Endless Energy


asi_icon.gif monica_icon.gif

Scene Title Endless Energy
Synopsis Distractions are sometimes necessary and sometimes fuzzy.
Date April 4, 2021

Asi 2:15 pm
why do dogs

And for a while, that's all the context there is. The next message is nearly exasperated.

Asi 2:23 pm
never run out of energy

Asi 2:25 pm
aha, i have found a trick. hold a ball and he goes very still. this can't last forever, though.
i am running out of tricks. he is not running out of energy.

Moni 2:26 pm
look at that precious face, tho
i've got tricks. i'll take a shift. where are you?

A pause, where one might imagine Monica took the time to grab her keys and put on shoes, halfway out the door when it occurred to her to ask—

Moni 2:27 pm
what's his name

Asi 2:29
for all the grief he's causing me, he probably thinks his name is trouble
but it's aisu, or ice
we're out at the elmhurst dog park. it'll be good to see you

Forest Park Barking Lot


"See, he just goes and goes," Asi says with a helpless laugh, arms folded against her knees while she sits on one of the park benches. The puppy in question sits gnawing on a stick he's found, tail wagging all the while. He's not supposed to chew on random things, after all, and he knows it.

But she'll make an exception in the stick's case.

"SOS aside, though, it's good to see you," she says to Monica, glancing up at her only after.

Monica sits on the ground, playing at tug of war over the stick, chuckling at Aisu's gnawing and general adorableness. She's had an advantage in having a cybernetic arm that— while the battery will drain eventually— doesn't tire. Fetch could go on for hours.

Every puppy's dream.

"It's good to see you, too. It's good to be out of the office." Saving the world in this new way was a lot of paperwork, meetings and a lot less running for her life and hiding out. Safer, sure, but there's always a moment in those meetings when she feels nostalgic for running rooftops and never knowing where her next meal was coming from. She hasn't entered a room through a window for the better part of a year. A personal nightmare. "What prompted a puppy?"

"I wish I could tell you," Asi says on the edge of a breath of laughter, shaking her head at herself. One hand rubs the opposite bicep lightly as she tries to come up with an answer that strikes close enough to the center of the multi-tiered heart of it. "I mean, it was nice weather so after one of my shifts with the NYPD, I went and grabbed food with a coworker and on the walk back there were puppies in one of those hipster shipping container plaza markets. Shelter drive thing."

"I've never had a dog. I've never been around dogs before. But I knelt down and petted him and he just laid his head on me. And bit me, after that, so clearly I became immediately fond of him." Her brow crumples upward into a furrow as she looks down between her feet. "I think there was some, ah… emotional feedback. I was telepathically linked with some of my team, and they thought he was adorable, so I thought he was adorable…"

"He's forcing me out of the hole I was digging myself into," Asi acknowledges a little more quietly as she glances back up to Monica with apology. You know, the holes she was supposed to stop digging a while ago. Cutting herself off from those around her was nearly as bad a habit as smoking, and one that was even harder to shake. "I found out—" A blink later, she clears her throat and works past the way she wants to shut down and avoid the topic. "I found out why I don't have my ability anymore, at least on a physical level, and that… um, that was a lot." A fainter, shakier laugh escapes her then.

One of those where one usually follows it up by saying if I don't laugh about it, I'll…

"Well, he is adorable," Monica says, as if this were the only explanation truly needed. And maybe it is. She looks up at Asi goes on, her head tilting. There's no judgement from her; finding hole to disappear into is a habit of hers as well. But because of that, she also knows it's no real comfort, cutting oneself off. And not easy to reach out again. So she reaches out to put her hand on Asi's arm for a gentle, encouraging squeeze. "Seems like he's doing a good job, then." A good companion.

"Do you want to talk about it? What you found out? Or should I be distracting you?" She can go either way, happy to let Asi tell her what she needs at the moment and to go with that.

