Homecoming [Closed]

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illirica
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Re: Homecoming [Closed]

Post by illirica » Tue Mar 12, 2019 10:11 pm

"No, you shouldn't say anything about it yet, that's why we have protocols," Laine commented, in a manner that was technically correct, but also rather un-Laine-like. Definitively channeling someone else. Ah. I'll have to get used to that. "Well, nevermind. Since it's done, you may as well ask Leviathan about it. It's... I don't know. I don't have much information just yet. It wouldn't fit for the person you used to be, but maybe it would be good for the person you will be? Talk to Leviathan. Talk to Pollux, if you want to know what she thinks. Just tell him what you think she should think about it and he'll tell you how you're wrong. And... ah, don't tell him you're doing that."

She smiled a little, amused. "He reads her well, but he isn't quite ready to admit it yet. Ask some questions, Alex, and figure things out. You're good at that. You can read some reports about things, too, they're very helpful." Laine thought so, anyway, but she was also aware that not everyone had the same degree of positivity about reports as Laine did. "I could write you some." That was definitely the Laine Alex was used to.

The last question Laine didn't think really applied, since they were talking about Alex and not about Laine, but she supposed maybe she should answer it anyway. Anomalies ought to do that, for their researchers. Or friends. "L-6 is good," she answered. It was a good location, a good place to be. Everything belonged there, and it all fit together. Safe. Secure. Everything was taken care of, there. It was very tidy. A good place to call home. Her anomaly touched on the idea, subtly offering confirmation of her statement, adding in its own slight emphasis. Hardly noticeable, really - very subtle.

If Laine noticed at all, she didn't mention it. "I fit with my councilman. Wherever that is. L-6, or wherever he needs me to be." Maybe that was a bit intense, but as Laine had noticed, things were happening quickly. Besides, she didn't mind. It was just... different. That was all.

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Re: Homecoming [Closed]

Post by Containment » Wed Mar 13, 2019 5:39 am

Every question Alex asked generated more questions. What's your Councilman like? What do you do at L-6? How do you know about Pollux? It was just like being an intern again. Alex might as well be an intern again, actually, for all she knew about the changes in the Foundation. For all she knew about the Councilmen and the location leaders and the secret projects and... well, everything. Laine seemed to know, too. Even if Laine didn't seem willing to share. To Alex, she seemed more like a security agent than ever. Maybe that was the point. Or maybe that's how she actually was, now. It'd been... long before the Breach, last time they talked.

"Assuming I end up at L-seven," Alex pointed out. "If I don't end up on Leviathan staff, then asking isn't an option, as per protocol." The last word came out harsher than she meant it to, but now that it was out, she couldn't find herself feeling bad about it. That must be the rogue agent side rearing its ugly head. Alex had gotten more complex in the last year or so than she'd been in her entire life. She liked that, though. It meant that she was still thinking for herself. Still, Laine didn't deserve to be on the biting end of the harsher part of Alex. Her tone softened.

"I'd appreciate the reports, though. It'll make settling easier." She debated saying something else along that strain, but decided redirection was better again. "So. SV-Four, what's he like? Security branch, right? You said you fit together, but that's a little vague." And it was the kind of vagueness that gave roots to the interns' rumors, she knew. Though she wouldn't mind hearing a few of those, too, if only for entertainment value.
"The Foundation doesn't have the freedom to be good or bad. We're here to do our job, and if we have to make or break a few rules to do that job then so be it." [Current SV-1, "Leviathan"]

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Re: Homecoming [Closed]

Post by illirica » Wed Mar 13, 2019 6:05 pm

"Asking might not be an option, but you can always send questions in the format of a report," Laine stated, amused. She'd done that often enough herself, after all. Alex had been on the receiving end more than once, certainly - although much more rarely than other people. Laine tended to just ask Alex things. Alex had always been easy to ask questions of. Even when Laine had been an intern, she'd either answered them or explained patiently why she couldn't - which was a fairly significant commitment, because Laine could ask quite a lot of questions, if she got started on them.

