45.5 - Doctor Infinity is a Purple! (Alycia's Tale)

[D]EBRIEFER: Are we ready to continue?

[C]HARADE: Yes, thanks.

D: Are you feeling all right, [C]?

C: Fine, fine. I’m just kind of … tired. It’s been a long couple of days. There really wasn’t a lot of chance to sleep over there. We were busy. And the place smelled like – ugh.

D: I would have thought your training program would have dealt with odoriferous places.

C: Well, yes, of course. I didn’t run screaming from the swamp base that smelled like ass. I simply didn’t enjoy it, and it didn’t encourage casual napping.

D: When we broke off, you had just contacted your peers in the Sepiaverse.

[RECORDING of C: Hey, guys, Dr. Infinity is here, top that!"]

C: I was a bit peeved.

D: Of course. What did you do then?

C: I was about to go into more detail, when I remembered something.

D: Yes?

C: I remembered playing tag in Chichen Itza with [J], around age 10, maybe 11, and I remembered a starfish shape, the same as I had just encountered in the alternate timeline Sepiaverse.

D: You realized you had encountered Dr. Infinity before, whilst playing games with [J].

C: No. Or, no, not really. I realized I now had encountered Dr. Infinity there. But before, I could remember that it never happened.

D: You did not encounter Dr. Infinity then.

C: Yes, I have now encountered Dr. Infinity when I was 10. But I didn’t do so before.

D: You … don’t remember doing so.

C: No. I know my memories. I’ve had reason to examine them carefully, and I know what I remember. I did not meet Dr. Infinity when I was 10 before. Now I have.

D: Your memory has … changed?

C: The event has changed. I have both a memory of what happened, and a memory of what my memory previously told me.

D: Time travel. [REDACTED]

C: Tell me about it.

D: And that visit. What happened?

C: I was asked a question. It captured me, stopped me from running, held me – [LONG PAUSE] then asked me a question.

D: Which was?

C: I don’t remember.

D: [C], you were just touting your memory –

C: Memory isn’t a video disc. It’s not data. It’s a series of correlated data, of information. When data cannot be correlated, when the observer doesn’t understand what’s happening, there’s no effective memory, no information, just disparate bits of data.

D: You didn’t know the answer to the question.

C: No, the question made no sense. I didn’t understand it, what it meant.

D: So you are … aware of Dr. Infinity … changing … time?

C: Yes. Changing time. Changing my past. My. Past.

D: Did Dr. Infinity – are you aware of other … changes?

C: Age 13. Caracas, Venezuela.

D: That would be your assassination of [REDACTED]. [PAUSE]. Is that right, [C]?

C: Yes.

D: Continue.

C: After … I was observing the target, when Dr. Infinity’s drone appeared. I note this was again not part of my memory beforehand. I attempted to shoot the drone, to no avail. It asked a question. I don’t remember, in that instant, what the question was.

D: That’s … an interesting qualification.

C: I know the question from a later … intrusion.

D: Will we get to that?

C: I certainly intend we will.

D: You sound angry.

C: I’m always angry.

D: Movie lines, [C]?

C: What?

D: Never mind. You’re – irked regarding Dr. Infinity’s – intrusions.

C: She fucked with my memory. She changed my past. How should I feel?

D: Given Dr. Infinity’s predilections, it’s likely that she’s changed all our pasts in one way or another.

C: And you’re okay with that?

D: No, I most certainly am not. but … I don’t dwell on it.

C: Has Dr. Infinity shown up in your memories, [D]? Personally?

D: Only in my nightmares, [C]. Only there. Shall we go on?

C: Two, two and a half years ago. Stockholm, Sweden. Nobis Hotel. Up in the middle of the night watching the coverage of – Father’s reported death, alongside Dr. Quill and both their bodyguards.


C: The drone appeared on the hotel TV. Asking a question. The same question. And it’s – I remember that not happening. I remember it happening – and as it did, remembering the earlier appearances. God dammit. This is driving me – ugh.

D: Focus on the details, the facts, [C]. You can emote on your own time.

C: Thanks, Father.


C: After my infiltration at the Quill Foundation was complete, and I left, I encountered the drone in an alley four blocks west of the Quill Block, the one [REDACTED]. She – it caught me. Again. I couldn’t … but this time, this time … I know what she was asking.

D: What’s different?

