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Scene Title Turing
Synopsis In the wake of the assassination attempt, Rebel has a crisis of conscience and confides in the closest thing to kin he truly has.
Date October 10, 2010

"I propose to consider the question, 'Can machines think?'"

Those are the words of mathematician and cryptoanalyst Alan Turing in the opening of his 1950 paper Computing Machinery and Intelligence. The paper proposed the Turing Test, a means by which the sentience of artificial intelligence could be tested by means of a human third-party attempting to distinguish whether a person being communicated to remotely was in fact man or machine.

Alan Turing could not have predicted the world of the future, where the line between what is man and what is machine could blur and bend the way it does. In a field of infinite information, a Nirvana crafted by human hands with the unintentional purpose of becoming the grounds by which angels of the modern age transcend their physical forms and reside as beings of pure consciousness — living data — like the purusha of Hindu mythology; the bodiless.

Romantic as the notion is, the truth is a more cold and detatched thing, whereby the singularity of human identity is cold-forged into an amalgamation, an approximation of human consciousness supposed solely by the notion of something as nebulous as a soul.

Richard Drucker died in 1992…

Michah Sanders died in 2009…

Gong Wu died in 2010 alongside Shen Ningdao…

Together their compiled identity as a bodiless being known as Rebel is considered by many who know them to be proof of their existance after death, that the mind, heart and soul is indeed eternal, and that the Evolved can prove that in their transcendance of human limitations.

In the realm of computing and programming however, there is another term for software that replicates the processes and pathways of an older iteration in newer systems. There is a term that could be applied to the digital constructs of the entity that now sees itself as Rebel:


"I propose to consider the question, 'Can machines think?"

Alan Turing could never have forseen this.

Staten Island, New York

October 10, 2010

One by one, street lights begin to flicker and die, like candles burned down to paraffin nubs. The coming of breaking dawn drives these electric lamps back into dormancy, casts a haze of blue over the foggy streets of Staten Island's north coast where derelict and rusting ships bristle up from calm water, decaying monuments to industry, to war, to the handiwork of men. Amidst dew glittering saltgrass and swampy sand, the boat graveyard looks like a juxtaposition of rust and diamonds.

Standing amidst the lapping shores, with the sounds of creaking metal echoing like mechanical whale songs all around him, the body of a dead man stands like a ghost casting shadows on water. Gong Wu died when his consciousness was integrated with that of Richard Drucker and Micah Sanders, with elements of Shen Ningdao ripped along with him by their parasitic union.

Given a second chance at life, he stands in wingtip shoes and pinstripe suit, hat tilted forward on his head and hands tucked into the pockets of his slacks, watching the way the coming tide swallows a length of red cloth he has shed from himself to the water.

The scarf looks like a trail of blood, being pulled away by receeding tide, and the heavily-lidded eyes of the technopath watching the scarf pull away seems all the more like an offering to the sea. Rebel did not come here in Gong Wu's flesh just to cast off the scraps of association to Messiah, however, he came here to be able to give warning, and ask for forgiveness.

kapila. i was wrong

Grumbled, griped, even railed, yes. Predicted that Rebel, that Richard Drucker, would ever come to her with those words — no. And so, for the second time in as many mornings, the woman approaching the mist-shrouded surf finds herself off-balance. Not in the shifting sand beneath her feet, despite the morning breeze whose chill cuts through black denim and around the edges of her leather jacket; no, the ground that slips is as intangible as the wind in which dark hair streams, something purely internal — and more uncomfortable for it.

Hana's response is typical: a sharp-edged snap of words, vocal rather than digital; easier to express in speech. "On something you were so righteous about, too." Pot calling the kettle black, certainly — but when has it ever been different between them? The Israeli walks up behind the Asian, plants her feet in the sand only a stride's length away, watching the ocean take in the scarf as its due tribute. "Go figure."

If the words are harsh and unkind, there's a solidity to her presence at his back that isn't; subtleties like that aren't spoken, not by her. "What're you going to do about it?"

"That is what I would hoped you would be able to advise me on…" Turning from where the red scarf shifts in the brackish water, Rebel offers a dark-eyed look out to Hana, one hand lifting up to remove his fedora from his head even if only enough to tip it forward in an out of date gesture of greeting before placing it back atop his head. "You have been in my position before," calls the kettle back to the pot, "and I do not know how to tread on these grounds without sinking deeper in quicksand I had thought was open water."

For all that he is flesh and blood, Rebel's mannerisms are not quite one man's; Richard Drucker's rigidity and straight back, Micah Sanders' apprehension and awkwardness, Gong Wu's furtive eyes. "I do not know the nature of my disquiet, only that it is there, stirring inside of me like sludge at the bottom of deceptively clear water. What was done this week was wrong," his dark eyes avert down to the sand beneath his feet, "children died, and I helped facilitate that…"

But the pause in Rebel's words is fleeting, only as long as it takes for his eyes to meet Hana's again. "To explain further: When you misplace something, you only ever realize it is gone until you go to look for it." Rebel's head cants to the side, ever so subtly, "I have felt that same sense, of something missing from me. My perception of the passage of time has always been fluid since I changed, more so since I became We. But I feel as though there are parts of me missing… and I am afraid that there is more going on than I am aware of."

