Driving Miss Crazy

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Driving Miss Crazy

Post by thousand » 23 Oct 2017, 09:56

Log occurs immediately after “Coming to a head- Clash in the wake of the Ki-Ball Massacre”

[CHAT] Thousand sat listlessly in the back seat of the car. To his right, Elphlane was leaning forward against the passenger seat, having a heated, though quiet conversation with Genesis. Thousand, on the other hand, sat behind Prime- the gestalt drove, and the android stared out the window. His damaged left hand lay in his lap, artificial skin retracted from it to survey the damage. Prime’s shot had missed the absorption node in the palm, piercing the hand instead just above it, severing the mechanisms used to articulate the middle finger. If this repair was not made, every time the android attempted to form a fist with the hand, he would instead be giving whoever was in front of him the bird. He pondered briefly about the merits of not making the repair- it would certainly impress his current worldview upon the recipient of his next rocket punch. Glancing upward, he noticed that Prime was frequently glancing in the rearview mirror, attempting to make eye contact- how long he had been doing so, the android was uncertain. He sets the hand aside, leans forward a bit, and speaks quietly to the Gestalt. “Did you need something…?”

[CHAT] Prime looked back to Thousand. “Nothing critical. I apologize for the damage to the hand, for whatever it’s worth. May I inspect the damage?” The groundcar shuddered slightly as they passed a heavy cargo truck. Aircars were common, of course, but ground-bound cargo trucks were still cheaper than repulsor barges, so there were still roads… and where there were roads, there was a market for people who wanted to use them. They’d long since ditched Prime’s drone, the one that had originally procured the car, and sent him packing back to Prime’s shuttle; it did a lot to open up space in what had been a rather cramped vehicle. “I may be able to effect triage repairs more quickly than your autorepair functions.”

[CHAT] Thousand shifted in his seat, idly cracked the window and lit a cigarette, awkardly reaching over to the window on his left to ash it intermittently, not considering whatsoever how the other occupants of the car might feel about it. He nods quietly to Prime, setting the detached left hand on the center console, skeletal thumb, index, ring, and pinky fingers curled about halfway closed, middle finger sticking straight out. “By all means. This one was replaced with Sanctum tech a long while back- just avoid tinkering with the absorption tech. Haggis aided me in its development, but his processes are… were…. Quite strange. I had a working knowledge of the original system, but this one… I’m not entirely certain how it works- even if I understand the components and can rebuild one if needbe, I don’t understand -why- the components, arranged thusly, generate the desired effect, or what might happen if the system is shorted somewhere” He stared at the hand for a moment. “You know, I really ought to repair it, but part of me thinks leaving the hand like that to be fitting…”

[CHAT] Prime gripped the wheel with his left hand and reached his right over the column. Tracers of silvery light swept over the detached hand as he started scanning it. “A new ability that the Prime collective developed recently. Rudimentary, but it’s a derivation of applied nanoscale force-manipulation. Construction and deconstruction at the atomic level.” The tracers skipped over the parts that Prime knew were wired into the absorbing system, and instead focused on the area where Prime’s gunshot had damaged the hand’s artificial muscle and bent the skeletal structure. By combining his existing scans of Thousand’s body structure with the detailed scan he was making now, he might be able to reconstruct the damaged portions, at least enough to restore mobility to the hand. “That’s an unsettlingly fatalistic way of looking at it, I would think. There’s no reason to force yourself to bear scars that you don’t have to carry… and you already have more than enough scars as it is. I’m rather concerned, to tell the truth. An assassination in a populated area is at least a little bit outside of your normal methods of operation.”

