Masks 17.1 - Jason and Numina [Cutscene] [RP]

1513236117

Edited 1513238221
Jason lowers himself slowly into the easy chair. He feels like an old man. Part of that is, no doubt, falling several hundred feet into a nanobot-cushioned car crash. Part of that is just a crazed day with no sleep the night before, very little food, too much Coke (all of which has caffeine-half-lifed and sugar-crashed out of his system), and a several emotional body blows. Leo and Ghost Girl have gone hallooing off to the cemetery. He should have joined them, but his energy level is bottoming out.  Harry ran out an hour ago after (very obviously) getting some texts from the 'rents. Adam -- Yeah, there are more reasons to feel like an old man. There's an open pizza box on the end table with two slices. He grabs the pepperoni over the vegie. It's cold, of course, and he hates cold pizza, but it's better than nothing. He closes his eyes, takes a bite, chews slowly. "Hello, Jason." Jesus H. Nixon on a velocipede, he thinks. I do not need Alycia ... any Alycia ... tonight.  He opens his eyes, start to say something dismissive or commanding or angry -- and abruptly stops. It's Pnumina. Pnoumena. Pneumina. However the hell it's spelled. The AI/Hologram/Backup Pneuma. The ghost in Quill Foundation machine (though it must be getting crowded in there). Link's not-quite-maybe-sorta-kinda girlfriend, or a copy thereof, or something . "Uh ... hi," he says, half choking on his mouthful of cold pizza.
1513238258

Edited 1513238291
The hologram smiles, and watches for a moment. "Nu-mi-na," she explains, guessing perhaps what he's thinking, or just introducing herself. "Plural of numen . The divine spirit of a place. A power that pervades the lives of men." She glances at her own ephemeral body. "It seemed appropriate." "You sound like you had a difficult day. I'm not going anywhere, if you need to talk."
"Yeah, thanks," Jason says. "Morphemes matter. Numina,  like you said. Or Noumena, something that exists independently of the senses, like the spirit or individuality or that kind of thing. That makes sense, too." He rubs his eyes, then regrets the sting from the pizza. "But with a 'P,' like your other half." He shakes his head. "Sorry. I've been up for ... 24, 36, 39 hours. However you want to spell your name or derive meaning from it, by all means, it's yours."  He takes another bite of pizza. " Jason  means 'healer' in Greek. Which is kind of not the name that make sense for me." Jason takes another look at her. "I know you're not going anywhere. But I hope your stay here is ... comfortable. I guess. If there's anything you need, comfort-wise, let me know. Dad used to always talk about hospitality, though it was something we usually took advantage of, not gave out. But since you are a guest here, for however long, let me know if there's something you need. A little more RAM. Your processor pool being fluffed up. A virtual mint on your pillow." He half-smiles. "I'm not much good as a team leader, but l can try to be a decent host."
1513240695
The girl listens, tilting her head, nodding slightly, blinking from time to time, the dozens of little tells that subconsciously identify something as human. The holographic effect makes her look more like an open-air Skype video call than an artificial being. "You've been up for that long, but you don't sound like you're ready to sleep. Ground rules, then. You can talk about Alycia Chin no more than three times. And I'll talk about Leo no more than that. So choose your moments wisely." She clasps her hands together and leans into the invitation. "If that's fair, then tell me about being team leader. Or anything else that's on your mind."
"Well, jeez, that's hardly more than once per instance. I think you have the advantage there." He closes his eyes, and is quiet long enough that her suggestion that he isn't ready to sleep almost seems a bad bet. At last, he says, "This isn't fair, because I don't ... think of you as 'real' in the same way I think of a ... well, meat person, as real. Which is stupid and unfair and not nice. And I apologize. But it makes it too easy for me to just dump on you in a way that I wouldn't do with the others." He heaves a deep breath, looks at her. "Who aren't really simply human, either. A ghost. A super-human genius. A mutant who can think a thousand times as fast as me. A kid possessed by a power from the cosmos. We're all freaks down below." He makes in inarticulate growling sound. "Can't tell your players without a program." He takes another breath, closing his eyes again. His face smooths. "If I could prioritize what is on my mind, I wouldn't need to talk about it. 'Untidy minds are the devil's workshop.' Dad used to say that. Fuck him, but it's true."  Jason's eyes snap open. "I lost control tonight. I might have hurt someone. Someone important. I've gone from a menace to myself to a menace to others, even folk I care about. I can't lead if I'm that way. I can't even -- what if I do  let go? I'm angry so much of the time, how the hell do I keep from being the next menace the team has to face?"
1513242943
"If you're angry, and feel like you lack direction, and you're worried you'll hurt someone, there's one answer I've seen work." Numina paces casually, slowly, making a circuit around Jason's chair. "You find someone you look up to. You measure yourself against them. You take their example as your own, and you try to live up to it. You see everything they do as a challenge to do better. But you also care about their opinion, and crave their respect. This way, they become a fence that keeps you in place." "In short, you need to get yourself a Jason Quill."
1513261444
Doyce T.
