CWC 03 - Admission

INT. - COLINVERSE CONTROL CENTER - NIGHT

A STAR WARS type crawl pulls text up the screen.

It is a period of uncertainty. The hero of justice, seeking his destiny, has found a partner who both embodies and supports his mission.

During their initial conversation, forces of the Dark Umbral Man Brain, or DUMB, took control of the hero and made him talk like a total tool.

Pursued by DUMB’s embarrassing agents, the hero races home to write a blog post about his encounter.

We pull back from the crawl to see that we’re in a GIANT COMMAND CENTER, dominated by a CONTROL CONSOLE. Five figures, the five key emotions of the human experience, are watching the crawl go by on a viewscreen above the console. They are not happy.

FEAR: This was terrible! We are an idiot! We texted her the whiniest wimpiest text of all time! OF ALL TIME! “Oh no, darling Summer, I hope you are unhurt!” When they guillotine us for being stupid, let’s be sure and take off our fedora first!

SADNESS: Sorry! That’s all my fault. We’re just not good at talking to girls.

DISGUST: You’re not good at talking to girls. When those girls were harassing our cousin at home one time, I walked us right out there and gave them a piece of our mind!

A memory sphere flickers to life in the background, projecting a scene of several girls accosting one more in a wheelchair. We are treated to a first-person view of a child yelling at them.

SADNESS: Yeah but that’s not talking to girls, that’s technically shouting at girls.

ANGER: I can shout!

EVERYONE ELSE: Not Helping!

JOY: Anyway! Summer was very receptive to our plan to stand up for Machine Consciousness Rights Recognition.

DISGUST: We’re not calling it that.

FEAR: Oh shit, did we ask her about it? We should have asked.

SADNESS: We can’t! We have to come up with the perfect name for it, and then present it to her, and then she’ll be impressed, and she’ll–

An alarm starts blaring on the console: FLOOD WARNING

Everyone grabs SAFETY LINES with CLIP-ON HOOKS and attaches themselves to the console. A giant NOZZLE emerges from the ceiling, labeled HORMONES, and a torrential flood drowns the entire control room for several seconds. The Emotions struggle to hang onto each other, their safety lines, or anything else.

DISGUST gets hit in the face with something hard and heavy.

The flood peters out, leaving everyone DRENCHED but unharmed.

JOY: Okay, good job everyone, our safety drills are paying off.

FEAR: Back to business! Right. Let’s talk about what’s working and what’s not working for us.

JOY: Sounds good!

FEAR: What’s not working for us. EVERYTHING.

JOY: She texted us back! She is having a conversation with us!

FEAR: She’s only humoring us because she’s so wonderful and we’re so pathetic!

DISGUST: Yeah.

ANGER: Yeah.

SADNESS: Yeah.

JOY: NO!

FEAR: We need to stop just rushing in and talking so much. We have to watch what we say. We have to guard our words.

SADNESS: Yeah!

JOY: But I want to talk to her so badly, and tell her all about this stuff! We know there has to be conscious robots out there. Wouldn’t she like to meet some of them? Help them? She has to know how we feel–

SADNESS clamps a hand over JOY’s mouth.

SADNESS: Stop. You know what happened the last 282 times we let people hear about our feelings.

A MONTAGE of embarrassing memories appears on the viewscreen, most recently featuring JASON QUILL, a ruggedly masculine adventurer with a beard, accompanied by two busty women hanging from his arms.

DISGUST: We can’t just do nothing! Real people - I mean, robotic people, but people - might be out there, getting hurt.

ANGER: Hey, I’m just gonna randomly remind you all about the Rossum incident, where people speculate that the Menagerie super-member Concord probably blew up a lot of robots. I really hate that guy.

SADNESS: Okay, okay. How about… we…

Everyone else turns and looks, expectantly.

SADNESS: [beat] …. Come up with a plan.

Everyone else looks away, dejectedly.

FEAR: I got it!

Everyone else turns to look again, hopefully.

FEAR: Let’s put our phone in the microwave and run away from school, change our name, and become circus acrobats!

Everyone else looks out the window, at the distant spires of WHIMSY ISLAND, built like a combination three-ring circus and rainbow-colored castle. A bevy of CLOWNS wave invitingly.

JOY: We’re having fun with her though, aren’t we.

DISGUST: And we owe it to the people who need us, who only we can help.

SADNESS: We owe it to ourselves to be rejected properly by her.

ANGER: And we owe that Concord something, and everyone like him, who mistreats robots!