"I'll send you some reports," she said, agreeably, "Whatever I can. Give me a little time, and I'll make sure they're annotated, with indexes." Knowing Laine, this would also include footnotes and cross-references, and twice as much information as anyone could possibly actually want, unless that person happened to be a researcher. "It'll be nice to have you settled in again. Wherever that ends up being." Laine was being careful, deliberately. It would have been easy to suggest that Alex settle in with her, but it wouldn't really have been asking, she didn't think. Not if her anomaly got involved, which it undoubtedly would. As much as Laine liked Alex, she needed to let Alex make her own choices about things, even if that meant not choosing just yet.

Laine was trying not to let it bother her. At least Alex was here. That was important - and letting her go had been important as well. There wasn't the consuming need to obsess over it any more, just the usual desire to have things in place.

There had been a question she hadn't answered, but Laine wasn't sure how she wanted to answer it right away. It had a lot of answers. Some of them she couldn't really give, as they touched on clearance-required issues, but she didn't think Alex was really asking about that. She wanted the less professional, more personal answer. Laine... wasn't exactly sure what that answer was. "He's... different," she said eventually, after a silence. The right sort of silence, this time. Just like the right sort of different.

Alex probably wanted more of an answer than that. Laine drew back from her thoughts for a moment. It was a good thing the door was closed, otherwise the interns would no doubt be listening in. "He's very... dedicated. The Foundation is important to him. He worries about it, because he wants to keep it safe. He can be a bit temperamental, but it's not because he doesn't care, it's because he cares about too many things and doesn't always have time to spend on pleasantries. He thinks he doesn't have enough time for everything in the Foundation, so he steals it from himself. I don't think any of us know what the Foundation is going to become in the next year or so, but he's determined to be there for it."

She shifted a little in her chair, turning to look in a direction that led nowhere really, but was nonetheless a very specific direction. "He's always there."

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Re: Homecoming [Closed]

Post by Containment » Thu Mar 14, 2019 1:42 am

"It'll be nice to be settled again, whenever that ends up being."

Alex wasn't as confident as Laine was that she'd find a perfect place back in the Foundation, not after everything that happened. Maybe after she saw some of the changes Leviathan had made, or until the future Laine described could be seen as even a speck on the horizon. To Alex, it was the same old conference rooms, the same old talks, despite the hopefulness she had for at least her own future behind Foundation walls. At a minimum, it would be better than the year she'd spent in a box.

No. She... she didn't have to stop thinking about that, but she did have to continue to hope. She's only been back on-site for half an hour, not even enough time to pick up on the latest rumors, let alone read a file on recent history or get to know anyone. Well... no, there was Cotta. Cotta was definitely preferable to Starek, in her book. He was a kid, he had a lot to learn, but he still had a little empathy. Starek had his job, and it didn't help that part of his job was to keep anomalies - people - like Alex herself in a box. Cotta was different, and just judging by the fact that he was a Class-C running a Level-2 location in tandem with another Class-C, he could be a sign of change.

SV-4 sounded like a similar situation. He and Laine seemed to think alike. Security, but not the cold-shoulder security of Starek. The more she listened, and the more she watched Laine, the more she felt like she could agree that the Council was heading in the right direction. She wouldn't completely agree, of course. Not until she'd seen some more of the Councilmen in action, or the current functions of the Foundation. But she trusted Laine.

"You sound comfortable with him. It's where you fit, and it's where you want to be. I think they made a good choice putting you there with him." Different, she'd said, but who wasn't? Everyone in these walls became different at some point. Most on-site security and researchers probably couldn't function for extended periods off-site... or they couldn't before. Now was different, she reminded herself. Now there were people willing to talk and to listen and to share, to step beyond Foundation boundaries and learn from outer functions. She needed to be hopeful, she reminded herself. Just one Councilman out of five wasn't going to cut it, though. She needed more info.

"And the others?" she asked, trying to play her question off as idle curiosity to fill the silence. She realized Laine had no reason to answer that, so she continued, "I'm considering... more than just filing a reported question. I'm thinking about sending a request to speak to the Council."

