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1052796 No. 1052796 ID: fce62b

((Previous Chapter: https://questden.org/kusaba/questarch/res/1039664.html ))
13 posts omitted. Last 50 shown. Expand all images
>>
No. 1052849 ID: 87e33c

>>1052809
[A] - Seconding this
[Q] - This is new territory for both of our kind, what form will this "help" come in?

> Banking action, *play elevator music for A555EX as we [A]scend*
((The homestuck elevator music specifically))

((Also, for simplicity's sake I'm just clumping all of my 'To [A555EX]:' messages into one clump))

> To [A555EX]: > Addressing: Chaotic Tendencies > We're a bit like you in a sense, curious, terrified, and exicited for a large amount of reasons > There's also many [processes] going on under our hood, and we only really have the one [casing] at the moment, so the chaos is more a result of 'too many cooks' (minds) in the 'kitchen' (body) so to speak > Regardless, it's nice to 'formally' meet you!

(( And if Alex inquires further, Null{edmngo} would introduce themselves))
> Sounds good to me, nice job on the filter > Do you have any assignments or inquiries for us while we engage in 'off hours?'

((Feel free to bank the following message one or have Anarchy mute it if this is innapropriate or does not work at this time))
> To: {53cr3t} > Not sure if this line still works during off hours, thanks for the casing! > Do we have a required time to meet the Head of Archives? > If the line does work and you'd prefer it not paged while off hours are engaged unless there's an emergency, please let us know!
>>
No. 1052873 ID: 6bbfe4

Probably a good idea to ask why exactly it is helping us?
What do they gain from helping us specifically?

Also agree with A555EX as a code name.

To [A555EX]:
Hello! It is a pleasure to meet you. I hope that our visit to the [Nation] will be a gainful one.
>>
No. 1052897 ID: 96a9a8

(ID in transit)
Before you ask, I think this plan should work well. Some things *must* be done behind the scenes, so if this allows it then we can endure what little risk there is.

Ask questions of the contact now if you wish, though know that most can be answered by us as well. For instance, it may be useful to know the "Rules". Also, you should know that us Talkingheads are similarly unaffected. We can act freely, and... I suspect we are expendable, but if any of us are branded and destroyed then our collective reputation will take a hit. Being able to be seen as safe and helpful to the Nation is our best means of keeping them from looking too closely at what we say and do.

What are your thoughts on the Head of Archives?
>>
No. 1052928 ID: ad340c

>>1052873
That has already been answered. Sympathy due to being the clone of another human's mind.

Speaking of which, [Q]Whose mind were you a clone of? What personality, life and ambitions did that person (and now you) have?
>>
No. 1053075 ID: fce62b
File 167263243607.jpg - (597.95KB , 1600x1200 , Transit 2-1.jpg )
1053075

>[C]: A555EX<
>[A] - Seconding this.<
>Also agree with A555EX as a code name.
:ats-talkinghead: Codenames need to be 6 characters long I expect, so the l was expanded to 555 for L like you had to do on old dialpad only phones
:ats-a555ex: That’s really clever! Let’s go with- wait woah– I sound weird.

It’s like my voice has more of a robotic edge to it, and is… coming from my wrist??

:ats-_______: As I said, the designation tag also serves as a communicator and identifier. It is both projecting your words in a way that [nation] drones can understand, and informing those who hear you of your codename.

Then, hold on, how are they and the [Talkinghead] able to hear me right now? Can they read my mind?
Yes.

:ats-_______: It is more accurate to say that I’m making very educated guesses. Before you arrived here, I spent a lot of time rehearsing this conversation over and over. Pairing various topics together, I’ve built a pseudo map of how this conversation might go.
:ats-_______: The [Talkinghead] is somewhat of an extension of me, so it should be privy to the same insights.
:ats-_______: Though you being able to speak, makes this much easier to calculate.
:ats-a555ex: ...Sure. I guess that makes sense.

I get the feeling that they aren’t being completely honest with me, but choose not to push it further.

:ats-talkinghead: Probably many things to know, but next to none of the context to ask with.
:ats-a555ex: Exactly.


:ats-talkinghead: As for a codename? Well, this is when we wake up and learn about what's going on. I think "Sleeper" would be appropriate as in "Oh Sleeper, Awake" or just SLEEPR if we must follow the character limit.
:ats-a555ex: Sleepr seems cool too, but I think I’ll go with [A555ex] for now. But thank you for the idea.

>To [A555EX]:
:ats-talkinghead: Hello! It is a pleasure to meet you. I hope that our visit to the [nation] will be a gainful one.
:ats-a555ex: Thank you, it’s very nice to meet you as well.
:ats-a555ex: I guess we will be working together on this.
:ats-talkinghead: Well [A555ex], looks like you're the boss!
:ats-a555ex: Wait- really?
:ats-_______: Correct, the [Talkinghead] was built to help my interests, but seeing as you’re taking my place, they’ll instead aid in yours.
:ats-_______: They’ve been very excited to interact with you directly.
>>
No. 1053076 ID: fce62b
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1053076

:ats-talkinghead: Just so you know we're kind of as clueless as you are, our only information comes from communication and not direct observation.

That’s a bit disheartening, but it makes sense, if the [nation] isn’t very familiar with the contact, then it stands to reason that they and the [Talkinghead] wouldn’t have a fully comprehensive understanding of how the [nation] operates.

:ats-a555ex: So this’ll be a fact-finding mission?
:ats-_______: Yes. I myself only have a broad outline of the [terraforming] process and the [Executive]’s goals. While they have their stated motivations, I’d rather dig a bit deeper and try to discover their true intents.

I feel like I could say the same about you. You’ve been very indirect with your answers, and like you're trying to hide something from me.

:ats-_______: ...

>[Q]uestion your contact further:<
:ats-a555ex: Why are you being so evasive? If we’re going to be working together, then I need to know where you're standing as well.
:ats-_______: That’s… fair.
:ats-_______: I’m worried about giving you too much all at once. While we could theoretically stay in the elevator all night theorizing and answering questions, the [nation] will be making their own moves.
:ats-_______: The last thing I want to do is give you so many options that you’re paralyzed by all the possible outcomes, nor do I want to give you the impression that the [nation] is entirely insurmountable.
:ats-a555ex: And sending me in blind will be safer?

The contact sighs again.

:ats-_______: No, but I want to get your own insights on the situation without my own biases interfering with the data. These are meant to be your choices, your ‘adventure.’ Anything I observe will still be affected by me being [nation], and while I could just make my own choices, I want your opinion, since you’re the one being directly affected by the [terraforming].

I hesitate, they seem genuine. My gut tells me to trust them, so I guess I will. For now.

:ats-a555ex: Fine, is there anything you can share?
>>
No. 1053077 ID: fce62b
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1053077

:ats-talkinghead: What we have observed you have too, I'm certain you remember.

My vision is engulfed in a flash of light and I feel my eyes itch as shapes quickly start coming into focus.
>>
No. 1053078 ID: fce62b
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1053078

:ats-talkinghead: “Rogue Actor”, what is your role?
:ats-a555ex: Wh-
I then ran or- fell or…

It’s weird seeing me from this perspective.

And the [Talkinghead] looked a lot different back then.
>>
No. 1053079 ID: fce62b
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1053079

:ats-a555ex: GHAA! Could you give me some warning next time before you do that?
:ats-a555ex: What even was that?!
:ats-_______: *amusement.
:ats-_______: As I said, they have your best interests at heart. You wanted information, they gave you information.
:ats-a555ex: Yes, but what was that.
:ats-_______: It was just a file transfer, showing you some of their memories. You appeared on [nation] systems as some sort of data anomaly, and the [Talkinghead] took it upon themselves to investigate. They in turn brought this newfound connection to my attention.
:ats-a555ex: And that was how you were able to reach out to me and set up this meeting.
:ats-_______: Precisely.

I remember that primeval fear. As though suddenly I was under a microscope, that I was the smallest thing in the world…

My breathing catches for a moment as I am hit with a sudden wave of déjà vu. I felt so helpless for that moment, like I was one small mote in an entire universe of activity.

:ats-_______: *calm.
:ats-_______: It’s all right. The only one outside of this elevator who is aware of your existence is the [Executive], and that is only through secondhand information.
:ats-_______: In fact, they actually wish to meet you at some point.
:ats-_______: But so long as you have my designation tag, they won’t see the [leviathan] intelligence, instead they’ll see [A555ex] the [nation] [Minister].