FEAR: Fine.

FEAR looks out toward SCIFI ISLAND, a towering crystal-and-chrome paradise complete with tiny buzzing drones hovering around the spires. His gaze turns to HERO ISLAND, where costumed superheroes and pioneers of social issues can be found in equal measure. He realizes that there’s a job to do.

FEAR: Maybe we can do this. I just hope she wasn’t too mad about us looking at her–

The FLOOD WARNING alarm blares on the console once again.

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Lovely stuff, @garrett

Ha!

Jason probably will go on to grow a beard, even though (perhaps especially becayse) they will go out of style after the Totally Unhip Beard-Wearing Republican Primary Candidates of 2024 affair. He will continue to wear one for a decade, until Alycia lets slip that she thinks he’s probably doing it because it makes him look like his dad. And by then it will be too late.

Summer feels maudlin about graduation. Jason, Alycia, and Nono all graduated. Leo and Aria are in her grade, but she’s still reluctant to get too close to them during regular school hours, or any other time. She has other friends, too, but - eh. Things are changing and she doesn’t like it.

Nono got herself a girlfriend at some point. Good for her. Jason and Alycia - 'nuff said. Leo and Aria - 'nuff said. She’s happy that Leo is happy, overjoyed that her sister is happy, even happy in a way that it’s not her. It’s a resolution of some kind, and Pneuma always wanted certainty in her life, regardless of where it took her. It bothers her a little that everyone else is pairing up, leaving school, getting jobs, whatever. Maybe the price of living your own life is that you’ll be left behind when everyone else goes off to live theirs.

She does what she always does when it’s time to shake off a bad feeling: she goes somewhere new and does something different. There’s tactical reasons for today’s choice, of course. The last time she met Colin at Blintzkrieg, the manager made a supportive-sounding comment about “that nice young man of yours” and Summer had to clear up the misunderstanding about their situation. So there’ll be no more “meet me at work” events, to avoid people talking.

Today, she’s going downtown to try a place Otto recommended, Binder’s Brats. And how the hell did Otto come to make a restaurant recommendation anyway, she wonders. She suspects he just read Yelp reviews or something. Well, trying new food is never a bad thing.

Colin is waiting for her at the transit center. He’s alternating staring at his phone and looking around like some kind of owl when she steps off the bus and waves. It’s a quarter mile to the restaurant. Plenty of time to talk - if someone starts doing so.

She watches his face. He looks like he’s on the verge of saying something. She opens her mouth, and he does at the same time. “Go ahead.” “Sorry, go ahead.”

He ends the verbal logjam by finally speaking up. “I sent you some pretty dumb texts. I’ll try to do better.”

She smiles, and sees relief wash over his face at her reaction. “It’s okay, it was really sweet that you were concerned about my well-being. Knowing my friends care about how I’m doing is what keeps me going.”

He nods, uncertain, and Summer wonders how much of what he wanted to say, or thought about saying, there really was. How much did he hold back? She tries something. “I’m sorry too.”

Colin looks scandalized. “For what? You haven’t done anything wrong.”

Well, that’s debatable, but… “I feel like I’m making you feel uncomfortable. Is there anything you’d like me to say, or … or do… that would put you more at ease?”

Colin shakes his head. “No! I mean, nothing I can think of. If I do, I’ll tell you. I’m just really excited that someone’s taking me seriously, you know? And someone like you, who’s…” Summer watches his face twist, as he mentally reassembles what he wanted to say into something tactful. “… who’s so close to the situation.”

He goes on. “You told me a little about yourself. I wanna do the same, if that’s okay.” He pauses just long enough to see an assenting smile on her face. “I grew up in Halcyon City. Justice - I mean the hero, y’know, not the concept - is a big deal and their story is the city’s story. But even here there’s bullies. My cousin has a learning disability, and she’s in a wheelchair, and she got bullied when she was younger. And it made me so mad, and I would go punch the kids who were doing it. But 'cause I was smaller than them, I got beat up a lot.”

He grins, embarrassed and proud in the same moment. “It was either learn how to fight, or learn how to make people stop being horrible to each other. I took three months of Tae Kwon Do and it wasn’t for me. I felt like beating up bullies would just be more bullying. I started learning about social justice. But my cousin took care of herself faster than I could. People love her, now. I didn’t have to do anything.”

