45.2 - Team Moves - Alycia and Leo

The team’s reunited, back in the same dimension and time (even if it’s not their actual timeline). There are plenty of threads of unresolved business, and after a quick debrief and ensuring that everything is more or less stable just that second, people have kind of drifted apart into smaller conversations, and eating and drinking and nursing wounds, physical and psychic.

Alycia, mask off but still in costume, lounges in a worn console chair, sucking on a truly disgusting ration tub, looking down the hallway to that conference room, where the Older Jason still sleeps – not quite comatose, she’s told: non-responsive, but not in any obvious discomfort, aside from being laid out on a conference table.

What’s going on inside of his head, she wonders.

She’s going to have to talk to him, she realizes.

Suddenly, she realizes the whole charm of this jaunt to the future has gone completely away. She’ll probably swipe a bit more tech, just for the hell of it, but right now all she wants is a shower and knowledge that the world outside the door is the troubled one she’s used to, not this particular hellhole.

There’s something she has to do first, she realizes. A couple of things, neither of which she wants to do, but neither of which she can leave undone.

She pulls herself out of the chair, and goes in search of Leo.

#Cutscene #RP

author: *** Dave H.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6548400

I don’t see an RP tag, so rudely barging in anyway :slight_smile:

Leo is in one of the bays, doing some work on Otto. The hood is open and tools are out - ones he brought with him, presumably. The Heart Factory is resting on a table nearby. A thin cable connects car and computer.

He can’t help but see someone come in, and he waves when he does.

Their previous interactions are still with him. Alycia running away angrily. Alycia telling him that Jason might be manipulated, unstable. Asking him not to kill - and not to die. His response, “okay”, had been the same he gave Concord. Understanding, and acknowledgement. His conversation with Aria, his constant feeling that all of this is still his fault, the reality that taking away someone you care about can actually doom the world.

“I’m sorry about earlier. I said some shit that pissed you off. I apologize for that.”

“I brought Jason back.”

That could mean a lot of different things. He hopes it means all of them at once.

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6548622

I don’t see an RP tag, so rudely barging in anyway :slight_smile:

herp derp. fixed.

author: *** Dave H.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6549321

[at last! a keyboard!]

She pauses at the door, looking, it seems, at both of them. Just half a beat, then she enters. She stands several feet off, waiting for him to finish what he’s doing, a slight smile on her face.

“I’m sorry about earlier. I said some shit that pissed you off. I apologize for that.”

Alycia looks at him a long moment, then, without warning, breaks into laughter. It goes on a few seconds longer than the warranted chuckle would be expected, and there’s a hint of something else there. Maybe fatigue. From what the Sepiaverse team reported, it was pretty intense over there.

She catches her breath, waves a hand at him. “No apologies needed. I piss off easily. It’s easier when I come in looking for a fight, or to draw a reaction, and instead I get – well, I bitched about it last time.” She stops, nods her head for a moment. Then stands there.

“I brought Jason back.”

She draws a deep breath, lets it out. “I know and – I really --” Her head nods back and forth, then stops. Another breath. “Thank you. I know you didn’t not-kill him for me, but I appreciate it nonetheless. I really – don’t say thank you well. But … thank you.” Another smile, this one a bit crooked. “On balance, I think the overall mission’s a win. I mean, the Jason – thing – resolved. I guess. Sablestar run off. Ghosts released. Doctor Infinity not wiping us out of existence. Yet. So – good job.”

author: *** Dave H.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6549765

“Sablestar you can credit to Concord. You folks apparently did the heavy lifting on this mission, so thank you.”

Leo rubs his hands together. He’s not proud of this part, but it has to be said. “In a way, you could credit Summer for disabling Jason. When we did the Victory Merge, to restore memory damage on you two, back when Vector attacked, she operated the machine. On remaster, she should have also removed the connectomes from the Heart Factory. She didn’t. I should have specifically told her to. I didn’t think to. It’s so automatic for me.”

He gestures at the Heart Factory behind him. “Sorry. Context. I loaded a 17-year-old Jason Quill into old Jason’s mind during the battle, via his nanobots. I gave him back all his lost memories, and some new ones besides. When he wakes up, that guy is going to have dreamed of lives and loves he never had.”

A callused hand pats the machine. “Yours are in here too. He didn’t get any of that, though.”

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6549945

“Sablestar you can credit to Concord. You folks apparently did the heavy lifting on this mission, so thank you.”

