27.3 The Prisoner [Cutscene]


Edited 1519248162
She leans against the wall, letting her gaze drift over the room. Ten by ten. A chair in the middle. Indirect lighting (a nice trick, though she has it figured out). Camera in each upper and lower corner of the room, allowing for a 3D image to be built and projected elsewhere. Nothing so prosaic as a one-way mirror for this crowd. The door she was pushed through has sealed shut. That wall is now featureless. "The Prisoner will sit." "I prefer to stand," she says, letting that smile of hers touch her lips. She's been doing that more of late. Smiling. It feels good. Cause, or effect? The geometry is unclear, even to her. "The Prisoner will sit." She rolls her eyes, then slowly slides down the wall, resting her butt against the wall and floor. They stripped off her clothes, gave her plain white paper pajamas. Not surprising. Rational. Clever, even. Though they've still left her the greatest weapon at her disposal. "The Prisoner will state their name." "Gender neutral. Very progressive." "The Prisoner will state their name." "Unless this is a generic recording, and you were too cheap for some AI to identify the presented gender." "The Prisoner will state their name." Again with the roll of the eyes. "Francessca Augusta Maria, Countess of Gosford." A pause, then, "The Prisoner will state their name." She smirks. "I have very good paperwork to that effect. A passport. A driving license. Letters from a jilted lover. Scandalous." Another pause. "The Countess of Gosford died in 2009." "Even more scandalous." "The Prisoner will state their name." The voice is electronic, genderless, all humanity scrubbed out of it, save for the timing and pace and vocabulary. She's sure it's a live person. "You've broken me down," she sighs. "Alycia Chin." "Citizenship." She climbs to her feet. "The World." "The Prisoner will state their citizenship." "I am a Citizen of the World." Another pause.  "Birthplace." "Not Gosford?" "The Prisoner will --" "Geneva, Switzerland." She raises a hand. "Yes, very good paperwork to that effect, too. And even under my name." Silence. "I also have, not in my present possession, passports showing birthplace as Johannesburg, South Africa; Singapore; Beijing, China; Kiev, Ukraine; San Francisco, USA; Montevideo, Uruguay …." "The Prisoner will --" "I don't know!" That's the first emotion beyond amused rebellion that she's shown thus far, but the smile creeps back in quickly. "But Geneva is lovely this time of year. Ever been there? There's a pretzel cart across the street from the Cathédrale Saint-Pierre Genève. Incredible, especially with the mustard they have. So let's call it Geneva. That's what I've picked, anyway." She stretches her arms. "In the actual case, I was too young to notice the accents, and nobody was reading a newspaper in the delivery room." "Mother's name." "Sorry, Father has always been reticent on the subject, and my view during birth was decidedly not of her face." "Father's name." She looks up at one of the cameras. "Really?" "The Prisoner will state their father's name." "Achilles Chin," she says softly. "Louder, please." "Doctor Achilles Chin!" she shouts, fists suddenly clenched. "The Fiendish Doctor Chin! Mad Scientist! International Science Terrorist! Revolutionary Anarchist Polymath! Top of the Sûreté's Most Wanted List five of the last ten years, with similar top billing in most other major countries.The Monster of Melbourne. The Man Who Destroyed the Joint NATO Space Station with a Full Crew On Board. Arch-Nemesis of Byron Quill. Recipient of the Order of the Republic by the PRC, 2003. Named Enemy of the People by the PRC, 2004." And then that smile, as the body relaxes. " That Achilles Chin. Or, as you might say in this country, 'Dear Old Dad.' But, then, doesn't everyone have interesting tales about their father?" "Where is Achilles Chin?" "Ah." She begins to pace around the room. "Now that is an excellent question." After a long pause, "The Prisoner will provide the location of Achilles Chin." "Nowhere you can reach him." After a moment, she gestures air quotes, and adds, "copper." "Is Achilles Chin dead?" She looks at the camera to her upper left. "Are any of us truly alive?" She glances back right. "That is another fine question. And also for me to know, and for you to hopefully never find out." "Did you kill Achilles Chin?" "And that," she replies, shooting a finger gun at the camera to her back right, "is also a very interesting question. You're on a roll." "The Prisoner --" "Define 'kill.'" A long pause. "Is Achilles Chin alive?" "I suppose," and the smile has slipped only a little, "it depends on what you -- or more importantly, he -- consider 'living.'" "The Prisoner will describe themself." She blinks. "What?" "The Prisoner will describe themself." She nods, then swings around to the back of the chair, leaning against it, looking about the room. "Ah. Very neatly done. There --" She points at one camera. "-- and there --" She points at another. "-- and there." A third. "A different perspective, a