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Scene Title CTRL+C
Synopsis Aides from the Commonwealth Institute come to handle Alia's transition to the next step of her debt to the government, and Colin Verse is unaware of just how dangerous a situation he is facilitating.
Date February 3, 2011

Miller Airfield

One month and ten days.

That is how long it has been since Alia Chavez has been disconnected from her corporeal body. One month and ten days ago she was captured by elements of the government in what amounts to a digital mousetrap. But to Alia Chavez, it feels like so much more time has passed. The days began to blue together, eventually. Entire days outside of a digital world spent in isolation felt like weeks inside of a computer, where the world processes at the speed of thought. Without the rhythm of sleep cycles, Alia has passed the time by measuring processor cycles, keeping tabs on digital time. But these things don't help give a sense of scope, they are inhuman and unnatural measures by which a day or a week is measured. Only when Alia is given freedom does time seem to be less nebulous, and does hr mind allow her to feel more human again. Even if that freedom is depriving her of the very form of humanity.

"Alright, look at you go!"

Wheeling across a concrete floor, a scruffily unshaven man looks pale through the fish-eye lenses of several optical sensors and video recording devices. Projective telemetry software tries to predict where his chair is rolling, even as sneakered feet push him backwards on an even pace, sometimes veering from side to side.

The near silent whirr of engines tilts the several hundred pound body of a metallic combat drone tethered by a spool of power cabling through the air. Red-lensed "eyes" made from compound camera lenses tracks Colin Verse's movements. The pop pop pop of a primary gun firing tracks blots of colored paint across the concrete floor ahead of where he was moving, followed by a whirr-click of the automatic weapon pivoting to lay its targeting laser on the center of his forehead.

Colin's eyes cross, a huge smile crosses his lips, and his hands slap together in an approving clap. "Hot damn you've got it, yeah. Alright, bring the AETOS back to the docking platform," he brandishes a ring-laden hand towards a metal scaffolding surrounded by ladders and shallow steps, "and start running a diagnostic for me."

Flight Combat Test #16. Each time Alia enters the mechanical body of one of the machines on production here at Miller Airfield, it becomes easier, it becomes more natural for her. Over on the docking platform, a laptop has been set up with a rudimentary text to speech program, so that Alia can 'speak' to the people keeping her detained. For all his technological wizardry in programming and for all that he is one of them, Colin Verse has been nothing but a gracious host to Alia. He isn't a dogmatic adherant to the government's agenda — whatever that agenda is — he's a scientist and a futurist, he's a dreamer and a child at heart. All he cares about is his machines and the software he's designed for them, software that he has had Alia refining through test runs.

Her moments of freedom, like a bird released from a cage. EVery day of good behavior has earned her more and more. It started with collected RSS news feeds uploaded to her 'cell' on the Miller Airfield Intranet, allowing her a window to the outside world. It progressed to being allowed to take the robots out on test walks and flights, and now comes the day of her final offering.

A way out.

For her part, the disembodied technopath has been a reluctant, but somewhat willing, coworker. Colin at least has earned some level of her trust. Enough that she doesn't suspect him directly of manipulating her. However, she has headed the warning that was passed to her well, and has kept very quiet other than of things directly asked of her… and while 'easier' and 'more natrual' it might have become, she's held back, always made it look more clutzy then it really needs to be. She knows better then putting all her cards on this table. Not with Mayes using a metaphorical marked deck.

AETOS turns around, a graceful move by now, even if she IS holding back, and just telling the software how to fly instead of wholesale writing. The jet lands smoothly, and she removes herself from running memory on the aircraft to the laptop, before starting the diagonostic. She has no desire to be scanned by it.

Alia's personalized 'voice' for the text-to-speech reader kicks in. "Left wing 3 microseconds over normal response time. Right wing 2 microseconds under normal response time. Sensor test green." The built in speaker kicks in a moment and a soft 'whoomp' sound is heard. "Audio reports working condition." She digitally stretches out, and again adds to her own personal log of text file, hidden, cloaked inside her own 'file', encrypted, compressed, and likely a payload she should likely never admit to. "Colin?" The fact it is a query is very obvious.