She claps her hands into a light clasp. “Teamwork, right? And you’re team leader, so – well, leadership theory says the leader takes the blame, the team gets the credit. But … credit where credit is due. There are ways you could have done this more easily. You didn’t. You took a chance to save someone who was one of us. Kind of. Someone who --”

She releases the hands, waves them vaguely. “-- you know.” She rolls her eyes. “Sorry. I’m being unprofessional, I know. I’m – it isn’t even my Jason.” Her eyes roll again. “‘My’ Jason. As if. And, hell, it is the Jason who I knew, growing up. I was sure there was something dodgy about what was going on here.”

A deep breath. “I’ll have to talk with him. And he’s been involved in --” She shakes her head. “I’m sure, however it was you subdued him, we’ll get to the bottom of things. Help him --” She shrugs.

Leo rubs his hands together. He’s not proud of this part, but it has to be said. “In a way, you could credit Summer for disabling Jason.”

Alycia cocks her head, a bit surprised.

“When we did the Victory Merge, to restore memory damage on you two, back when Vector attacked, she operated the machine. On remaster, she should have also removed the connectomes from the Heart Factory. She didn’t. I should have specifically told her to. I didn’t think to. It’s so automatic for me.”

A furrow crosses her brow, as she tries to catch up with the gear change.

He gestures at the Heart Factory behind him. “Sorry. Context. I loaded a 17-year-old Jason Quill into old Jason’s mind during the battle, via his nanobots. I gave him back all his lost memories, and some new ones besides. When he wakes up, that guy is going to have dreamed of lives and loves he never had.”

The furrow eases off, largely because her eyes have gotten wide.

A callused hand pats the machine. “Yours are in here too. He didn’t get any of that, though.”

“Well,” she says, “that’s – that’s g-good. I – I wouldn’t --” She trails off. A gulp of air. “I --” Another gulp. She squares her shoulders, closes her eyes. “After I encounter Doctor Infinity’s drone, after I – fled, it, she, it came after me. Through time. Visiting me at – points in my life. Moments I remember. Asking me a question, then leaving. Infiltrating – polluting – my past, my memories. Me. After Father – after he r–” A beat. “-- twisted my emotions, stripped them, left me – changed. Less.”

Her eyes snap open. Bright. Wet. “You fixed that. What Father did. I – trusted you. I mean, playing with my brain, with my memories and emotions, what can go wrong? But Jason trusted you, so I trusted you. And – you did what you said. You, as much as was humanly possible. You fixed me. I --”

Her eyes close again. If it leaves her blind, she doesn’t seem to notice. Unless she does. “But now you – you tell me you’ve weaponized this. Using minds to overwrite others, just maybe kinda-sorta like this Jason did… And now you also tell me you still have my connectomes – by ‘accident’ – in that box of yours. And I’m supposed to be happy you didn’t use them against this Jason? Or trust you didn’t?”

She looks at him, and it’s hard to tell from her expression if she’s more sad or hurt or angry. “I came here to tell you you’re a leader and hero, that I was all in. That I was part of this victory.” Her jaw works a moment. “Dammit, Leo.”

author: *** Dave H.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6550366

[Yeesh. This is not the direction I was envisioning in this thread. :open_mouth: But … well, there we are.]

author: *** Dave H.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6550370

“I promised you honesty,” Leo says, his voice tense. He knew this wouldn’t be easy. But he’s seeing it through.

“Old Jason is still there. He just has new memories. You won’t be talking to the Jason you know. But I know you’ll be talking to Old Jason. I owed you a warning what to expect.”

He takes a few steps, positioning himself next to the Heart Factory. “I owe you more. This is the only way I know to discharge that responsibility. I want to show you the machine’s operation, teach you how it works, so you can scrub your own connectome from it, and know it’s gone.”

“This is not something I’d have entrusted you with, even when you first joined the team. Well… You’ve changed my mind.”

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6550377

“I promised you honesty,” Leo says, his voice tense. He knew this wouldn’t be easy. But he’s seeing it through.

She roll her eyes again. She might injure her vision if she keeps that up. But she doesn’t say anything.

“Old Jason is still there. He just has new memories. You won’t be talking to the Jason you know. But I know you’ll be talking to Old Jason. I owed you a warning what to expect.”

