Masks 17.4 - Jason chats with ... himself [Cutscene]

This takes place ... probably the afternoon of that next day, right after school.  ------ I sit in my room, in the dark. It's an artificial dark -- it's still day out. But the armored shutters on the window over the garden are closed and sealed. They're good (I'm told, it's never been tested for real) against 20mm armor piercing shells, and an equivalent amount amount laser, maser, sonics, lightning and other such threats. If something bigger is necessary, Dad said the whole residential bloc could drop into a reinforced subbasement. Not elegantly like a Neon Genesis Tokyo 3, more like scramming a nuclear pile, but it could be -- Distractions . They're my constant enemy. Scientific equations. Pop culture trivia. Beautiful women with tits out to here. Friends. Enemies. Homework. Keeping up on tech journals. Keeping up on the DVR. So many ways to be distracted from what's really important. Rescuing Dad. Helping the City. And now, protecting the team. I sat on my ass for months . Dad was dead. Amir was all squirrely. (Or was he another distraction? Is that thought a distraction, too?) Things went along their own way. Dad was dead. I was alive. Dr. Chin was dead. Alycia was ... a threat. But it was sort of a Phoney War kind of thing. I stayed up late. I got up late. I sulked. I sat around the house. No thought required, none exercised. Any time thoughts were going to intrude, I had plenty to distract me from them. Still do. And now, here I am. The Menagerie. The whole thing. The team. And I'm in charge. And sometimes that's a crushing weight, and sometimes that's a distraction, too. And sometimes, I want  to be distracted. (I've gone back and forth on the whole "what does being leader mean?" thing. I know it's not being The Guy Giving Orders. Not me, and not with this group. But it's more than the guy with the contact information on the AEGIS forms. Right now I'm working from the "I'm responsible for the group and its welfare and its members' welfare" angle. That may still be too big, but ... it's a working hypothesis.) (O, hai, distraction!) I clear my mind. Numina.   So I've been doing this Artificial Intelligence thing for a while. Dealing with the AI that Dad left behind. Creating new AI for myself. Looking for someone to talk with. But now I've closed the windows. Turned off the lights. Cut off the computer inputs and mics and speakers and holographic projectors for thirty minutes. I can't talk with anyone. That's the idea. I've been alone for months. Even before then, I was ... not in a position to talk. I mean, with whom? Dad? You're not studying properly. How do you expect to measure up to anything? Rusty? Shoot some people, Jason, it will make you feel better. Amir? I'm a Quill, too, Jason. Get off your high horse and support the family. And now, here I am. And I'm talking to so many people. But are they the right  people? Or the right not-people? Alycia. I mean, I'm smart. I'm aware. I do those funky personality issue quizzes on the Internet, and the better ones on the Quill system. So I'm clever enough to know I have an obsession over the woman who wants to kill me. Because she's smart, and she's funny, and she almost killed me, and I almost killed her, and we -- In the Middle Ages, men and women were mated for state purposes. They occasionally came to love one another. They were often indifferent -- and unfaithful -- to each other. Sometimes they hated each other, and sought out their mates' destruction. Who is Alycia Chin? How does she feel about me? (How do I feel about her? Or is that too sensitive a question to ask myself yet?) I don't know. I have fragments of memories of experiences. I have publicity statements by her at the grounds of terrorist attacks that haven't (quite) killed anyone, but were meant as a message for me.  I have the fragments of a personality trojan horse that she intentionally planted to talk with me. I have a body full of hormones and a background of bad impulse control. I have a stupid  AI that pretends to be her, and says stupid, embarrassing things, and throws me off-balance because I've handed her the the ammunition to do so. She says things that make me think, though. Except that she also says things designed to confuse me. And she's running around inside my company's computer (and my bathroom, I think) because I gave her permission to do so. I want her so badly. But I don't trust her. Any of her. I don't trust myself with  her. And, hey, there we are back at Numina. Jesus H. Christ on a Rose Parade Float Full of Strippers. What is going on with me there? She's reached out to me, trying to help. She's an inhuman artificial intelligence. She's a thing . That's what I've been telling myself. She's the most compassionate person I've talked with for ... well, a long time. She tells me I'm a good person. A funny  person, fergoshsakes. A worthwhile person who deserves to be forgiven for my many sins. She's a person created by a friend -- by, at least, a member of my team -- as his girlfriend. And, yet, Leo's clearly not doing anything -- anything explicit -- to take advantage of that. I mean, it's crazy -- he's a teenager, he's a guy, he's created the greatest temptation of the world for himself ... and he's triumphing over it. dammit! How I can I be less than that.? How I can I let myself