"There's a meme I found out about recently— there's this little girl and she says—" Asi has to squint for a moment. She lines it up against the French she knows, but remains uncertain 100% about the pronunciation of it. "¿Por qué no los dos?" That's her best attempt at humor on the matter, and she sits up. No slouching for this one.

"The medical exploration journey we've been on since before and after the stroke ended in an autopsy result, and not Kimiko's." She shakes her head slightly at that. "No, Yamagato's not been forthcoming, but another one of us stepped into a time bubble and let themselves be killed inside it to see what's inside us. It's— not normal. Synthetic. Down to our brains, which is the most weird part about us, hands down." She has to let out the rest of her breath in a slow, hissing sigh, and looks at Monica as she reaches the end of it and says, "I started getting this bad feeling we weren't human anymore a while back, and it turns out it wasn't just a bad feeling. We're— us. One hundred percent us, still, just…"

Aisu yips and tugs harder on the stick as he tries to reclaim it from Monica now that she's been momentarily distracted. It's something for Asi to visually focus on rather than the weight of her reality. She keeps her voice quiet in case there's anyone else nearby who she's lost sight of. "Someone took us and stuck us in robot bodies. Convincingly human android bodies."

"I already knew my liver was working just fine even if our brains are giving out, so I drank about it for a while," Asi dryly jokes at her own expense.

"Asi, that meme is ancient," Monica says, but with a laugh that proves she still finds it appropriate. She shifts, moving to sit next to Asi on the bench as she starts to explain. On the note of Yamagato not being forthcoming, there's a frown, but she doesn't interrupt. Just a widening of her eyes when it all becomes clear.

"Holy shit," she says, her legs pulling up onto the bench to sit cross-legged. "Hell of a thing to find out. Hell of a way to find it out. So someone, what? Uploaded your minds, memories, personalities? And is… what? Test driving out some extremely bleeding edge tech? What did they do with your original bodies? Any hints?" For Monica, there is no question that Asi is Asi, whatever body she's in. She's far more concerned with the forces behind something this… big. What their purpose is. How far they're planning to go. How punchable they are.

Just normal things.

"I'm pretty sure you're allowed to drink like, a lot when you find out you're a robot. That's a free pass."

When Monica chides her, Asi lets out a hmph partly at her own expense as she balks, "Asi, that meme is American." She lets her eyes follow the pup, who free of anyone to fight against, lies down in the short grass to gnaw away at his prize.

"Hell of a thing to find out," she echoes agreement before turning to Monica. "And we don't have a straight answer yet. The who and the why— it looks multi-sided. The Renautas company, before it was swept from Yamagato, was working on part of the project. Mazdak associates from Praxis— Claudius Kellar and Lucien Crane— were attached to the project. They likely became aware after a data breach in 2017, which bizarrely enough I found out about separately." Shaking her head, she goes on, "There were other companies involved in what I'm sure was the project that made us— Advanced Robotics Manufacturing, and a consulting firm called INSight Corporate Services. Galatea, what they called the project, almost certainly had crossover with the work they were doing when they kidnapped Kay. They were using her, plugged into a machine, gathering data from her. It seemed like it would go into making a copy of her."

Asi sighs, her eyes distant as she focuses on her thoughts instead. "The good news is, we found that information, and we rescued Kay. The bad news is Kellar and Crane are likely in the wind. When we broke into Renautas' HQ a month ago for all that, no sign of them."

"So no answers on where our bodies are, if they're even still alive." It's a thought she hasn't faced until now, one that makes her blink back to the present. "In the meantime, we're working on trying to find more, and I…" She chuckles at her own expense. "I've got a puppy, I guess, to keep me sane during the downtime. There's not a lot of answers we've come up with so far."

"These people behind this, whoever they are, they're really good at hiding," Asi concedes dryly. "I'm not sure it's just Mazdak. Because somehow, a technopath I was close with seems involved. And he… well, last I knew, he wasn't exactly in Mazdak company."

