Stories (Yiyel & Sarre)

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Sarre, Dec 11, 2014.

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  1. The old man had returned.

    He had a name: Smithson or Roberts or something generic like that, but nobody bothered learning names anymore. Everyone was Sir or Miss. If you were talking about them: "the old man," or "the red beard." In attendance lineups it was a number or a fingerprint. Whatever was most convenient. Names weren't convenient.

    The old man was unspectacular. Amber saw him occasionally in the halls of the facility. He seemed more bitter than the others. He walked a little slower and frowned a little deeper, but that was probably just the illusion of age. The wrinkles did something, right? Made things look exaggerated and saggy. Mostly, Amber read about him, Subject no.2, in the flimpsy newsprint reports documenting Dr. Ku's Project.

    The first round had gone well. It wasn't particularly dangerous. Subject no.1 had returned in peak condition. There was nearly no muscle atrophy, all organs continued to function perfectly, and her mind - the highest concern - was as sharp as it had been when she left. That was to say, the experience hadn't made her insane and she still retained the required mental dexterity of all the facility's employees. Of course the details of what she had actually discovered were kept shut.

    And then the week after she'd jumped from her eleventh floor balcony, but it had been quickly decided that the circumstances had had nothing to do with The Project. Whatever. She was always drunk. Nobody liked her. It was all old news. Amber wanted fresh news.

    Which was why she was here now, standing in a clean but drab apartment hallway, staring at a door like she had for the past four minutes. This was ridiculous. She was a professional employee of the I.W.A. science foundation, and she was taking a stupid dare. Not that she didn't want to talk to the old man - she did - but she didn't want to knock. Nobody did that anymore, except officials for official things. People that knocked to chat were weirdos, and she was about to become one. Because she wanted to talk to the old man, and someone had dared her to do it with a knock on the door.

    Eventually curiosity and indignance forced her knuckles to the hollow wood.

    There was lethargic shuffling, and then the old man opened the door wearily. "What is it?" he mumbled.

    "Stories," Amber blurted out. "Tell me the stories. Please."
    #1 Sarre, Dec 11, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 12, 2014
  2. A chuckle Amber might recognize was heard from down the hallways as a shortish, androgynous figure came into view, wearing unusually casual attire (especially considering he was supposed to be on shift) - a plain beige and black plaid cotton shirt buttoned all the way up, some off-color stained denim pants, worn hiking boots. Her partner, and technically her superior as well - Amber probably couldn't make heads or tails of things when interacting with Perry, his calm yet understanding demeanor clashing with his calculating stare, always looking in thought yet always completely present in the situation. Didn't help that he was sporting a thousand-watt grin full of surprise yet satisfaction, though Amber might notice a slight pucker as well - a habit he has when something interests him - under the intermittent light of the failing neons (brownouts were getting more frequent lately).

    He walked up to the pair, staring passively at Number Two. "Yeah, the stories... Do you feel comfortable discussing them? The documentation we have seems so outlandish they feel like they've been tampered with, so we'd like to hear it from the horse's mouth, per se."

    He diverted his gaze for a second, mumbling something incomprehensible, before returning his attention to the age-worn man.
    #2 Yiyel, Dec 11, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2014
  3. Amber shot a quick glare at Perry. What documentation? None of it had shown any real content, or at least, not the kind of content that she wanted. It was all numbers...

    Then, as quick as the flash of thought passed, she flicked her eyes back to the old man. She remembered someone saying, somewhere in the distant past, that it was rude not to look at someone when you were talking to them. She only remembered it now because she was doing it. And not through text and screen or microphone.

    "I know you two," the old man said. "Both of you lower on the pecking order. I'm not retired yet, so you've no right to demand-"

    "Not a demand," Amber cut in. "A request. There are no orders, nobody to report to. Just us."

    The old man sighed and shook his head. "I don't want to," he said. "It's too much. Too much. Words are inadequate. Now please, leave me alone."
  4. Perry grinned further as he noticed Amber's glare, and seemed to withhold a laugh when the pecking order was mentioned. It wasn't clear what he was going for, it never was with him, and he liked it that way.

    His grin quickly faded when the request was rejected, however. Perry's face distorted into a tight-lipped grimace, staring at the man with a loose, absent glare. "Words are inadequate? What if we managed to secure artistic resources like canvas or an electronic keyboard? It would be really important to us if you could tell us anything."
    #4 Yiyel, Dec 13, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2014
  5. "You fool, we're scientists, not artists," the old man said. "What I saw was art, and to attempt to clumsily recreate it would feel like a sin. A forgery. Wait for the Red Beard, Dr. Hens, Hans - I can't remember - figures out his theory of mapping the images of the brain."

    "We could find an artist," Amber said, "I'm sure there's one somewhere in this city. If not we'll look outside the walls, where art is more common."