[CHAT] Thousand nodded absent-mindedly towards Prime’s discussion of the ability, replying in an off-handed manner -pun TOTES intended- “Molecular assembly? I had plans, at one point, to pursue that field myself, but that was to happen after my journey, and well… I came back to Rhaveena.” He spoke the name quietly, not looking in the still-distracted Elphlane’s direction. “Have you made much progress there? I suspect we might both stand to benefit from some selective tech exchange.” He directed a stream of smoke out of the window before continuing. “Isn’t there value in carrying some of these scars, though? Seeing as they can serve as a very visceral reminder of mistakes we’ve made, never to be made again…” He sighed loudly, taking another drag off of the cigarette. “That… debacle was the end result of bad data, processed by a compromised system. To my rational mind, it even made sense- I was under the impression that this WAS the Crimson Queen returned, and were that the case… I figured even with the city’s limiter field in place, my only real shot was to take her out before she got serious. But… I need to perform some diagnostics. It’s become evident that the fragment of my consciousness intended to remain cold and rational in all cases was, nevertheless, significantly influenced by the rest. I should have…” The android trailed off, then shook his head. “No, that’s not fair second-guessing myself now. It was an irrational execution of a rational idea. I should have been able to see through it.” Thousand hesitated, pondering that very statement for a moment. “But you’re definitely right- I’m in a bad way right now. I was getting better, then ‘Rhevy’ appeared and sent me sliding backwards. Then I met her, and she allayed my fears… and then the massacre at the game put me right back where I was. It’s easy to say I should have been able to see through it, but I honestly STILL am not seeing through it. I know for certain, now, that she’s not really Rhaveena…” He tipped his head briefly in the animated humanoid-form dragon’s direction. “But I’m still uncertain how the events were misrepresented. I analyzed the datastream from the broadcast- it was not tampered with or modified, we got exactly what the camera itself recorded. So…” He blinked. It had hit him, so very obvious now that he had calmed down somewhat. “Holograms. They used holograms, didn’t they. Don’t fake the video feed, make an actual recording of an image that was itself false. One of my own favorite tricks… hook line and sinker. But…” The realization led to far more questions than the singular one it had answered. The android flicked the butt of his cigarette out the window, shaking his head. “Any idea who might be… behind it all?”

[CHAT] Prime shook his head. “I haven’t had a chance to link up with the Prime operating here on Earth. He might know more.” He went quiet briefly, considering the information. “The Alliance has shaken. Recent events have strained it politically and militarily. It could be any of a number different factions, hiding in the shadows or forming in the wake of that disruption. It reminds me of the Captain’s descriptions of Earth back in the old days, when the first Ascended started to emerge. A tension, waiting to be broken.” He cut off that somber line of reasoning. “A tech exchange is actually something I’d already more or less had in mind. The nanolathe function is quite rudimentary now, but I suspect that once Helios is back online, the collective will be able to enhance it significantly. I was more interested in the details of your biological mind-interface, and perhaps of your first-generation energy absorbing technology.” One could see, within the severed hand, where gleaming metal was starting to take the place where the hand’s skeleton had been cracked and broken. “I want to build enhanced training equipment for the boy.”

[CHAT] Thousand nodded along with Prime’s explanation and query, though put off an unmistakeable air of detachment throughout. “Unsurprising. I thought this would be a Prime-” the android blinked, then shook his head. “-er, sorry. An ideal situation for anyone who had been biding their time to take action. Though this wasn’t exactly among the scenarios I thought might play out.” He tilted his head to one side at mention of the interface, his brow creasing and his eyes drooping downward for a moment. “That interface was something of a joint endeavour between myself and… Requius. Requius inherited the Symbiotic Interface Network from her father- I think you may have a passing familiarity with it? They used it to manipulate machines and computers with an organic mind, but it was… quite damaging to the user in that incarnation. I myself have devised an analogous device, SACI, that allows me to interface my own mind with other machines and computers. The Hybrid device is essentially a slightly modified version of both systems, connected via a specially designed intermediary computer. A lot of controls in place on the junction box, primarily to eliminate, or at least minimize, the trauma to a biological user. I could draw you up plans for two-thirds of it- the junction box and the modified SIN system- but the modified SACI would need to be engineered from the ground up for you- it was only designed to integrate with my own mind, and I’m not exactly built like most AIs…” He shakes his head again. “But… I can most likely assist. As for the absorption technology… again, I can provide you with the raw technology that provides the function, but it takes sophisticated real-time regulation to function without breaking. I do so consciously, using information from my scanners et al to make the adjustments. You will likely need to perform a lot of trial and error to perfect it for your own or other systems. But it’s a start, at least.” He pondered the training equipment angle here. “Computer-mind interface… absorption technology… are you trying to develop a combat training simulator that drains the occupant in accordance with how much energy they utilized in the simulation? That could work very well… much more potential for improvement if the training actively fatigued the body and depleted its resources…” The android seemed to focus on this, becoming a bit more animated.