"Advanced. Yeah, I'd say so," Monica says with a smirk as she looks over at Asi. She certainly hadn't noticed her friend wasn't flesh and blood, and before this moment she would have been sure she could have picked out a roboAsi from the original. "God, companies within companies, projects buried in projects. How obnoxious. Imagine how much faster their work would be if they didn't waste time covering everything up so much." That's mostly tongue in cheek, an attempt to keep things light. Asi's already been dwelling on the heaviness of all this, she doesn't need Monica retreading it for her.

Besides, if she needs to, she can drink about it later.

"How's Kay recovering anyway? I haven't exactly been up on making the rounds myself… actually, nevermind. I'll text her myself later." She waves off the thought, rather than making Asi act as go-between. Instead, she taps her fingers on her knee, considering the information Asi has. And doesn't. "So it's a group project. Complicated. A lot of moving parts— er, so to speak— and a lot of highly specialized skill sets. And a lot of money. That's where I'd look first. Follow the money." Harder now, without her powers. But, still. "But also… you said Yamagato isn't forthcoming, but have you taken Marlowe aside? If she can get a look at the hardware, she might be able to find out who made the bits, the gears. Someone had to make the guts of you."

"Marlowe has a lot on her own plate at the moment," is how Asi chooses to carefully address the situation their friend finds herself in. "Not entirely unrelated, and I couldn't risk her losing the position she's worked so hard for if she went digging for my sake." She frowns slightly before shaking her head.

"As for Kay, I think she's doing the best she can. Reacclimating. Getting used to having less-passive Mugai-Ryu members with an eye on her… not to mention, trying to get a hand on having an ability now, all at the same time." The frown deepens. However glad she might be, however much she doesn't envy Kay's circumstance around that discovery, she absolutely envies the other woman's technopathy. "She'd probably love to hear from a friendly face."

Then she has to break her seriousness and look to Monica out of the corner of her eye, mirth in them. She appreciates the levity greatly. "Going to see if I can get an eye on the money trail coming up here. It was a lot easier when I didn't have to do things like that above-board, that's for sure," Asi remarks with a small laugh at herself. "But we've got a direction to point ourselves in now."

"Marlowe knows how to keep herself in the clear," Monica says. Her own arm serves as proof enough for her. "If you end up needing an extra set of eyes." She understands being careful, though, so she doesn't push the topic any further. "I'll see if I can get Kay out for dinner and drinks. Seems like everyone needs it these days."

She nods as Asi goes on, though. The challenges are obvious for her, of course. "Direction is good. Nothing worse than flailing around in the dark for a handhold."

Asi smiles again. For Monica's sake or her own is her own secret. Her head turns when the puppy comes up on them both, soggy bi-colored tennis ball in mouth as he looks between them with a faintly wagging tail. Whatever became of the stick he was chomping on is likewise a secret he and only he knows.

"I've got friends looking out for me in that regard," she acknowledges aloud before peering down at Aisu. Her brows pop expectantly, and he flops down onto his elbows and lets out a grumble of expectation of his own.

"Oh, you poor thing," Asi coos at him with less sympathy than she thinks she ought to have. After all, he just wants to play.

"Friends are good for that," Monica says, only a little wryness in her tone. She knows both of them are prone to isolation during their own troubles, so it's only a gentle tease. A soft reminder that she's there.

She looks down at Aisu when he flops down in front of them, laughing at him and at the cooing from Asi. She grabs the ball, waving it back and forth a little to get Aisu's attention and interest before throwing it for him to chase. "When we find whoever did this to you, we gotta talk to them about their design. Who ever heard of a robot being outpaced by a puppy, huh?"

Asi breaks into open laughter, loud and heartfelt. "I know!" she exclaims. "I know." Quieting but with mirth still in her voice, she watches Aisu go racing after the thrown ball while she posits conspiratorially, "I think they were going for realism and not having their test subject realise their reality, but they really could have stood to make some things better for us."

