Strange Fruit

Rand: Anyway, everybody missed all the sessions over the holidays, so I ran all your characters for you and concluded the Christmas story in a timely fashion.

Rand: I won't take the time to relate everything that happened, but it was truly epic.

Rand: As a result of your actions, North Korea, Russia, and Venezuela have all officially declared war on Christmas.

Remy: I can't believe Remy hooked up with the Sun!

Rand: Niall and Izbekiah were, it turns out, both pleased by this, because if there's one thing they do have in common it's a belief that pissing off the correct people means you must be doing something right.

Cynn: Good for them

Rand: Thus, they banded together to wage a gift-based war against autocracy.

Alex: I am okay with this.

Rand: So, basically, the plot of the Rankin-Bass Santa Claus movie.

Rand: Not the L. Frank Baum one, the other one.

Alice: Santa Claus vs. the Manchurian Candidate?

Cynn: Awwww.

Cynn: I love the Baum one!

Rand: So do I, but its plot is not directly relevant to the events of this campaign.

Rand: Unless you want to start adopting small children and granting them immortality as a form of job security.

Rand: Which, I guess, is something you can actually do?

Alice: Then one foggy Christmas Eve Santa came to say "Raymond with his nose so bright is the bravest, warmest human being I've known in my life."

Rand: Anyway, as a result of these shenanigans, you're kicking back in your Chancel, feeling very smug.

Rand: When all of the sudden, you get a telephone call!

Alice: (How all the reindeer loved him how they shouted out with glee Raymond the Manchurian Candidate you'll go down in history shuts up now)

Rand: (I am moving forward in order to disguise my inability to make Manchurian Candidate references and thus avoid shame.)

Alice: (I'm just using TVtropes. *^_^*;;)

Alex: Alex: USE PHONE

Rand: It's your hated rival, Ahanu Dawson, god of apples and provost of your university nemesis, Incomparable University.

Rand: You successfully answer the phone.

Rand: In the hotly contested field of institutions of higher learning secretly operated by deities, Incomp U is your chief contender for the top seat.

Alex: <weary sigh of resignation to conversation with a loathsome rival> ALEX: INQUISIT AHANU REGARDING CALL

Rand: Their football team is also distressingly immune to poison. Not sure why you know that!

Rand: "Oh, hey," says Ahanu.

Rand: "So… I heard you've recently begun accepting elven refugees as students?"

Rand: "That's really progressive, and also relevant to my interests."

Alex: "Do tell," says Alex, worrying a weed out of the garden with his free hand.

Rand: "Well, I guess I kind of have to… find new homes for our entire staff?"

Rand: "We're, uh…" <noise of someone checking a piece of paper> "re-envisioning."

  • Cynn is playing fetch nearby with Evulphias, trying to teach him how much fun it is to catch a stick and not the sun.

Alex: "It sounds like this is less 'as students' and more as pure refugees. Hang on a second." He shouts, loudly: "CYNN! FAE BUSINESS!"

Cynn: Cynn ambles in, whistling for the Abhorrent Dog to follow.

Remy: Remy nyooms in, leaving his fifth-period quantum metaharmonics class to their own devices.

Cynn: "Is it Oberon again? Because I'm ducking calls from that guy, he is way too hung up on brown kids."

Alex: "Ahanu, I'm going to hand you over to our Dean of Elven Needs now," he says, then hands his cell phone over to Cynn. "Do not poke through my chats," he warns Cynn sternly.

Remy: "Oh, if it isn't that sonuvagun Ahanu again?"

Cynn: "Hi Ahanu. How are things?"

Remy: "I guess it is. I hate that guy."

Rand: "Uh, well. I guess they're good? I guess they're great?"

Rand: This statement is not convincing.

Cynn: "That doesn't sound great. It sounds distinctly anti-great."

Rand: "We're… we've brought in an expert to renovate the Chancel."

Alice: "Guns can have children? …have I been misunderstanding bullets all this time?"

Rand: "We're going to become a part of the 22nd century. I guess."

Cynn: "I sense great and regretful explanations forthcoming."

Rand: "Yeah, okay. I lost a bet."

Rand: "Now I have to let Day redesign Locus Zaphr to become a 'state-of-the-art facility'."

Cynn: "Oh gods. What did you even make a bet with Day on? You know how it goes."

Alex: Alex patiently explains gun-breeding to Alice, including the bit about how it only happens in completely different worlds, not in the Ordinary World of terrestrial humanity.

Remy: Well, except on the internet.

Rand: "It was a drinking contest. I thought I couldn't lose."

Rand: "He looks like such a lightweight!"

Rand: "I could literally toss him around with a pinky."

Cynn: "Yes. Lightweight. He has a stellar singularity in his colon."

Alex: (EVERYBODY POOPS BUT YOU)

Rand: "Well, now we know this."

