Jump to content
  • Posts

    1,966
  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won

    36

Everything posted by Sean Cassidy

  1. Shelly, Montana "Thank you, Alexa," Sean replied calmly to the Semi-autonomous Intelligence. The Alexa Proxy Program had a limited ability to evolve and adapt within its own purview and had ended up one of her most polished and successful Proxy Programs. "Keep us updated with anything on this matter than warrants our attention." Sean rolled her shoulders in a way that would make anyone with eyes have their heart skip a beat or ten as Abel sent her his memory of the encounter with his doppelganger. It was intriguing and disconcerting that nothing registered to her vast and incisive perceptions. And while Abel's mental information packet let her witness what he did, she couldn't use her own extraordinary senses on the memory. She studied the playback, noting every detail she could - perhaps Abel had seen something without inferring any particular significance. "Let's trust that Jeane can deal with the growing situation in New York for now. We have our own investigations to look into at the moment Abel." She arched a brow at Abel as they walked through the halls of IS HQ. She couldn't actually read his mind, but she was familiar enough with his expressions and micro-expressions to know what he was thinking. "Yes, it is highly unlikely that all this happening at once is a coincidence. Jeane can stay on top of NYC." Sean pursed her lips musingly. She had seen the subtle, but deep, changes in Keys since their return from the Quantum Realm. They had evolved, expanded in every manner, physical, mental, even social. There was a subtle change in the way they held themselves, how they looked and reacted to things, even their looks had improved. The qualitative improvements had affected The Irregulars, and every other Key she had encountered. Every Key had changed, every Key but herself. Her quantum expression had already enhanced her every attribute. She didn't feel any different between before going to the Quantum Realm and dealing with the Titans, and afterwards, except for a tinge of regret that it had come down to destroying entities that had existed since near the beginning of the universe. Perhaps her friends would have a better understanding of how she had changed since unlocking, now that they had enhanced in much the way she had, if not to the same degree. In self-reflection, Sean didn't think she was precisely jealous, but there was... something. It wasn't ruefulness, but after the encounter on the Quantum Realm, every Key, current and future, had been granted a gift, while she had not, having already been enhanced in the same way. She sighed. Reality, this one or any other, might have a certain balance respective to it, but it had no injunction to be fair. "Abel, you focus on what happened to Kia." Sean flashed him a quick grin. "She is your girlfriend after all - I'll help with anything on the biology side, if needed, while you back up Jeane with anything on the technical side. I'm going to look into your doppelganger, which may require a completely new way of detecting his... proximity. I have a couple of hypotheses on that. He might be from a universe or continuum where the laws of physics operate differently, or he might make use of some manner of 'anti' quantum, something that operates on a completely opposite wavelength, making it invisible, intangible, to our senses, and possibly other powers." They got updates from Jeane as they reached the ground floor. <Abel will handle initial tech support if needed, Jeane, but right now, you're on site, so it's all your call. We're not going to yell at you if don't handle things the way we would have.> "On that note, I'm heading out for lunch, with my girlfriend, if I can get her away from work." Sean nodded towards the front doors. Unlike the vast majority of the Irregulars, she still needed sustenance. It was kinda funny that was one of the few things she had in common with Tease, along with a few other similar or comparable quantum quirks, which she discovered running a few tests for the trying woman. "I've been out of town for a few days and Sara and I need to talk. I'll be back later, Abel." She gave a rich, melodious chuckle. "Probably. I still need a vacation and there's something I'd like to look into, purely for my own curiosity." Sean strode out of IS HQ and towards her car, typing out a quick text to Sara. - In Shelly. Lunch? - Sean was seated behind the wheel of Little Bigfoot, powering it up. She was about to text again, when her phone chirped. - Sure - - Kk - Jack Cassidy called lunch and Sara straightened up, stretching her back and pulling off her work gloves. She opened and closed her fingers, working out the kinks and aches. It was a good ache, the ache of honest work. She set the gloves aside and saw the gleaming black Little Bigfoot parked across from the worksite, the unmistakable form of her girlfriend perched on the edge of the hood. Even dormed, Sean was an eye-catching sight. Supermodel tall, long of leg, impressive of endowment. Her deep red hair - the colours of dawn faded away with dormancy - hung loose past her shoulders, but her remarkable turquoise eyes were almost as vivid and enchanting as when she had quantum energy coursing through her. Sean gave Sara a small wave, her lips curved in an inviting, half-apologetic smile. She didn't think she was in the wrong in their argument, but she regretted that it had descended into actually shouting. Hopefully, they could work out a compromise that suited them both without so much histrionics this time. Maybe Sara needed a vacation too - likely not where Sean had in mind, but it might interest her too. Dormed herself, Sean didn't feel the need - or rather wouldn't intuitively over analyze every permutation of how their conversation might go, wouldn't unconsciously try to direct it as she wanted. They could just... talk. And maybe make-up later, if Sara didn't mind being late getting back to work.
  2. Mizuki Residence, Shelly, Montana Abel heard the wheels of Sean's Cherokee-Challenger hydrid Little Bigfoot first, and the near inaudible hum of its SLAM-K reactor engine. Moments later, Kia saw its gleaming black contours past byas it came to a stop in the driveway. Kia was already bouncing off the couch when there was two measured knocks on the door. Kia swung the door wide and looked up at the tall, impossibly gorgeous woman standing there with a smile. Maybe it was because she was feeling more like herself than she ever had, but she couldn't help contrast this veritable goddess of a woman with the boy Sean used to be, a boy that had been even short than she was. But it seemed to her this woman was - or had become - more who Sean was than the undersized girlish boy had been. "Come in, come in!" Kia gushed pulling Sean into the house, then embracing her with gusto and ending up with a face full of boob due to their disparity in height. "I'm glad you could make it on such short notice. I know, I mean, you all that important science and tech stuff you're doing and-" "Kia, of course I made it," Sean assured her, hugging her back with unconsciously modulated strength. "I'll always make time for a good friend in need." Sean took a step back, her hands on Kia's shoulders and gave her a thorough, scrutinizing glance, enchanting turquoise eyes seeming to take in all that happened to her friend, then nodded sharply, lips curving into a musing half-smile. "I see." "Come, I have snacks, cookies, and Abel is already here," Kia said leading Sean to the living room. Sean didn't say 'I know," swinging her leather coat from her shoulders and hanging it up, and slipping off her short-heeled, low-cut boots , she followed Kia, footsteps soundless on the hardwood floor. Kia didn't seem desperate, dispirited, or disheartened. Indeed, quite the opposite, almost glowing with self-assurance and exuberant serenity. Sean nodded her greeting to Abel as Kia rejoined him on the couch. Sean took the loveseat on an angle from them, though not before filching a couple of cookies. She crossed her jean-clad legs, tossed her head to shake a lock of dawn coloured hair from her face, and nibbled on a cookie contemplatively as she regarded Kia, and to a lesser extent, Abel, somehow managing to avoid getting a single crumb on her distended shirt that showcased a pair of twenty-sided dice showing the '20' facing and the boast, 'Yes, They're Natural.' "So. You don't look worried about you're... state, or even really all that concerned, Kia. Indeed, you look pleased, satisfied with the condition. Do you know how this happened? And is there something in particular you want me - us - " she nodded at Abel, "to do about it? Reverse it, if possible? Make sure it doesn't - you - don't unlock again?" There wasn't any recrimination or condemnation in Sean's melodious voice - though Sean had clearly embraced her quantum enhanced and altered nature - only concern for her friend's desires. She pursed in lips and silently snorted, thinking about Sara, who had dormed down for the day and worked with her dad on a reno project. More wasn't always better - for specific individuals - maybe she should keep that in mind with any home she hoped to have with Sara.
