Warehouse of the Wondrous and the Weird

Diana & Mr. Pierce

Mr. Pierce watched as Afterburner entered the car. Still walking with his back to Diana, he said softly, “So you finally broke through, then. He’d be so happy… he wanted that for you so much, you know.”
Diana scowled slightly. “I know. He put me through all the levels of Hell to get me here.”
“He went to a lot of trouble to make it happen. And he went through a lot more to try to keep you safe.” He seemed sad. “You have no idea how much he put aside for you.”
“I probably don’t. But you also don’t know what he tried to make me put aside for him. And where is he now, hmm?” Diana did her best to have the final end of her statement come off as nothing more than a petulant young adult who had a falling out with her father.
The response began with a sigh. “I don’t know. We kind of lost touch… no, that sounds like it was accidental. Your father broke contact. I saw him a few times after he left. Once or twice when you were young. Then… I wasn’t welcome anymore.”
“You weren’t welcome where? The cabin?”
“Your father’s life. I wasn’t welcome to be there for your father. I think because he wanted to be there for you.” He repeated, more slowly, “You have no idea how much he put aside for you.”
“So, will you tell me? My father talked quite a lot about his various sciences, but he didn’t talk much about himself as a person.”
“Well, I know he was brilliant, even for an Inspired. Tried a little of everything, back in the day. So did I, but most of it didn’t stick. Your father, though… everything he touched seemed to turn to gold. There were those who said whatever he did, it was going to change the world.” Another sigh. “Even when he mostly quit, he still did things that put the experts to shame. Did you know we’re still using some of the stuff he invented after you came around…”
“‘…after I came around?’ you make it sound like I destroyed his life.”
Pierce considered for a moment. “Well… maybe ‘changed’ would make you feel better? But he was like a different man after that. We were inseparable in uni, you know? Both climbing the ranks in the New Lemuria. And then suddenly, he wants nothing to do with us, nothing to do with me…” He smiled, without sincerity. “But whatever, you know? I’m just a washed up old fool who lost his best friend. And then his kid turns up out of the blue.”
Diana’s mind returned to the trophy case in the zotheca. Among various plaques and medallions, her father’s name had jumped out at her from a trophy. Apparently, a few years after she had showed up in his life, the zotheca had given “LJ MacKenzie” an award recognizing his achievements in “Beholden Studies”…
“The stuff you still use of his… some of it is about the Beholden Studies trophy that I saw in the lounge, right?”
Suddenly, Pierce checks his watch. “Ooh, wow… I really gotta get back. Sorry kid.” A rough pat on the back. “Umm… don’t be a stranger, OK?” He starts getting ready to leave.
“Wait!” Diana calls after him, stopping him in his tracks.“I’d like to hear more about him. Can I contact you somehow?”
He writes something on a slip of paper, then shoves it into her hand. It’s a nondescript university email address.

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Computer Activity Log

EDM 012
Encrypting Access
PASSWORD: *************
PASSWORD ACCEPTED

The good, the bad, the ugly, and Gran Torino. Mezyk, MacKenzie, Dr. Afterburner, and Zach. It appeats that my initial judgments were incorrect. We are all ugly, after some fashion, and most of us are pretty bad too.

I’ve tried to be the Good Doctor. I really have. My compatriots have not made this simple. I feel as though MacKenzie might appreciate my ideological decisions in theory, but she will never accept them in practice. Dr. Afterburner agrees in doing the right thing, but he and I differ so entriely in methods.

“I’m sorry, but I’m not going to apologize.” What a fascinating dichotomy.

And then there’s Mezyk. His actions have been the most distressing. I fear that without proper guidance from the peerage, my code name for him will prove to be truly inappropriate.

That’s why I hope that this adventure to the University will be fruitful. We may find peers who will better suit this collbarative. We may find a community in which we can find unity, refuge, and understanding.

Unlikelynaivestupidhopefulstupidwhatgoodhashopeeverdoneyou

…It occurs to me that hope is about all I have left.