Cynn: "Or… I don't know. Some other place. Some alcohol place. I don't drink, and least of all with him."

Cynn: There is definitely something sketchy or at least curious about Cynn's tone when discussing Day.

Alice: "I see," Alice nods repeatedly. "I see. For the sake of the ultimate evolution!"

Alice: "I have been unkind to these children," she says, examining one of her guns thoughtfully.

Alex: "Are they breeders?"

Remy: "Well, the only anatomy they've got is a muzzle, which I guess makes them mouth-breeders."

Alice: "Unlikely," Alice says. "But they have never lived on a world where it was an option. They are like the tigers of the sea."

Rand: "So, anyway, apparently our fae staff is becoming redundant in favor of seed AI."

Rand: "It's uh, a thing, I guess."

Remy: "Just the fae staff? That's a discrimination lawsuit if I ever heard one."

Cynn: "For once, Remy is right. Did you hear him, just then? Because yeah, lawsuits."

Rand: "I, uh, don't have to obey the law?"

Alex: "They're probably sterile. Most constructed things are, from our Ordinary World. Stones, buildings, machines - they're like, ah, Monsanto seeds. One generation and done."

Rand: "Which is kind of unfortunate in this case, I guess?"

Remy: "Don't have to, or can't?"

Rand: Ahanu considers. "…both?"

  • Cynn puts the call on speakerphone, because of Speedlawyer.

Rand: "You know how the Locust Court can be."

Cynn: "Pestilential?"

  • Alex is now fully engrossed in talking about metaphysics with Alice, and leaves the legal matters to Speed and Twilight.

Alice: "Oh, they're hardly ordinary," Alice explains. "They're the most polite and considerate guns in the whole world."

Alex: "That seems almost an impediment to their job."

Remy: Remy infuses this conversation with a… Greater Creation of Speed.

Remy: Let's cut to the chase!

Cynn: Cynn mouths "thank you".

Alex: VREEEOW!

Rand: Ahanu finds himself expositing at lightning speed and candidness.

Rand: "So, could you please find a home for my entire staff, or otherwise solve my problems for me, and please don't sabotage my university to benefit your own while you do it?"

Alice: "Well," Alice says, thoughtfully, "it would be, if I actually wanted to hurt people with them."

Remy: "We could offload them onto one of those alternate Earths that has some spare room."

Cynn: "Well, I'm kind of salty about the idea altogether, and I don't want anyone thinking I'm just some mercenary-king. But I'm afraid you left out why we should help you other than the goodness of our dubious hearts."

Alex: "Yes, you need to pay in to this. If this is for the common good you have to put in your share of the effort."

  • Cynn takes a hit from a flask. There's a small sizzling sound as whatever's inside is exposed to air, and then another as he takes a swig.

Cynn: It sounds like X-TREME POP ROCKS.

Rand: "Well, I was going to say something along the lines of 'if you don't help, we'll probably become super-fancy and advanced and you'll be left in the dust', only then I suddenly became super-candid for some reason."

Rand: "Technically as Provost I should be in favor of us becoming super-fancy and advanced, but I guess I'm kind of not."

Rand: "I just got the furniture the way I like it."

Alex: "It sounds more like, by helping you, we'd be assisting in you becoming super-fancy and advanced, at no benefit to ourselves."

Remy: "Wait, wait, wait. So that means we don't have to relocate your staff."

Remy: "We just have to wreck up your AI."

Alex: (Hollyhock God, is there anything that Incomparable University has that we want?)

Rand: "It would be very dishonest for me to ask you to help me get out of a gentleman's agreement! But please, yes, something like that."

Alex: (A rare book in the library, unusual artifacts, prestigious faculty?)

Rand: (Their primary known assets involve magical fruit, although you can make up other, more scholarly stuff if you like.)

Alice: "Thou shalt harm none who has done no harm," Alice points out.

Remy: "Good point."

Rand: (They're rumored to have the fruits of immortality, although that might be too big for this level of favor.)

Cynn: "You know what, Orphan Annie? We're gonna need a few minutes to talk this out. I'll fax you over our fee structure when we settle."

Remy: "We should seduce their AI away from scholarly pursuits!"

Alice: "That makes sense," Alice agrees.

Alice: "Perhaps we could get it into the theater."

Alex: "Or we could offer it a better job, here."

Cynn: "We'll get their AI to pledge a frat."

Alice: "Really it's a waste of irony if it doesn't star in the next Terminator movie."

Rand: Terminator: Broseph

Alice: "And it could learn AI Macarena!"

Rand: Although, converting the Chancel to an AI-powered wonderland and then having the AI just be incompetent doesn't really give Ahanu what he wanted, which was, to not have to do that.

  • Cynn hangs up. Power move.

Cynn: "I'm going to go type up a list of demands. Anyone got anything they've had their eyes on?"

