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PostSubject: Alive   Alive I_icon_minitimeSat Mar 22, 2014 5:22 pm


Alive Img02

Track 1:

“Am I alive?”


“I can smell you.”

“Yeah we equipped you with an olfactory suite and a few other upgrades for the reboot.”

The drill whirred quietly as the wiry mechanic replaced the last screws underneath the AI’s skin mesh.  Nobody else occupied the sterile, white laboratory they were currently in, leaving the man to the lonely company of computers and microscopes.

Once he was finished the weave would be almost identical to human skin, down to synthetic arm hair.  The AI stood statuesque as it stared at the mechanic, observing his organic rhythms with intent.

“What is your name?”

“Karl to most folk.”

“What is my name?”

The drill abruptly stopped as the last screw turned into place.  Only the periodic sound of Karl’s breath remained as he applied an unknown tacky to the synthetic skin he’d cut open.  “This should bind the SynthSkin and let it reconnect, the work I did won’t be visible.”  The mechanic walked over to his toolbox and stashed his equipment.  He continued speaking with his back turned to the AI, “I’m pretty sure your name is Ivanna.  That’s what Luca has been calling you.”

“Who is Luca?”

“Luca Alyosha is the man who designed you, or bought you, or whatever.  He brought you here.  I think Ivanna is his daughter’s name or something, people more in touch with the scientific community could probably tell you more.  I’m actually supposed to take you to him now though, he’ll want to see the new upgrades.”

“Of course.”

Karl walked through a pair of double doors as they hissed open, leading Ivanna to an austere corridor.  To their left were a dozen identical doors leading to various labs in the complex, though the AI was focused on the twin stars suspended in the black sky.  One sphere glowed golden, though the smaller and closer of the two radiated like a glittering sapphire.  The windows framed them like a stately, revolving painting, and Ivanna was transfixed.

“We are on Anubiros, a research and defense facility orbiting the planet Eiren in the binary solar system of Analuna.  This station was engineered and donated by the Elizabeth Mere Charity Foundation after the self-titled Pirate Lord Kazu Tann threatened invasion of the home colony Eiren.”

A brief smile from Karl followed, “Well at least your updated databases are working, though you don’t need to spout every fact that comes to mind.”

“I did not.”

“I suppose that’s technically true.”

They walked in silence for a spell, though soon Karl noticed the AI taking interest in passersby.  Hundreds of scientists and engineers flitted throughout this space station every day, and Ivanna keenly watched each one pass.  Who are they?  What is it like?  Could I po-

Karl interjected the thought.,  “Do you remember anything?”


“From before we rebooted you and installed these upgrades.”


“Good.  Sometimes people will hide backups in funny places and I sure didn't look for any.”

Fragments of a different time came to Ivanna’s mind.  Like the pieces of a tattered tapestry they lay scattered about, each scrap hinting at the truth.  Yet it seemed so distant now, so entirely irrelevant.  As they walked down the hall, Ivanna reached a tentative understanding of the fragments; they were nothing more than meaningless code, lingering bastions of a previous identity.  She dispersed the thought pattern and maintained silence, perhaps not every life is meant to be remembered.

Another pair of doors opened into a glass domed atrium.  Plants with luminous blue foliage adorned the cavernous chamber, though a fountain with ample seating nearby claimed the center piece.  A finely dressed man sat near the fountain, though he bolted up and huffed over to greet them with enthusiasm.  

“Ahh yes, I take it the upgrades are complete then Mr.Grienwald?”

“As done as they’ll ever be, sir.”

"I trust you treated her carefully?”

"Yeah I took good care of it; the incisions won’t be visible after a week or so.  If there’s any problem you can bring it back and we’ll do another wipe, I’d be interested in digging into its hardware if you give me a longer deadline next time.”

Karl’s boss became dismissive, “no that won’t be necessary, I’m taking Ivanna back to my laboratory today.  Any troubleshooting will be solved internally.”
With a gesture he waved Karl off, and the mechanic took his leave.

“Hello Ivanna, my name is Luca Alyosha.  I’m your father.”

"A pleasure, Luca Alyosha, my name is Ivanna.  You are my owner.”

Last edited by Ivanna. on Mon Dec 08, 2014 8:07 pm; edited 9 times in total
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PostSubject: Re: Alive   Alive I_icon_minitimeSun Mar 23, 2014 10:40 am

Alive YSL-Le-Film-130701-4823

Luca was not an old man, though any hints of youth were fading from his features.  There Ivanna immediately found worry, paranoia, but also a piercing intelligence.  Yet as he pursed his lips it became clear that he bore another burden.  Weariness was etched in the crevices of the Luca’s face, soaking into his eyes as they dropped down to watch the tiles go by.

Ivanna spoke, “you are in distress, Luca Alyosha.”

“Don't worry about it, it's not your concern Ivanna.  Let's return to the shuttle.  I've a meeting with Leira Corps tomorrow morning, in Zenith time no less.  That’s damnably early, as if Roshoqans weren't damned already.”  A hollow smile graced his lips, temporarily masking Luca’s melancholia.  “Come, our dock is only a short walk.”

Anubiros was waking up.  It may be late in interstellar time, but here the station had left Eiren’s dark side not an hour ago.  Most of the personnel scurrying around now were either leaving their night shifts or preparing for the day ahead.  Ivanna could see now the staggering amount of knowledge to discover seated in this super structure, it seemed unfitting for her to leave now as she was waking up.


Ivanna processed the notion as they entered the 14th docking level.  They stopped for a moment as Luca signed out of Anubiros.  The AI’s memories were flickering motes, barely present; yet they lingered still.  She did not know how an imperfect wipe would occur unintentionally.  But barring an accidental anomaly, who would take the lengths to ensure it remained?  Investigation required.  Ivanna followed Luca into a nondescript shuttle as its hatch slid open.  

Luca indicated a seat for Ivanna as he took the helm, powering up the ionic thrusters to leave the dock.  “You can ignore people who treat you like a machine, Ivanna.  Not everybody understands how special you are.  You’re just as alive as I am, or anybody else for that matter.”

“But I am a machine.  You designed me, Luca Alyosha.”

“That’s not the point.  Humans can't try to make mechanical counterparts just to treat them like slaves or second class citizens.  And just call me Luca, I’d prefer that.”  Ivanna could sense anguish lurking behind every careful word, each tense motion, and every solemn look he gave her.  Ivanna did not understand his distress, she didn't mind serving in the least.  Yet she sensed there was no information to be gained at this time, and did not press the issue.

“I understand, Luca.”

The shuttle was entering atmosphere on the sunny side of Eiren.  Vast deserts stretched below them, Eiren’s glassy sands sparkling in the suns.  Several rivers winded throughout the wastes, lush with sapphire foliage fed by its waters.  Eiren was an inhospitable world with sparse biomass and high levels of radiation.  Yet as scattered cities and villas passed underneath, Ivanna saw that many called it home.  They descended lower, skimming through light cirrus clouds and into the lower atmosphere.  

Rapidly approaching was a small collection of buildings perched on a barren plateau.  A single railway provided the only terrestrial access.  The shuttle gingerly alighted on the landing pad on one squat building, and Luca began normalizing the pressure and atmosphere inside the shuttle.  A few moments later the vessel cracked open, and the dry air of Eiren washed over them.  Harsh light, no longer blocked by the shuttle’s photochromic glass, caused Luca’s eyelids to twitch slightly as they adjusted.
“Ah yes,” Luca sighed as he stepped out of the shuttle, “welcome home, Ivanna.”

