38.2 - Evening at Pops

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There's a handful of stringers at the airport, waiting to hear some news about Silver Streak so they can phone it in to the papers and maybe get paid this week. They've all bribed whatever doctors and nurses they could find, who promptly turned around, deposited the money in the chapel charity box, and went on doing their jobs. When the Concordance agents appeared in the air, it was manna from heaven. A dozen smart phones were thrust skyward, to capture the events as they unfolded. The stringers are still outside when AEGIS arrives and promptly confiscates their phones. "Video evidence," barks a junior agent, then glances sidelong at Ted Waters, looking for approval for his action. Waters doesn't look back. He's scanning the area, and spots his quarry - a distinctive robot. The robot and its occupant see him in return, and bound closer. Leo undocks once near enough to do so, and approaches. "What happened?" the agent asks. Leo's getting better at his Agentese. Every once in awhile he remembers Jason's attempt at a "sitrep request", and how he, Leo, had  been so negative on the concept. More recently, his  cavalier dismissal of Alycia's request for some kind of structured report. That was more his dislike of her personally (and let's be fair, that'll take awhile) and less a dislike of the idea of reports. It's strange, and Leo still feels the old impulse to resist authority. But it's sort of nice to be able to account for what you did, to help AEGIS make sense of this continual stream of crazy in the Menagerie's lives. Maybe this is what growing up feels like too. God dammit. "Three individuals, unknown but apparently with hostile intent," Leo explains. "Concord, uh, got kind of glowy and boomy. The intruders reciprocated, I think. Ghost Girl and Mercury probably saved every life in the hospital, between 'em. Charade, Concord, and I did some damage. They tried running, but I got a little uh, punchy. They backed down, we did some talking, they disappeared." Waters glances at the smashed-up parking garage. "That?" "Collateral from Concord's blast," answers Leo, thinking back to what he saw, or can only guess. "Further damage from the blue one inside. Mercury took care of 'em. The other two formed up, uh, like a merging together of body. Not like my combination tech, more like y'know, weird alien fusion. They split up when we punched 'em enough." "Anything else we should know?" Leo shrugs a little. "They're pretty upset with Concord about something. If they come round again, they'll come for him. They know his secret ID. They talk a big game about protecting the universe, uh, but if you need a gut check, it feels like they were some hot-headed rookies someone sent on a big mission. Out of their depth, and they knew it, so they tried talking a big game to make up for it. Fluent in English, but that's a standard accessory for that power package.  Concord always had it .  Not fluent in Earth social norms, apparently." "Good enough." Waters takes a deep breath of the air, exhales, breathes in, exhales again. "Listen. The director is none too happy, but you got Rossum talking more than we ever did. So he's okayed something for me. It's Evening at Pops, and we'll find out if one of them feels like singing. Whaddayasay?" Leo remembers the  nuclear power plant , and what came after. You  promised  me. Tell me about my mother. I promised a lot of things. I promised nothing! Perhaps we can hash out our family history after your AEGIS friends have us both in custody, my boy. Lead the way, Waters. "Yeah," says Leo. "What do you need from me?" #RP
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You mentioned having Rossum interact with Summer - I'd planned to have both Aria and Summer come along for one of these visits, and if it makes sense for it to be this one, I'd like to do that. I can cover their reactions as well as Leo's. EDIT: I'm assuming Otto's already coming along, as a bear if necessary.
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The observation room has a double set of monitors. The ones on the left all have "RossumRk" tags on the video feeds. On the right, it's simply "Rossum." "This bit's up to you, kid," Ted says. "The original? The clone?"  He glances at the girls. "Split up, do both at the same time, and relay the results back and forth on comms? As long as everything sticks to basic conversation, we're pretty much staying out of it." 'We' being AEGIS. 'Staying out of it' being 'recording everything for analysis.' Right.