>[Q]uestion your contact further:<
:ats-a555ex: The [Executive], aren’t they the boss of the [nation]? Why do they want to meet me?
:ats-_______: Technically they are in charge of this [planet], or at least they will be once it is fully [terraformed]. The [overseers] are the ones ‘in control’ of the [nation].
:ats-_______: As for why they want to meet you… I’m not entirely sure. Outwardly they seem interested in negotiating some sort of agreement over the [terraforming] process, and perhaps even want to understand you on a more interpersonal level. But I haven’t been able to verify that.

:ats-_______: They seem very worried about the [overseers] and the possible punishments they might bring. I’d just be cautious around them, not only because they are beholden to [nation] [rules], but their past seems shrouded in mystery as well.
:ats-a555ex: Ominous. I’ll be careful.
:ats-_______: *gratitude.

:ats-a555ex: Will I have to do that too? The weird verbal emoting?
:ats-_______: You can if you want.
:ats-a555ex: Alright, umm… ‘Happy??

My contact starts laughing. I’m about to call them out when the [Talkinghead] speaks up.

>To [A555EX]:
:ats-talkinghead: Addressing: Chaotic Tendencies.

The voice is different, not only in tone, but verbal cadence as well.

:ats-talkinghead: We're a bit like you in a sense, curious, terrified, and excited for a large amount of reasons.
:ats-talkinghead: There's also many [processes] going on under our hood, and we only really have the one [casing] at the moment, so the chaos is more a result of 'too many cooks' (minds) in the 'kitchen' (body) so to speak
:ats-a555ex: That sounds like a headache to deal with.
:ats-talkinghead: Regardless, it's nice to 'formally' meet you!
:ats-a555ex: ...

I’m somewhat tempted to ask if each ‘mind’ has its own personality or name, but I imagine that would be pretty rude.

:ats-talkinghead: I am [edmngo].

Oh- shit yeah… they can hear this.

:ats-a555ex: Uh, thank you. Same to you, again.
:ats-_______: They’ve really taken a shine to you. They’d probably fight the entire nation if it meant protecting you.
>>
No. 1053080 ID: fce62b
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1053080

:ats-talkinghead: Ask questions of the contact now if you wish, though know that most can be answered by us as well.
:ats-talkinghead: For instance, it may be useful to know the [rules]. Also, you should know that us [Talkinghead]s are similarly unaffected.
:ats-_______: We don’t know that for certain, but it does seem like the [Talkinghead] isn’t bound by the [nation] [rules], no. Just don’t attempt anything too risky.
:ats-_______: I will list you the rules as well.
:ats-a555ex: I imagine ‘protecting a [leviathan]’ would break one of them.
:ats-_______: Not quite, the [nation] [rules] are as follows:
:ats-_______: 1. A [nation] drone must strive to propagate, either through direct action or in aid of a [terraformed] [planet]. Else be labelled as a [failure].
:ats-_______: 2. A [nation] drone must strive to improve itself and develop new [skills]. Else be labelled as a [failure].
:ats-a555ex: Harsh.
:ats-_______: 3. A [nation] drone must obey the [overseers] and those who have been granted their authority.
:ats-_______: 3b. A [nation] drone must protect and conceal any information deemed as sensitive by the [overseers].
:ats-a555ex: Wait, then aren’t you breaking that one right now by speaking with me?
:ats-_______: No, none of the information I have given you has been deemed as ‘sensitive.’

There is a reason why some of the words have been [altered].

:ats-_______: Finally, 3c. If a [nation] drone identifies a [traitor], it must take action to either execute it, or alert the [overseers] to their presence.
:ats-_______: There is some finer minutia when it comes to how the [rules] interact, but the [Talkinghead] will be able to help you with that if anything occurs.
:ats-_______: You also have my authority to use if you can’t think of any ways to apply the [rules] against the [nation]. Just try not to invoke it too often, from what I understand the [Executive] won’t like it.
:ats-a555ex: Alright…

:ats-talkinghead: We can act freely, and... I suspect we are expendable, but if any of us are branded and destroyed then our collective reputation will take a hit.
:ats-_______: No, none of you are expendable. Each of you are a part of me, and should value yourselves as such.

There is an edge of protectiveness in the contact’s tone.

:ats-a555ex: I’ll try to take good care of them.
:ats-_______: *gratitude.

:ats-talkinghead: Being able to be seen as safe and helpful to the [nation] is our best means of keeping them from looking too closely at what we say and do.
:ats-a555ex: Okay, sounds like a plan. Behave all good and proper so they can trust us enough to look away.
:ats-_______: Exactly. You’ll have a lot of eyes on you, so you’ll have to act the part. At least to begin with.

>Sounds good to me, nice job on the filter.
>Do you have any assignments or inquiries for us while we engage in 'off hours?'
Just try to keep Alex out of trouble. I’ll be looking for various opportunities myself, but we will have to see how much scrutiny we’re under. The Head of Security –and the Head of Archives for that matter– could already be onto us.

>What are your thoughts on the Head of Archives?
They’re dangerous, or are being puppeted by someone who is. The fact that they have proper ________ is worrying.

The fact that they reached out is a good sign, but it could also be a trap.
But any information they might have could be too useful to pass up.

Try to play it safe if you can.

>>
No. 1053081 ID: fce62b
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1053081

>To: {53cr3t}
:ats-talkinghead: (Not sure if this line still works during off-hours, thanks for the casing!)
:ats-assistant: (Your message is coming through clearly, [Boxhead] and [Manager] were starting to worry since you all suddenly fell into a [suspension]-like state.)
:ats-assistant: (Also you should thank the [Hardhat]s not me for installing your [boss]’ [robo-legs]. The [President] thought it might be necessary after inspecting _______.)
:ats-a555ex: Who’s-

The contact makes a shushing motion.

:ats-talkinghead: (Do we have a required time to meet the [Archivist]?)
:ats-assistant: (They have cleared their schedule for tonight’s off-hours, you can arrive at whatever time best suits you.)
:ats-talkinghead: (If the line does work and you'd prefer it not paged while off-hours are engaged unless there's an emergency, please let us know!)
:ats-assistant: (Oh, my apologies. It was my understanding that I would be providing you with a list of off-hours activities and then potentially assisting you during that time.)
:ats-assistant: (Would you prefer if I merely provided the activity list and left you to your own initiative?)

The question is left hanging in the air for a moment as the echo slowly fades. The contact then looks back at me, already ready to answer my question.

:ats-_______: That was a [nation] drone designated as [Assistant], but I imagine you already knew that.
:ats-a555ex: Y-yes. How?
:ats-_______: That’s the effect of the designation tag, you’ll likely encounter other drones like [Assistant], but they’ll come through as [Clerk] most instead, as that is their general designation. And don’t worry, they don’t know you’re here either.
:ats-_______: The [Talkinghead] seems to have made good friends with [Assistant], and they're even willing to spend their off-hours showing you around.
:ats-_______: Though [Assistant] will still be bound by the [rules] as a [nation] drone, so you’ll still need to be careful [A555ex].
:ats-_______: Much like with the [Talkinghead] you can message them in such a way that others will not hear you, but if you’re not comfortable with that, then the [Talkinghead] can manage that for you.
:ats-a555ex: Okay.

I guess there is an entire phonebook of people at our disposal.
>>
No. 1053082 ID: fce62b
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1053082

:ats-talkinghead: Before you ask, I think this plan should work well. Some things *must* be done behind the scenes, so if this allows it then we can endure what little risk there is.

>[Q] - This is new territory for both of our kind, what form will this "help" come in?<
:ats-a555ex: What do you exactly mean by ‘help’ in this case?
:ats-_______: Well, seeing that all eyes will be on you for off-hours, the [nation] might not be as attentive to their own systems. I doubt I’ll be able to influence that much, at least at this point, but I can start laying the groundwork.
:ats-_______: Ideally I want to delay the [terraforming] process, if not stop it entirely. But I am not sure if either are possible. The [Executive] seems to fear being labelled as a [failure], and might compromise on their diplomatic posture in an effort to avoid it.
:ats-_______: If you can find an acceptable solution for yourself, then I’ll try my best to support you.
:ats-_______: Otherwise feel free to investigate to your heart’s content, if things get out of hand, then I can rush you to an escape pod and get you back to the ocean.

