2020-07-24: Unexpected Vision Quest


VisionF_icon.jpg MikeF_icon.jpg

Summary: Mike goes searching for Theo after he's absent for several days, and what he finds is completely unexpected.

Date: July 24, 2020

Log Title: Unexpected Vision Quest

Rating: PG

The Future — Sixty Miles Some Direction Away From The Underground

It could be anywhere really, but it's a warehouse district, less devastated and demolished than some, more than others, utterly unremarkable in the area.

This was a backdated RP session from 7/28 based on a planned encounter between Mike and Theo.
I am not sure how to link the Vision for the future.

The bunker isn't much to look at from the outside. An entrance large enough to fit a few semi's side by side on an old dirt road that's fallen into disrepair after years of lacking attention. The grass has grown up around it, but there's signs that someone has been through occasionally. There's no gate at the beginning other than a barbed wire chain link fence. But inside of the entrance, there is an open warehouse, with very little in it other than a large steel door. Clearly designed to withstand a remarkable amount of damage.

It's been at least six days since Theo said to come looking for him if he didn't show up, and after doing some post-invasion cleanup and consolidation of systems, Mike has left the big Sentinel hidden in one of the few remaining tunnels, with his own special version of stealth running via an automated system. Magneto, were he to come by, might not sense it as more than an unusually consistent patch of noise. At least not until he were right on top of it.

Scout droid #13 is the platform of choice for the Ghost in the Machine. He considered the appellation Mike 2.0 but … really that was too pre-decade or something. The image inducer field makes it look like … nothing. Empty space. The hover field is absolutely quiet, and even a psionic flux test would show nothing special. It drifts into the warehouse, and from three steps ana-wards a set of mechanical arms reaches out katawards to brush delicately against the area, sensing for anything concealed. Psionic-magnetic braided fields examine for metal, for electrics, for hydraulics.

An external camera scans quietly in a usual pattern, and eventually comes to view the scout's position, and then moves back. Something inside of the scout seems to be reacting with a device deep within, though. It seems to be an identification protocol. There doesn't seem to be much concealed. However, all of the operations are on the other side. All of the external controls have been removed. Leave it to Theo to take out all access except that which he can get.
After a few more seconds, there is a heavy lock that can be heard adjusting on the other side of the door. A light above begins to flash, and a siren sounds. Slowly, the door moves open Not fully, but just enough to let an ordinary person through. Surely enough space for the small drone.

And the drone does slip through, an anchor limb latching inside to the electric systems. The siren? As soon as it was audible a web of air sprang into effect around the scout, and auditory cancellation waves begin pulsing to quiet it to a point where it doesn't endanger the secrecy of the location. Scout 13 and rider were being sneaky for a particular reason, having to do with an increase in Sentinel patrols looking for survivors.

The siren becomes much quieter indeed, but soon it stops on its own. The access is granted for the drone automatically as it progresses. Down a long elevator shaft and through another blast door. Behind that there is a final door which is opened from the other side. Behind the last door is the inside of an old VIP shelter. However, the computers and technology are anything but old. Most of it is state of the art. There are gaps in the walls of computers monitoring different things throughout the area, presumably because Theo brought those things to the mutant base. And sitting at one, typing away sits a caped figure. Much taller and much better fit than Theo. It's the Vision. But what would he be doing here?

Mike stops short. A quick cross-dimensional brush across the figure confirms the identity, and Mike's full-sized but transparent image springs into being, a very detailed hologram around the drone. He draws a breath for courage — and obviously that's a simulation of a real action that isn't necessary for the ghost, but it expresses something that helps his own human mind to work properly — and then he speaks.
"You aren't Jonas, are you? Theo? Is that you in there?" The voice is stricken, a slight catch on "Theo" and the image looks, if anything, closer to tears than anyone alive would have seen from Mike.

The sudden turn from the figure of Vision may be clear enough indicator that Theo lacks his previous talents with machines. "Mike," he answers, swiveling his chair to see the small robot. He stands to his feet. "Yes, I am Theodore." Perhaps a little odd that he used his complete first name, but he did. His voice is quiet, a certain humility that isn't normal from him. "I didn't expect that anyone would find me down here," he admits. "The last few days have been…rather interesting." Doubtlessly, given his new body. He judges the look from Mike carefully, not having expected such an emotional response.

"Jonas was a friend, at Barnes," Mike explains. "He… what have you learned how he fell? The last I saw of him he was defending my escape with the kids."
Honestly Mike hadn't tried to remember that, but along with the rest of the year leading up to the attack, he has it in perfect full fidelity. Everything.
He moves closer, and reaches an immaterial hand out to touch the green and yellow figure, reaching as well from katawards with a manipulating limb, so there's a sense, and sensation, of actual contact.