    "Forget it, just forget it," the old man said. "It'll never be good enough. If you knew what I saw, you'd understand. We're all here, milling around in grey concrete cages, and we've been doing it all our lives, and it would be too much to teach you anything beyond it. Go back to the numbers and the lines and the theories. Stop wondering. You will never see what I saw."


    "I'm done. Done with you two," he said, looking through her with unfocused eyes. "Done," he whispered. "All done."
  6. Perry glared for a second at Amber, lips forced together so lightly they seemed like soon they'd merge under pressure. "Don't be silly - if we FOUND an artist, he'd have to explain, and he said it himself, words are not enough."

    He returned his stare at the old man with a visibly tense smile and a slightly wrinkled-up nose, adjusting the collar of his shirt. "Alright, so you're saying the long of the short is that there is simply no media appropriate for all of it, right? Maybe if we pieced it together... Can you tell us how you felt before, during and after it?"
  7. Amber gritted her teeth, but she kept her eyes on the old man and listened sa he spoke.

    The door was already closing by the time Perry had spoken, and now it slowed in it's docile rotation. "Before, I felt nothing," he said, "And then I learned how much nothing I was feeling. Now, I understand why Lillith jumped. It's because we're not alive, anyway. I understand her temptation, but I won't. If I do, they might stop Dr. Ku from continuing."

    And that was it. The door closed.

    "Silly? Seriously?" Amber said, "Way to make me look like an idiot."
    #7 Sarre, Dec 13, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 13, 2014
  8. Perry looked up to her, his grin back - though the grin was much more simple and relaxed now. His eyes were a whole other deal - they looked stiffly affixed to Amber despite being off-focus, and his forehead was tense. "Hey, you WERE being silly. Though it probably worked for us this time, at least we got something out of him." He glanced off to the right, scratching his shoulder. "Wonder what he meant, though, feeling nothing and not being alive... I mean - are we supposed to take that literally and assume he's an android, or...?"
  9. "Dr. Ku wouldn't use an android," Amber said, "Silly..."

    She sighed and turned away, walking back the way they had come. We're not alive. We're.. He had been talking about all three of them, perhaps more. Perhaps the entire institution. The entire city? World? This needed to be on paper. She couldn't sort through the crop of flowering theories in her head.
  10. Perry couldn't help but laugh a little at the rebuttal - it was just too perfect. Though it stopped just as abruptly as they rounded a corner as he frowned, continuing in Amber's footsteps as his eyes lost focus. "I didn't mean he chose to. I mean - it's entirely within the realm of possibilities that an android believed it was human until it was remembered, or that he'd been just plain deceitful... I'm just taking shots in the dark, it's the most we've got out of anybody here."
  11. Amber didn't like the "we" he mentioned. The project was practically on the other side of the I.W.A. research institute - far from their field of study. It had been her own personal interest. She hadn't actually thought that Perry would care about her reading material, but he had. And now he shadowed this interest like a rat in the food delivery lines.

    He was also speaking with the confidence of expertise. Amber had learned that she could joke with him, but it would be stupid to see if he would tolerate, "Please just shut up," though that was precisely what she wanted to say.

    Instead, she just shrugged and leaned against the rough wall, waiting for the elevator. "Then he just implied we were all androids," she said.
  12. Perry looked away for a second again, his face contorting in all sorts of grimaces - first furrowed brows, then eyes wide open with a tense forehead and mouth slightly agape, then mouth closed (with a slight popping sound as the air rushed out) and eyes half-closed before returning to focus on Amber. "Maybe. Or maybe we have no idea what's going on here and they - the test subjects - are actually all androids. I mean - have you seen the body of the suicidee? I haven't. Or maybe..." His voice lowered as he started fidgeting with his elbow, head lowered, before mumbling: "Nah, not likely..." And just like that he perked up again, eyebrows low and lips tense. "Or hell, maybe he's just saying he feels like he's property instead of a person. I wouldn't put it past these people." And with a short glance up again, his whole face relaxed, save for the lone raised eyebrow. "Think he could just be messing with us though?"
  13. Amber listened to him, throwing away his ideas as he spoke them. They were all so stupid - so guessy, like the ramblings of some child that still had a good volume of youthful imagination in himself. His ideas scratched away at her until she couldn't think anymore. She could multitask, but not multi-think, and hierarchy demanded that she didn't tune out Perry.

    "These people? He was one of us, just older. And maybe we are property. That's why people rarely get fired, right? Because we're investments. We ace the elementary-school tests and then they start investing in us - chemical-free exotic food, knowledge chips, calculator chips, filtered air... All that stuff is expensive," Amber said. "And he looked too sad to be kidding. Why would he, anyway?"
  14. Perry looked at her for a few seconds. "Maybe we are property, though I wouldn't put our... 'unfirability', for the lack of a better term, on this - I mean, yes we were hand-picked and nurtured into this, but there's also the fact that we know things, and knowing these things either makes it risky to just let us go or too valuable to fire. As for the kidding, I ask you - why wouldn't he be messing with us? Though he did look distraught..." Perry went out of focus for a few seconds, staring past Amber with the thousand yard stare, before quickly exhaling and returning his gaze to her. "What ARE they doing to these people? What is their goal, in the end? It makes no sense studying the mind like that..."