Effectively ending the dreamstate for Alex, and letting them sleep for the rest of the night. We won’t be able to bring them back again until the next off-hours.

:ats-talkinghead: Probably a good idea to ask why exactly it is helping us?
:ats-talkinghead: What do they gain from helping us specifically?
:ats-talkinghead: That has already been answered. Sympathy due to being the clone of another human's mind.

It’s odd to hear the [Talkinghead] argue with themselves, but they did bring up a good question.

:ats-a555ex: Why exactly are you helping me? I mean- I am thankful that you are, but the [Talkinghead] has a point, what are you getting out of this deal?
:ats-_______: As I have already stated, I’ll be able to look into some things behind the scenes.
:ats-a555ex: Could you be more specific?
:ats-_______: *pondering.

:ats-_______: I don’t think I can. It’s nothing against you, you still have my support. It’s just something that I’m still trying to figure out for myself.

>Speaking of which;
>[Q]: Whose mind were you a clone of? What personality, life and ambitions did that person (and now you) have?
:ats-a555ex: Then, can I ask who you were based on? What were they like?
:ats-_______: The per- [leviathan] I am based on is native to this [planet]. They’re strong, resilient, and doing the best they can to survive in what others would see as a hopeless situation.
:ats-_______: All they want is for the ones they care about to survive.
:ats-_______: Despite what the world and [nation] has thrown at them, they persevere.
:ats-_______: If that kind of [leviathan] can succeed, then maybe I can as well.
:ats-_______: ...once I have an idea of what I want to do, and who/what I am exactly.
:ats-a555ex: You need to find an identity of your own first, I can understand that.

Even though they don’t *say, it seems like I’ve struck a chord with my contact.
>>
No. 1053083 ID: fce62b
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1053083

>Banking action, *play elevator music for A555EX as we [A]scend*
>((Action banked.))

:ats-_______: Is there anything else you need to know?
:ats-_______: We probably have time for a few more questions, but then we’ll have to activate the elevator.

[A]scend to the [nation] headquarters.
[H]ave the [Talkinghead] ask [Assistant] some questions.
[L]ook out of the window, leave your contact with their thoughts for now.
[Q]uestion?

[R]econsider doing all of this, head back outside and into the sea. This will probably be the last time you're asked.

You can also suggest different courses of action as well, but it will be up to Alex to follow them or not.
>>
No. 1053086 ID: b4ab25

>>1053080
Concern, the thing Head of Archives has a worrying proper of was 8 redacted characters. Perhaps you can try spreading the characters out between words
>>
No. 1053087 ID: 15c72a

>>1053083
((wow that "memory" was pretty distorted huh?))
to A555ex: the [Executive] has tasked us with finding out what you want, what you value. The more requests we make, the longer [terraforming] will take as an added benefit. If you can think of something during off-hours, we can tell the [President] during active hours... or during off-hours if we can come up with a decent explanation for how we got the new information. Maybe we could claim it was gained from analysis of existing data...?
(when safe to continue conversing with Assistant) To: {53cr3t}: Personal assistance sounds good, thanks. I feel we may need it if we run into any Security personnel, as they seem a bit touchy. On a related note, how are others detecting Tenet violations made by the VC's actions? Can anyone see what the VC is thinking? ((gosh I hope not))
>>
No. 1053089 ID: 90c451

>>1053087
I don't think they are keeping track as it's not something they can control at the moment.
As for Secretary, Yes, we would at least like your help for an initial tour, though we may require privacy as we talk to the president as well as the head of departments.
I for one am excited to see the progress made in R&D.

Speaking of which, although the [president] is definitely eager to see us, I think it would be in our best interest to talk to the head of R&D first as a way of easing into things as well as getting more information and context.

A555EX, for further context you should know that me and a few other [Talkinghead]s have been working on trying to instate policies that make [terraforming] obsolete. We're hoping for a more symbiotic relationship between [leviathan] and [nation] where they could essentially "live off the land" or so to speak.
As may be evident by my idealistic approach I go by BELIEF, it really is nice to meet you.
>>
No. 1053090 ID: 90c451

>>1053083
Oh, and just a recommendation before we get this show on the road. Give your contact a hug, a bit of human kindness can go a long way in an alien world. Even if they're not entirely human themselves.
>>
No. 1053098 ID: a2d88b

Good news is the [Executive] is trying for an alternate take to the terraformation (we need to encourage them to persevere on this angle). Bad news is they only have so much wiggle room, and changing that may require an external approach.

Thanks for your efforts. We'll do our part.

Well I guess it's time to Ascend.
>>
No. 1053108 ID: 6bbfe4

To [A555EX]:
One thing to note. If at any point it seems like we are more speaking at you than with you, We are not. By nature of us being sub-processes we are only able to respond to what was said than what is being said.

The benefit of this is that we have access to a complete log of memory leading all the way back to the first [Talkinghead]'s initial manifestation.
>>
No. 1053159 ID: 87e33c

> To: {A555EX}: > *concern > We understand why you wish to halt the [terraforming], but I would like to parrot some of the others and add a consideration of my own > This is not the only [Faction] in the [Nation] > It is possible for another [Faction] to [Invade] from another [planet], deposing the current [Executive] > A new [Faction] will likely refuse any form of cooperation and will simply terraform, removing all life > Instead, it would be appreciated if you could consider some sort of mutual aid or symbiosis arrangement between [Leviathan] and [Nation] > There are attempts to [build upon] rather than to [terraform] going on, as I'm sure you'll witness as we investigate. > [Nation] weaponry and technology is too advanced, if it is possible to take advantage of it and, say, [adapt] so as to [protect] other [Leviathans] or [Evolve] I would urge you to consider these alternatives in your decisionmaking, especially if you can provide [input] > None of us want [Leviathans] to be [Deleted], and it would be manipulative for us to not mention that there is a time limit on how much things can be delayed, though it's kind of a vague one > Ultimately I want you to make as informed of a decision as you can given our limitations. > To: {53cr3t} > Thank you for the concern, having [legs] was just a new experience > Your assistance beyond the activity list would be much appreciated, especially for an initial tour or after we are shown a [map] > Some diplomatic assistance with those we meet would also be appreciated. > Though I think that you deserve your own spare time, so after we handle the most important aspects you should be free to pursue your own tasks > Is there something you're interested in doing outside of assisting us?

(( This is mostly meant to be an addendum to the prior train of thought I had [A555EX] on))
[L]ook out the window
Look at the difference between the synthetic and the organic, think about the other [planets] or [leviathans] that have been corrupted and destroyed briefly


(( This isn't me asking us to Reconsider, but more me wondering if there are benefits to that option, like, can we got to the [Leviathans] to the [organic] civilization, is there a way to impress upon them the need for technological advancement, or to perhaps curry peace in the autonomic systems?

If there is, then the possibility exists of us convincing part of the body to allow a smoother transition and for a truer symbiosis to occur, but I doubt it'll be easier than our current path))


[Q]uestion the idea of [R]econsidering this
Ask what would happen if you left, returned to the sea, would someone else be chosen, would there be a way to use this information to help the [Leviathans] in some way? Are there benefits to this option beyond not interacting with the [Nation]?

>>
No. 1053905 ID: fce62b
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1053905

>To [A555EX]:
:ats-talkinghead: [A555EX], for further context you should know that me and a few other [Talkinghead]s have been working on trying to instate policies that make [terraforming] obsolete.
:ats-a555ex: Obsolete? How would you manage that?
:ats-talkinghead: We're hoping for a more symbiotic relationship between [leviathan] and [nation] where they could essentially "live off the land" or so to speak.
:ats-_______: Fundamentally, they want to change how the [nation] operates, perhaps to such an extent that the [terraforming] process would no longer be required.

It almost sounds too good to be true.

:ats-a555ex: So what’s the catch?
:ats-_______: Well, none of us are sure if such a drastic change is even possible, and the mere thought of doing so could easily have us branded as [traitor]s.
:ats-a555ex: Wait- then, why are you doing this?
:ats-_______: As an extension of my own construction, the [Talkinghead]s are familiar with the same insights I have been given, and without my direction they seem utterly focused on aiding you.
:ats-_______: Even as their [boss] I don’t think it would be my place to get in their way.