Alia's voice echoes thorugh the mostly empty aircraft hangar, adjacent to the more busy and secure Hangar 3. Rows of network mainframes and server clusters are set on wheeled racks around the perch that the AETOS now rests on, its systems being scanned for errors and Alia's own assessment of the systems being double-checked.

"Sup, iGirl?" Colin quips as he wheels back across the floor in his office chair, hands clasped on the chair arms and dark brows lifted. As he turns around in his seat, he boosts himself up and dusts off his jeans, then runs both hands through his hair. Sneakered feet carry him over to the laptop running the diagnostic, leaning in and scrutinizing the lines of information as they scroll across the screen.

Alia pauses. It's a noticable fact even for Colin. Which means whatever she's about to ask has her either seriously thinking or seriously worried. She finally asks the question. "Is… how to say… -my- body… it's condition?" Her nerviousness has her back into old patterns, mostly broken patterns, of using few words, and fractured sentences. The text reports are an honest assessment of AETOS's condition and operating parameters during her 'flight', much like a pilot would log any oddities of a airliner flight.

The voice speaks again. "Over a month… atrophy. damage." She pauses. "… a bit scared."

"Actually," Colin leans against the metal rails beside the laptop, rolling his thumb over the touchpad to mouse-over the clock and check the date, just in case he's jumping the gun. He's not. "That's kind of good timing, your asking about that." Colin's eyes lift up to consider the webcan attached to the laptop, the closest thing he has to being able to make eye contact with Alia. "You hold on for one second, and I think I'll have a pretty definitive answer for you." Then, jokingly he taps the webcam and says, "Don't go anywhere," with a crooked smile before bounding off towards the makeshift desk he's been using in the hangar.

Watching Colin jog away from the laptop, Alia finds the microphone ont he webcam insufficient to pick up the sounds made by his retreat, or whatever it is he's saying when he picks up the Walkie from his desk, pivoting around like he's trying to find whoever it is he's talking to. There's no one else around.

Offering a short, sharp nod, Colin turns back around and affords a smile to the webcam as he hooks the walkie on his belt. "Good news!" He shouts loud enough to hear, making his way leisurely back over to the laptop. "They're on their way."

The digital being sums up the entirety of her current mindstate in one syllabyl. "Huh?" One can guess she has NO idea what Colin is talking about, or what's going on. The laptop's diagnostics start to lag as Alia starts using up the CPU to try figuring out what the hell is going on, trying to piece together the puzzle infront of her.

The answer is revealed to her before all of the pieces are really in place, by the screech of old brakes outside and the idiling hum of a large truck's engine. Exhaust fumes pass by one of the hangar's windows, followed by the clap of footsteps on concrete, then the roar of the rolling doors out to the airfield sliding open. Backlit by headlights, five figures dressed in white nylon containment suits with black respirator masks and assault rifles stand in the doorway. Between them is a solemn looking gentleman in a brown trench coat and battered fedora, his old, wrinkled face sagging in a look of remorse.

As the Retrievers begin walking in to the hangar, Colin seems undisturbed, turning with arms wide open to greet his gas-mask wearing confederates. "Gentlemen," he proclaims in welcome, "did you bring me presents?" A smile cuts wide across Colin's face, and through the lens of her camera Alia can see something being wheeled in behind the old man in the fedora. It's a gurney with a transparent environment seal around it made from molded plastic. On the gurney, hooked up to IVs wheeled in attached to the bed, Alia Chavez sees her own body.

"I had a talk with my bosses, and I guess they talked to their bosses," Colin turns to face the laptop. "Today's download day," he coins the term with a snap of fingers on both hands. "We're going to try and get you back into your body with the help of some modern science and, everyone's favorite, drugs." Colin barks out a laugh and hooks his fingers in the pockets of his jeans, then turns to talk over his shoulder to the Retrievers.