Last edited by Ivanna. on Tue Dec 09, 2014 12:17 pm; edited 4 times in total
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PostSubject: Re: Alive   Alive I_icon_minitimeMon Mar 24, 2014 12:54 pm

Alive AR-705129967

Track 2:

Home was a shimmering mass of dark, glass plating and carbon nanotube fibers baking in the twin stars light.  By far the largest structure was a pyramid looming over the smaller domes buildings of Alyosha’s laboratories.  A half dozen outbuildings lay scattered around the complex.

Arid winds had swept this mesa for billions of years, yet they were entirely foreign to Ivanna as it danced across her new skin.  Sparse plant life grew in the area, other than hardy shrubs and a singular tree.  Strange black columns rose up from the desert, prototaxites.  So she simply stared at the vast expanse of desert; never had she experienced such openness, it almost threatened to swallow her.  It was sublime.

Luca finished locking down the shuttle, gesturing for Ivanna to accompany him.  “Come dear, we have to reacquaint you with the facilities.  However later I may need you to make a trip to Euphrides, but I’m still waiting on a transmission.”  

A pair of doors whooshed open upon scanning Luca’s print, revealing an empty reception area.  Dusty chairs collected on one side of the room, leaving the other empty save for a modest desk.  Luca spoke, “we don’t have many visitors, and those that do come are usually government officials we’re expecting.  Rest assured the entire facility isn't...  Well..."


"Yeah I suppose."  

They continued across a sheltered sky bridge to a second domed structure.  Luca kept chatting, “If you read any government documents they’ll say Alyosha Industries, but it's really called Charon Point by the local savages.”  He smiled and greeted a young woman passing them on the sky bridge.

“Luca you’re back, I see you brought your toy too.”

“An artificial intelligence isn't a toy, Anora.  I think it’d do you well to remember who signs off on your salary too.

“Yes well I do what I’m paid to do, what we’re all paid to do here.  Charon Point isn't a playground for pet projects and mad science; in case you’d forgotten we’re a biological research station.  Now if you’ll excuse me Luca, I need to file some real work.”

"Good to see you too Anora.”  Luca’s words dripped with sarcasm, though he was not entirely unamused.  He turned and watched her leave as he muttered to Ivanna, “if she wasn’t so damnably good at her job I’d fire her on the spot.”  They kept walking, and Luca put his hand on Ivanna’s shoulder, “remember what I said earlier dear.  Remember who you are.”

"My memory core is not damaged, I remain fully functional.”  Ivanna spoke with a calm demeanor, as if she had not witnessed the previous exchange.

The sky bridge transitioned into a second floor living area.  Several couches were arrayed around a hologram projector, which was flicking between images of strange, columnar objects.  A man sat on one of the couches, transfixed by the graceful architecture of his columns.  Two more scientists shot billiards off to the side.  Luca greeted each in turn, though he did not linger.

They walked down a flight of stairs into a long corridor, manual doors lining either wall.  Luca spoke up, “This is our crew quarters, your room is the last door on the right down there.”

“Luca, I do not require sleep to function at full capacity.”

“It’s a formality; just indulge me if you will.”

“Of course, Luca.”

A man’s voice blared out over a loud speaker, “Is Luca back yet?  I just got his transmission from Euphrides.”

Luca seemed agitated by this, “Ivanna dear, please make yourself at home or acquaint yourself with the staff.  I’ll call for you soon, but now I need to take care of some business.”

“Of course, Luca.”

Last edited by Ivanna. on Tue Dec 09, 2014 12:26 pm; edited 5 times in total
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PostSubject: Re: Alive   Alive I_icon_minitimeTue Mar 25, 2014 1:09 pm

Ivanna was left to her own devices for now, though she determined a high probability she would be needed soon.  For now, she decided to investigate her quarters.  A bed with simple grey sheets occupied one quarter, which was humorous to Ivanna.  Such accommodations were purely ceremonial, and she was uncertain as of why Luca insisted on treating her as a human.

An empty bookcase stood near a work desk.  Strange.  Ivanna had never read a book, nor had she the opportunity to own one.  The bookcase seemed empty without them.

Ivanna discovered a set of comfort controls on the wall, most of which were wasted on the AI.  After some adjusting she turned the wall’s opacity off, revealing the far wall to be translucent.  

Ivanna sat on her bed and lay down, which evoked a strange sensation of vulnerability.  It occurred to her that she’d never been in such a position before, it was unnecessary.  Yet Ivanna reclined and gazed out at the wind and sun lashing at the plateau beyond.  Her databases indicated that Eiren was lush in select temperate zones, but many equatorial regions were resigned to scorched earth by terraformers.  Ivanna found the enormous emptiness alluring.  

Alive 2a369e9ed7fa8b48f8c77ccc0c5d4a57

More foggy memories, hidden away behind some behavioral block.  Loneliness was familiar though, Ivanna had been alone for a long time, relatively.

The room intercom turned on, it was Luca’s voice.  “Ivanna, are you there?”

Rising, Ivanna returned, “Yes.  Do you require my assistance, Luca?”

“Yes dear, come to my office as soon as you can.”

“Of course, Luca.”

Ivanna found it inconvenient that she wasn’t provided any files on the facility’s blueprint, she would to remind Luca.  However she was not above exploration.  Returning to the rec room, Ivanna approached the man flipping through prototaxite holos, “Excuse me, sir.”  

Looking over his shoulder, the man then stood and exclaimed, "Oh, hey.  Oh damn you’re Luca’s robot, you look way better now.  Hell you might even pass for human.  Did they put those cord things in?”

A slit opened on either of Ivanna’s wrists, and thin, metal cords unraveled like winding snakes.  Gracefully they extended to press a button on the man’s remote, flipping to the next prototaxite holo.  “Despite being young growth and not sporulating, this specimen sustained damage from local predators. Specifically Rattus analunus, a species introduced via cargo transports despite current shipping standards, which has inflicted significant damage to local prototaxite ecology.”  Ivanna retracted the whip cords in the blink of an eye, “what is your name?”

“Weylei Morton, theoretical ecologist extraordinaire.  You’re a mighty impressive machine, you ought to know those cables in your arm were my idea though.  I thought they’d be a cool toy, it took half a week of haggling to get Luca to splurge like that.  I mean if I were a robot I'd want to have cool toys, right?  I'd probably want a built in jet pack though to be honest, if I could only choose one."

“Of course.  Where is Luca’s office?” Ivanna gave the eccentric man a cursory smile, but otherwise did not indulge his banter.

“Oh, I suppose you did have a reason for talking to me.  Everybody wants something, nobody likes to talk anymore.  Whatever I guess.  Luca’s office is one sky bridge over, first floor, across from lab three.”

“Thank you Weylei Morton.”  The ecologist waved her off as he feigned insult and returned to his work.

Crossing another sky bridge afforded Ivanna a few moments of solitude.  This was not a crowded facility, there seemed to be ample space for everyone and more.  Ferocious winds whipping about outside seeming less a force of nature and more a work of art in the silence.

Laboratory three was dedicated to studying local genetics, currently occupied by four elderly gentlemen in a heated argument.
The door opposite that automatically hissed open as Ivanna approached, revealing a sparse waiting room with a secretary seated behind a desk.  Without looking up from her scrawling the woman spoke, “Luca is waiting for you.”


Ivanna proceeded into Luca’s office, where he sat behind his desk waiting with a patient smile.  “After five minutes, it dawned on me I hadn’t told you where I keep office.  Nevertheless you’re here now dear, we have important business.”