be led into temptation and fail, when he's been so much more successful? Is that my Dad speaking? Or me? What would Dad do about Numina? Besides study her, decompile her to see how she ticks. I never saw him in an ordinary relationship. I don't mean that because he's gay, I mean that his way of interacting with Rusty was -- not close, not distant, just unreadable. They slept in the same bed, but I never saw any sign that he cared for Rusty, except that they were together for almost as long as I can remember. I asked Rusty about it once. He just laughed and said Dad got easily distracted, so he went to great lengths to focus on one thing at a time. I come by it honestly, I guess. What would Rusty do about Numina? He'd ... probably rattle off that old joke, "Can't tell, can't swell, grateful as hell" about the idea of an AI romance. Or he'd spit at it as something unworthy of a "real man." What's a "real man"? I was able to talk with her in a way that -- I will not do this. She's an AI. Not real. No, she's real, all right. But she's not like -- Okay, fine, consider another conversation. Police Sergeant Nassir Amari. Another test. He's passionate about protecting his son. That's clear -- more than clear. And he's a cop. I've known cops around the world. I've known good cops. Bad cops. Cops who protect the law. Cops who pervert it. Cops are just people with a job. But it's not just a job. It's a mission. A vision. Some don't live up to it. Some do. I feel like Sgt. Amari is the sort who does. He's passionate about protecting his family. Passionate about his city as an extension of that. Am I a threat to that? I had a chat with him. It was a very pleasant, incredibly tense chat. He let me know, in no uncertain terms, with no equivocation, with words and tone and body language, that he is freaking terrified  over what has happened to his son, and what might happen in the future. And I'm scared for Adam, too. Jesus. He's incredibly powerful. And he's twelve year old. And he has the voice of some cosmic law enforcement organization blaring through his head. That's just -- insane. How can I help him? How can I hope  to help him? As a guy who feels like he has a dozen soft  voices running through his head, how can I hope someone feeling something distinctly real  there? I convinced Sgt. Amari to back off, to leave Adam with us. That we could help him. I have no idea how to help him. I'm just convinced that being in a normal family without any sort of outlet for his powers would only make things worse with him. But all of that assumes he's coming back to the team. Is he? No clue. Can I convince him? No idea. And in the face of all this uncertainty, part of me wants to find someone to talk to. I can't sit in a room in the dark to collect my thoughts. It would invite comment. But who to talk to? Maybe Harry, super-cool, super-family guy. He's got it so together, and a dad that tells jokes that don't involve tensor calculus. Maybe Leo, the dude who's resisted a legacy life of crime and a personal life of invented sexy-times. Yeah, we have talked, and that was cool. But there's still a weird tension there. Maybe Adam, who's already got such a loud voice in his head that I'm not sure he can hear anyone else. Yeah, let's burden a 12-year-old with my problems, too. Because the last time I tried to talk with him about his problems (last night), that all went so  well. Maybe Charlotte, who's ... dead, and doesn't have to worry about all this shit. Maybe my Not-Dad, who'd be happy to tell me everything I'm doing wrong. Maybe Travelycia, who seems designed to give me only doubts, and, worst of all, was designed by me. (Leo -- was it Leo? -- made a sarcastic comment the other day about maybe I should make a Jason Quill AI so that I'd always have someone safe to talk with. That is exactly the least safe person for me to make an AI of. Either he'd tell me the truth of what I think about myself, or he'd drive me crazy, or both. And I refuse to be that big of a narcissist.) So who does that leave? Maybe Numina, who's happy to tell me just what I want to hear: that I'm a good person. Maybe Numina, who's so seductive that I could betray a friend by giving into temptation, that I could betray myself by accepting what she says. I'm a good guy? I'm smart? I'm funny? How can I trust that assessment, vs. her desire to make me (and everyone else) happy? I can't help myself. I want that validation so much. I have to settle for smiling and saying thanks, and just disbelieving it behind the scenes. And walking a tightrope while I'm around her. I glance at the clock. It's been five minutes. So much for needing a half-hour to get my thoughts together. Should have known I don't have enough thoughts to fill all that time. I just need to keep breathing, and get to work. Maybe I'll get lucky today and we won't have a new menace attack us. Yeah, I don't think that likely, either.
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Jason flips the lights on, and manages not to jump straight through the ceiling when a voice says, "You can talk to me. I mean... you probably should, pretty soon." He turns (slowly, for a wonder), and sees "Lil'alycia" sitting at his desk chair, flipping through a worn copy of Friday . Not Heinlein's best book - Travelycia would probably guess he'd only kept it for the Michael Whelan cover.
