Portal Breach: The Collision of Worlds :: v.4.0


    Between an AI and a Work Bench

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    Zurg
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    Re: Between an AI and a Work Bench

    Post by Zurg on Mon Mar 19, 2012 8:45 pm

    Now, let's be fair; a human's definition of love compared to a X'rghthu's was not necessarily... the same. But they were close, at least in emotional terms. It depended on who you asked and what race they belonged to, but it was close. Was it close enough for X'ki, however? We'll... see.

    Jo Pistonne wrote:"Because we love each other."
    The AI didn't know why, but it had no choice and looked... away. Not in disgust, but in... pain. It was hard to describe as X'ki's face was not easily readable as the outsider's. Why... Why, oh, why did His Grace have to go and do something so... foolish. Yes, the AI knew that the boy was a loving individual; and yes, the AI knew that the boy had the capacity to love another intimately. But to an outsider? What was wrong with another of their kind... Why this... this woman? She was ignorant of their ways, deaf, and... blind. She would be a hindrance to His Grace, and yet he still pledged himself to her? Why...

    Seeing the ring may have uplifted the outsider's spirits, but it had only sunken the AI's. That ring... It was an outsider custom. Did this mean that... His Grace forsake their ways for hers?

    Perhaps more hurt than the outsider realized, the AI... dimmed. It dimmed, and it sat down to huddle as it buried its head within its arms protectively. "I don't... understand." It spoke up weakly. Curled up closer, the construct's body seemed to fade. "I don't understand why His Grace would repeat his father's footsteps... Even at the risk of breaking his own spirit, he is still as selfless and naive as he was before turning X'ng..." Had the boy learned nothing...?

    And therein lied the answer. X'ki still viewed His Grace, the one the outsider called Zurg, as a boy. A scared, timid, and loving... little boy. And now this boy had gone and assumed a role the AI wasn't sure His Grace could... uphold. Being a ruler was one thing, but a lover...? And a lover who didn't quite understand the subject himself? Why...?

    Something else tickled in the back of the AI's memory banks, something... recent. Lawrence, the robot. Hadn't he stated he loved His Grace, too? But... this was a different love; a love out of friendship and camaraderie. And the woman's...

    With faltering courage X'ki lifted its head up, and it sullenly eyed the ring that the outsider considered to be precious. "So, His Grace made you a bond-promise, did he?" That was the best translation the AI could afford. Standing up now, the AI cast its gaze downwards and off to the side, sighing. "I suppose, then... that His Grace is at last seeking understanding. Like his father and all Graces before him, the boy is finally undergoing... the metamorphosis. I do not know what to think about that." And no, His Grace was not about to pop out of a cocoon with shiny wings and sparkle dust.

    After another moment of quiet contemplation the AI brought its smoldering eyes back unto the outsider's. "No, you are correct. His Grace will not break a promise he has every intention to keep. Because of this, death is not... certain. It is final, but it is not certain." What that meant was a mystery. X'rghthu were cryptic with their ways. But, the fact remains; His Grace was reestablishing his bonds, and where he could not find his people he replaced them with... outsiders. It hurt X'ki to see this, and yet... it was simply to be. Like everyone before the universe, their paths were their own. The AI could not interfere if it respected His Grace in the slightest.

    Still not entirely sure what to make of this, the AI sat back down and let its legs dangle over the edge precariously. It was crushed at all of this. "Oh, X'iita... what have you done...?"


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    Re: Between an AI and a Work Bench

    Post by Jo Pistonne on Mon Mar 19, 2012 9:13 pm

    Jo had honestly been expecting more... derision from X'ki. He didn't look away in disgust, but his emotion was hard to pinpoint -- and it made Jo wonder whether there was something more to all this, to X'ki, to Zurg, to restoring Planet Z, than she originally thought. Her initial suspicion, that X'ki was disappointed, maybe even devastated and hurt, confirmed itself when X'ki's form dimmed and settled on the table, burying his head in his arms. He was confused, and his comments only made Jo feel confused, too.

    "His father's footsteps?" Jo knelt by the table, bracing her arms upon it as she rested her chin upon her arms. "I don't understand, what is it that his father did that he's repeating?" What did that have to do with anything? She thought his father had been a rigid, harsh man. A demanding, but otherwise fair ruler. Was there more to this than what she knew from Zurg? "And what's... X'ng?" Did it mean evil? Was X'ki referring to how Zurg was like before becoming the Evil Emperor? Jo wasn't sure she fully understood what the AI was implying.