[CHAT] Prime tilted his head to the side, so Thousand could see his jawplates move into a shining grin, then turned back to the road. “Something like that, though my variant is a bit more brute-force. A modified training suit. Heavily weighted. Absorbing crystals to exert a baseline drag on the wearer’s energy based on how much they exert at any given time, outputting as waste heat, coupled with a custom thermoelectric electroconversion system to significantly simplify the process at the cost of extreme inefficiency. Gravitronic field units capable of amplifying the unit’s apparent weight in accordance with the amount of energy so generated. And, of course, an augmented-reality mind-direct system capable of projecting simulated sparring partners for the wearer, complete with tactile feedback.” He chuckled. “He can handle it, I think. His dedication to his training so far has been impressive, and though he has a long way to go to find his own way, he has a lot of fire to him. He reminds me-” Prime cut off sharply. “In any case. The relatively limited scope of what we’re trying to accomplish should work in our favor. My understanding is that the absorbing technology’s conversion matrix is by far the more complex portion of the process, though I must admit that even the scans I do have don’t offer enough detail to decipher how exactly the process works.

[CHAT] Thousand ruminated on Prime’s explanation for a moment, before the faintest ghost of a smile crossed his face, gone as soon as it came. “Brute force from our point of view, perhaps. But in the context of training an organic, that needs to develop muscle memory, strength, endurance, and flexibility, as well as exhaust their energy supply, it rather sems an elegant solution. Context matters…” The android trails off. “But, the crux of it is based on the understanding that all energy, ultimately, is the same thing, expressed differently. The “source” of ki energy is ultimately the combustion of foodstuffs by the users metabolism. The body, through training, converts it to a dense, weaponizable form. The matrix essentially destabilizes it with a small, measured input of energy, breaking it from its condensed form, then draws in the resulting charged particle/wave duality piecemeal and converts it to heat and electrical energy in a process similar to how a solar panel works. The amount of energy that can be absorbed in a given timeframe is dependant on how quickly the system can be cycled. The limiting factors there are how rapidly the mind -or software- can cycle through the process, and of course the potential for storage.” Prime might notice the android visibly relaxing- this type of tech themed discussion seeming to be both a diversion from more difficult problems as well as cathartic in its own right.

[CHAT] Prime closed his hand and withdrew it. The hand hadn’t been completely repaired, but new metal overlaid the damage. “Try it out.” The car shifted to another lane to pass around a slow-moving vehicle, and the engine hummed as Prime accelerated. “You’d be surprised. That’s the common belief, true, but I’ve studied the phenomenon extensively, as a bit of a side project. My scouter technology is somewhat more advanced than even military-grade hardware at this point, and I have ki-field imaging scanners of significantly higher resolution than the best alternative I’ve been able to encounter… and it’s led me to some surprising conclusions.” He enjoyed the conversation, too. It was a welcome distraction. “I have been afforded with the potentially unique experience of being able to observe and record data from multiple Ascended of different races, in a strictly controlled environment in which both dietary input and normal, passive Ki emission could be studied with precision. Imagine my shock when the data I was gathering unmistakably indicated that caloric intake, even with the occasionally-prodigious appetites common among Ascended, failed to account for the energy output I was recording.” He gestured with his now-free hand as he spoke. “Use of ki results in a fatigue effect, certainly, and heavy usage does lead to bouts of extreme appetite, but even accounting for the biological and metabolic changes to be expected for an Ascended, there’s no way to reconcile the data any other way. I accounted for virtually every possibility, as well, including that Ascended might be biologically capable of absorbing energy in some other way. I even measured the energy load of the light experienced by each subject! And yet, the discrepancy persisted. My conclusions were difficult to accept, but the direction in which the data pointed was absolutely unmistakable: Ascended are capable of generating *more* energy than they take in, and of doing so on an ongoing basis. To say nothing of the other ways ki violates several once-conventionally-held assumptions regarding the laws of physics.” He chuckled to himself, his voice tinny with the synthesized sound. “The commonly-held theory does a decent job of explaining how ki energy interacts with the body, but it does *not* explain its origin.” Prime noticed, out of the corner of his eye, Genesis listening in at this point. Elphlane still chattered with him, and he was making vague responses when appropriate, but he seemed to have piqued the boy’s curiosity.