Brows furrow, lips downturn into a frown, and Rebel admits, "I fear I may be in more danger than I realize."

There's a problem with symbolic language in the ears of the literal-minded — Hana's eyes narrow as she studies him, arms folding across her chest. Her head tilts, unconscious mirror of Rebel's posture, lips pressing together in consideration. "I don't understand why you have to talk around things," the woman finally says, hands dropping abruptly to hang at her sides. "What do you want me to do?"

She turns and strides away, paces back, motion a focus and catalyst for thought. "If there's a flaw in your data matrix I can maybe spot it. No guarantees where you're concerneed," the technopath adds, the sidelong glance she casts his way almost approaching glower level. It is his fault he's an amalgamation rather than a simple straightforward entity. It's also, in some fashion, hers. "If you want to do something about Messiah, you're going to have to focus on a direction. You can break away, stay with them, study them, fight them. Just don't let yourself go as adrift as that scarf."

Hana does, at times, reveal that soft spot she has hidden all these years. The colorful prose associating Rebel to the scarf is testament to the woman she could have been wrapped up in the armor of the woman the world made her. Rebel's consideration of that very sentiment has his eyes closing and head dipping down into a steady nod.

"I believe I may have overestimated my own immortality. Lacking true physicality has given me a false sense of invulnerability that I believe has lured me into the position I am in now." Brown eyes open, look to the sand and the dew-laden saltgrass, then up to Hana once more. "I worry that a break away from them would strand good people in a position that I unknowingly helped put them in."

The cold breeze whistles through the derelict ships, a whining howl moaning from within their rusting shells, a modern day Siren's song. "There is a group, some affiliated with Messiah and some not, en-route as we speak to the west coast and by tonight to the People's Republic of China. They will be venturing off from this world, to get close enough to the Company's array of satellites to disable or destroy them…"

Looking askance to the rising sun as it crests the bow of a sunken ship, Rebel is forced to narrow his eyes as the light crosses his eyes. "They may need your help, especially if I prove unreliable." Rebel's attention turns back to Hana from the rising sun, though his consciously tips his head towards the morning light to shadow his eyes with the brim of his hat. "As for my soul," he has such romantic terms for what he is, "I would appreciate the ventured look. Something feels wrong."

"You're data," Hana replies bluntly as she walks back towards him, two lines of dimples marking her progress over sand. "We both know how fragile that can be." No sympathy for his shattered illusions here. No sympathy expressed for the group of travelers either, as she comes to a halt before Rebel, squinting against the morning light leaking around his silhouette — just a quiet huff, a few words skipped over all the more quickly for what they could betray. "I'll do what I can.

"So, what?" the woman continues, reaching up to rest her hands on Rebel's shoulders, palms turned inwards. Her fingertips press lightly over the muscles running down his neck, thumbs tucking under either side of the Asian's jaw. She doesn't need the contact — but it will help, and since she can… "Is this voyaging group all that keeps you there?"

The heavy pause between Hana's words and Rebel's implies that he isn't quite certain of that. "They need me there, to guide them up as well as guide them back. Without my assistance they will not be able to control the shuttle craft, and they will all die." Dark brows furrow together in the shadow of his hat's brim, and Rebel exhales a sigh as he shakes his head. That he is just data is a worrying thought, that he is not in fact some immortal spirit, not some divinity is damaging to both his ego and his motivation.

"Beyond this, a division has formed in Messiah. The organization's tacticial, Carmichael, has taken half of the group and broken back up into a cellular operation while Petrelli has the remainder. The latter no longer trusts me and has been cutting himself off from electronic communications…" Rebel's eyes drift back up to regard Hana again.

"I worry that this has been calculated. That I was used." The notion does not sit well with the technopath, one whose own ego was so large as to presume himself above such things.

All prosaic practicality, no romantic whimsy; Hana's not particularly good at fixing egos. Just clashing with them. "Guess the real world finally caught up with you," she remarks, heavy with the bitterness they share. The envy she would never, could never share — and an anger for lost innocence that is equally closely held. "Carmichael's a born manipulator — and Petrelli? Either a fucking easy mark or a conniving weasel who wears sheep's clothing better than the rest of his family." How many sides has she seen him bounce between, in one way or another, these past two years?

Resentment and spite would curdle soundly if the Israeli let them — but she won't, because there are more immediate concerns. Shaking her head to shed that burden, or at least tuck it back into the shadows of her soul for a while, Hana blinks and refocuses on the man who isn't her uncle. "You ready for this?" she asks, staring into his eyes, thumbs pressing momentarily harder on bone in indication.

She doesn't ask if he trusts her, despite the risk they're both about to undertake; for all their past dissent, if not one another, then who?

A silent nod is Rebel's tacit agreement to both Hana's suggestion that reality has finally caught up to him, and also that he is, in fact, ready for what the technopath is planning to perform. Wary in the ways a wild animal might when confronted with unwanted touching, Rebel's back stiffens as he feels the electrical tingle of their proximity.