“You don’t get it, Leo! We are what’s in our heads. What my – my father did, was evil. It was a betrayal of everything he – he taught me was important. The human spirit. The individual. Freedom. Autonomy. And everything you’ve done here has done the same thing. Even – even if Jason here was a goddammed son of a bitch, maybe it would be better to kill him than to push another mind, another set of memories on him. I’ve – I’ve been on the receiving end of that, goddammit!. Achilles Chin. Doctor Infinity. Byron Quill, by Ahriman! Is that the model you’re going after? Because you’re doing one hell of a job!”

He takes a few steps, positioning himself next to the Heart Factory. “I owe you more. This is the only way I know to discharge that responsibility. I want to show you the machine’s operation, teach you how it works, so you can scrub your own connectome from it, and know it’s gone.”

“This is not something I’d have entrusted you with, even when you first joined the team. Well… You’ve changed my mind.”

She looks at him. A visible shudder goes through her. “If I had my way, I’d take a brick to that thing. Except --” She looks away. “Dammit, Leo. What you’ve created is, in its own way, a miracle. The creations --” She turns, looks at Otto. “-- what you’ve done, is amazing. I mean that – I must mean that, dammit. I’ve was --” She stops.

She points at him . “Show me. Show me how this works. Let me destroy those bits of me that you’ve retained, whatever the ‘reason.’ Convince me of that and – I won’t have to do something I’d really, really hate to do.”

Her eyes shift. “Otto, stay out of this. I owe you, and don’t want to – oppose you.”

author: *** Dave H.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6550524

“Hey, I’m with the boss on this one, you’ve earned this,” Otto rumbles.

Leo smiles thinly. “You came to tell me I’m a leader and hero. You’re half right, this time. Leaders do things they regret, sometimes. I’m learning that. When it happens, heroes need to take a stand, like you’re doing, and challenge it.”

He beckons with a hand, and starts operating the console of the Heart Factory, pulling up a list of commands. “Alright…”

The machine is exceedingly simple, for all that it does. There’s several key commands. Most importantly, the log files use a sort of blockchain-type cryptographic hashing system. The entire history of the machine is all here, mathematically guaranteed and verifiable. Inputs, outputs, deletions, merges. Every command that’s ever been executed has been logged. The mathematics of the brain are complex, and likewise encoded and controlled. Six stumbling years of robotics research are laid out for inspection by anyone who wants to know.

Throughout this, Leo is offering Comfort & Support - he’s trying hard to hold up his obligations to Alycia, but also consciously acknowledging that she’s acting the part of the hero. If she’s ever been uncertain about that, this is his affirmation that she made it. Whatever she needs to feel comfortable with this machine, and with Jason, he’s prepared to do, and if that is clear & she accepts it, great.

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6550551

Alycia, despite herself, and after initial defensive reluctance, is fascinated. And, as much as she hates to admit it, the amount of information it conveys about Leo, and his “siblings,” is significant and meaningful. In many ways more than would ever come out in a conversation they could ever have.

“Ghede’s balls,” she mutters at one point. “Not enough you’re a hypergenius in the whole neuro-cognitive domain, but your UX is indecently straightforward. Sometimes I forget my own freaking command sequences.”

In the end, the purge-no-restore sequence for Alycia’s connectome corpus is pulled up. She looks at Leo. “There’s immortality here. But not for me.”

She taps the [Do It] key on the screen. The execution bar processes, left to right, until the sequence is complete

Alycia steps back from the console. She looks at Leo. "I shouldn’t, but I trust that did what you said. And that was the right thing to do. Just – " A pause. “-- would you use this tool in that way again? Like you did with Jason? What would make it worth using it as a weapon in that way, to rewrite someone’s mind? Is this means of common rehabilitation, or something reserved for the most dire of threats, or just a one-off because it seemed so seductively fitting?”

[The C&S is probably actually working, given Leo’s brutal honesty and Alycia’s four-condition frazzledness, so we can deal with that / dice roll / whatever as seems fit. His straightforwardness has clicked with her evaluation of his motives, if not his actions. For her part, while my original intent had been the “Share a moment of triumph,” this has actually morphed into a “Share a vulnerability or weakness” with Leo. Which includes the “ask them what they would do something dark for” question, as above.]

author: *** Dave H.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6550637

“I probably can’t use it again,” Leo explains. “You and Jason’s data are gone from it. As you saw, all that’s left in there is backups from the Newmans, and me. I always thought, if one of us was lost, maybe…” He rubs his hands together, uncertainly. “Bot didn’t bring his Otto back. Maybe he couldn’t. I need to talk to him. To understand…”

“Anyway! There’s another factor. I can’t read connectomes except from myself, the Newmans, or people who have adaptions for the machine. Jason’s nanobots, for example. That’s deliberate. I don’t want to use it on people, unless they sign up for it. Even in the battle with Old Jason, we rigged it so the effect would only trigger if his nanobots went for my head. He was trying to kill me, or at least rewrite me. Call it self-defense if you want. Or don’t. But if he hadn’t done that, things would be a lot different.”