Theodore reaches out to take Mike's immaterial hand. "He fought at the Statue of Liberty. He had destroyed countless sentinels, because they couldn't adapt to him. But a Hunter was able to somehow best him, and he fell to the bottom of the ocean. One of the Harbingers showed me his resting place," he says. "I'm sorry that it wasn't someone better who has taken his mantle."

That earns a smile from Mike. The hand-touch fades, and he shakes his head, "Theo. You're one of a very few people I would trust in there. And before I geek out entirely and start asking all sorts of rude questions, I want you to know that… I learned for five years to listen to the voice that speaks into and through the universe. Theo. You are not only someone I would trust, but I think you were called to it, and I think you will put everything you have into that calling. In fact, you already have."

Theo smiles awkwardly, as if he's not certain how to respond to such kind words. He gives a nod, and quickly changes the subject. "So it looks like you were able to find me using the scouting probe's databanks," he observes, given the fact that Mike was able to find him. "It is a long way to get out here." Which is true, the bunker is about sixty miles from the city.

Mike shrugs, "Partly. I respected your privacy on the datalocks and haven't decrypted anything except the comm protocols, the homing protocol for this one droid today, and the proto-AI code. They're actually more clever than I thought at first glance. I actually found the specific location by feeling for buried optical cable that wasn't broken. I can reach very deep."
Mike's image generates a holographic barstool and sits on it, and the drone comes to rest on top of it, actually "sitting" in midair. Pinpoints of light spark at the edges of visual sensors, and the holographic ghost smiles again.
"So, how much have you learned about your new body? Powers? You find the image inducer yet? How about the database?"

"I've learned quite a bit. Ultron was a pretty good crafter. Gave me some ideas on how I could upgrade some of my robots. But that will have to wait. I'm more interested in this new noggin I've got. I can think faster and smarter than ever. I've been trying to put the final touches on the sentinel virus. The new sentinels should be easier to destroy than the old ones. Or at least I hope so. Just the right signal sent to the brain, send too much electricity, and we can turn their minds into mush."

"It IS nice having that faster thinking thing, isn't it? So, I'll need to triple check that virus, of course, since neither of us wants to learn that it can jump to other forms of AI. I have some data here about the Sentinel communications protocol and their security measuers. Ridiculous, but I get the feeling the newer ones might have better… and the Omegas, I wasn't able to investigate them at all."
Mike reaches over, touches an optical input port on one of the computers, and says, "May I?" while preparing a data feed connection. He'll slip into that feed, in an attachment, what bits he does remember about Jonas's capabilities, since that Vision was not precisely the same as the classical Android Avenger. For instance, that image inducer trick.

"Feel free," the former technopath offers. "The virus revolves around the concept of killing the human brain that powers it. Because it is a human mind, it'll be harder to hack the programming with a virus, since the human mind is exceptionally complicated. But if we kill the person that it's taken over, hopefully that'll stop the sentinels. At the very least, it'll make them dumb as bricks."
Theo smiles. "I'm sure you were able to see more about the new protocols than I have been. The whole virus will depend on overcoming the communication protocols so that it can spread. It has to spread to other sentinels before it kills the target."

The upload takes 3.54 seconds, and at the end, Mike replaces his holographic image with a detailed dataflow model of the Sentinel brain, the basic design the same for all the different versions except the Omegas. In a secondary image is the interface shell for the Sentinel communication protocol. He begins modeling a data injection protocol, and then stops.

"Theo? I don't want to kill them, if we can avoid it. I'd rather free them. In our time the Avengers wouldn't kill unless it was utterly necessary, and I'd hate to see my work cause you to break that tradition."
And Mike returns to the analysis: the viral payload coming in through the standard tight-band microwave systems would most likely be stopped by the layers of encryption and authentication on that system, but the weakness Mike found was in the upload for powers adaptation. They would probably be watching for that, so the trick would be to create an artificial mutant signature, one that carried the payload in an embed.
"What do you think of this one, then? I can emit it at will, and two or three variants can be sent by beacons."

"I have been thinking of the power adaptation transfer," Theo agrees. "It always seems to take priority clearance for faster allocation." He watches the screen as it displays his analysis. "I'm more interested in victory than tradition," he says plainly. "I know most people have a sentimental attachment to some of the Patriot Sentinels. Is it possible to free them? I don't know. But I do know that spending time trying to free them will only get us killed. And that won't do anyone good except our enemies." Magik did say he was being selected for his ability to look at things from a simple and logical manner. But was this what he had hoped for?