changing geometry, a neat little twist, disorientation seeking to provide a new insight. Nicely played. Well crafted. Cunningly devised." "The Prisoner will --" "Don't --" She waggles a finger. "-- ruin it." She stands upright. "I am the daughter of Achilles Chin." She stops. A long pause. "The --" "But I reject that description. It's what I have been. I am that no longer." "The Prisoner will --" She makes an obscene gesture. "I am making a grand pronouncement." "The Prisoner will --" "I am really quite smart. An SGHG. The French use a different acronym, but I doubt you here particularly care what the French have to say. But remember that when you ask me questions then disregard the answers." She sobers. "I have been a child of duty. My life has been driven by duty, doing what I was told, seeking to satisfy the demands of the god in my firmament, my father, Achilles Chin." "If the Prisoner is seeking to establish a legal defense --" The smile is now more broad, though the eyes are narrowed. "The Western Oligarchies established a legalistic framework in 1946 that a claim of 'duty' and 'obeying orders' was insufficient defense when such actions oppose the hypocritical morality of the ruling class -- regardless of the immorality that their own tools engage in." A raised eyebrow. "Though, of course, those same classes demand obedience to duty both from their military myrmidons and their peonage citizenry." She winks at a camera. "I told you I was a child of my father." "Alycia Chin, you are not taking this seriously." "Oh, I take this confinement, and my questioning, very, very seriously." She smiles. "It is you that I don't take seriously." "The Prisoner --" "Are you really about to order me to take you seriously? Is that the level to which you've fallen in your obedience to the world order?" Silence. "But that does remind me of a story. Would you like to hear?" A long pause ensues. "If it is germane." "Less a story, then, than polemic. 'Lemme sum up.' You see, I've seen what it means to take things seriously. I've seen people killed because someone took things seriously. I've seen ideals warped, good intentions corrupted, deep and righteous passions worn down into focused and lonely hatred, all by taking them seriously." She smiles. "Taking things too seriously is a vice. My father stands as Exhibit A for that dark and terrible path, constantly redoubling his effort as he gradually forgot his aim. And Byron Quill stands as his ironic ally in that cause." She chuckles. "So a measure of levity, if not ridicule, seems appropriate. If the Devil cannot bear to be mocked, any other righteous angel is not so far from his path, and needs mockery all the more." She stands up straight, hands clasped behind her. It's the pose of a soldier, or perhaps a prisoner before a firing squad. It's not a dramatic gesture, more naturally assumed, a pose she's held many, many times before. "I assure you, I do take many things very seriously. I have values I consider beyond question or joke. So I believe it all the more important that I act as I think best to advance my own agenda, which means not taking it too seriously. And if I don't take my agenda too seriously, I'm afraid yours --" She gestures around her. "-- barely stirs the needle." "And what is that agenda?" She answers immediately, well-polished words flowing with automatic precision. "The freedom of humanity from the tyrannies of wealth, power, and control. The removal of the oligarchy that keeps human freedom and progress suppressed and stunted." "And the extent to which you're willing to act to that end?" She's silent for a long moment. Her pose, her face, don't change, but she feels her insides shrinking, unwilling to face the truth. She's felt that with increasing frequency over the past days, weeks, months, but she forces herself to address the point, and when she trusts her voice again, it's soft, though not gentle. "I have done terrible things, O Disembodied Voice. I'm sure you can recount that tale in dispassionate detail -- what you know of it. In obedience to Father -- and, yes, to my own zealotry -- I have seen bodies burnt and bodies broken, and considered them the sad but necessary price of a moral foundation for action, and eventual victory over the powers of darkness. I've --" She bows her head, her long hair dangling downward to mask her face. "I've been an idiot, and a monster. And I'm going to stop being either. Perhaps that will suffice for my agenda. For now." "Alycia Chin -- why did you surrender yourself to the authorities.? "Aha!" she says, face animating again, head swinging upward, hair awhirl. She moves to the front of the chair, and lowers herself into it. "I've been waiting for that question, and deciding for hours how best to answer it." "And?" "I'm not here to surrender." The smile has returned, and her eyes glint as she leans forward toward the unseen observers. "I'm here to negotiate ."
Well, she's going to be a handful.
Bill G. said: Well, she's going to be a handful. Assuming I can play her live as well as in writing. :-)