A dozen different replies piledrive through my head. You might knock first. I thought I turned off all the mics and connections to the rest of the world. Hey, watch out for that paperback, it's a first edition!*  And then I remember some of the speculation about Li'lycia I've had, how the phenomenon seemed to be something related to my nanobots, which made me wonder if I was simply going nuts, or they were. But that would explain why she's here when everything was sealed down. Of course, given how the computer systems are in this place, that was probably a stupid thing to hope for. I settle for, "Hi. Um, yeah, we didn't get a chance to talk the other day, what with the crowds and your hasty retreat. So ... what's new?" ------ * I [Dave] actually have a great fondness for Friday, horribly too-tidy ending aside. I think it's one of Heinlein's best final era novels. It's also another apropos book in the contemplating of "What defines a person?" albeit from an artificial biological origin, vs. an artificial mechanical one. (As is Charlie Stross' riff/homage, Saturn's Children.)  
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The young girl looks at Jason over the top of the book and raises an eyebrow in the sort of expression that would make a parent groan and say 'Oh, she got that from me.' "In the last 24 hours?" She shrugs. "Nothing. You're freaking out, though, so... what's up?" Silence. Awkward silence. She looks up and rolls her eyes. "No, you're not hallucinating, this is basically the nanobots and you using the bot-brain connection in a way that would give your dad a migraine. Again. You don't have brain damage, except what you're doing to yourself, which isn't real brain damage anyway." She gets up, walks over to the stuffed bookshelf, slides Friday back, and drops into a crouch to pull a different book from a lower shelf. "I'm everything your nanobots have on me, including some meme-based brain hacking I've been experimenting with (mostly to freak you out, because I can't get it to do much that's useful), plus all the memories and impressions of me you already head -- uh, had." She squints at Jason, then rolls her eyes. "Yes, everything . Probably a bunch of stuff you don't even remember you remember." She stands and turns in a single motion and walks back toward Jason. "I got the meme hacking idea from reading Snow Crash for what was probably, like, the fiftieth time." She flickers , which is disconcerting since she doesn't otherwise look like a hologram, and her hair and clothing are different, though her age is exactly the same - if anything, she looks more ten than before, brimming with eager enthusiasm. "Seriously it's my favorite book of all time you have . to read it."  She flickers back to normal and hands Jason his own copy of the book. "But you knew that already. Or guessed it. Or part of you did. Sooo..." She drops back into the desk chair and pulls her legs up until she can rest her chin on her knees. "What's up?"
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From the audience couch : That explains everything in too a neat package, can't trust that.  And it's from an unreliable source, so you really can't trust that!  And you can't trust a hallucination that says you're not crazy...  Dammit, this explanation either doesn't explain anything or it explains everything! The peanut gallery will now be quiet until further events cause more gnashing of teeth.
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Mike said: Dammit, this explanation either doesn't explain anything or it explains everything!
I consider half a dozen stratagems, "-- and realize that's kind of useless with you. If you're what you say you are." And I think she is. It feels  right, even though that sounds crazy ... and that she's just said I'm not  crazy. "Actually, I think I was kind of lowering the freak-out gauge some on my own, but ... thanks." I shudder slightly, looking at her, then down at myself -- at them --  then back at her. "Okay, this is kind of freaking me out all on its own, even if I think I kind of already knew this. It's just --" I cock my head. "You're the thing that's destroying me, wearing the visage of the person who wants to kill me, talking directly into my brain." I tap one temple with an index finger. "So forgive me if I'm not quite leaping into warm hugs mode, our delightedly breaking into an expansive chatter like we were separated best friends. Even though, having just said that, you're also the thing that's protected me, that's given me some awesome powers, wearing the visage of the person who --" I won't say the words, because I don't really know the right ones, and it's all stupid sentimentality to have to discuss them with someone else, let alone someone else who looks like her. "-- I've been talking with in different ways a remarkable amount lately, even though it's not been with her.  And that's not for nothing. " I drop down into a chair. "So -- you're not a hallucination, nothing made-up -- but also not just a mental communication because you're manipulating books and handing them to me." I rap the book on the arm of the chair, just to demonstrate its solidity. "So you're ... nanobots in the form of Li'lycia --" The name sounds even more stupid saying it to her. "So am I seeing you in vivid color because of the communication between us, or can you actually do  that?" Because wearing something other than basic black sometimes would be a nice thing. I ponder a few moments more, thinking it through. "And you -- nanobots -- are not really intelligent (I don't think) so is this really just me being you --Alycia? The most perfect rendition of Alycia I could program, but really just me talking to myself some more?  And that's not supposed to be creepy?" I consider it from other angles. "So the subconscious sometimes puts things together that the conscience hasn't picked up on yet. So let me as you-sub-me, where's Alycia Chin? The real one? How do I get hold of her?" I've got a dozen other questions about the real Alycia, and if I can think of them, then Li'lycia is aware of them -- but I don't voice them. Not yet. Probably not ever. Or make that not for a long time, because saying "Never" is tempting the drama gods, and I think I must have angered them in a previous life.