  3. Aalto University, Helsinki, Finland Warm sunlight flooded through the high windows of the auditorium of the Otaniemi Campus of Aalto University. Sean had spoken first at the conference on the social and economic impacts of the introduction rapidly advancing technology and what was and could be done to reduce those impacts and make the introductions more smooth. A German scientist was speaking at the moment. With strong social safety nets, the Scandinavian nations were adapting better than most, members of the EU to lesser extent. South America was in flux, as was Africa, the vast majority of the populous receiving benefits while dictators and corrupt leaders finding their strangleholds weakening. A similar situation was affecting North American, the lower and middle-class being lifted up while overly wealthy tech CEO, Executives, Venture Capitalists, and shareholders finding their power and share of the economy falling. Surprisingly, the economy wasn't collapsing, the shrinking hoards of the uber-rich being replaced by more spending capital from the lower and middle class. Sean listened with only a fraction of her attention, enough to follow the speeches and conversations and track the positions of everyone with her other senses as she let her vision roam far afield. Her sight flowed over the vast forests of Finland, then over Norway and Sweden, then picturesque fjords along the coasts. It wasn't as cold in Helsinki as most would think, as were the southern parts of Sweden and Norway. If anything, it was more mild than Montana was at this time. She wondered if Sara would like it here. They had ended an existential threat to the Earth and the human race - and Sean could still regret destroying entities that had existed since the beginning of the universe without begrudging the necessity - yet Sean couldn't avoid an argument with Sara. And over something that seemed so... minor in the grand scheme of things, just what they each had in mind for a house they would live in, and just where they would live, and even what kind of dinnerware they preferred. Part of it was a reluctance on her part to leave the only home she had known. It was a tie to her old life, one she had grown far beyond. Enticing lips curved in a rueful grin. Sara wanted something simple, classic, almost something with a white picket fence. Sean wanted something more grandiose, futuristic. She had started looking at the works of various architects, including Aalto, for which the Finnish University was named, and believed she found inspiration that was a compromise of both her and Sara's preferences in Frank Lloyd Wright, specifically Fallingwater and Massaro House, homes built with the local topography in mind, actually incorporating it into the design. With her and Sara's abilities, they could build it together, any modern - okay, hyper modern - conveniences could be incorporated in a more subtle fashion. She would speak with Sara about it when she made it make to Shelly. Or maybe when she went on vacation. Sean had already started making preparations for some time off, days or weeks, to let IS and her other concerns to function smoothly in her absence. She needed some time off saving and changing the world. There was a mystery she wanted to investigate, a mystery that had caught her interest back when she'd been a boy, and she believed it might interest Sara too. And it would give them time to away to talk and just be with themselves. <Let me know when you want to do it, Jeane, and if I can make it, I'll show up,> Sean replied idly, her awareness - or lease her extraordinary vision - swooping south and south from Scandinavian lands to sweep high over the Sahara Desert and then low. ~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~ The conference had ended for the day and Sean was sitting on the coping of the terrace of her hotel room, legs crossed. The snow was gone, but night had fallen and the air was brisk, the cold making itself known with the tight protuberances seen clearly beneath her thin shirt. She'd called Sara earlier, who had sounded tired after a long day working her with her dad while dormed. Sean had almost - almost - apologized for the argument, and was still considering ditching the rest of the conference to head back to Shelly and Sara. She took a sip of coffee, then pursed her lips in thought. She was making good progress at the conference, laying groundwork to make her ideas and suggestions more palatable and easier to implement, tailored for specific nations and socio-economic strata. Change wouldn't happen without turmoil - even a good deal of turmoil - but it could be managed, or at the very least, there could be something beneficial in place or waiting to be put in place when the turmoil subsided. She was somewhat concerned about the Russian delegate, Alexei Mendeelev, a noted material engineer and chemist. Definitely human, Sean had seen an energetic quantum imprint overlaying him. She had seen something somewhat similar when she had encountered Death Otter, but this didn't seem like one overwhelming the other, but rather the two working in concert, a symbiotic relationship, rather than parasitic. Other than the quantum imprint however, Sean hadn't found evidence of the Key with a cursory search. Something else to keep an eye on, if the Russian government had Keys working directly for them. Keys that could boost or enhance their locked agents and delegates. Sean arched a brow in surprise as she read the text from Kia. The text didn't convey a sense of desperation or danger, but nonetheless, Sean spun around on the coping and glided into her hotel room to pack up and leave. She considered checking out, but she might be back. She texted Kia to say she'll get back as soon as she could, then texted several others at the conference to say she'd be absent the next day, and possibly for the rest of the conference, mentioning a few other key points she'd like presented and that she'd keep an eye on the conference, time and circumstances permitting. Sean sighed in slight exasperation. It was never one thing, but a dozen. <I'll stop by there to take a quick look before we go see Kia, if you like,> Sean replied. <But Kia is concerning me more at the moment, especially with your... doppelganger gone currently. Be there in a moment.> Sean manipulated a device on her wrist that superficially resembled a watch, but obviously wasn't when a blue ray projected from it and opened into a portal. She hadn't be able to manage a true, maneuverable teleportation system comparable to the one on the Watchtower - yet- but had managed a more restricted recall device that could contact a specific portal in the growing Trans-Earth Portal System. This one was connected to the Portal at IS HQ. Sean stepped through the Portal and strode towards the nearest elevator with access to sublevel 8. Pentagon, Arlington County, Virginia Laurie Cassidy let her arm drop as the purple cloud of quantum energy dissipated, her shoulders slumping with the weariness and pain of fractured relationships. Of growing up. This was harder, hurt more, than being a bare sixteen years old and being thrust into the upper echelons of governmental politics as an alien liaison. She let the tears slip down her cheeks without wiping them away. "No matter how many times you say it, you're still Devin Jauntsen." Irregular Solutions HQ, Shelly, Montana "This is Irregular Solutions, yes," the voice on the other end of the phone replied, her tone professional, perky, and not a little sexy. Mikey decided she probably had killer dimples. "I'm Alexa - named before Amazon came up with it - and yes, we try to help any Key in need..." Alexa trailed off and after a moment, Mikey realized she was leading him towards providing a name. "Call me Mi - er Gerry Dorsey." "Gerry then." She sounded like she was taking the name at face value, but Mikey thought he heard a smile in the way she said 'Gerry'. "Gerry, this is a serious matter, one the FBI will definitely need to be apprised of. But we know circumstances can be difficult for newly unlocked Keys. I've escalated this and someone from IS will get on site as soon as possible, and that will be soon indeed, trust me. We can contact the FBI on yourself behalf, if that is preferable to you and leave you out of this as much as possible. If - and only if - you feel comfortable, can you stay on site until someone arrives? If not, that is okay, I totally understand, Gerry. No one should have to see a dead body, let alone three, let alone seeing them become dead. Get somewhere you feel safe, but please stay on the line with me, share with me all the details you can. If it's possible - don't put or leave yourself in danger, take any pics you can." Alexa gave Mikey a number he could text them to as well as an email address, both she assured him were secure and couldn't be traced back to him. Well, they probably could, but the few people who could manage it would be dangerous to Mikey in other ways and there was no need to give the boy something else to worry about. "And while we don't have an official statement on finder's fees, I'll see what I can do, especially if you are in need. You deserve something for getting something dangerous off the streets."
  4. I'm pondering what you're pondering, Nina. I like the idea of Sara DMing and the reboot (of a sort), even if others may not. After defeating the Titans that were threatening Earth/Humanity, how much more is there to deal with that wouldn't be trivial to ones with the power of the Irregulars? Yes, we can write about how our characters are adapting and dealing with it, write about them spending time with their significant others, but that only goes so far, and means less when even the potential for any threats or inconveniences is minuscule. With the reboot as proposed, what we have written isn't swept away. If our characters were invested in their characters, what they experienced in the 'game' would still affect them, at least in reflecting on how they'd feel if something like it really did happen. I presume we'd still develop powers, if not on the same world demolishing/unbalancing scale. If some people just aren't feeling their powerset (or character for that matter) anymore, they would have the opportunity to adjust things. But mainly, I feel we can write and tell more interesting and compelling stories from lower on the mountain of power than from the pinnacle. And nothing says the Irregulars couldn't go back and play in Sara's 'campaign' again, if people still wanted to write about their ultra-powered alternates. Anyone else want to ring in, yay or nay?
  5. I would prefer the Irregulars returning closer to then the satellites went live, but will accede to what the majority prefers without recriminations. So far, Sean still agrees with curtailing the number of Keys unlocking, if not necessarily so absolutely. If such thing as 'natural' unlocking (whatever that means) is possible, and if the God Particle is real, then Sean definitely wants to impede anyone actively trying to force or manipulate people to unlock, especially after what we've seen as to where that can lead. Goals 1 - Global Advancement: Sean wants to continue fostering cooperation between nations and between Keys and humans, elevating the efficiency and capability of a world body/government, and help educate and guide humanity as a whole towards working to help and better everyone instead of the self, and providing them with the tools to do so. These tools will also hopefully mean Humanity doesn't NEED to rely on Keys to solve their problems, friendly Keys would just be a bonus. If necessary, develop devices/tools to help humanity deal with dangerous/antagonistic Keys. 2 - Exploration, Eventual Colonization: With the help of friendly alien societies and the Gate Technology, look for other suitable planets/solar systems for humanity to spread too. To give opportunities to those who feel like they have little or none on Earth and are looking for a new start, even if it promises not to be easy, and to help relieve the stress and tensions Earth is already suffering from high population and environmental neglect. Sean isn't much interested in exploring other realities - there's enough to explore in this universe, and she had memories of many 'what ifs' even if Pandora had a hand in their creation - but doesn't have much issue with the others doing so. As long as they don't make other universes' problems our universe's problem. And for the love of God, do NOT bring our Mirror Universe counterparts to this universe. 3- Rest and Recuperation: Sean wants a vacation and sometime taking it easy with Sara, away from saving the world, and away from Earth, if necessary. And also to find out what happened to Sara while we in the quantum construct. If she was possessed by Pandora and kept aware or unaware of what happened, or if she experienced/witnessed something completely different.