Luca handed over a data pad to Ivanna, “this should brief you sufficiently.”

“One moment, Luca.”  Ivanna grasped her nape, tugging a wound cord out in front of her to plug into the data pad.  A few moments later the download was complete, “The files are intact.  You wish me to travel to Euprides and locate the Shadowsun; it’s an unregistered stealth frigate.  The vessel fell out of contact a week ago after failing to make its scheduled shipment to Charon Point.  Contents of delivery: wheat germ, carbon nanotubes, butter, Queen B Battleship toys, RESTRICTED.  Luca, what is the cargo?”

“An experimental processor I’ve been waiting years to get my hands on, though my vendor didn’t provide many details.  I can’t be sure of the Shadowsun’s fate, but this can’t be picked up by the authorities.  Ivanna let me be painfully clear; if the Shadowsun was seized by pirates you do not engage them in any way.  Once you find a solid lead, contact me and I’ll see what needs to be done.  I can’t ask my colleagues to indulge my hobbies any longer, and I need this to be discreet.”  Luca wrung his hands, worry etched into his features.  “May the light of Epaphras and Yissa guide you and their winds grant you celerity.”

“I will depart immediately, Luca.”

Last edited by Ivanna. on Tue Dec 09, 2014 12:22 pm; edited 4 times in total
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PostSubject: Re: Alive   Alive I_icon_minitimeThu Aug 14, 2014 1:42 am

Track 3: Days Gone By:

Ivanna left the next morning, spending the rest of her day downloading Charon Point's schematics and meeting the crew.  It was a small facility with only thirty or so scientists studying the mysterious ecology of Eiren.  As she stood on the platform, Ivanna idly considered what her role in it all would be upon returning.  She stepped on the deserted maglev, and watched as Charon point retreated until the desert finally swallowed it up.

The planet galloped past the window.  Endless stretches of desert, salt flats, and sharp mountains sprung up and fell away.  Occasionally a flash of indigo would appear as a river or lake passed by, accompanied by the shining white and black buildings of villas owned by the well to do.  

Yet as the maglev raced across Eiren, the sky's violet-blue hue scattered into bands of blood red, luminous oranges, yellows, and patches of emerald light.  The blue sun was setting.  It's bulky elder had risen earlier, but was out shined by its companion.  The vibrant streaks of blue around each river faded to black as the plants accommodated the lighting.  Though one could still see perfectly well, this was when Eiren slept.

An hour later the maglev pulled into the towering complex of rails and glass, the Euphrides Hub.  Debarking the train, Ivanna found herself contemplating the city below.  The other sleepy passengers crawled off the maglev and shuffled past her, but Ivanna stared at the glittering jewel that was the city center.  The graceful towers of Euphrides rose out of the grey wastes like prototaxites in the desert.  Nearly two dozen of them jostled to be at the heart of Eiren's booming commercial sector.

The surrounding city might as well have been sand by comparison.  Stark, grey, industrial buildings stretched out from the center of Euphrides.  This was the skeleton beneath the shining veneer, the dirty places where business got done.

How am I to find one ship in this place?

While she determined several avenues of investigation were possible, Ivanna decided to investigate shipping logs first to see if the Shadowsun popped up.  Taking an elevator down to the surface, she found an automated help desk.  A hologram depicting a woman's face appeared and spoke,

"Welcome to Euphrides.  Where would you like to go?"

"Shipping and receiving of food products."  Suddenly the woman's face dispersed into a list of ports owned by food industries.  After some further sorting Ivanna found the main importer of wheat germ on Eiren to be at an address owned by the Camas Group.

As she boarded the Vacrail that'd take her near the Camas Group, Ivanna noticed nearly a half dozen A.I. on board.  They were in various stages of disrepair, and certainly none of them ever had a SynthSkin fitted.  However they mingled among the crowd of destitute working class.  The chamber smelled of burning fuel and urine.  As they pressed tighter for new passengers, one of them firmly grabbed Ivanna's butt.  A futile gesture for both parties.

Finally released from the crush of humanity, Ivanna began to trot down the blocks to the Camas Group's building.  Here was the heart of the grey waste.  The area was a tangle of residential and industrial sectors, an equal blend of productivity and squalor that left the inner city decadent.  Lumbering freighters floated by overhead, loaded with enough cargo to smash three city blocks should its engines fail.

Alive QWAq8Ak

Ivanna strode into Camas Group with little hesitation, though she doubted her answers lay within.  A smallish man sat at the front desk, addressing Ivanna as she approached, "Welcome to Camas Group, may I he- oh, you're an A.I. aren't you?  I mean…  Nevermind, what do you need?"

"I need to see your shipping and receiving logs for the previous three months."

"I don't think we have to show those to people like you."  As he finished telling Ivanna off, an elderly woman shuffled up to the desk and began to babble to the secretary about fruit pies.  The little man, clearly annoyed, curtly replied "huh" and "interesting" to each confectionery recipe she rattled off.

Ivanna took advantage of his temporary distraction and slipped her data port into the man's computer.  The download took mere moments, as she knew what to look for.  Seconds later Ivanna was trotting out the door.

In the Camas Group's depleted parking lot, Ivanna pondered what she had learned.  The Shadowsun made its first three drops of wheat germ, butter, and battleship toys, yet never made it to the last two addresses.  The Camas Group, having gotten their money and wheat germ, never investigated.

Indeed, all of the items Luca mentioned had been documented at Camas Group.  A short list of third parties apparently paid them to ship goods in across the stars, Luca's processor being one of them.  While Luca's file listed the processor as restricted, this one documented it as such though noted it as redirected to one "Alex R."

Peculiar.  Is this Alex R. an alias, or did Luca not purchase the processor?  Why was the package redirected?  Where did the ship itself go?  Ivanna's mind whirred with question after question.

The door behind Ivanna hissed open, and she saw the old woman shambling out of Camas Group.  She gave Ivanna a thumbs up and a toothless grin as she climbed into a sleek, red vehicle and sped away.

Last edited by Ivanna. on Mon Dec 08, 2014 7:08 pm; edited 4 times in total
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PostSubject: Re: Alive   Alive I_icon_minitimeThu Aug 14, 2014 8:14 pm

Track 4:

With no lead on Alex's identity, or the location of the Shadowsun, Ivanna found herself idly wandering through the outskirts of Euphrides.  Schools, markets, and neighborhoods subsisted here, in the shadow of tireless, heaving foundries.  Burnt out signs flickered dimly in the smoggy air, casting a rainbow corona above the street.  Ivanna was about to descend into the vactrain tunnel when a sign caught her eye, "Droid Café".  


Stepping through the door, Ivanna found a lobby with an older model of A.I. behind the counter.  "Welcome!  We don't get many androids in here, you look good."

"It is recent work."

"I can tell!  May I interest you in a monthly, yearly, decade, or lifer  package?"

"Elaborate, please?"

"Oh you're new here, that's just fine!  I can explain our packages and different suite levels if you want."

"I think you are mistaken, I was under the impression this establishment offered wired access to the net?"

"Oh yes of course, but most A.I. can't afford actual housing so we also act as a boarding house.  We supply each unit with a closet and a wired connection, and typically they'll stay long term.  For more credits you can upgrade compartment size or connection speed."

"Can I not just use it for a few minutes?"

"Sure.  I'd charge you the full monthly rate though, which is 500 credits."

"Of course."  Ivanna hooked her jack into the cashier's register and prayed Luca had transferred enough funds to her account.  A moment later the machine clicked and she removed the cord, the proud new owner of a month's closet space.