"You do know they don't have to -"

"I know," she interrupted, catching his gaze. "They won't have to, and I doubt they'll have reason to. But I'm curious, now, and I have some ideas to... propose." Her head turned back to Laine, but with the mask, her normally expressive face was unreadable. "I trust you, Laine, and it's because of that that I'd like to hear your opinions on the other councilmen. Even the ones I already think I know. People change, after all, and people are different. I need to know what I'm getting into if I manage to get onto Council staff."
"The Foundation doesn't have the freedom to be good or bad. We're here to do our job, and if we have to make or break a few rules to do that job then so be it." [Current SV-1, "Leviathan"]

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Re: Homecoming [Closed]

Post by illirica » Thu Mar 14, 2019 4:10 pm

"Leviathan will probably meet with you, even if the Council won't," Laine put in, "I think she likes you. Or... she likes the idea of you, anyway. She's... trusting." Laine smiled a little at that, thinking of Pollux's discomfort with that idea, of his objections. He was right about what Leviathan was, Laine thought, but she wasn't as worried as he was. Of course, that was at least in part because she knew that Pollux would worry for her. He'd take care of Leviathan. "I think she wants that for the Foundation - to be more trusting. To build that trust between staff and anomalies. She hasn't said so directly, but it wouldn't surprise me if she's spent quite a bit of time studying how you and I interacted at first, and I think she's trying to make that... normal. As normal as it can be, anyway. She's... she's hard not to like," Laine decided, thoughtfully, "I tried."

She'd wanted to dislike Leviathan, after all, for not bringing Alex back. For leaving her out there, where she wasn't safe. Laine had thought that it should be easy not to like her, but Leviathan was not easy to dislike. "She's willing to change," Laine added, in line with her own thoughts, "She's willing to change herself, if it's important." She'd let Laine find Alex, because it was important. Maybe, in part, because Laine could bring her back, but Laine thought that it was more just that Leviathan had known Laine needed to try. That she'd needed resolution, and so she'd offered a chance at it, even if that was difficult. "She'll need support, while she changes things. Some people seem to like the way things were, sometimes."

Sometimes, Laine was one of them. Historically speaking, Laine had not generally done well with change, and her recent transition had been admittedly difficult - but once things were in place, she could settle in again, and things were fine. Change itself wasn't bad, it was just that the process could be stressful. If Laine had truly objected to change, she wouldn't have fit into the Foundation as well as she did.

"The others... Hm. Butterfly is much the same as he always was," Laine said, with a little smile. "The good and the bad, I think. I'm hoping Leviathan will be a good influence on him." She knew about his little stint in Florida, and was a bit annoyed with him for it - risking Foundation security and 707's safety. Laine hadn't been privy to the Council session that had resulted from that event, but she could read between the lines well enough to know that it had been... likely interesting. She'd find out more, when she could. "Jupiter I just don't know well enough. I need to figure that out. Now that you're back, I can focus more on my council[/dropshadow] and try to figure out how they all fit in a little better. He's the one I have the hardest time understanding, of all of them."

That covered... most of it. Everything she felt like talking about, anyway.

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Re: Homecoming [Closed]

Post by Containment » Thu Mar 14, 2019 6:23 pm

Alex listened with her arms folded, absorbing the information Laine was giving her, and picking up on some of the things that were going unsaid. Change. Change was good, especially changes toward integrating rather than caging anomalies. Alex could support changes in that direction, as well as changes in... other directions. Outward directions, though maybe that was her vagabond experiences talking. She wondered if she'd ever be used to staying within four walls again.

That was a problem for the future, however. She thought about the things that had been said before focusing on the omission. "You'd think Jupiter would be easier to get, considering how long we worked under him. He's a good agent, and I think he'll fit with Leviathan's changes fairly well. He synergizes easily with most anomalies he comes across. I'm not too concerned about him in terms of changes, or leadership, for that matter."

But there was was someone who still concerned Laine, at least. A puzzle piece that needed to fit in order to understand the way the Council was going to work from now on. Leviathan was the head - and quite possibly the heart. Jupiter was the one who'd settled well to his position. Hack was trying to do too much in too little time, but with Laine to watch out for him Alex doubted he'd get away with killing himself from exhaustion. And Butterfly... well, he was still Rex Papillion at heart, and that meant he'd need to adjust still. Something was was missing, though, someone who seemed to change the dynamic from the few words Laine had already granted him.