  6. Now existing on the quantum level of reality, Sean's expansive awareness and perceptions burned and tingled as they reassessed and readjusted to her place in it. In a place were distance and time were mere suggestions, Sean had all the time she wished to consider the revelation of Pandora suborning of Sara and her deception. A constructed fantasy or not, Sean didn't believe all those other lives they witnessed were simple fabrications from Pandora's ancient, stagnant imagination. Not when they stood on the threshold of the multiverse, a new dimensional timeline spawning from every potential decision they could make. She smiled sadly. They stood amidst the physical manifestation of the uncertainty principle, where the precise value of distance, velocity, time, mass, light, magnetism were indeterminate. Or rather, they were only determined by the will and perceptions of one observing them. This was a realm of concepts and ideas, the fundamental substances that composed actuality. It was a realm of will. Sean might not have had the direct destructive power of the others, but in a place of raw will, in which she was second to none, her will was just as potent. Pandora appeared as pure prismatic light, a composition of quanta that behaved as both waves and particles, diffuse even condensed into a sphere by Abel's dimensional lock. But even light had mass, infinitesimal though it was, and where there was mass, there was substance. With substance, solidity. Pandora would not escape the vengeance, the justice, of the Irregulars by existing in a state ephemeral, ethereal. Sean pitted her will against that of Pandora, who had to contend against them all, instead of only one. After epochs of astrological time, in a place where time was but a concept, Pandora's experience meant little, only will did. Sean imposed order on the structured chaos of light Pandora was composed of. The many-coloured lights glittered, splintered, then congealed, solidified into a panoply of sharp-edged prisms, fracturing the light to make of Pandora something crystalline, but clear and empty itself. Something hard, but brittle, fragile. Something that could be smashed, shattered, by all that assailed it. Something that could be destroyed beyond recovering. Something that was once timeless forced to face the end of eternity. "She has no more excuses, Jeane," Sean said, the crystalline entity that was Pandora seeming to shiver under the resonance of her melodious voice. "Because in the end, she knows them all to be empty."
  7. With preternatural awareness Sean observed... everything. She saw the monstrous dragon Kia had become pull herself back together, organic detritus falling from her still writhing and twithing. She watched Pandora deflect Abel and Jeane's hyper-accelerated spear with a casual flick of a stabbing appendage. She witnessed how Sara's blasts of raw energy did little damage to Pandora, serving as little more than distractions. Her eyes narrowed slightly. Perhaps those blasts were doing more than little. The impossibly beautiful woman spun lithely just out of the way of coruscating attacks that could obliterate her out of existence, her expression cool and hard in the face of certain death. She fired her pistol at darting and rending appendages, the hypervelocity rounds seeming so banal and pathetic on the other worldly battlefield. There was something anomalous to the way Pandora reacted - on the quantum level - to their attacks. Pandora was taking little in the way of effective damage, but that didn't mean she wasn't being affected. She was just being affected in a different way. The entities like Pandora were multidimensional beings. This manifestation was her, but not all of her. Sean was about to tell Abel to coalesce the dimensional anchors to try and lock Pandora in place when her eyes widened, suddenly seeing the situation in a new light. This was just manifestation, not Pandora's true essence, that essence was elsewhere. The dimensional anchors might cut off the manifestation from Pandora, or cause it to disperse entirely, but it wouldn't affect Pandora herself- or more accurately, itself. <Abel, don't form the dimensional anchors!> Sean projected to the Irregulars as she dashed around the field of ice, somersaulting a death beam as she slashed at a piercing talon with her sun-like plasma-sword. <Think of this as epic-level D&D. This is an Avatar of a God, not the God itself! To kill a god dead, you have to do it on its own realm on the Outer Planes.> <What?!> Jeane mentally shouted in response to the nerdy terminology. <To really get Pandora, we have to Ant-man this shit!> Sean replied <We have to go the quantum level of reality directly to face the core being of Pandora. And you are going to get us there, Jeane. With Kia's help. We're going to the Quantum Realm!> Sean might not have been able to bend and break reality as easily as most of her friends, but few could perceive it as deeply and expansively as she could, or see it in so many distinct spectra. Jeane could get them to the Pandora-Core, and Sean could interpret what Kia experienced trying to emulate Pandora's quantum field, to determine the precise resonance or frequency so that Jeane could get them to the right place. <Kia, show me what you got,> Sean commanded, anticipating what Kia had really been trying to accomplish by dragging her tail across the Pandora-Avatar. She studied the assaulting plethora of information Kia projected to her from a different point of view in a fraction of a nanosecond, then sent the key piece of information - dimensional coordinates in effect - to Jeane. <This is it, Jeane. You want to end this bitch, get us there!>
  8. "The thing with nightmares is when you wake up, they fade away," Sean countered, her captivating voice flowing with the rhythm of reality instead of reverberating against it. She continued her sensuous, dangerous glide forward, not flinching or slowing in the least when an aspect of Pandora flew at her, having full confidence Sara would take care of it. "And we, Pandora, are waking up. From nothing, we can be... anything!" Though it seemed she moved barely faster than a normal human, her superlative grace was deceptive, her every movement in harmony with the superhuman alacrity of her mental processes. With subtle, fluid shifts, Sean flowed around Pandora's terrible, infuriated attacks, the plasma-sword in her hand like a shard of the sun flicking out to slash at her when she got close. Seeming almost independent, her other hand fire her Havoc pistol, quick, blurring, not so much meant to injure but to deflect or disrupt attacks on Sara and the rest of her friends. All the while, the major part of her attention was on Pandora and the battle itself, studying the ebb and flow energies and manipulation of reality itself between Pandora and her friends, analyzing Pandora's reactions and means of attack. <Possibly. It might be the only way to make sure that when we defeat her - here - she stays defeated,> Sean replied, her mental voice as cool and calm as her apparent demeanor in the face of the outraged Titan. <I'm adding that and the feasibility and capability of us being able to accomplish it into my analysis. When we end her, it's not just for now, but forever.>
  9. The transition from an exceptional woman into an impossible one was seamless, no sensation of physical change, simply her sense of self expanding infinitely. Any lingering disorientation faded away like morning fog. Sean could remember with searing clarity every instance and facet of the lives she had lived - whether though being locked into a manufactured simulation or forced access to other possible versions of her self, if you hued to multiverse concept of reality. Through them all, there had been one constant. A constant she had thought lost, or at least beyond her reach. And now that constant was back. Sean wasn't particularly relieved to be empowered once more, it simply was what she was now, perhaps what she was meant to be, even as she was partly removed from the rest of humanity now. But she would have traded it all to have Sara back. Sean smiled down at Sara, caressed her hand on her cheek, gave it a small squeeze, then kissed her knuckles. "I have something that I'd thought lost to fight for now." Sara at her side, Sean followed the others through the door. If she was surprised at finding the Irregulars on a field of ice hanging alone amidst the stars, facing an incensed Titan, she gave no sign of it, her exquisite face calm and cool, taking everything in in a single casual glance. With a controlled exhalation, Sean extended her awareness of the cosmos, senses attuned to the quantum field. <'Here' might be relative term at the moment, but we're here, Lilly,> Sean replied, and in the crystal clear, silken mental tone, Vanguard knew it was Savant instead of merely Sean. <We have a pissed Pandora to deal with. Are you okay?> <Fine, fine!> Lilly answered in rising tension and excitement, and in the mental echoes of her thought, Sean could hear that Lilly had formed her clone-sisters. Many, many clone-sisters. <I'm back at Shelly High. Or a copy of it. Gotta put down Bitch-ass Apollo.> <Whoever puts down their mob first helps the other,> Sean said, not hint of doubt that they would succeed, or that they'd be able to find each other again, despite where they might stand in relation to each other. <Careful if you make it here, a step off the ice will be a long one.> Jeane was already diving forward to recover Devin and Abel was putting up his personal and public force fields as he lit up his pair of azure plasma-swords. Sean was not the hardest hitter among the Irregulars, but she could figure how best to apply that force. Unlike just about every Superhero movie, she didn't think defeating Pandora would just devolve down to a slugfest with the big bad. With an entity as long lived as Pandora claimed to be, there had to be something else to end her existence, or at least end the threat she posed. Sean strode forward with dangerous, inhuman grace, her integrated boots growing short cleats for extra tractions, the field of battle slowing down in her regard as mental processes accelerated to near incalculable levels, giving her so much more time to consider and act. She activated her own plasma-sword, the blade slightly longer than Abel's pair, glowing like the most vivid dusk. In her other hand, she held her heavy Havoc pistol - it would have looked quaint in regards to what they were facing and where they stood, if Sean didn't handle it with such assurance and capability. She knew at best it would be a minor irritant, that was all it was meant to be in this situation. <Start hitting the immortal cunt with what you've got,> Sean send to her companions, <so we can find out how she responds and I can figure out what will actually stick to end her rampage.> With each step Sean took, her presence seemed to grow more formidable, her ineffable beauty more searing and eye-catching. The glossy curves of her black PAM suit reflected the light of distant stars and galactic phenomena. Long hair that held all the colours of dawn and dusk lifted and flowed as though touched by a stellar wind. "We stand on the age of forever, Pandora," Sean declared, her rich, melodious voice seeming to resonate with the pulse of the universe itself, reaching well beyond the bounds of their glacial field of battle. "And yet, with all the options available to you by eternity and experience, you have reduced your options to but this." Sean encircled the battlefield with a gesture of her incandescent plasma-blade, her tone holding strong currents of pity, disgust, regret. Her fathomless turquoise eyes didn't leave Pandora's. Pandora towered over them all, wreathed in the power of her aroused fury, yet in her cool, calm defiance, Sean seemed to stand on an equal footing. Sean focused her cosmic awareness as singularly as she ever had on the terrible being before her and tuned her sense for personal danger to glean what she could of Pandora's likely manner of response and attack. Through her mask of resolve and defiance, she scrutinized every aspect of Pandora's quantum field, looking for a weakness, a crack, a seam to exploit that will end Pandora in truth. "We never wanted to be your enemy, Pandora. But you fear our potential, you who have never experienced potential having been... accreted into existence being all that you are. Never realizing growth, becoming greater than you are, better than you are. In studying us, working with us instead of only seeing a threat to your unchallenged dominion, you could have felt that, learned from us as we learned from you." Sean sighed, the gorgeous, compelling sound hold hints of melancholy, wistfulness, resignation, and determination. "Alas, all you'll learn in this moment, is that all things end. Hopefully, what begins after will be better for us all."
