The Disposable Enquiry [Round 1: Kyyhkynen]

The Disposable Enquiry [Round 1: Kyyhkynen]
#26
Re: The Disposable Enquiry [Round 1: Kyyhkynen]
Reserved.
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#27
Re: The Disposable Enquiry [Round 1: Kyyhkynen]
“What’s your name? I mean, what can I call you?” Coriander asked.

ASMAIFAC spent a moment mulling over the question. He had never considered the fact that someone might want to refer to him as an individual. His registry number certainly wouldn't do in that case, it wouldn't be proper at all. A name, he needed a name. The very thought thrilled him, to have an identity he could call his own. It must be astounding. Amazing. Tantalizing! But above all, dapper.

"You may address me as Henrouisgregori," ASMAIFAC announced boldly. Coriander stared at him quizzically. "...von Butchinskyspelmont," ASMAIFAC added. The stare did not cease. "The third?" ASMAIFAC proffered weakly.


Coriander took his time responding. "That's...a unique name," he admitted. "And also a bit of a mouthful. Do you have anything...shorter? It would be terribly annoying to have to address you as Henrouisgregori von Butchinskyspelmont III every time I wanted to get your attention."

Henrouisgregori von Butchinskyspelmont III pondered the situation for a moment. "Ah well, just ASMAIFAC will do then," he said sadly. "It just wouldn't be proper to cause you so much trouble so often, would it?" His monocled eye winked at Coriander.

"I...see." Coriander was less than thrilled. This was either one of the more messed-up delusions he had encountered - in which case he was even more frightened of the state his subconscious mind was in - or this mobile stapler had no idea what the heck it was talking about. Either way, Coriander didn't plan on sticking around and listening to it grope its way around the conversation. He turned around and prepared to leave.

"Wait!" ASMAIFAC cried, sensing his new friend was about to leave. "Let me come with you, good chap! I implore you! You're the first intelligent conversation I've had that didn't want me to staple memos to the walls of their coworkers' cubicles in...I think forever!"
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#28
Re: The Disposable Enquiry [Round 1: Kyyhkynen]
Roger was frustrated. He'd searched three entire floors and no one was here. Was it a holiday? Had the company just been sold?

He considered checking the higher floors, but given the number of abandoned desks he'd found already, that didn't seem likely to work. He might find a janitor, but they didn't tend to specialize in paperwork. Not that he wouldn't have asked; after all, there was always a chance they could help.

He let out a sigh, or the closest equivalent he could manage without corporeal lungs, and drifted back down to the first floor. Maybe he could find somebody else to help him.

It was at that point that an annoyed Coriander burst through the main doors, hoping his conversational partner was too slow to follow. As the glass doors swung shut behind him, he turned to see if the high-tech stapler had followed.

It hadn't. At least, not as far as he could see through the crowd. That was something of a relief.

"Good day, my good friend!" Roger said to the Core. He wasn't sure what it was, but it moved and that was good enough for him right now. "I don't suppose you could help me with some paperwork?"

"Paperwork?" Coriander asked, somewhat confused.

"Yes, you see, I'm not very good at it myself and - oh, you don't have hands..."

"Oh, don't worry, that's what Julia's for. Julia! Could you come over here and help this fellow out with his paperwork?"

Several minutes passed. Roger blinked.

"Where is she?"

"What are you talking about? She's right here - oh! How silly of me, she must be waiting for me to introduce you. Julia, this is..." He paused. If the introduction had been real, this should be Roger Johnson... but if it had been a delusion, then it might be someone else entirely and addressing them improperly would be rude.

"I'm sorry," the Core finally said. "I'm not sure I caught your name."

"Roger Johnson," the spirit said, somewhat awkwardly. He still couldn't see this Julia.

"Well, Roger, just leave your work with Julia and we'll get this done promptly."

"Um." Roger looked around awkwardly. How exactly was he supposed to handle this? Actually, it was rare enough to have someone who didn't try to run at the sight of him; that had already left him unsure of exactly what to do next.

Finally, after some deliberation, he stapled a form to Coriander's side. Or attempted to. It didn't seem to stick very well. Apparently his stapler wasn't strong enough to pierce the core's metal exterior.