His shoulders slump, though his voice doesn’t change. “Guess I felt like I didn’t have anything to contribute. I wanted to help, y’know? But who? And how? So that’s how I met Marion. And I got into Gardner, and joined the ABCs - the woke people. Ugh, that word always makes me feel weird.”

Summer smiles appreciatively. “You sound like you’re a really good guy.”

Colin snorts. “Hey, thanks for not using the phrase ‘nice guy’. Ugh, those guys.”

Binder’s Brats has the option of outdoor seating. It’s bare bones: metal tables and chairs, laminated no-frills menus, just the tagline (“the wurst place in Halcyon!”) and a list of dishes and prices. A carafe of water further removes the need for the serving staff to interact with you. Summer’s not impressed so far, but she’ll wait until she actually eats something to pass judgement.

Summer doesn’t want to have a serious conversation interrupted by the serving staff, and apparently Colin doesn’t either. That, or he’s still being careful what he talks about. Instead, she brings up a topic that could perhaps benefit from some interruption. “I said you were a good guy earlier. That sounded a little bland, I’m sorry. I meant it to sound better. It’s really important to care about something in this world. We have governments, and superheroes, and cops, and teachers, and they’re all supposed to help make things better. But all those people, they can turn corrupt, or stop caring. Heroes are the ones who keep on caring, even when it’s tough to do.”

Colin hangs his head, cheeks quite red at the praise. Fortunately for him, this is the moment when one of the waiters comes by. Nobody’s ordering beer today. Summer wants the chicken-apple brats, and Colin asks for the BBQ plate with pulled pork and sampler cuts. “Plus a big glass of milk!” he adds. “Dairy helps with the spiciness,” he explains.

The waiter removes himself, leaving two young people with nothing to do but talk to each other, which is obviously the worst thing ever, if you’ve had to do it.

Colin finally pipes up. “Um, I know I keep apologizing, sorry. Meta-apology, I guess. If uh, if I’ve been rude to you, or crossed any lines, or y’know, done anything I shouldn’t have, I’m sorry.”

Summer notices that he’s pointedly looking at anything but her. Did he actually check me out the last time, and is he still worried about it? Is he apologizing for that? Or am I still interpreting things through my own lens?

“You’ve been very considerate when we’ve talked,” she says, in some attempt at reassurance. It’s all she can do now, since she’s still trying to figure herself out. What do you say in a moment like this? Hey, it’s okay, you looked at a girl’s body a little longer than you should have, but you couldn’t help it? Hey, it’s not okay, and you should be sorry, don’t ever do it again? Hey, I feel kind of put on the spot by this whole thing? Hey, let’s just forget it and have lunch and talk social justice?

He seems respectful. If she called him out, would it be bitchy? Would it push him away? What’s the right thing to do, to both keep this conversation (and the budding friendship) alive, and to set boundaries?

“You’re really hot,” he blurts out. Summer studies his face, curious at what’s going on. He looks like a criminal who just made a confession and is feeling relief at letting go of the burden of it.

Well, now what, genius? What do you say to that?

Um.

“Drink milk, it helps with hot stuff.”

Jesus, did I really say that?

But he laughs, and she laughs, and suddenly everything is okay.

“It’s really important to me to get your opinion on this stuff. And your blessing,” he says. “I think I understand why you’re doing your hero stuff. I can’t help with that, but I want to do whatever I can for robots - not just you, but you as well. But um, I’m also a guy, you’re also a girl, I might get distracted sometimes, I’m gonna do my best not to.” He leans across the table, now earnest, and meets her eyes. “This is really, really important to me. I’m not gonna lose it by treating you like a thing. Robots, and girls, have had that much in common, haven’t they.”

Summer feels taken aback. “Yeah, we have,” she says at last. A smile flickers across her lips.

Colin reclines into the metal chair. “I’m–”

She holds up a hand immediately. “Don’t say you’re sorry. I know you don’t intend any harm, Colin. It’s clear to me that you mean well, you’re the real thing, and you have integrity. I don’t doubt you.”

He’s blushing again, and she feels obligated to fill the silence.

“You complimented my appearance before. That’s usually an objectifying remark. In my particular case, I feel like I’m okay accepting the compliment, because what I look like is something I chose. I could be a six foot burly Amazon girl, or I could look ten or something. I look like this for my own reasons - it’s most comfortable, or familiar, to look like this. I didn’t design it to be hot. I wanted… something people wouldn’t remark on. Something everyday.”

Girl Next Door,” prompts Colin.

“Yeah, kind of.” Summer grins. She hadn’t thought about that phrase, but it fits.