"Besides, I think there's someone you understand even less. I get if you don't want to talk about Strings, Laine, but I'd still like to know your opinion. I doubt he's changed much, either." She smiled, but it was mirthless, and invisible under ACF-390. "I take that back, I think maybe he's lost a few more marbles since I left."
"The Foundation doesn't have the freedom to be good or bad. We're here to do our job, and if we have to make or break a few rules to do that job then so be it." [Current SV-1, "Leviathan"]

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Re: Homecoming [Closed]

Post by illirica » Fri Mar 15, 2019 1:15 am

"I wasn't really paying attention to him when we were working together," Laine answered the half-question. "I was mostly paying attention to you. Especially early... interns don't generally concern themselves with higher level matters. And I suppose it was also just that I always had you to understand those things for me." Laine smiled a little, thinking back to who they'd both been, long ago.

The smile faded, though, and was replaced by a much colder expression. "Strings I understand just fine." It wasn't a question of not understanding him. She hesitated, then added, truthfully, "I... admit that there is more to him that I initially expected, but..." she shook her head. "He studies things by breaking them and putting them back together. His curiosity is without boundaries." Not boundless, though it was that too, perhaps, but Laine spoke precisely: without boundaries, unconstrained, uncontained.

She leaned forward, resting her elbows on the table and folding her hands under her chin, closing her eyes slowly. "You know, I could synergize with him," she said, quietly, conversationally. The tone wasn't right though. It hinted at something somehow dangerous. Subtle, but dangerous. "I can see how. It's all very simple." The smile that touched her features was a brittle thing, easy to break. Laine's eyes snapped open, and the hint of madness was gone with the smile. She breathed in slowly, out just as slowly. Laine was a security agent, not a researcher. Just because something could be done didn't mean it should - and in some cases, it very much should not.

She retrieved herself, centered again, then added "He didn't lose the marbles. He traded them in for an extra eye."

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Re: Homecoming [Closed]

Post by Containment » Fri Mar 15, 2019 2:02 am

Alexis' brow furrowed. "That wouldn't be synergy, Laine, and you know it," she scolded. "Synergy implies trust, not force. It has to develop naturally. You wouldn't be any better than him if you did that. You might even be worse. Stop that."

Her tone was familiar. Eerie, even. Eerily similar to the tone she'd had not even two years ago, a younger self, a self used to correcting Laine when she got like this. True, she couldn't ever remember seeing Laine like this, but it was the same idea as any other time her anomaly got... questionable. She sat back, thinking for a moment now on the information she'd been given on Strings. Honestly? he sounded like the same old Dr. Note who'd come by once or twice a year to check up on the more unstable anomalies. His methods were questionable, there were ten thousand rumors about him, none of which she'd had the heart or money to bet on, and yet he still managed to do his job. Forced synergy? No. Like she'd said earlier, he avoided synergy, and he did so on purpose. The question was: why bother?

"To me, it sounds like he's still a researcher. An extreme researcher, and a troublemaker, but it's the troublemakers that follow change. Force it, if they have to. It's... it's in their nature." Their, the impersonal, because there was still that stubborn rogue vagabond in her that refused to let her include herself in that circle anymore. She examined Laine's face for a moment, thinking about how Laine might have been an excellent researcher, in her own right, a long time ago, back when she arrived, when she began. But she lacked the... well, the troublemaking streak. She liked order, even if it was her own definition of order and not the Foundation's, and she liked being anchored to a present point. Strings' interest probably also had a factor in how she thought of him. Alex sighed, clearing her lungs and mind of old air and old words, before turning back to the subject. "What I'm trying to say is that I don't think he's going to be opposed to the changes the Foundation makes. If anything, he's the kind of person who would push them to move faster, in whatever way he can manage that. I..." she paused, wondering if she should actually say what she was thinking. "...I kind of get that.

She pulled herself out of her mind, back into the moment. Laine had added something to the end of her commentary. Her voice lightened up, though her smile didn't quite reach her eyes. "But, uh...marbles for a third eye, huh? That must've been an eye-opening experience." A faint attempt at a chuckle followed her comment, but it... probably wasn't very funny. She was just trying to lighten the mood again, even if the only mood that needed it was her own.
"The Foundation doesn't have the freedom to be good or bad. We're here to do our job, and if we have to make or break a few rules to do that job then so be it." [Current SV-1, "Leviathan"]

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Re: Homecoming [Closed]

Post by illirica » Fri Mar 15, 2019 3:09 am

"I know what synergy is, Alex, I've read your papers enough times. If I said I could synergize with him, I meant it." She sighed, and let the sharpness fade from her tone. They were both tired. Stressed. Not at their best. "There's enough of a researcher in me to make it possible. I've always been curious, Alex. He would... indulge that curiosity, I think. And I would trust him. Part of me wants to already. I just... won't." Trusting him would be a mistake.