    And with that, he couldn't hold back a punch to the wall, his teeth now tightly pressed against one another and completely exposed as his lip peeled back into a snarl, nose wrinkled from exertion as he simply whispered, half-to-himself: "Why?"
  15. Unfirability. Punching walls. Conspiracy-like suspicions, gazing off into space mid-conversation - and yet Perry was smart. They all knew he was smart, but damn it he acted like an idiot.

    "Maybe what he went through it just too big," Amber said, pushing herself off the wall as the soft whirring sound stopped and the sliding elevator doors opened. "Remember those dogs they brought in last month? They were smart enough to do their job, and they did tricks, and stuff. What if we tried to explain the stars to them? Maybe it's like that. We think we know everything, or at least enough, but I'm sure the dogs think that too."

    "Somehow I feel like they're studying more than the mind," she continued, when they were inside and making the descent. "I mean, most of the I.W.A. is in space studies - both discovering what's far away, and what might be sifting about. I mean, when I'm not with you I'm in astrology, and for most of the 21st and 22nd century people thought it that was nothing more than fun star-related myth. Now it's an unstudied branch of science. And suddenly someone's doing the human brain? They might have found something big that's so ridiculous and fantastical that nobody will believe it."

    She just needed to find out what it could be...
  16. Perry stayed silent until he entered the elevator - though he did so with his eyes closed, cheeks holding them so. "I wouldn't believe that. We can look at history and see that when the brain legitimately didn't understand something in that magnitude, it rejects it often violently. For example: Copernicus. No - what he saw, he understood. But what I've been thinking is that maybe he... perceived something with a sense most of us never use, or we have little idea of - like how tetrachromates try explaining some nuances of color to people who are only trichromate, or back in the twenty-first century the so-called biohackers who implanted themselves with technology to increase their perceptions of things - like putting magnets in their fingertips to feel magnetic and electric fields but couldn't put it into words." He opened his eyes, but then his brow furrowed as his lips held themselves tight again.

    "As for studying more than the mind, it would be very logical indeed - because as you said, why would an astrosciences organization focus purely on either a social science or some spiritual mumbo-jumbo?" Again, he glanced aside. "Scratch that, I just realized that astrology itself was considered spiritual mumbo-jumbo as you said. Actually..." He held his temples for a few seconds. "Yeah actually, I just realized that my whole point was moot. Because astrology is a science, it means that there is most likely a link between the position of the stars and planets and certain traits and events in a person's life..."

    He looked at her. "Do you realize what this means?"
  17. Amber grinned. "Imagine the first person that suggested astrology was a science. It may as well have been someone like Dr. Ku," she said. "That's what I meant - something new is happening. It could mean a ton of things."

    Suddenly, she felt very defensive. This was supposed to be her thing. Ok, of course Dr. Ku headed the project, but she didn't know him, and so it was the study of him and his work that felt like hers. In some abstract way, she wanted to protect it from Perry's claws, and in sharing her idle thoughts he had begun to latch on. Damn it.

    She had even more theories now (reluctantly, she admitted that Perry's ponderings had helped), but these she kept to herself. Later, she'd scrawl them all out on a large sheet of traditional newsprint and figure out the puzzles. Physical things were far easier to destroy; to erase. The cryptic solutions she could store digitally.
  18. All Perry could do is stare at her wide-eyed. If he had glasses, he'd probably lower them or even drop them. "I... I'll need to think about this. I-I mean..." And with that, he stared off - except it wasn't an usual loss of focus - he was... blank. Entirely blank. Blank to the point few people would have believed the eyes were able to have such non-focus. After a little, he barely grumbled something about an answer.

    He snapped his attention back to her, eyes fiercely open, no other expression. "We have to get to the bottom of this. This could... This could change EVERYTHING."
  19. "Maybe," Amber said, pretending not to be interested now that Perry was. "Or maybe it'll just be like that other organisation that tried to turn palm-reading into a science by - what did they do, start graphing hands? Skin surgeries? I don't know. It was some weird stuff. Dr. Ku is already working on it, what would we do anyway? I was just interested in the stories..."
    #19 Sarre, Dec 15, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 15, 2014
  20. All Perry could do was stare blankly at her, before recomposing, straightening his shirt and breathing out. "I don't know about you, but there's quite a few things I could do with something like that. On the other hand, I doubt this is like the palm-reading science attempt. These guys had more data - and tell me, if whatever Ku is doing actually yields no useful scientific data relevant to the I.W.A., what would he be doing to these people for them to be so... distant to everything?"
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