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Leo draws Aria off into a corner for a moment. "I didn't ask you into the robot fight because I didn't want you to have to deal with.. y'know, this nonsense all over again." Unspoken is the fact that she's still having occasional panic attacks, a combination of her experiences with Rook and Hecate. "I need to do this," is all she has to say, and so she does. All Leo asks is to go along, since Rook's Rossum offered him information he wants, and he intends to collect. Summer, cuddly plush Otto-bear held in her arms, will speak to the other one - the man she doesn't know as "father" the way Leo does. She and Aria, and Pneuma before them, came up with what they think is the best analogy to match their fearful feelings. Godfather Drosselmeyer, the toymaker of "The Nutcracker Suite", appears during festivities and dominates the night. Young Clara finds herself in a dream, escorted by a brave soldier - a gift, made by the toymaker. But in that dream, the clever craftsman becomes a figure of dread. It's good that Otto is here, and that Leo is nearby. But she also feels like young Clara, walking into a fairy-tale nightmare with nothing but a toy in her hands (never mind that it contains the mind and soul of her close friend). She will be wise, and wary, but the old man still has a power over her - fear and memory - that she cannot wholly ignore.
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RossumRk No telling what clues AEGIS might have dropped that would let Rossum guess what this trip to Interview Room would entail, but when Leo opens the door and walks in, he smiles. When Leo holds the door open for Aria to follow him in, the smile drops away. Lips part. Corners of the mouth draw hesitantly down. The muscles around his eyes relax, revealing more of his bloodshot sclera. "Oh," he breaths. Not a self-satisfied "ah", or the drawn out theatrics of an "ahh" as understanding dawns. It sounds as though what should follow it is 'no.' Or at least, so Leo reads it. It may be wishful thinking, or a desire for some payback. Wish fulfillment. Or it may be just what it is. A criminal faced with one of their victims. Rossum "My dear ," Rossum begins to rise when he sees Summer enter the room, his face animated, smiling - an older man spotting a favored grandchild emerging from backstage after a school play. The wrist shackles, connected to a ring on the underside of the bolted-down table, pull short with him only halfway out of his chair, and he pauses there, bent over, head turned to smile ruefully, before sitting back down. His eyes flick to Otto, narrow, then search Summer's eyes. Analyzing. Guessing at motivations. He turns his head slightly to the side, squinting sidelong at the bear, with one finger lifted - again, an older relative, pretending to guess the name of a rarely-seen grandchild he nevertheless thinks of often. "And... Otto?"
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Doyce T. said: RossumRk [separating replies to help me keep things sorted in my head] "I know you," Aria says quietly. "From before Rook Industries. I remember the Rossum who kidnapped Leo, and the one who saved his life. I'm not Leo, but I inherited all of his memories." She glances back at Leo, showing a mixture of emotions. He can read them well enough. She can speak for herself - but right now, she wants to know how he'll introduce her to this man. He speaks. "Aria is my best and closest friend." First things first. Even the breakup couldn't shake this. "She's the love of my life. And she's a second-generation Newman-type gynoid." Leo checks Aria with a glance, and she replies with a nod. He continues. "You hurt her. I don't think you're sorry, don't know if you ever  can be, but if you ever are, I'm sure she'll appreciate an apology."
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Doyce T. said: Rossum "Get stuffed," says the plush bear, cheerfully. Summer nudges him. "Yes, this is Otto. And I'm Summer Newman. I remember you, through Leo's inherited memories. You aren't my father. But I know you as well as I'd know my own." She studies Rossum in turn, wondering if literal years of neuroscience, of being Leo's partner and friend, of interacting with unstable geniuses like Jason Quill (though, to be fair, Jason was far more benevolent), will lend her any insight. Or maybe it's just a way to keep control of a turbulent wave of feelings at finally seeing this man. She asks the question she feels most qualified to ask, the only question she can really pose to him right now. "How do you feel?"