"Put her over there by my desk," Colin waves one hand demonstratively. Meanwhile, the old man who had come in with the Retrievers halts a few feet away, two of the white-clad figures flanking him on either side. They don't look like bodyguards, they seem to be behaving more like prison wardens would.

"Alia, I'd like to you meet doctor Elijah Carpenter, he's going to help us get you back where you belong. Or— something like that?" As Colin arches a dark brow and looks back to Doc, it's clear that the technopath isn't quite sure how this is going to work.

For once, the digital technopath actually not only stops talking….. but stops RESPONDING. Did her program 'freeze'? No, the CPU is still working so… Alia apparently has no desire to talk… The diagnostic test suddenly speeds up, finishing a full check in a matter of moments as it gets shoved into multi-thread mode and finishes not only a full diagnostic but another pre-flight check… BEFORE Alia finally speaks, in a controlled calm tone. "It is… nice to meet you, Dr. Carpenter."

The doctor doesn't seem to share the sympathies, looking like he doesn't much want to even be here. "If you fine gentlemen," he bitingly refers to the Retrievers, "could get the contamination lid open, I'll actually be able to do my job. Those rubber glove things aren't going to cut it." Doc flashes a look to Colin, then over his shoulder to the closest Retriever one brow raised expectantly below the brim of his fedora.

The Retriever looks to Doc, then reluctantly turns to the Retrievers wheeling Alia over near the desk. «Do it,» he instructs with the click of his voice thorugh the external speaker of his respirator, and the white-clad figures go about unlatching the lid and swinging it open. IV tubes are disconnected, a breathing mask it taken off, and the plastic lid is disconnected entirely and moves aside to lay on the desk.

"So here's the deal," Colin begins to explain, moving over to unplug the connections from the laptop gingerly, lifting it up off of the docking platform and carrying it under one arm. Alia can feel the subtle tingle when the power cord is removed and it begins running on battery power.

"Time served plus good behavior," he carries the laptop over to his desk while talking. "We're gonna' let you go, put you back— hopefully— in your own body. You play ball with us and stay as cooperative as you've been we won't really have any problems. From what I've been told, the DoEA is going to let you go, with a parole that you'll have to keep up on. I guess they'll have someone to talk more about the details after we're done here."

Colin sets the laptop down on the table, then turns it to face Alia's body. "These guys have been keeping your body safe and sound. They've got this deep tissue electrical stimulation stuff," he motions to some adhesive pads running down Alia's bare arms and legs, some disappearing beneath her hospital gown. "Keeps your muscles from weakening while in containment." As Colin says that, Alia sees one of her fingers twitch as a tiny current of electricity pulses through a nearby pad, stimulating muscle movement.

"So… I guess before we proceed, are you cool with this? Going back to the ol' flesh-sack? I gotta' admit, I've liked having the company around here, it's been— " Colin cracks a smile. "It's been nice."

A crackle of static as the speach to text abruptly crashes… or is shut down. It's hard to tell which. Then it restarts, and in a very soft whisper, it asks a simple question. "Suits keeping parole?" It's an emotionless whisper. It's not Alia's custom voice at all, but a default system voice. It's cold, impersonal, calculating. This is not normal. THis is FAR from normal for Alia. The laptop's fan hums quietly, as it tries to expell excess heat from the CPU's being taxed by all the calculations it's being asked to do, even as Alia keeps on her pokerface.

"Security," Colin explains, though he arches a brow as two of the Retrievers turn and show themselves out without so much as a word. Soon, though, the programmer turns his attention back to the laptop camera. "Look, don't worry about them. They're just here because the management is paranoid that you're going to go all Skynet on us if we let you out and on your own. But look, I told them you're not like that and we're gonna' go on that assumption, and on my word, a'right?"