Pro
Sheet Author
Bill G. said: "In short, you need to get yourself a Jason Quill." {from the audience couch: "yaaaaaaaaaasssss"}
"Great, then I can talk to myself that  way, too." He holds up a hand. "No, I -- get what you're saying. I just -- there's really nobody around I feel that way about. Dad? Rusty? I'm -- I'm trying to actually not  let them affect my actions. There's the local hero scene, but -- nobody there i really respect. So, what, politicians?" He shakes his head. "I wish. I wish there were someone I could just turn to, ask what to do, foist this whole thing off on." Jason looks up at Numina. "Jesus. 'One answer you've seen work"? Don't tell me Leo treats me as some sort of example. I mean, he's said some nice things, yay team, but he's kind of -- well, after tonight, I'm probably not  the best example for anyone, if I ever was." He looks back to the pizza box, sighs, and takes the last piece there, something covered in vegies and now-coagulated cheese.
1513273032
"I'm not just talking about him, Jason. Other people look up to you too. I do, you know." Numina takes a step back, spending a moment marshaling words. "Our heroes don't have to be fully real. We use the public personae of superheroes and celebrities as icons, even if they're fallible people in real life. That's why it hurts so much when they let us down. And they will." She looks more directly at Jason. "You will let people down, every so often. It happens. It's okay. We'll forgive you. And we'll hope you forgive us, too, when our time comes."
Jason looks up sharply at Numina when she says she looks up to him, as if trying to assess her sincerity. Is it weird to be looked up to by an AI? It was different than verbal sparring with the AI in the Quill systems. They acted like people, but there was always a sense that they were following some sort of algorithmic process. Pneuma -- and Numina -- somehow felt  different. More real, if not altogether human. Well, why should they be altogether human? "It's not just letting folks down, though -- well not just that, but some of that." A heavy sigh. "It's also being aware that I could be a menace to people if I l lose my temper. I mean, I sort of tore apart a car without thinking about it, because I was so angry at things, and --" He shakes his head. "Anyway, one more area of concern around my powers, yippee. I just hope nothing -- nothing more -- happens that needs forgiveness in that way. I hope Adam --" Another short shake of the head. He looks up at Numina and smiles, tightly. "And thanks for the --" A wave of the hand. "-- forgiveness thing. I -- probably need to forgive myself first, and that's not going to happen soon, but -- well, I appreciate it." Jason cocks his head. "How are you  doing? I mean, this day didn't quite end the way you were expecting, either. Is there anything --" A vague gesture with both hands. "-- you need?"
1513278816
"I need to reach you," Numina says, earnestly. She softens her voice, trying to wring out any hint of accusation for what comes next. "And I need you to stop brooding in this castle full of ghosts and regret." She gestures around her. "I think... and you can tell me if I'm wrong... that you're looking for something from these AIs you made for yourself. Absolution. Love, that you didn't get from the originals. Maybe something only you know. Maybe something you don't know or can't name. I apologize if I'm overstepping, but this situation feels familiar to me." The girl straightens up, draws her features into a serious mien. "I'm using up one of my Leos. When he was younger, Leo was a bully. It doesn't make me proud to say that, but you need to hear it. You've lost parents. So did he, even if they aren't dead. They took him, from home to home to home. He grieved, not like you, but similarly I think. But he couldn't cope. So he lashed out. He let his anger get the best of him. What you're afraid of doing now. It was the rage of a storm, fierce lightning and distant thunder and sheets of rain, all bottled up in the shape of a boy, and when it got loose, people got hurt." "The storm came because he bottled it up. He didn't share. When we came into the picture - Otto and I - we helped him open up. Sometimes we made him. I can't do that to you. But I can ask you. Please. Don't close off. Don't deflect. Show me the real Jason, no matter how badly you sometimes think of him."
Jason looks at her, then shudders slightly. "I -- well, I was honestly asking about how you were doing --" His eyes drift to the side. "and, yeah, probably honestly deflecting, too. Sorry." He shakes his head. "Sorry about the sorry." A sigh. He looks back to her. "Yeah, it's -- easier, maybe. Sort of. To talk to the AIs here. Maddening, because they're not real, and I can still tell. But easier. Safer. I always know where they'll be. They can't be too busy, or in the middle of something, or --" Another vague gesture. "-- sad or disappointed or angry or anything. Anything real, at least. When Not-Dad -- the Dad AI here -- when he gets angry or snarky or whatever, it only bugs me because it reminds me of the real one, not because I'm afraid he'll --" He shrugs. "-- whatever. But I can talk with them, which is ... something." "So maybe that's it. Just someone to talk with. On my own terms. I don't have to explain stuff -- they understand it or can look up the records and respond mostly appropriately." He snorts. "God, that sounds really pathetic when I say it out loud." Jason looks at her. "Leo's really lucky, he's got you, and Otto. And you. Both of you. Youse." He shakes his head. "I mean, I know the story there is more complicated than that. And there's that people getting hurt thing you mentioned. But you've helped him -- I can see that, even when he's all gritting-teeth and smoldering vows of vengeance. And I --" "Rrg," he growls to himself. "I just want Adam to forgive me. I mean, the last thing he needed --" He holds up a hand, stopping himself. "Hey, I want some more pizza. You want -- er, want to watch me, um, eat some pizza? And talk some more? In the kitchen?"