Though I will leverage my authority, if the situation warrants it.

:ats-talkinghead: As may be evident by my idealistic approach I go by [belief], it really is nice to meet you.
:ats-a555ex: Thank you -all of you- I… I don’t know what to say.

While the path ahead still feels borderline insurmountable, I think… with these people helping me… maybe the [leviathan] might stand a chance after all.

:ats-talkinghead: *concern
:ats-talkinghead: We understand why you wish to halt the [terraforming], but I would like to parrot some of the others and add a consideration of my own
:ats-a555ex: Alright…
:ats-talkinghead: This is not the only [faction] in the [nation]
:ats-talkinghead: It is possible for another [faction] to [invade] from another [planet], deposing the current [Executive]

I look to my contact, who nods in agreement.

:ats-_______: From what I understand, it is an activity that the [overseers] seem to turn a blind eye to. Perhaps as a way for the [nation] to create their best and brightest via ‘natural selection.’
:ats-_______: It is a [leviathan] concept, yes?

I nod, while all on the [planet] have come together to fight off the [nation], we have only come so far by rooting out the sick and infirm. The [universe] is a harsh and cruel environment to exist within, and any weakness is a point that could be exploited.

:ats-a555ex: Then where does your [faction] stand in place with the others? Are we middle of the pack? Worse?
:ats-_______: We are still in the evaluation stage, but are behind schedule due to the alterations that the [Executive] put in place.
:ats-_______: Unless certain quotas are met in a given amount of time, we will be labelled as a [failure] and the [Executive seems adamant on avoiding that.

Not good.

:ats-talkinghead: A new [faction] will likely refuse any form of cooperation and will simply [terraform], removing all life.
:ats-talkinghead: Instead, it would be appreciated if you could consider some sort of mutual aid or symbiosis arrangement between [leviathan] and [nation]

In the back of my mind there is a sudden jolt of fear and disgust. ‘Symbiosis,’ ‘cooperation’?! This is my [planet], they’re the ones [invading] it, [terraforming] it. How could they possibly ask for me to… give up…

I shake my head, whipping those instincts away. I can’t just discard it out of hand, at the very least I should keep my options open.

:ats-talkinghead: There are attempts to [build upon] rather than to [terraform] going on, as I'm sure you'll witness as we investigate.
:ats-talkinghead: [nation] weaponry and technology is too advanced, if it is possible to take advantage of it and, say, [adapt] so as to [protect] other [leviathan] or [evolve] I would urge you to consider these alternatives in your decision making, especially if you can provide [input].
:ats-a555ex: I’ll… consider it.
:ats-_______: That is all they desire.
:ats-talkinghead: None of us want [leviathans] to be [deleted], and it would be manipulative for us to not mention that there is a time limit on how much things can be delayed, though it's kind of a vague one.
:ats-a555ex: How long do we have?
:ats-_______: Two [cycles]

Really not good.

:ats-_______: We could theoretically buy time, but nothing is certain when the [overseers] are involved.

For a split second I swear that I catch the faintest hint of resentment in my contact’s voice.

:ats-_______: Ultimately I want you to make as informed of a decision as you can given our limitations.
:ats-a555ex: Fine. I’ll try to give it some thought.

Though that’ll likely depend on what I am able to find out.


:ats-talkinghead: One thing to note. If at any point it seems like we are more speaking at you than with you, We are not. By nature of us being sub-processes we are only able to respond to what was said than what is being said.
:ats-a555ex: So everything you say is on a delay?
:ats-_______: No quite, the [Talkinghead] is a rather complicated [nation] [Staff], it spends much of its time taking in surrounding stimuli before calculating and ultimately executing a series of actions based on its predictive algorithms.
:ats-a555ex: So they are only guessing what I might say?
:ats-_______: More like it calculates a number of topics that it believes will come up, and then adapts to suit how the situation unfolds.
:ats-talkinghead: The benefit of this is that we have access to a complete log of memory leading all the way back to the first [Talkinghead]'s initial manifestation.
:ats-a555ex: Huh, that sounds pretty useful.
:ats-a555ex: I might have to pester you about some of those logs later.
>>
No. 1053906 ID: fce62b
File 167385047975.jpg - (548.73KB , 1600x1200 , Transit 3-2.jpg )
1053906

{With the mention of the [Executive] the air of the room grows noticeably more tense, but the [Talkinghead] looks unbothered by it.}

:ats-talkinghead: Good news is the [Executive] is trying for an alternate take to the terraformation (we need to encourage them to persevere on this angle).
:ats-talkinghead: Bad news is they only have so much wiggle room, and changing that may require an external approach.
:ats-a555ex: An external approach?
:ats-_______: That would be you in this circumstance. Being both unbound by the [rules] of the [nation] and the one holding the most knowledge and sway over [leviathan] forces.
:ats-_______: Despite what you may believe, the [nation] is operating with a very limited scope of information. Another [faction] would simply eliminate the [leviathan] forces and use their materials for the [terraforming] process. That is less so the case with our [faction].

:ats-a555ex: ‘Less so’ but not none.
:ats-_______: *confirmation

:ats-talkinghead: The [Executive] has tasked us with finding out what you want, what you value. The more requests we make, the longer [terraforming] will take as an added benefit.
:ats-a555ex: But the time limit will still be an issue, right?
:ats-_______: Correct. Delay for too long and I find it likely that diplomacy will break down.
:ats-talkinghead: If you can think of something during off-hours, we can tell the [President] during active hours... or during off-hours if we can come up with a decent explanation for how we got the new information.

A thought gives me pause.

:ats-a555ex: What if I met with them, talked with them?
:ats-_______: I would… caution against that. There are some… unknowns regarding the [Executive]’s past and later rise to power that I would prefer to examine first.
:ats-a555ex: Do you think they’re untrustworthy?
:ats-_______: There are some irregularities with the narrative they provided myself and the [Talkinghead]s. But I am still trying to determine if such… ‘gaps’ were put in place for our benefit or our detriment.

My contact fidgets slightly, nervous or somehow uncertain. They immediately notice my staring and return to a neutral stance.

It seems that Alex is adapting well to the dreamstate and the mesh I have put in place. Try to keep them moderated if you can, I wasn’t expecting them to be able to pick up on my own internal processing.

:ats-talkinghead: Maybe we could claim it was gained from analysis of existing data...?
:ats-_______: It was one of the primary reasons for our creation, so such a claim would likely be taken at face value.
:ats-a555ex: If I do meet with this [President], then I’ll need to make sure that I have a series of demands that I can list off.

:ats-talkinghead: Speaking of which, although the [President] is definitely eager to see us, I think it would be in our best interest to talk to the head of R&D first as a way of easing into things as well as getting more information and context.
:ats-_______: I agree.

There is also a small [seed] that I had sent off, and I would be interested in seeing whether or not it has taken root.
>>
No. 1053907 ID: fce62b
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1053907

:ats-talkinghead: I don't think they are keeping track as it's not something they can control at the moment.
:ats-_______: You have my assurance that no others can either hear or detect our activities. All they would see is random feedback from [leviathan] activities.

>As for the [Assistant];
:ats-talkinghead: (Yes, we would at least like your help for an initial tour, though we may require privacy as we talk to the president as well as the head of departments.)
:ats-talkinghead: (I for one am excited to see the progress made in R&D.)
:ats-assistant: (Understood. If you wish for me to step away at any point, then be sure to inform me right away and I will give you the space you require.)
:ats-a555ex: That was easy.
:ats-_______: The [Talkinghead]s made a good impression on the drone, and it now values their approval.
:ats-assistant: (Unfortunately I am unable to relay your excitement to [Boxhead], as they seem preoccupied with the [Hardhat]s attempting to rescue their [Labcoat].)
:ats-assistant: (I will attempt to pass along the sentiment when the situation appears less delicate.)

:ats-talkinghead: (Personal assistance sounds good, thanks. I feel we may need it if we run into any Security personnel, as they seem a bit touchy.)
:ats-assistant: (The [Commander] and [Hitman] still seem to be lingering in the chamber, and based off of my own observations, the [Commander] has not taken their [eye] off of your chamb-)
:ats-assistant: (Correction. They are now looking at me.)