Mike said:  That explains everything in too a neat package, can't trust that.  And it's from an unreliable source, so you really can't trust that!  And you can't trust a hallucination that says you're not crazy...  Dammit, this explanation either doesn't explain anything or it explains everything! “But I don't want to go among mad people," Alice remarked. "Oh, you can't help that," said the Cat: "we're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad." "How do you know I'm mad?" said Alice. "You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn't have come here.” ― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
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She squints, then holds up a finger: " We can do that, when it matters, but it's actually just the interface doing it 'privately' right now, probably. There's no way to externally observe this at the moment, to tell the difference. But I'm sure having all the security cameras off in here was totally unrelated ." Two fingers. "Mostly, in that the nanobots are just echoes of you, plus a bit of Alycia's hacking and your scans of her." Three. "Well, Jason chats with himself is what you decided to call this, so you tell me." Four. "Have I ever worried very much about whether I was creeping you out?" Five. "Somewhere in Halcyon City, with better than 99 percent probability." Six. "Yes." Seven. "You probably already did, with that meme image. It was better than even odds she'd drop in on you and your incredibly identifiable convertible when you walked out of the coffee shop this morning, so assume she'll show up pretty soon." "She looks over her fingers, tallying up, then nods. "My turn." She points a finger gun at Jason and clucks her tongue. "I am not wearing the face of someone who wants to kill you. That person is older than this face, so why do I have this one?" She points the other index finger at Jason. "When did we first meet?"
"You and that finger gun," I mutter, then look at her for a moment -- She shot me with a finger gun at the end of  that vision -- which was all done via the nanobots, so yeah, that all hangs together. I shrug. "You have that face to remind me of when Alycia didn't really mean it when she pointed a vortex blaster at me. Or an AK-47. Or a boomerang. Etc. To either be non-threatening, or to make me feel unthreatened, or maybe nostalgic, or possibly a bit skeevy for thinking of -- Alycia, in some of the ways. That I think of her. Sometimes. With you looking 10 years old."  See? I can be self-aware. I continue, "Assuming this isn't some trick," because I can also be paranoid, "Answer two: Space Station Alpha One. The launching of the X-Ray Telescope Q01, which your dad -- which Alycia's dad was there to blow up. And with all the dignitaries and folk up there, I was surprised to see another kid my age -- Amir was down with a bug, so he couldn't go up to the station, but I couldn't stand to be left behind and pestered Dad to get on the wait list, because freaking space station.  And when you learned who I was, you judo-threw me into the air lock -- which is a neat trick in zero-gee -- and closed the door, and I thought you were going to jettison me, but you didn't, you just ran off. And when Rusty found me, that's when Dr. Chin's plan started to fall apart, but he and you got away." I snort. "Rusty insisted on many, many more hours of judo training, including zero-gee. But, as best as I can remember, you look about like she did. Though that outfit looks more like that time in Amsterdam." I snort again. "'Best as I can remember' -- well, that's why you look that way, because it is  what I remember." I lean back. "Space stations and telescopes. I haven't thought about that encounter in forever." I feel my face grow warm. "I remember her shouting, 'My daddy's a great man!' as if that explained why she was attacking me. I didn't even know who she was until Dad told me later." "So, my turn? Why do you -- I -- think Alycia's in Halcyon City? Last I heard, she was in Pennsylvania, or so I thought. Unless she got that email already." I frown, trying to think of how many days that's been. "Well, I hope she is. As long as it's not with a sniper rifle or something exciting like that." I consider. How much of this is  Alycia? It's not just what I remember (or don't remember but have stashed in neurons somewhere or another), but all the shit from that whole vision thingie with the security cams, too, where I tried to get into Alycia's head. And she -- the real Alycia -- was screwing that that, too, I think, somewhere along the road. "Meme-based brain hacking, mostly to freak you out."   As if I need help. Regardless, this might be the best simulation of Alycia I could get, short of the real thing, with as much insight into her as perhaps the real thing has about herself. And much less likely to stab me repeatedly on sight. No, Alycia wouldn't do that. Would she? Yeah, I've had a lot of bad ideas lately. Inviting Alycia Chin to chat might be one of them. So the question is, if this is pretty darned close to Alycia, and is willing to be cooperative -- what can I get from her that will help me with the real Alycia? "So is she planning to talk, or is she still out for blood? If she's here in Halcyon City, what's she planning to do?" (( Which is a Pierce the Mask style question. Is this a situation where Piercing the Mask -- formally invoked -- would actually get me something on Alycia? Or just on myself? Or is that even necessary in this case, given Li'lycia seems so cooperative? )) ------ Note: This prompted me to add a list of  Alycia and Jason's documented-to-date encounters to the Alycia page in the Wiki.