Heh. If somebody were to read this jorunal, they might assume someone else had written it. Somebody who didn’t sound like me. Let’s change that.

<accent> Howdy, y’all. </accent> There. That’s more like it.

!!! Code Compiling Completed !!!

…what?

>Booting up Rock 1.2
…Laoding
…Loading
…Loading

R: Hello, Dr. Lain Rester. How are you today?

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Hospital Experience
We Are The Dead

Nurses. Detectives. The normal people. I used to look up to people like these. Now I fear them. I move to the terminal and put in the code for all clear. The nurses have left. The Detective has hung up. For a few brief moments, in my mind at least, ICU 2E is silent.

In my head, there is no sound louder than silence.

I hate the way my mind fills in details, the way my past consistently keeps pace with me. It’s impossible to be in a hospital without remembering the last time I was in a hospital. I look at the people around me. They are injured. I feel a flash of guilt; they are here because of my actions. The guilt grows; these aren’t the first people I’ve put in a hospital. I look down at my arm. The nurses didn’t give my Gauntlet a second glance. They were too distracted to notice it, or perhaps they didn’t care. I look around the room; apart from basic diagnostic machinery, there are no cameras, or recording devices… I could make this better. The patients have a number of different injuries, but I could access their files; they would tell me everything I need to know. I could heal them. I could pay for my mistakes. I could do what real doctors do; I could make people better. I raise my hand, and turn a dial near the wrist…

…and then I think better of it. These patients would be miraculously cured, save for some grey polymer residue. It wouldn’t take people long to figure out I was somehow behind it. The nurses and the detective know my name. Even if they didn’t, my login ID would be all they needed to identify me. The collaborative would no longer be safe… I have the power to heal and cure, quite literally, in my hand. And yet I can’t… no, I can, but I won’t… I look at the patients. They are in too much pain to do anything. Here I stand, able to do great things, and yet I choose not to.

My fellow geniuses, my “peers”, would congratulate me for making the prudent decision, the logical decision, for protecting the greater good. But here, standing with the injured, I cannot help but feel that these people know more of the greater good than we ever will.

From my jacket pocket, I hear a buzzing. Damn. Mezyk’s communicator.

“So, what peerage are you from, and how did you just happen to be standing by my car?”

I decide to return to the car, leaving my peers behind.

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Mezyk's Thesis
Donny is useful

Nobody wants to bring Donny along anywhere because they think he’ll just cause trouble. I’m going to prove them wrong by sneaking him along next time we go somewhere. I’m sure Donny will be a great help, and everyone will be more willing to accept him, and any other dinosaurs I make, along on missions.

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Diana's thesis

Diana’s Thesis
Researching the correlation between admiration and self-sacrifice. E.g. If someone really loves me, would they be willing to override basic instincts such as self-preservation?

Experimental Procedure
Establish a fan club to allow easy access to test subjects. Carry out various tests of escalating magnitude, starting with willingness to pay a small fee to enter said fan club.

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Afterburner's Thesis
Correlation Between Destructive Capacity and Practicality, or the Effects of Gasoline on Fire

First Principles & Observations:
Destructive capacity and coercive force are correlated positively: i.e. the greater one’s ability to inflict destruction, the more one can influence a person’s actions, e.g. people will attempt to appease you more if they fear injury than if they do not, and more still if they fear death.

At first, demonstrated destructive capacity has a greater coercive effect than potential destructive capacity; people react more strongly to an actual injury than to a threat of an identical injury (perhaps due to habituation to the low-level capacity for destruction shared by all humans i.e. Anybody can become violent under the correct circumstances? Further investigation needed.)

As destructive capacity increases, coercive force increases whether the capacity is demonstrated or not; however, demonstration is subject to diminishing returns, as after a certain point, resources that would be exploitable become unusable (Dead guys don’t give you their stuff.) The threat of destruction is not affected in this way.

