Friends and Family Plan


ff_asi_icon.gif ff_cat_icon.gif chess_icon.gif elliot2_icon.gif ff_gracie_icon.gif ff_hart_icon.gif ff_nadira_icon.gif robyn7_icon.gif ff_robyn2_icon.gif wf_squeaks_icon4.gif

Scene Title Friends and Family Plan
Synopsis Interested parties gather around to hear the pitch for Elliot's telepathic network.
Date July 2, 2021

Delphi Scrapyard
The Mainland

After the friction during the auto showcase portion of their day, Gracie leans to one side, hip supported by what’s left of a partially dismantled pickup truck. Her head tips to rest against the remains of the door frame while she tugs off one of her gloves. They’re worn over a second set, but those are fingerless. Digging into her coat pocket, she produces a silver flask and unscrews the top without the thicker fabric getting in the way. Or leaving fuzz around the grooves. God, she hates that.

Tipping it back, she takes a moment to breathe and steady herself, screwing the cap back on slowly. Then realizing it isn’t threaded correctly, resetting it, trying again, resetting it. “Fuck,” she hisses under her breath, frustrated.

Glancing around to the others who haven’t scattered to escape the tension, her eyes finally land on Elliot. “So,” she begins, even as she’s still trying to put the top back on her flask, “you’re lookin’ for people to hook up with, right?” She flashes a cheeky smile and laughs.

Sometimes, she’s so like his Rue.

“With your ability, I mean,” she clarifies, with no remorse for the previous double entendre. “Share resources and facilitate communication?” Gracie lifts her chin, gaze briefly slanting heavenward with the relief of finally getting that damn cap to thread. “I think now’s the time for people to self-nominate.”

Which, conspicuously, she does not do.

“Yeah,” Elliot says, standing to look around at the people in the area. He’s uncomfortable talking about his ability in general, but the utility it provides to the mission is too important to waste the opportunity.

He clears his throat. “So,” he starts, voice loud enough to carry, “I have the ability to link people into a telepathic network to facilitate the sharing of emotions, memories, and sensory information. It is not—” he slashes his hand in the air to emphasize this point “—traditional telepathy. You can not hear the thoughts of other network co-hosts, and you can not share your thoughts with them.”

He straightens up a bit, then decides to lean back against the side of the truck. “Sensory information is shared in whole, which means you would experience everything from the perspective of the host you’re streaming as though you’re that person, though you can’t affect their behavior in any way. Memories can be specific or general; from the time you dropped an ice cream cone on your favorite shoes to your fluency in languages, math, science. Any learnable skill but only the mental component. Anything that’s muscle memory doesn’t share. So you could use someone else’s knowledge of how to weave baskets but you’d be clumsy at it without an equal amount of practice.”

“The applications are wide-reaching. Hosts can also contribute their own cognitive processing power to other hosts, making mental tasks easier. Including reducing the amount of effort you have to put into using a mental evolved ability.” That’s the basics for now. He looks around to see if anyone in the vicinity is interested or, worse, drawing a gun again.

Arms crossed, Quinn exhales sharply, a small smirk forming on her face. "I suppose I've been putting this off long enough." She had, at one point, promised to help Elliot with networking and overclocking for one of his mysterious codes, and chose to back out in favour of trying to track down the doppelganger that stands next to her, listening to Elliot. "But it's about time I properly learn how to do this, and get involved in it."

"This is wild," Zee whispers, hands clasped behind her back as she leans beside Quinn, perhaps the closest the pair have ever looked to actual sisters. She raises her hand, as if waiting to be called on. "So it's all voluntary, right? Like, um, once you're in, sharing and streaming is all opt in, right?"

"I think it is, so-" Quinn starts to answer, but she stops when Zee makes a shush motion at her.

"Don't be a know it all, let the person with the ability answer," she chastises, before turning back to Elliot and raising her hand. "This sounds neat!"

Asi comes back around to the conversation when she hears Elliot speak again, her hands on her hips as she hears him out. She looks overall uninterested, but raises a hand regardless. "I'm taking you up on your offer to watch movies and eat good food."