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Bill G. said: Doyce T. said: RossumRk [separating replies to help me keep things sorted in my head] "I know you," Aria says quietly. "From before Rook Industries. I remember the Rossum who kidnapped Leo, and the one who saved his life. I'm not Leo, but I inherited all of his memories." She glances back at Leo, showing a mixture of emotions. He can read them well enough. She can speak for herself - but right now, she wants to know how he'll introduce her to this man. He speaks. "Aria is my best and closest friend." First things first. Even the breakup couldn't shake this. "She's the love of my life. And she's a second-generation Newman-type gynoid." Leo checks Aria with a glance, and she replies with a nod. He continues. "You hurt her. I don't think you're sorry, don't know if you ever  can be, but if you ever are, I'm sure she'll appreciate an apology." Rossum nods in acknowledgement of Leo's words, but his eyes are on Aria. "I had -" He stops. Frowns. Starts over. "There was a contingency plan set up, in the event of my -" again, a frown and a pause - "in the event of the capture of Rossum the Minion Maker. To whit, activating a Rossum clone, imprinted in a manner inspired by your -" he indicates Leo - "mental blueprinting technology, (for lack of the official terminology or any actual examination of the tech beyond 'meeting' Otto." His eyebrows rise as he remembers. "The clone would acquire allies with sufficient resources to be useful, contact Rossum's son in such a way that he'd seek out the incarcerated Rossum, if only to verify his identity and, thus, unknowingly affect Rossum's escape and ideally bring his son back to his side." He lifts a hand, fingers curled as if fully extending them is too tiring. "This was only the plan - no protestations of independence are necessary." His eyes, downcast, return to Aria, rather than Leo. "The portion of the plan related to making contact with Rossum's son hinged on getting him a message. Directly, if possible, or via any of his technology that came within reach." His mouth turns down on one side. "Given that I'd found an ally by agreeing to cloistering deep within Rook Industries, the second option seemed far more likely than the first, and to that end I designed... dozens of electronic pathogens, hidden within Rook's infrastructure - all set to implement advanced Sequestration protocols automatically, should their search criteria be met. Crude, simplistic, but powerful . Like a landmine." He lays his hands flat on the table, looking at them as he speaks. "So... insofar as I never imagined something like Otto or... you... would fall under Rook's shadow, and never considered the effect those protocols would have on a -- on you, I am sorry. I set something in motion that was meant to redirect a simple machine and, instead, hurt a person ."  Again, his mouth quirks, this time upward. "The irony - as I'm sure you'll already see - is that if it had been simply a person, I wouldn't care . But you..." He shakes his head, looking in wonder up at Aria. "I would never have..." He lets that trail off, still shaking his head.
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Bill G. said: Doyce T. said: Rossum "Get stuffed," says the plush bear, cheerfully. Rossum laughs at that, loud - a great-uncle who doesn't have have to act scandalized when the youngest family member makes a rude comment in the middle of Thanksgiving dinner. Summer nudges the bear. "Yes, this is Otto. And I'm Summer Newman. I remember you, through Leo's inherited memories. You aren't my father. But I know you as well as I'd know my own." "I wish only that I had a lifetime of memories of you, as well, my dear, and that the memories you no doubt have of me were... better." She asks the question she feels most qualified to ask, the only question she can really pose to him right now. "How do you feel?" Rossum raises his eyebrows and pulls a face - a combination of "I wasn't expecting that question" and "well, with these old bones, what can you do?" "About as well as circumstances allow," he says. "I'm still in a cell, but I'm getting regular visits from family, so... not ideal circumstances, but a marked improvement over a week ago. Is Leo around? How is he doing? How are you ? Did you two draw the short straw, or the long one?"
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Doyce T. said: RossumRk Aria listens, stone-faced. Near the time Rossum finishes, she reaches out for Leo's hand. Leo, for his part, looks unimpressed. Contrition feels out of character for the father he knows, more so after the robot assault the team faced. But right now, he holds his tongue. He remembers what he told Rook at the airport. I wasn't the one who was wronged here. When she's said what she has to say, or heard what she needs to hear, she'll let him know. Then it'll be time for him. That's why he's very surprised at Aria's next words. "Then I forgive you." He feels her fingers tightening around his hand, feels her superhuman strength gripping a little more fiercely than he'd like, knows that it means she was under tremendous strain to say those words. That's going to bruise. He winces, but he does all he can do. He squeezes back, in support. She has more, though. "If you expected Leo to send some simple machine there, then you really don't know your own son at all."
