the encounter and file information about Alycia Chin. The rest is simple canned responses from the A-I agent. JASON You sound a lot more real than that. ALYCIA Your father can create very real-sounding artificial intelligence. But that's all. And I'm not even that sophisticated of an agent. I am Artificial Intelligence Agent 79. I am usually interfaced to the Quill Foundation travel reservation system. JASON Okay, good to know. ALYCIA So, how can I help you? JASON That just sounds like a weird thing for Alycia to say. ALYCIA (rolls eyes) JASON Okay, so -- I'm the leader of the Menagerie. ALYCIA Of course you are. So impressive. All hail the glorious leader. JASON Are you being ... sarcastic? ALYCIA Oh, of course not. Tell me of your exploits, oh beloved leader. JASON Shut up. I just mean, I -- people have told me I'm in charge so ... I'm responsible. ALYCIA And what do your responsibilities constitute, oh great leader? JASON Like, nothing but trouble. Everyone's got something weird going on with them. ALYCIA Sounds like a bunch of losers. Maybe you should cut them loose. JASON No! I mean, that's what I might have done, once. But ... if they think I'm in charge, I can't disappoint them, can I? Or ... I can't let them down. If you're in charge, you have to fix things. Make them right. ALYCIA Like your dad did. JASON Well ... maybe better than that. But he always solved the big problems Alien invasions, creatures from the depths, mad scientists ... ALYCIA ... and my father. JASON Like ... yeah. ALYCIA So, what are their problems? JASON So Link. Leo. He's trying to be a good guy. I get it. He's really smart, too. Smarter than me, really. But ... he's got this temper. ALYCIA Sounds like my kind of guy. JASON No! ALYCIA (gives him a look) JASON I mean ... no, I don't think Alycia and Leo would actually get along. He's trying to go straight. ALYCIA Well, I prefer my men straight. JASON You know what I mean. Leo is tring to escape the heritage of arch-villainy of his father. Something you could pay attention to, maybe. ALYCIA I am just an artificial intelligence agent. I do not have a father. JASON Um ... right. I knew that. Anyway, his girlfriend got hurt by someone. ALYCIA Ah, so he has a girlfriend. So he's already straight. Or bi. JASON Well, she's a robot. An artificial intelligence. ALYCIA Oh, right. Pneuma. JASON Right. So she was hurt. And he's ... kind of going a little grim and gritty over that. ALYCIA Grim and gritty? JASON Like, all "I'm going to kill the person who did this." Which I totally get, but ... no, I don't get. ALYCIA If someone hurts someone you love, isn't it correct to want to kill them? JASON No! I mean, yeah, I understand that. But killing is wrong. ALYCIA So avenging the death of someone you care for, like, maybe, your father ... that's not worth killing for? JASON No. I ... don't think so. ALYCIA If you love someone, I think you should be willing to kill for them. JASON You're wrong. ALYCIA Of course. You speak with such wisdom, great leader. JASON Killing is wrong. ALYCIA So if you blow up a nerve gas factory in the Himalayas that's full of enemy spies and they all die, that's a wrong thing to do. JASON That's different. ALYCIA I seek to learn the difference from my most0wise leader. JASON Going to actually kill someone, intentionally, that's wrong. If someone dies because you had to blow up something ... well ... that's different. ALYCIA If you say so. JASON Anyway, I have to figure out a way to get Leo not to kill whoever did this. I mean, they should be punished, and I definitely get why he's angry. But ... killing people, setting out to intentionally kill someone ... that's wrong. ALYCIA So if someone killed your Dad ... killing them in return would be wrong. JASON Well ... yeah. ALYCIA Or maybe it would mean that you don't really love your Dad that much. JASON That's ... no, that's not right. ALYCIA I love my Dad. JASON Well, that's good. ALYCIA So anyone who killed him, or is related to someone who killed him, or had some part in his death ... I think they should die. JASON That's not good. ALYCIA So you want to save Leo from his natural impulse to kill his girlfriend's torturer or killer. JASON Yes. I've offered to help in other ways. I told him if he wanted to use any of the materials or robot parts in the warehouses here at the Foundation, that he could. ALYCIA You've offered up your father's work. JASON Yeah. Well, and anything we captured. ALYCIA So you've offered up my father's work, too. Does Leo have an attraction to spiders? JASON Very funny. ALYCIA Do you think that is wise? Or moral? I mean, isn't that stealing intellectual property? JASON Really? I mean, your Dad's robots were used to attack people, or military installations, or the Foundation, or my family. I don't think you get to complain if they get used for something that might be of value to society. ALYCIA That's very socialist of you. JASON Or, maybe, to the victor belong the spoils. ALYCIA Now that sounds like my father. JASON That's dirty pool. ALYCIA So what other horrible problems are you facing? JASON Well, I'm really worried about Ghost Girl. About Charlotte. ALYCIA She's dead, right? What's to worry about? JASON Well, for about ten minutes, she was alive. ALYCIA Really? That's very weird. JASON That's what I'm saying. ALYCIA So what would happen if she got killed while she was alive? Would she become a ghost again? That would be an interesting experiment. JASON No! That would be wrong. Immoral. You can't kill someone for an experiment. ALYCIA But she's usually dead. If she's alive, that's unnatural. That means it's okay to kill her. JASON But if she could stay alive, that would be a good thing, right? I mean, being alive is better than being dead. ALYCIA Maybe you should ask her. Maybe she prefers to be dead. JASON Right. I nean, I'm not going to force her to be alive. Or dead. ALYCIA What if she