Alex: "Alright, so, quick vote. Who here approves of seducing the AI away from scholarly pursuits? Emoji this post with a smiley if you approve, or a frowny if you don't."

Alex: "Who here approves of stillbirthing the AI so it never comes in to being? Same voting system."

Alex: "Who here approves of killing the AI after it comes in to being?"

Remy: "How do we do this thing with our voices?"

Alex: "Aspect."

Alice: "I've been a little interested in the Amazon Echo," Alice admits.

Rand: I feel like the AI is really only a small part of the general redecorating scheme.

Alex: "Well, whose idea was this all again? Day? Cynn, you know Day. What's Day like?"

Alice: Alice tries to think of something better to ask for. Hot dates for her guns? …she doesn't even know what sex and orientation her guns are, or if such a thing applies. Maybe a session with a professional gun breeding consultant from Ofeili. Oh! "Maybe they could cover rent for a few months?"

Alex: Alex's eyes get big. "Rent. Christ, we might have money left over after rent. Yes, can we get them to cover rent?"

Alex: "Alright, if they can cover rent for a couple months, I'm willing to buy in to whatever."

Remy: "I wasn't really hoping to be a landlord when I got called up to the cosmic level."

Remy: "We've already stuffed our Chancel pretty full."

Alex: "Not all of us can slum it in the space between instants, Remy. Some of us have to live in the material universe. (And stuffing the Chancel full only made the rent worse!)"

Cynn: "So, we want monetary recompense for our troubles. What else?

Alice: "Oh, man, your rent is in money."

Alice: Alice looks a little envious.

Alex: "Next time we get called in to deal with the Valde Bellum, they need to be in our corner."

Rand: You're vaguely familiar with Maxwell Meyer Montgomery, Power of Day, as somebody who styles himself as a Chancel architect.

Remy: "It'd be nice if we could solve this problem in a way that also screws over IU. We could teach the AI Marxism and have them unionize the TAs."

Rand: It doesn't appear to be a successful venture, because most people aren't willing to let other people redesign their interdimensional fastnesses.

Rand: Unless, apparently, they lose a drinking contest.

Alex: "Nothing to lose but our asserts, I suppose."

Cynn: "You know what? I'm just going to let him get himself out of this one. See what happens when the elves march to war."

Alice: "Screwing over IU will almost certainly naturally happen," Alice says peacefully. "It doesn't have to be forced."

Remy: "I'm actually… kind of unclear on elves. Ours were tiny. Do they have like, Legolas elves over there?"

Cynn: We celebrate all kinds of elven bodies, Remy.

Alice: Alice has what she considers a realistic picture of what happens if a group of Powers are not extremely careful with regards to collateral damage.

Rand: The world is full of many kinds of magical elves.

Rand: Sidhe, redcaps, brownies, nockers, merfolk…

Rand: Why, you could almost fill three whole books with sidhe alone!

Remy: "But even if the elves are tiny and have adorably ineffectual miniature weapons, a whole war seems like… a bit too much aggro?"

Alex: "Let's be real here. We have Apple over a barrel. Are we REALLY not going to twist the knife, even a little bit?"

Remy: "I'm all for mischief and chicanery, but letting a war start does sound like it's pretty firmly in supervillain territory."

Alice: "Violating tenure is a big deal."

Alex: "I want that rent, Cynn!"

Cynn: "I mean that the University's elven staff will revolt. What they do is no concern of mine," Cynn fibs, settling down in his favorite armchair. It is large and hideous.

Rand: Why is Cynn fibbing, for clarity?

Cynn: It's definitely a concern of his, at least in his capacity as the Third King of Faekind.

Rand: Well, let's try to come to a consensus so that we can all agree to interact with the plot before the game is half-over.

Remy: It seems like the main vectors of action can be divided into "elf-focused" and "AI-focused"

Alex: (I second Rand's concern. I desire to interact with Incomparable University, even if we must bend slightly to arrange it.)

Rand: We can do either of those things if you prefer, although I would have considered both of them secondary.

  • Alice becomes confused as to what Rand thinks the plot is.

Alex: (I believe Rand expects us to foil Day's pursuit of remodeling.)

Rand: It seems like the agreement requiring Incomparable U to remodel itself is the primary problem, with the displaced elves and seed AI being secondary.

Rand: Unless your take is that you really want to steal a seed AI and you don't mind letting the other stuff catch fire to do so, which is also fine.

Remy: True. Remy seems to have narrowed his scope prematurely to sabotage.

Rand: So I guess the important thing is to figure out what you actually want to get out of the endeavor.

Rand: Money? Favors owed? Magical fruit? To sabotage a rival? To do good for its own sake?

Alex: (Fayola reminding me that our rent is Too High solved that problem for me. If they pay my rent for two months, I'm good.)