1513287994
Numina nods, with that warm smile she can somehow manage as a projection. "The three of us - now four, I guess - can talk to each other because we share so much experience, and know each other so well. We might not always like what we hear, but we'll never ever misunderstand each other. So it doesn't sound pathetic at all. It sounds comforting." "So yes, let's get some pizza and talk. You can tell me about Adam, if you want, or about anything else you like."
Jason walks over to the kitchen, his stride not bouncy but less trudging than it was a few minutes before. There are more pizza boxes there -- Harry always grabs more than even he can consume -- and Jason nabs another slice of pepperoni and mushroom. He takes a bite, leaning against the counter. He chews it thoughtfully, then sets down the piece before continuing. "I drove Adam home. He's having problems with the Concordance talking in his head and not saying very nice things there. So we were parked in front of his house, trying to finish up the conversation, and I was trying to cheer him up, make him feel part of the team, but not say anything that would make the Concordance try to destroy the planet or something ..." "... when this cop taps on the window, and turns out it's his dad, and he sends Adam inside, then he starts reaming me a new one about -- how disappointing I was --" The bitterness is thick in his voice. "-- as team leader, how Adam was working so hard but I wasn't on-side as fast or as long and not supporting him, and that damned press conference, and Harry was a better leader, and I just wasn't --" Jason closes his eyes and breathes deeply, fingers white on the counter edges. His nanobot shirt ripples slightly, like tree leaves in a breeze.
1513290462
Numina follows, and listens, and doesn't speak for a few moments. But as Jason breathes, she reaches out, and Jason feels the warmth of a hand, just for a moment, on his shoulder. Perhaps she found a way to interface with his nanobots, to let them simulate the feeling of contact. Perhaps the nanobots themselves are smart enough to respond to the hologram. Perhaps it's just his imagination. Or perhaps some things just don't need an explanation. "Adam's father is worried about his son, isn't he. And you're worried about Adam too."
There's a shiver at the touch that isn't the nanobots, but Jason draws in, and lets out, one more breath. "Yeah. Of course. I mean, even I wouldn't recommend life-and-death struggles with evil for a 12-year-old kid. Even one with his power. And I'm one of the few people out there who've done just that." A small shake of the head.  Jason slips away from her touch to pace around the kitchen island, gesturing as he talks. "So he was shouting -- no, not shouting, just saying  stuff. And all I could think of was how I'd fucked up all day, and all this stuff with Dad, and what he  would say in this circumstance, and all the Alycia -- all that stuff, the press conference, the airport, all that -- and I just lost it. I started shouting and yelling -- and the next thing I knew, I'm standing fifteen feet tall, the car's been torn up, the nanobots are like an angry beehive, and Adam's dad looks like he can't decide whether pulling his gun would be the best decision in the world of the worst -- "And then this flash of light, and I'm falling  from the sky a thousand feet over the Matheson Expressway and 64th, and --" He puts up his hand, stops talking for a second, then says to the ceiling, "Not-Dad, shut up, take a note to Barbara, to deliver when she gets on email, police will probably have one of the Quill Priuses -- the remains of one -- in impound, and will probably want to know more about why it fell out of the sky. I'll give her the details later. Not-Dad off." He looks at Numina, a slight smile on his lips. "Sorry. If I tried to remember to do that until later I'd forget, and Barbara hates getting surprised by the police. "Anyway, long story short, I survived, nobody got killed but Adam -- and it was Adam, I recognized that light signature -- but Adam's well and truly pissed at me because I was threatening his dad and being -- something -- not leaderly. Ugh." Jason grabs another piece of pizza -- this one sausage -- and chews down on it.
1513292953
The clipped memo dictation elicits a brief giggle from Numina. She listens to the rest, and watches the pizza disappear, satisfied for now with Jason's current level of openness. "I like eating. Love it in fact. I just don't have to. So eating is like.. a special occasion for me. Like going to the movies, or going out with friends. I'm also a terrible cook, because I season everything for how it'll taste but not how it'll digest, because nothing ever bothers me. So that looks great to me, but I can't imagine what it'll do to you later." She watches a few more bites go by. "Are you sure Adam is angry? Or are you sure it was Adam that's angry, I could also say. It sounds like he has another presence he needs to manage."
Jason starts slightly at her first comment. "How do you --? Oh. Right. I've gotten so that I think of you as a holograph. You've got a whole memory of having your, um, body. That's -- jeez -- well, you're taking it calmly. More calm than I would be. But ... I don't want you to think I'm deflecting again." He looks at the pizza, back at Numina. "But now I'm trying to think of how I could offer you some pizza. Can you ... replay a sensory memory? Of eating? Would that work? I'm kind of feeling guilty about eating while you can't." Another upheld hand. "Sorry, still letting myself get distracted. I've just had being a good host drummed into me. A lot." He takes another piece of sausage pizza. "I hadn't thought about that -- that it might be the Concordance talking through Adam, or even just talking to  Adam about how he should react." He frowns. "I don't know that it makes that much difference. Given what he saw, it would be a natural reaction even without that 'presence' he needs to 'manage.' God, we are all so  messed up. Except maybe Harry. Maybe Charlotte, aside from being dead. I mean, that means we have something in common, I guess, but I worry about whether we're going to do more damage than we stop."
