Masks 21.3 - Performance Notes [Cutscene]

In the undefined time we have between the end of the last ep and whenever stuff progresses further (though sooner, rather than later), Jason will buttonhole the various Menagerie members to chat with them as possible (vs, emailing them).

(These aren’t intended to require a reply or further dialog, unless that’s desired. More to get across what Jason wants to say to the various folk in the Menagerie at this juncture, whether in the setting as described or the next time there’s an opportunity during the holiday downtime.)

Just to make things simple (and with the assumption that the Yulepocalypse blurs into Winter Vacation for the schools involved), this takes place as folks are gathering for the next Menagerie meeting – maybe a couple of days later – unless otherwise noted. Or, if that doesn’t work, sometime soon.


No direct comment to Leo because he already gave one. And, of course, this was all inspired by Link’s emails.


Harry is always early, so he can find out what kind of a food run he needs to make before things get started.

Jason grabs his hand, shakes it. "Dude. You were awesome. I mean you’ve done cool things, used your powers in neat ways, but, jeez, you were the superhero in the house for that whole thing. You proved yourself. I mean, I know the whole Father peering over the shoulder thing, though I think you feel it more than me. But even without all the stuff that came out about the HHL, if he’s not sputtering with pride for you, then he’s an idiot. You were great, and I am so glad you’re on the team.


Before, she arrives, Jason goes to a corner of the the floor the team meets on and, into a dark corner, softly says her name. “Charlotte.”

"Hey, I just wanted to say – thanks for all the stuff you did in Leo’s body. You were seriously kicking … butt. If it was as weird for you as it was for me – well, you handled the whole thing really well. I just – well, I want to let you know I tried to take care of your body and treat it politely. And honorably. And … all of that. It was a really interesting experience – the things you see, and perceive, and what it’s like being in your head. I just want you to know, I think I understand you better, but I know I still can’t really understand your perspective on things. I’d love to talk more about it though, sometime.


Jason asks Adam’s help in pulling out stuff from the kitchen to feed the hungry maw of the Menagerie (most of which is Harry, but the rest of the teens manage to do themselves proud). "Hey, that was really crazy out there, but I saw how you handled yourself, and how you tried to help, and all the stuff with Sol and all that. You really did help, even in a really scary sitch – and [he adds rapidly] so did the Concordance. If you need to talk sometime about it … just let me know. I mean – after the stuff that happened a couple of days ago, I feel like I need to prove myself to you."


Pneuma arrives with Leo, as usual, but a bit more … proximate to him than usual. He tries to call her aside when Leo’s engaged in conversation with someone else, probably unsuccessful in his subtlety, but …

“Pneuma – hey, glad to hear you and Leo, y’know, kind of back, like he said, or emailed me. That’s really cool. I think you’re good for him, and I hope he’s good for you. You both – anyway, thanks for helping out there, especially lending Charlotte a hand. I honestly don’t recall whether you are listed in the official AEGIS roster as a member of the team, but you should be, and I’m going to talk with Waters about that, because you really are a full-figured – full-blown member here. So … thanks. And, um, congrats!” He smiles overbroadly and gives two thumbs up.


Jason finds a moment to head down to the street where Otto hangs out during the team meetings. “Hey, Otto, just wanted to say you were incredible out there, fighting against the Vyortovians. I mean, you drew their fire, you knocked out their stuff, you were great. And … I feel really guilty that you sit out here while we have our meetings, because you really should be part of them. I can set up a wireless connection to a speaker in there, if you want, or we could maybe do some meetings up on the helipad so you could sit in. Or in the garage, but the garage gets really depressing, and one year the warehouse manager decided to save some money by having the holiday party down in the garage, on the third level, and it felt like we were the last remnants of humanity celebrating the holidays deep in our bunker, and then they ran out of turkey before Dad went through the line and it was – anyway, the point is, I would like you to be able to be a part of what we do, not just be Leo’s … friend. Though that’s a pretty cool thing to be, too.”


Before the meeting, Jason goes into a small conference room, and says, “Numina?”

When she appears, he looks at her a moment. Opens his mouth. Closes it. Then says, “Hey, thanks for helping Charlotte out there. You and she were awesome, really brave, really helpful in dealing with the cat, and the Vyortovians, and all that. Just – yeah. I – am going to help Leo figure out how to make sure you are safe here. Because you should feel safe. Here. From everyone – everything. So – thanks.” He heads for the door. “Okay, gotta pull out some chips, let me know if there’s anything you need – to be safe, or comfortable, or anything else.”

author: *** Dave H.

I’ll use this opportunity to address the computer-security issue you raised as an action item.