Crossing his arms in front of his chest, Colin arches one brow and stares down into the webcam, while Doc circles behind him, tugging off a pair of brown suede gloves to lay over the rails at the bedside of Alia's body. "Basically, what we're going to do is get you out of that laptop, and… I'm going to try and directly upload you back into your own brain. I've got an ability, pretty much like yours, but different. I can compute massive amounts of data, and transfer it around. My head's sort of like a big router, basically. I can network things, distribute my mind into other processing systems to boost my own computational ability."

"What the geniuses up at the Institute have figured out… is that I can probably download and upload you, and transfer you from the laptop back to your body, I guess with a little help from some pharmacutical drugs they've got." At mention of drugs, Doctor Carpenter removes a syringe from his jacket, with an ink black fluid inside, laying it down on a tray attached to the gurney.

There is a silence, A very long silence as the situation is assessed, and re-assessed. "On your word? You trust them, with everything?" The words are still in that same system whisper… even as it is said, a new icon assembles itself on the start menu of the laptop, a technopath's last chance to create an ace in the hole as the icon proceeds to hide itself.

What happens behind the scenes in the laptop is something like a gambit, a backup copy of what of herself she can fit onto the hard drive. Stretching herself over pagesfiles and solid state media is the only way Alia can wholly be represented on the laptop without taxing the computer to its maximum by her very presence. Most of the time, she's acting like another temporary processor, symbiotically sharing responsibilities with whatever system she's in. Trying to save a copy of herself causes the laptop to choke, though the process does finishes.

Potentially with a few bytes missing here and there.

"They haven't gone bad on my word yet, and I don't really see any benefit in them doing so." Attention from Colin deviates from the laptop to the hangar bay doors as another gurney is rolled in, this one containing a dusky skinned woman, possibly of some middle-eastern ethnic descent. She's asleep, or at least it seems that way when she's rolled up to the side of the gurney Alia is on.

"Woah, woah, who's this? I mean she's cute but I don't think she's a signing bonus for me, is she?" A dubious look is offered to one of the Retrievers, the one that seemed to be in charge earlier.

«Never mind her. Get this over with,» the Retriever calls back, tersely. Colin's brows screw up, lips sag into a frown and his head shakes slowly. Turning to look back to the laptop, Alia earns a patient but strained expression from Colin.

"It's either this, or live your life in one of those machines. I mean— it's kind of a neat idea, but I think we're probably ten or twenty years off from being able to build something that looks like a person, you know? No technopath in a badass humanoid robot body yet, huh? Maybe int he future, though." Cracking a nervous smile, Colin lifts his brows, expectantly.

"Promise." The word is single, monotone. Then there's a simple… "okay." This time, in Alia's normal voice… but not spoken is a brief, simple text file, that states it plainly.

Worried, about what happens to you.

Touching his fingertips to the laptop, Colin types across the keypad, a most mundane method of electronic communication.

Don't worry about me. I'm invincible.

Snorting out a laugh, Colin turns back towards the Retrievers, and Doc. "I think she's ready to get this show on the road. What uh, exactly am I doing here? I mean I get the basic idea of what I need to do, but I'm pretty sure the data size of Alia here's a bit more than my uh, brainwidth is going to be able to handle. I figure that's where your syringe of— what is that soy sauce— comes in?"

Motioning for Colin to come over, Doctor Carpenter removes his fedora and sets it down, revealing the balding thinness of his hair. "What we're going to do, is have you bring Alia's consciousness into your own mind. As she is right now, she's a disembodied electrical impulse of memories, everything that makes up a person gone disconnected. I'm going to move her back into her body and out of your head once you get her up there."

Colin's brows furrow, green eyes angle down to the woman laying at the side of Alia's body. "What's she for?" He tries to ask again, met this time with a frown from Doc and a weary shake of the old man's head as the Retrievers look to him intently, keeping a close eye on what he says.