1513295207
"I'm having fun watching you eat. Mirror neurons." The girl taps the side of her head with an impish smile. "Seeing someone else do something makes you experience it too. All of the cheese-flavored memories, none of the fat. But I appreciate the offer." "It's natural to worry. And you worry so much about your friends, Jason. It means you care, and that's good. But you know you can overdo it too, don't you." Her smile falters, and her eyes pinch up a little. "I'm actually not taking things all that well. I've lived without a material body before, briefly. It's mostly that..." For someone who encouraged free and open discussion, she hesitates for a long time. "The incarnate Pneuma rejected me. I rejected myself. So now who am I? That's what I have to struggle with, unless she changes her mind. The way she's depicted her experience, I'm not fully sure whether not I'd want to merge too. And that's difficult. And not just on us." She doesn't name names, but doesn't have to. "Choosing who to be, feeling like you're a real person.. it's something I'm still working on anyway. This incident just felt like a big step backward. You telling me you didn't see me as real hurt too. But, I'm more grateful you were honest with me, and you recognized that and apologized. Thank you for that. I don't know if all this is 'messed up' enough for me to be part of your group, but it's all I can offer right now." She finishes the explanation by mustering up a faint smile, but not a false one.
"I'm having fun watching you eat. Mirror neurons." The girl taps the side of her head with an impish smile. "Seeing someone else do something makes you experience it too. All of the cheese-flavored memories, none of the fat. But I appreciate the offer. "Man, if Leo could patent that, he'd make a fortune. 'Here, let me much on this celery while I think about cheetos.' It would be like printing money." He cocks a blond eyebrow. "Y'know, Leo's got a lot of ideas. Maybe we could both make some money out of that." He stops. "I mean, wow, that sounded pretty Gordon Gekko. What I mean is, I've got ties to an organization that deals with turning hypertechnology into commercially viable products. Maybe we could do something so Leo doesn't have to crash on people's couches." He munches on his pizza. "Maybe when things settle down." He rolls his eyes. "It's natural to worry. And you worry so much about your friends, Jason. It means you care, and that's good. But you know you can overdo it too, don't you. Jason shrugs, uncomfortably. "Yyyeah. I know. I -- I'm kind of winging this? I mean, when we --" He pauses, then continues, voice a bit lower. "When my family, when we were together, we all watched each other's back, but Dad was there, setting policy. Rusty was there, shooting people. I just had to make sure Brigand was on the Dragonfly before we fled the collapsing alien island spaceship thing, or be Amir's 'buddy' so that we didn't leave him behind, or leave me behind. Being in charge, taking the responsibility --" He tears off a piece of pizza with particular vehemence. "It's tough to triangulate. Am I worrying too much? Am I worrying enough? Am I driving myself nuts worrying about others? Should I worry more about me? Adam's dad --" Another pause. "He didn't quite say that I wasn't worrying enough about Adam. Or the team. Maybe I shouldn't pay attention to him -- what does he know? But he's a cop, and Adam's dad, and maybe he does  know." He looks over at Numina. "And if I make a mistake, people could die. My people -- my friends.  It's not something I want to 'err' about, y'know?" Her smile falters, and her eyes pinch up a little. "I'm actually not taking things all that well. I've lived without a material body before, briefly. It's mostly that..." For someone who encouraged free and open discussion, she hesitates for a long time. "The incarnate Pneuma rejected me. I rejected myself. So now who am I? That's what I have to struggle with, unless she changes her mind. The way she's depicted her experience, I'm not fully sure whether not I'd want to merge too. And that's difficult. And not just on us." She doesn't name names, but doesn't have to. "Choosing who to be, feeling like you're a real person.. it's something I'm still working on anyway. This incident just felt like a big step backward. You telling me you didn't see me as real hurt too. But, I'm more grateful you were honest with me, and you recognized that and apologized. Thank you for that. I don't know if all this is 'messed up' enough for me to be part of your group, but it's all I can offer right now." She finishes the explanation by mustering up a faint smile, but not a false one. Jason looks stricken. "Jesus. That's -- not what I -- well, yeah, it's what I meant, but not what I meant.  And ... I said it was stupid to think that way. And it was. I --" He snorts. "People worry all this stuff I've been doing with AIs is going to mean I get mixed up and think unreal things are real. I think it's the other way around, if my having this broad of a continuum means I mistake things that real as less real than they are --" He pauses, looks up, Did I say that right?,  and nods. "-- then that's an even bigger problem." He walks over toward her, stopping a few feet away. "You're real , Numina. You're as real as I am, in how it counts. You're not ... human , because your perceptions, your experience, are so different. But, I mean, we've got a ghost, and someone with space alien voices in his head, and someone who can run down for pizza and be back before I can get the red peppers out, and a cartoon character leader, and all that. 'Human' isn't a job requirement. You're ... real. Please poke me with something if I make that mistake again. I mean it. His jaw works for a moment. "I've been treated as something not quite real. It's -- not something I want to do to anyone  else."