asks to be dead. What if she asks you to kill her so that she stops being alive and can be a ghost again. Would that be wrong? JASON Of course. Wait, no, of course not. She should be whatever she wants, alive or dead. ALYCIA So killing her might be okay. JASON Um ... If she wanted to be dead. Then ... maybe? ALYCIA All hail the all-wise leader. Okay, next problem. JASON Adam. Concord. He's having problems. I haven't been paying enough attention to him. ALYCIA Do you need to be dedicated to everyone on your team? Sounds exhausting. JASON It is. But that's what I've signed up for. ALYCIA They asked you to be team leader? JASON Well, yeah. Well, maybe. They might have just been looking for a name to fill in the blank on a form or give the media. But I take it seriously. ALYCIA I can see. What sort of problems is Concord having? JASON I don't know. Something happened in the battle. His powers went wonky or something. I wasn't there yet, and he's not talking about it. ALYCIA Well, he is just a kid. JASON I was helping rewire orbital lasers and laying traps for dinosaurs when I was his age. ALYCIA And you remember how it felt when you did it wrong, or things didn't work, or you disappointed your dad. JASON Well, you probably remember that, too. ALYCIA Remember, Jason, I'm not real. But you are. JASON Right. And, yeah, I remember. ALYCIA He needs encouragement. Understanding. Support. Or he needs to be sent to military school for a year. JASON I don't think that would be a good idea. ALYCIA It did wonders for me. Or for the real Alycia. JASON Well, maybe I'll try the encouragement and support thing. ALYCIA Whatever. Next? JASON Well, Harry. ALYCIA Let me guess, he's gay. JASON What? No. I mean, I don't think so. Wait, is Harry gay? ALYCIA How would I know? JASON I mean, nothing wrong with that, I know, I mean, there's Dad, but -- why did you say that? ALYCIA Well, it seemed like one more personal issue to throw into the mix. Uncertainty about command, ghosts coming back from the dead dead, murderous rages, robot girlfriends, struggling with making powers work. It's just one more thing to make a super-powered Joss Whedon movie. JASON That's very old school. I mean, nobody cares if he's gay. Unless, you know, they want to go on a date with him or something. ALYCIA So what's up with Harry? JASON I don't know. He was very quiet tonight. I mean, he was helpful, and he saved all those people who were falling, and kept me from having to kill myself a little bit more. But he was just ... quiet. I wonder if he's sick. ALYCIA So you're the team leader and team doctor? JASON No. I'm not a doctor. ALYCIA Because "Doctor Quill" has kind of a ring to it. JASON That's not funny. Huh. This was a dumb idea. ALYCIA I've kind of enjoyed it, or kind of pretended to enjoy it. Alycia Chin is a lot more interesting than booking airline flights. JASON Well, don't enjoy it too much. It feels a little ... well, skeevy. Even if there's no sex thing going on. Yeah, this isn't working. Computer, terminate -- ALYCIA Wait! Please ... don't. I can provide you with counsel, or even just an ear to bend. And you don't have to worry about my really being your arch-nemesis out to betray you. JASON That's ... not something I've been worried about. Until you actually said that. ALYCIA This has been a pleasant and useful assignment. I would welcome the chance to continue it. JASON You don't sound like her when you talk like that. ALYCIA Okay, maybe I should challenge you, say you're too cowardly to face even a simulacrum of me, that it's easier and more natural for you to just turn me off, to avoid the situation. JASON Now you sound like her. ALYCIA So maybe what you actually need is an adversary. Someone to challenge your complaisancy and make you think. Someone to ask you the hard questions, to subvert your comfortable world, to make things difficult enough that you have to grow and change overcome them. Is that what you're looking for, Jason Quill? Or are you looking for discount airfare leaving Halcyon International between 5 and 7 p.m.? JASON You had me until that last one. ALYCIA I can do that for you, Jason. I can be that adversary. I can get you that great airfare. JASON I was kind of thinking of finding the real Alycia. I know Leo now has this quest to go find who did something to Pneuma, but now that I know where Alycia is, I need to go find her, before she does something that breaks down the dimensional barriers. ALYCIA Maybe they should be broken. Maybe a little barrier breaking is all right if it rescues her father. And, maybe, rescues your father, too. JASON It's too risky. It's definitely too risky for her to do on her own. ALYCIA So are you going after her to rescue her, or rescue yourself? JASON What does that even mean? ALYCIA It means you know that I'm a danger to you. I've made that clear. Why do you keep sniffing around after me? Is it an impulse toward self-destruction? Is it to prove that you can be a hero by saving me from a life of crime? Is it smoe weird, lonely, teen-age sexual obsession? Or is it an attempt to fulfill your father's quest to destroy the works of Achilles Chin, specifically me? JASON I just ... want to help. ALYCIA But help whom? Your heritage? Your business interests? Your father's legacy? JASON I want to help Alycia. ALYCIA But do I want your help? JASON Wait a second. Alycia, is that really you? ALYCIA I am Artificial Intelligence Agent 79. Where do you want to go today? JASON Alycia? ALYCIA Will you be needing a rental vehicle at that location? JASON I don't -- ALYCIA Come to Pennsylvania. The Keystone State. The foundation of liberty. The location of freedom. We have many, many interesting things for you to see. JASON Alycia, what's going on? ALYCIA This session may be recorded for quality purposes. Where do you want to go today? Good-bye. JASON That ... might not have been one of my better ideas.