Colin seems to have marshaled his confidence. “You mean the girl the audience actually wants the hero to wind up with?”

God dammit.

But he’s got more. “Well, wish granted. Yes, you’re beautiful. But I’m more interested in what you have to say than how you look, so maybe that’s the best compliment I can pay to your appearance: I think you succeeded at your goal.”

It’s Summer’s turn to blush. Thank God the waiter has come back.

Maury is looking at her tablet, on which some drone surveillance footage is playing out. Otto can see enough of it, thanks to his internal cameras, to recognize one of the two people he’s helping her spy on.

“So uh, what are we doin’ here again? Downtown parking is expensive.”

“Just as I said earlier,” Maury answers without looking up. “Keeping tabs on the public social lives of the city’s superheroes.”

“Yeah but one of them is Summer,” growls Otto. “You asked for my help, you said hey, tell your girl about this restaurant, I did that, now I wanna know–”

Maury pinches on the tablet surface to zoom in. “The boy with her. That’s Colin Jones, my cousin.”

“Holy shit, the Panthers safety is your cousin?”

Maury pinches the bridge of her nose next. “No. This Colin isn’t in football, or any other sport. But he’s definitely trying to run a goal into the end-zone: he’s got a huge crush on Summer Skye Newman, alias the robot hero Radiance.”

“Oh.” Otto collects his thoughts. “Well, uh, so what are you doin’ here? Playin’ matchmaker or something?”

“Not exactly…” Maury shrugs. “When we were younger, Colin tried to stand up for me against bullies in our neighborhood. He was… uh, he wasn’t good at it, at all. But I couldn’t take it when they turned on him. Something snapped inside me. I started standing up for myself - metaphorically. And his interests rubbed off on mine a little. I got into superheroes in a big way just by listening to him talk so excitedly about them. Now I’m the hero nerd and he’s into social justice.”

“Huh. Neat.” Otto rumbles thoughtfully. “Hey wait, answer my question. Just what are we doing here?”

Maury shrugs and grins. “Fine. We’re playing matchmaker. Or rather, I’m doing my job as hero correspondent for Halcyon, except I’d never in a million years report on this for real. I don’t want to out Radiance any more than you do, which I suspect is one of your fears.”

“Yeah.”

Maury reclines slightly against the car seat. “But we’re also - I’m also - making sure that things are okay with them. Colin saw some of my unreleased footage, enough that he independently put together who Radiance is. He’s sometimes come to visit my while I’m editing. I like multitasking, avoids wasting time.” She’s still fiddling with her tablet. “But sometimes people see stuff they ought not. Anyway, I feel responsible for helping him learning her secret, and I wanna protect her if he takes his particular interests too far.”

“Guess that makes sense,” rumbles Otto. “So what’s he gonna do if Summer doesn’t respond to his crush?”

Maury shrugs. “Hopefully he’ll mope about it for a few months. Like he did after meeting Daphne Palin, and finding out his best friend Marion’s heart was there first.” She lets out a sigh. “So glad I’m not stuck with teenage hormones and high-school drama any more.”

“Uh-huh.” Otto sounds clearly unconvinced.

“Oh, cool your carburetor or something.”

Summer isn’t feeling too useful. Alycia’s doing all the work. Still, the depths of the Quill compound’s R&D lab is a good place to talk.

“Alycia, um, if there’s a boy who acts like he maybe likes me, what am I supposed to do about that?”

Alcyia’s face isn’t visible right at the moment - she’s up to her shoulders in the guts of a large machine. But her annoyance carries clearly through her voice. “He has a name.”

Summer squirms uncomfortably. “Fine. If there’s a boy named Colin who acts like he maybe likes me.”

“Go out with him.”

“It’s not that simple!” And to Summer, it’s not. “I mean yeah, he’s probably okay dating a robot but I don’t wanna lead him on or give him the wrong idea, I mean yeah he admitted he thinks I’m hot but he’s just biased 'cause I’m the social cause he’s latched onto so of course he’s biased and not thinking clearly probably because he’s seventeen and to be fair I’m seventeen and definitely not thinking clearly, so what I’m really wondering is what am I supposed to do about this and it’s not fair this got dumped in my lap so soon after, y’know, everything, so anyway, what do you think?”

Alycia slides out of the machinery, face covered in grease. “Go. Out. With. Him.” She enunciates, scowling.