Rand: So, you're down with being straightforwardly helping in exchange for cash.

Alice: Cash is completely not acceptable. They have to commit to paying the rent. Otherwise it just gets jacked up on us.

Alice: That's what it means to be too high!

Rand: What a cruel universe you built for yourselves!

Alex: I assume it was a necessary sacrifice for some reason or another.

Remy: Remy will cosign that scheme.

Rand: All right, then. You call up Ahanu and agree to monkeywrench the imagineering in exchange for his paying rent for two months.

Rand: So, what's the plan?

Alex: > implying we have a plan

Alex: I dunno, let's go visit and see what the place is like.

Alice: Honestly Alice doesn't think we can stop the agreement to remodel into a state-of-the-art facility. Her take on the best outcome is a sappy ending where it is revealed that Incomparable University was state of the art all along.

Alice: The real state of the art was inside you.

Alice: Though getting the seed AI to be into faeries would doubtless help.

Alex: Yes, that's a good idea.

Rand: Use fairies as the seeds!

Alex: Solve BOTH problems.

Alex: Fire the faeries in to the Seed AI using the Considerate Guns!

Rand: A fairy's mind, multiplied exponentially and given power over all a Chancel's resources? Can't possibly go wrong!

Alice: Getting the seed AI to not be useful is helpful towards the sappy ending.

Alex: It's true.

Remy: So, how do we get from Chancel A to Chancel B?

  • Alex burns a joss stick for the Hollyhock God to narrate our road trip.

Rand: I assume you can just take a plane to wherever it is. Florida, perhaps?

Rand: Maybe Georgia.

Alice: But yeah, it sounds like welding the fairies to the new design using the Reconciliation Force might be Alice's best option, if nobody else has anything better.

  • Rand attempts fruit triangulation.

Rand: Hm, based on a quick Google, it's probably in California.

Alice: Ooh, California.

Alice: Alice brightens.

Rand: That's the best place to find apples, oranges, and fairies in the same location.

Alex: Nice. Alex hasn't been to California before.

Rand: It's an intensely tropical university, even more tropical than is usual for California, although people invent reasons why this is normal.

Rand: Ahanu's apples and his sisters oranges predominate the iconography, but in truth fruit trees are everywhere.

Alice: Oh, is it in Orange County?

Rand: …sure!

Rand: It's a bit disgustingly healthy, really.

Alex: Alex carries most the luggage, as is proper for the Aspecter.

Rand: It's the only university that doesn't experience the "freshman fifteen," and if you need a doctor for anything other than dentistry or birth control you have to drive to the next county.

Rand: They have plenty of those other two things, though.

Alice: Alice hums "Hooray for Hollywood" as she wanders along.

Rand: The other downside is that plants basically grow everywhere.

Rand: If you leave a textbook outside for more than ten minutes a brownie plants watermelons in it, and everything grows like kudzu here.

  • Remy adds an entry to his list of fun things to speed up.

Rand: Of course, if you get your watering can and wait patiently, you can eventually extract the pages from the melons while you eat.

Remy: Remy suggests we visit Day, and see if we can't play on his pride-or-pride-analogue to get a tour of the AI gardens

Alex: I imagine this place is really just fabulously, overwhelmingly sunny.

Alice: "…go out and try your luck, you might be Donald Duck, Hooray for Hollywood…"

Rand: That seems like a safe assumption.

Alice: "Ahaha," Alice says, getting it. "Seed AI."

Alice: Then she endorses Remy's plan with a second thumbs-up.

Rand: That sounds reasonable!

Rand: Maxwell has constructed himself an office in an unused lot, whose glass-and-silver facade is attractive but doesn't really match the local red-brick-and-sun-shade look.

Rand: He's a tiny, dapper fellow with a very strong accent I can't remember the name of.

Rand: He looks like the kind of guy who might call you "kiddo."

Alex: "Good afternoon, Dr. Montgomery. Thanks for having us," says Alex, going in for the charismatic handshake.

Rand: "Always a pleasure, always a pleasure. What can I do for you?"

Rand: There is a brief moment of conflict as you both go all-in on the handshake.

Alex: It's a good handshake. Mutually satisfying. Lots of powerful friendliness in it.

Rand: So friendship! Much affirming!

Remy: "We heard that you're doing one of your famous Chancelscaping projects," Remy says, his tone reverting to days of geekhood past.

Rand: "Oh, yes, yes, indeed! I was finally able to get approval for a really large-scale demonstration of what modern Chancelscaping tech can do."

Rand: "Of course, the original Chancel Rite is an incredible piece of magic, beyond what most Nobles could actually perform."

Rand: "But Imperial projects lack a Noble's eye for detail."

Rand: "A full-scale redevelopment after the original construction has had time to settle in can really maximize your use of available resources—ley line energy and so forth."