Elliot, and by proxy Wright, had only volunteered one of those things.

"Cycle me in and out if you need– I can keep in touch with the radio members of the convoy anyway," she points out, and her arm swings back down by her side.

“Same,” Chess says, walking up from behind Asi after doing a little packing and loading. She finds a place to lean and uncaps a canteen to take a sip – luckily it’s not frozen. Yet.

“But if you want someone else in there that wants the experience, that’s fine, too,” she adds – it’s code for ‘I know I’m weird about things, so feel free to pick someone less weird.’ She nods to the Scout. “Think I’ll be up in that, so if you already have someone riding in that, you can also cut me, coach. I’ll play second string if you need.”

Nadira's been lingering on the outskirts of the conversation, both physically and verbally, but as people begin to speak of exactly what the Network means, her curiosity draws her in. "If you are looking for things that are useful in terms of sharing, I am fluent in Arabic and I do happen to know a lot of meditation techniques. It seems as if some of our larger group in general could use some calm heads around." She clears her throat. "I only wish to say if you would like to have someone to communicate with in the Speedwagon, it should probably be me."

What she's really saying is that it probably shouldn't be Kendall.

Gracie glances around as she slides her flask back into her pocket and pulls her outer glove back on. “So… what do all of you do, anyway?” She crosses her arms over her chest, tucking her hands under in an effort to try and warm them back up. “I’m mundane as fuck,” she reveals to those who may not already know, and Robyn’s heard the way her Rue used to say that. The undercurrent there that makes the admission a lament is keenly felt by her. “So I have shit all to offer, unless you wanna learn how to dance ballet.”

Poorly, given that her lifetime of practice doesn’t translate, as Elliot said.

“But,” the dancer admits with a shrug, “I’m curious.”

Elliot can’t help but smile when Asi and Chess volunteer readily; he hopes to become real friends with Chess, and Asi may be Relevant. Robyn and Robyn are welcome additions, though he’s spent very little time in the presence of either. He’s never spoken to Nadira, but she doesn’t put up with Kendall’s shit so that’s a point for her. He doesn’t know if he’ll ever be comfortable letting Gracie into the network, so he’s glad she doesn’t volunteer.

“Everything is voluntary with a caveat,” Elliot tells Zee. “Linking requires the desire to participate. If you don’t want to stay in the network, nothing can force you to stay in it. The link will break under strain. Secondly, people can’t go sifting through your memories, you have to recall them and direct people’s attention to them to share them. With the exception of indexed general knowledge like languages, that is. Emotions are automatic; I can’t prevent those from sharing, though I have some techniques for spotting them as someone else’s so they don’t alter your own mood. That’s usually only a worry if you’re not paying attention.”

“However,” he says, getting to the part that can actually cause the most discomfort, “with the exception of me holding the links shut at your request, anybody can stream your sensory information at any time. This is where good behavior and consent practices come in, of which I have established many. It’s possible to request permission to stream and respond to the request without either host having to stream another’s perception. I have a absolute-zero-tolerance policy for fucking around on this. To alleviate stress about the possibility of somebody spying on you, you will always know if somebody is streaming your perspective of your memories. You’ll always know which memories somebody is streaming. You might not immediately know who is doing it, but everybody feels different in the network. You’ll be able to pick them out with practice.”

With a wrinkle of her nose, glossing past the disclaimers that Elliot's rightly given about the whole experience, Asi glances back to Gracie's question made by Nadira's admission. "I'm good with tech," she summarizes, somehow with skepticism lingering in her voice. "Get something in my hands, and between me and Queen Lowe, we'll find a way to get it running and to our advantage."

"I speak Japanese, obviously," she volunteers, then adds, "Also Mandarin… French. Both once upon a time, French much more recent than…" She starts to trail off, recalling the last time she really heard the Chinese language spoken. Her throat clears and she looks off. "If any of you don't know how to fight, I can give you basic lessons. Or, if we're online at the same time, you could try to borrow it."

Dubious of that in body language, Asi tags on to the suggestion with a meaningful, "But I'd really just recommend you practice."