Thesis:
As perceived destructive capacity increases, potential destructive capacity overtakes demonstrated destructive capacity in usefulness, reaching a point where a threat is more useful than actual action taken. (Can fear be a more effective stimulus than pain? Consider 20th century Mutually Assured Destruction scenarios, Sun Tzu’s Art of War, dudes talking smack in general.) Potential applications include the ability to replace current, dangerous endeavors involving demonstrations of destructive capacity with comparatively safe threats to demonstrate same.

Experimental Procedure:
Approach the subject of the experiment, That Asshole Carlo. Using the Plasma Coil, my imposing demeanor, and my previously established reputation for violence, induce a high state of perceived destructive capacity for coercive purposes (i.e. threaten him until he pays up). According to this theory, actual destruction of the subject, in whole or in part, will prove unnecessary.

However, the Plasma Coil will be on hand should the subject prove uncooperative.

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Mezyk's talk with Donny.
Peer Presure: It's Super Effective.

“What am I going to do Donny? Sabotaging someone’s career is wrong right? But if I refuse to help they might hate me, or kick me out. They already don’t like me because of that can opener incident…I’ll admit I wasn’t thinking straight, I was worried about you and Lumi….I’m so used to doing everything alone it never occurred to me to knock.

Mr. Johnson said I should go out and socialize and make friends. These people seem like my best bet….don’t look at me like that, you know you’re my best friend and always will be. But Mr. Johnson’s right I need people friends. Dr. Afterburner’s grumpy all the time like Mr. Johnson, but he’s not a bad guy right? Zach’s nice, Diana seems nice too. Dr. Rester’s weird but nice…. So if all these people are nice and good, then what we’re going to do can’t be wrong right?

Mr. Johnson even said “go out and rob a bank for all I care, just do it with other people.” I’m pretty sure that was sarcasm, I’ve been getting better at that. Maybe this Brisky guy deserves it. He is really sleazy and his book and seminar are 60% narcissism, and 40% stolen. I guess it’s ok just this once."

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Rester's Mental Notes

EDM 05
Encrypting Access
Password: ****************************
PASSWORD ACCEPTED

Troubling. It is astounding how often geniuses need to be told to stop and think. Near disaster? Averted. New plan? Developed. Roles? Assigned.

Teams
Alpha: Info, Comms (Me)
Bravo: Recon, Package Delivery (MacKenzie, Bolton)
Charlie: Shock and Awe (Afterburner)
Delta: Extraction (Mezyk)

Targets
01: Brisky (Sabotage)
02: Carlos (Resource Extraction)

1. Alpha hacks hotel files, acquires target information
2. Disguise Bravo as hotel staff
3. Infiltration
a. Discover evidence of prostitution
b. Plant evidence of prostitution
4. Charlie extracts Resources from T2
5. Alpha hacks hotel files, alters bills and debts
6. Extraction from Delta (via Collabmobile)

Plans are good. Plans are insane. Jest: How do you make God laugh? Punchline: You make a plan. Plans for week:
01> Continue passive research on the good, the bad, and the ugly.
02> Continue active coding on Rock.
03> Begin active cognitive behavioural research on Gran Torino.

END

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An excerpt from Diana's diary

People. After years living in isolation with Dad and – for a short, blissful time – Melanie, I have more people that I can make love me. Well, I can start on them, anyway. If I can make fellow Geniuses love me, the rest of the world will be a piece of cake. Turns out, Geniuses are just as stupid sometimes as regular people. After going to a dingy little store that appeared to be a knock off of The Co-op (who knocks off a Co-op? And how did a Genius fall for it??), someone found a poster for one of Brisky’s seminars. Somehow, we decided that it would be a good idea to go and cause trouble for them (are they already showing loyalty to me? NOTE TO SELF: if I play this right, they just may be my first followers. Having Geniuses under my thrall would be brill!) Also, apparently the con that Brisky is parading around to everyone used to work with Zach and Dr. A; he owes them money.