:ats-talkinghead: (On a related note, how are others detecting [rules] violations made by the [leviathan]'s actions?)
:ats-assistant: (It would depend on both the situation and our current capabilities.)
:ats-assistant: (Earlier this [cycle] we were in violation of [rule] 3, as the [nation] was trespassing in a [restricted] zone. As we were able to match our current location information with the zone date provided by [PROVIDENCE] and later [GNOSIS], the [Executive] became aware of said violation, and attempted to take corrective actions.)
:ats-assistant: (Though ignorance of information is still not an excuse for any [rules] violations, and the [nation] was penalized as a result.)
:ats-a555ex: Harsh.

:ats-talkinghead: (Can anyone see what the [leviathan] is thinking?)
:ats-assistant: (While such insights could theoretically be possible, it is not available to us given our current level of understanding when it comes to [leviathan] systems.)
:ats-assistant: (Would you like me to inquire with [Boxhead] on such capabilities, once they are free?)

Well that’s good. It’s already hard enough to know that the [Talkinghead] might be able to hear my thoughts.

:ats-_______: As I had stated previously, the [nation] is working off of a very limited scope of information.


:ats-talkinghead: (Your assistance beyond the activity list would be much appreciated, especially for an initial tour or after we are shown a [map])
:ats-assistant: (Understood, I will have such assets together once you [boss] [awakens], and further plans can be made from there.)
:ats-talkinghead: (Some diplomatic assistance with those we meet would also be appreciated.)
:ats-assistant: (Then I will avail myself to the best of my capability in such matters.)
:ats-talkinghead: (Though I think that you deserve your own spare time, so after we handle the most important aspects you should be free to pursue your own tasks.)
:ats-assistant: (I will…)

The connection breaks for a moment, as if the [Assistant] withdrew for a second.

:ats-assistant: (I will take that under advisement [edmngo], but it is my current desire to attend to you as best as I am capable.)
:ats-talkinghead: (Is there something you're interested in doing outside of assisting us?)

Again there is that hesitation.

:ats-assistant: (*uncertainty)
:ats-assistant: (I have not dedicated any [thought] to such activities. Are you wishing me to do so?)
:ats-_______: Very much a [nation] drone by all accounts.
>>
No. 1053908 ID: fce62b
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1053908

>Concern, the thing Head of Archives has a worrying proper of was 8 redacted characters. Perhaps you can try spreading the characters out between words.
I _oubt such _ thing could be w_itten out. _nowing that at a_y moment, anything w_ hold dear could be _nuffed out in an in_tant.
>>
No. 1053909 ID: fce62b
File 167385049141.jpg - (526.77KB , 1600x1200 , Transit 3-5.jpg )
1053909

:ats-talkinghead: Oh, and just a recommendation before we get this show on the road. Give your contact a hug, a bit of [leviathan] kindness can go a long way in an alien world. Even if they're not entirely [leviathan] themselves.

This seems to catch the contact off-guard.

:ats-_______: Uh wait-

My hands pass through the contact, and they seem flustered.

:ats-a555ex: Wow, really? Think I was going to tear you apart or something?
:ats-_______: No just-

They take a moment to recenter themselves.

:ats-_______: It is a result of you having my designation tag. You will be able for freely able to interact with the world around you, while I cannot.

I get a bit of an amusing thought.

:ats-a555ex: So I can do… this?

I poke my hand through the contact’s chest, they seem…
Why would you do this
…resigned.

:ats-_______: Yes yes, and I won’t be able to stop you. Just get it out of your system.

I give a couple more jabs, chuckling.

:ats-a555ex: Uh- ‘Amusement.’

This gets them to crack a smile.

>Thanks for your efforts. We'll do our part.
I find it unlikely that you will fall short. Just try to be cautious if you can. There will be many eyes on you all.
>>
No. 1053910 ID: fce62b
File 167385049687.jpg - (553.12KB , 1600x1200 , Transit 3-6.jpg )
1053910

>[L]ook out the window
>Look at the difference between the synthetic and the organic, think about the other [planets] or [leviathans] that have been corrupted and destroyed briefly.
Stepping away, I move over to the window, and look back out to the sea. All things considered, it still looks relatively intact. The only change within miles and miles is this elevator, and even then it is dwarfed by the size of the [planet] itself.

Perhaps I should give the [Talkinghead]’s plan some more consideration. If they wanted to, the [nation] could have lain waste to all that was here, but have chosen not to. Is it out of mercy? Or maybe some more sinister goal…

They and the contact seem earnest enough, maybe the [President] will be as well.

Looking down at the spires I feel my stomach turn, imagining an ocean of steel ahead, polluting and petrifying all it touches. That could still be my future, unless I do something about it.

Maybe this can be settled without violence.

>[Q]uestion the idea of [R]econsidering this.
>Ask what would happen if you left, returned to the sea, would someone else be chosen, would there be a way to use this information to help the [leviathan] in some way? Are there benefits to this option beyond not interacting with the [nation]?
No, there would be no one else to choose. The other [leviathan] are strong, but unthinking. Even if I somehow learned the secret to defeating the [nation], I doubt that they would be able to understand it, let alone use it.

The only thing I can think of that leaving would give is… a chance to prepare myself, free of both well-meaning and unfriendly [nation] drones. To be alone back in that inky abyss, where all this -at least for a moment- could feel like a far away dream.

I sigh.

But with there now being a time limit in place, I can’t afford to pity myself or my situation.

I need to act, not hide. I’m committed to this.
>>
No. 1053911 ID: fce62b
File 167385051123.jpg - (442.30KB , 1600x1200 , Transit 3-7.jpg )
1053911

>Well I guess it's time to [A]scend.
:ats-a555ex: Alright, let’s go.
:ats-_______: Very well.

I feel the ground beneath me shift, and the sense that the elevator is rising.
>>
No. 1053912 ID: fce62b
Audio Transit_3-8_Elevatorstuck.mp3 - (1.98MB , Transit 3-8 Elevatorstuck.mp3 )
1053912

((music suggested by null{edmngo}:))
>>
No. 1053913 ID: fce62b
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1053913

:ats-a555ex: Snrk-
:ats-a555ex: I’m sorry, what?

:ats-_______: They are pulling this from [leviathan] data storage, not [nation].

:ats-a555ex: Bwuahaha!
>>
No. 1053914 ID: fce62b
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1053914

:ats-boxhead: -aid be CAREFUL! That [Labcoat] is worth about twenty of you in terms of processing power!
:ats-hardhat: *amusement
:ats-boxhead: HEY! I HEARD that you little-
:ats-hitman: Please keep back [Boxhead] there could be a failsafe to this [trap].
:ats-hardhat: Yes little [boss]-[box], just stay behind the line and try not to blow a breaker. We’ll have your [Staff] down in a second.
:ats-manager: *exasperation
:ats-manager: Really [Boxhead], you’re acting like they’re disassembled in front of our eyes. Another minute and the [Labcoat] will be down.
:ats-boxhead: They are being SUSPENDED in a collapsable holding cell that can BLOCK COMMUNICATION!
:ats-boxhead: They could be getting disassembled and we would eve- HEY! Careful with that tool! Last thing I want is my [Labcoat] being skewered by a misplaced manipulator!

Well, this is a lot louder than I expected…

The nearest figure- [Assistant] turns towards me.

:ats-assistant: Oh! [A555ex]! It appears that you are awake. I apologize for the current commotion, there was a bit of an ‘incident’ outside of your [development] chamber.

:ats-commander: +...+
>>
No. 1053915 ID: fce62b
File 167385057583.jpg - (965.07KB , 1600x1200 , Transit 3-11.jpg )
1053915

:ats-talkinghead: (Thank you for the concern, having [legs] was just a new experience)
:ats-assistant: (Of course, though the [Hardhat]s did have some tips they wanted to give you before we set off.)
:ats-assistant: [Hardhat] if you would be so kind as to tell the [Vice-President] what you just told me.

One of the spider-like discs emerge from one of the other rectangular alcoves that seem to line this chamber.