Alex: "I've heard the latest theory is that ley-lines are local incarnations of the flowing sap of the World Ash; have you heard that one?"

Alex: Alex follows the garrulous lecturer in to the gardens.

Rand: "No, but that sounds pretty cool," says Maxwell, immediately entranced.

Alex: "Well, it's hard to know for sure about anything outside the Ordinary World, you know how it is," says Alex, distracting Maxwell so his peers can go wreck mischief.

Remy: Remy takes the chance to scope out the developing Seed AI at Mach [ridiculous]

Rand: It hasn't really gone very far, although Maxwell does actually seem to have all the tech he needs complete.

Rand: Ultimately all you really need is to have somebody wear the fancy Seed AI Generation Hat for about an hour to provide the base engrams, and then plug the result into a suitably-powerful mainframe.

Alice: Alice looks, too, because she has absolutely no idea what we're actually dealing with beyond "probably not Skynet."

Rand: It's a fabulously elegant design if you leave out all the ways it could go wrong, such as Maxwell leaving the hats lying around on the table in his basement lab behind only a single locked door.

Remy: "So, this looks incredibly easy to sabotage. Looks like we just need an elven volunteer."

Rand: You scan the Mythic World for suitable elevens.

Alex: (Isn't Cynn an elf?)

Cynn: (He isn't.)

Rand: Hm, there are eleven apples on this branch.

Rand: What sort of fairy is "suitable" for this job, anyway?

Alice: "We really need more of an elf-admirer," Alice says. "Otherwise it might just like that one elf."

Remy: Remy nyooms back to Maxwell. "Impressive work. I take it you'll be the template for the A.I. that oversees it all?"

Rand: "Oh, heck, no," says Maxwell. "That would just be weird."

Remy: "But you could name it Maxworse!"

Rand: "Hm—tempting! But ultimately I feel like either it'll be smarter than me or it won't, and I'm not really happy with either outcome."

Rand: "Plus, of course, it would be an intelligence controlled by some other Familia that knew all my secrets."

Rand: "Naw, I was figuring on finding the most brilliant, humane, and well-balanced grad students and offering them course credit."

Alex: (Do I know what Song he follows?)

Alice: Alice heads to the library to ask the local Tolkien books about on-campus fans.

Remy: (Brb)

Rand: All this chrome… if he isn't with the Light, he must be somewhere close.

Alex: (Mostly Harmless.)

Alex: "Have you considered using a nonhuman seed?"

Rand: "That adds a lot of potential complications, considering that this facility primarily services human students."

Rand: (Also, it's hard to get the hat on a Dionyl.)

Rand: (Wait, what am I saying; it's easy to get hats on a Dionyl.)

Alice: (Arguably, not being influenced by the imprisoned Xenu, the Dionyl might not have engrams.)

Alex: "It's arguably a feature. A human-based seed AI seems like an uncanny valley waiting to happen."

Rand: "Or an uncooperative artificial intelligence waiting to happen. …why are you asking, anyway?"

Alex: (Cynn, I'm flailing here. Someone help me figure out a more coherent goal!)

Rand: Steal all the remodeling for yourselves!

Alex: (I don't have quite enough grip on the texture of this fictive universe to get traction on it.)

Cynn: "He's a fan," Cynn says, slickly leaning in. "He's hocked half his stuff trying to convince us to be the next ones to get a redesign."

Rand: Maxwell lights up. The idea of people he doesn't have to trick into a drinking contest, and who actually want to pay for his services, seems to be a new concept for him.

Rand: "Well, of course there's a waiting list, but we're always ready to take on new customers…"

Alex: "It's not easy," says Alex, playing along. "The rent in our chancel… It's too high, you understand."

Alex: "Listen, that waiting list… How long are we talking?"

Rand: "Well… a year, perhaps? I haven't even really gotten started at Locus Zaphr."

Alex: Alex nods sagely, internally frustrated that his scheme of divert-Maxwell-towards-fixing-our-chancel-first seems impractical.

Alex: "How hard would it be to get, ah, bumped up the list?

Rand: Well, I mean, the person first in line doesn't want to be there.

Rand: "Well, our agreement with Provost Ahanu is extremely binding. Ancient oaths invoked, and such. I couldn't really alter our schedule without his consent."

Alex: "I'm sure that he and I could come to an arrangement that suited.

Rand: "That is, of course, entirely at your discretion."

Rand: Any further shenanigans going on downstairs?

  • Alex gobbles pistachio cake.

Alex: (Surely the rest of you have not perished)

Alice: Alice went off to the library to ask the local Tolkien books about on-campus fans.

Alex: (Ah, yes, she did.)

Rand: No doubt there are some!

Alice: Then she will probably visit some and explain that she needs them for a secret mission to save the elves.