[CHAT] Thousand shrugs his shoulders at Prime. “Maybe things are different in this universe than in my original one. The analogue there for what you call Ascended had generally comparable capabilities, but nothing indicated energy coming from nothing. I can’t help but notice, though, that you referred specifically to -calories-. Is there a sizeable imbalance between the mass that ascended in this world take in vs what they excrete? There was in my original home… a ki-wiel…. An ascended, from my home, might consume ten times his bodyweight or more in a day, but excreted no more than a few ounces. If you presume that the cells of ascended are performing some kind of relativistic mass-energy conversion, does that balance out the numbers on your end?” The android accepts the hand, attaches it, and flexes the fingers momentarily, nodding, before the artificial flesh flows back over the metal digits and solidifies into his normal skin tone. He pulls another cigarette out of his pack and absent-mindedly ‘walks’ it across the knuckles of his reattached left hand.. “There’s also the fact that some of the basic underlying rules of physics are measurably different in this universe, so there could be something more at play there. My model also doesn’t account for the phenomenon of magic, though I’m capable of converting that to a usable form as well, my understanding of the process is limited. Haggis’ methods yielded great clarity at the moment, but little of it was retained afterward.” He raises the cigarette to his lips, and then drops it on his lap, stiffening suddenly. “Wait. Wait wait wait. You just said something -very- interesting. That the energy generated by the ascended apparently violates what was held to be the laws of physics. But their equivalent in my own universe were fully explainable by the laws of physics, which themselves seem to be subtly different here. I myself have proved that it is possible, if difficult, to cross between these disparate universes, though the one of my origin is essentially destroyed. Is it possible that the ascended phenomenon in this universe originated in my own?” That was an interesting thought- the absorption nodes and his ki scanners had been the sole pieces of his kit that had functioned normally since his awakening here- he literally had to adapt and/or re-learn EVERYTHING else. And if the phenomenon fit nicely into physics back home, but not here…. Well, it wouldn’t really make much of a difference, but it would certainly be -interesting-.

(It’s funny because in a fourth-wall breaking way, that’s actually an accurate assessment, given DBI was built from DBS’ code, and Thousand’s origin universe is DBS XD)

[CHAT] Prime considered what Thousand was saying. “Without knowing more about the disparity between how natural physics work in this universe as opposed to yours, I can’t honestly say.” He paused for some time, and when he spoke, his voice was quieter. “The Ascension phenomenon dates back a very, very long time. The Captain claimed to have met ancient Ascended that predated recorded history, some of whom represented nigh-mythological figures in today’s time. He did not speak often of this, though. I’m not sure whether his memories of those meetings were growing weaker, or if he felt them to be something private, not to be shared.” He noted that Genesis had tuned back out of the conversation once it had started dipping into theoretical quantum multiversal physics, and softly chuckled to himself once more. “He called it ‘spirit.’ That was his explanation for it, and claimed that it was a difficult concept to explain or quantify. That ki was not simply a biological process, that it had to do with the individual’s strength of spirit, and the unison of mind and body with that spirit. The theory he advanced was that the observable interaction of ki with the physical body only explained part of the process, and that the observed biological functions were only a result of the body’s natural attempt to adapt to the flow of ki energy from some source that was not purely biological. A difficult theory to test or examine, annoyingly, but I’ve so far failed to disprove it despite all efforts.” He went quiet again, eyes on the road. He did that a lot, lately. He seemed to get lost in thought frequently, and that was unusual for Prime.