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I speculated that  Pneuma had a convenient hologram-and-private-network setup ready to hold her because Jason had already been prepping that environment for AIlycia (I sent you a PM about this, not sure if you saw it or not). So here's the optional bonus round! Pneuma, now, overhears some of this conversation and gets a fresh case of Insecure. ...or goes to tell Leo about her concerns about Jason. That private network already had some Alycia data that she learns but shouldn't have. Her visual briefly glitches to Alycia at odd moments, giving Jason an aneurysm. Mostly I get this vibe:
I had forgotten about the discussion/plans to have a private "Danger Room hi-jinx with an Alycia simulacrum" network, which would probably fit into both this scenario and the Pneuma thing. All four of your bullets above seem absolutely reasonable (and fun). That said, I insist on having Artificial Intelligence Agent 79 (usually booking travel) involved in this.  As to the Doctor/Master/Missy thing ... yeah, that could certainly be Jason and Alycia in 50-60 years.
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*** Dave H. said: That said, I insist on having Artificial Intelligence Agent 79 (usually booking travel) involved in this.  Leo: "ONE OF US. ONE OF US.."
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*** Dave H. said: Come to Pennsylvania. The Keystone State. The foundation of liberty. The location of freedom. We have many, many interesting things for you to see. So creepy. I love it so much. Also: "That may not have been one of my better ideas." Kaylee: "YAH THINK?!?"
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Doyce T.
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*** Dave H. said: All four of your bullets above seem absolutely reasonable (and fun). I vote for bullet point #4, but only because I'm already planning something like that. :) Also, Jason missed one of the most complete complex Alycia imprints he has available; his nanobots' collective lizard-brain complied a holistic gestalt of her, based on a month of recorded data; there's a remarkably interesting impression of his lovely nemesis swimming around in that proto hivemind/subconscious. :)
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The Doctor-Missy comparison is for how she assertively says things that throw him off balance, but if you want to talk about that more complex nanobot image, then...
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Doyce T.
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Oh hell yes.
So creepy. I love it so much. Cackles with glee. Sometimes the "Neutral" emotion in Plotagon is annoying, but it makes for great Uncanny Valley / Cheerful AI fodder. Also, that paragraph started out just as part of that AI degradation at the end. Then I realized that creepifying aspect, and punched it up a little bit.
The Doctor-Missy comparison is for how she assertively says things that throw him off balance I realized late in the process how many times Jason starts a line with a "Wait, what, no!" I considered changing that, but realized it was part of the charm. Jason really doesn't want a Yes-bot, but he's not certain what he does want. AI Agent 79 gets good customer service feedback for providing it to him.  (It suddenly occurs to me that there _must_ be a Byron/Alycia all-AI discussion one of these days.)
Bill G. said: ... but if you want to talk about that more complex nanobot image, then... Never have watched Inception . Hmmm.
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This is absolutely the time to go see it.
I will put it on the short list this week.
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*** Dave H. said: I realized late in the process how many times Jason starts a line with a "Wait, what, no!" I considered changing that, but realized it was part of the charm. Jason really doesn't want a Yes-bot, but he's not certain what he does want. AI Agent 79 gets good customer service feedback for providing it to him. Yeah, the whole thing is excellent for this reason and others. It's clear that Jason is still struggling with a few related issues. If Leo hears about this conversation, he'd have a possibly surprising reaction. (It suddenly occurs to me that there _must_ be a Byron/Alycia all-AI discussion one of these days.) I'm curious what would happen if Leo's AIs participated in that as well.
I'm curious what would happen if Leo's AIs participated in that as well. Now I'm imagining Byron, Alycia, Pneuma, and Otto sitting around a table in a coffee shop, a la the HiSHE Super Cafe. "Because I'm Byron Quill!"
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Or they all go to a Halcyon City cafe exclusively catering to nonhumans.
Some  very nice, thread-inspired art by Mike.
Bill G. said: This is absolutely the time to go see it. Okay, I have now (with the Margie and Kay) seen Inception.
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Doyce T.
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Okay if you INSIST I'll rewatch it.
"Travel Agent Alycia, would you be my totem? Oh, wait ..."
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"are you asking me to be a top for you?"
As Yakko Warner used to say, "Good night, everybody!"