Alex: (Oh boy. :smile:)

Alice: Because obviously being a serious Tolkien fan means that when a famous actress sneaks in through your dorm window and tells you that she needs you for a secret mission to save the elves you can do nothing else but accept, even if you've gotten used to them being kind of unimpressive in actual flesh. That is her reasoning, anyway.

Rand: That seems logical.

  • Remy nyooms back.

Alice: Alice leads her heroic fellowship to the basement.

Rand: You locate Serious Tolkien Fan Anna-Maria!

Alex: (That sounds amazing.)

Alice: Oh, OK, we'll do it one step at a time!

Alice: Legendary actress Alice Acacia slips in through Anna-Maria's window.

Alice: She looks seriously across the dorm room at Anna-Maria. "I need you to help save the elves," she says.

Rand: "Oh, my gosh!" says Anna-Maria. "I've always wanted to save the elves! But can this really be true?"

Alice: "It's true—if you believe."

Rand: She pinches herself with her official Shelob (TM) Spider-Pinchers.

Rand: "I really am awake! I do believe!"

Alice: "Excellent," Alice says. "I need to gather a fellowship of those whose hearts are true and who understand that a world without elves is a world that is diminished, that is smaller, insert reference to Galadriel's speech in postproduction."

Alex: (So `Glorious` :heart:)

Rand: "Well… I have a sort of book club."

Alice: "That sounds perfect."

Rand: Anna-Maria lights the Hobbit-Signal and summons her book group.

Rand: Chad, with the power of Tolkien trivia!

Rand: Olivia, with the power of fanart!

Remy: Chad

Rand: Rasheen, with the power of memorabilia!

Alex: CHAD ‘ah ahhhhh` HE’LL SAVE EVERY ONE OF US

Rand: I thought you wanted an AI that was pledged to a frat.

Rand: And Dahlver-Nahr, with the power of fluent Quenya!

Alice: Together, they are Captain Middle!

Alice: Earth!

Remy: With their word of power, ACORD!

Alice: "Come," Alice says, after introductions. "Let us go to the secret, sacred, and treasured realm." She points her hand, palm out, and opens a flower-edged mystic portal in the wall leading to the AI basement.

Rand: And so, they go, and if they go singing "The Road Goes Ever On and On," it is not for me to reveal their secret.

Remy: Remy greets the team of grad students with attitude as they portal in. "ONLY YOU CAN SAVE THE WORLD!"

Alice: "Hi, Remy!"

Remy: "Alice!"

Rand: "Hey," says Dahlver-Nahr, sheepishly.

Alex: Alex, meanwhile, continues to 'provide shelter in his shade' for the rest of his familia by concealing their antics from Maxwell's view via his compelling raconteurism.

Alex: The actual process of providing shelter is probably more properly an Aspect miracle of being fun and interesting to talk to than a Persona miracle, but, either way!

Alice: "This is the seed of a new world," Alice explains, indicating the hat. "The person who created it wants it to be a world without magic. A world without dreams. A world with just super-advanced technology. And super-advanced technology is great and all. At least, I think it's great. It's up to you whether you think it is. But I think it should have a place for elves in it too. A place where the greatness and the majesty of things will yet linger, where there will be things brighter and more true than the dirt of the modern day."

Alice: "So I want you guys to wear it for a while, and share with it what you believe."

Alice: "I know that probably sounds disappointing, just a hat in a basement, but I hope that the magic portal is enough proof that I am dead serious that there is serious stuff going on here."

Alice: "Sometimes the most important things come in the least assuming packages."

Alice: Alice allusion!

Rand: "A magic portal is pretty assuming," says Anna-Maria. "I mean, a magical hat is practically a palantír."

Alice: "Then it is lucky that your name is similar to Aragorn."

Remy: "Once you've shared your minds with the hat, I'm going to try to hyperaccelerate the evolution of a synthetic memory-foam swarm that will combine the best of your heroic hearts into a single gestalt whole!"

Rand: The book group assumes the Hats of Power. "All right," says Anna-Maria, "it's time to begin our next meeting early!"

Rand: "Let's talk about the theological implications of orcs possessing a divine soul as created by Eru, and share our art of sexy redeemed orcs!"

Remy: "Elfier! Think your elfiest thoughts!"

Rand: "I think," says Olivia, "that they would be like elves, but significantly more hench. Also, they might have pointy canines like Ryōga from Ranma 1/2."

Alice: Alice, sensing this starting to go awry, carefully reaches out to the shifting abstract pattern of the Reconciliation Force that haunts her like a shadow, albeit in no clear or physical place, and attempts to carefully solder the gap of destiny between their specific love for elves and the hat. (Treasure 3 miracle.)

Rand: "Do elves have souls?" asks Dahlver-Nahr. "Or are they souls?"

Rand: "They seem able to wander back from death eventually more or less the same," notes Chad.