  10. Sean went still, her fingers light on Abel's arm, though he suspected if he tried to push pass, they'd clamp down with surprising force and intensity. The svelte and nubile young woman arched her neck, as though straining to see or hear something distant. Her nostrils flared as she inhaled slow and deep. "What is it, Sean?" Abel repeated. "Shhh!" Sean hushed him vehemently, her handing tightening on his arm, her huge, wide turquoise eyes blazing. She could remember having eyes strong enough to see individual cells and to make out details of other planets and stars during the day. Auditory faculties that made hearing a heartbeat from across an auditorium trivial, a sense of smell that could discern every single ingredient and substance in a restaurant, from the food, to what constituted each patron's clothing and shampoo. While her senses were still sharp and acute, now they were merely human. And yet... "Sara..." Sean whispered with heart-aching yearning. She caught Abel's eye. "I can smell her, Abel. The scent of her bodywash and her shampoo and the scent that is her's alone. An a sigh, as though she's standing right behind me with her chin resting on my shoulder, her breathe brushing my ear..." Sean's gorgeous, enticing eyes, the same eyes she seemed to have in every iteration, male or female were bright. She reached up with her free hand, as though to caress the woman that seemed to be right by her, but there was nothing there, nothing tangible. It was a thought that she had said not to dwell on, a hypothesis without an answer, when reality and facsimile were indistinguishable. But Sean had the thought now. "Are we still in the system or some version of it, and now Sara is trying to get us out, or communicate with us?" Sean wondered in a soft, wondering tone, the longing to see Sara again strong in her voice, to find out she wasn't really dead.
  11. Sean balled her small hands into a pair of tight fists at her sides and Abel could see while she was slender, she wasn't weak. The stretchy, form fitting leotard hid nothing and her body was taut and toned and wiry. Her finely sculpted facial features were tensed with smoldering anger, huge, expressive turquoise eyes hard and unflinching. "If all this is... is real," Sean growled, her sweet, mellifluous voice cold and sharp with suppressed fury, beginning to doubt the actuality of the reality they found themselves in, "Rashoud didn't come into the system setting herself up as an enemy. That would indicate she saw us as people instead of as tools. She just wanted to see how her tools operated from the inside rather than from the outside." Abel hadn't said anything, but she could tell what he was thinking - they had been friends over multiple subjective lifetimes, sometimes more than friends. And she'd been thinking the same thing. That someone had programmed her with such an identity crisis, that the others hadn't had to deal with. Or that the bastard in charge of her programming had changed her or his mind, or had even done so as part of an experiment. It didn't matter. Sean turned to Abel, placing her hands on his shoulders, her slender fingers strong as wire, tight enough it almost hurt. "We aren't lies, Abel, we aren't fakes," Sean declared adamantly. "We are as real as they are, whatever Rashoud might claim. They might have programmed the kernel of our identities, but it's just the start, a small piece of what makes us who we are. No more than anyone else's identity is informed by their parents, by who raised them. When you come down to it, everyone is just a very complex program, one that changes and evolves based on the other 'programs' and situations and circumstances - executable files, if you will - that it interacts with. They set us up, but they couldn't make up all the details of all our lives - we made our own decisions and forged our own paths." Sean smiled with grim ferocity and Abel realized just how beautiful she was. Not with the overabundant curves and impossible perfection he could remember her having at times, but with a clear, naturally symmetrical beauty that would be remarked on anywhere by anyone. "I know this without doubt. Because if they could have come up with every detail of our lives, they would never have needed to make a system with us as CPUs in the first place and then query us for the answers to their problems. They could have come up with the solutions themselves. They didn't." She release Abel's shoulder and then waved an arm around, indicating the abandoned lab, then pointed upward, suggesting the apocalyptic landscape. "They ended up with this. With that. Fuck 'em! They're gone now. But we're not!"
  12. "Roswell," Sean whispered, staring at the paused image of Rashoud. She was frustrated. They found the control system, and yet the answers she had wanted to find weren't there. Plans and schematics for any number of devices, advancements, and processes, but nothing on who they were. They might have been integrated into the system as CPUs, but the system seemed to be some sort of imagination engine. The users queried the system on some development, and the system, them, determined a way to make it possible. And here was video of one of the users. Had Rashoud somehow entered the simulation to interact with them? There were instances where Rashoud had seemed far too smug, as if she had known something they hadn't known despite it seeming she had no reason to. And organs in the brain? That sounded like... No information on who she and her companions and the rest in the pods were. Was it because they weren't people... in their eyes? Hybrids, implanted or designed with the same organ? "Abel, you need to come see this!" Sean repeated with strident urgency. "I think we might finally get some answers."
  13. Sean stepped out of the stairwell as eagerly as Jeane had, but finding a lack of victims didn't leave her dejected like it had the blonde near-giant. She frowned seeing Kia move to the elevator doors. Unless she had delayed for some reason or if it was the slowest elevator in existence, Lilly should have gotten down here at least as quickly as they had, and almost certainly earlier. "Kia, if it sounds like Lilly needs help, give a shout out and we'll see what we can do," Sean said. "One of these terminals might handle elevator control. We'll give her a few, and if nothing, a pair of us will go back up, while a pair stays down here, in case the elevator opens." While Abel went to a terminal immediately, Sean walked around the underground control room, perusing various meters and gauges. She eyed the huge doors to the reactor, curious to see what design it was. She sniffed the air - it was slightly cool, but there was no musty scent or scent of rot. It didn't smell much of anything really, maybe the slightest trace of ozone. She found shelves full of binders. Pulling one out at random, she found them full of schematics as well as engineering and scientific hypotheses, reports, and articles. She grabbed several more, tucking them under her arm. Sean circled around back to Abel just as he called out to her. She unslung the pack from her back and plopped it onto the circular table. She pulled off her impromptu hat and tossed it on top of the backpack then walked up behind Abel. She could remember being hardly an inch shorter than he was, she could remember being taller, but she unconsciously rose up on the balls of her feet to look at the terminal over Abel's shoulder. "We can look at it all if we end up having the time and need," she countered. "For now, we'll need to skim to find the pertinent information we want." She pursed her lips as she noted the date of the final entry. "System might have been put on stand by or something. How 'bout you start from '73 and work backwards and maybe find out what happened to the people and the project? Also, let's see if we can query the system for these numbers." She rattled off the numbers stenciled onto their respective pods. "See if that brings up anything." Sean pulled out the chair for the terminal next to Abel's, spun it around and straddled it - without the considerable assets she could remember having in other incarnations, it was as comfortable as when she had been a boy or man. She planted the binders she'd taken off to the side. "I'll look for the first entries and work up, looking for the original purpose of the project, and possibly where this inconsistent tech came from." If we're still now in some manner of simulation... Jeane had been circling the place with restless energy, not finding any enemies or someone to blame, nor weapons or items that could directly aid them in immediate survival, but lots of printouts of things she didn't understand. Until she came across something she did understand, though she hadn't really expected to find them here. Then she reflected on the supposed time the apocalypse had struck and admitted she didn't know what else she'd expect. "Here," the big blonde growled, dropping a stack of professional quality video tape reels on one of her passes. "Maybe these can tell you what happened here or what the fuckers went." It was clear Jeaned was more interest in the latter than the former. Sean arched a brow at the tapes, ran a hand over her head - seeming disgruntled as is slid over smooth scalp rather than hair - then looked around at the area. "Maybe it will at that." She smirked wryly. "It would certainly be convenient. Abel, start going through entries. I'm gonna look for something to play these tapes and get them set up." She nodded up at Jeane. "If nothing else, the rest of you can watch them while I help Abel go through the entries on the computer." Her turquoise eyes went to Kia. "How's Lilly, Kia? Anything?"