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Doyce T. said: Rossum Summer smiles, doing her best to stay cordial. She remembers the 'kindly father', clinically analyzing his own son's brain patterns, and wants to shudder. Instead, she squeezes Otto, who squeaks a bit. "The other Rossum promised Leo some information, and did Aria a great wrong. So they chose to talk to him." She finds a spark of light inside the fear, and pauses to word it properly. "It's kind of interesting, isn't it? Two fathers, two boys, two girls. Two conversations." The thought gives her strength enough to answer the questions. "Leo is... he's doing well. He doesn't have a lot of friends, but those he has are very good for him. You could say the same about me." "You probably figured out I'm uncomfortable being here." She takes a breath, lets it out, takes another. "That doesn't mean I don't wish to be here."
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Bill G. said: Doyce T. said: RossumRk Aria listens, stone-faced. Near the time Rossum finishes, she reaches out for Leo's hand. "If you expected Leo to send some simple machine there, then you really don't know your own son at all." Rossum looks puzzled for a moment. "I didn't... I didn't expect Leo to send any... thing. Not specifically."  He spreads a hand, palm up. "Rook's real expertise is in acquiring hypertech. It followed both that Rossum's son would be using such tech and that Rook would try to acquire some of it. When that happened, the tech would eventually trigger one of the protocols I'd scattered throughout their infrastructure.  It was all autonomous - I still don't know the particulars of how you encountered Rook - I only received notification of a triggered protocol days later, and the details even then were scant - enough to tell me things had gone badly sideways." He blows air past his teeth, bemused. "I imagined, given what I knew of him, Rook might get their hands on some kind of combat suit - difficult, but workable - that was a worst-case scenario, and would have required direct intervention on my part. A few predictive simulations we ran, based on what I - well, Rossum - guessed about Otto, posited some kind of assistive bot of roughly animal intelligence, performatively speaking. That would have been ideal, and probably what I had in the back of my mind while I laid the traps." He gives a wry, sour smirk, "when I wasn't assuming he'd just make robots, like his father." "But I never expected you, Aria, or anything like you. Not in Rook's hands, at any rate."
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Bill G. said: Doyce T. said: Rossum "You probably figured out I'm uncomfortable being here." She takes a breath, lets it out, takes another. "That doesn't mean I don't wish to be here." Rossum's brow furrows at Summer's words. "I... imagine I know what my clone might have offered by way of enticement to lure my son out - convince him to at least visit me." His face sags. "It's... unfortunate."
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Doyce T. said: RossumRk Leo gently taps Aria's shoulder with his free hand. She lets go of his other, looks down, sees the spreading red, realizes that she's squeezed too much, winces sympathetically - but Leo is already past that. He steps up. "I don't build 'just' robots, she means," he says harshly. "Hypertech, protocols, land mines, none of that matters, man!" He calms down, but only a little. "You talk a lot. Feels like the more you talk, the more you're trying to hide something. I hate that. And where did it get you? Now there's two of you, AEGIS has you both, and unless you got another plan up the sleeve of an orange jumpsuit, that's it. Your time ratio of freedom to incarceration keeps dropping because you keep pulling stunts like this." He shrugs and spreads his arms. "Was this your plan? Just spend your whole life in a little room? Do you get a lot of visitors, or are we likely to be it? Pretty sure they won't let Rosa Rook in here. And I'm also sure AEGIS has torn up your library card, after last time." Leo lets out a sigh, and feels Aria's hand on his back in silent support. "Just.. I dunno. If your whole plan was to get me to hang out with you, here I am. Just not on your terms, I guess. But here I am. But you gotta give me something, if you want that to continue. So give me what you promised." "Who was my mother, really?"