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[Li'lycia is cooperative when the questions are functionally, about you. :) When you start asking about Alycia, it's more challenging. :) ] So, this presents options. Take the 6, mark potential, see what happens. You'll still learn stuff, Jason just won't like much of it. :) Take the 6, mark potential, but also use Dark Visions to get a question answered anyway (Potential AND Doom in one roll! Bonus!). Use a point of Team 'selfishly' to get you up to a 7. (Moving Mundane up, something else down.) That'll give you one question, the downside being what 'selfish' looks like, which I have some ideas about. (Cue: "I've got to figure what's going on, no matter what " desperation.)
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If Numina's presence nearby is any help, either to spend team selfishly or to let her spend it for him, please do so.
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Bill G. said: If Numina's presence nearby is any help, either to spend team selfishly or to let her spend it for him, please do so. [That's a good point. Option 4 would be turning on the comms and local holoprojector and telling Numina you need a second opinion. She's within range to help immediately, and is functionally Leo helping. Downside is letting Numina/Leo into Jason's hot mess. Alternately, involving her might be selfish, and let you accomplish the same thing as option 3, but with different narrative effects.]
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It sounded to me like Jason was going back to her in his mind as a source of advice and validation, I could see him selfishly but maybe helpfully doing so now. Ultimately up to him.
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Or interpret team broadly and in the context of the scene, let either the memory of their conversation, or more scary, a Jason-tinged idealized Numina, step in without the real thing making an appearance.
Bill G. said: Or interpret team broadly and in the context of the scene, let either the memory of their conversation, or more scary, a Jason-tinged idealized Numina, step in without the real thing making an appearance. Yes, because what we need is a "Jason-tinged idealized Numina" thrown into the mix. Also, I'd hate to add another character to Mike's drawing. :-)
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Mike
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Also, I'd hate to add another character to Mike's drawing. :-) No worries here.  Characters from issues 16-30 will be compiled into the part two image.  :P
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(( Man, it's all tempting -- especially to pull in Numina at this point, really ("selfishly" or not). That said, Jason's still not thinking in terms of teams, and their  helping him. And he's more the type to go to her after  the fact, crying in his beer. There's not a question on that list that Jason doesn't  want to ask. Which is out of the question. But while I would love to hear what things Jason 'just won't like much of', I think he's going to go for the question that's been on his mind constantly (since Issue 1), and is arguably the most selfish question he could ask, even if he's not thinking of it in those terms. )) -------------- I just need to talk with her. This is an opportunity to find out -- practically anything. If I can just learn enough -- if I can get her to back off this vendetta, get her to listen to me, I can get her on my side, I'm sure of it. We can -- do anything . Save our dads. Deal with Vyrkovia. Maybe even -- but I need learn how to get her to back down. I just have to be calm. Be quiet. Find out what I can. Softly. Gently. Unthreateningly ... Sgt. Amari's  voice rattles through my head. From what I've seen, the longer someone has abilities, the less any of you seem to notice that. They cut you off from people -- all the regular people you can and should be connected to, until all you see or care about are the others just like you. Cops have the same problem, but we can't drop a car out of the sky. You can, Mr. Quill. Damn. He's right. This is too important. I can't take it easy -- I can't try to be soft and caring. I'm a danger, not someone who people are going to be all mellow around. Numina's words are poised out there to try and change my mind. I could try and call her -- but Li'lycia would almost certainly vanish. I'd miss this chance ... I've got to try to force this . This is all about the nanobots? Fine. I can use them, use that same ... whatever it was, with the security cam -- do the "deep dive," find out what I really learned then and didn't realize. Take control of this directly, not dance around it. It's too important not to. I've got to find out. ------ (( So Option 2: take a Potential, use the Dark Visions, check a Doomtrack, "How do I get Alycia to give up this vendetta against me?" ))
Mike said: No worries here.  Characters from issues 16-30 will be compiled into the part two image.  :P Coming this July: Menagerie -- the Swimsuit Issue!