Besides, it didn't matter. Laine had already decided where she was going to belong, and as far as she was concerned that was the end of it. Strings was... difficult, but he wasn't her problem. She would stay secure, fortunately.

"I agree with you that he wants change, I'm just not sure that his sort of change is the same as Leviathan's sort of change. I know it's the agent in me talking, but I think he's going to cause worse breaches than he prevents. He's just not responsible. And his last report was awful." Perhaps that was not the thing that most people would find condemning, but Laine was Laine. Reports were paramount, and bad ones were not acceptable.

On the subject of things that were awful, Alex's last offering was enough to provoke a sigh of exasperation. "Really, Alex?" Laine gave her one of those intensely thoughtful stares, analyzing. Even she knows that wasn't amusing, so why did she say it? She's... deflecting? People were difficult. Anomalies were easier. She's uncomfortable, and this conversation is difficult because she isn't who she wanted to be when she thought she'd be having it. Alex had always been ambitious, from the day that Laine had met her. It should have been her explaining how the Council was to Laine, not the other way around. Everything was strange for her, and it was making her uncomfortable, so she was trying to ease the tension with whatever came to mind, because it was more important that it be done quickly than it be done well.

Laine relaxed a little bit, then added, gently, "It's all right, Alex. I know it's not what you expected, but it's not going to be all bad either. There's a lot of potential here. You could do a lot of things here. I think you'll be all right. It'll be hard at first, but you'll fit in. It's okay if it doesn't feel quite right at first. I'll help you. That's what I'm here for." She hadn't thrown her anomaly into the words, but it was the same soothing tone that she used to calm down other anomalies when they were having difficulties settling in. It worked well, with anomalies.

Laine had no idea how it would work with people. She wasn't very good with people, but she was at least determined to try.

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Re: Homecoming [Closed]

Post by Containment » Fri Mar 15, 2019 9:48 pm

Alex laughed a little more at the sigh, even if the joke itself wasn't funny. But there were more serious things to consider, and she knew that. The look on Laine's face said that she recognized the fact that she wasn't just trying to be funny. Comfort wasn't something someone could force into a conversation, any more than synergy was something that could be forced into a relationship.

She considered Laine's words for a bit, absorbed them, sitting back and not meeting Laine's gaze. Synergy. Strings. Settling. Security, soothing, and subject changes. This was the world she was stepping back into, an odd contrast against the big outside, of a solid nine months of running from this exact world. Of course, the part of her that had spent five years here wanted nothing more than to settle back in, but the rogue agent in her had been self-trained against doing exactly that. Even with help settling in, the transfer back was going to be long and difficult. She felt the silence settling around her, and decided it was time to fill it.

"I know I could do anything, and be anything. I could do it ten times faster than before if I wanted to, if I wanted to put my energy into that. I could apply experience and knowledge... maybe even someday I'd have a Council seat. You know as well as I do that there was a time that's what I wanted, Laine. I wanted to be a part of the Foundation, until I realized some of the things that... that didn't add up. The way it was, maybe still is. I feel like the Breach has changed some things, but there are others that still need to be fixed before I can be comfortable anywhere near here. It's... part of the reason I didn't come back when I talked to Cody." She took a deep breath, long-drawn and thoughtful.

"I guess the thing about the Foundation is that it's made up of people, most of whom are volunteers who want change. Some of us are like Leviathan, who want a change for the better. Some of us are like Strings, who want change for the sake of change. And I... I can't say which kind of person I want to be. I want change, but I don't know if it's just because I'm used to the world constantly changing around me, or of it's still coming from an honest desire to see the Foundation become everything it has the potential to be. And as much as I know you want to help, and as much as I want your help, Laine... that's something I'm going to have to figure out on my own. And I think that more than anything is going to help me decide where I belong."
"The Foundation doesn't have the freedom to be good or bad. We're here to do our job, and if we have to make or break a few rules to do that job then so be it." [Current SV-1, "Leviathan"]

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