He turns and looks back at Alycia, less haunted than he was a few minutes ago. “A lot of supers have some kind of destructive power. Eye beams. Super-strength. It’s so easy for them to wipe something out. Or somebody. Me? I have the power of creation. It’s as much of a god damn danger to the world, though. Or more so. So I want you to keep doing what you do best. Be wary. Be critical. That’s what I have faith in. Not me. But in us. All of us, together.”

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6550649

[So that looks like Alycia will clear a condition – and Angry seems like an appropriate one. Plus Leo clears a condition or adds Team.]

“The power of creation might be nice,” she says, softly. “Though, yeah, cautionary tale.” She shakes her head. “I swear, Leo, you are the most noble, maddening, inspirational, misguided person I’ve ever met, or hope to. I’m not any good at figuring out the ‘us’ – I grew up in the goddammed Great Leader model, better or worse. But a leader who is so quick to point out his flaws, and invite criticism – that’s … not a bad thing.”

She flashes a wan smile. “I’ll keep watching. I’m not afraid of your creations any more – well, no more than any person. But you – I’ll be happy to be the wary critic.” A smirk. “We play to our strengths.”

She looks over at Otto, wires still leading out of his engine. She takes a step forward, reaches out a hand – a pause – sets gloved fingers lightly on his hood. “Thanks. Yeah, you don’t know for what. Just – thanks.”

Alycia pivots on her heels, back to Leo. Gives him a fingergun shot, then exits.

[My Team Move - Vuln/Weakness gives me Influence over the target … which, since I have Influence already over Link, means I tweak Labels: Leo +Freak, -Danger.]

[Again, not at all what I was expecting, but that’s not a bad thing.]

author: *** Dave H.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6550680

For my money, Alycia sharing a vulnerability is always a moment of triumph. Glad you had fun & got something from it, mechanically or otherwise.

If she decides to talk to Otto and/or Aria, feel free to set that up when ready. Otto’s the only Newman she hasn’t had a conversation with on this theme, and Aria said “we’ll talk again”, so there’s room for either. If your dance card is too full right now or Alycia’s got what she needed, that’s cool too. :slight_smile:

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6550917

[I don’t think she’s quite ready to face Otto yet. Maybe Aria. I’l ponder and tee something up if I get a chance. But thanks. Again, not the direction I thought it would go, but it was all worth it to be able to say “Dammit, Leo.”]

author: *** Dave H.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6551508

With this scene now in the can, I want to ask as a player: is there anything that would have restored Alycia’s faith in Leo any more than what he did? What he offered her - access to his tech, knowledge enough to operate it - felt fitting, but I’m curious if I overlooked something. Leo may be many things, and he’s done things that he beats himself up for later, but he at least tries to do the right thing and live by his own advice of “if there’s hurt, make it right”.

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6554736

Interesting question.

I think, with consideration, Alycia will appreciate both his candor (he spilled about having her connectome data still (even if he kind of threw Summer under the bus in doing so)) and his willingness to try to make it right (yes, letting her understand how it works, and letting her push the big red delete button). Which won’t mean she stops being pissed off. She is increasingly less likely to see Leo as a fiendish mad genius, and more likely to see him as an absent-minded one who generally does the right things but wields terrifying power should he make a mistake. (She mentions this in the last paragraph, as well as, I think, in the lead up to the Aria thread.)

Is there anything more he could have done? I can’t think of anything offhand. If I can, I’ll be sure and have Alycia raise it some time. :slight_smile:

author: *** Dave H.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6555543

There’s an offscreen conversation where Leo tells Summer about this thing, apologizes for not telling her this detail properly, she feels bad, he tells her it’s okay, and they’re both good again. This harks back to a conversation Leo and Otto had, where Otto explained that Leo’s moral authority is why his creations haven’t been making creations of their own - they lean on him to own the weight of it. As a consequence, he’s thought through implications of the process that they haven’t.

All that said, thanks for giving this question some thought. :slight_smile:

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6555561

There’s a maturation / growing up story there I look forward to seeing.

author: *** Dave H.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6555695