1513309472

Edited 1513309581
Numina smiles softly. "I call myself human, not because I'm flesh and blood, but because I 'descend from the heritage of humanity', I think is the phrase. You're human, but you're also a primate, a mammal, and many other things. The human family is big, and it keeps growing." She poses, holding up a hand, chin high. "Hath not a robot eyes? Hath not a robot hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer as homo sapiens is? If you prick us, do we not leak? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you damage us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?" "I admit I left a few out. And I'm not very keen on revenge." She laughs. "You know, I never read the full play, but that speech stayed with me. So did what followed it. Someone saying 'the quality of mercy is not limited, but falls like a gentle rain from heaven'. I think you and I could both use some mercy in our lives, Jason. So I forgive you. Will you forgive yourself? For everything - or at least a few things?"
Jason looks down. His voice is soft. "You make it very hard to say no." He returns his gaze to her. "How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a weary world." * He chuckles. "Same play. Act 5. Shakespeare's cool." ** His face sobers. "I'm trying to do some good deeds. So maybe ... candle ... light ... little." He raises an eyebrow. "Is that enough few things for this weary primate mammal human?" ------ *  Source ** No,  really
1513316577
"It's something, so I'll take it," Numina says. "And remember. Candles can flicker. Candles can burn, if you get too close. We still need candles to chase away the darkness, as imperfect as they are." Her posture grows straighter, her voice more assured. "You want to do right by Adam. What does Adam need right now?"
Jason ducks his head, smiling. "If nothing else, you have a great command of metaphor. Or is it simile? I can never remember which one is the 'like or as.' Anyway, you smoke the Turing Test. Better than a lot of meat humans I know." ... "God. Adam needs his family. But ... I think he needs us, too. They keep him grounded in humanity. We keep him ... grounded in ... um ... whatever we are. We help him cope with his powers. Help him, maybe, control the Concordance thingie." He raises an eyebrow. "That's a technical term." A deep breath, slowly let out. "He needs friends who understand him. Who can mentor him. Support him. Make him feel like he's in charge, a hero, a contributor." A slightly twisted smile. "A Jason Quill he can look up to. As opposed to a Jason Quill who's nano-roiding out." He holds up a hand. "Yeah, I know. 'Every day, in every way, I'm getting better and better.' That's Émile Coué, not Shakespeare." He looks back to her. "So how do I do that? I mean, assuming he ever comes back. Or that his dad lets him." He bites his lower lip. "His dad. I should call him. Try to explain. Apologize. I know, I know, stupid, it's just going to make things worse, force him to set down a decision about Adam not coming back. But ... I have to face my mistakes. do something about them. And ... I need to get his dad on board with this. Convince him we can help him -- Adam." 
1513321891
"All of that sounds very wise. Apologies are never stupid, if they are called for. If you want me along when you have that conversation, I will do my best to be there in some form." Numina laces her fingers together, lets out a brief sigh - how long has she been awake for that matter? - and regains her smile. "And what does Jason Quill need right now?"
"Ha!" He laughs a bit too much for the occasion. "A shower. A piece of pizza that's not coagulated. Twelve hours of sleep." He rubs his forehead. "Four ibuprofin. Three french hens." He shakes his head. "You know the best thing I did after Dad died -- or fell into another dimension, or whatever-the-fuck he did? I got rid of every single bottle of beer and booze that I could find. The liquor cabinet. The wine cellar (I had that stuff crated up and given to Barbara and Hannah as a Christmas gift). Rusty's stash. All of it. Because I knew that my next step in my isolation was to start drinking, and I knew where that would lead." He taps his forehead. " 'I am the Supreme Jason. I'm not entirely dim.' And it's even a better decision now that I'm the guy who's in charge, hardy-har, because, damn, it would be a temptation. But now I'd have to go out to get it, or order it for delivery ... and that's just a half-step more than I'm willing to let myself do." He chuckles. "Though Rusty taught us how to make a still. I guess I could do that. If I had a few hours to spare. Which I don't." He focuses on Numina. "Jason Quill probably needs to call Officer Ansari, first name shamefully unknown unless I look it up. Jason Quill doesn't want to do this, because he is drop-dead tired, and he's terrified of saying the wrong thing, and disgusted with what he did (little candles and marginal self-forgiveness notwithstanding), and really, really worried that Adam won't want to come back, or won't be allowed to come back, and it will be my fault. But letting that whole thing fester for any longer than it has will only make it worse." Jason starts pulling leftover pizza from the boxes and putting it into plastic containers. "And Jason Quill won't mention how he's not sure if he needs his Dad back, but how he could really use a girlfr--" And he stops. And he pauses with the pizza-packing, then continues, stacking the empty boxes neatly on one of the counters.
1513329727
Numina's face registers a small, careful smile. "It sounds like you need sleep, yes. I'm sorry I can't help put the pizza away. But it's okay to wake me up if you need to talk again before tomorrow morning." "I'm proud of the good you've done, Jason. And, I feel better too. My life here is in your hands. After tonight, I feel I can trust you more. I hope you can trust me too, and always."