"I have two reasons for not wanting to destroy the Patriot Sentinels, or indeed any of the Omega Sentinels," Mike answers, while demonstrating the failsafe override that the new Sentinel brains incorporated: the over-voltage shunt, and the feedback limiter that turned off the response circuitry for the duration of peak electrical power. A sequence of six iterations in a row with activation of four subsystems, which one chosen at random but the timing critical, and a counter tripped which left then shut down.
"First, we don't know how uniform the Omega Sentinel, and therefore Patriot Sentinel, designs are. Each of them, Pym especially, would have different control paradigms. No single attack protocol is guaranteed to work; each may need to be custom, as there may be no single power system. Further I fear and suspect that they're using a psionic rewrite like the one that Ahab does. In that case they would be able to use non-invasive cybernetics, not implants."

While he talks, Mike spins the drone, replaying alternate viral-activation patterns while logging them for effectiveness.
"And, second, we cannot undo this. These are symbols of our freedom enslaved, and destroying them is counter to the thing we are trying to restore. You are now a symbol of something lost and regained. Do not sully that symbol. Further, you do not know that spending time trying to free them will get us killed. You have, at best, a conjecture, and we have little data to work from. I want to get more information, before we choose to follow the path of our enemies."

The new Vision folds his arms across his chest. "Your first reason may be valid. Your second one needs some work," the former villain responds. "I know that Ahab is trying harder than ever to destroy the mutants, and if you recall he almost managed it recently. Just because I changed bodies doesn't mean I changed souls. But fine, if we are going to stop them without killing them, then we'll need a LOT more data. I've got a few plausible upgrades that I've been factoring. And there's more data that I've been able to smuggle out of research facilities."

"What we really need, though," he continues. "We need a Patriot sentinel. Captured and alive. Preferably one of the command models."

Mike's image smiles a bit grimly. "I intend to take over running your monitoring systems at the Base, since you will likely have overriding concerns. I crave everything you have about upgrades, and of course my own mad genius is at your disposal for that, within all reasonable bounds. I also intend to support your fully informed decision. You were able to think logically before, and balance all the information available to you, without the complex of morals and tradition that still colors my preference. You are much better equipped to perform this same action than you were, and without disabling parts of yourself as I once did."

The hologram of Mike reappears, and the test results transfer to a monitor rather than to the (greatly enhanced) drone imager. It grins in that truly goofy way that Mike copied from Lucas so long ago — even though Mike's recall of the time at Xaviers is extremely sketchy, oddly overwritten in several places.

"And that last bit is definitely part of my plan. I want the Spider. I can find him with his drones, and I may well need help with that project. I'm leaving you a present," Mike says. A clockwork looking device, the size of an apple, appears in his ghostly hand, spinning katawards from where Mike has been holding it. "This is a communicator. It's big because it's connected to something larger that can broadcast in a different threespace. You can talk to me there. I've never heard anyone else up there, just background hydrogen hiss."

Theodore reaches out to take the communicator. "I saw the spider in action already. Parker didn't stay long on the scene, but Proto got some up close and personal time with the spider sentinels. His data is already logged in the computer." He looks at the communicator. "If you can create another one of these, we could network the computers here with the ones at the base, perhaps create something that won't be detected by the government." He's already thinking of further uses for the device.

Mike nods. "I can. Have, actually, made one more. But they're larger than they seem from here. They take a lot of metal, which takes a lot of energy to transduce, and my energy store is not replenishing at the rate I'm draining it lately. The other one's already linked to the system at the base, but I haven't tested them… it requires time spent entirely over there to align them properly. I originally made them as beacons, so I can find my way back here."
He checks the information he pulled from the databases… "Ah, there it is. Yes. That's going to be very helpful. My compliments to Proto."

Theo feels the weight, thrown off a little by its heaviness. Still, he's super strong now, so he is able to compensate. "I'll try to work on building you an arc reactor," he says. "Working for Tony Stark had it's advantages, I have to admit that." He tests the weight of the communicator. "It really is heavier than it looks. "Of course, I'll be using someone elses money to buy the arc reactor. Is that against the stand of the Avenger's for truth and justice?" He smiles like a cheshire cat with his remark.

Mike gives Theo a LOOK. In fact, for a moment, it's the image of Rashmi giving Theo the LOOK of Infinite Patience.
"Don't think that just because you're now a paragon incarnate of all the virtues and I've sworn to follow the plan you choose, that I won't be pointing out when you start to slip on your feet of clay. I know you did the villain thing for a while, and I also know you have a fully working brain now, and I expect you to use it beyond the level of Randian Special Selfishness."

Then he pauses for a good two seconds, and says, "But yes, you should certainly use President Kelley's retirement account to buy as many arc reactors as you wish and I won't complain a bit. You should know, though… I glean virtual particles to provide the energy for most of my uses, and I can sometimes transpose matter from here to energy and back. The arc reactor would come in handy though. I need a backup supply."

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