2012-02-06: Random Encounter Between Old Friends


Heather_icon.jpg Mike_icon.jpg

Summary: A chance encounter allows Mike Drakos and Heather Brown to engage in social rituals of trust renewal.

Date: February 6, 2012

Log Title: 2012-02-06: Random Encounter Between Old Friends

Rating: G

NYC - Union Square

Always bustling with life is Union Square, with its large statue of George Washington standing in the center. Live music, dancers, artists, activists, vendors, and more can all be seen here on a daily basis. There are even some tables set up for chess games. The Green Market can be found here, selling fresh fruit, breads, vegetables and other farm products. Union Square has more of a younger feel as most the kids who hang out here have that artistic, indie look to them, making Union Square one of the more open minded parks in the city.

Normally it's expected that students who go to boarding schools will be back for dinner by the dinner hour and back in their cages-um-rooms by late evening. Mike Drakos is one who should, but he's been given special dispensation today to "blow off steam" — which he did by spending an hour examining in very fine detail the "Metronome" sculpture, with the steam-powered digital clock. So now, holographic disguise firmly in place, a generally unremarkable high-school-ish kid in a hoodie wanders towards the subway entrance, crossing the open plaza.

Heather, being no longer a student of Xavier's, and having taken up some staff duties, is under less restriction for when and where she can be. The young woman has been working on a project of her own on the side, which now requires her to be here. The young woman zips about the square, trying to find a place to sit down with the few hot dogs she has purchased and resting in a sac. She doesn't notice Mike so easily with the disguise, however, and passes right by him, stopping a few paces away as she seems to be evaluating.

"Hello, Heather." The voice is in fast-time. Mike smiles slightly, and adjusts the image ever so slightly, changing the brownish-blond hair poking out from under the hoodie to something closer to the usual black, and making his nose a bit rounder. Not much of a change but he looks much more like himself now.
The robot kid does a quick "scan" - using his raw perceptive sense - and recognizes the warm cylinders as hot dogs.
"You looking for a place to eat dinner? What are your parameters?"

Heather glances towards the young man who speaks to her, seeming momentarily confused. The young woman turns towards Mike and raises her eyebrows slightly before he speaks again and says, "Oh. Hello, Mike. Yes, I have been in the city for a long time today doing a project of mine, and now it is time for me to eat. It can be rather expensive to eat in the city I have found."

"I'm tempted to say 'this is why I don't eat' except that I still refuel, and gas prices are going up. But, I'm hopeful that my redesign will pass design review and I'll get to implement it."
Mike shrugs. "There's a bench by the statue of George Washington, if you want to sit."
He spends a moment examining the device Heather is wearing (since it's repeating everything she says in slow-time) and the smile widens a bit.
"Nice technology. I approve of custom voice-conversion devices," and Mike lets a bit of the auto-tune distortion sneak into his voice even in quick-speech. He continues, whether they move to the bench or not.
"It's been quite a while, and while I have some second-hand information, I'd prefer from the source. How are you doing? Are you managing well as a mostly free-floating adult?"

Heather gestures towards the bench when Mike mentions it, and zips towards it to sit down.
"Thank you for the compliment to my system. I worked with Kisha in order to put it together, but finished it myself. I am not a technological prodigy like many people I know, but I can figure some things out." She shrugs lightly and continues, "I've been doing fine. I am still staying at Xavier's, trying to be hired on as staff, and presently on a personal project for the sake of a student there."

Mike's movements aren't superfast, of course. The current chassis would break if he tried to move it as fast as Heather does. But he manages to get there quickly enough for a slow-worlder, and rather than sitting (and stressing the bench) he 'hunkers', semi-crouching, and continues the 'listening' body-language otherwise.
"What would you do as a staff member? You're subjectively much older than the rest of the students your physical age, if I recall. But I can't imagine you finding it interesting to teach kids."

"Yes… I am approaching middle age if this were to be examined from my own perspective. As for teaching… I am not sure I would mind tutoring. The teaching I would not mind doing is at the danger room level. Tactics, strategy, power application, this kind of thing…" says Heather, frowning slightly as she pulls out one of the hot dogs and begins demolishing it. "I'm not sure where else I would fit, anyhow. I do not belong in the real world proper."