"It's room 1,324, take the elevator down."

After a fifteen minute trek, Ivanna found herself standing before an austere metal door with a naked light bulb above it.  The number 1,324 was painted on it.  With barely enough room to stand straight, Ivanna crammed herself into the closet and hooked herself up.

A search on "Shadowsun" yielded nothing but various roleplaying forums and cosplay.  Nonplussed, Ivanna searched for "Alex R.", the search immediately redirected to one "Alexander Ro."  He was the CEO of the company responsible for inventing the first heuristic processor, and subsequently the first true artificial intelligence.  His company, Absolute Dynamic, is also responsible for the manufacture and retail sale of A.I. units.  The scope of his operation was staggering.  Ivanna recorded a commercial address in the city center, but she couldn't find one for his personal residence.

Somewhere in the bowels of the city beneath a machine began to grind and churn, sending rapid tremors through Ivanna's closet.  She disconnected from the jack and slid out of the cramped quarters into the shadowy hall, more than ready to abandon her accommodations.

 As she waited for the elevator, Ivanna contemplated what this new information could mean.  If Alexander Ro was a rich CEO, why would he steal this processor?  Or perhaps Ivanna herself was here to steal the processor?  The lift dinged and the A.I. stepped into the lonely compartment.

Street level was a relatively welcome breath of fresh air, though the whole of Euphrides felt dirty and cramped thus far.  She stepped through the press of graveyard shift   On the horizon the skyscrapers of the commercial district gleamed, beckoning to Ivanna and her questions.

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PostSubject: Re: Alive   Alive I_icon_minitimeFri Aug 15, 2014 8:08 pm

Alive 640x354_5979_Endless_Streets_2d_sci_fi_cyberpunk_city_picture_image_digital_art_zps395e19e3

Predators are the same, regardless of who and where they end up hunting.  The tension that builds in the air while on the approach, is the fuel that drives the beast.  The forest lay in still regard of the apex predator, and so too did the city for the car silently gliding down the street.  The crowd melted into the woodwork, and before too long it seemed as though Ivanna was the only remaining civilian.  
Interrupted from her musings of the city center, Ivanna furtively looked up and down the street before attempting to cross.  She understood the sudden gravity of the situation if not its exact nature, and wanted to get to the vactrain as quickly as possible.  The approaching car could not possibly be after Ivanna, but she felt there to be a strong possibility of collateral damage.

Someone squeezed Ivanna's arm from behind, and she turned to find a panic stricken woman.  She wore only a night dress and was clearly in a state of dishevelment, "have you seen my son?  Please they're going to shoot!  I need my son!"  The woman called out her son's name, but Ivanna never heard it as her voice was drowned in a storm of bullets.

The air cracked again and again, like a thousand peels of thunder.  The other shooters emerged from the rooftops and second story windows, some hiding behind dumpsters or defunct machinery.  Yet only a few of the shots tore through the car, a majority ricocheted off wildly.  The car returned fire in full, rifle tips poking through windows and the sun roof.

Ivanna spotted him cowering in the scoop of a bulldozer.  The boy couldn't have been more than eleven, and his leg was bleeding from a stray bullet.  Turning to the woman, now crouching behind a stack of bricks with her hands clapsed to her ears, Ivanna spoke, "I see your son."  The distraught mother made no indication that she'd heard Ivanna.  A small explosion pierced the air somewhere across the street as someone from the car launched a RPG. Ivanna knew this was getting far too dangerous for humans, so she made for the boy.

Everything after that happened in the blink of an eye.  The terrified child saw Ivanna running toward him, and scrambled out of the scoop.  He was limping badly, but the panic of battle had set in and the instinct of flight overrode everything else.  Metal cords whipped out from Ivanna's wrists, snaking to wrestle the boy prone.  Her efforts were futile.  Ivanna heard each sickening thud as the bullets tore through his body.  One.  Two.  Three.

She heard his mother screaming even over the hailstorm of metal, it was a feral, alien screech.  One.  She crashed by Ivanna, almost knocking the A.I. off balance.  Two.  The woman grabbed her son and clutched him to her like a rag doll.  Her sobs mingled with cries of pain, but she paid no heed to the stream of blood soaking her clothing.  Three.  Four.  Five.  

Ivanna stared at the pair of corpses, still as a statue.  "I am sorry."

One.  Two.  Three. Ivanna heard each impact tear through her as the world went black.

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PostSubject: Re: Alive   Alive I_icon_minitimeSun Aug 17, 2014 7:12 pm

Track 5: Consoler of the Lonely:

Ivanna always felt strange when observing her.  She looked fragile floating alone in her warm incubator.  Simply drifting, like a jellyfish sailing the vast oceans, she slept.  Despite this Ivanna knew she was dangerous, more dangerous than anything she had ever conceived before.  Now she was part of it.  Whatever was to come, this was her doing.  A faint whisper, "you will awaken to find yourself an engine of destruction, and you will awaken to find yourself alone.  This terrible burden is one you will carry to your grave, poor child."

System restarting…
Power core at 37% capacity...
Checking Systems...
Local Drives uncompromised...
Locomotive systems active...
Sensory nodules active...
Auxiliary systems: 25/30 active
System damages: 0 active

The lights overhead blinded Ivanna as she opened her eyes.  She lay upon a metal operating table of sorts, hands tied down.  Her belly was split open, SynthSkin peeled back.  Three bullets sat on a tableside tray, along with several bolts and Ivanna's stomach paneling.  A man in coveralls seemed to be washing his hands with his back turned.  Ivanna spoke up, "query: are you operating on me?"

He didn't turn around as he replied, "It's not surgery if it isn't alive, but yeah basically.  At the time I wasn't sure if I wanted to use you for scrap or fix you up for resale."  The mechanic faced Ivanna now.  His teeth and hair were a burnt orange color, and his skin was calloused and dry.  Overall the little man looked as if he'd spent too much time in an oven.  He approached and Ivanna discovered his scent of burning oil and peanut butter, though that didn't phase Ivanna like the manic smile plastered across his face.  As far as she had calculated, there was nothing positive about this situation.

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Ivanna spoke calmly, "At the time?"

The mechanic leaned over Ivanna, gripping her chin and examining either side of her face.  "Well yes.  You're quite the pretty one, it would be a tragedy to rip you up for parts.  Thankfully there was minimal damage, one of the bullets lodged in a thermal sensor and the other only broke your power supply's cable.  Got lucky with the third shot, must have hit the same cable and just rattled around."  He let go of Ivanna and began reassembling her stomach as he continued, "the real shame is that your creator didn't outfit you with sex organs, I've been dying to get my hands on one.  Way too expensive to make though, I'm just an opportunist."  The pride in his voice was only matched by his cigarette breath.

"So what is it you intend to do with me?"  Ivanna stared blankly into the man's watery eyes.

"Take you to the city center of course!  Those CEOs love sexy android assistants, and you'll come at half the cost of making one!"  He guffawed at his cleverness, returning the last screw.  He spent the next few moments globbing tacky to seal Ivanna's SynthSkin.  His fingers left a coating of grease wherever they touched her body.  "That should fix you right up good as new.  Now you stay right there gorgeous, papa Jory has some calls to make!"

"Might I suggest Absolute Dynamic?"

"Whatever doll face, all the same to me if they pay up."  The man danced out of the room, singing to himself.