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*** Dave H. said: (( So Option 2: take a Potential, use the Dark Visions, check a Doomtrack, "How do I get Alycia to give up this vendetta against me?" )) I love walking through the chain of reasoning that got you down to this choice. That's really great. Stuff. Replies in the A.M.
Doyce T. said: I love walking through the chain of reasoning that got you down to this choice. That's really great. Stuff. Rationale = Roleplay! No, I could have great fun with any of the options. So it was not so much "Which will he choose?" as "Which does he not  choose?" Also, knowing that a recent encounter / influence pushed Mundane down (which led to the miss) and Danger up made for a good internal rationale (shakes fist at GM / Adam's Dad). Replies in the A.M. Waiting on pins and needles. Though I'll be bailing from the house early hours for a volunteerish kind of thing, so I may not be able to respond until the afternoon. :-) I have NOT marked off the character sheet. 
Also, this interactive encounter was completely unexpected when I posted the thread, so a tip of the hat to opportunistically inserting something I can tell you've been biding your time to do.
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*** Dave H. said: Also, this interactive encounter was completely unexpected when I posted the thread, so a tip of the hat to opportunistically inserting something I can tell you've been biding your time to do. I debated a long while. :)
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Both the young girl's eyebrows go up. "The space station? Really?" She shakes her head, eyes still wide. "How many cowboys have been riding around in your head, Jason? And for how long?" One of her finger guns clicks, and you remember. ... Lhasa, Tibet. Ramoche Temple. Playing tag. ... Kuala Lumpur, arguing favorite books and hearing her demand you read Snow Crash immediately - the same memory you didn't recognize a few minutes ago. ... La Paz, Bolivia. Exploring the Mercado de Brujas for an afternoon. ... and more. All before the space station. Long before, some of them. Even before Amir. No fighting. No arguments about your fathers. Just you and her, neither knowing what the other was... but knowing everything about who you were. We work. When it's just us, we work. I picked that face because it's from before everyone else ruined it. Another flash, only months before your 'first' meeting on the station: catching up to your dad at a park in Taiwan. He squints over your shoulder and scowls, but you see nothing when you look back. "Did you lose all these to the nanobots?" She asks. "Are you losing your earliest memories first, or offloading the ones you don't like? Or did someone hide them away? She looks up at you, and her eyes are wide and black. "When he said the nanites would keep you out of trouble, what did he really mean, Jason?" The other finger gun clicks. ... a tattered The Aleph and Other Stories in the mail on your twelfth birthday. ... a signed copy of Barry Ween, Boy Genius on your thirteenth. "You have so much trouble being the smartest guy in the room, you offload it and pretend all the thinking is being done by someone else." She stands up, flickers, and it's Jason - you - at ten. flicker Nine. flicker Eight. "You talk into a mirror, and managed to convince yourself you're the slow one in the conversation." S([t]he[y]) walk over to you and reach up to tap you on the forehead. "You really need to put yourself back together, someday." Click. She's back in Halcyon because the experiment in Pennsylvania didn't work. Not enough power, wrong frequency, or just the not what she needed.  Or she saw it was hurting the people in town? That's optimistic. Not now, Jason. You're be - She's back because she's out of ideas, or out of resources, or desperate.  Eighty percent chance she'll cut a deal with Rook inside the next week. She's back because the only time she's gotten anything to the other place was with Mercury, and she'll grab him and strap him to a nuclear-powered aerotrim if it gets her what she needs. But Mercury was just providing energy. She was just providing energy. That opening was an accident; a bad/good roll on the dice - just happened to hit the right - Click. Frequency. Vibrations. Dimensions. Get the unknowable frequency, and you've got the unknowable coordinates - find the right slice in a cosmic loaf of bread. Easy. The bots were there when it happened. Everything after that is just - Math. And power. Get the equation down on paper. No explanation, but she'll figure it out; she's clever. Note on a jar. Some nanites in the jar. Faster. Easier. Anything else she'd have to steal. Keeps her out of trouble. What part of me did those nanites know? Doesn't matter. Portal. Jason reaches out, touches little Jalycia on the forehead, pushes through, and swirls them away into a cloud, an arc- A gate. Now - Power. The Complex has enough. Reroute. Divert. Not-dad shouting through a hurricane. Numina closing her eyes and preparing for a hard shutdown. Travelycia's eyes going wide; finally understanding she never really understood. Open. Local frequency on this side. Something else for the other. Need an address. Do the math. Set. Go. "Welcome to the Mail Box Sto-OHMYGOD." Jason hands them the jar, filled with what looks like black sand, mostly covered in a label that's entirely covered in a formula. "Hi. Could you leave this in box 6022, please." The kid gapes. Jason frowns and extends the jar further. "Please?" "Dude..." his coworker gives the stunned young man a glare, then shakes her head and reaches for the jar. "Sorry, Mr. Quill. We'll take care of it." "Thanks." Portal. Bedroom. Power drops. Nanites drop. Something... gone. A tiny something. Nothing important. Probably. Worry about it later. "Complex: Reset-Restore. Confirm." "Confirmed, Jason." Which voice was that , coming from the speaker? Doesn't matter. Worry about it later. "Are you okay?" Numina, then Travelycia, a half-beat behind. Interesting question. "I've got one less thing to worry about," he says. Which is, technically, true.
