Digital Business


alia_icon.gif hana_icon.gif

Scene Title Digital Business
Synopsis Two technopaths touch base in advance of events, and Hana requests a personal favor.
Date October 29, 2011

Skinny Brickfront

It’s a quiet hour in the safehouse. Alia is… practicing her fencing, of all things. Thrust, parry, slash… She has a set of things laid out on a table for the planned raid in the near future: Her non-practice blade,a small blue box with a pair of antenna and a power brick, several USB sticks of varying sizes and colors, a small handgun she kept from her adventures in China, along with a bulletproof vest. It isn’t Horizon armor but it is better than nothing.

That said, Alia looks… tense, to those who know her. Worried even wouldn’t be an understatement.

Summoned, Hana heralds her impending arrival with a virtual knock; shortly after, she lets herself in, then pauses a moment to watch Alia at her practice. "Fencing, I admit," she says aloud at last, "is not something I've done myself." Her tone is neutral, conversational; if Hana has an opinion — a preconception — of fencing, it is not made obvious in the words.

Hana wears her usual getup: leather jacket, black jeans, cream-colored shirt. She carries a motorcycle helmet under one arm; her usual armament is not openly visible, but certain to be present nonetheless. Stepping further into the room, she takes a moment to survey the items on the table before redirecting her full attention to the other technopath.

“Old hobby. Better with it. Better than I am with that.” She motion to the pistol. Alia is in a simple t-shirt and jeans. “Things…moving fast.” She sighs, then moves over to a desk. A USB stick is removed. Lime green and marked with a biohazard sticker, of all things. “This. If I don't get back. Upload. Should stop Project A.L.I.A. from spreading.”

“We. Off to bad start. My speech is…” Alia sighs. “Expressive Language Disorder” The younger in experience by far, Alia just slumps a bit, and tries to find a way to express what she needs to say.

"They do that," Hana agrees, to the remark about moving fast. She takes the flash drive, examining the device as if she could peer through to the data within it. She can't, here and now; later for that. Alia's explanation is met with a nod. "I'll make sure it's ready."

As Alia continues, the older woman tips her head curiously — then shakes it slowly in negation. "You've nothing to be concerned over." Her lips twitch in a hint of a smile. "I've had far less civil first meetings."

Rather more of them than not, in fact.

“That’s two of us.” Alia manages a smile. “… Arcology.” She says simply, switching topics as she looks over her other gear. “… Other me might be there.” Yeah, that worries Alia. “If is…recruit attempt, put down if rabid. Sound right?”

That, likely, would explain some of the sleepless look Alia has. A lot of it in fact. Thinking about the ramifications of killing another self is a bit heavy.

The topic change becomes consequential very quickly. Hana closes her eyes for a moment, then moves to sit at the table, setting her helmet down in a clear space. "If you believe you can recruit your other self… then sure, try." She looks out towards the door, rather than at the other technopath. "Speaking from experience, someone who's programmed…" is rabid, that sentence finishes, except that it doesn't.

Hana draws in a breath; releases it again. She couldn't ask for much of a better segue, sensitive though the subject may be. "On a… rather similar topic, I have a favor to ask of you." Now she looks to Alia, her face too-carefully neutral. "I would like to examine your digital representation, if you will let me. I need… to understand them better, and my own can only teach me so much."

Alia chuckles, as she pulls out one more thing… this time it’s a full laptop. Powered off. “Before we do. One other thing.” She pats the laptop, and sets a carrying bag next to it. “Catabase. Your copy. Took liberty of updating it with Endgame’s information.” Alia is … trusting indeed. Or knows how bad things are. Take your pick.

Then she sits down and stretches… then just kind of slumps over as a nearby desktop makes a chime noise. That… maybe a bit creepy to those so not used to Alia pulling the whole Ghost in The Machine bit. The speakers then speak, albeit synthed, “Come on in.”

Hana spends a moment to take the laptop and case, setting them aside with her helmet. "Thank you," she says, brief but sincere; silently, she rearranges her mental agenda to spend the evening refamiliarizing herself with the old data and becoming better-acquainted with the new.

The unquestioning acceptance of her request… that is a surprise, albeit a very welcome one. All too often, Hana falls back on expecting other people to be like her; and all too often, finds herself reminded they are not. Seating herself, she nods briefly in the direction of the desktop — not that the ghost within can see — and reaches out in purely nonphysical fashion to interact with the computer herself.

Thank you, Wireless says again, letting side bands convey more than flat text alone — representation of gratitude, in the main, but also an undercurrent indicative of bitter rue. After all, the last time — the last two times — she's been in such close contact with another technopath, there was nothing good about either circumstance.

Granted permission, Wireless reaches out towards Alia with a delicate touch, studying the shape and texture of her construction.