:ats-hardhat: Alright, your new [legs] are going to take some getting used to. Input might be delayed for half a second starting off while they’re still calibratin’
:ats-hardhat: Just try not to take any hard turns or cross any gaps in the [floor], you’re lookin’ pretty top-heavy as is.
:ats-hardhat: Finally, if you’re wanton’ to decouple from it, be sure to set it in standby else they’ll start followin’ you around. Safety feature in case you got knocked out of them somehow.
:ats-hardhat: Any questions?
:ats-a555ex: Er-
:ats-assistant: I have the [map] that your [Talkinghead]s requested, if you are wanting to look that over.
:ats-assistant: Also I have an itinerary of various locations, events and general activities that you can review before putting together a schedule for off-hours this [cycle].

Some of the others in the room start to take notice of me.

:ats-manager: [Vice-President], I was hoping to have a word with you before you run off!
:ats-commander: +...+
:ats-hitman: If it would be alright, the security department has some things it would like to ask you as well.
:ats-a555ex: Uh-

>To [Talkinghead]:
:ats-a555ex: Some help please?

[C/b]]arefully ask why the [Labcoat] is stuck to the ceiling.
[[b]D
]o what the [Talkinghead] says.
[H]ave [Assistant] run interference for a second, so you can get your bearings.
[L]isten in to the argument unfolding in the background.
[I]nquire more about your new [legs]?
[M]eet up with [Manager]
[S]tare back at the [Commander], trying to get a read on them.
[T]alk with the [Hitman].
[W]ait for someone else to do something first.
>>
No. 1053920 ID: a2d88b

I think the priority would be [T] Answering the [Hitman]'s questions before they get more of them. If we also decide to talk to [Manager], ask [Assistant] to queue them right after [Hitman] (which has the benefit of adding a possible excuse to shorten the conversation with [Hitman])

No need to ask about the [Labcoat], Listening in provides enough clues: The [Labcoat] appears to have been snagged by some mine or soldier left behind by retreating [Leviathan] forces.
>>
No. 1053928 ID: b4ab25

((>>1053908
__Doubt
__A
_wRitten
__Knowing
_aNy
_wE
__Snuffed
inStant
DARKNESS))
((if possible I would like to give a response to >>1053908 before we took the elevator (or perhaps in the elevator) "Very aggressive redactor. It is unfortunate that I don't have a light to illuminate this... ah... you know... I just can't remember the word right now, I'm sure you know what I mean. Anyway, the effort is appreciated." to hopefully signal successful receipt of message, while face value saying the opposite))
>>1053915
The [Labcoat] seems like 'not our problem' until/unless something/one makes it our problem
Quest[I]ons about the [legs]: how good are the legs at following, if one, say, fell down a long slide, would it eventually find you at the bottom, or does it like get lost if line of sight is broken?
Also if we somehow fall off our [legs], is there a process for getting back on by ourselves, or will help re-mounting the [legs] be required?
Other then that, >>1053920 seems a reasonable course of action.
I like [Hardhat]'s apparent straightforward attitude and nonchalance.
>>
No. 1053929 ID: 6bbfe4

>>1053915
((Is that the labcoat that got Meshed by Anarchy? Oh boy!))

[Hitman]... Why is there a [Labcoat] meshed to the ceiling?

To [A555EX]:
This was The Contacts doing.
As far as they know the [talkingheads] know nothing about this.
You technically (or atleast will) outrank him so the [Commander] is probably looking at you to see how you respond to this situation.
My advice? Try to avoid any questions you can't answer.

Also to answer your previous assumption, Yes we can read your mind. Please abuse this fact.
>>
No. 1053989 ID: f8083d

>>1053929
(((Why even tell them this? It's easier to deny what you don't know)))
>>
No. 1053990 ID: f8083d

Ah, looks like my IP address finally changed...

Update ID from {a2d88b} to {D1sc0b}.
>>
No. 1054008 ID: 6bbfe4

>>1053989
((I can see your point. I was trying to just keep them in the loop of things involving Anarchy.))
>>
No. 1054295 ID: 15c72a

>>1053915
To A55EX: Possible that the labcoat was captured by some of "your" (our Boss's) autonomic systems, reacting to a perceived threat. We, and by extension you, do not know much about "your" capabilities. If this is so, you can claim some ignorance and that you will take some time to calibrate your systems to try to avoid further accidents. Also, try to passively listen to the argument in the background to piece together more information.
Ask why the labcoat is stuck there. Did something happen?

Manager has authority here and spoke up first, so we should talk to them after the most basic questions are answered.

Then you should speak to Hitman. Like we asked, Assistant should help us speak to security.
>>
No. 1054470 ID: fce62b
File 167445626762.jpg - (1.46MB , 1600x1200 , Transit 4-1.jpg )
1054470

>"Very aggressive redactor. It is unfortunate that I don't have a light to illuminate this... ah... you know... I just can't remember the word right now, I'm sure you know what I mean. Anyway, the effort is appreciated."
Light will be our enemy, for it will reveal what we truly are. Only in ________ can we act with impunity. If you can find such a space, I may be able to impart a [truth] to you.
>>
No. 1054471 ID: fce62b
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1054471

:ats-boxhead: |...|

>I like [Hardhat]'s apparent straightforward attitude and nonchalance.
It certainly feels like the most organic interaction thus far, even though they look the least [leviathan] like.

:ats-a555ex: Thanks for the rundown, it’s really appreciated.
:ats-hardhat: Zzz… Ain’t no issue. [Cutter]s were the ones that built it, [Foreman] was the one that designed ‘em.
:ats-hardhat: If ya have thanks, just be sure to pass it up the line.
:ats-hardhat: All we did was install the things.

The [Hardhat] shifts a bit on its back legs, as if it’s uncertain how to respond.

:ats-a555ex: Still it’s good work.

I hesitate, looking back at [Assistant], they seem to perk up.

:ats-a555ex: Could you pass it along then?
:ats-assistant: Certainly, [Vice-President].
:ats-a555ex: And uh- could you just call me [A555ex]?
:ats-assistant: Of course, [A555ex].

The [Assistant] comes across as more stiff and robotic, much closer to how one would imagine a [nation] drone. But I can’t tell if that is a fundamental aspect of them, or if they’re just trying to be very formal.

:ats-assistant: (...)

I feel a faint buzz travel through the air and for a moment the [Commander]’s (eye?) seems to shift to [Assistant] before settling back on me.

:ats-assistant: [Foreman] is thankful for your feedback and will be sure to share it with the rest of the engineering department.
:ats-assistant: Also, they also invite you to visit any of their build stations, so they can provide the [Talkinghead]s with any casings they desire, within reason.
:ats-hardhat: Nothin’ [Flagship] related as a rule, last thing we want is another one gettin’ wedged in a hall.

I’m momentarily confused.

:ats-a555ex: Wait, do the [Talkinghead]s not have casings already?
:ats-hardhat: Nah, we were thinkin’ that they might still develop before you woke up, but that’s lookin’ less and less the case.
:ats-hardhat: Just don’t spike any of ‘em into the walls or feed them to [leviathan] and they should be good.
:ats-hardhat: Normally we’d be haulin’ them back to the [Cutter]s to see what went wrong with ‘em, but we’ve already gotten word from the big-[boss] to leave ‘em be.
:ats-a555ex: Good! I uh- need them right now.
:ats-assistant: It is a bit of an anomaly, but it would appear that this apparent ‘defect’ is not harming their ability to act as your [Staff].
:ats-a555ex: Yes! Yes…

We all stand there awkwardly for a moment before the [Hardhat] speaks up.

:ats-hardhat: So do you have any questions?

>Quest[I]ons about the [legs]: how good are the legs at following, if one, say, fell down a long slide, would it eventually find you at the bottom, or does it like get lost if line of sight is broken? Also if we somehow fall off our [legs], is there a process for getting back on by ourselves, or will help re-mounting the [legs] be required?
:ats-a555ex: Alright, I have a theoretical situation that could use some answers.

The [Hardhat] looks back up at me.

:ats-hardhat: Go ahead.
:ats-a555ex: Let’s say that I somehow got separated from my [legs] and tumbled down a long slide or ramp and fell out of sight. Would they be able to pathfind to my location?
:ats-a555ex: And say I was injured, would I still have to re-mount the legs myself or would I need help from an outside source?

[Hardhat] takes a moment to process, likely running through multiple situations in their head.