1513329787
*** Dave H. said: "And Jason Quill won't mention how he's not sure if he needs his Dad back, but how he could really use a girlfr--"  Elsewhere, Leo:
Jason's smile is a bit askew, but he looks dead on his feet, so perhaps that can be forgiven. "You're a member of the team, Numina. A member of the Menagerie. The family. Of course you can trust me, and everyone else here. Anything I can do to --" He gestures vaguely. "-- make your stay more comfortable, or -- well, I offered Leo any body parts he needed to scavenge from the warehouse, so anything like that -- you're welcome to it." He looks at Numina for several long moments, then looks up at the ceiling. "Not-Dad, verbal response only, what are the hours for third shift police in the HCPD?" Byron Quill's voice comes out over the omnipresent speakers. "Third shift constitutes 11pm to 7am. However, Jason --" "Shut. Up." Jason smiles. Byron's voice falls silent. "Me and Harry Mudd." He looks at Numina. "I'll set an alarm, catch a few Zs before the deluge. Or before I call Adam's dad." He pauses, then walks over to her, stopping again a few feet away. He stands there a moment, then gives a half-bow. "Thanks. Really. This was ... a real help. Really. lf someone like you thinks -- well, it's all good. Please, let me know if there's anything I can do -- as your host. Or your -- friend." He smiles. "Leo is a very, very, very  lucky man." He snorts, slightly, then heads for the stairs to his room. Just keep walking, Jason,  he thinks to himself.
1513331068
Sounds like a logical stopping point. Thanks, I hope this was good. :)
Oh, I'm pretty happy with it. :-) A few conversational items I had thought of that never quite gelled, and it wasn't quite the "Jason really needs to go on a date" thing we originally floated, but it was good. Hopefully it was good for Numena, too. Doyce, I assume we'll deal with Jason's early morning phone call in-game? Actually, Jason's trying to figure out how to meet with Adam's dad in person without seeming to stalker-y. I suspect he can suss out his mobile number and text him to meet at a coffee shop near his precinct after shift, or something like that.
1513355394
Doyce T.
Pro
Sheet Author
*** Dave H. said: Doyce, I assume we'll deal with Jason's early morning phone call in-game? Actually, Jason's trying to figure out how to meet with Adam's dad in person without seeming to stalker-y. I suspect he can suss out his mobile number and text him to meet at a coffee shop near his precinct after shift, or something like that. Absolutely, or we can knock it out on the forums as well, if you like. Your call.
1513356159

Edited 1513356210
Doyce T.
Pro
Sheet Author
Leo's dice are hot all the time, I guess. I'm quite sure the opening up part happened.
1513357197

Edited 1513357213
On the contrary, it feels like exactly the sort of thing that will get Jason to start thinking about going on a date. At least to me. We talked earlier about asking physical Pneuma if she had seen a distortion effect at the press conference, and I wonder how much this conversation would affect that one.
1513357653

Edited 1513357694
Pneuma and now Numina are also the sort of people who will politely sidestep certain topics. If there are specific topics you wanted picked up but weren't, list them and I can suggest why they weren't.
1513357813

Edited 1513357853
I'm quite sure the opening up part happened. Y'think? :-) All things considered, I really should clear "Insecure". Which, mirabile dictu, leaves Jason conditionless again.  Actually, I need to write a "Jason processes this shit" scene, though I can't decide if Jason lies in bed thinking about it, or thinks about it in the morning. Hmmm. Y'know, Jason was actually trying to do a Comfort & Support on Numina, too. I don't know if that counts on an NPC, or can lend its effects through to Leo, but if so it'd be worth a roll.  Absolutely, or we can knock it out on the forums as well, if you like. Your call Since it only directly involves one player, let me open up another forum thread.
Bill G. said: On the contrary, it feels like exactly the sort of thing that will get Jason to start thinking about going on a date. At least to me. It might at that. We talked earlier about asking physical Pneuma if she had seen a distortion effect at the press conference, and I wonder how much this conversation would affect that one. Oh, it easily could.  I'm also trying to decide the extent to which Jason would over-expect or under-expect differences between Pneuma and Numina. Particularly if the latter's hologram looks like (I assume) the former's body. Pneuma and now Numina are also the sort of people who will politely sidestep certain topics. If there are specific topics you wanted picked up but weren't, list them and I can suggest why they weren't. Oh, not much of significance, nor anything that Numina would have a particular reason to sidestep, except to the effect that she was generally trying to shape this a conversation to help Jason. Sometimes conversations, consciously or unconsciously, don't get to every topic that someone thinks of. :-)
In the morning, as Jason is apparently getting ready to go out (and eating a piece of cold pizza for breakfast), he'll call out (politely) to her, and do a "Hey, I wanted to let you know, I enjoyed our talk last night. It was ... good. If you want to chat some time, or unload about stuff, or whatever, y'know, let me know." kind of thing. ((No need to RP, it's a more of a quick social interaction -- Jason realizes, if nothing else, he has a house guest for the moment -- than an entree to a another major conversation. He really does have to go out and put his head in the lion's den.)) ... Hmm. As a guest, he'll also give her guest-level privs to the computer and entertainment systems, so she has something to do today, can call out to Leo and Pneuma and Otto as desired, etc. If that wasn't already possible. I seem to recall we had restored her into a air-gapped separate system, but obviously I connected her enough to the rest of the house to operate the hologram projector. (Next up: AI Byron Quill: "And what are your  intentions toward my son ...?")