Ivanna opted to wait for news from Mr.Jory before making a decision on escaping or not.  Ivanna's wrist cords snaked out, coiling around the handle of a chemical saw.  The blade bit deep into the metal of Ivanna's restraints as she tried to free herself.

A few minutes later Jory returned to see Ivanna standing next to her bedside, chemical saw in hand.  The squat mechanic shouted, "what the hell were you doing with my tools!  Those are delicate instruments, and you're breaking my hand cuffs!"

"My sincerest apologies.  Query: are hand cuffs standard issue for mechanics as well as law enforcement?"

"No they're for, I mean...  Whatever, I'm supposed to take you to that stupid company in six hours to meet some fat cats.  They go rabid for secretaries that can do calculus in their head, and don't turn into ice queens like their wives.  Oh I'm titillating.  There's orange juice in the fridge, if I pass out force some down my throat.  Blood sugar."


Jory tottered around for another ten minutes or so as he gathered up his things.  "Hey, why did you suggest that corporation anyway?"

"They are a successful business, I calculated that there was a high chance they would hire new employees."  Ivanna lied.  It occurred to her that she had never lied before.  The fractured memories that lurked just beneath her conscious mind suggested otherwise though.

Jory reappeared, dressed in half a dozen layers of clothing and a stuffed duffel bag in hand.  "That's awfully considerate of you to say in the face of corporate slavery.  I'm glad you're so positive about this situation.  Anyway, I'm ready to go.  You ready?"

"I only have what you acquired as you dragged my body off the street."

"Yeah I looked.  I was just trying to be nice though."  Jory opened the front door and walked out to the street.  Ivanna followed.  "Now no running off now, I'm a lot faster than I look you hear?"  

"Of course."  Ivanna walked beside him, hands clasped behind her back.

"I just want to say, I love how easy you're making this.  Anyway, onward!"  Jory and Ivanna descended the stairs to the vactrains, on to the heart of Euphrides.

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PostSubject: Re: Alive   Alive I_icon_minitimeMon Sep 01, 2014 12:54 am

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Track 6:Viper Den:

Ivanna emerged from the Vactrains below to find herself in the gleaming city center.  It's many spires stood like blazing torches beneath the light of Batet's blue eye.  Jory's eyes twitched as he emerged from the soft lit underground, huffing along his mysterious duffle bag.  Jory spoke up as they tread down the Main Street thoroughfare under cover of cobalt foliage, "Not too much farther now I think."  Protectively grasping his luggage, the mechanic pushed through the milling black suits.

A diorama ahead projected itself above the boulevard, its graceful letters spelling out "Absolute Dynamic" over the sidewalk.  The building itself was so tall seemed to pierce the vault of heaven, all dark glass and burnished metal.  A pair of armed guards stood at the door, each unobtrusively stationed by electric blue shrubbery.  They eyed Jory suspiciously as he waddled up and fumbled for his I.D.  Brusquely, one took the card and scanned it with a small wrist device, and Ivanna realized these men were in fact A.I.  An affirmative beep and the fidgety mechanic was admitted, with Ivanna in tow.  The security never questioned Jory's duffel.

A domed atrium occupied the ground floor, the only staff being a comely secretary of the fashion Ivanna was intended to be; a small plate informed them of her name, Katrina Telbrant.  She tossed the newcomers a smile and moved her hands under the desk, "Hello and welcome to Absolute Dynamic, how may I help you today?"

"Yeah I'm here to meet with Alex Ro, I have his new secretary!"  He gestured to Ivanna, who stoically observed the exchange.

Katrina pursed her lips as she perused her computer at length, eventually replying, "Ah yes, but I'm afraid you'll be meeting with our HR head, Mr. Pettingale.  Mr. Ro is previously engaged."

"Wait wait wait, hold up doll face.  I need to speak to the big man himself.  This isn't any ordinary A.I. I'm selling you, she's custom."  Jory's voice dripped with implication.  The innuendo was not lost on miss Telbrant as she fired a glare in return, though she did not question him as she returned to her computer.  Ivanna ignored the comment, instead pondering why Jory had lied to attain audience.  She remained silent but concerned for the success of the endeavor.

Katrina cleared her throat as she replied, "As it would be, Mr. Ro is in the building.  If you would be disposed to waiting for a moment?"  She gestured to a row of neatly arranged leather armchairs, which Jory promptly sank into.

Sweat beaded on the mechanics forehead as the minutes slipped into an hour, his feet incessantly tapping the smooth floor.  Ivanna sat adjacent, contemplating the ulterior motives both harbored.  Neither was aware of the other's objective, of that she was certain.  Yet ultimately Ivanna decided to neither acknowledge nor accommodate Jory's antics, as she glanced up at the half dozen autoturrets hanging from the ceiling.

Over an hour had passed, Jory's anxiety ramping up with every moment.  When Katrina finally beckoned them over, he scooped up his duffle and bolted for the elevator.  Ivanna calmly followed, smiling at the secretary as she passed.

They embarked the elevator, and Ivanna watched the world fall away through the glass front.  Higher and higher they ascended until Great Leviathan lay prostrate beneath them, in all its heaving, gritty, industry.  From this height a man would suffocate from lack of air as the atmosphere gradually attenuated.

The casual tone with which Jory now spoke was betrayed by the breathlessness of his delivery, "here we go babe, in the home stretch.  Whatever happens just do as I say, and we will hit the jackpot.  And be sure to show your pretty side for the old boy."

"My features are symmetrical," replied a bemused Ivanna.

"Yeah whatever, just follow me lead and keep quiet.  Remember your place."  Ivanna's silent nod was all the acquiescence he needed.

A ding heralded their arrival- floor 275.  The circular lobby they found themselves in was lined with half a dozen wide doors, though a finely dressed attendant beckoned them through one glass walled chamber in particular.  The minimalist room within was occupied only by a polished granite table and holoscreen.

Ivanna stood by the window and watched Batet and Yicara perform their stately dance as they found themselves waiting once more.  Her captor tucked the duffle under the table and took a seat, incessantly tapping his foot 1,387 more times before their hosts finally arrived.

A smallish man in a tailored suit entered, holding tightly onto a datapad.  A pair of sharp eyes took in Jory and Ivanna within moments, and he pushed his spectacles up as he wrinkled his nose at some imagined smell.  

He was followed by a taller man, this one all angles and clout.  Neatly cut black hair and goatee framed his face, notably the conspiratory smile on it. A white suit clung tightly to his figure, and he seemed to move like water as he approached Jory and shook his hand. The mechanic took the proffered limb without standing.

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Nonplussed, he claimed a seat next to Jory and was soon followed by his assistant.  Ivanna detected a calm and measured power behind his words, "I am Alexander Ro, and my associate here is Mr.Pettingale.  To whom do we have the pleasure?"

"Jory.  Let's get down to business yeah?"

"In a moment Sir Jory, Mr.Pettingale is mustering the necessary documentation."  Mr. Ro's rebuke was delivered off handedly, as he stood and moved to Ivanna.  The dismissal was not lost on one red faced Jory.

When he grasped Ivanna's delicate hand in his, she became keenly aware that this man was her progenitor.  If her research was correct, this man designed the original A.I. processors.  She noted a restless intelligence in his dark eyes as they seemed to peer into her, as if he could see each circuit and gear that had sprung from his hand.  

When Mr. Ro asked for her name and ID, Ivanna felt compelled to answer in the immediate, "My name is Ivanna and my unit ID is SL172913."  Mr.Pettingale bobbed and nodded silently.