Mike shrugs at that. "Of course you do, or I think you do anyway. If you didn't you wouldn't be in it, you'd be transcended or evaporated into a puff of chronons. But that's probably not really what you meant. I suspect you meant that you don't really fit well with the more commonplace parts of humanity, and that's only as true as you choose to make it. With your skills and all the time in the world, you can easily learn to adjust if you want."

This confident sagacity coming from someone who is, if Heather were to remember it, only a month and a few days from having turned 17. But then it also seems that he's managed to integrate himself much more than he used to be. He glances towards a tall slightly rude-looking building, and sends a quick radio message. <Drakos checking in. Location Union Square. Talking with an old classmate, expect to return to base in 30-50 minutes.>
The smile returns again as he sees Heather deconstructing the hot-dog. At least, hotdogs are no worse than the randon concoctions she was experimenting with before.

"I have difficulty properly interacting with people, and since I refuse medication for a diagnosis that I disagree with, I will likely have a difficult time integrating properly within society for that as well," says Heather, furrowing her brow for a moment. "The communication system helps, but falling asleep mid conversation sometimes does not."

"What did they mis-diagnose you as?" Mike avoids the rest of the discussion, because telling Heather that she creates her own barriers, well, she already seems to know that.
He looks around the plaza again, and spawns a spare thread, 'hey, Me.5, I don't have Heather's medical history in short-term, see if it's in the archives.'

"I have been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia for awhile there. I do not think I require medication and I do not think that is a fair representation of who I am," says Heather, shaking her head at that. "However, I was transferred to the institute from the White Prison, and so they are charged with my mental health, and have to monitor."

"Clearly they never met your parents. It's like diagnosing a child raised by wolves with clinical lycanthropy. Just missing the point entirely."
Mike.5 pulls a list of medications into Mike's awareness and points out the long list of side effects and warnings.
"And, I would be very very hesitant to let anyone give you most of those medications given your powers."
Mike.5 goes back to listening to music. Mike.1 (the guy in front) nods. "If anyone can tell, it would be one of the telepaths there. So, how are this year's crop coming along? More or less angst than when I was there? Although I can't imagine how it could be more. Or rather, don't want to."

"More angst, I would estimate," says Heather, nodding her head a couple of times, "I do not want to imagine how it could be more, but this new crop has accomplished this quite effectively, through concerted efforts." She considers for a moment and adds, "It's very difficult for telepaths to nagivate my mind, due to the acceleration. And it's painful for them to speak to me that way."

"Which is why only the really good ones could pull it off, I imagine. Isn't your father's power telepathic?"
Contemplating the increased angst, Mike boggles a moment. The staff at the school can and should be handling it, and if they can't, well, the place will doubtless implode into an emotional black hole and be sucked into the goth-dimension again, never to return.
The robot kid pulls a sketchpad from inside his jacket - the jacket appears to be real, even if it doesn't quite look like it would without the hologram - and cheats, projecting an image on the pad with the image inducer. It's a schematic of a robotic design, but looks semi-organic in places as well. Like a videogame image almost. He pokes it with a finger, moving some of the design elements around a bit.

"It is. He can only pull from me under the boosting effect from my mother, and same with subtle sending. Otherwise, he can't pull and all sends are painful," explains Heather, tilting her head lightly, "But he cannot pull experiences or thoughts from me, either way, or examine the state of my mind. Nothing sustained." She leans to peer at whatever Mike is working on.

"I suspect that is a defense you developed to protect your own mind," Mike notes, then shifts the pad to where Heather can see.
"You've invented yourself as much as I have," the metal kid says. "I've been stuck with a body design that was a patched together version of a the ideas of a ten-year-old me. But I don't have to stay this way forever, or I hope not anyway. This is one of the proposals I've been working on. It's probably impractical, but it looks nice, huh?"
(Well, if you think the Crysis* armor looks nice, maybe; it has some similarities.)

Heather leans in and tilts her head slightly. "It looks rather interesting, I would say," decides the girl, before she says, "How would you be able to change yourself? I think it would be a rather positive experience to reinvent oneself in the manner reflecting one's maturity."

"That is the hard question, isn't it. I changed myself from human to robot by dying, and while that's a profound and significant way to change, it's not one I want to be limited to. I've been able to make improvements by simply modifying my body in place, repairs as it were. That's why I have better radio than I used to and my phone and voice and image inducer are all internal. But the basic mechanical structure is the same, and it's a terrible kluge. And, pardon the pun, a little buggy."