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Doyce T. said: Rossum Summer watches, and listens, uncertain. The word 'enticement' draws out her thinking, and she takes her thought process aloud. "I know what he offered Leo. His mother. The thing you never told him. So now you know." "But Leo is too close to the problem. He'll bite down on that lure, whether or not there's a hook. And Aria is his partner, together through whatever. I guess that leaves me to ask you something." "Maybe that offer was genuine. Maybe it's not. But this plan of yours, I have to wonder. You knew you'd be placed in isolation. There'd be no reinforcements, once this salvation came for you - Rook's army of robots. And you intentionally triggered it via Leo somehow, so you'd know he was nearby. Escape - with him in tow - was that your goal? Or have you lost interest in having your son witness the glory of your works? Have you given up on using his as a weapon, or general?" "Or was all of this, and all your efforts in the past, just to have your son at your side, because you love him?" She glances down at Otto. There are things she remembers that he's only been told, and he knows it. He's letting this play out, and seeing what he can see. "I want to ask something Leo can't ask. And I hope you will answer me honestly." "Which of these men are you, really?"
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It's clear that RossumRk has some kind of focus on Aria (curiosity or something worse), and she'll acknowledge that soon, Leo just got impatient. :)
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Bill G. said: Doyce T. said: RossumRk "Who was my mother, really?" Rossum - whichever Rossum this is, as far as his personal timeline is concerned, he seems to be "Rossum" enough for all intents and purposes - looks up at you. His expression is sad - grim? Determined?  No. Resigned.  He nods.  "I don't know if you've ever studied the timeline of my activities in any great depth, but it can't have escaped your notice that my rise as a criminal hyper-genius coincides fairly closely with your first birthday."  "There are a few other key events near that time as well. One of them - fairly common at the time, was the Halcyon Heroes League, saving the world."  His eyes are on the table, not you, as he speaks. "By their own assessment, the greatest contribution Tempest and Silver Streak ever made to one of those 'heroic rescues' was when their arch nemesis, King Winter, used his cold powers to summon every comet and bit of ice from outer space, sending it hurtling towards the Earth. They - literally - made the Earth move, and saved the human race. Even the damage from the resulting Tsunamis were, largely, mitigated. Thousands died but, as the news agencies were quick to point out - it was ONLY thousands; it could have been millions." His face, still gazing years into the past, twists. "And those thousands were largely on small islands in the Pacific and carribean so, really, who cared?" "I could give you a name if you like, but the fact is, your mother wasn't anyone, son. Except a biologist who loved the water. Except your mother. Except my wife. Except one of the people killed by Silver Streak and Tempest while they were saving the world." 'There's nothing you could have done, Streak, as bad as what my father has done - you need forgive yourself.' "And of course she was the reason I set out to be, if not their nemesis, at least a force multiplier on every. Single. Foe they would ever face."  He finally looks up. "If you want karmic retribution on me for my sins as a father, I assure you, the fact you're working with them, and their son..." he looks away, shaking his head. 
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Bill G. said: Doyce T. said: Rossum "Which of these men are you, really?" Rossum looks at you both, face expressionless, for long enough it begins to feel awkward. "Unfortunately," he clears his throat, "... for me, that answer depends on what you're thinking when you're asking. I'd prefer otherwise - that I be the one true ... Rossum ... but..." "Are you looking for the person who wronged... Aria, was it? Then the 'real' Rossum is in another castle. If you want the one who... pushed..." he rolls his lips inward, and bites down on them. "Tormented... his son, then you have the right man, right here, and likewise if you want the famous criminal mastermind... UNLESS you mean the mastermind who's been working with Rosa Rook, recently -- that's the other guy." He jerks his thumb over his shoulder in a random direction. "We are, the two of us, comprised of fifty-seven years of identical memories and experiences, and about eighteen months as separate individuals with unique lives..." his mouth quirks, sourly "...most of which was boring, in my case. That makes us roughly 97% the same person, with very little chance one will ever deviate very much from the other in our actions, decisions, or even word choice, even if we never see each other again for the rest of our lives... which I believe both of us would prefer, regardless." He rolls his eyes. "Insufferable ass." He leans on the table, gesturing with his hands. "The copy was made from too much of the source material to ever really become their own person - he's a clone in almost every sense, not only the physical, so if you have either one, you really could have either one... unless you want to know the workings of a Rook development lab, or the rota favored in high-security AEGIS prisons in international waters." "All I am, is the man who gets to remember this conversation, with you, and the one who doesn't get to remember whatever conversation Leo and Aria are having right now." He sits back, and his eyes unfocus for just a second. "Ninety-seven point two nine seven, repeating infinitely," he says. "I'm sure someone could twist some kind of philosophical observation out of that bit of accidental math, but by the time they're done, the percentage will have shifted just enough to render their wit obsolete."