C: I have context. Dr. Infinity was asking about a name. I had no idea before then what the name was. This time, I knew the name. I didn’t know it as I know it now, but I was monitoring [J]'s contacts. I knew the name now.

D: The name?

_Who is Charlotte Palmer?

_Ghost Girl.

_It’s funny. Dr. Infinity is an Omega-Class Threat. She is a hyper-intelligent time-traveling artificial being, power level oozing out of her artificial pores. I’m just a human being with guns and an above-average intelligence. She could wipe me from existence with less thought than I would put to swatting a fly.

_But I know something she doesn’t. I know that she didn’t sense the presence of Ghost Girl there in the future Sepiaverse. And I know she didn’t know who Ghost Girl was.

_Today? I’d come up with a much more clever answer. Or maybe not. What I came up with was – and I say this without any sense of ego – inspired. _

D: You told her what?

C: That [G] was an agent of the Halcyon Heroes League. Possibly a child of a member. Oh, and, a bit of gratuitous flavor text, that she was perhaps associated with Hecate.

D: And … what was your rationale for this particular bit of yarning?

C: If Infinity could somehow detect lies, a simple denial that I knew anything about [G] would be counterproductive. Deflecting into something that would take the heat off of [J] seemed the best course.

D: But driving Dr. Infinity toward the HHL –

C: Who better to stand against Dr. Infinity? And … in fairness, I believed at the time that the HHL was a tool for the hegemonic status quo, and deserved any trouble it received.

D: I see. And your current evaluation of the HHL?

C: I believe it’s more productive to concentrate on what happened in the context of when it happened.

D: Of course. And --?

C: That’s it. No other memory fuckage.

D: Evaluation?

C: Dr. Infinity [REDACTED].

D: Any other evaluation or professional analysis?

C: [REDACTED]. My memory is my own.

D: Yes. Let’s continue.

[to be continued]

#Cutscene #Recap

author: *** Dave H.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6556569

D: So you were aware of Dr. Infinity interfering with your past.

C: Painfully. Aware.

D: Any reaction beyond that?

C: None worth noting for the record.

D: Some folk, if so aware of it, might find it … emotionally disturbing.

C: As has already been established, I am not ‘some folk.’ And my emotions are already disturbed. Your own people –


D: All right, what happened next?

C: I further informed [G] by comms that Dr. Infinity was involved, and that she appeared to be a trigger event for the latter’s presence, and Infinity’s subsequent intrusion into my past…

D: I see. Do you feel that is actually the case?

C: I may have been – hasty. Vigorous. In my evaluation. I’ve discussed it with [G] and realigned my conclusions. We’re on the same page now.

D: And if I said your comms were being monitored and recorded?

C: I’d say you were lying, [D].

D: Quite right. Continue.

C: [LOOKS AT [D] FOR 0:28.] [M] arrived on the scene. I was expecting him to engage with the drone. Instead, he grabbed me and started running.

D: Was that a tactically incorrect move?

C: The drone was –

D: Wait, this is the drone you dropped a building on.

C: [PAUSE] Yes. It apparently teleported out from under the rubble. But it was damaged. I damaged it. And I was considering how best to follow up in attack when [M] dragged me off.

D: Was that an incorrect move?

C: I suspect it was motivated incorrectly, through some white knight pathology. [M] is a bundle of painfully reflexive motivations, doing things not because he considers them and judges them right, but because he considers them and judges them what he is expected to do. As in this case.

C: But as far as it being incorrect in how it turned out, no. He saved my life. The drone spat out some sort of grenade-sized nuclear device. I would have been incinerated. As it was, both [M] and I should be checked for radiation exposure – he managed to flee the blast faster than the heat or shock wave, but radioactive particles might be a bit more energetic than him.

D: That’s … remarkable.

C: That’s a word for it. It’s emotionally a bit different when you’re draped over someone shoulder while it’s happening. Also when you see Dr. Infinity’s drone not only chasing us, but gaining.

D: It had that much speed?

C: No, it was teleporting. But do it fast enough, far enough, and functionally it works like superspeed. Father even speculated that all speedsters were localized teleporters, moving themselves foward in such imperceptible steps, so quickly, that it seemed like speed – and they ran as they did so because that’s what their brains needed for them to do it.

D: Is that what you think?

