Story Thirteen- The Importance Of Being Preppy, Part Three

<Hollyhock God> Oh, well, we can go ahead anyway.

<Hollyhock God> Alexa, Fiona, and Ebba arrive at the secret brain hat chamber beneath the secret health spa!

<Hollyhock God> In that mysterious room, they find Ryan drinking tea with Selim, Beta, and Marcus.

  • borogove is now known as Fiona

<Hollyhock God> It is a toss-up which you are most surprised to see.

<Fiona> (remind me, who is Beta?)

  • Uqbarian is now known as Alexa

<Ebba> well, at least they have tea

<Hollyhock God> The Power of Identity, and Selim and Maliq's co-worker in this project.

<Alexa> "Hi. Marcus? What are you doing here?"

<Marcus> "Taking up my duties."

  • Alexa's jaw drops.

<Alexa> "Er, what?"

  • Alexa takes a closer look.

<Marcus> *looks radiantly Rebirth-y in the Sight* "You cannot be as surprised as me, let me assure you."

<Alexa> "Oh my."

<Hollyhock God> Selim raises a glass in salute to the new Power of Rebirth. As you might have guessed, he approves of large people.

<Ebba> "So I take it the Stepford lawyer-making place isn't somewhere we have to burn down?"

<Marcus> "They are not, it turns out, Stepfords- at least depending on your philosophical axia. The process is one of selective remodeling."

<Alexa> "But…"

<Marcus> "But?"

<Alexa> "Marcus, we have to talk. But right now, Ryan, does this place really not need burning down?"

<Alexa> (We can assume Ryan says no, I guess.)

<Hollyhock God> Ryan says no! He is drunk on tea.

<Alexa> (And hubris!)

<Alexa> "Right. Anyone mind if I smoke? Good."

  • Alexa lights a cigarette.

<Ebba> (So we should put it into a box with some timed igniferous devices?)

<Ebba> (So it can be in a indeterminate state of burning down?)

<Alexa> (Schroedinger's Stepford?)

<Alexa> "Tell me about this remodeling."

<Hollyhock God> "It's a memetic reconstruction of personality," explains Beta.

<Hollyhock God> "We can remove harmful components of personality and insert newer, more healthy mental constructs."

<Alexa> "Who decides what's harmful?"

<Hollyhock God> "The physical transformation is quite small in comparison, although accomplishing it through mortal methods took some work."

<Hollyhock God> "Psychiatrists."

<Ebba> (So we should try it on Ryan's dress sense, to see if it really works? :D)

<Alexa> "Do the subjects get a choice?"

<Hollyhock God> "Such as myself, for instance, but I'm not the only one on the team."

<Hollyhock God> "Sure, they all volunteered," Beta agrees, somewhat angrily, mirroring Alexa's posture. "Do you really think it's that hard to get a bunch of pencil-necked nerds to sign up for this kind of opportunity?"

<Alexa> "Sure. How much does it cost them?"

<borogove> (So, it looks like I've got connection troubles today.)

  • borogove is now known as Fiona

<Marcus> "It's wholly elective yet. It's quite an impressive operation, all told. The one hitch being, it's co-sponsored with the Dark."

<Hollyhock God> "Currently it's in beta. Eventually, we'll be selling the procedure for lots of money, obviously."

<Hollyhock God> "Then even more eventually we expect it to become commonly available. Much like cell phones."

<Hollyhock God> "Only instead of choosing your ringtone, you get to choose your personality."

<Alexa> "Great."

<Hollyhock God> "Yes, it is!"

<Alexa> "Why are you doing this, Selim?"

<Hollyhock God> Selim considers. "….because I'm in favor of good mental health care?"

<Hollyhock God> "And the technology we've developed is really quite impressive!"

<Alexa> "You don't think it's a bit excessive?"

<Alexa> "Have you tested the long-term ramifications? Side effects? Fallout on subjects' associates and relatives?"

<Hollyhock God> "What do you think the phrase 'in beta' means?" asks Beta, contemptuously.

<Ebba> (Wasn't he much more polite to Ryan?)

<Marcus> (OOC: That you've been running the most-used email application in the world for two years?)

<Ebba> "I can see why the dark is interested…"

<Alexa> "That you're running an excellent VCR with inefficient marketing?"

<Hollyhock God> (Consider Beta's Estate.)

<Hollyhock God> (And the implications of the phrase with regard to his name.)