"Great!" Coriander said, apparently paying no attention to the fallen piece of paper. "I'm sure we'll have this all worked out for you soon enough."

The Core, evidently either forgetting its encounter with Henrouisgregori von Butchinskyspelmont III or dismissing it as an illusion, turned around to leave. Roger simply sighed and picked up the paper off the floor, carelessly leaving the staple behind.

Coriander suddenly paused.

"Can you get the doors for me, Mr. Johnson? It seems they open inward, and, well, I can't really pull. And Julia's busy at the moment..."
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#29
Re: The Disposable Enquiry [Round 1: Kyyhkynen]
SpoilerShow

Thrunik had suffered the effects on sensory overload many times before. During his prior life he had many a time tunnelled out of a sedimentary layer of warm earth into sheets of freshly fallen snow, the triple shock of experiencing a contrast in warmth, light and speed of travel disorienting him and causing him to stop dead in his tracks. A few caustic occasions he had the misfortune of tunnelling out of the side of a large hill, becoming airborne for a brief second before gravity took ahold of his body and dragged him skidding and rolling down the hill. On those brief periods, Thrunik would only burrow through the topsoil for days, out of shame and embarrassment that he had travelled with such disregard for his surroundings. Among his kin, Thrunik had a reputation for acting before thinking, if ever thinking at all.

But the sensation affecting Thrunik was something entirely alien and arresting all together. For the first time in his life, Thrunik was experiencing sound in all its glory. Sound, the simple vibrations coursing through air and solid mass, had never truly played a large part of Thrunik's life. While Hairworms did have ears and a speech organ, both were internal organs, evolution cutting them off from contact with his outer layer of skin to prevent unwanted dirt and rocks clogging their tracts. A Hairworm's internal ear could only hear amplified sound through vibration, through direct contact with whatever was the origin of the noise. The inverse was true for their speech organs, being that they could only talk to another worm they had direct contact with. Their long, fibrous hair also made for excellent sound conductors, both receiving and transmitting. The etymology of the Hairworm word for "speak" comes from an ancient dialect that translates to "moves through the follicles". Being the last uneaten species on their barren planet, the only true use of hearing Hairworms had was as an underground sonar, hearing all those who tunnelled in close proximity to themselves. This environment had refined Thrunik's to pick up small changes in vibrations in the earth, hearing the subtlest sounds. But now, everything was a symphony of cacophony.

Screams perforated the air, klaxons and alarms sounded their shrill songs and everywhere, rubble fell. Kyyhkynen, with its architecture designed to withstand the forces associated with riding atop a dove's back, was faring surprisingly well, but every so often, a groan of steel would signify the precursor to another twisted fire-exit, another air conditioner, another windowpane falling to the street below. An elderly man shuffled by, one hand raised to the sky, the other being tugged at by a young boy, no older than eight, pulling him in the opposite direction to that of which he was moving.

"Granpa, come on! We have to go! Mommy's waiting for us at the Airhub." he pleaded, tears welling up in his eyes. He had never seen his Granpa act this way before. So disconnected, so etheral.

"Samyuel, you do not understand. This is where we belong. We have been patient and finally the Gods have rewarded our steadfastness with the ultimate gift given to man. Finally, we will descend to Utopia!"

The old man had tears in his eyes too, of a very different nature. Tears of joy, tears of belief, tears of release after a lifetime of adhering to the old ways long forgotten, the old books, dusty with the ignorance of the youth. But now it was the youth that would understand, that would be ignored. Rounding a corner, the two came face to face with the most majestic being either would ever lay eyes on for the rest of their short lives. Thrunik, in a state of shock, had frozen in place under the street lamp, unwittingly being showered in occasional bursts of sparks. Samyuel froze himself, then dropped his grandfather's hand and turned running, calling to his mother. In contrast, the elderly man's face lit up and he broke into a run toward Thrunik, not slowing down to meet him, but instead launching his entire body into Thrunik's soft, dirty girth.

"Oh Great Yirdon, have mercy on a poor mortal like me! I submit my life, my body and my soul to your benevolence and pray for Utopia!"

This physical contact was enough to send Thrunik over the edge. Whipping wildy around without regard for life or surroundings, leapt in a tall arc and collided, mouth first, with the road.