C: I’ve been considering how to experiment to determine that, in a way that wouldn’t destroy, damage, or cripple the test subject. I’m still working on it.

D: Be sure the AEGIS IRB reviews any such before you actually proceed.

C: [PAUSE] Of course.

[to be continued]

author: *** Dave H.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6559701

D: So the drone was in hot pursuit.

C: Yes. It was clear that it would catch up with us, even though [M], with targeted encouragement, was accelerating even further.

D: You must have felt … helpless to actually do anything in such a situation.

C: Hardly. I was trying to line up a shot. I still had the explosive rounds loaded, the drone had taken damage, and I had an idea that if I could actually intersect one of the teleports, fire a round that was in mid-air where-when it appeared, it might do more serious injury to the drone.

D: The way you describe it coming after you, calls to mind something from a motion picture I once saw. A pursuing force of tremendous power, inexorable, threatening. Not the sort of film I’d expect you’d have –

C: Time Bandits. Terry Gilliam. I know precisely the imagery you’re thinking of. Brilliant movie.

D: Indeed? I’d have thought –

C: A creative talent with a remarkable power of recognizing and shaping mythos, noting the absurdity in the status quo, and subverting expections. It’s little wonder he’s been perpetually hampered by oligarchic elements in the West. If I had a dozen propagandists like him, I could probably take over the world.

D: I’d – not considered his corpus from that perspective. Nor that we’d actually appreciate the same film, if for varying reasons.

C: Did you think I was raised on a diet of PRC reorientation documentaries, or French radical leftist art house shorts?

D: To be honest, yes, something rather like that.

C: Bah. Freedom-hostile brainwashing and pretentious twaddle. Besides, even if Big Media is a tool of the classist hegemony, it doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate aspects of what slips past its financial planners and imagery consultants.

D: I suppose.

C: Though, for that matter, what do you think of Triumph of the Will?

D: I think we’re digressing.

C: I’m not suggesting, of course, that Dr. Infinity is Gilliam’s Supreme Being, aside from both of them being loathsome individuals. I do think –

D: Perhaps later, over tea. Let’s return to the subject.

C: Fine. I rejected the idea of intersecting an explosive round with the drone, except as a last resort. [M] was simply not a predictable shooting platform for that level of precision, even with my talents. But it occurred to me that, if I had once caused [M] to temporarily phase into the Sepiaverse through both his speed/vibrational cycle and the power units in my gloves, I might be able to muddle the drone’s already-damaged sensors through a similar process.

D: And?

C: It worked, which was rather encouraging. I got [M] to run a bit faster, I harnessed the quantum instability that is part of such speed – which suggests an avenue to pursue in that research, by the way – and created sufficient uncertainty to give the impression that there were n-1 alternative [C] and [M] targets, at sufficiently different tangents to make tracking them all impossible, where n represents the Gaussian –

D: Yes, the analysts will want the technical details. You say it worked.

C: Yes. Long enough for something else to distract it.

D: Something else?

C: Apparently, [G] sealing the Wound in the Worlds.

[to be continued]

author: *** Dave H.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6560790

C: It slowed, stopped, apparently extended its sensor arrays – then spun, shouted “NO!” back at the city, and teleported away.

D: But you were racing away at hyper-speed, how did you --?

C: [TAPS HEAD] Hypergenius.

D: [PAUSE] Very well, continue.

C: [M] suggested we had scared it off, or, alternately, that it was after [G]. I knew it was unable to detect [G], but suddenly realized that it could detect what [G] was doing. I made this observation to [M] and he agreed that I was right, and headed us back to where [G] was. We made good time, to find [G] and [GK1048] amidst a swirl of spirits, using it to close the Wound.

D: A swirl of – spirits, did you say?

C: Yes, other ghosts. She was directing them, getting them to close the dimensional gap.

D: Extraordinary. Have you seen this capability from [G] before?

C: I’ve seen her talk with spirits, but not direct them to action. But she’s a remarkably charismatic individual. It’s hardly surprising.

D: Yes, you mentioned that she’d talked with spirits in, ah, the present form of the Sepiaverse, just prior to your turning yourself in. [XREF ALEPH-1715A-ZAC2-47]

C: Correct.

_I prefer not to overtly lie to her. The success of my endeavor relies upon her good will and trust in me. Even setting technological means of detecting falsehoods, she’s not at all stupid, and falsehoods labor under the cost of not aligning with reality, meaning they are always on the brink of discovery.