1513359185
I assume they look the same for now, and would until they sorted out their mutual feeling on merging. At that point they either merge or probably start to differentiate quickly. I think reverse C&S would come about with Numina reassuring Leo she is in good hands at Jason's, if Doyce is fine with that (and if you make the roll...). I think Numina's "I trust you more now" near the end, and explaining her motives ("I'm on life support and your house is the hospital, but the nurse is your Nemesis") support her having opened up. I wouldn't say no to marking potential either. :)
Not sure which would be worse. Make the roll : "Leo, I just want you to know, Jason has been very comforting and supportive of me here at his home. He's treating me very nicely, and I'm feeling much better thanks to him ..." Miss the roll : "Leo, I just want you to know, Jason was trying to comfort and support me here at his home last night, but I'm not feeling particularly comfortable or supported by the things he said to me about not being human or even real, and trying to get me to eat pizza with him, and ..." In either case, hilarity ensues. (There doesn't seem to actually be an effect for missing a C&S roll, but ...)
1513364459
Here's the difference. On success: "Hey Leo. I feel safe here. Jason had a good emotional opening up and I think he's feeling better than he was. Things seem to have calmed down on this end. No matter what happens, I trust you both." On failure: "Hey Leo. I spent last night with Jason Quill. He had a rough day and seemed like he could use some care. He recited Shakespeare to me and we had pizza. He's actually a very gentle person. Oh, and his nanobots can do amazing things. Anyway, I'm doing just fine here!"
1513371942
This whole conversation was very positive for me in another way. Leo would love to get back with Pneuma (one or both, honestly, he's kinda selfish about her). As a player, I would be okay whether or not he does, but I'm also sort of rooting for him. :) But a key part of that is selling Pneuma as a woman that Leo would believably move heaven and earth for. If Jason Quill went from "oh hey, another soulless hologram" to "where can I find a girl like that" in the space of one conversation, I feel I have achieved that goal. So thanks to Dave for making that a thing.
1513372767

Edited 1513372942
Doyce T.
Pro
Sheet Author
*** Dave H. said: (There doesn't seem to actually be an effect for missing a C&S roll, but ...) Many moves don't specifically spell out what happens on a 6- -- you just go to appropriate GM moves and make them, hard. Many custom moves spell out the 6- because they're much more specialized to a particular situation, so failure results are much more predictable. The big core moves can go wrong in so many different ways, depending on circumstances, they don't spell it out; same is true for stuff like Directly Engage, Defend, et cetera. A six on a C&S might look like what happened with Jason losing it at Adam's dad when he was TRYING to make Adam feel better... Or it could look like Link: [rolls a 5] "Hey Leo. I spent last night with Jason Quill. He had a rough day and seemed like he could use some care. He recited Shakespeare to me and we had pizza. He's actually a very gentle person. Oh, and his nanobots can do amazing things. Anyway, I'm doing just fine here!"  GM: Okay Leo, Take a Powerful Blow. Or a hundred different things. Sort of depends.
Jason's had, I think, a polite but somewhat stand-offish thing about Pneuma (and Otto) so far. Intellectually he understands that they are extraordinary AI, but he hasn't been thinking of the as people,  just more like clever toys or self-indulgent pets. Not with vitriol (he has some sympathy to Leo that he had to go to such lengths to create friends), but absently. His own experience with the less sophisticated Quill AI* reinforces that. AI Byron can shake him up because he looks and sounds a lot like his Dad, but in a stereotypical way; his reactions are to the reactions Byron has already reared him up to have. AI Alycia can shake him up because she looks and sorta-acts like the real thing, and is clever enough to play on that confusion (customer service means understanding your customer!). But he's been adamant about not creating a romantic interest because he knows that would be shallow and unsatisfying and kind of porny. And that "knowledge" (or not as-applicable-as-he-thinks example) has colored his perceptions of Leo and Pneuma (and Otto, and, even more so, the disembodied Pneuma restored backup) . That started to change when Pneuma was kidnapped -- both Leo's reaction and hers  showed there might be something more there. Ditto the whole thing with Rossum and his message and the reaction not to just the father-son issues, but to Pneuma's violation.  This wasn't just "hey, he taped a note to my motorcycle and that really messes up the paint," but an actual reaction as if Pneuma was  human. He probably still sees P & N a bit as Other -- not that biology is destiny, but that perceptions shape the person and their perceptions of the world are perforce significantly different from us meat people. But he sees them (well, Numina at the moment, and by extension Pneuma) as people  now. There may be some incautious backsliding (old mindsets die hard), but I think it was a real growth experience for Jason, too.  So thanks to Bill  for making that a thing. ------ * And I've been taking real pains to make that clear, that I'm not trying to step on Bill's/Leo's schtick here, but at most play with some tangential ideas.