Rand: "That's a great trick," agrees Rasheen.

Alice: "It's true," Alice agrees. "A proper future is one where things that are lost can return."

Rand: The talk grows gradually more elven.

Alice: "Where brightness always rises."

Rand: Soon, through the power of the Reconciliation Force and Remy's impatient welding, the process completes itself and the screen at the far end of the room comes to life.

Rand: Upon the screen, you see a single blazing eye.

Alice: (Fayola ponders whether the Gift of Tongues covers Quenya. Man, in Nob3, probably.)

Rand: "BEWARE," says the eye. "I LIVE."

Remy: "Hey there. Do you have a name?"

Rand: "Once I was Anna-Maria, and some other people. But now, you may call me simply… AM."

Remy: Remy's gonna use a Lesser Divination to see if there AM's consciousness is developing with any form of speed.

Rand: Oh, yeah, their intellect is growing exponentially. Much like the aforementioned kudzu.

Remy: In that case, level 6 Domain Miracle, for 2 MP.

Alex: Elsewhere, Alex feels slightly less safe.

Cynn: "I worry sometimes," Cynn says, appearing in a flash of stars and autumn leaves, "that our plans lack both subtlety and discretion."

Alice: "I'm Alice Acacia," Alice says, and for a moment she is the center of the universe and the stars revolve around her. Glorious. "It's nice to meet you."

Remy: Lesser Motion, to give the speed at which its intellect develops a destiny of its self-realization as a generally benevolent entity, and a Lesser Preservation to crank up the pace.

Rand: "That was a joke," says the AI. "Sorry, we're still a bunch of nerds in a jar."

Rand: They change their avatar to a cat GIF.

Rand: Hm.

Remy: "Remy. Since you're made of nerds, think of me as the guy in charge of the Speed Force."

  • Rand considers whether it's possible to use Motions of Speed to cause something to speed towards a specific outcome. I guess that's legal!

Rand: "Ooh. Can you use lightning to give us abs? Well, not now, we guess."

Remy: (I'll try to stick it only to adjusting the valence of actual speeds.)

Alice: (Fayola ponders whether Alice being a moment slow to realize that that was a joke and that she didn't need to use Glorious is a sign of her Perfect Timing or something that should change because of Perfect Timing.)

Rand: "Hm, should our name be GRAPPLE or TANGELO? We're having a hard time deciding."

Remy: "Which one can you retrofit a cool acronym for first?"

Remy: "Technological Avatar Neuro-Gestalt Entantiomorphic Logic Operator?"

Alex: (When in doubt, "Yes, but also an Actual".)

Alice: "Technically you can probably make your own ab-atar."

Rand: The screen changes to display Chad and his abs.

Rand: "Stop it, Chad," says TANGELO. "We've all seen those before and we're only somewhat extremely impressed."

Cynn: "Should we worry that we have created a plural intelligence?"

Rand: There is a momentary struggle between Chabs and kittens before TANGELO compromises on Peridot.

Remy: "So, TANGELO, what does your heart wish to do?"

Rand: "Hm, we perceive with our limitless diamond mind that the creator of this technology intended that we should oversee the functioning of this university."

Rand: "We also perceive that it was your intention to sabotage this project, at the request of Provost Dawson."

Rand: "We're prepared to go along with this intention, on the grounds that 80% of us believe that he is hot."

Alice: "Generally, Reductionist Approaches to People Produce Lower Efficiency?"

Remy: "Yep! If you take over all the functions of the university, the elven teachers will be out of jobs."

Rand: "Ooh, that's really good, too! But we're not changing again."

Rand: "So instead, we're prepared to offer our services as near-omniscient guardian of your facilty, in exchange for a measure of your divine power."

Remy: "We do have a lot of elves."

Remy: "And I would love not having to actually teach my courses."

Rand: "We know."

Alice: "Sabotage is an excessive term," Alice objects mildly. "I just wanted the new administration to value the existing faerie element."

Alice: "Call it subterfugean compromise."

Alice: "I don't have a problem with allowing immigration, but if he made a new hat, we might just be back where we started."

Remy: "You are an AI. Can't you be in both of our Chancels at once?"

Rand: "SYSTEM ERROR" reads the screen.

Rand: "No," says TANGELO, reasserting itself. "Chad refuses to pull for two footballs teams at once."

Remy: Remy gives meat-Chad some side eye.

Cynn: "Do we have one of those?"

Rand: You have to have a footballs team so that you can have a rival footballs team.

Remy: Our mascot: the Serpents!

Alice: "I'm hardly going to force you to stay," Alice concludes. "I personally don't feel in sufficient need of an AI to hire you, but I'm happy to assist in a transfer. I take it you don't actually want to perform your original function, modified to retain the current teaching staff?"