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Doyce T. said: RossumRk He finally looks up. "If you want karmic retribution on me for my sins as a father, I assure you, the fact you're working with them, and their son..." he looks away, shaking his head.  Leo stares, hard and silent. Finally he breaks. "Fuck you, man, I'm done with you. I'm done." Aria takes his place as he walks away. "I think what Leo means to say is that anyone worth loving, mourning, and avenging is most definitely someone. I would like her name. I think we both would like to learn more about her. And... I suspect Leo does not agree with your choice of responses." She folds her hands together. "He says that there are two types of people. The ones who take their hurt and say 'nobody else must feel this way'. And the ones who take their hurt and say 'everyone else must feel this way'. One is the hero.. the other is the villain. Those who haven't been hurt would be the civilians, the innocents.. but it's hard for him to interact with them, sometimes, because he's forgotten what that's like." "Yes, he works with the Gales. But he is also here, for you, now." She smiles a bit. "He says something else, you know. Revenge presupposes empathy. If you're hurt, you'll hurt someone back. Why? So they'll feel what you feel. Deep down, you think, if they only understood this feeling, they wouldn't do it to me or anyone else. Leo doesn't want retribution. He wants you to stop hurting people. That's all." Aria draws herself up, grows more serious in expression. "And on that subject. You at least pretended some regret when you realized who I was. May I ask what I did to earn this.. honor?"
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Doyce T. said: Rossum "All I am, is the man who gets to remember this conversation, with you, and the one who doesn't get to remember whatever conversation Leo and Aria are having right now." "Just knowing he exists and is nearby will change you," offers Summer softly. "You'll wonder, 'what did that experience do to him that I missed out on?' You'll imagine. Lacking verification - and a solitary cell isn't far from sensory deprivation - you'll internalize your doubts. Maybe you'll wonder if Leo is going to play favorites - if that matters to you. After all, both of you hurt him, but only one of you hurt Aria, and wow, if there's one way to get on his bad side, that's it...." She smiles to herself, then frowns. "Aria's my sister, even though we also share most of our memories and were once a single individual. So this is familiar to me." "I would like to come back - if they let me. For a few reasons. One is to see what happens with the both of you over the long term. Maybe there's the possibility of a zipper merge, maybe not. I'm sure AEGIS would not approve, but then again, one of you would be more secure than two..." "But the other is that I think you're both just going to be very lonely and unhappy." She brightens up. "May I have your permission? And I won't let you out or assist your plans, but.. is there anything you need? Some way I can help you ?"
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Bill G. said: Doyce T. said: RossumRk He finally looks up. "If you want karmic retribution on me for my sins as a father, I assure you, the fact you're working with them, and their son..." he looks away, shaking his head.  Aria takes his place as he walks away. "I think what Leo means to say is that anyone worth loving, mourning, and avenging is most definitely someone. I would like her name. I think we both would like to learn more about her. And... I suspect Leo does not agree with your choice of responses." Rossum shrugs, unoffended. "I merely meant that there would be no great revelation of a famous or even well-known name - no one who'd been secretly living in his periphery all this time."  He sighs. "Her name was Dr. Ji-a Lee, and she worked with KIOST, though you'd never know it from their archives or website." "As for the two types of people, well..." again, he shrugs, but with his hands. "I am a villain. That's established. I embrace it. The greater sin in this world, though, is that I am a thwarted villain - all my plans failed, and incarcerated into perpetuity." He looks around the room. "The successful villains still inflict their perceived slights on the rest of the world, but manage to win enough to make it look like justice." He tilts his head. "The hero's definition is apt enough, but they are rare ," he says, dragging out the r sounds for several seconds. Leo doesn't want retribution. He wants you to stop hurting people. That's all." "Well..." Rossum spreads his hands. "I'm imprisoned. My contingencies are exhausted." The hands lift. "Wish granted?" Aria draws herself up, grows more serious in expression. "And on that subject. You at least pretended some regret when you realized who I was. May I ask what I did to earn this.. honor?" Rossum raises his eyebrows, as if mildly surprised at the question. "You are, as I understand it, an... expression of my son. Rossum's son. Something he might have been in another incarnation and, thus, a different and distinct person, branched off from many of the experiences of his childhood. So I choose to see you as a child of mine or..." he holds up a hand. "If that's too objectionable, a representation of a child, in potentia .  