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Okay, so that's... Hang on a sec. "... carry the one..." Okay, so that's 1 potential for the 6- on Pierce the Mask Then a bunch of harsh revelations leading to Take a Powerful Blow: and Which choice mostly just colors what Jason does after going "No! I must learn something! Dark visions!" Pick up a Doom for doing Dark visions. "Alycia will drop the vendetta if she's given a way to get to her dad." Pick up Portal Doomsign because the Doom counter was already full.  Doom advances one for the Dark Visions and then one for using Portal . I'm not going to give you a Doom mark for 'using' portal, since it was just color and not in-game anyway. It's supposed to be a cost for being able to jump into (or start) scenes. This wasn't that. And... yeah. That happened. Please chime in if we need additions or retcons.
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And just to pull the curtain back, I did ping Dave to see if Jason would act on his Dark Vision about Alycia if it's wasn't too harmful to others, and so forth. Don't want folks to think I'm playing anyone's guy any more than a 6- would indicate. :)
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Doyce T. said: And just to pull the curtain back, I did ping Dave to see if Jason would act on his Dark Vision about Alycia if it's wasn't too harmful to others, and so forth. Don't want folks to think I'm playing anyone's guy any more than a 6- would indicate. :) Totally going to admit I did wonder that so thanks for the reveal, Great and Powerful Oz. My question (because I will bring up this movie ever chance I get) did the Portal look like the weird time portal from Lost in Space since (presumably) his nanites created it?  (Or was it just willed into being by his mind with the correct math? Are we a magic is fourth dimensional math universe?) Dammit Doyce, this just raises more questions.  I retract my "this explains everything" statement.
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Doyce T. said: And just to pull the curtain back, I did ping Dave to see if Jason would act on his Dark Vision about Alycia if it's wasn't too harmful to others, and so forth. Don't want folks to think I'm playing anyone's guy any more than a 6- would indicate. :) If Jason Quill put Numina's existence at risk just to save himself a trip to the UPS store, he and Leo are going to have words. Words like "ow my lungs".
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Bill G. said: Doyce T. said: And just to pull the curtain back, I did ping Dave to see if Jason would act on his Dark Vision about Alycia if it's wasn't too harmful to others, and so forth. Don't want folks to think I'm playing anyone's guy any more than a 6- would indicate. :) If Jason Quill put Numina's existence at risk just to save himself a trip to the UPS store, he and Leo are going to have words. Words like "ow my lungs". :) The power drain just put the complex on backup power for about a minute. Far more damage has been done to the complex power supply during otherwise routine experimentation, back in the day. Everyone is okay.
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Mike said: My question (because I will bring up this movie ever chance I get) did the Portal look like the weird time portal from Lost in Space since (presumably) his nanites created it?  Very-sorta like this? Probably more of an arch in this context, and the actual apeture would be bigger, but you get the drift I hope. We're definitely not in "magic is fourth dimensional math" territory - Jason used the tech to construct the thing, and used the math to give it the correct settings.