“You have… you have a thing… in your hair…” Summer reaches up and gingerly plucks out a hex nut, then presents it. Alycia snatches it out of her hand.

Summer knows the silence is hers to fill, but she’s not sure what to say. “I’m just saying I’m uncertain.”

“I got that,” Alycia notes dryly.

More silence. Ugh. “I just–”

“Stop.” Alycia bonks her on the head with the wrench she’s holding. This would have left a serious dent in the skull of a biological person. Between the two of them, it’s just a strange show of friendship. “You asked me for relationship advice. I gave you some. Now you don’t like it? Too bad.”

As she starts to dive back into the machine, something pulls her out, and she stares at Summer again. “And that’s another thing. Why do you people keep coming to me for relationship advice anyway? I can do seduction, backstabbing, betrayal. I can ghost-write a John le Carré novel. In fact I might, if I need to make ends meet. But I don’t do this teenage puppy love nonsense. So what’s the point of asking me?”

Summer hangs her head. “Well, you’re the most cautious person I know. And you can poke holes in a bad plan, no matter how good it sounds. And you’re fierce, and brave, and determined to keep me safe. So, I guess, I believe that if anyone would steer me right on something like this, 'Lycia, it’s you.”

Alycia ducks quickly back into the machine, and Summer only thinks she hears a sniffle. But the voice comes again, after several moments. “You haven’t said if you like him or not.”

“You’re right. I haven’t said that.”

“Well?”

“Nnnnnnnnngggggg…” Summer squirms even more. “Do I have to say?”

“No, you can just annoy me in some other way for the next ninety minutes.”

Summer sighs. “Well, again, it’s complicated–”

“Ahura Mazda Miata! Simplify it.” The banging sound of the wrench hitting something comes from inside the machine.

Fine. He’s no Leo.”

“You’re not dating Leo. By your own choice.”

Summer has to admit she has a point. Is that really what this is about? A smile creeps onto her face. “You know, you said you couldn’t find a True Love relationship for me. A Leo or Jason class. Does that mean you see Jason as a True Love?”

There’s the sound of repeated banging from inside the machine. Alycia finally stops. “Sorry, had to fix something. Missed that. Keep talking.”

Summer rolls her eyes. Fine. “I suppose he has some good qualities. He’s not an inventive genius, and he can’t really keep up with me on science topics.”

“You plan to spend your dates talking about science?”

“No…”

Alycia emerges from the machine again. Her face is still dirty, and smudges of grease concentrated around her eyes make her look like a raccoon. Summer can’t help but burst out laughing.

She gets bonked with the wrench again for her trouble. “You’re avoiding the issue. You don’t want to go out with him, fine. You wouldn’t come to me with that, you’d just tell him no. So it follows you’re not ready to accept that you might want to date him. Because… of yourself? Because of Leo? Or something or someone else? Go make it their problem, not mine.”

It’s because of me. I already know that.

“Right.” Alycia is pretty clearly done talking about this, and Summer’s a little grateful for that. “I’ll be done in an hour and a half, then we can fire this thing up.”

“What is this anyway?” asks Summer.

“This is the DNA cyclotron Byron Quill invented. Police around the world engage in DNA forensics, but that can take days or weeks. Fortunately for us, the senior Doctor Quill was an arrogant and impatient man, and wanted it done faster. Thus the machine. We’ll feed the samples from the Aerospace Museum into the machine and get some data back.”

It takes closer to two hours, and Alycia has to deal with a safeguard she had no interest in talking to: a holographic ghost of Byron Quill himself. But results tick out of the machine at last.

The pair peruse the data. Alycia is more experienced with DNA phenotyping than Summer, and she takes the lead. “Right. Subject is of European ancestry, probably young, around our age. We don’t have enough to do a face reconstruction, but I’ve got an alternative. Hair and eye color are indicated, but I’m going to forego telling you - let me explain why.”

She calls a blueprint and a software spec document on the computer. “Your entire body is a network of laser emitters. I’ve written a system that’ll sample ambient DNA traces in the air or on the ground, by using pulsed laser bursts. There’s a rare sequence of markers in this sample. If the scan picks up that sequence, we’ll record GPS coordinates. In other words, we can’t lock in on this person by what they look like, but if you’re in an area where they’ve been, we’ll know. That way you don’t alert them by constantly rubbernecking. You can just act casual.”

“Got it. Go to places where kids are, wait for the indicator.” Summer gets the idea, as well as the science.