"Incroyable, je ne savais pas que tu parlais français! Où as-tu appris ça?1" Zee practically jumps up from where she had been leaning against the truck and over in Asi's direction, eyes practically sparking as she smiles at the other woman.

"Calme-toi, Zee2," Quinn remarks with a roll of her eyes, otherwise never taking her gaze off Elliot. "In terms of languages, I offer French and Irish Gaelic." She glances over at Asi, both assessing the other woman's offerings and making sure Zee isn't bothering her, before looking back ahead. "I used to do gunrunning," she admits very matter of factly, "so I have a wide catalogue of firearms and explosives knowledge, in the event we need it. Basic emergency medical training, but I believe that's already covered."

Her hand moves to rest on the hilt of the sword at her side. "I can teach people to fight too, offer up gunplay skills. Amateur swordplay if you really want, I suppose. I don't know how useful any of my history or geography knowledge from where I come from will be, but it's there too. I used to drive all over the country for people and guns, so…" She trails off there, as if she's exhausted what she's capable of already.

Zee stares at her for a second too, before turning on her heels to look at Elliot, once more raising her hand. "I can offer up most of that too! Except the Irish part, I guess. Also how to sneak and break into places, particularly small shafts and windows, without being noticed. I dunno if that's usable in the network, but I can probably try and teach it some."

"Wait… what?" Quinn looks rather surprised by at least some of what Zee's said, her brow stitched tight for a moment. "Do you really think that's a good-"

Zee turns to her, offering Quinn a thin pressed smile that she's come to recognise as her "polite" and wordless way of telling her to shut the fuck up, so she does, though she still looks rather confused.

Chess’ dark eyes fall on each speaker as they talk, then back to Rue, who had asked the question of what they all can do. “I’d love to learn ballet,” is perhaps a surprising answer from the woman who seems anything but delicate. “I didn’t bring any toe shoes, sadly.” There’s a small smile, like she might be suggesting that it’s hardly a mundane ability at all.

“Archery, but I can’t teach you to put my extra spin on things since that has to do with my ability. I also speak Mandarin and Japanese, so we’re definitely covered in that regard,” Chess continues, with a nod toward Asi for the overlap there. “Some demolition shit, but again that’s also mostly about my ability – I do know how to do it the old fashioned way as well. Not like we have the supplies for that. When we’re out there, some hunting skills, but I’m no gourmet chef when it comes to cooking it. You won’t die, though.”

She lifts a shoulder. “Mostly I blow shit up and add snarky commentary. Can’t teach either of those.”

“I suppose bartending is not a particularly useful in this case, though if you want someone who can tell you if something is a forgery from Egypt… but the Arabic is something useful if we need a lesser known language,” Nadira says, glancing at the others.

“Oh no,” Gracie cuts in quick when she feels Nadira’s trying to sell herself short. “I think bartending is an amazing skill.” And no one who’s spent any time with her or any other Rue should be surprised that she holds that opinion.

But from there, she goes around the circle. “Okay, so you’re going to keep us in drinking water.” Gracie points to Nadira first.

Two fingers point to each of the Robyns. “You do the,” her hand waves through the air, fingers wiggling, “dazzle light shows.”

Asi next. “Hack the planet.” She pantomimes typing on a keyboard.

“You make things go bang.” Gracie glances Chess up and down briefly. “And,” she asides, “I will happily teach you to dance, beautiful.”

"She does lights," Zee is quick to note, pointing to Quinn next to her. As her double frowns, Zee nods. "I do darkness, and invisibility."

"If we're going to bring what we do with our abilities into it," Quinn notes with a small chuckle. "I do both. Not that I mean to be pedantic, but I'd rather be as clear as possible." She smirks, leaning against the trick Zee had been against earlier. "Though I'd say I specialise in light. It's in my blood, after all." A joke no one but her will likely get. She looks over to Zee, pointing a finger at her. "And I bet you can too. But we can talk about that later."

Zee lets out an exasperated sigh and nods. "You know, actually, I guess it's good to ask what we do! I can see in the dark, and so can she," she angles her thumb over at Quinn, "so someone could stream that as an aid, if I understand this right?"