Since showing up as myself to one of Brisky’s seminars would be akin to career suicide (and highly disappoint Tom.), I attempted to disguise the group with my transformation powder. I failed magnificently (NOTE TO SELF: WORK ON THIS FORMULA!!). But, I was so caught up in my failure that I found myself outside the hotel where the seminar was being held with the rest of the collaborative, all of us completely undisguised (one may not be able to quite see Dr. A through his suit, but since he always wears the same thing he would definitely by the most visible of us all, and I’m at least a little famous within the self-help circuit) and without any semblance of a plan before I realized what was going on. I managed to stop almost everyone from going in and making a scene enough to draw attention to us just barely in time, except that Adrian wandered off without the rest of us. Not good. He’s the one most likely to draw attention to himself and blow the whole collaborative if he’s willing to wander into a potentially risky situation without a plan.

This could have gone very badly, and the other Geniuses didn’t even seem to notice the risks that we were taking. My career is pretty dependent on my public image, and an arrest for kidnapping another lecturer’s prop con – especially while I’m still a person of interest – would be devastating. And with the history between Dr. A, Zach and this con, coupled with Dr. A’s standout appearance means that without a plan, the whole collaborative would come under substantial risk of scrutiny at the very least, potentially blowing the lids off all our Science. None of us wants that.

I will clearly be required to lead, since I’m the one who thinks of these things. Seems to me that Adrian will follow relatively easy, he gets so focused on things (like learning overnight how to pick locks with a can opener) that it should be simple to just direct his focus to whatever I want him to focus on, especially if I highlight the risk to the collaborative as being a risk to his pets. Lain and Dr. A will be more difficult, but for different reasons. Lain is so suspicious of everything. That could work to my advantage, though, if I can influence him enough to view the collaborative as an “us” against the rest of the world, particularly the Normals. Dr. A is already in charge of Zach, and he is so domineering, using his suit and weapons to help his intimidation of people that he will take much more subtle handling. I will update further on the results of talking with the collaborative soon.

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Rester's Notes

EDM – 01
Encrypting Access
Passowrd: **********
PASSWORD ACCEPTED

Notes. Point? Query. Answer.
New base of operations.
Pros: Rent is affordable, far from Calgary.
Cons: Shared with three (3) other geniuses.
Godhelpusallwearetotallyinoverourheads
someoneshouldhavemannedupandsaidthis
wasabadideafromthegetgobutnoeveryone
hereistoopoliteandcanadianorsuffering
fromanynumberofsocialanxietiestospeakup
Digression. Return to the task at hand. Observe. Judge. Weigh. Measure. Research.

Subdirectory contains 3 files.
01→Dr. Adrian Mezyk
02→Dr. Afterburner
03→Diana Mackenzie

01: Genpet. Works with DNA. Intelligent, yet absent-minded. Possible felon (guilty of Larceny at very least.) Has an armadillo that’s not an armadillo at all. Devotion to the point of insanity. No more or less sane than others. Concerning precedent.

02: Alias? Ascertained. Doctor? Dubious. Alliteration? Abomination. Stop that. Digression. Dangerous. Stop that, please. Lacks balance. Scratch that, has achieved balance with beholden. Beholden has agreed to cognitive behavioural analysis. Together, they are balanced cohesive unit. Seperation not recommended.

03: Malicious hypocrite, or merely unstable? Politely curious, or manipulative snoop? She smiles. Furthermore, displays comfort (irregularly) in social situations. She smiles. Attempts to manipulate emotional train-wrecks. Most concerning of all, she smiles. Unacceptable, will likely kill me in my sleep in any number of painful ways. Only the first one matters, if she does it right.

RoE
01→ No use of wonders or experimentation on other members of pseudo-collabarative without permission.
02→ Private quarters are private. Redundent. Extra definition, that is. Rule 02 very necesarry.
03→ Keep the landlord in the dark. Damnthelandlord
END

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