“You’ve expressed an interest in my body a couple times now,” Numina observes with a sly smile. After a moment the facade collapses - she’s teasing. “So I’m taking you up on it. I found three things.”

“There’s a newer-model floating robot your father locked up. The black one, sort of roundish, like a skipping stone or an egg?” She has the warehouse serial numbers, of course. “It looks like it uses a second-generation EMdrive for levitation. Originally it had a weapon mount.” Her face contorts into something between a frown and a scowl. Robot weapons seem to be a sore point. “I assume it was some kind of combat or assassination tool. We can put that to far better uses.”

“The second item is one of your hard-light generators. It looks like that will attach to the weapon mount. I don’t need to be armed anyway. That will give me a sense of touch, and let me affect things in the real world. I’ll glow in the dark, but maybe that’ll be fun.”

“Those things together will give me a nearly functional shell. I project an image of myself around the robot and just float around. Cut off the remote control circuit and disable the antenna, remove the original computer and install my brain in there, and I should be fully autonomous and secure. I’ll still have to write some adaptive software, so I’ll look really goofy climbing stairs for awhile. Promise you won’t laugh at me. Or I guess I can just fly until then.”

The third item is an experiment of Byron Quill’s, that never found a market due to its cost to manufacture. It’s a plush child’s doll, with an animatronic face and mobile limbs. It was intended to interact with children on the autism spectrum, giving them a way to safely learn how to read and express emotion through body language. “I could use it as a remote terminal, but mostly I just think it’s cute and I want to play with it, I guess.”

Numina looks away, hesitantly, but with a hopeful smile. “Is all that too much to ask for?”

author: Bill G.

“No, anything I can – here, let me just confirm.” He goes over to one of the omnipresent terminals in the room, taps in some search terms. He glances over at Numina. “You could probably pull this up faster than I could, but – yeah, Assassination Egg.” His face clouds. “Dr. Chin. Tried to take out Prince Charles in Australia back in 2012. The weaponry got messed up in taking it down, but the mount could be adapted to a hard light generator. We’ll need to increase the feedback circuitry – weapons generally only take commands, not provide data in return, but there are some diagnostic relays we can modify.”

He chews his lower lip, absently, looking at the schematic. “There’s not a lot of room in here – it wasn’t anywhere near AI level sophistication, and it looks like Chin combined components from Korea, China, and the US, but we should be able to squeeze a suitable matrix for you in there.” He looks up with a grin. “Yeah, sure, we can make it happen. Then you can --” He pauses a tiny fraction of a moment. “-- do and go wherever you want. Good selection.”

Jason busies himself at the terminal. “The doll thing – yeah, that was kind of messed up. It was also originally an assassination weapon, ‘Talking Tina’ – though not one of Chin’s, amazingly enough, some guy named Bleauchamp, and it used psychological weaponry instead of lasers. My dad was excited over the prospects of adapting the hypertech for something a lot more humanitarian. He’d just gone to a medical conference and thought the whole moving face and hands would be great for autism work. He just never got it to the point where it was economically practical, and then he got distracted onto something else. It’s probably worth a couple of million dollars.”

He smiles crookedly. “Where would you like it delivered?”

author: *** Dave H.

Numina shakes her head and smiles. “This is your technology, Jason. Your lab is the best place to work on it. And I can’t do a thing with it, so I’m depending on someone to do the initial work. That someone has to be you. I can help - I’m thoroughly familiar with my own nervous system and the interfaces - but even a soldering iron is out of reach.”

“Besides,” she adds, turning her head away, a complex expression on her face. “I don’t want to interrupt the happy couple right now.”

author: Bill G.

Jason keeps his own expression neutrally pleasant. “Sure, no, that makes sense. I’ll have the items brought around to --” Tap-tap-click “-- Lab C. It’s got some good microelectronic tools. I’ll try to start working on it tonight after the meeting, at least laying out a plan of attack and familiarizing myself with the tech.” He looks off to the side in thought. “In theory I could adapt some of the robotics in the room to respond to you impulses, but if we want to keep up a firewall between you and --” He gestures vaguely. “-- the rest of the computer systems here, that would be tough, and by the time I did I could probably get this work done.” He manages a chuckle. “Assuming no more Fimbulwinters lurch into town.”

He smiles. “Okay, I do have to break out some chips for the meeting. I just found a supply vacupacked in a back closet. Dad’s handwriting is horrible – I can’t tell if it says “Lincoln’s Birthday Course” or “Incan Death Curse,” but they still look fresh, so I shouldn’t have to send Harry to the store this time.”

author: *** Dave H.

Numina’s facial expression is easier to read this time: earnest gratitude. “Thank you, Jason. I’ll come by Lab C tonight, then.”

author: Bill G.