Quinn blinks, looking thoughtful for a moment. "I didn't even consider that. That's… a good thought, actually."

Asi's eyes shift toward Zee when she begins to excitedly speak in French at her, not sharing the same enthusiasm. She waits for there to be a moment of downtime to speak on it, and all the better to ignore the way Gracie's attempted to summarize her ability. "Je l'ai appris pour le travail," she answers quietly, with relatively good pronunciation even if it can't be ascribed to a single type of French accent. "J'ai travaillé pour une entreprise de cybernétique - d'origine française."

"There used to be a French-speaking crew here," she adds in English, seeing no point in half-concealing that bit of information.

Wright takes a moment to add Hackers to her list of movies.

"I'd be able to see in the dark through you, yes," Elliot says. "But things would still be dark to me. With proprioception it's easier to tell where I am in relation to you while streaming so it's still very useful. It's the same with any other ability that affects your sensory perception."

Gracie’s words draw a little flush to Chess’ cheeks and a crooked smile that precedes the little huff of an uncertain approximation of a chuckle. “Thanks,” she manages, before she watches the back-and-forth between Robyn and Zee.

“I think I’m happy that my other self doesn’t exist here,” she murmurs to Asi with a smirk. “One of us would probably kill the other. Or both of us would.”

Asi asides to Chess in a lower voice, "I mean, that's a bit extreme. Despise each other, sure…"

The sound of hard rubber scuffing and some rummaging type sounds against metal rises from the bed of the truck that Elliot leans against. In just a second or three the source appears in the form of shaggy red curls and blue eyes. Squeaks hasn’t been spying exactly. Just listening and watching the clouds form into shapes besides just the normal blobs of fluff. It’s all interesting, hearing what everyone can do and all. It’s really something to think about and wonder over. But now…

“I can too.” Squeaks’ offering is quiet and followed by a squinting of her eyes. Maybe she shouldn’t have said that. “In the dark.” It’s too late for takebacks, so she continues, without showing more than just the top of her head to her eyeballs. “Sometimes… sometimes through things too. Like in the water. With sound."

There’s a crunch of boots coming up on the group from the direction of the convoy vehicles. Cat and Hart, carrying backpacks with tools divided between them, ease into the periphery of the conversation.

“We placing bets on who Tay knocks out first?” Cat asks the crowd, drawing a flat look from Hart. “Kidding, we know it’s Eve. Nobody’s taking that bet.” She adds with a crooked smile.

Sorry to pop in like this,” Hart says perhaps too loudly, trying to change the topic from Cat’s interjection. “I just wanted to see what everyone was up to.”

"Thankfully, nothing that will get any of us shot," Nadira replies, a half-cocked grin on her face. "But we are information sharing. I think it will be helpful for survival at this point. Besides the skills that can be shared, I can pull water from various sources, locate it, purify it, and control it as a weapon if necessary. So if there are any water-related things you need done, I can certainly take a shot at any of it."

She pauses, adding, "Water pressure, too. Forcing water out of a place, moving it."

Gracie points a finger in Cat’s direction at the crack about Eve getting knocked out by Tay. Her expression reads she’s right, you know, but she doesn’t pursue it other than that, allowing Hart to make that shift in topic without obstruction on her part.

Smoothing her bushy curls back, she levels her gaze on Jac, clearly sizing her up, but without sharpness. “Sonar-slash-radar stuff? Alright, Harriet the Spy.” The older redhead nods her head, impressed. “Right on.”

As for Robyns Zee and Quinn, that earns a fractional narrow of her eyes, the faintest huh escaping her parted lips. She stands corrected, then.

Pressing her hand to her chest, Gracie explains their purpose. “I’m fuelling my inferiority complex by finding out how awesome everyone else is around here,” she jokes with a broad grin. “So join the show and tell circle. What’cha got?” Hazel eyes sparkle with silent amusement when she looks to Hart. “Besides the best knack for nicknames. Frizzle is inspired.” It might be low hanging fruit, but that doesn’t make her any less enamored with it, apparently.