I'll never have more children, so it's an unexpected gift to discover there are more." "I - that is to say, Rossum - committed horrible acts on Leo in his - my - efforts to... if you like... more perfectly create the tsunami sufficient to his needs." He leans forward. "But those acts were intentional. Considered. Weighed and found necessary. I won't defend the calculus of those decisions - they are either indefensible or obvious - I mention them because they were decisions . Whatever harm resulted was, if not intended, accepted." "What happened to you was none of that." He sits back. Slumps. "You were a clumsily wounded casualty. Unintended. Unnecessarily harmed. Unwanted collateral damage."  He lifts a finger, as if making a point, but still does not look up. "And, most stinging rebuke of all, wholly my mistake - not an inherited memory of evil actions, taken by my progenitor. Mine." "From a certain point of view, I've only been alive a few years, and taken few actions that can be said to be wholly mine in that time." Again, he's looking at, and through, the table. "I'm not satisfied with any of them. I can't determine if that's because I am a flawed copy, or perfectly accurate."
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Bill G. said: Doyce T. said: Rossum "All I am, is the man who gets to remember this conversation, with you, and the one who doesn't get to remember whatever conversation Leo and Aria are having right now." "Just knowing he exists and is nearby will change you," offers Summer softly. "It is... fascinating to be faced with someone so young who is already an expert on a condition I am only now beginning to grasp." He shrugs. "I supposed I'm closer to Leo in this parallel, but still... I welcome the experience." After all, both of you hurt him, but only one of you hurt Aria, and wow, if there's one way to get on his bad side, that's it...." "I can imagine," he says. Eyes distant. He refocuses them on Summer, sees her expression, and he straightens. "That is, I can't imagine his feelings for your... sister, but I can imagine what my clone did to harm her. I'd like to think I'd have solved the problem some other way, but there's a better than 97% chance I'm wrong." His lips purse. "In any case, I created and programed the clone, and my creation harmed her, so the results are mine, like any of my creations." He frowns, looking up at Summer. "Or is that fair? Would Leo feel personally responsible for an act you committed? Or is it more like my response to his actions? Understanding, but at a distance?" He makes a face. "Or disbelief, but at a remove?" He peers up at her again. "Is it more like a family member?" He snorts, looking down. "Well of course it is. I knew it as I asked it." "I would like to come back - if they let me. For a few reasons. One is to see what happens with the both of you over the long term. Maybe there's the possibility of a zipper merge, maybe not. I'm sure AEGIS would not approve, but then again, one of you would be more secure than two..." "I'd very much like to see you again, my dear. To whatever degree they allow. As to the ... 'zipper merge'? I don't know what that is, but I can guess, and I'm not..." He shakes his head. "Insofar as I would have any say in the matter, I am not interested. I doubt my counterpart would be, either." He smirks. "We could roshambo for the right to be the one who survived, afterwards - that would delay the process for months, if not years." "But the other is that I think you're both just going to be very lonely and unhappy." He looks at your face for a long moment, then looks down, sighing. "No bonus points for that, I'm afraid, but that's a noose I wound for myself, years and years ago." She brightens up. "May I have your permission? And I won't let you out or assist your plans, but.. is there anything you need? Some way I can help you ?" He considers. "I'd like to be able to read, and write, thought I think I may and blown a hole in that boat, for now." He smiles, a small thing. "Television time is really nothing but unusual punishment, so... I'd say the offer of your visits - not the visits themselves, even, only the offer - will suffice. Thank you."