"I can't say, but it won't hurt Alia any. So… don't worry, provided that Alia behaves and agrees to the terms that the DoEA's set out for her, she'll be able to walk out of here a free woman today." All that sounds like something Doc was told, something that he emotionlessly reiterates back to Colin, before walking to meet Colin at the head of the gurneys. "Roll up your sleeve."

Alia waits… quietly. SHe's listening through the mic, watching through the camera… and tries to mask her fear. "Something isn't right" is the thought on her mind… but there's no way to tell Colin this with everyone in ear shot.

When Doctor Carpenter administers the syringe of amphodynamine to Colin, the black liquid courses dark thorugh the visible veins on his arm. Colin's eyes wrench shut, his teeth grit together and his neck muscles tense up. A whining sound reports out of the back of his throat and the technopath's legs buckle. As he grips the gurney for support, Colin exhales a shuddering breath, and Alia can feel a disturbance in the information in the laptop, like the way a power surge can cause data in RAM to jumble up. It's unsettling, but not yet dangerous.

When Colin's eyes open, his pupils have swolen nearly all of his iris, and his breathing is unsteadied. Doctor Carpenter looks anxious, resting a hand on Colin's arm after setting down the syringe. "It won't last long, Colin, you need to do this. Can you focus?" Doc leans in, trying to assess Colin's well-being by how far his pupils have dilated.

Shakily, Colin leans away from Doc, reaching out to lay one hand on the laptop that Alia currently resides in. As the hand comes down, it feels like a magnet being brought down on a hard disk. Everything inside of the computer begins to twist and distort, and Alia's digital confine becomes distinctly more cramped and hazardous as partions start to fail and pagefiles corrupt.

Then, amidst this sea of noise, she feels something like a wireless port left open. It leads directly into Colin.

Alia sends one thought infront of her. "Goddess protect me." Is all the packet says. Then, wrapping herself in the best encryption she can muster, she throws herself into the breach… and she prays.

Encryption, data, individuality: All these things loose definition as Alia is funneled into Colin's mind. She is channeled like an overwelcing sea of data, everything she knows and is overwhelms Colin's mind as he struggles to keep himself separate from her, to keep the memories of Alia Chavez from bleeding into the emmories of Colin Verse. It's a struggle, oen that has Alia feeling like a sock tumbled around in a dryer. Her world spins and turns, sensations of a physical body not her own adding confusing stimuli to the already disorienting process.

Colin lurches forward, his legs giving ot and hands grasping for anything to keep him in place. His sneakers squeak across the floor, his knees his the concrete and his hand dragsa the laptop down to clatter against the floor noisily. As he falls, Doc does nothing to help, save for laying a hand on Colin's shoulder.

Images flash thorugh Alia's mind's eye—

A young and skinny man with dark hair standing in a grassy field beneath an oak tree with a swing, laughing. A television screen showing a news broadcast of the nuclear explosion in Midtown. A dark office filled with computer screens and monitors. A bright red lipstick smile. A golden retriever with a purple collar. A teenage girl with freckles and wavy blonde hair. A twisted mercedes wrapped around a telephone pole.

A flower in a vase.

Adam Monroe taking off a fencing mask.

Elisabeth Harrison sitting behind a desk.

Just as Alia and Colin's memories begin to bleed together, Doc lifts his hand from Colin's shoulder to his head, and holds the other to Alia's forehead. There's a sudden explosion of light that 'blinds' Alia, along with the odd sensation of vibration, heat and static screech like digital noise of a corrupted .mp3 file.

Her world blurs, spins and contorts, there is a sensation of being outside of her body, of being weightless.

She remembers what the earth looks like from a satellite orbiting it.

Then all goes dark, and silent, and empty.