    She stuffed the ring down her shirt and nodded. But she wouldn't hide her confusion at what X'ki was saying. "What... metamorphosis is this?" No, Jo didn't think of cocoons and bugs, thank the cosmos, but it sounded like a really important change. Was bonding really that important? She tried to remember what he'd told her about bonds. It was more than just intimacy or marriage, she recalled. Hadn't he said once that there was more than one bond? That there were nine bonds? Oh, she couldn't remember clearly, but she was pretty sure one bond was family, another was the home, another friends, another your other half... was there a bond to your people and society as well? "Does it have anything to do with the... nine bonds?"

    Death was final, but not certain. Another mystery to add to the pile! And here Jo had thought that Zurg was already multi-layered and mysterious. Oh, cosmos, she sure had a long way to go to find out more. X'ki, however, seemed really unlike his previous self and Jo was finding it a bit hard to re-adjust to this changed X'ki. Maybe he wasn't so bad, after all. But she sure knew whose name X'ki was calling out there at the end. "Is... there something I can do to help?"
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    Re: Between an AI and a Work Bench

    Post by Zurg on Mon Mar 19, 2012 9:44 pm

    There was always more to the story than what you saw -- always.

    Upon seeing the outsider's face take up the bulk of the AI's sight, X'ki realized just how... small it was. Compared to all these towering giants, it was starting to feel afraid; if not a bit terrified. It was all alone out here... This was true, wasn't it? Talking about all of this only reaffirmed the AI's worries. There was no one like it around for... well, ever.

    Almost like the ocean's tide coming to sweep upon the shore, X'ki felt crushed and the overwhelming sensation was dizzying. It was alone! Its language, its culture, its values; no one shared them but His Grace! His Grace, who was upon their dying world left to do a job no Grace should do in solitude! Even then, His Grace was but one person! Who could the AI connect to? This... This woman? Look at her! Her mind! Her mind! She could not comprehend their ways and thoughts! Oh, if this was not a fate most cruel and undeserving! Their values, their memories, their very essence; all would be forgotten once His Grace passed! All of them!

    "Hnnghnngh...!" What an outsider may mistake for growling, a X'rghthu would understand what was... sobbing. X'ki, for all its prickly and outright callous worth, was indeed... breaking. This... all of this... It was simply too much, too fast. His Grace on a suicide mission, their ways ending with but one, and their ways being forgotten for... for the outsiders'; all of this was absolutely devastating for the AI and it didn't know what to do. It simply couldn't process right now, let alone answer the mechanic's questions.

    Trembling now, the AI clutched its head and doubled over in sheer agony. "Dead... Dead! We are dead!" His Grace was right! He was right to fall into the throes of revenge and rage! What else could the boy do knowing that his very people no longer existed!? Their very people no longer existed!?

    While just a program mimicking a person long passed, X'ki had yet to reach the conclusion His Grace had. Their people were not dead -- but they were far from here. So very, very... far. The likelihood of seeing them again was... infinitesimal at best. What fate was this, to hear the outsider language? To witness the outsider custom? To live in an outsider world where their traditions were both lost and discarded for the sake of adapting? For the sake of existing?

    ...What purpose was there anymore?

    This... is what His Grace was trying to defeat. This... This... decay. Why hadn't X'ki seen it sooner...

    "No... No, I will not -- I will NOT!" This conversation, this outsider, this world... The AI suddenly shot up into the air, eyes blazing and teeth open and agape with sheer rage. X'ki's body was now a pulsating red, the data lines starting to corrupt and whittle away. "X'kthuluukmami!" It screeched, it howled. "X'sa x'uughj, X'kthuluukmami! X'sa x'uughj!"

    But as if to prove its fears, the outsider... would not be able to comprehend. Indeed, X'ki's language was lost and the AI just could not cope with the fact that... their ways were dying. They were dying. Even though they cherished the natural cycle of the universe, this... was not fair. It simply wasn't fair! Why did the lesser species get to enjoy their meaningless, lost existences while theirs were wiped clean from all records? Why? WHY!? Unable to cope and contain its malfunctioning any longer, the AI... snapped.

    "X'GHRIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII!"
    In a deafening shriek the AI made use of both vocal chords, the true X'rghthu tongue not meant for ears and oxygen-rich atmospheres. Here the shriek was strong enough to break glass, several of the mechanic's weaker constructs shattering with little to no effort. Jo, herself, would be compelled to cover her ears lest she wanted them to bleed from the AI's apparent meltdown.