_That said, I must balance my agreement with and penance to AEGIS, with my duty toward my team mates. My comrades. I don’t want AEGIS to know the extent of Charlotte’s powers. They would be too likely to (a) overreact, or, worse, (b) seek to exploit them.

Until, in my judgment, it’s necessary to stop her, I will attempt to protect her.

D: I have to say, you approach the question of ghosts and spirits and the supernatural with a certain … aplomb.

C: Screaming and climbing the walls would be rather undignified.

D: Agreed. But most, ah, hypergeniuses tend to be a bit more, ah, secular.

C: You mean [Q].

D: Well, as an example.

C: There are a lot of factors in play here. Organized religion’s not-infrequent opposition to science, especially in the West, plays a part, as does spiritualism’s pseudo-scientific scandals. Scientists as empiricists are demanding, sometimes are too demanding, on what data they accept. But some of that is also stereotyping – the godless scientist morphing from a pernicious mistrust of science to being a metaphor for how scientists ought to be. Surveys of scientists, even in the West, show a substantial number with spiritual, if not religious beliefs. Hypergeniuses merely exaggerate that all those factors, particularly in the West which, since the Enlightenment, and even dating back to Plato, for example, has emphasized the separation of body and mind and spirit in a model that, to me, seems unsustatainable.

D: So you would consider yourself a religious woman?

C: God, no. Organized religion has frequently been politically and socially oppressive, wielding divine mandate as a put-people-in-jail-free card. The virtual identity of church and state for much of human history, and in lesser degrees in most world societies today, demonstrates that. To the extent that it focuses on individual spiritual self-actualization, or using spiritual belief as a goad to social action for the benefit of the community, it has arguable value. But in most cases it’s simply a scam.

D: So you’re an ath–

C: False dichotomy, [D]. There is a difference between not wanting to be part of any political party and being an anarchist. One can believe there is more in heaven and earth than is presently explained by experimental and empirical science, without feeling the need to burn witches at the stake.

D: You continue to surprise, [C].

C: Only because you have so many preconceptions about me, [D].


D: So, you were prepared to see [G] talking with spirits and convincing them to … patch the dimensional rift.

C: Of course. [G] was [PAUSE] talking to the ghosts. [GK1048] was standing by, wielding her sword, to protect her. Which was good because the drone was there.

D: What was it doing?

C: Apparently scanning, trying to find [G], making loud pronouncements in a robotic fashion about –

D: Do you mind quoting? For the analysts.


D: And?

C: There’s not much to say. [G] convinced the ghosts to help. They sealed the rift. It was pretty straightforward.

I saw Father. His spirit. Screaming at me, angry at me, furious at me_. In some ways it was my worst nightmare – seeing him again, hearing all the times he accused me of failure, of betrayal, of being “less than nothing,” of –

_In other ways … in retrospect it was actually a bit reassuring. He was impotent against me – pin that thought. It wasn’t the real him. But it was clear that he was dead.

_Of course, which Achilles Chin was it? The native of the Sepiaverse that died in total war with Byron Quill over my and Jason’s deaths? Or the one of our world who crossed over with our Byron – who in our timeline I helped Jason rob of his genius, but here remained untouched, save by whatever events kept him trapped on this side of the dimensional wall? The one whose recent technology was being used by Doctor Infinity?

_Is that Achilles Chin still alive?

_It doesn’t matter. I’m not there any more. And that was a different timeline. Even if that Chin lives, he can’t hurt me.

I just need to control my breathing.

* * *

_There was more.

The spirit of Father was up in my face. screaming, howling … and then it was dragged away by another spirit into the flow of the maelstrom, dragged off by someone who interposed himself between Father and me. Who defended _me.


_In many ways, this is a more … shattering occurrence, revelation, than the spirit of my father.

If Otto is a ghost, he is dead. But, more importantly, it means there is something of the spirit about him. He is not merely a machine, or even an elaborate cognitive computing device that thinks _itself alive. Spirits, ghosts, do not come from inanimate objects (that’s not entirely true, but can be considered so for this case).

_If Otto is present in the afterlife as a spirit – a motivated spirit, acting with intent – then he has such a spirit, such a soul, in our world.