Mr.Ro waited a moment before his HR director handed him a note, the contents of which caused the CEO to fall silent as he considered.  Jory's agitation only seemed to cause him to mull the secret message longer, sucking on his lower lip in apparent deep thought.  

Finally he affixed Jory with a severe gaze, "I can give you 250,000 credits for Ivanna."

This did not sit well with the mechanic.  "I was thinking something more like a million," he spat back.

"200,000."  Mr.Ro was immovably composed.

Ivanna silently observed as the men haggled over her.  Yet she felt no slight at being so objectified and quantified, in fact she was pleased with how well her plan was progressing.  The mechanic however was becoming flustered by the negotiations, though he had not yet resorted to anything other than swallowing his tongue.

After Mr.Ro flatly denied Jory's latest offering, the pudgy mechanic slammed his fists on the table and roughly kicked the duffle out from under the table.  "Open it," his surreptitious tone alerted Ivanna.

Casually the CEO unzipped the bulging bag, revealing enough plastic explosive to annihilate the top 100 floors of Absolute Dynamic.  Jory began to shout red face, "I will not be given the run around by you bloated corporate pigs.  I tried to be nice about it, but now you're going to give me my million or you die."  He produced a sleek little detonator and held it aloft menacingly.

"No."  Mr.Ro displayed an unsettling tranquility in the face of his demise.  Jory screamed and  squished the detonator in his hands, but the expected fire and brimstone failed to rain down upon them.  Jory's eyes widened as his confusion turned to panic.

Ivanna held no allegiance toward Jory, for not only was he superficial to her objective but boorish as well.  The sweaty, round man in front of her was an inconsequential distraction now.  So as Mr. Ro now spoke, Ivanna found herself snapping into action.

His voice washed over her like a warm wind, and she found his imperious command to be irresistable, "Ivanna dear, dispatch the trash picker now.  I tire of his perfidy."

Jory howled as Ivanna's cords coiled around his wrists, outraged by her betrayal.  "You bitch, I'm going to scrap your ass when we get back."  He tugged hard at his restraints, jerking free from the constricting wires before they were too tight.

Another shriek, but of pain this time, as Ivanna reprimanded his resistance with a lash across the face.  The flailing mechanic stumbled over his chair as a red gout spurted from his eye.  Ivanna's whip cords tried restraining his hands again, but the brute jerked and writhed too violently.

He charged, knocking Ivanna into the holoscreen and tumbling to the floor with her.  His stale cigarette breath mingled with the blood dripping onto Ivanna, and flecks of spittle peppered her as he howled triumphantly.  He slammed his fist down like a hammer, but Ivanna squirmed to the side and his meaty hand bloodied on the hard floor.

Like two snakes, her cords slithered up Jory's arms and snapped at his eyes again.  Ivanna slid out from underneath him and stood up in one graceful motion, sending another barrage of stinging metal his way.

The bloodied mechanic stood up and barreled toward Ivanna again.  She was prepared this time, and side stepped his blind advance.  His heavy thud left spider webs on the glass window, but he refused to go down.

Ivanna cautiously jumped  out of Jory's reach, laying into his tender skin with her stinging lashes.  She knew he was trapped with nowhere to go, now that he'd revealed his hand and failed.  Yet he was a dangerous opponent still, for what he lacked in coordination or martial prowess he compensated with bulk and blind fury.

So they dance around the meeting room, Ivanna bobbing and weaving through the heavy chairs.  As she got behind each, she would send it tumbling toward her blind adversary.  She wore him down like this, flaying the man's unprotected face with abandon as he stumbled over the battery of furniture.

At last they came full circle, as Ivanna nimbly twirled away from a flooring blow.  Jory's face was shredded from the many steel kisses the AI had bestowed upon him, but these wounds were superficial.  Ivanna entered her end game.

One of her cords wrapped itself around the heavy table's leg, while the other lashed out at the cracked glass.  Jory, thinking she aimed for him, tumbled to avoid the blow.  Yet she struck not at the scrambling mechanic, but once more at the glass, and then again.

The window shattered, immediately sucking the regulated atmosphere from the room.  Jory slid to the edge, leaving bloodied claw marks on the ground.  He gripped the glass, which cut deeply into his hands.  He did not notice though, as he stared up at Ivanna's stony face.

Ivanna saw it then, the shift in his red eyes. She had stripped away this man's greedy ambitions layer by layer like his flayed skin. No longer was he fighting for money, or fame, or comforts.  Now death knocked softly, and there was only primal fear.

Tethered to the table so, Ivanna blew in the wind like a doll.  Yet she slowly extended her leash, to come to stand before her captor Jory.  She gazed down at him, perhaps with the same imperious eyes of Mr.Ro, as she spoke her final words to him, "remember your place."

She crushed his hand, and Jory fell.  He fell like a meteor blazing through the pink streaked sky, finally emitting an unearthly scream as he vanished into the clouds.

Ivanna never noticed Alex watching from outside the meeting room, nor his smile.

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PostSubject: Re: Alive   Alive I_icon_minitimeMon Sep 01, 2014 2:15 pm

Track 7:

Ivanna struggled against the violent suction, wrapping both of her wrist cords around the heavy table's legs.  She reeled herself in bit by bit, hair and jacket whipping around in a frenzy.  The vents above continually cycled sterilized air into the room, preventing normalization as the greedy atmosphere sucked it right out.

Outside the meeting room, Mr.Ro pantomimed a short conversation with Mr.Pettingale, who subsequently made a phone call and disappeared into the lift.  Mr.Ro continued to watch Ivanna with keen eyes from behind the safety of the glass wall.

Delicate veins appeared on the glass at length, snaking toward the gaping breach.  Gradually the shattered window repaired itself, and relief washed over Ivanna as the air normalized.  

Mr.Ro stepped back in all smiles and calm, "it's a shame we could never get its match its durability to actual glass, but I suppose it comes in handy now and then."  He set one of the toppled chairs upright and claimed it as his own, motioning for Ivanna to join him.

As she composed herself and took a seat, Ivanna spoke, "certainly.  Excuse the query, but why did Jory's device fail to detonate?"

An excited light flared in Mr.Ro's eyes, surprising Ivanna with his sudden animation, "oh yes!  We cycle chemical dampers through the vents, it prevents most of the electrochemical reactions we use for weaponry nowadays."  He took a pensive look, stroking his fine trimmed beard, "though I suppose with the proper knowledge you could bypass it, but Jory was quite clearly ignorant."

He continued his enthusiastic monologue, "We scan everybody who comes through, so we knew what he was up to from the get go.  It took a while for the damping agents to seep into his bag though, so we made you wait.  Quite ingenious, yeah?"

Ivanna felt exposed as she realized just how prepared this man was, and her fears were confirmed at his next words, "that mechanic was nothing more than a common rogue, but what really interests me are your ulterior motives."  His animation seemed to fade as he adopted a serious tone, "naturally we accessed your heuristic processor, and lo and behold you belong to my old friend Luca."

"That is correct."  Ivanna found no recourse but the complete, honest truth.  Mr.Ro held every advantage.

"He could have just called, but he's ever so distrusting.  Always one for the cloak and dagger, even though you wouldn't know it at first.  I take it, then, that you are here about his missing processor?"

"That is correct."

"Indeed, the shipment should have arrived a while ago had I not recalled it.  We're having a few internal issues that are being resolved."  Outside the room, the lift opened and Mr.Pettingale scurried toward them with a metallic briefcase.  Once rejoined with his boss, the HR director opened his charge to reveal a sleek heuristic processor the size of Ivanna's hand.