    Dead, dead! They were dead!

    In one last act of defiance, X'ki's body erupted into a plume of code and the metal pieces zipped back together. No! No, it would not stay here! Anywhere but here! It had to go, it had to flee. It had to get far away from here and understand! It had to go before it became X'ng!

    Not waiting a second longer, the construct darted around the shop's lobby erratically once and zoomed out through an opening in a shattered window. If the mechanic was seeking answers, she would be disappointed. X'ki was gone.

    Gone to experience the decay -- organic and machine -- that cursed Portal Breach.


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    In unity, before the Nine, I softly speak in #669999.
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    Jo Pistonne
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    Re: Between an AI and a Work Bench

    Post by Jo Pistonne on Mon Mar 19, 2012 10:25 pm

    If Jo were expecting answers to her questions, think again. X'ki, being the bipolar individual that he was, was still stuck in his depression and inability -- as well as unwillingness -- to understand. Which, you know, Jo couldn't blame him for, since she was just as confused, if not more. Still, despite receiving answers or reaching a temporary truce with the construct like she'd been hoping to, the only thing X'ki wound up doing was descend further into the stage of denial.

    He made a loud, gasping sound, one Jo had only heard once when Zurg had broken down completely that summer night when they'd been sitting on a bench together. Was he... crying? Jo didn't really know what to do with someone she didn't know very well crying. This was almost as awkward as Karkat crying on the beach last month, but it was even more awkward because X'ki had been so downright spiteful and rude to her earlier. Still, maybe if she reached out to pat his head--

    "Whoa!" Before she could, X'ki's body shot into the air and red filled her vision. He screeched in his native language -- the word outsider, one of the only words she knew -- and pointed an accusing finger at her, repeating another alien phrase. And then he screeched, long and hard, his voice not only shaking the room but the entire shop. Glass shattered, projects and delicate equipment smashed to pieces, and Jo clamped her hands over her ears -- for whatever good it would do -- to try to block out the sound. But it penetrated her flesh, seared past her eardrums, the shriek of denial causing her genuine pain...

    And then, X'ki was gone, disappearing through a window in a flash of code.

    Jo blinked, dazed. She came round to find herself on the floor, surrounded by glass, tools and anything else that had fallen from tables, cabinets and storage boxes to find a new home on the floor. Her ears were still ringing -- it was the only thing she could hear -- and she winced in pain when she tried to get up. Ohhh... what had happened?

    "X'ki?" she said, not even able to hear her own voice. It was as if her voice was coming from somewhere far away and sounded low, like a buzz. She got up and leaned against the table, only to groan at the mess around her. Oh, cosmos, everything was just -- a mess! All the windows were broken, dozens of projects laid destroyed on the floors. And it was what, almost nine? She couldn't leave the shop like this!

    She shuffled to the front room where the phone was still thankfully on the front desk. The damage here wasn't as extensive as it was in the workshop, but it would still require rigorous cleaning. She didn't even want to see the state her basement was in. Picking up the receiver, she dialed her house number and waited for someone to pick up. While she still couldn't hear, she could feel the receiver vibrate with each ring, and a noticeable click when someone picked the phone up on the other end.

    "Proxy? Yeah, it's me. I can't really hear you right now -- it's a long story -- but could you and Lawrence come over? I -- I need help with a really huge mess. Thanks. See you soon."

    With a sigh, she put the receiver down and massaged her ears. Ugh, this ringing sound was so annoying! She sat down at the front desk and laid her forehead on her arms, thankful for the brief darkness that tricked her mind into thinking the ringing in her ears had lessened.

    X'ki... he'd just exploded without any warning and Jo just couldn't understand why. She had a feeling it might have been because of what she'd said, though. It was as if as soon as she'd told X'ki that she and Zurg were, well, going to be officially together at some point in the future, he'd been devastated. But not out of jealousy or because she was an outsider -- even though the latter played its part -- but because of Zurg and his actions. Why was him giving her a ring so bad? Because it wasn't what his kind did? X'ki probably didn't know how interested Jo was in their customs, but... knowing X'ki, he might consider that more blasphemous. Wonder what he'd think about things that would hopefully come in the future. Forget about shrieking and messing up an entire shop. He might just go super nova and decimate a third of the city!

    The mechanic sighed and rubbed her forehead. "That's what I get for poking the hornet's nest..."

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    Re: Between an AI and a Work Bench

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