<Hollyhock God> "Next you'll be telling me that global warming isn't real. You seem like the right sort of Luddite."

<Alexa> "Yeah, if we'd been more on the ball with the effects of industrialisation, global warming wouldn't be such a problem."

<Alexa> "You see?"

<Hollyhock God> (The correct answer was "There is no global warming if I say there's no global warming," btw)

<Ebba> "Did you have your follow up methodology already written out?"

<Alexa> (I'm Fire, not Heat, though. :) )

<Ebba> (Which would normally seem like a rather un-Ebba-like comment.)

<Marcus> "There will be misuse, of course. Moreso with the dark involved. But frankly, if it weren't for industrialization Humanity would probably have fallen to Malthusian pressure by now."

<Hollyhock God> "We have a thousand-step marketing plan," says Beta, "which is secret and not to be shown to potential competitors."

<Alexa> "How nice for you. My basic concern is that this seems too much too quickly. Would you say it's a plausible ramification of current mortal technology?"

<Hollyhock God> "Not in the least. It won't be ready for mass consumption for a century at least. I hope you don't think I'm rushing this, being as cautious as you are. I would hate it if we got ahead of ourselves."

<Marcus> Marcus coughs lightly into the back of his hand.

  • Alexa looks at Marcus interrogatively.

<Hollyhock God> I think this is the first time anyone has actually gotten rude in this campaign… no, wait, I think Ryan was rude to Maliq two stories ago.

<Marcus> "Nothing."

<Alexa> "Yeah, wouldn't it be awful if we got into bed with the Dark?"

<Hollyhock God> "Who's we? Selim is the servant of the Light, not me."

<Alexa> "Oh? My mistake. Who do you work for?"

<Ebba> (Does Beta have a code?, or does he just sort of surf along?)

<Hollyhock God> "I'm undecided. I have yet to find a reason to serve anything."

<Alexa> "Really."

  • Alexa looks at Selim as if to say 'And you work with this guy?'

<Hollyhock God> THAT'S CODIST!

  • Ebba raises an eyebrow at Alexa- we who have accepted help from the Excrucians probably shouldn't be casting stones.

<Hollyhock God> Also that.

<Alexa> (When did we accept help from Excrucians?)

<Ebba> (Just an example of what an exemplar can say with a raised eyebrow…)

<Hollyhock God> When you used an Excrucian focus to kill the First Lord.

<Alexa> (That wasn't help, that was… er…)

<Ebba> (He doesn't know? My, my.)

<Alexa> "Ebba, any thoughts?"

<Hollyhock God> So, we seem to be at the point of berating Beta for not having a Code. I'm not really sure where this is going.

<Alexa> "I'm still waiting for someone to tell me they've considered the side effects."

<Hollyhock God> "And I've told you that I've considered them. I have an entire team of trained professionals considering them at great expense."

<Alexa> "Their conclusions?"

<Hollyhock God> "That the process is physically and mentally harmless when properly conducted."

<Alexa> "In the long term? And no implications for the subjects' associates? Can I see the data?"

<Hollyhock God> "If you're waiting for me to tell you that the machine will rap me on the knuckles and scold me if I use it for an unenlightened purpose, that's not going to happen. And no, you can't see the data."

<Alexa> "Of course not."
<Hollyhock God> "…it's not really important if she sees the results…" Selim tries to interject.

<Hollyhock God> "Shut up!" yells Beta.

<Alexa> "Selim, do you have access to the data?"

<Hollyhock God> "I didn't spend a decade inventing a mental reconstruction process so that some philistine who knows nothing about the scientific process could come in here and lecture me!"

<Hollyhock God> Selim looks as though he'd rather be anywhere else.

  • Alexa smiles coldly.

<Hollyhock God> Then he remembers that he's the Power of Growth and grows a spine.

<Ebba> "If Maliq has thought things through, I doubt there will be anything overtly wrong with the process itself."

<Ebba> "It will instead be in how the process is sold and controlled."

<Hollyhock God> "Lady Fortis, I think you're being unreasonable. As Beta has explained, this entire project has been arranged with the most sweeping and cautious quality controls."

<Hollyhock God> "I know how to put a planet together correctly; I think I can be trusted to hold to the same standard with one tiny psyche at a time."

<Alexa> "Are you the only one who's going to run it?"

<Alexa> (I wish we knew what Ryan thought about it!)