Alia’s digital self is calm, still…. But dear gods, the touch is likely -not- pleasant. D.crypt, it seems, has learned a few lessons well, and one of which is ‘always on guard’. It likely takes a moment for the sharp spiky bits of various unhappy memories and bits of incorperated code smooth out… and then there’s images. Not words, more like water color painting then anything. A quiet girl on the outskirts of her peers. An arrow into an archery target. As the girl grows, the aim gets better. The sword next to the bow. The image of the newspaper from when MIdtown was exploded. A courtroom. Then a dorm room, a young teen crying. Then a young woman, putting together computers in a library. Crossing blades with Adam Monroe. But the one that is most clear happens between the last two. That one is almost photo realistic: An old apple IIgs, set up in an apartment. A day home sick with a cold, and playing Carmen Sandiego. And just unlocking the puzzles, no book.

Flashes of memory and yet, Alia stays nice and calm throughout. It’s a communication during it though, that explains something. “… Carmen. That one’s the hook for the maliciousness, if its needed.”

For all the delicacy of Wireless' touch, the care to observe and not affect — so much as is avoidable, at least — the interposition of two selves is both invasive and intimate. There are moments where D.crypt's defenses trigger Wireless' in turn, necessitating that the questing technopath pause and wait for their mutual accord to settle ruffled autonomic systems. Hardly any time, as the outside world counts it; she does not begrudge the waiting. Not when it is a treasure trove of priceless information Hana gleans from the inspection — not about Alia herself per se, though that cannot be avoided, but about the representation of memory, personality, opinion, senses, even defenses — the things that make up a digital self, and the manner in which they are interwoven, contradictory, and in all ways mutually dependent upon one another.

Inevitably, the composition of D.crypt is not like what Wireless has been able to perceive of herself.

All the while, impressions pass the other way, inadvertent, inevitable. Two gravestones, two names, a single shared date: July 6, 1989. A man on a rooftop in the dark; the same man standing beside her, looking upon a snowbound complex all too familiar in shape to Endgame's technopath, aurora borealis shimmering in the sky overhead. Face-to-face with him, who's Thompson, the alert of a text message received, heard both within and without — drowned by a torrent of information, with oblivion following close behind.

Old memories, those, their rough edges worn by time and familiarity, though there are layers enough to the data to suggest that for Wireless, the recollections still cut. It's others for which she bleeds, others held too close to the surface and too pervasively to avoid leaking out. The face of a Chinese man who for all his foreign appearance feels like kin. A fragment of code, rent and torn but still aware to cyberpathic senses, if only just; the icy kiss of arctic wind on tearstained skin, and grief colder still.

Unaware of what leaks from her to D.crypt's awareness, Wireless pauses briefly at the deliberate communication she receives. Carmen Sandiego. I'll remember that.

Shortly after, she withdraws, and Hana settles back into her own skin with a great deal to think about.

Alia… takes a few seconds to settle back in to her own skin. “… First times suck?” She puts on a brave face. “… It, personal but…” she pauses. “July 6?” She can match the face up later, she’s pretty sure, with the piles of files. For now, Alia has a curiosity to scratch at.

Glancing over to Alia at her succinct — and entirely correct — remark, Hana inclines her head in agreement. The other technopath goes on to ask a, yes, very personal question that reveals something of what she learned during their interchange. The Israeli draws in a slow breath, looking away. It seems… appropriate enough to provide context, but she doesn't want to talk about it. Extends a digital hand instead, bearing a pastiche of recollections represented as video, utterly devoid of sideband content: two women, elderly mother and adult daughter, viewed through the eyes of a twenty-years-younger Hana. A bus, a suicide bomber, the vehicle toppling down a mountainside; a hospital bed, six months later, waking the only person in the room.

After, Hana surges up from her seat, the clap of her shoes on the floor an emphatic counterpoint to the preceding extended silence on her part. Deliberately sharing that experience, however stripped-down, seems to be the extent of her indulgence of personal questions today. "Thank you again," she says, far more stiffly than before, as she scoops up the laptop and packs it into its case. Slinging it over a shoulder, Hana collects her helmet, then regards Alia levelly. "Do we have any other business?"

Alia frowns, as if realizing she messed up, and just… bows her head a little. “… sorry.” She then shakes her head. “… if. Need someone to talk to. You know how to find me.” Indeed, Hana likely can find Alia better than Alia can find Hana. And the offer is genuine… There’s understanding and empathy in Alia’s eyes. Even if she can’t put the why into words. Sometimes they are un-needed. “Oh.” She pauses, then points to the wireless router that is in her layout of gear…

“Making doorway. In ark, if I can.” Alia’s ability with words is apparently taxing and she’s near her limit there, as she sinks back into the chair, and rubs at her own face.

At the apology given, Hana raises her free hand, offers the younger woman a thin and rather sardonic smile. "When you need to apologize to me, believe me, you'll know." The offer of someone to talk to… goes unaddressed, although not unnoticed. In truth, Hana has a surfeit of people she could, even should talk to… and does not. Will not, as can be read in the set of her chin and the stiffness of her posture.

Her attention directed to the router, Hana nods. "I will be available if you need me," she assures Alia. Recognizing signs of weariness and taking them as a cue, Hana nods again, a definitive gesture that implies farewell. Then, sliding her helmet on, she removes herself from the room, returning each of them to their own solitary preparations.

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