January 27th


"You have nothing to fear from us." Quotes the strange cacophony of voices emanating from the electronics that have speakers, all in unison, "We are cut from the same cloth, in a way. But the colors of our fabrics define our relations, and thus it has led us to wonder, who are you, in relation to who we are?" The ovices seem to be migrating, leaving one appliance in favor of all of them moving to the television. The screen flickers, pixelates, bluescreens and then pops back on with a broadcast showing archival footage news broadcasts from the day of the explosion in Midtown from 2006, a rapid-fire display of live camera footage of the fires raging out of control and gutting through New York, horrible images of burning skyscrapers and plumes of black smoke choking out the sky.

"The world has become a dangerous place. No one of us can be an island, Miss Chavez." The voice comes solely from the television now, and at the end of that sentence the images displayed are all replaced by nothing more than a blue screen, where some of the pixels on the television screen have burned black and distorted, showing a palm print on the middle of the television screen, like someone was pressing on the LCD from inside.

//"We are Rebel."

Alia sits back a little. "Lost parents. everything." She mutters. "Does it matter?" Her economy of words still shows. She looks at the 'palm print'.

"Everything matters in the end." It is a very zen way of putting things. "What matters most is what you do, rather than what you think or feel. Actions make memories, memories carry legacies. Inaction leads to invisiblity, leads to obscurity, leads to misfortune. Our kind cannot afford to langour in obscurity. We must be united as one, not disparate as unconnected parts working independantly.

The palmprint on the middle of the television screen pulses once, like ripples spreading out from a stone dropped in mirror-still water. "You can make that choice. You have a gift. We ask that you use it." The palm print pulses again, that same ripple spreading out from it amidst the blue glow of the screen. "Interface with the television's electronic systems, and I will explain further, and give you guidance. Or, you can turn the television off, and return to your life.

"I cannot force your hand. Ultimately, you are the arbiter of your own destiny." The voice echoes the sentiment through the apartment. "Though I would advise…"

"Choose carefully."

Present Day…

Ceiling lights are blurry, muddled and indistinct. There's three of everything, sometimes five, later two. As vision refocuses and blurs start to take shape, individual ceiling tiles start to find definition. A heart-rate monitor beeps softly, and Alia Chaves feels sore, like waking up from a long sleep and an even worse dream. In a way, that fallacy could possibly be sustained, by the fact that she's in a hospital.

It's dark outside of her room's window, but between the vertical blinds she can see an empty Manhattan street and lightly falling snow in the street lights. Her stomach turns, not from hunger but mild nausea. intraveinous feeding tubes are hooked into the technopath's arms, fluid too. Her hair is greasy, matted down to her cheek on one side, eyes crusted from sleep.

The door to her hospital room is closed, but so too is her mind. She's sore, she can fel it.

It's the most wonderful feeling ever.

Alia whimpers, there's a tear of relief but there's… a gap of time. That she doesn't like. a mix in her mind. But worst of all is the headache. Still, to feel at all… She tries to move a little, to press the call button, to do something, anything to prove that this too, is not just a dream. a day dream of someone inside a simulation.

The plastic of the call switch feels real beneath sore fingertips. Every sensation feels new again, like experiencing it for the first time. The button lights up beneath her finger, elicits a satisfying ding and then nothing. A car passes by the ground floor window outside, and as the moments tick by, Alia can hear each and every one of them in the form of a ticking clock on the wall, reading sometime near ten at night.

Breaths are drawn in through lungs, her mouth is dry and throat is sore. Everything feels hypersensitive, every touch too much, every noise too loud, every light too bright. It's like it's an entirely new body, and every sense is going to take getting used to. It's amazing, though, to be back.

When the door to Alia's room opens, a nurse does step in, though behind her is a gentleman in a dark suit that looks decidedly unlike hospital staff. It seems as though the Department of Evolved Affairs needs to iron out whatever arrangement it is they have. The nurse offers a hesitant smile, and walks to Alia's bedside to tend to the young and weary woman, while th agent watches on silently.

The bird may be free…

But only into a larger cage.

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