Mike flips the page and there's a 2-D diagram representing his 4-D self. It looks, if anything, like a cross between a wasp and a centipede as drawn by the evil offspring of H.R. Giger and M.C. Escher: a bug-like "abdomen" marked "plasma bottle", a set of segmented thoraxes with long "legs" and covered in somewhat bug-like jointed-looking 'hairs', and the "head" having a face that looks like Mike's usual robot-face but with segmented eyes. The eyes are marked 'backup'.
The diagram is also a bit disturbing, as it shifts and changes in real time in ways that don't look quite right.

Heather looks at the image and tilts her head lightly back and forth a few times as she examines it, "A rather interesting design." She does not seem to be phased by the strangeness of it, and she eats another one of those hot dogs and continues, "Many people might find it rather repulsive."

The thing on the paper moves "away" and the larger 'legs' are seen from the next angle to be like puppet-push-rods connected into a human-shaped outline.
"Yeah, it did a number on Theo, but he tried to understand it all at once, too," Mike says. "This is the part I dislike. All that support structure was woven along a fourth spatial dimension, and then the mechanisms, and then the mechanical legs — I actually have an energy-tendril running along each of those, more than one for the big ones. But that stuff - it wasn't designed, it was kind of kluged together, and it messes with my self-image. It's inelegant, like a bug puppeteer."
The face Mike wants to make at that image is more complicated and disgusted than anything he has in his library of induced facial contortions, but he gives it a good try.

Heather nods at Mike and says, "I am sorry to hear that. I imagine you would like something more in keeping with your desired self-image, if you don't believe in this compatibility between self-image and design." She considers for a few moments further and says, "I don't know much about this kind of thing, though. It is beyond me at present, though perhaps someday, I shall keep up properly."

"Well, you've shared some of the difficulties you have with your power, that it's harder than it seems. It requires a great degree of trust to share that way. So I thought I'd trust you as well," and Mike puts the pad away. "It also allows me to exchange one of the more complex social interactions with you, which is doubtless good for both of us. Understanding my tech is secondary to that goal."
The robot kid stands from that hunkered-down squat he's been holding for the conversation. "So, is there anything I can do to help you with the task you were working on? I have another ten minutes."

Heather finishes off the last of the hot dogs and nods at Mike, "I imagine that it is good for the both of us, yes. I have few people who I trust properly." She considers for a few moments further, which isn't actually long for her, and says, "Well, do you know anything about a crime family called the Firellis? The project I am working has to do with these people."

"Nothing at the moment, but I've learned a lot about navigating databases in the last few months. I can run some searches through the regional police databases, see if there's anything in particular. Or, I've been working on a new trick where I use my perception sense to read things that aren't next to me. I'm not allowed to play poker with the Barnes motor pool now." Mike grins at that. The SHIELD guys figured out very quickly what he was doing… and taught him how to be more subtle.

"That would be quite helpful, if you could pick up some information about them for me," says Heather, nodding quickly, "I just need to find some kind of lead in this project. I'm concerned for a student at Xavier's and I want to make sure I act efficiently. It's much better to have someone who actually has applicable skills helping a bit."

"Are there any other names I need to research? Or just Firelli?"
Mike waits politely with an "outside" smile, while inside he nudges Mike.4 and Mike.5 and tells the threads of himself, refresh police procedure, detective work, library research techniques, gonna need them. Oh, and probably should scan the newspapers and scandal sheets while we're at it.

Heather shrugs lightly and says, "Quenton Michaels's family's names may be fair to look into." She relays the names of his parents and two siblings, "So far I've found out that there are missing persons reports for those individuals. Also, Quenton's father was being targetted by the Firellis for some reason or another. Likely because he had some kind of lead."

"Got it. And that name is familiar. Well, it'll come up when I get further into the search, I'm sure." The robot turns toward the subway, "I'll contact you with my results, but it may take a slow-world day or two before I can get access to the right things. It's good to see you again, Heather."
He looks over at the Flatiron building again, and sends a radio signal, encrypted of course. <Drakos reporting in. On my way back to the school.>

Notes: Because the images are copyrighted, I have not uploaded them to here, but the review of Crysis 2 on this page: http://lazerbladegames.blogspot.com/2012/01/crysis-part-2.html has something very close to the image Mike projected as its first image.

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