This is when Alycia starts to really smirk. “You’ll have to visit as many places as you can, without seeming out of place. Better take Colin along.”

God dammit.

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Checking in with the CWC audience!

Aside from just “this is good” (if it is), I’m curious how you folks are receiving Colin as a character, whether you ship it (or not), and also how the B plot is working out. Any feedback I get will affect the next set of stories.

I have a protest regarding the forum system. There is only one “heart/like” icon to click on, and when I click on it multiple times it just turns it off and on, rather than incrementing the value. Please fix this.

I am liking Colin as a character – he’s presenting well as the hopelessly muddled teenager who’s sure he’s going to say everything wrong and sometimes does, but is mortified in either case. Not that I would know anything about that (let alone as an adult), but, from what others have told me, that rings very true.

Summer is sort of in the same boat, and that identity between them is both charming and slightly dangerous, if only because it’s both cool that they are dealing with many of the same emotions and needful that they react a bit differently (so that Colin comes across as a different person, esp. since we don’t get to see into his head).

As to the B plot (“Harrumph!”), I am delighted. You really do have a good handle on Alycia, which makes coffee-through-nose dialog a regular feature, and their interactions and the surrounding story are natural, amusing, and intriguing. I now have a vague concern that the mystery figure is Colin, and that his motivations are suspect and we’ve never actually been inside his head and Summer is going to get her heart broken. Then Alycia and Otto will have to fight in order to determine who take Colin apart, and that will be messy.

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The very first post on this topic was literally an “Inside Out” rendition of his mind. :slight_smile:

Dammit. You are absolutely right. I even went back and looked and somehow missed that. Derp.

@insomn14 I’m curious about your feedback too, if/when you have a chance to catch up. There’s something in this thread that might grab your attention. :slight_smile:

I’m planning on it, I just need to find some time to catch up on everything (I still need to read through @Dave’s The Plan, if that gives you any idea how behind I am and how has a week already past since he posted that?). Luckily, after Friday I’m on vacation until the end of the year so that should give me time when I’m not working on artwork for the Masks zine.

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Finally caught up to this point.

I’m really enjoying a lot of this. So far I’m rather cool on Colin, though the less… helpless puppy he acts the more I like him. I was slightly surprised that I correctly guess Maury was his cousin. Interesting way to re-incorporate existing characters and tell us more about them along the way. That’s probably my favorite part about your writing.

Well second favorite because I really enjoy Summer and Alycia’s banter. But I’ve always liked that, so no big surprise. I also enjoy how the superhero investigation sub-plot is working out so far. I especially like how Alycia finished up with “I can both give advice and search for suspects.” Fantastic multitasker, that one.

Yeah, Concord might have destroyed a factory or two’s worth of robots. Though, to be fair, the way Concord’s empathy works around the Newmans, he might have been able to tell if any of them had a “soul.” (Not to say that’s the same thing as sentience of course, unless it turns out that it is. Metaphysics are complicated.) Of course, that also brings into question that Concord being able to detect the emotions of Newman-style robots could be due to their creation process and a robot like a Lt. Cmdr. Data might not.

Hmm, an interesting question.

Anyway, on to the next chapter.

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Oh yeah, I should ask. Did finishing the arc help with your impression of him as a character specifically?

SGHG for the win!

Some. He’s moved out of the cringe territory the beginning of the story (and some of his in-game appearances) had which is good and that was probably what was most off-putting about him in the first place (my particular brand of empathy makes certain levels of awkwardness very difficult to read/watch/experience; comedies that play awkwardness for laughs are quite literally physically painful at times, not saying this was that but just to give a level for comparison). I’d say at this point I like him as supporting character, though he wouldn’t be a personal favorite. In a way, he reminds me of Reg Barkley from ST:TNG-- I cannot stand to watch his introductory episode, but every other episode with him is very enjoyable.

Make sense?

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Yeah, it makes sense. I tried to write Colin as a male Nono Rodriguez: someone kind of ordinary and kind of special, but who starts out without a real focus or drive. Obviously Nono got a lot more development than Colin will, so I think she comes out of that comparison looking better.

He started awkward, but I wanted it to be that “actually talking to your crush” awkward that you outgrow quickly the more you do it. And I remember (not too long ago even) what it was like to be smart and assured in some parts of my life and still be reduced to stammering stupidity when the right person smiles at me. I don’t want awkwardness to be his defining trait. I think the best and worst you could say about Colin is “he means well”, with his struggle being taking that intent and turning it into meaningful action.

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