  14. From the corner of her eye, Sean noticed Kia clasping hands with Abel and she moved up swiftly almost in line with Jeane, though of to the side. She wasn't alone, true, but Kia and Abel had each other. Who did she have? She had memories of parents, sisters, brothers, lovers. Some showed some familiarity through multiple... iterations, but the only constant had been Sara, in all her incarnations. And that constant had been torn from her. She sighed with melancholy as she studied the ruined campus. A school for Keys had been Abel's focus, not hers, though she had aided him in it. Her goals had tended towards uplifting everyone, Key and Deadbolt alike, so that Keys alone wouldn't dictate the fate of Humanity. Still, Abel's had been a noble goal and she could understand the hurt in seeing a dream turned to a different purpose. In truth, it seemed that their dreams - if in fact of the lives they remembered were but dreams - had been taken from them, used for the purposes of others. It wouldn't be Chicago Pile-1 they would find in there, especially if it was still providing power. Sean felt it would a SLAM-K or SLAM-Q reactor that she had designed, of a variation there of. What other things would they find in this broken world taken from the mirror lives they could remember? "If there's power still running, seems likely there'd be at least some people around, taking advantage of it," Sean answered Kia without looking back, her clear voice distant. "Whether they were involved in the project - or descended from those who were - or they are people who've come around since this world went to shit, who knows?" She gave Lilly a nod. "There's definitely survivors somewhere." She hitched up her pack. "Let's go see if there are any here, along with any answers." Oddly - she thought it was odd - but she didn't hate the ones that had presumably entombed them in those capsules and turned their thoughts and dreams into processing power. She didn't feel any particular animosity, though she hardly felt any affection for them either. She just wanted to know the purpose, the why, and how all those in the capsules had been selected. Sean arched a brow at the girl standing nearly a foot and half taller than her as they started forward. "Don't worry about me, Jeane. I'm a lot more dangerous than I look."
  15. Trudging along the train tracks, a melancholy smile on her lips as she mused on one of her lives more than her surroundings, Sean gave a start when Lilly mentioned the horse tracks and being watched. She frowned in annoyance. Once, she had always known when she was being watched, knew exactly what they were looking at and where they were. Now, if she felt someone or someones watching them, Sean couldn't tell if it was gut instinct or perceiving subconscious cues, or if it was because Lilly had mentioned it. She pursed her lips as she scanned more distant ridge lines, rises, and heights, looking for watchers limned by the sky behind them, but all the dust in the air made it hard to make out. Sean walked over to Lilly, giving the tracks a cursory glance. While she knew how to survive in the wild, her skill at following others were focused in other directions. She worried at an underlip for a moment. "How much ground do you think a horse could cover in half an hour?" Sean asked Lilly. "Well, by the size of the tracks I am assuming they are average size horses. So then by the spacing of the tracks I would say it was a pretty easy walk. At that rate, in 30 minutes they could have covered maybe two miles. Which could explain the fact that we do not see them, except for the unshakable feeling that I, at least, have had that we're being watched." she suggested. Something about the tracks seemed to catch Lilly's eye though and she crouched down once again, examining the tracks close, putting a finger vertically in several tracks of each set. "Hmm... I would say that they are all bearing loads too. The trailing horse is carrying the heaviest load. I'd say 200 pounds, give or take 20 or 25 or so. The other two though..." she said, her voice trailing off as she checked the tracks again. "They are a little odd. They have a load of a 100, maybe 120 pounds. That's a light rider. Kids, maybe, or a young woman. Hmm..." she explained. "So, about the size of me and Kia, if they are traveling lights," Sean commented. Lilly considered for a moment, then nodded her agreement. The thought of them carrying loads made her curious about the droppings again. She examined them once more, using a large rock to break some open and examine the insides, looking for tell tale signs of parasites and other conditions as well as their diet. "By the looks of this, I'd say that these are healthy, domesticated horses that have been feed hay and oats. So somebody is taking good care of them and probably growing them food..." she said as she lifted her head and looked around the a desolate, gray terrain, "...somewhere." "At a guess, I'd say the heavier horse might be a pack horse, carrying most of their supplies and whatever the riders might have scavenged," Sean hypothesized. "Whatever apocalypse hit this world, it could have made the cities dangerous places and people scattered back to the rural areas. But they might return to scavenge when they can." She gave a cute, wry snort. "Very Fallout. I agree with Jeane and Abel. Let's stay on the main quest to find the computer rather than get distracted by side quests. But yeah, definitely keep our hands near our weapons. And keep our eyes out for more tracks. We might need to follow them back to what passes for civilization here."
  16. The world was in shades of grey where her swirling memories were saturated with colour. The soft wind was cold on her scalp and cheeks. Sean dug out one of the extra jumpsuits from her pack. Testing its stretch, she cut off one of the legs of a jumpsuit, then cut off a wide band. She pulled it over her head, and it fit well enough, covering part of her ears like a too wide headband, the extra material on top flopping over. She took it off, made a a few cuts and slits with the k-bar, and after some pulling and tying, she put her 'hat' back on. It looked stupid, like a mangled beanie, but it worked well enough. Sean took a deep breath as she watched the grey waves of lake Michigan lap against the shore with a strange flatness. The air smelled flat too, no sense of life too it, nor even the smell of exhaust or garbage, city smells. She turned back and studied the ruins of Chicago, looking for movement, lights, something to indicate life, as Lilly made her assertions and suggestions. "I don't disagree with things being... inconsistent," Sean said, even her melodious voice sounding somewhat flat out in the desolation. "The tech back in there..." She nodded back towards the doorway in the hill they had come from. "With it, with that... I wouldn't discount the Fermi reactor - or a version of it - running whatever we were part of. Lilly, the reactor wasn't just built at the University, the reactors and the University of Chicago were one of the sites for Government Research on the Manhattan Project. A government slash military run project, not mere college phd projects." The slender girl shrugged a shoulder. "If I was running things, sure, I'd give this place it's own power supply. But maybe they didn't have the funding for another reactor, or the space down there, or thought it unnecessary, or maybe even dangerous. I do know thinking of this as just another 'simulation' is a dangerous way of going about it. It would be better to just think of it as real. If we can't distinguish the difference, then for all intents and purposes, it is real. As for your big door..." Sean raised an arm and pointed at the hill to the left of the small door they had exited from, glancing from Lilly to Jeane. "It's right there, buried from the hill slumping or on purpose at some point. Unless you think those tracks that lead to the big doors drop down at a seriously steep angle right on the other side. I bet..." Without waiting to say what she bet, Sean began walking briskly away from the hill. Just a few dozen yards away, she found what she suspected, breaking though the dirt, dark with grit and disuse, but unmistakable. "Train tracks," she called out. "Leading towards the city." Sean walked back to the group at a more sedate pace. "Train tracks back to the city, to the campus even, for all we know. Could be reasons to build off site. More remote, so less eyes, curious university eyes. Or they didn't have a place secret enough situate the project, or couldn't built a place like this there without raising more questions on site. Regardless, I think we'll find more answers there than we will here playing with the phones. We certainly won't find less." Her jaw set with stubbornness. "So I'm going instead sitting here and building base camp. We apparently have waited for over a hundred and fifty years. I'm done with fucking waiting." She nodded at Lilly's pack which held one of the water condensers. "If the condensers are anything like the ones I designed, it should make perfectly clean, potable water. If something gets through the condensing process, I don't think boiling the water will deal with it any better. Everything you want to look for, we can look for on the way, Lilly." Sean got ready to set out, with or without anyone else, taking stock of what she had with her in her own pack, and glanced over at Abel. "Without continual maintenance, you'd be surprised how quickly infrastructure can decay." She gave the bleak sky a dismal look, one part slightly brighter than the rest that might have indicated the sun. "I have a few guesses on how this could have happened, but they are only guesses at this point."