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Doyce T. said: The power drain just put the complex on backup power for about a minute. Far more damage has been done to the complex power supply during otherwise routine experimentation, back in the day. Everyone is okay. I think the question is "would she understand that and feel safe after this happened, especially given her genesis" and the answer in my mind is "no". And if Jason has another talk with her and I'm playing the other end of it, that will affect it. So we'll see where that goes. So if I had to translate this all from Amber back to Masks, here's what I got from this. Jason's subconscious mind reminded him of several important memories via the nanites Jason thinks she'll call off her vendetta if she gets her dad back (well, yeah, her whole rationale falls apart...) We're making efforts to do that anyway, assuming the Quill & Chin group is still together, in the Sepiaverse, and receives our transmission Jason wants Alycia to not do deals with Rosa Rook (sensible) and tries to contact her with a high-density infodump from his own expanded brain He can now do so thanks to Sgt. Amari pushing him to learn to teleport
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He can now do so thanks to Sgt. Amari pushing him to learn to teleport Holy crap, I didn't even think of that, but YES THAT'S PROBABLY RIGHT. Jason wants Alycia to not do deals with Rosa Rook (sensible) and tries to contact her with a high-density infodump from his own expanded brain Most of that infodump consisted of the missing pieces she needs to get over there. Most likely to keep her away from you guys - at least part of this logic chain is 'if she gets desperate, she'll come after Harry or someone for more power, and Rook would certainly help with that, so... stop that.'
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Bill G. said: So if I had to translate this all from Amber back to Masks, here's what I got from this. Hopefully it wasn't too Ambery. :) Well, aside from the acid trip of Zelazny's normal hellride prose.
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That was the gist of "infodump" so yeah. But even this is going to get him in a bit of trouble with Leo if it comes out. Guess we'll see what his next move is.
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Jason acts casual:
Doyce T. said: And just to pull the curtain back, I did ping Dave to see if Jason would act on his Dark Vision about Alycia if it's wasn't too harmful to others, and so forth. Don't want folks to think I'm playing anyone's guy any more than a 6- would indicate. :) Though he did say he was going to email it to me first, before posting. Probably just as well, because dayum! Mike : My question (because I will bring up this movie ever chance I get) did the Portal look like the weird time portal from Lost in Space since (presumably) his nanites created it? Maybe a bit less shredding and horrific than that one, but I think that's a good general idea. (I ran Gary Oldman's Doctor Smith, with the serial numbers filed off, in Doyce's ADRPG game. There's a lot I love about that movie, esp. visually, even if there's so much awful about it, too. Like, for example, most of the plotting.) Bill : If Jason Quill put Numina's existence at risk just to save himself a trip to the UPS store, he and Leo are going to have words. Words like "ow my lungs". Jason would be quite unhappy about that (for a variety of values of "that").
He can now do so thanks to Sgt. Amari pushing him to learn to teleport And he would probably do so a lot more often if it didn't cost him a freaking Doom Track check.  Except this one, color text, time.
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Just let me say, the non-Doom Track crowd has it's own share of issues with teleporting.  See Sgt. Amari.
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I need to find a picture of that portal from Lost in Space, because I can't think of it.
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There is now a sign at the Foundation. NO TELEPORTATION WITHOUT A PERMISSION SLIP.
Bedroom. Power drops. Nanites drop. Something... gone. A tiny something. Nothing important. Probably. Worry about it later. "Complex: Reset-Restore. Confirm." "Confirmed, Jason." Which voice was that , coming from the speaker? Doesn't matter. Worry about it later. "Are you okay?" Numina, then Travelycia, a half-beat behind. Interesting question. "I've got one less thing to worry about," he says. Which is, technically, true. Jason smiles, slightly. "Ever just go into your room, turn off the lights, and think for a --" He stops, looking at Numina and Travelycia. "No, silly question. Sorry. No, I'm okay." He smiles a little bit more broadly at Numina. "Took some direct action for once. May have solved a problem for myself -- and for the team, I hope. Kind of felt good, except for the dying a bit more part." His voice is normal, maybe the slightest bit unfocused. "I think I need some pizza. And caffeine." He looks at the two of them, who are still looking at him. "Did -- I miss something?" (( And we can call that a wrap until this evening. ))
Doyce T. said: I need to find a picture of that portal from Lost in Space, because I can't think of it. I've been trying to do so for the last half-hour. Unfortunately, as an intensely unsuccessful and derided movie from 1998, it was at the wrong place in the wrong time to get a lot of GIFs and cut-scene videos. Will try another approach.
Mike said: Just let me say, the non-Doom Track crowd has it's own share of issues with teleporting.  See Sgt. Amari. Ah. AH! Irony! There, now I feel dumb for missing the point. :-)
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The whole movie is on Youtube, but it's clipped. Here's an approximate starting point: https://youtu.be/qBoNgxl_2k0?t=1h19m59s
Some shots of the portal in question around here: https://youtu.be/qBoNgxl_2k0?t=1h19m30s (bootleg video, so not worth clipping a pic from).
Damn. Beat me by 15 seconds.
Cross-referencing for future reference: some discussions of these events and the aftermath are over in the  Session 18 Prep thread ..