Leo: (Walks in.) Jason: Leo! Hey, great, I wanted to tell you, I've had such an epiphany, it's like --" Leo: (Punches Jason in the nose.)
1513373362

Edited 1513373412
Doyce T.
Pro
Sheet Author
*** Dave H. said: So thanks to Bill  for making that a thing. As characters, Otto and Pneuma have allowed us a way to introduce or further explore: Ableism Granting and/or recognizing personhood for the perceived "other" Assault, the victims thereof, and the often thoughtless perpetrators of same Self-determination And I very much doubt I've either listed everything or that they will stop providing such story avenues. So I'll second that thanks. Great stuff. (Also, we're now 3 for 5 on characters talking to alternate personalities in their head in some fashion, or nearly. :) (Also also, I find it kind of weird and perfect that out of all the people he could have talked with, Jason still managed to connect with a non-touchable, virtual person. Again.)
1513374272
*** Dave H. said: * And I've been taking real pains to make that clear, that I'm not trying to step on Bill's/Leo's schtick here, but at most play with some tangential ideas. I actually dig seeing the similarities play out. I see Leo and Jason almost like step-brothers or some other similar relation at this point, both dealing with very similar issues in very different ways. Examples... Problem Area Jason's Response Leo's Response There's some high-tech shenanigans going on. Reverse the polarity of the neutron flow. Hit it really hard. I'm lonely and need companionship. Resurrect my nemesis as a snarky hologram and verbally spar with her. Build people who are as close to human as possible, then make a family with them. Housing and lifestyle. Snazzy ultra-tech fortress with all the usual refinements. Sleep on the sofa, play XBox, rent movies. Looking cool. Fell out of the sky onto a car, manage to make my way into several girls' selfies and impress them. Chem lab partner with a pyromaniac and a stalker. Hopes for the future. Need a girlfriend, need to be cool team leader and maturely apologize to teammate's cop dad. Not get evicted from the Gale house after the HHL throws the book at us. Fears for the future. My dad coming back. My dad coming back.
(Also also, I find it kind of weird and perfect that out of all the people he could have talked with, Jason still managed to connect with a non-touchable, virtual person. Again.) Any number of reasons -- opportunity, among them. But also, riffing back to that how-he's-seen-AIs theme, she was simply (well, not so simply) not as much of an emotional threat. It's easy to  spill your guts to ELIZA  -- and ELIZA doesn't suggest you do difficult things after you spill your guts.  He might assess things differently next time.
Fell out of the sky onto a car, manage to make my way into several girls' selfies and impress them In retrospect, that was such  a Tony Stark moment. Good thing Jason was oblivious to it. And, perhaps, slightly concussed. My dad coming back. Well, there's always some conflict in that "I must get my dad back! I don't want my dad back!" Jason is (or was, but will be again) getting a bit past that, as he's established an identity that transcends being The Kid (The Blond One). In part why I made myself permanently immune to Byron Quill's influence. In some ways, seeing that stuff coming from the Not-Dad helped make that easier. As to what his deepest fear is -- well, again, I think it's one that Leo shares: being alone. In fact, though I haven't thought about it for a while, he had a rather awful daydream in the " Jason Meets Security Cam Alycia " cutscene of becoming a lonely old man, maintaining the Quill Warehouse of Things That Can't Be Disposed Of.
1513583073

Edited 1513585819
Doyce T. said: As characters, Otto and Pneuma have allowed us a way to introduce or further explore: Ableism Granting and/or recognizing personhood for the perceived "other" Assault, the victims thereof, and the often thoughtless perpetrators of same Self-determination And I very much doubt I've either listed everything or that they will stop providing such story avenues. I thought for a bit about how to put this, so here goes. And without getting into specifics (both for privacy of the individuals, and because these forums are public). Versions of the things that Otto and Pneuma have undergone are all things I've witnessed with close friends, and stuff we haven't even seen yet has some mirror as well (for example, is it so strange if Leo wanted a relationship with both Pneuma and Numina? I know happy poly people in real life). The life experiences of people around me helped forge these two characters. By telling their story, I hope to honor the experiences and influences of those real people. At the same time, it's important to me to not simply hold types of real people up for inspection and say "look how progressive we are for talking about this". People aren't exhibits. But by depicting these issues through the lens of clearly fictional creations - robots - I can talk about them in what I hope is a respectful fashion. The original Star Trek and many other shows use this technique effectively and (I think) respectfully, challenging racism and other social issues via scifi stand-ins. I think everyone in the game is doing a good job with touchy topics, and I'm grateful for everyone for coming with me on this trip.
Well said. And, fwiw, none of this stuff seems to be being set up as either self-righteous polemic or self-congratulatory demonstrations of progressiveness (nor, on the opposite extreme, exploitation), but as a respectful and interesting exploration of these issues in a dramatic (and occasionally comedic) setting. Which is kind of what fiction should do. is it so strange if Leo wanted a relationship with both Pneuma and Numina? Of course not. It would be strange if the thought never crossed his mind, and not just in a salacious fashion.