Elliot looks back to Squeaks without being surprised by her appearance. "Echolocation?" he marvels. "I'd be excited to experience that, if you're willing to share it. We have plenty of night vision options available in case somebody accidentally breaks the metaphorical lamp."

"Tell Asi that I agree with her dislike of that and all other nicknames," Wright says. She doesn't expect Elliot to follow through with her demand, and she'll happily talk to Asi about it herself later.

Elliot's attention turns to Hart. "You're welcome to try out to the network if you like," he says. "And you can pass on to Tay that this is something I can provide for the convoy. I'd tell him myself but I don't want to get too close if he's feeling shooty."

“He’s still feelin’ shooty.” Hart concurs, brows furrowed. “But when he cools down I’ll let him know.”

“I dropped out of college at 20,” Cat says in answer to Gracie’s question, crossing her arms over her chest. “Finally got a community college degree at thirty, started a job as a paralegal about… two ish years before the flood? I forget.”

Cat shrugs. “Mostly just got a mish-mash of potpourri skills. Singing and guitar playing aren’t really survival skills, and I didn’t bring a guitar, so…” She smiles, awkwardly. “Only real transferable skill I’ve got is sailing, which—isn’t going to be super helpful on dry land. Then there’s this,” she says with a gesture to the sword she keeps at her side. “My sensei, Magnes, taught me how to defend myself after the world ended. Picked it up pretty well, too.”

Hart offers Cat a small, sad smile when she mentions Magnes. “He—we lost him fighting the Sentinel.” Hart explains for the benefit of those who weren’t around during the attack.

“And this—the network thing—that’s some kind of telepathy?” Hart asks, squinting at Elliot. Had she heard about that? Was she misremembering? Either seems likely. “I’m good with electronics, I can touch them and make them do whatever I tell them to, so long as it’s something they can already, you know, do. Mostly helpful if there’s no interface device. Not… a lot of electronics these days though.”

Hart furrows her brows, thinking. “I’m a decent cook!” She says with a cheerful smile. “Oh, and I can knit. I’m not sure if knitting is super relevant, unless we need to get through some sort of giant post-apocalyptic yarn mountain.

“I have found that given the world we live in, everyone has at least picked up some survival skills,” Nadira says, offering a smile in Hart’s direction. “You would also be surprised what skills people have that become useful. If you know yarn, you know knots, which can be useful in many applications.”

"Chouette! Avez-vous vécu là-bas aussi, ou avez-vous travaillé à distance?3" Zee is quick to respond to Asi, a wide smile on her face as her smile widens.

"I figure we can discuss this later," Quinn notes, arms crossed as she glances over Asi, an apologetic dip of her head given. "Just to keep things focused right now, is all." Her eyes drift over to Hart and Cat, watching the two curiously for a long moment.

"I- actually, I guess you're right." Zee turns back to Asi and smiles at her, nodding. "Later."

"Anyway, I have a guitar," Quinn continues with a nod towards Cat. "If you want to entertain the network and probably an entire other car, I'll gladly hand it off." She looks around the group smirking. "I think keeping us awake and entertained while we drive is honestly probably going to be very valuable on this trip, and not everyone will have tape access. It's worth considering."

She's mostly trying her best to distract herself from the mention of Magnes, though given the context and Hart's addendum, it's clear she means this world's Magnes.

“You give me a guitar, I give you shoddy Fleetwood Mac covers.” Cat says with a sly grin at Quinn. Somethings, regardless of the timeline, never change.

Asi considers it for a moment, then looks to Zee over Robyn. She proposes lightly, "Ou… pouvons-nous continuer pendant que nous travaillons4?" A beckoning gesture is made to the Roux of this world, and then Asi begins to slip away from the tangle of travelers, heading for the transformed school bus to assist with making sure it's clean and cozy enough for their purposes.

“Like bats,” Squeaks says as she looks from Gracie to Elliot, “or dolphins.” Her eyes angle up to everyone else and she sinks a little bit lower. Just half her eyes showing above the wall of the truck bed. “I could show how it works.”

Chess’ eyes also flash up at Hart’s mention of Magnes, and though she only met the other world’s Magnes once (and he’d tried to arrest her, thinking she was Lanhua, and then asked her on a date), she can’t help but glance down in a moment’s lament.