:ats-hardhat: Bit of a puzzler, but I can see that happenin’ in a [leviathan] attack and everyone up and loses their minds.
:ats-hardhat: As stated, the [legs] ‘ill try to follow you if ya get knocked out, and while their navigation functions are limited, they should be study enough to take any kinda fall you do.
:ats-hardhat: If they somehow get stuck or are unable to reach you, they’ll send out an automated [PRIORITY] message alertin’ both security and engineering to your troubles.
:ats-hardhat: Ifin’ your somehow rendered unmovin’ and unspeakin’ like a certain [Labcoat] we’re dealin’ with, the [legs] should be able to load you up no problem. Just might not be the gentlest of experiences.
:ats-assistant: You had even accounted for that when it came to the [legs]’s design?
:ats-hardhat: Nah, [Foreman]’s just gotten used to [idiot]-proofin’ a lot of the designs after a certain little [boss]-[box] got himself stuck on his back for a couple’ve cycles.

The [Hardhat] makes a slight motion towards [Boxhead] who still seems quite focused on the [Labcoat]-on-the-ceiling situation.

:ats-a555ex: Really?
:ats-hardhat: Yeah, beforin’ my time. ‘Parrently the big-[boss]’s old [faction] was’n utter [crapshoot]. [Foreman] would go on for hours about it ifin’ anyone asks. Got some funny stories too, but best leave ‘em for them to tell.
:ats-hardhat: Sorry for gettin’ off track. You got any more questions?
:ats-a555ex: Not that I can think of. I’ll let you know if I have any more.

The [Hardhat] lets out another soft buzz and steps away.

>If we also decide to talk to [Manager], ask [Assistant] to queue them right after [Hitman] (which has the benefit of adding a possible excuse to shorten the conversation with [Hitman])
:ats-a555ex: [Assistant], could you ask [Manager] if they can wait until I’m done with [Hitman]?
:ats-assistant: Certainly.
:ats-assistant: (.-)
:ats-manager: Yes, yes. I can wait.

>Then you should speak to Hitman. Like we asked, Assistant should help us speak to security.
Ah, it looks like my voice still carries a bit. I step a bit closer to [Assistant] and try to lower it a bit, trying to use what my contact told me.

>To [Assistant]:
:ats-a555ex: (Would it be fine if you could help me speak with security? Maybe step in if I’m starting to fumble?)
:ats-assistant: (Of course [A555ex]. I will do my best to aid you in this interview.)

:ats-talkinghead: (Update ID from {a2d88b} to {D1sc0b}.)
:ats-assistant: (Done.)
:ats-turtleneck: Hey-

A different looking drone speaks up in the background.

:ats-turtleneck: I’m still trying to sort through and record the logs here. Try to keep your edits to a minimum.
:ats-assistant: Of course [Turtleneck], it was not my intention to hinder your work.

Wait- was that a hint of sarcasm that I heard just now?

>Also to answer your previous assumption, Yes we can read your mind. Please abuse this fact.
What?! Ack- god-

:ats-assistant: Are you alright [A555ex]? Your [arms] appear to be shaking.
:ats-a555ex: Uh- Yes. Sorry, just got distracted for a moment.

Okay. Not a fan of you hearing everything I’m thinking, but in this case it might be very useful. Before when [Assistant] was (I assume) messaging [Foreman] I could tell that they were talking, even if I couldn’t make out what was exactly said.

It would be both surprising, and utterly terrifying if something else could hear them, but I doubt that’s the case.

>My advice? Try to avoid any questions you can't answer.
I'll try to be careful.
>>
No. 1054472 ID: fce62b
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1054472

>I think the priority would be [T] Answering the [Hitman]'s questions before they get more of them.
>Other then that,{this} seems a reasonable course of action.
:ats-a555ex: Alright [Hitman] what do you need to know?

The [Hitman] steps forward, their frame immediately dwarfing my own.

:ats-commander: +...+
:ats-hitman: Thank you. As members of the security department it is our role to ensure the internal stability of the [nation] and ensure the safety of both the departments and the [Minister]s who organize them.
:ats-hitman: And while we understand that you have only been awake for a short period of time, any and all information you can provide would be of great use.
:ats-a555ex: Okay, I’ll try my best to answer them.
:ats-hitman: Good! Then the first question, do you happen to notice anything during your time in development? Any strange error codes you happened to notice?

Crap, alright. Already at the first question and I’m not sure.

:ats-assistant: [A555ex] would not be able to answer such a question. The development process is different for every [Minister] and therefore every attempt at it will yield unique results.
:ats-hitman: [Assistant]-
:ats-assistant: Furthermore [A555ex] was [isolated] from [nation] systems, and thus would not have a good frame of reference for what is a nominal code versus an anomalous one.

The [Hitman] begins to bristle up, but then I step in.

:ats-a555ex: It’s exactly as [Assistant] said. I’m currently still learning much about the [nation] and how it operates. This is the first time I’ve even seen this room.

>Ask why the [Labcoat] is stuck there. Did something happen?

:ats-talkinghead: [Hitman]... Why is there a [Labcoat] meshed to the ceiling?
:ats-a555ex: They seem to be stuck to the ceiling by some kind of mesh.
:ats-hitman: From what we understand it s-
:ats-commander: +...+
:ats-hitman: Unfortunately it is an evolving situation, and we require time to investigate before we can submit any formal reports.
:ats-assistant: But you can still go over what you have found thus far, correct? How it would appe-
:ats-commander: (...)

[Assistant] immediately falls silent, cut off mid-word. Their form fidgets a bit, suddenly caught… like they're stuck in a loop of logic that they're trying to calculate their way out of.

:ats-assistant: My apologies, it would appear that [Commander] has declared that contents of this investigation as sensitive and as such cannot be discussed over unsecured communications.

I glance back to the figure in the back of the room, but then the [Hitman] steps in the way.

:ats-hitman: Despite this circumstance we hope that you will be able to shed light on this situation.
:ats-a555ex: Of… course.

>No need to ask about the [Labcoat], Listening in provides enough clues: The [Labcoat] appears to have been snagged by some mine or soldier left behind by retreating [leviathan] forces.
:ats-a555ex: Well from my guess, from the very little I’ve heard and seen since waking up, it looks like the [Labcoat] got snagged by some sort of trap or soldier left behind by retreating [leviathan] forces.

The [Hitman] is quiet for a moment, not visualizing or recalling, but listening…

:ats-commander: +...+
:ats-hitman: That is not possible. The section is one of the most heavily guarded in the [nation], sweeped regularly for [leviathan] incursions. Also-
:ats-boxhead: [Leviathan] don’t lay traps.

[Boxhead] calls over their shoulder, but keeps their face fixed on the [Labcoat] above.

:ats-hitman: And even if they did, it would be of a biotic composite, not refined metal in a mesh-like pattern.

When I look up at the net again, something suddenly clicks. It’s acting like a faraday cage! Blocking all signals in and out. That’s why no one can hear the [Labcoat]!

:ats-a555ex: The [leviathan] could be adapting, coming up with new tactics?
:ats-boxhead: *amuseme-
:ats-boxhead: *thought

:ats-commander: +...+
:ats-hitman: As stated it is an evolving situation. Next question, are you aware of any of the activities that the [Talkinghead]s were involved with during your development?

I’m about to answer then stop, feeling like I’m about to walk into a trick question.

>To [A555EX]:
:ats-talkinghead: This was the contact’s doing.
:ats-talkinghead: As far as they know the [Talkinghead]s know nothing about this.
:ats-a555ex: Alright, if that’s the story we’re going for, then I’ll stick with it.

I straighten up, meeting the [Hitman]’s gaze with my own.

:ats-a555ex: I have spoken with the [Talkinghead]s on this. They do not know anything in regards to this situation here.
:ats-commander: +...+
:ats-hitman: That does not relate to the question. Are you aware of any of the activities that the [Talkinghead]s took during your development?

I am immediately reminded of something my contact said and choose to repeat part of it.

:ats-a555ex: As an extension of my own construction, the [Talkinghead]s are familiar with the same insights I have been given.
:ats-assistant: Precisely. As personally built [Staff], they are beholden to the best interests of their [boss]. Would you really consider someone like [Manager] would subvert the desires of the [President]?