  17. "Hmm, there was that Arctic base we hid out in for a bit," Sean commented dryly as she looked around. "But with the limited power out-put, it doesn't feel nearly cold enough for that." She snorted a cute, bitterly amused laugh. "I'll vote for Groom Lake or Cheyenne Mountain." Sean had been largely silent and subdued as they trekked through the tunnel. She'd always had good recall and will the onslaught of memories swirling up in her mind, memories of other times, other selves were growing into sharper and more extensive focus. In the Key Frame, with her unlocking, she had known how to do many things, had simply known things, without having the context of when and how she had learned all those many skills. The capsules and plethora of scenes and memories she now experience suggested where those skills and talents had come from. She'd been an Olympic gymnast, scoring straight 10s, winning gold to Nadia Comaneci's silver. He'd been a soldier and UFC champion. She'd been a sensual lounge singer and an acclaimed actress. The pilot and captain of an independent freighter starship, and a survey specialist investigating new worlds for potential colonization. A doctor, a Nobel winning scientist, and the undisputed leader in the video game industry, revolutionizing it. An architect, and a thief. So many lives she had lived, and she was remembering more and more of them. Some felt more real than the others, though none had the tactile immediacy of where she was now, underground in some complex, as they tried to find their way out and see the sky. Perhaps for the first time with their actual eyes. "Guys, not sure if is an invasion of privacy - but I feel like we've been friends - and sometimes rivals - through many... iterations. But what do you remember, are remembering?"
  18. "I've an idea or two," Sean admitted as she geared up, settling the revolver on her slim hips, balancing it with the k-bar on the other side. The jumpsuit and boots fit surprisingly well - the jumpsuits and bodysuits seemed made to go together, the textured surface of the former matching the surface of the latter, so their was no slippage. Using one of the extra jumpsuits, Sean made herself an improvised satchel by simply tying the sleeves and legs together and slinging it over her shoulder, to help carry her share of the supplies. Shifting to settle and evenly distribute the weight, Sean was keeping her distance from Jeane, still mutely furious with the accusation that this was all her fault. Jeane lamented the lost of their powers, of Keys, regardless if they really had had them, or if Keys had really existed. She had ladled blame on Sara too, though Sean strongly suspected Sara - or rather, her remains - moldered in one of the capsules. Her memories of her parents were far from consistent, and while she recognized them as her (or his) parents, they weren't the same people. Sara on the other hand, no matter how different she looked, Sean knew it was still her. And now she was gone. Unless this just another level of the simulation or dream state or whatever it was... No! That way lies madness. You'd grow reckless, dangerous, always questioning what's real. Don't mention it. Sean nodded at the grates on the ground and the terminal, cursor blinking as numbers and letters scrolled by on the monitor. "We should be able to follow the right cable bundle at least part of the ways. Further, we might be able to use the compass. Magnetic compasses are affected by electromagnetic fields, which electricity through wires emit. If there's enough power flowing and they didn't insulate the wires well enough, we might be able to track the cable to the other terminal by the distorted readings of the compass." Sean smiled crookedly and shrugged. "If that fails, then it's some trial and error. Thankfully, we have some supplies to last us a little while at least." She frowned pensively. "There's another question we have to consider... What woke us up and why now? Something inside the... the system, something we did? Or something outside it?" She nodded back towards the capsules. "For the most part, none of the capsules look like they opened at the same time. Last thing I 'remember' is activating the Exodus system. Did that disrupt our... operating system, for lack of better term, or did the operators find the answer to a question they posed or otherwise did this system accomplish what it ultimately designed for? Was our awakening delayed, either on purpose or accidentally? Okay, that was more than one question, but they are all related." Her frown deepened as she continued considering the capsules. Did she want to know, or not... Curiosity won, even if it would hurt. "Guys, give me a few minutes. I have to check something out." Sean moved between the capsules on light feet, often only the top of her bald head seen above the capsules as she looked for something. She made a point of looking at every serial number, committing it to memory, before moving on. At one capsule, one that the others believe was next to hers, Sean paused for a moment. She took a deep breath, the opened the unsealed capsule wider. Skin was shriveled to the skull, the brittle hair colourless. The shape of the skull indicated the corpse had been female, teeth and marking suggesting she'd been roughly her own age. It could have been her. She might not never know, but she took special note of the serial number on the capsule. The other terminal might be able to put names to numbers. She bowed her head, then closed the capsule as much as she could - it was all she could do. She walked back to the others, a new tightness about her eyes. "Everyone in the capsules, at an educated guess, they were all about our age." There was a minutest catch in her voice, one that would only have been caught if one were listening for it. "And none of the capsules were empty. Now, I'm ready to go."
  19. Sean barely muttered an assent so focused was she on the computer terminal, trying to figure out the interface and programming architecture. "Pants! Look for clothing too," she added quickly as Kia began to move off. "Boots. And anything that can hold water, in case we have to scavenge for it." She tried to get back to the frustrating computer, but her teeth began to grind as she heard Kia and Abel poking about and listened to Lilly urging caution and to wait on her with what she could find out and Jeane wanting to go, go, go. And as much as she was trying to stay on task, her mind kept going on tangents on the slightest urging, bringing up new memories. Her brow furrowed. A silver haired stripper in what seemed a retro Las Vegas? Really? And her main man was really a woman, a redheaded Sara almost as tall as Jeane, but much broader across the shoulders and more muscular than Lilly, tattooed and dressed in biker leathers. Sean shook her head, grunted, rubbed at her eyes with balled fists, then turned away from the terminal. "Okay, look. Normally, I'd totally agree with you Lilly, but nothing about this is normal. I appreciate that you want to wait and see what I can learn from the computer, but it's going to take me a few hours - I hope it's only a few hours - to get to the point where I can query this thing and hopefully start getting answers. It's pre-DOS, and while I've read up on FORTRAN, this isn't that either." I used to be the greatest computer hardware and software engineer the world had ever seen. I can also remember just a few years ago believing a computer was just a person good at math. "Also, whatever I can learn will pertain just to this facility in all likelihood, not what's outside it. It's a closed system. Look around, do you notice anything missing?" Sean gave the others only a moment to consider. "There's no phones. And as bonkers as this tech is, it's all hardwired and I don't think this place is wi-fi or bluetooth enabled. All this, all of it..." she gestured around at the pods and computer stacks and spooling tape,"... is a single computer. Hell! I can't be certain, but I don't even think this place has any outside connections to remote power or communication grids. It would explain why there's still power - intermittent though it is - while the place has otherwise been forgotten. Abandoned. And that guy." She nodded in the direction of the fellow Jeane had found. "From what I can tell, we've been here for years. Maybe... maybe decades. Anyone or anything that was trying to get in here is long gone or long dead. The computer is a closed system and so is this facility, I think. It's... it's like a Vault from the Fallout series. Minus the radical social engineering experiments hopefully." Sean eyed the capsules doubtfully, then went to ran a hand through hair she didn't have, looking disgruntled when her hand slid across her smooth scalp. She did have a head for the look - if she didn't have the incredible curves the Irregulars had memories of her having - she was still very pretty. "So, we still need answers, yes, but we're not going to find them all in here." She rapped the top of the terminal with her knuckles. "And with all these memories already clamoring for my attention, I don't need you guys hovering and waiting to see if I've 'found anything yet.' This shit is weird enough as is, stuff isn't..." Sean shook her head trying to clear as she settled back in front of the terminal. "So go explore some., Lilly and Jeane, Abel and Kia, or all in a group, see what you guys can find out while I do the same. If nothing else, if there is a way out. I promise, I'll be safe. I'm a black belt of various degrees in eighteen martial arts - no wait, nineteen, just remembered another I practiced for, uh, over fifty years it seems - and have a gun. Or better yet, you guys take the gun, and leave me a shiv. I'll be able to handle any zombies or ghouls. Or scream real loud if I can't."
  20. Sean let out a long, low whistle as she gave one of the open capsules - the one she had exited in fact - a closer inspection. It looked like something from ten or twenty years ago, even like fifty or sixty - depending on which slew of memories she was referencing from - but it was only an illusion. The thing was top rate tech, as advanced as anything she had designed or could remember encountering. Looking at where she had been resting in the capsule, there were faint nodules that she realized attached to tiny, nearly invisible sockets in her suit when she looked at it closely. She'd taken the sockets simply for texture at first. She frowned, then gave her suit a tentative stretch, then a more vigorous one. Firm and snug as the suit was, when pressure was applied, the suit proved itself to have tremendous stretch. She eyed Kia, then Jeane. Seemed like they truly were one-size fits all. The capsules themselves were composed of two chambers, an outer shell and inner chamber. The inner chamber looked like it would fit an occupant closely, but manipulating the edges, Sean found out the chamber could expand... and retract, in each dimension. Playing with it, it seemed like the inner chamber of the capsule could accommodate anything from a near infant to someone as big or bigger than Jeane. Judging by the residue on her and the dry crust inside the capsule, when operational, the capsules were filled with some sort of liquid. Other than the gunk left on her, on them, there was no liquid left. She looked in and around the capsule, looking for a reservoir or tubing for the liquid, but didn't find anything. She did find wires under grimy grating that connected the capsules to the computer stacks around the room, two stacks per capsule. The inside of the capsules, especially the upper part and around where the head would rest were extremely sophisticated scanning devices, measuring all manner of biometrics judging from the few indicators she could decipher. On the outside, under an etched serial number was a covered panel with a slot. Fiddling with the deep buttons under the panel, it looked like it was meant to issue a readout.... on something like a punch card? What retro-futuristic nonsense was this? Power to her capsule was inconsistent, but with some grunts, a few kicks with the bottom of her feet, and some very careful prodding with some leftovers from Jeane's makeshift armory, she managed to get it running long enough to get the panel to print off a punch card. It sounded like an angry, ancient dot matrix printer. Sean made a sound suspiciously like a squeal of victory. When the others turned to look at her, she just smiled. "Give me a minute or five, I might have something." Her grin turned uncomfortable. "What I can tell you right now though is... I think we may have been in these capsules longer than we think. Uh, or think that we think. Whatever. They look like they are meant to support someone from almost infancy to adulthood, nearly without interruption. Looks like there might be another room below this one too." Sean went to each of the capsules her friends had come from, memorizing their serial numbers and with curses and finagling, managed to get a punch card from each of them. "Anything there that looks like it reads punch cards?" Sean called back, heading towards the door Abel and Kia had gone through. "You know, for when computers were the size of... harrumph! The size of these?" Passing by Lilly, Sean waved the punch cards. "Not sure about rebuilding humanity, but this had to have been some sort of Big Idea project that either had its funding pulled, or something happened to the people running it, or it was just... forgotten. And I have the feeling this project, whatever it was for whatever reason, was on the down-low. Hopefully these will tell us something, it there's something that can read them and has power to work."