It takes less than a tenth of a second for Hana to process what is going on behind Rebel's eyes, though for her the time seemed more like painstaking hours of trawling through data and information. At the level of cognition at which Rebel and Hana operate time does indeed feel different, flow different for some things, especially when detatched from the physical.

Rebel's mind is a minefield, littered with what Hana can only recognize as viruses that are dangerously embedded in the data upon which he is constructed. Missing portions of his memory have not in fact been erased, but pathways around them have been created, forged into Rebel's own unique neurological makeup.

To Hana's delicate — and in the same breath invasive — touch, Rebel has clearly been manipulated, repeatedly. The strings of viral code in his mind seem, even worse, to be masterfully crafted by his own design, as if Rebel had somehow been convinced to reformat his own data and manipulate the programming that makes him who he is. Three tiers of interleaved information, all operating on a different structure then infected with virus that runs across all three platforms.

To the layman, Rebel's mind is like a computer running Windows, Mac OS and Linux at the same time, integrated with each other somehow, and has somehow managed to contract a virus that bleeds through all three operating systems, re-routing data on the hard disk and allocating RAM to other processes it is not even aware of.

It is a mess.

He can feel the spiderweb tracery of probes that infiltrate the very fabric of Rebel's being, searching, questing; the minute interplay of information exchanging along their edges, each single instance infinitesimal, their aggregate a suggestion of ants crawling on the inside of his skin. He can feel, telegraphed through that interchange, an eyeblink's instant of vibrating shock — and the abrupt, absolute cessation of data flow between them, even unto Hana breaking physical contact, stepping back with hands upraised.

"A shtuken nisht in harts." The whipsered words imply everything Rebel feared, only underscoring the wide-eyed horror of her expression and the abrupt distance between them. The woman swallows as she lowers her hands, drawing a deep breath and turning obliquely away, just enough to veil her face with a curtain of wind-tossed hair and behind it reassert self-control.

It takes some doing.

A shtuken nisht in harts

A stab in the heart in other words.

Rebel's brows furrow and his eyes shut, jaw setting stiffly as his fingers curl towards his palms. In that deceptively youthful face, the weight of age passes briefly in the expression of considerable remorse. "I am sorry," sounds like the wrong thing to say, but feels right. Squeezing his fists tighter, Rebel looks away from Hana, turns himself halfway to put his back to the sun, casting his face in shadow as he looks towards where night still lingers on the horizon.

The wind picks up with howling song, whistling eerily through the dead ships; their song now his song. "Rupert is planning something," Rebel confides in Hana, his voice hushed, "he had me search for television and radio broadcast stations across New York City, New Jersey and Long Island. He is having operatives of Messiah scout out these radio stations security. I believe…"

Rebel's brows furrow, "I don't know what I believe. But Rupert said he has a message to send to the world…" dark eyes follow the turn of Rebel's head to regard Hana over his shoulder. "I am afraid that I may have made a terrible mistake that is too late to unmake."

It sounds right, in a terrible way; the remorse, the apology. In keeping with the importance each of them has for the other, despite disagreements and personal discordance; blood is thicker, even when one of them doesn't have any. "I can't imagine," Hana says as she straightens and faces him once more, in an almost normal tone of voice, "how anyone snuck…" She pauses, lips pressing together. "I don't even have a word for it. Virus is too simple, but I didn't dare—"

Words falter again, and the woman shakes her head. "I'll see your people through. After that — after that, we'll fix this." A promise, or an oath. There's a corollary which goes unspoken, one Rebel doesn't need spoken to fill in — Richard Drucker knows his niece too well. Someone will pay for it.

It's only belatedly that she realizes he said other things; only when Hana has satisfied her own budding anger that the words register. A broadcast. New York. A message. And premonitions that have loomed all too large in her awareness fit too perfectly into place. "Every prophet in his house," the lioness growls. One hand jabs towards Rebel. "I bet you anything that's his fucking message."

Hana's confirmation brings a shadow of worry across Rebel's face, darkening his expression and creasing his brows into frustration. All his worst fears, were evidently true. "If it is," Rebel explains with a hesitance that implies fear of the truth, "then something must be done to ensure that he cannot do it."

Rebel's eyes shut, his breath escapes him as a sigh, and when he finally wills his feet into motion it is to walk up to Hana, and then past her, towards the direction of more solid ground and thicker saltgrass blades, towards the rotten heart of Staten Island so that he can properly prepare himself for what he knows need be done now.

"Thank you," Rebel says as he pauses beyond Hana, stiffness in his voice holding emotion back with difficulty, "for all that you have done for me." Appreciation should not sound like farewell, but somehow Richard Drucker always managed to make one thing seem like another, even when he did not intend that to be the case.

"I have a reponsibility to stop that broadcast," Rebel says from a distance, "but I would appreciate not having to bear that burden alone." It is a request for help that he does not need answered now, or perhaps does not need answered at all. When Rebel departs from Hana, it is with the expectance that when the time comes, when a decision must be made, Hana will know what has to be done.

Alan Turing proposed the question, 'Can machines think?'

The better question is…

Can they feel?

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