“He was a member of clone club,” she murmurs under her breath to Elliot. “I’m still the president.”

Gracie glances between Cat and Quinn. “Well, we’re a regular triple threat in here, aren’t we?” She means singing, playing, and dancing. But she studies Cat just a little bit longer, the weight of what Magnes meant to her seems obvious. “Sword’s a pretty useful skill,” she commends. There’s something like sympathy in her expression when she apparently picks up on the fact that she isn’t the only one in this specific group without some kind of superpower. “So’s keeping all this on the organized side of chaos.” She draws a circle in the air to indicate the entire mess of travelers.

In other words, don’t sell yourself short.

Hazel eyes follow Asi and Zee’s departure, but she doesn’t make any kind of comment. Turning back to Squeaks, Gracie smiles. “Like bats, huh? Primal.” Sticking her hands in her pockets, she glances around again. “Sounds like there’s a lot of good potential here for the friends and family plan.. Some good resumes submitted.” She lifts her brows a bit, offering Elliot a smile. “Good a place to start as any, right?” But she shrugs. It’s his rodeo, she’s just playing meeting facilitator.

"We certainly do have quite the collection, we are all over the board with what we are good at," Nadira says, glancing around at the others before nodding at Gracie. "Plenty of options."

Elliot's attention turns to Hart, nodding. "Telepathic network," he says, "yeah. I realize that your ability is limited by the current infrastructure, but the network could be used to make you better at it, or faster. Hard to tell exactly what we could overclock for you, but it's possible to spread out the difficulty of mental ability use."

"You'll need a little training on how to use the various networking features," he says to the people still in the area. "But it gets easier with practice. I could probably run people through it today so we can link up in the morning. That way we can communicate between vehicles that don't have radios. Also maybe watch some movies or something." He doesn't elaborate on that.

Cat slowly tilts her head to the side, brows furrowed in thought. She glances at Hart and the pair both mouth watch movies? to one-another.

“I’m interested in this brain-cult,” Cat says with a wiggle of her fingers beside her head, “and I’m interested to know more. Is there a pamphlet, or should I expect details to be telepathically faxed to me?”

Hart laughs so abruptly she snorts and elbows Cat in the side. “I’m interested too, and hopefully it doesn’t sound like an old dial-up modem when you connect to me.” She says with a sheepish smile.

Watching Zee start off, Quinn blinks and frowns. Shaking her head, she turns her attention back to head. "I don't know if it'll work due to the nature of how it works," she starts, regrasping a thread she had been distracted from earlier, "but I can also offer a form of remote viewing. It's… complicated, though."

And she doesn't feel like giving a demonstration right now.

Turning back to Cat, she offers her a wide smile and nods. "It's yours when I'm not using it, then. I'll make sure it gets packed into Doc." She seems oddly excited by this prospect. "I have a lot of things in my repertoire, and my own songs as well."

“Primal.” Squeaks agrees with Gracie, even as she slowly drifts downward. But then…

Movies causes the slowly sinking Squeaks to pause for a second, then rise up a half inch. “When? Can we try now? Or…” Her eyes jump past Elliot to everyone else, especially those who are leaving. “Or… after supper?” That suggestion gets made with a little less enthusiasm than her first two questions. She doesn't want to leave anyone out who might want to watch movies or learn cool things.

And since she’s asking questions, and the curious sort anyway, “What's a dial-up modem?”

Brain-cult. Gracie presses her lips together, amused. Then, she slips into a slightly pained smile at Squeaks’ question. “In ye olden days, we used to connect to the internet with our telephones. The ones wired into the wall.” Lord, she hopes that the girl remembers that much. She’s not that young, is she?

“Anyway, I think chatting about it through supper seems like a good idea, Harriet. Give everyone their primer?” She looks to Elliot briefly, almost not for confirmation, but instruction. Who died and made her project manager? Clapping her hands together, she raises her voice a bit more, this is an announcement. “Sounds like we’re all on board here, right?” She makes a shooing motion with her hands. “Go forth and do the thing!”

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