Thrunik dove beneath the surface, tail thrashing wildly in panic. His natural environment was below ground and beneath the earth lay sanctuary and reprieve from this... this anguish. Once he had burrowed his own length and again did he come to a halt, facing directly down. The noise of the distressed city had faded but only momentarily. After what could only have been described as an iota of time, the sounds he had escaped were replaced by something far more frightening. A rhythmic, pulsing noise so deep, so low, so loud that it passed right through his body, leaving no hair without a spilt end. He'd lain with enough females of his species to understand what the sound meant. Curled up in comfort next to their soft bodies, tails wrapped around each other in the afterglow, they'd been in close enough proximity to hear the heartbeat of one another. Now, that sound was replicated in a far more distressing manner. The heartbeat was infinitely louder, stronger and just plain vaster in all regards. He could not comprehend what beast must lay claim to a heart of that magnitude. From inside his tunnel, his shelter, Thrunik began to feel for the first time that being underground was no sanctuary, no haven, but a terrible prison.


SpoilerShow
Is observing my own pattern of behavior of observing my own patterns of behavior a mental fractal or just navel gazing? Please advise.
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#30
Re: The Disposable Enquiry [Round 1: Kyyhkynen]
SpoilerShow
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#31
RE: The Disposable Enquiry [Round 1: Kyyhkynen]
Mister. Johnson.

Yes, sir, Mr. Johnson. Mr. Johnson. Mister - mister Johnson.

An archive of a hundred thousand tapes. Faithfully copied, partially, to compact discs. Those in turn partially copied to solid-state storage, so that the voice of Cave Johnson could be accessed at will - or otherwise - by any sentient program in the Aperture system.


Coriander tried to talk to the door, but the door was silent; not the silence of the dead, but the silence of the never having been alive, never having ever been - a terrifying, terrifying reminder that he himself was a set of electrical impulses from being nothing but an inert sphere of complicated silicon -

And he took the course he always took when he was scared, or confused, or desperate, or simply in a horrifying idleness, the course of denial’s delusion;

Coriander tried to talk to the door

What is real? On some visceral point of his being he knew he was a prisoner, pretending his prison walls around him - to feel safe, to feel familiar, to belong, not to be forgotten; he was once a manager, a mover, a shaker.

He was a mover in this organization, damn it, so how come he seemed to be in a part of the facility where they hadn’t hooked up a simple door? Of course, there was the ever helpful Mr. Johnson there - not the Mr. Johnson, oh no...

Bewildered, Roger stepped to the door and tried to pull it open, watching sadly as his hands passed through the wood. Another tremor shook the world.

“Oh dear.” Coriander tried to fathom the presence of an incorporeal entity. “I don’t remember any project on intangibility being close to completion. But! I suppose I have been somewhat out of touch.” He shrugged his handlebars expressively.

Well, this door wasn’t going to be replaced if no one knew it was here. There were still parts of the old facility that were still unexplored, their infrastructure too antiquated or dilapidated to update. Even the oldest Aperture technology was programmed to cry for help in the case of malfunction, programming error, or massive structural collapse.

Something about the little sphere’s posture, its mad twitch, its strange mannerisms, its - to put it kindly, loose grasp on reality - rang a metaphorical bell in organs that Roger Johnson had not, strictly speaking, got. It made him uneasy. As if a voice were showing him that this is what he himself would be, driven mad by a neverending quest of staples and forms and signatories; a phantom, a wisp of babbling lunacy like the pathetic ball rolling in front of him. In life and beyond, he had rarely found the occasion to feel an emotion so visceral as this fear - will I one day...be like that?

So it was in the middle of this reverie that Coriander exploded, the rockets built inadvisably into his conceptual behind firing violently into the lobby floor. The core jetted forward on the blast at ridiculous speeds, missing the door completely and creating a series of basketball-sized holes through several walls and out of the building altogether-

Without understanding why, Roger followed, a spectre passing through crumbling walls and the signs of imminent structural collapse. Perhaps because there was no one else about who was up to filling out forms, or perhaps just simple loneliness...