<Hollyhock God> "What organization runs Fire, lady?"

<Alexa> "Give humans matchsticks, see what happens."

<Hollyhock God> "Yes, and we've actually exceeded your standard there. You ought to be pleased with our attention and care."

<Alexa> "And I'm okay with that. I want to make sure you're happy making something that, it seems to me, the Dark can use to their ends at least as well as you can to yours."

<Hollyhock God> "I'm tolerably sure I can out-market Maliq," says Selim.

<Alexa> "And Beta?"

<Hollyhock God> "Beta is our head of R&D. I don't have to out-market him."

<Hollyhock God> "I just like to sit in the basement and play with my little toys," smirks Beta, fondling the brain-hat.

<Alexa> "I bet your toy is little, too."

<Alexa> "And can anyone run this process, or just a Noble? Could it fall into mortal hands?"

<Hollyhock God> "Of course it could," says Beta. "That's the whole point. They'd probably have figured it out eventually even without our help in a thousand years or so."

<Alexa> "Great. At this stage, then, I want safeguards against mortal control, and we'll review it in a century."

<Hollyhock God> "It's pointless to try and sit on a technology like this. As long as it's possible, sooner or later someone will discover it."

<Alexa> "Yeah. And we decide what's possible."

<Hollyhock God> "And I care what you want because…..?" asks Beta. "You aren't a contributor to this project, and it doesn't concern your Estate. I see no reason to give your wishes any consideration except basic politeness. Too bad you wasted it all."

  • Alexa points her cigarette at Beta.

<Alexa> "You care what I want because you're in my face and I'm hotter than you."

<Hollyhock God> Beta looks chagrined for a second. Then he wrinkles his nose and says "Things like that don't matter to me."

<Alexa> (Alexa means 'hotter' as in 'burn your house down', not 'prettier', but that might not be obvious.)

<Hollyhock God> No, I caught that.

<Marcus> Marcus raises a hand. "Alexa. Let us not escalate this to threats."

<Alexa> "You stay out of this!"

<Alexa> "You're not attached to staying whole, Beta?"

<Hollyhock God> "I don't have to be attached to anything if I don't want to be."

<Alexa> (OOC, Marcus might also be trying to talk Alexa down. ;))

<Alexa> "Attached to your little machine over there?"

<Hollyhock God> "Are you going to burn it?"

<Hollyhock God> "Maybe you'll burn the plans, too. Not like I have a divine memory or anything."

<Alexa> "Yeah, you could just build another one."

<Hollyhock God> "Why not incinerate all my technicians, since you're so attached to human life? That would be even more inconvenient."

<Alexa> Ghost miracles of flame dance outside Beta's Auctoritas.

<Hollyhock God> Correction: Ghost miracles of flame dance outside Selim's Auctoritas.

<Marcus> Marcus stands up. "ENOUGH, you two. This is wholly unbecoming of Nobility."

<Hollyhock God> Not sure why that's happening!

<Alexa> (Interesting! I'm tempted to let loose just to see what happens. ;))

<Hollyhock God> Basically, ghost miracle of mistaken identity.

<Ebba> "I'd say that seeking conflict, my sister has found it"

<Alexa> "You what?!"

<Alexa> "Fuck it. I'm going outside. You folks sort this out."

  • Ebba sighs.
  • Alexa pettishly flicks her cigarette stub at Beta and walks away.

<Hollyhock God> Since Alexa has flounced out, Beta must do the same!

<Ebba> "Like a bull trying to look bigger than the bull it sees in the mirror. How unfortunate"

<Hollyhock God> Selim snuck away long ago.

<Hollyhock God> Now it's just Ebba and Marcus and some people who aren't online.

<Alexa> (He did?)

<Alexa> (I was hoping Beta would have to leave so Ebba and Marcus could talk to Selim.)

<Marcus> "Right then. That was fun."

<Hollyhock God> Looks like it! That's not Selim in that chair; it's a cleverly-fashioned dummy made of leaves!

<Hollyhock God> Well, they have plenty to talk about just on their own.

<Alexa> (Darn!)

<Ebba> (to Beta) "have you got that out of your system already? Or should we we drink tea quietly for a while first?"

<Hollyhock God> You can't address him! He's flounced away!

<Ebba> Heh.

<Hollyhock God> He has a Gift that requires others to respect his dramatic editing.