[CHAT] Thousand retrieved the cigarette from his lap, tucking it behind his ear, and leaned his head back, his brow creasing. “The differences are subtle… the universal gravitational constant is the biggest one. It is ever so slightly -weaker- here. A tiny fraction of a tiny fraction of a tiny fraction of a percent, but it adds up to some pretty noteworthy differences. A planetoid forming here, failing to form there. Slight differences in weather. A collision between planetary bodies occurring where it otherwise would not, and not occurring where otherwise it would. The weak nuclear force is similarly subtly different here. I could go on, probably, but I doubt we’d get anywhere with the information available. I dearly hope, though, that the Captain’s assessment regarding the spirit is incorrect, if only because…” He turns his palms upward, staring at them, revealing the glittering black gems of his absoprtion nodes amongst trickles of crimson lubricant leaking through the parted artificial flesh. “If only because my equipment that seizes that same energy goes from being ‘useful tools’ to “cosmically horrifying” in that light. If I were to drain someone’s energy entirely, the process would be fatal, which is bad enough- but for the ascended, death does not seem to be a permanent thing in most cases. What if, by doing so, I also rob them of their afterlife and consign them to oblivion? What is the measure of a spirit, anyway…’ The android pondered this for a moment, recalling the announcements made before and after the ki-ball massacre, so easily glossed over in his shocked state after watching the apparent brutality of Rhevy, Gilder, and the others. If ki was ultimately entwined with the spirit, and his technology could preclude killed ascended from returning…. Whether he ever had an answer or not, it seemed vital not to let this technology fall into their hands. ‘It’s also possible, I suppose, that what this universe and my home universe called ki are strikingly similar, enough for the same technology to function for both, but still fundamentally different under the surface. But… speculation would seem to be all we really have to go on here.”

[CHAT] Prime waved a hand dismissively without turning around. “I wouldn’t concern myself with it. Understand, I’m saying that he believed that Ki *derives* from the spirit. It’s not a question I ever asked, but I would suspect that your technology is only capable of interfering with the biological side of the process. He claimed it was very, very difficult to actually inflict any lasting damage on a soul. I never asked how he knew that.” Prime sighed for a moment, very softly. “The technology is still certainly worth keeping under wraps, but I shouldn’t think that you’re destroying spirits and scattering souls every time you use it.” Thousand’s description of the parallel world’s physical properties intrigued him, most especially in that he was quite curious *why* the two different universes had such subtly different physical properties.

(Kind of a shame, if we could draw a parallel between draining ki and devouring souls, it’d give 1k and elph some common ground XD)

[CHAT] Thousand opened his mouth as if to reply, but thought better of it, instead placing the cigarette between his lips and lighting it. (Of COURSE you wouldn’t concern yourself with it- it’s not really your problem… doesn’t mean that I can just let it go myself, but… something to consider later.) The android coughs quietly, quickly waving the cloud of smoke towards the cracked window with a slightly annoyed expression. His eyes alight on a familiar logo by the side of the road, and he half-smiles. “Turn here. So, Prime, among your other capabilities, are you able to taste food? Despite not strictly -needing- it, I get pretty hungry despite myself. Fancy a bite?”

[CHAT] Prime obediently turned the car off onto the ramp. “I don’t eat, but the boy does. A stop may be in order, especially since we’ve all been in the car for quite some time.” The car came to a stop at a traffic light. “How is Silas, by the way? I lost track of him after you two left New Haven. I’m curious what he’s been up to, especially since I really wanted to get a chance to study Soulmirror in better detail.”

[CHAT] Thousand’s half-smile fades almost instantly, as he smacks his forehead sharply with his right hand. “Silas! Oh, man, I left him hanging… I was just going to head back to my ship and make some repairs, got back to it… then that news broadcast…” He sighs quietly. “I hope he doesn’t catch any flak for my being late returning the Stinger. I owe him a drink, and we’re supposed to pop off to Hydia for some R&R before I start putting the legwork in for the Academy…” The android shakes his head. “He seems to be doing alright, all things considered. Introduced me to grav-skating, to the misfortune of a storefront or two. It still throws me every time, hearing that name… but the sword seems to be a shadow of its former self, though there is certainly something stirring beneath the surface…” He trails off, puffing away at his cigarette and staring out the window. His movements are a bit more stiff, reminiscent of his rigidity before the earlier distraction. “I’ll have to track him down, I think I owe him a bit of an apology…”

[CHAT] Prime pulled the gearshift as the car settled into a space. They were out in the country, now; this stop was a dusty little cluster, the sort that tended to grow up at intervals where the cargo drivers tended to need to stop for a refresher. The place didn’t look fancy, and Prime’s sensors could pick up grease in the air from the parking lot, but it was food, and a chance to be free of the stifling environment of the car for a few minutes. “Everybody out.” He unfolded himself from the driver’s seat and nodded to Thousand as he leaned back in the car. “See if you can. I’d like to run some detailed examinations on that weapon, once HELIOS is online. Now come on, help me keep an eye on the kids.” He seemed to grin as he straightened and turned away from the car.

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