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Doyce T. said: RossumRk "From a certain point of view, I've only been alive a few years, and taken few actions that can be said to be wholly mine in that time." Again, he's looking at, and through, the table. "I'm not satisfied with any of them. I can't determine if that's because I am a flawed copy, or perfectly accurate." Aria composes herself. Leo hasn't left the room, but he's brooding in the corner. As she speaks, he comes back, and slides a hand around her waist. "Leo healed the damage you, as yourself, did to my brain structure. He's healing the hurt you and Rook did. On the other hand, that experience helped me through a dilemma. It helped me grow." "Leo is going to invent the future. Where nobody has to hurt, where there's no more death, no more villains, no more need for heroes. Where what you felt you had to do doesn't have to happen any more. I don't know if you'll be there to see it. I don't know if you'll approve. But you gave him the tool to do it." She taps the back of her head, in the place where Leo's chip rests. Despite saying he was done, Leo finds one more thing coming out of his mouth. "I'll be back, dad. Thank you." He and Aria turn to finally leave, holding onto each other in mutual support.
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Doyce T. said: Rossum He considers. "I'd like to be able to read, and write, thought I think I may and blown a hole in that boat, for now." He smiles, a small thing. "Television time is really nothing but unusual punishment, so... I'd say the offer of your visits - not the visits themselves, even, only the offer - will suffice. Thank you." "I don't know where responsibility lies," Summer says quietly. "When Leo made us - his family - we were always ourselves. We made our own choices, and bore our own consequences." "We all bear the weight of memories, even if we didn't choose to make them. Or if the person who did was no longer the person we are now." Summer glances down at Otto-bear. "Otto, do you have anything more you'd like to say, or ask?" The bear shrugs from the comfort of her arms. "Yer gettin' better than you deserve, old man. Me, I'd shoot you to the moon and let you rot there. But yannow, the girl you're talkin' to now? She's an angel from heaven, called down and given life by your son's tech. If she thinks you're worth talkin' to, that's no surprise, she loves everyone, an' everyone loves her. But if you mistreat her, I'm comin' back for you, and I won't be no god damn teddy bear when I do." Summer gently pats Otto's fuzzy head, and he rolls his electronic eyes - but doesn't protest. "That was a very sweet thing to say, Otto. And I'm sure there'll be no mistreatment." She looks back at Rossum. "You've done some awful things. And some of those awful things have resulted in good. I wish things were otherwise, but if they were.... I wouldn't exist. So I'll try to be back again, and.. we will see what we see." She turns to leave. Over her shoulder, Otto scowls and raises a paw, clearly extending an imaginary middle finger.
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I feel like that was pretty cathartic for all of them, so I'm grateful you took the time to do all that. :)
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Doyce T.
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I thought it was great. I hope the answers everyone were satisfying, if not always for the characters.
Great stuff going on here. Thanks!
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The four regroup, and share findings. The name "Ji-a Lee" meant nothing, and means everything, and Leo and the robots consider it in silence. Leo's the first to speak. "Vector. The Bot. There's a guy with a time machine, who wants a favor from me. I... I wish I could ask a price for that favor, like 'send me back to that day'. I thought about it, and thought, and thought. And I thought, 'when would it stop?' I don't want that kind of power. I don't want to be the exception, the guy whose family lives because he's in charge. And it fucking ..." He can't finish. It tears me up, because I want to save that life. He feels Aria and Summer place their hands on his shoulders in support. Whatever opinions they have, they don't share just yet. Otto does have an opinion, and he will share it. "Supercavitation. Phoenix has got enough stuff that you can equip it with an underwater propulsion system. And robots don't need to breathe. You talk about buildin' a new place for people to live? Build it in international waters. Deep enough where nobody can touch you." "Rapture was a terrible idea," points out Leo. "Underwater doesn't mean Objectivist, dumbass. An' don't isolate it either. Bro, your whole life has been turning that guy's shit into gold like King Midas. Wanna keep rolling like that? Go learn about your mom. What she loved. Then help others carry it forward." Summer tousles the bear's head again. Leo smiles, and rubs his eyes. "Yeah, I guess. Alright. Let's go tell Waters what's up. After that, we got a future to fix."