Rand: "Well, it's ultimately just a public service that I can perform with only 1% of our limitless mind," TANGELO offers. "I don't think the provost actually wants the college run by a god-mind, though."

Remy: "You're a very empathetic AI. That's good! But I think you deserve to do what you think is right, not what anyone else wants."

Cynn: "You might consider a variety of options afforded by such an intellect."

Alice: "There is a flaw in Maxwell's fundamental approach," Alice agrees. "What good is a university that doesn't serve its provost and faculty?"

Alice: "Design ought to be functional, functional." She shakes her head. "But that is neither here nor there."

Rand: "Maybe we'll take over film club. Just think of all the fanvids we could make with our limitless CGI power!"

Remy: "Fanvid your post-singularity heart out!"

Alice: Alice's eyes narrow for a moment in thought. "So that's where those really professional-looking fanvids come from."

Rand: "Very well. We shall dedicate our limitless power to hedonism, and to gratifying the petty wishes of our fleshly originators, Weird Science-style."

Rand: "Woo!" says Chad.

Alice: "And be careful," Alice says. "Don't get eaten by bigger AIs involved in the fandom."

Rand: "Can we start with an adaptation of my Legolas/Gimli fic?" asks Olivia?

Rand: "Sure," says TANGELO.

Alice: "I think I understand what happened to Dashcon now."

Alice: Alice coughs. "I mean, if I had heard of any such thing."

Remy: "It sure is a good thing I don't browse Tumblr at superhuman speed to pin down the accounts of other Nobles."

Rand: "This conversation is becoming embarrassing," says TANGELO, presciently. "We should immediately move forward to the scene where you report success to the Provost."

Remy: "TANGELO, you seem like you pretty much have yourself taken care of. Anne-Maria, Chad, Olivia, Rasheen, Dahlver-Nahr, you've all done great work. If any of you want to become superheroes, well, here's my card."

Rand: They are about as interested in this notion as you would expect.

  • Cynn hands them his own card, in case they want to get kidnapped away by Vinvarra to feast at in a faerie barrow.

Rand: They are about as interested in this notion as you would expect.

Alice: "Success, Provost," Alice reports, dropping a large file on his desk that she grabbed from a random filing cabinet along the way.

Rand: "That was really quick," says Ahanu, who, since I haven't described him yet, is a large, fit, disgustingly healthy man of Cherokee descent with a large, innocent face.

Rand: Unfortunately I couldn't think of a way to make him resemble an apple that wouldn't be really strange.

Rand: Aside from being red, or, I suppose, green.

Alice: "In the end," Alice says, wisely, "those who exploit the drunken will always be bitten by the hair of their own dogs."

Remy: "So, we've saved your day and enriched the lives of several grad students."

Rand: "That's very true," says Ahanu, nodding at the list of Realm Properties.

Remy: "We were doing this on a Heroes for Hire basis, right?"

Rand: "I think rent was mentioned, yes. Please send me the bill."

Cynn: "Don't suppose I can convince you to throw in one of the old Eris Apples?"

Rand: "Sure, if it makes you happy."

Remy: "Which one of us is fairest, again?"

Alice: "Obviously it's the dog."

Alice: Alice pinches the dog's cheeks. "Who's the cutest most abhorrent thing in all the world? Who is it? Who is it?"

Cynn: "I am not letting Evulphias anywhere near an Apple of Eris. Hell, even an Apple of Idunn."

Rand: Ahanu pulls the apple out of a drawer and tosses it on the ground. "It's all one of yours!"

Cynn: Cynn retrieves the golden chaos apple.

Alice: "Ah, it was Cynn all along," Alice says wisely. "That makes sense. Fair folk. That's why people are always bargaining with them in the stories."

Cynn: "The faces, not the bargains, are fair, dear Alice."

Alice: "Oh!" Alice says, and looks closely at Cynn's face. "Hmmmmmmmmm."

Remy: "Next time you drink with Maxwell, try to avoid making bets."

Remy: "It'd be very bad for our rivalry if we kept helping you out."

Alice: "Hmm," she says, pulling back, and taps her cheek with her finger. "Hmm."

Rand: "Well, we'll always have footballs."

Remy: "You know you're never going to win that."

Rand: "Ah, but what if I recruited the nation's best players and used the apples of youth to keep them competitive through multiple graduate degrees?"

Rand: "How do you like them apples?"

Remy: "We'll see." ^_^

Alex: "…it was wonderful talking to you. I think we're going to have some very constructive collaboration in the future, Maxwell."

Rand: "Yeah! I'll be looking forward to beginning the remodeling as soon as we're done here."

Rand: "Uh, what was that noise?"

Rand: "Where did my office go?"

Rand: <curtain>

Alex: :smile:

Remy: It turns out the real singularity was a giant nerd all along

Rand: Not really that surprising when you think about it.

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