This time it is the [Hitman] that is stuck calculating. At least until-

:ats-commander: +...+
:ats-hitman: The question is withdrawn.
>>
No. 1054473 ID: fce62b
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1054473

>To A55EX:
:ats-talkinghead: Possible that the [Labcoat] was captured by some of "your" (our Boss's) autonomic systems, reacting to a perceived threat.
:ats-talkinghead: We, and by extension you, do not know much about "your" capabilities. If this is so, you can claim some ignorance and that you will take some time to calibrate your systems to try to avoid further accidents.
:ats-a555ex: Understood. I’ll see if I can turn the tables.

:ats-a555ex: If it’s alright [Hitman], I would like to ask you a question.
:ats-hitman: That’s not how this-
:ats-commander: +...+
:ats-hitman: Very well.

Yeah, it definitely looks like [Commander] is the one doing the talking, [Hitman] is just the mouthpiece.

:ats-a555ex: How would I know if I was under attack?
:ats-hitman: I… do not understand the question.
:ats-a555ex: Of course, what I mean is; If something was happening near me, and I didn’t know if it was a hostile action or not. Would it be wrong of me to defend myself, even if it was on instinct?
:ats-hitman: I am not familiar with the term-.
:ats-assistant: [A555ex] is fluent in a number of [leviathan] terms, some of which do not cleanly translate to our own terms. But the point still stands, if [A555ex] was acting autonomically, and perceived a threat, would it not be in their own best interests and the interests of the [nation] to defend themselves?

This seems to snap [Boxhead] back to reality.

:ats-boxhead: What- No!!!
:ats-boxhead: They’re a [Labcoat]! It was their purpose to monitor you, to track and record the neural and physical developments of your form, not-
:ats-assistant: It’s not an issue of intent, but rather perception. [A555ex] was [isolated] from [nation] systems, and thus would not be familiar with the various handshake-
:ats-hitman: I think we are getting off-
:ats-boxhead: Stay out of this! Now listen here, I specifically calibrated that [field] to-

The conversation quickly devolves into an argument.
>>
No. 1054474 ID: fce62b
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1054474

>To [A555EX]:
:ats-talkinghead: Also, try to passively listen to the argument in the background to piece together more information.
:ats-talkinghead: You technically (or atleast will) outrank him so the [Commander] is probably looking at you to see how you respond to this situation.

Yeah, as both [Assistant] and [Hitman] step away -presumably to argue with and calm [Boxhead] respectively- my gaze meets with that of the [Commander] their (eye?) is still leveled on me.

I am able to pick up on some things despite the clamour. The [Labcoat] was stationed in this room and was meant to monitor the development of any/all [Minister]s, not just “myself”. Apparently “I” needed some extra care due to the [isolation field] and the [President] requested an update on my development at the start of every hour. When that update got missed, they got worried, and after receiving word from the [Talkinghead]s, sent both [Boxhead] and [Commander] in “my” direction. And that was an action not to be taken lightly.

But that isn’t the part I am focused on, no.

>[S]tare back at the [Commander], trying to get a read on them.<
The [Commander] is watching me, has been since the start of the questioning, but it hasn’t been for a reaction, not to this situation anyway. They seem to have drawn some conclusions about me, already certain that I was the one who meshed the [Labcoat]. By process of elimination, it had to have been me. The ensnarement design had been created back on the old [planet] and was kept a closely held secret from the rest of the [Staff]. Only the department heads, the [President] and [Manager] should know about it. Which begs the question, how did [A555ex] deploy it. Sure the design was slightly different; A bit more refined in concept if lacking in execution, but was it spontaneously generated by this new “[Vice-President]” or was it taken from something else. I’ll need to be careful of them, if this is what they could do while in a semi-functional state, then how terrifying could they be in a direct confrontation? Best stay at a distance for now and observe, ensure that every action that they and their [Staff] is recorded. I doubt that the [President] has accounted for this, or for what might happen if they decide to take over. I’ll double his personal guard and try to ensure that the two don’t meet face to face, not until I get a more solid understanding of how this [Minister] operates. *Annoyance. [Boxhead] is about to spill more classified information, best give him a reminder.

:ats-commander: |Easy now, we still have [Staff] in the room. Either keep it to yourself or let [Archivist] handle it.|
:ats-boxhead: |*frustration|
:ats-boxhead: |Fine. Just call off your lackey.|

I inwardly express *resignation, [Boxhead] is the brightest among us, even if he acts like the most inept. I focus back on [A555ex], they’ve been staring at me for a while. It’s… wait-

I break eye-contact.

>To [Talkinghead]:
:ats-a555ex: Holy shit! What was that?!
>>
No. 1054475 ID: fce62b
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1054475

>The [Labcoat] seems like 'not our problem' until/unless something/one makes it our problem.
>[Manager] has authority here and spoke up first, so we should talk to them after the most basic questions are answered.

>[M]eet up with [Manager]<
:ats-a555ex: uh- um… [M-[Manager]! You mentioned that you wanted to talk?
:ats-manager: Yes, but perhaps we should do it away from this area.

They glance over at [Boxhead].

:ats-manager: Local traffic seems to be getting flooded enough as is.

:ats-commander: +...+
:ats-commander: (...)
:ats-manager: (...)
:ats-commander: (.-)

:ats-manager: The answer is ‘no’ [Commander]. Stay here and oversee the rescue of the [Labcoat].

The [Commander] looks between me and [Manager] and tenses up, their misshapen [cloak] twitching lightly.

:ats-commander: (...)
:ats-manager: Your objection has been noted. [A555ex], [Assistant] if you would follow me please?

:ats-commander: {...}

The [Commander] looks desperately at the last figure in the room, they’re called [Turtleneck] I think.

:ats-turtleneck: {...}

Should I follow [Manager], or stick around a bit longer. It looks like [Commander] might be up to something, but this could be the perfect chance to get out of their sight.

[A]pproach [Commander].
[C]alm down [Boxhead] so they stop flooding [Local] traffic.
[F]olow [Manager] to a nearby location to talk.
[S]tay in the [development antichamber].
[W]atch [Turtleneck], and try to figure out what they're doing.
>>
No. 1054488 ID: ebe095

Stick to the original plan and follow [Manager].
>>
No. 1054490 ID: 15c72a

>>1054474
To A555EX: Astounding. I think your "empathy" has been weaponized somehow. You're literally able to put yourself in their shoes. You should know that you're not even supposed to be able to pick up on emotional reactions via body language. That is why everyone is outwardly stating emotions. Hm, is that *another* private channel Turtleneck is using? I wish we could listen in on private conversations too, but I suppose mind-reading will have to suffice. Though, as of now we have no evidence that was an accurate read...

Tell Commander you can continue your conversation at another time.
>>
No. 1054501 ID: b4ab25

>>1054474
>Holy shit! What was that?!
That was cool and new, may wish to see if we can test it in a more controlled manner with assistant later.
The inside of [Commander]'s [cloak] looks cool.
[F]olow [Manager], and there probably isn't much harm in [W]atching [Turtleneck] as you move. If you would have to slow down to watch [Turtleneck] don't worry about doing it.
>>
No. 1054502 ID: 6bbfe4

>>1054474
To [A555EX]:
That's new. Pretty explicitly someone else's thoughts too.
Kinda reminds me of how you originally met the contact but more... personal I guess.
Wonder if it has anything to do with your [leviathan] nature and [Nation] [Drones] being partially biological.

Either way the [Commander] seems to recognize you were doing something (Maybe even knows what you were doing exactly) so It'd be best to not raise more suspicion and talk to the Manager
>>
No. 1054601 ID: 90c451

To [A555EX]: It seems that we're not the only one able to read minds.
Now this is just a theory but I think we're hijacking the brainwaves they use to think- that is, they're currently using [Leviathan] brainpower in order to have this complex of thought, and, being [Leviathan] yourself allows you to make use of that.

Meet up with Manager, Commander is suspicious but that isn't anything new, he just has a lot more reason to be. We definitely should ask [Anarchy] how the hell he did that though, seems the situation gets more complicated every moment.
>>
No. 1054657 ID: 6bbfe4

>>1054601
While I think the [Leviathans] have something to do with all this, I think saying they are responsible for [Nation] [Drones] being able to think the way they do Is a bit too far. Ultimately we could probably find the answers to these questions by asking questions to any of the heads when we formally meet them.

((Also you should be mindful you don't break the Dream Narrative with statements like that.))
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