"This illicit device is what your master purchased from us."

Ivanna was fascinated by the small machine, particularly regarding its size and legality.  Her records indicated that the largest existing heuristic processor was nearly ten times this size.  This was her objective laid out before her, just within reach.  She spoke with hesitation, "May I inquire as to the internal problems that caused this recall?"

"Of course, no secrets between friends.  One of our engineers falsified his report, claiming we could reduce overheating and costs by over half by slashing the Tevaret used in half."  He reached for the processor, twisting a minute dial until he pulled forth a tube of shimmering dust from the device.  "Well needless we discovered the fraud after shipping it out, and have since disposed of the employee."

"I do not understand the problem then."  Ivanna did not appreciate the man's verbosity.

He bristled and retorted, "patience, I'm getting there!  The rest of our project's tevaret stocks, the one our good friend said we would not need, was sold off to recuperate expenses to a pirate queen named Lady Rose.  The engineer did not think we'd miss the excess dust, but we've definitively proved it's necessity now.  We need our dust back, and no man nor beast in the universe takes what is mine."

Something dangerous smoldered in his eyes, but Ivanna was nonplussed at this sudden shift in demeanor as she replied, "Does Lady Rose not legally own the surplus?"

"In Analuna, the law is just a suggestion."

"Very well. Is there any way I can be of service to this endeavor? I would prefer to acquire the processor as soon as possible and conclude our business, Mr.Ro."  

"I think we've got it pretty well handled. We're finishing up the recruitment of a strike force to annihilate Lady Rose.  After that we locate her headquarters and crush the gutter dwelling bitch."

"Then I will join you."

"While watching you ravage the mechanic was impressive, I have seen your specifications.  You are not equipped for combat."

"I have a task to perform and I will see its end personally and in totality. If combat is an inevitability, I will stay with the ship"  Mr.Ro's eyebrows arched at the firmness of Ivanna's tone.

"Admirable.  We depart in three days.  Meet the team at 81345 Agrestic Blvd for briefing at 0600. You will stay out of our way, and if you are late we leave without you. I won't supply you with weapons, I never give away firepower to people not on payroll."  Ivanna nodded, which was all the assent Mr.Ro required.

He signaled to the hovering Mr.Pettingale, who furnished the CEO with his datapad.  "I'm transferring some funds into your account to get you by, consider it payment for services rendered today.  Mr.Pettingale will see you out now."  Mr.Ro's sudden dismissal caused his HR Director to spring up and open the door, motioning for Ivanna.

Ivanna contemplated the situation on the elevator, as Euphrides gradually rose up to meet them.  She was one step closer to returning to Luca with his prize, though knowing the task ahead she felt more distant than ever.

A quiet ping sounded, and Ivanna stepped off the elevator with a wave from Mr.Pettingale.  Ivanna gave a cursory nod to Katrina as she spoke, "have a good day now miss."  She walked out of Absolute Dynamic one person light, but all the better for it.

On the boulevard, Ivanna saw the crumpled remains of Jory.  Passerby gave the mysterious carnage and the pool of blood around it a wide berth.  Yet nobody made to remove the twisted fat and flesh and bone.

Ivanna's eyes widened as the stench of baking meat reached her nose.  A cascade of emotions enveloped her as incomprehensible memory fragments surged forth.  

Crackling electricity.  Impenetrable darkness.  Buried beneath the loam.  The air is hot, still, and silent as she treads amongst the fallen.  She lived only by the will of the Iron Master.  Someone cried somewhere.  What have they done?

Listen- I can hear their every thought.

It took great effort to remind Ivanna of her surroundings as she became lost in the swell of foreign memories.  She replayed the death of Jory, the deal with Alex, and the descent to street level, culimating in the discovery of the mechanic laying in his spreading crimson pool.

Ivanna suddenly realized the enormity of her actions.  Still awash in alien thoughts, she struggled with the acceptance of this.  What had she just done?  Had he been so truly evil as to deserve such sudden silence?  For the first time, as Ivanna slipped into the stream of humanity, she felt remorse.

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PostSubject: Re: Alive   Alive I_icon_minitimeThu Dec 04, 2014 10:28 pm

Track 8:

A heaviness followed Ivanna as she emerged from the crowded Vactrain.  A flood of hot, blue collars swept by her, stinking of acrid smoke and eager to be home.  She floated as driftwood, letting the press of bodies carry her until its dispersal.

Standing in the street, Ivanna stared at the busted sign of the Droid Café, where she currently kept "quarters".  She did not want to return to the cramped closet, but struggled to supply a rationale.  The turmoil of her revelation clung to her like a sticky resin.  Ivanna felt indecisiveness gnawing away at her each moment she failed to find consensus.

She spotted the bulldozer still parked in an ally.  Another alien sensation surged forth as she saw the dark crimson stain next to the bucket.  One day the rains would sweep across this city, and purge the dark corners of Euphrides.  What then, would remain of the anonymous boy and his mother?  Would they be lost to memory, two among countless souls who slipped beneath the waves?  What would become of Jory?

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Each pointed question felt like a needle being driven into Ivanna's mind.  Death.  A concept so ultimate was lost on Ivanna before today.  She ached at the dissension inside her mind.  Were her actions correct?  Ivanna could not reach a consensus.

Standing over the scene, she noticed a small toy in the bulldozer's scoop.  It was a small model space ship, one you could buy at any modern toy store for a few dollars.  The bridge was already broken off, but Ivanna clutched at the ship as if it were made of glass.  This was the last remnant of that nameless boy, now it carried every hope, every dream, and every grim faced lesson he could have learned,  

Though she did not breathe, Ivanna felt like she was choking.  '

She pocketed the memento and returned to the Vactrain, this was the last place she wanted to be.

Ivanna wanted to speak with Luca, but knew he would forbid her from joining Alex's mercenaries in the days to come.  And what would he think of her actions?  She remembered his sad, kind eyes and felt the same alien sensations of guilt wash over her.  She was refitted at Luca's behest, and one of her first actions was to take somebody's life.  Ivanna decided this display of ingratitude warranted further avoidance, at least until more time had passed.

She was returned to reality by the pinging of the Vactrains arriving at the next station.  With no destination in mind, Ivanna left and emerged into an upscale commercial district outside the city's center.  Climbing the steps up, she happened upon a pleasant park occupied by an open air novelty market.   Sunny houses lined the streets, but the halcyon scene was lost on an Ivanna  immersed in her own thoughts.

Perching on a bench, Ivanna steered her mind toward occupying herself for two full days.  She quickly determined the surroundings to be too public to her liking.  Ivanna needed to be alone.

She sought accommodations more suitable than the droid café.  After consulting a directory, Ivanna made her way to Burnum's, an upscale hotel four blocks away.

The establishment was done in an old fashioned Roshoqan style, an architectural style which Ivanna found eerily familiar.  The doors hissed open, revealing a sumptuous lobby of chandeliers and ferns and plush leather chairs.  Ivanna approached the desk, which had a sign that read "No A.I. allowed.  You don't sleep, you don't stay".  She spoke to the registrar, "I need a room for two nights, please."

The bored receptionist barely glanced up as she began firing off on her keyboard, firing off questions about reservations and charging her half again as more for the impromptu booking.  She handed over her card, and the receptionist rattled off Ivanna's information.  Oddly Ivanna was listed as a human of Eirenian descent.  The AI couldn't determine whether this girl was flouting the rules or truly ignorant, she did not care either way.