<Marcus> Marcus sighs.

<Ebba> "So, we see that you have moved from our brother in law, to our brother in truth."

<Ebba> "Forgive us if we are slightly suspicous of the circumstances."

<Marcus> Marcus's voice is rather emotionless as he responds. "Indeed."

<Marcus> "You will hardly be the only ones, I suspect. Ah… Ryan and I had about decided to take a watch and wait approach before this became an Incident. If you don't object to that, we may as well follow our Sister. We may as well have this conversation when we're gathered so I only have to do it once."

<Hollyhock God> Meanwhile, Alexa flounces amongst the hair-driers.

<Hollyhock God> Not the kind that rewire your brain.

  • Alexa mutters.

<Hollyhock God> A hand reaches out from beneath the enormous hair-drying hat and grabs your arm.

  • Alexa sets fire to it.

<Hollyhock God> "Dahlink," says Maliq, as her hair rises to it's full height of… "Ow! Ow ow ow!"

<Hollyhock God> She attempts to extinguish her very dry and unfortunately quite flammable hair.

<Alexa> "What the fuck do you want?"

<Alexa> (Though Alexa does put out the fire.)

<Hollyhock God> Maliq looks even crazier with bits of her hair burnt off.

<Hollyhock God> "I was going to come and offer you reconciliation and biscuits," she says. "But now I think I just want to make a scene."

<Alexa> "Oh, trust me, I'm all up for a scene."

<Hollyhock God> Her eyes dart from side to side, and land on a nebbish-looking female under a dryer.

<Alexa> "But we probably shouldn't."

<Hollyhock God> "Hey! Seat #32! On my authorization, initiate load preset four-five-five!"

<Hollyhock God> The hairdryer begins to do this glowing blue thing that makes it look very much like a brain hat as Maliq begins to frolic in a circle around it.

<Alexa> (Oh dear.)

<Ebba> (to Marcus) "well, looks like we'll need to track down Selim and make with the biscuits"

<Hollyhock God> "They say you should back up your data before installing a new operating system," grins Maliq, " but hey, what do the scientists know?"

<Hollyhock God> Selim bursts through an office door back into the room with Ebba and Marcus.

<Alexa> "Maliq, what are you doing?"

<Ebba> (They know that those were all just suggestions, not laws, anyway.)

<Hollyhock God> "Why do I hear the computers spooling up?" he asks you. "Did you do something? Why is that happening?"

<Hollyhock God> (Yes)

<Hollyhock God> "Just making a scene," says Maliq. "A very decorative scene! All chairs sudo load random preset!"

<Ebba> "I'd guess that someone wants to see if your process works on Nobles."

<Hollyhock God> You know those things that chairs have that clamp down and lock your arms and legs in place? Apparently this spa has them.

<Alexa> (Creation of Fire to burn out circuits in the hair dryers without setting people's hair on fire.)

<Marcus> "Ah… Right. Let's go see what our Sister has got up to." Marcus trots rather quickly, though not Aspectfully, after her.

<Hollyhock God> Alexa sends forth fire, but something seems to go wrong as the effect passes past Maliq. Your power starts curving in strange, unintended directions. A couple of chairs short and go out as you intended, but others don't.

<Alexa> (Well, crap.)

<Hollyhock God> Marcus arrives at the front room, which is in chaos, with screaming people locked into glowing chairs.

<Hollyhock God> "Sudo quit!" yells Selim. "All units abort!"

<Ebba> (Glowing as in mad science flashing lights?)

<Hollyhock God> "Seems they can't hear you," says Maliq conversationally. "Seems as though somebody shorted out the microphones."

<Hollyhock God> (Oh, yes, very.)

<Alexa> (Oops!)

<Marcus> Marcus works a miracle of Rebirth intended to bring any destroyed safety features back to their original state. "Try again."

<Hollyhock God> "Sudo quit!"

<Hollyhock God> "Sudo don't quit!"

<Hollyhock God> "Sudo quit!"

<Hollyhock God> "Sudo don't quit; he's stupid!"

<Alexa> (And there's a thunderstorm coming, so I'm afraid I have to go.)

<Ebba> (And just when things were getting interesting…)

<Hollyhock God> And here I was thinking this week was going to be tea and biscuits!

<Alexa> (Seeya!)

<Rand Brittain> I really wasn't expecting that to happen. I was thinking Maliq would just hit on Samuel for a while.

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