A prophet ran, with purpose, madly - so madly - at the towering, wavering pillar of arrow-shaft extending like an insult into the sky. On occasion droplets of blood would break loose from the arrowhead, tumbling end over end before cracking their frozen exterior on the cobblestones, spilling the eternal dove’s hemoglobin unceremoniously across any surface on which it could find to splash. One splattered Malachi Smith, the red-brown accentuating the blue of his eyes and the walnut color of his hair, giving him the very image of a martyr or a tortured harbinger of truth.

God thrust His monument into the sky before him, and Malachi knew it was but one facet of the Great Mechanical Construct that was His being. Words bubbled up in the cauldron of his soul - the beginnings of a Book, one of the many in the Testaments. An oracle: The word of the LORD to Israel through- He gazed beatifically at the arrow that was destroying the world. Through Malachi. “Malachi 1:1.”

He stood on a hillock, watching the masses fleeing purposelessly down below him, and was filled with the Holy Spirit. And at once Malachi did begin to preach, to breach the hardened hearts of the unbelieving:

As Jesus was walking ´£´21`23 !!!down to the depot today to get proper maintenance at affordable prices!@^&!@ “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you U*@#JßçNEW AND IMPROVED, versatile, adaptable to tasks of all sizes, truly the bestƒ®´QQE@€›´!@#read err:4241(%* of men.” At once they left their nets and (***%&$#^^(ª·ª⁄€((ensured that the cross-link hydraulics are properly calibrated,€‹&#(EDDD
12199ۢܰ


He had some of the crowd’s attention now, their faces turned upward to gaze upon his. They were jostled by the rest as they fled and ran like sheep, but they were the faithful, and Malachi was pleased. They would be the sheepdogs that gathered his flock together, and he would be the shepherd that brought the Gospel to those who needed it told.

And ultimately, everyone needed it told.

Jesus went #$)/err/err/err™£d worldwide, shipping at reduced rates¢∞§¢!@#(! and healing every disease and sickness among the people. $%@%/////people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, thosehaving seizures, and the paralyzed, and he ////transc\err: made them better////

Malachi laughed, a loud, clear laugh that wafted over the roiling masses. “Come now, my congregation. Those who are faithful, come with me! Climb with me! If you cannot, we shall lend you our strength! If you will not, we shall give you our will! If you do not...you will come around in time.”


His last sentence was punctuated by the roar of an explosion, as behind him a building collapsed into so much twisted rubble. It was also punctuated by a small round sphere hitting him in the small of the back, pitching them both down the hill.

ASMAIFAS, ahem, Henrouisgregori von Butchinskyspelmont III, trundled along on buzzing wheels, trying to find his new friend - alas, to no avail. It was a quest doomed to failure amongst the shaking and the crowd and their many, many legs. Most of these legs kicked Henrouisgregori quite a lot, but a few choice staples managed to pin the worst offenders to the ground by their boots. Just by their boots, of course. A truly dapper gentleman would never inflict unnecessary harm to an unarmed opponent. Besides, if he didn’t see any blood, there hadn’t been any drawn. Such were the rules of engagement.

The crowd did move him about though, by the sheer pressure of fluid dynamics and mob psychology. No matter how he fought it, with every meter he moved forward, he was pushed two back; until the building disappeared behind the crest of a nearby hill, and the man standing on it. He looked familiar - then with a true gentleman’s memory for faces, it hit him! Smith Malach/chi, the Inquirer had said. Flesh and blood and metal.

Dimly, he registered that Smith had begun to talk. But the matter at hand, the matter at hand, my good chap. Of course Coriander, the only other individual of Aperture construction he’d seen so far, was quite clearly nowhere to be seen! It indeed posed a puzzling conundrum as to why two fellow Aperture Science employees shouldn’t stick together.

But...

The more he thought about it, the less Coriander made sense. Henrouisgregori himself had been manufactured for human use, in the early 1980s. They’d only been experimenting with artificial intelligences then - he’d been the very top of the line when he was issued! Yet Coriander seemed much more complex than any of his own compatriots, or anyone he had met since.

So Henrouisgregori dealt with the problem in the way a true gentleman would, by pretending it didn’t exist.

However, this was hard to do when the subject of the problem then tumbled down the hill, accompanied by the Smith person.
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