  21. "I do," Sean claimed, her clear, melodious voice half an octave higher than she thought it should have been, holding out her hand for the proffered pistol. Her lips lifted in a half smile. "I'll see what I can scrounge up in trade." Memories tumbled through her head like jumbled puzzle pieces from different puzzles all trying to fit together. She could remember never having touched a gun before. She remembered being a super-woman and peerless markswoman. He was a young man, just joining the military along with versions of those with her now. She grew up a farm girl, friends with Lilly, Jeane, Kia, and Sara, learning to shoot almost as soon as she could walk and ride. It was disorienting... and it was not. Just pieces of her life, her lives, what it had been, what it was, what it could be, or could have been. Sean turned from craning her neck to look up at Jeane - a strange, yet familiar sensation - to glance around the gloomy, disarrayed and neglected room. For an instance, she had hoped, but no... Sara was still missing. Missing in the here and now - wherever and whenever that might actually be - but not in the plethora of memories assailing her, old and new. Memories of laughter and tears. Ones where she was a girl, or a woman, and some where she a boy, a girlish one, or a man, tall and broad-shouldered. Some where Sara was wearing a wedding dress, or she was, or they both were, or it was someone else entirely - Jeane, Abel, people she had never seen before, yet knew intimately. Fights and arguments, Sara, taller and bigger than she was, slapping her hard enough that she hit the ground. One where she nursed a child at a swollen breast, and Sara stood over her shoulder, smiling down at their daughter. Sean drew a shaky breath, then shook her head. "Okay... okay, we should look around a bit more before going out, maybe for a locker or something. We don't even have pants or shoes. Crack that door for light, if we have too. When we get out of here, we're going to stand out like a sore thumb." She smirked up at Jeane, as she ran a hand over her bald pate, and couldn't help by wonder if she had the head for it. "I mean more than we already will." Sean drifted over to a few of the capsules, standing up on her toes to peer into the windows. She wasn't precisely short, definitely not as short as she could remember being, but she wasn't tall either. 5'4'', 5'5'' maybe, slim, but toned and taut, more modestly endowed than her other memories of being a woman. Corpses stared back at her from the capsules, from varies states of decay all the way to skeletal. She didn't recognize any of them. She stumbled back in a gliding step, her stomach roiling. Some where still sealed, but most weren't and held scents of dust and desiccation, or the sweet, sickening smell of decay. "I think it's just us, Lilly," Sean said after spitting out bile. "These other capsules, they look like they haven't been operating in a some time, some, in a good long time. Ours seem like they... failed just now. Or were turned off or told to open just recently." She added a muttered. "Whatever recently means now." While Lilly checked desk drawers, Sean moved towards the walls away from the stacks of obsolete computer stacks and electronic equipment, looking for lockers or cabinets that might hold anything of interest, clothes, or files explaining what this place was. She found the gloom irritating, remembering when the dark didn't pose the slightest impediment to her vision. "As for what's going on, Kia... I don't know any more than you," she admitted. "Activating the satellites shouldn't have, couldn't have caused..." She trailed off, biting her lower lip. Activating the Exodus system was her most recent memory... and it wasn't, other memories clamoring for attention in her head. She could remember designing and building the nanite sized satellites, but she no longer had the impossible clarity of thought and recognition of patterns and connections to understand all the principles. Skills and knowledge that had bloomed inside her when she unlocked still remained, but now, in some cases, she could recall how she had learned and acquired them, bits and pieces of various lives settling inside her to make some new who was still all of those other selves. Greater than the sum of our parts, indeed... "This might be something with Hooli - or his, its kind - again, with or without Sara's input or involvement, or something else altogether. A type of attack by the Titans, getting a drop on us. We're jacked into a simulation that we can differentiate from reality - yet. Something else, maybe with harnessing the Genesis Particles, we, I don't know, got pulled into the potential from where they come. I don't know, I don't have the pieces to figure it out. Yet. But we'll find them, there just isn't any reason not to be cautious about it."
  22. Hugh, from TNG, was a self-aware Borg, severed from the Hive, though I don't recall what happened to him. IIRC, he went back to the Borg. But he wasn't made part of the Enterprise crew or anything. I guess there is also Picard/Locutus, if you want to consider that.
  23. Sean's eyes widened as Jeane disappeared in a flash and crack of red lightning. She'd seen the twist and fluctuation in the quantum field before when someone teleported - Devin, James, another two. This was different. Not in intensity - Devin's capabilities were much stronger - but in kind. The fluctuations had turned in on themselves, almost the energetic analogy to a mobius strip. Hmm... Her lips tightened in frustration. End us? Sean had no intention of ending Jeane, or any of the Irregulars. Or even any other Key that didn't mean her or hers any harm, or who didn't pose a critical threat to the world at large. But Jeane kept thinking of Keys as a species - perhaps a subspecies - when that was a fallacy. They were anomalies. Curtailing the advent of more Keys didn't mean the current ones and the ones that unlocked in the meantime couldn't contribute to the progress of Earth and humanity. Sean gave her head a small, tight shake. "Nothing says the options we end up having in life are going to include good ones, Abel. Sometimes it just degrees of less bad. If Keys continue unlocking, we'll soon come to a point of us and them. Many, most will want to become a Key. Many will try to make them. The conspiracy Rashoud is part of was able to manage it, however imperfectly, with the Brain-in-a-jar and Kyle. Resentment will grow, and conflict will follow, despite best intentions." Her perfect lips curved in a half smile. "And best intentions don't always abound. We could go the other, and try to unlock everyone, put them on an equal footing, as it were. But think of the worse, most despicable person you can imagine... and now give him power equal to ours. Give a hundred, a thousand people like him the same, and honestly consider if we'd even approach breaking even with everyone unlocked - presuming we could manage such a feat - with such as they in our midst." Sean nodded at Lilly. "Agreed, this isn't something we can deal with in a day. Talking to Apollo is an option, one that we should follow up on, if only to cover our bases. Assuming he and Pandora hadn't lied about everything, I'm not sure how much help he can provide however. Our society and how humanity manifests and channels these quantum powers are very different." She waved a hand at Charlie, one finger extended. "Of us, I believe you've had the most contact with him, Charlie. Would you be willing to talk with him, if he's willing to talk?" Giving Charlie a moment to answer, she nodded then turned back to Lilly, extending a second finger. "As for Rashoud... I've been trying, gently to speak with her. But the Government is keeping her sequestered and unavailable." Devastating turquoise eyes glittered, her compelling voice took on a hint of an edge, her faint grin an enticing challenge. "I may have to press the issue." A third finger joined the first two. "Data we have, we recovered a fair bit of from Fort Story, we just have to finish decrypting it. And I assure you, it is a priority. And I've detailing a pack of Proxy programs to start collecting any articles, news stories, and social media feeds that involve or hint at Keys. I'll also start skimming more classified databases and if I find any good leads, share them with you guys, to follow up on." Her expression became almost circumspectly neutral as tapped the table with four fingers, carefully blank of any concern or worry. "Speaking with Sara, yeah... that's going to have to wait until she finds her way back from wherever she is, or I can find her." The faintest frown crossed her lips, gone in less than a blink. It had been minutes, and already, she had searched for Sara deeper and further than most could comprehend. "I don't believe someone has taken her against her will, or could - not now, not without any sort of trace - but that doesn't mean someone or something - Hooli for example -" Sean tilted her head at Lilly, acknowledging her earlier comment, "couldn't've persuaded or tricked her to remain absent for some reason. I'm going to look into it of course, but I'll admit, at the moment, I'm at a lost." Her smile turned wry and she waved a dismissive hand. "I hardly think the tech Abel and I have introduced have contributed to any increase in emergence of unlocked Keys. The vast majority work on already established scientific principles, even if only - once - theoretical." The waggled her fingers playfully. "No quantum chicanery involved. But I'll give anything we have produced another look in light of these developments and will carefully review anything develop in the future." Sean leaned back in her chair, folding her arms beneath her breasts. "At the moment however, I think our best bet, for a starting point at least, it with the files from the Black Project. From what we've managed to decipher and piece together so far, seems like they've been looking at Keys, or the potential for them, for decades." She pursed her lips and cocked her head to the side. "Lilly, perhaps you could talk to your father? Working for Stepping Stone and Guardian Shield, and then... situation with Devin, perhaps he learned or heard something of conspiracy. Or might be able to pull some strings to get us access to Rashoud."