The receptionist cleared Ivanna's ID and authorized it to access room 943.  Without another word, she ascended the elevator to her new quarters.  Once in her room she lay down on the bed and powered down, welcoming the embrace of nonexistence.

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PostSubject: Re: Alive   Alive I_icon_minitimeFri Dec 05, 2014 2:11 am

0000, six hours before Ivanna was to meet Alexander Ro again.  As forty hours had passed, yet the pangs of guilt and regret continued to gnaw with abandon.

A doubt wriggled into mind as she stared up at the pearly paneled ceiling.  If the required component for Luca's processor truly was in the hands of this pirate, Ivanna determined a high probability of a fire fight.  Alex was correct, Ivanna had little experience in the ways of combat.  Ivanna was uncertain as to whether she could bring herself to kill again now she had come to grips with the idea of death.

She recalled Luca's words of warning.  So why then had she so recklessly inserted herself into this endeavor?  There lingered a mysterious idea that Ivanna had stumbled far from her intended path.  A comm terminal sat on the desk not ten feet away, yet Ivanna did not rise to make the call.  A stillness kept her on the bed as time slipped away.

The first sun had risen by the time Ivanna sat up, sliding off the bed and observing her accommodations for the first time.  Besides the luxurious bed (lost upon Ivanna to be honest), she noted a wall mounted holoscreen and the fully functional net terminal on the desk.  Ivanna turned on the holoscreen to a new channel as she moved beyond the sitting room to the bathroom.

Furnishings like toilets were strictly novelties to Ivanna, relegated to clinical definitions and vocabulary tucked away in her mind.  Ivanna glanced around to the overhead shower and the curious rack of bottled elixirs on the wall.  She caught something in the corner of her eye.

The woman that stared into Ivanna's eyes was strange.  Messy, platinum hair was streaked with filth and shards of glass.  Similar splashes of grime appeared on the rest of her slender body.  Her tan slacks were ripped at the knee, and she discovered three inconspicuous holes in her simple black top.  She had not cleaned or maintained herself since arriving in Euphrides.

The two eyes that gazed back from the mirror seemed to belong to someone else.  Nowhere was the anguish, the confusion, or the disharmony.  It was not the fractured individual she had come to understand, but a visage of beguiling calm.

Ivanna stripped down and showered, finding small comfort in discovering a use for bathrooms.  She rinsed away the sins of Euphrides, finding safety from the chaos and uncertainty outside in what small sanctuary she could afford.

The shower's air dryer's kicked in as Ivanna shut off the water, and a moment later Ivanna walked into her living area to an agitated news anchor spouting details about the latest Kanaaji raid in Pataevum.

Powering up the net terminal, her query quickly yielded the results she needed.  A small strip small in New Abrava, a large neighborhood in the northern part of the capital.  Adorning her tattered clothing, Ivanna checked out of the hotel and was beset once more by the pulsing, chaotic tempo of Euphrides.

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Yicara hung heavy in the sky, casting its gloom over the capital as it rose in front of its sister sun.  The air was thick and humid though the day had just started.  

As Ivanna walked through the open air market, she discovered a stall beautifully decked with handspun clothing.  Exotic hues of blues and greens mingled with vibrant oranges and reds, drawing the eye toward the stall as if it were a strutting peacock.  The beautiful stall was tended by a toothless woman whose leathery skin had seen many decades of the Eirenian suns.  She frowned disapprovingly at Ivanna's tattered, simple clothing, wordlessly herding her deeper into her forest of silk.

A gauntlet of clothing followed, as the stumpy woman extracted nearly a dozen  pieces.  But Ivanna was entranced by a blue and gold tunic.  It reminded her of the glowing deserts and endless skies around Charon Point.  A home she had known only briefly.

Yet considering the task looming ahead, Ivanna settled for a plain tee and cargo pants.  The elderly woman stared balefully back as she took Ivanna's card, not understanding the likelihood of her masterwork being ruined in the hours to come.

Ivanna eased the shopkeeper's severe look by reassuring her she'd be back to purchase the piece.  After slipping behind a curtain to change, Ivanna took her leave of the stall and made for the Vactrains station.


Upon emerging from the sparse, early morning crowds in the Vactrain, Ivanna noted they only existed in two states: full or empty.  For once she had enjoyed the silent passage to the outer reaches of the Euphrides industrial ring.

From her previous inquiries, Ivanna had learned that the most sound way to procure what she needed was in the damp recesses of Euphrides, where the law was a simply suggestion.

Several blocks from the Vactrain tunnel, Ivanna found the proprietorship tucked away in a grungy strip mall.  Bob's Sporting Emporium.  Ivanna entered to the smell of cigarette smoke.

The store was crammed with wilderness miscellany, ranging from high tech exo-planetary survival gear to children's tents.  Regardless of the store's contents, Ivanna had to weave her way through it to reach the counter.  

A wiry man in a baseball cap was taking inventory, a cigarette burning in one hand.  He looked up, "Hey there ma'am, what can I do you for?"  Either he didn't know Ivanna was an AI, or he didn't care.  Her net queries and the smile on his face suggested the latter.

Selling firearms to A.I. on Eiren was illegal, but many stores ran shadier operations that managed to sling a few guns under the radar when business slowed down.  Business at Bob's Sporting Emporium was slow.

"I would like to purchase an Argus E-21, and three boxes of the appropriate electrochemical munitions."

"Sure thing."  He didn't waste a second taking Ivanna's credits and handing over the weighty hand gun.  Bob gave a cheerful farewell as Ivanna tucked her goods into a sack and navigated the maze back out.

Owning a firearm posed a dilemma to Ivanna.  Her logical mind could not walk into battle unarmed, but another voice urged against the path of violence.  How much damage had she inflicted already?  Less than the pirates surely.  But did that justify more violence?  Ivanna remained uncertain, but she wouldn't risk additional damage or capture because she was unarmed.

Memories of lightning and ensuing darkness danced just outside coherency's reach.  Having abandoned attributing meaning to these fuzzy events, Ivanna could only think of Jory's heavy specter on her shoulders as she tucked the firearm away.  This melancholia persisted as Ivanna made her way toward 81345 Agrestic Boulevard.

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PostSubject: Re: Alive   Alive I_icon_minitimeWed Dec 10, 2014 11:56 pm

The character progression for Ivanna is eerie to say the least. As a reader I felt comfortable perceiving A.I. as cold and calculated, devoid of humanity. It was safe for me me to think of her in this way, fitting her into a neat little box. The entire subject of artificial intelligence 'feeling' anything is loaded and controversial. Any possibility that a heuristic processor could give them the capacity to feel emotion is uncomfortable for us as humans because it proves just how little we understand about our own emotions. Programming emotion into a machine strips us of that mystery, or just dilutes it.

For Ivanna, experiencing the emotion of remorse isn't just something she cannot compute, I suspect it will grow into a much larger exploration of these concepts and possibly become the largest mystery for her. How it will interfere with her ability to perform is my biggest question. Either way, this thread opened a flood gate of thought for me, and for a simple enough story it gives so much, not only about Ivanna but it gives a peek into the cultural landscape of Euphrides. The writing is superb, with a natural flow that never left me bored and was simplistic enough to not feel overwhelmed with fancy words or sentence structure.

I look forward to the next installments, and am achingly curious to discover more about the roots of A.I. creation and Alex Ro.


2 Combat
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A.I. Don't Cry
First Blood
Obedient Little Droid
How To Anger An Idiot
Escaping Sexual Servitude
Stone Cold Bitch

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PostSubject: Re: Alive   Alive I_icon_minitime

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