She squints for a moment, asiding, "I think we have some kind of enhanced strength through the new frame, but we're being … limited, for a lack of a better word. Some psychometers— apparently Tae was also there— reviewed the plane crash materials and the glass on the ACTs unit I was in was cracked from a punch." She only vaguely remembers that punch in the overall panic, shaking her head to gloss past the memory. "So potentially, if we unlock that, I gain something out of this sorry mess. Extra, more pleasant motivation for finding those bastards."

Aisu comes trampling back over, paws flopping over the overtread grass. He slows outside of arm's reach and looks between them both before gingerly flopping down to elbows and then belly, panting happily. The ball he refuses to let go of. But what he does is enough for Asi to throw her arms in the air and sprawl back against the bench. "Victory at last," she sighs.

Her head rolls back to better look at Monica, even from her lazed, relaxed position. "But enough about me. How are you? In all of this?" She lifts a hand to vaguely gesture to the ether. "Blowing off enough steam?"

"Heck yeah, let's get those shackles off. Overclock your system and see how far this new chassis of yours really goes." Monica laughs at that, not because it's a joke, but because she finds it exciting. And the idea of Asi punching her way through any obstacle: fun.

She leans back when the puppy finally chills out for a moment and she looks over at Asi. "Me? I'm fine. And bored. It's a lot of meetings and negotiations and admin to do charity work, especially for the fires. Saving people was a lot more fun when it involved more running around and punching things. But, ya know, safer I guess. I'm glad to be out of the office, though."

"There's something to be said for doing work that's for a good cause, too, safety aside," Asi muses aloud. "Even if it's less exciting." She rubs at her nose with the back of her hand before letting it flop back to her midsection. Her mouth quirks in a slight frown. She asides, "And the thing to be said is that it sounds nice."

She pushes herself up into a proper sitting position to avoid letting the lazy position cause a crick in her neck. "I'm not sure I'd have lasted long, were I in your shoes. The idea of a safer existence— it's ideal, but I'm not sure I'd be able to handle it for long. It…" Asi's brow ticks together for a moment, self-conscious that her hypothetical is Monica's reality. "Well, most safe jobs, at least, don't have the same satisfaction that our other work has. The feeling of making a difference, shaping the world in some small way."

To which she acknowledges, "At least the Society's goals are still in that direction. Helping others, shaping the state of things through subtler actions. It offsets the mundaneness of it, don't you think?"

"I've only lasted so long for my Nana's sake. Nia. To guarantee some stability for her, for Phoenix, I'll endure plenty of boredom." When it comes to family, blood or chosen, Monica will endure a lot. It's just that she's used to it being more daring and, well, painful.

"I don't know if 'still' is the right word; those ladies were more than a little sketchy. But it will be now, if I can manage it. And if something… sketchy needs to happen, well, I'll handle that myself instead of passing it on to a subordinate." Monica would rather the guilt of doing something immoral herself than asking someone else to shoulder that burden instead. That's just double the guilt. "But it does help, knowing that we can make a difference. Maybe without falling into a war this time. If we can juggle it. And also," she adds more lightheartedly, "it helps that some of the security team are willing to spar with me sometimes. I'm teaching a couple of them fencing, just to make it more interesting."

Asi is appropriately solemn until Monica returns to lightheartedness. Her head turns just slightly, a flicker of surprise visible in her eyes before she harbors a small smile before looking ahead again. She reaches forward to make a grabbing motion toward the puppy, who eagerly comes back up from his elbows and paws to bring the ball to her again. "That's one way to do it," she acknowledges just before hurling the ball a good distance away, watching Aisu go barrelling after it like it's his life mission.

"I wonder how well they're picking that skill up. I should come by and test them sometime," she suggests with a laugh, her smile warming.

"You should! We'll see how they stand up to you," Monica says with a laugh. Being on her security team might be a strange job, but at least it's not boring. "Bring the pup, too. They'll join in trying to run off some of this energy."

Monica looks over at her friend, her smile softening some. She gives her an affectionate shoulder bump before she stands up. "Come on, let's go get some coffee or something. My treat." And keep the demons at bay, just a little longer.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License