  24. Sean arched an elegant dark red brow at Kia. "No one's intentionally making people unlock? Kyle and the brain in jar that was found at that naval Black Op would indicate otherwise, Kia. It doesn't 'just happen' though the great many factors involved may make it seem like it does. And one of the major factors may need to be reevaluated. We were operating under the impression that exposure to certain exotic particles, quantrinos, was a critical component to the unlocking of Keys, but that is now suspect with the detainment of Dr. Rashoud, who seems to have been part of a conspiracy with - and without - Project Stepping Stone and Guardian Shield." Her long fingers danced gracefully over the glossy black block of advanced smartphone, projecting a holographic display of images of the items they had confiscated from Fort Story - and that had been turned over to the government - and a counting showing how much of the data had been decrypted. "We still have to go over the stuff we got from Fort Story . As for what we can do about future potential Keys, that is yet to be determined until we look more closely at what causes unlocking and how. We've designed the new Portal systems so they no longer emit gratuitous quantrinos, if that is indeed a factor. The info gleaned from Fort Story may provide us with more insight. If proximity to unlocked Keys is a factor..." Sean frowned, chewing a delectable underlip. "There will be two main branches of inquiry in curtailing the unlocking of future Keys." She tapped the tapped with a forefinger, the sound surprisingly sonorous and intense. "One, finding out what environmental factors cause Unlocking and removing or negating said factors." Her middle finger joined her index finger as she tapped the table again. "And two, determine a way to make the rest of humanity largely unresponsive to said environmental factors, or at least make unlocking less appealing when exposed to said factors." Sean held up a restraining hand as Jeane was about to voice her protest. "Yes, yes, if we so choose to curtail the unlocking of future Keys. However, I would like to add that planned obsolescence of Keys had always been a goal of mine. I've been trying to provide humanity with the tools and wherewithal to succeed and thrive without the need for Keys. Humanity's fate shouldn't be determined by a percent of a percent - less actually. Which isn't to say we can't help, we have and we should. We're still part of humanity, even if calling us human isn't precisely correct anymore. But we aren't a true representation of humanity." There were murmurs of disagreement and Sean's lips tightened. "I know, it's not something we like to think about, to admit, but it's true. I'm not saying we don't sympathize or can't empathize - dorming for some might strengthen the bonds - but consider.... how many of us, here, actually still need to eat and breathe? They're very basic human needs. I still do, but if anything, I'm in the minority. And that is just one way we differ that has nothing to do with superhuman capabilities we possess. Do I have to continue the list?" Sean seemed calmed and collected despite her girlfriend gone missing but those who knew her very well could just barely detect a faint stiffness to her posture through her inhuman grace. It wasn't that she wasn't concerned for Sara, Sara had come back from long odds, but not knowing where she'd gone, or how, was eating at her. But she wasn't going to let it influence what she wanted to say. Her gaze fell on the satchel in front of Jeane, her turquoise eyes narrowing on the splintered shards of rock spilling from it. She recalled Sara handing the bag over to Abel. With her superhuman ability to interpolate and extrapolate facts and deduce connections, she could practically see Jeane shattering the stones with her fists in frustration. Stress and anger Jeane still felt and barely suppressed. "I'd like to expand on a point Abel and Jeane brought it, if I may? Unlocking not only doesn't change us on a genetic level, despite any physical alterations we may have undergone." Her lips quirked wryly as she glanced down at herself then arched a brow at Jeane, the two of them having changed the most physically, at a casual glance. "It doesn't effect the germline cells. Meaning, being a Key isn't hereditary. There is no guarantee any of our offspring will unlock as a Key. They likely wouldn't even have a greater chance of it occurring. And they wouldn't inherit any of our quantically enhanced attributes or abilities. There will be no second generation, no legacy of Keys, only a perpetual first generation, if things continue as they have." Sean focused on her attention on Jeane. If her silken melodious voice was intense, there was no hint of anger in it, though she was trying to get her own point of view across. "You are pissed at being called an accident, right, Jeane? Would you prefer thinking of it as winning the lottery? Nobody is entitled to the powers we have, not even 'the originals'. Those deserving or worthy - however that is determined - aren't any more likely to unlock. In fact, they are less likely, if we presume they make up a smaller proportion of population. And those who are more like to abuse their powers, accidentally or unthinkingly, selfishly or actively disruptive and destructive..." Sean gestured at the unusually tall blond girl across from her. "You're a year or two younger than most of us, Jeane. You've been a Key for less than half the time, and already, by general metrics, you're as powerful as any us. By you own admission, you've said we've been a positive influence. And yet, when Sara said something you took issue with, what did you do? You ran - no, you teleported away and smashed rocks with your fists." She nodded pointedly at the bag of rocks in front of Jeane. "Which doesn't mean I think that is an unwarranted response. But what about other Keys? Then tens, the hundreds, that try to keep their powers underwraps, and don't have a positive influence, let alone have been exposed to truly negative ones? We won't find them all, and of the ones we do find, they won't necessarily want our help. What can someone as strong as Lilly do in a fit of pique if say, she was slapped by a parent or teased by a sibling or classmate. What chaos can someone with Abel's turbocharged psychic abilities cause just because he tried to force his divorced parents back together, then just wanted his older brother to stop beating him up, then wanted his grandparents to give him better and more Christmas presents, and then and then and... Someone with my or Courtney's social... dynamism can cause any number of issues, and that is without even trying. I compared it to winning a lottery, but it's more than that. It's too much power too quickly that humanity isn't ready for. If ever, at least, not this way. Look, Jean, have you ever taken PED, performance enhancing drugs, before?" Jeane's fair brows knitted in quizzical affront. "No, of course not?" "Why not?" Sean countered smoothly. "Used smartly and with consideration, they would have objectively made you a better athlete, stronger, faster, able to exercise harder and for longer. Unlocking... it's just giving a random person a super dose of quantum steroids. Some will handle it fine, even admirably, but most won't, regardless of what we do. And if we try to force the issue, keep all Keys in line, how different will that make us from the Titans? More nukes aren't a deterrent to more nukes, its just more chance of something going wrong." Sean sat back in her chair, eyes going around the table. "I'm not just agreeing with my girlfriend. This is just how I see the issue, reflecting on the revelations Sara voiced and extrapolating from trends I can see."
  25. She searched Tahiti where Pandora and Apollo had trained Devin and others, had taken at look at Devin's old place in California he had made a base for his secret operation, but found no sign of Sara. She passed her Far Sight over an remote island in Fiji she had shared with Sara, a place in Malaysia, Paris, across Germany and Eastern Europe and other places she had visited with her girlfriend. No sight of her bold face, no sound of her sarcastic, slightly raspy voice. Her Mind's Eye was roved over the dark side of the Moon as she focused striving for Mars, when the mental reply finally caught up to her far ranging consciousness. Unfortunately, it wasn't who she wanted it to be. Her distance body sighed in frustration, a hand brushing back damp hair. <No, it isn't, Abel,> Sean answered curtly, the tight reins on her mental communication giving Abel no other indication of her thoughts. She pulled back, her senses snapping to Irregular Solutions with impossible speed, catching Jeane's comment. <In fact, I did have something better to do,> Sean told Jeane over a private channel, her mental tone icy cold. <And it isn't to make a 'better entrance' to lend more weight to my or her opinion on this very serious matter.> Sean stood up on the bathroom, quickly drying off her arm and brushing back to her hair, anchoring her senses back in her body, her mental voice back on general guild chat so that all the Irregulars could hear. <Sorry for being late, guys, just climbing into Little Bigfoot now. I'll be there in a few. Sara's missing, gone. I can't find her, and I don't know if she went willingly or was taken.> Sean put the Cherokee/Challenger hybrid into gear, the electric engine humming softly, then drove for Irregular Solutions at twice the speed limit, but with control as smooth as though she were out for an evening stroll. Sara's absence was too much to be coincidence.
×
×
  • Create New...