_And if that’s true for Otto, then it is true for Aria. And Summer.

Dammit_, Leo.

_I’ve been wrong. I’ve been so wrong.

_My mind considers whether this might be a hallucination. Certainly the stress of the moment, the interaction with Dr. Infinity, the intentional blurring of quantum state with Mercury, opens the possibility of cognitive distortion and malfunction. I.e., a hallucination at least, madness at worst. If I’d encountered this on a city street, in a Halcyon supermarket – then, yes, I’d have reason to doubt.

But the context is not out of the blue. It’s right where it should be, right where I’d expect. The logical conclusion is that I have seen what is real, and thus, Otto (et al.) _has a soul.

I’ve been in grievous error. I need to correct this.

D: And the drone?

C: I was … distracted. By what was going on. [M] mentioned later that the drone blinked out, replaced by the actual Doctor Infinity. Who looked around at each individual there, then vanished herself.

D: Distracted? Away from Doctor Infinity? What could --?

C: One of the ghosts looked like my father.

D: Ah. Oh. Do you have confirmation if it was, and, if so –

C: I just said, he looked like my father. We didn’t chat.

D: Perhaps you can ask [G].

C: That’s … not an altogether bad idea.

D: We do, occasionally, come up with them. So Infinity vanished. And?

C: And we came home. Or, rather, came back to the Alternate Timeline Future Earth.

D: How did you manage that?

C: Brilliantly.

D: A bit more detail. For the record.

C: Well, to be honest, part of my plan had involved some n-space shenanigans using certain energy states I’d detected moving through the Wound. We would nearly seal the gap, then slip through to the other side with that energy state current and finish the job from the other side. No fuss, no muss, no tearing through what we had almost sealed.

D: Energy states – are you talking about the ghosts?

C: The ghosts? Wow. That would be very creepy, if the ghosts were slipping between dimensions.

D: Indeed. Go on.

C: Well since [G] was already closing the Wound, and it was clearly something Infinity opposed, I didn’t dare stop it. Afterwards, I had to improvise.

D: Yes?

C: Oh, a little of this, a little of that, something from each of us there. Once-in-a-monoblock-level stuff. That way is closed now.

D: So you aren’t going to share.

C: [TAPS HEAD] That darned hypertech thing – irreproduceable. Sorry.

D: Beyond that?

C: A brief period of downtime, following up with the future people there. Then reversing the process to get us back to this timeline and tick-mark.

D: And we know the rest of the story from there.

C: Yes.

D: Any conclusions or wrap-up from all of this?

C: Time travel should definitely be under interdict for AEGIS. Too much knowledge of what is to come is dangerous.

D: Just AEGIS?

C: Everyone.

D: That seems a shift from your earlier attitudes.

C: Lessons learned. That’s what science is about, isn’t it, [D]?

D: Perhaps. You wouldn’t be telling me what I want to hear, would you?

C: Have I ever struck you as someone who’s interested in telling people what they want to hear?

D: When put that way, no. Anything else?

C: Well, Doctor Infinity was already probably on your charts as a horrifyingly powerful and menacing – when she can be bothered to notice us – individual. I’ll join as a signatory for that evaluation. She was willing to destroy multiple worlds, if not dimensions, for her ends.

D: Wonderful.

C: More than you think. We’ve known – drawing on public information and my father’s records – that she can move across time. We have confirmation in this adventure that she can move across dimensions, too – and possibly timelines.

D: Couldn’t that have been an AltFutureSepiaverse version of her?

C: She went back in time and meddled with my past. In this universe. In this timeline. On me.

D: Had the timelines diverged yet?

C: [PAUSE] No.

D: So the hypothesis is unproven, at least as to timelines. But to dimensions – yes, well, if you could pass through, it’s possible she could.

C: Huh.

D: What?

C: Well, I was talking about crossing timelines as if that were extraordinary. But, of course, we’ve done it. Hell, [V] did it, coming back to where he did the first time. It almost makes me wonder if the future version of [L] was as damaged as he thought. Or at least as we thought. Too weak to take on [Q] and his allies, but clever enough to reach across timelines to a point where [L]'s technology was further developed and bring us to him to assist in that endeavor.

D: Are you suggesting you were played?

C: I always suspect someone is playing me. I’ve rarely been proven wrong.




author: *** Dave H.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6563862