Meyan looked down at the fastidiously clean plate in front of her in surprise. Not even a dot of yoke remained and she couldn't even remember having eaten her breakfast. The surprise was only momentary, a slight distraction from everything else which had occupied her mind over that past few days since she'd returned from her adventures aboard the Akatsuki. The faces of Bee and Kip were often a permanent feature of that occupation and even having been for Bee's amazing re-lifing the prior day, it only caused the pain and loss for Kip to burn brighter.
She hadn't known him as well as Bee, and she'd never had occasion to even so much as talk with him, but somehow that only made it worse. His was the potential of a life that would never be; a friend she'd never have. She tapped her fork very gently against nothing in particular as her mind pondered again over these same thoughts.
"I didn't even know till I saw the marks!" The suddenly raised voice jostled Meyan from her memories. "So yeah, I sent the bomb in..." It was one of the capsuleers having their late night drink behind her. She didn't turn but listened in. Their voices were raised anyway so it wasn't that hard to.
"And they all scattered of course. " This voice, separate from the first, ended in a chuckle.
"Nope, must not have. I couldn't tell at the time how many I got, or how many made it through the hole, at least until I suddenly got three bounty notifications a full minute later!" This produced yet more laughter and even a bit of congratulating.
Meyan briefly considered letting her implants look up the owner of the voices but decided not to. She didn't need to know who it was and she didn't really want to. Something about the comradery, as good natured as it may otherwise have been, really got to her though. Those capsuleers very clearly had been part of Origin's defense during the incursion which had robbed her of her young friend. To hear them joke and laugh about it, knowing that there had been such loss... it just felt insensitive.
But maybe that was part of being immortal. Those capsuleers hadn't known Kip, or Bee for that matter. While their crew's may have been protected by Origin's re-lifing wonders the crews aboard the destroyers they had killed had not, but again, that was the risk that those crews and those capsuleer's had accepted in trying to invade Origin like they had. Why should the members of Alexylva Paradox waste themselves in worry or pity for their enemies? Why should they grieve for two children they never knew?
Meyan couldn't find an answer for her own question but then maybe there wasn't one. Was that what being a capsuleer was like, to be so removed from the truth and reality of death that it failed to move you? Maybe that was what was in store for the future of Origin's people too. Re-lifing tech was certainly a miracle, but could it bring the same level of detached removal? Could life and death become something as meaningless as a game? Her thoughts turned again to Kip, to Bee, and to Solu. No, maybe that wasn't the fate of her brothers and sisters with whom she shared a home.
Solu was at once both example and exception to the horror of that eventuality. Flying beside her had opened Meyan's eye not only to the carnage of the capsuleer world, but to the grace of it too. Life in New Eden was perhaps a colder thing than she'd ever really imagined in her youth. The wars were there, of course, but they were somewhere else and fought by someone else. In just the short few years she'd been out amongst the stars, and especially through her time living within the microcosm that was this wonderful and frightening wormhole system she'd come to find that life held little safety. Doubly so in Anoikis. And yet, even when surrounded by all of the death and potential doom, there were those, like Solu, who had faced that heart scaring horror and not given in. Seeing Solu so emotionally bare had given her more hope for the future than she had ever thought possible. And for as many cold and heartless capsuleers out there, waiting to feed only their insatiable need for violence and death, there was at least one like Solu, or Tez, or...
Xeph's name came to her, attempting to fill the next spot in her list but she couldn't. Meyan glanced at Derrek who was once more tending bar. It was the same bar where she'd met the Sub-Coordinator yet somehow she was glad that she hadn't seen him at it since Kip and Bee's death. She didn't exactly blame him for what had happened, she knew she didn't have all the facts about it anyway, yet she also couldn't place him in her list of those demi-gods whom she still trusted. He had been somehow tainted in it all. Maybe he still was the man she'd originally placed him to be, maybe he did care as she'd thought he would, but lately she hadn't been sure as to what she would say to him when next they met. And meet they would certainly have to. Her plans required it.
Thinking of one person she'd possibly misjudged of course turned her mind to yet another; Delynn. Her short flight alongside Solu had projected a rather stark light onto him as well. Maybe it was how incredibly emotionally charged that flight had been, but even during the worst of it Meyan had felt somehow safe; protected. And not in the overbearing bartered sort of way which she had with Delyyn.
She and Delyyn had managed a rescheduled lunch just the day before. It hadn't exactly been the most awkward thing she'd ever done but it rated pretty high on that scale. Thinking back on it now, perhaps it was a sign as to how correct she had been that he'd been so amicable with her idea that they part ways. It had been amicable too, their parting. Terribly awkward to do over lunch; yes, but also amicable. He had seemed no worse for being 'dumped' and had even hoped her well. They finished the meal, he went his way, and she went hers. Her way. It was an intriguing thought; a bit novel too. Something in her fluttered just a bit to remind her that she wasn't exactly immune to the odd chemistry one feels when choosing a new journey in life. But that really was what she was doing, choosing a new path. A part of this new path just happened to have a name as well; Solu.
She never really was the type to seek a relationship with someone else, but somehow that just felt... comfortable now. Comfortable and a little bit scary too she admitted. But for the first time the idea of rejection wasn't scary. She was beginning to know herself better now too. Not the Meyan she had been, but the Meyan she was becoming. And it hadn't been the new skin, or the changing chemistry. It hadn't even been the rollercoaster with Delyyn. Well, at least it hadn't been because of those things though they had helped. No, it had been a chance interaction with a precociously wise child which had caused her to ask one simple question; what do I want to be?
I want to be... me. For the first time in a long time Meyan wanted to decide for herself. Maybe that was part of the allure of such a fast and emotional decision. It was her decision. She was making it for herself, come what may. Her eyes threatened to tear up at the thought of how Bee must be handling all of this so she decided that maybe it was time to put a hold on so much introspection. Besides, she didn't want to be late.
Meyan settled up her tab via implant then looked for and found Derrek over clearing another table. She gave him a wave and and smile in thanks for the great breakfast. Then, with one more glance over at the rowdy capsuleers and their reverie, Meyan left Sunny-side Up.
The next step on Meyan's current path, and the one for which she certainly didn't want to be late, consumed her thoughts as she stepped off the tram near the pleasure district. Her destination was only a short walk away, one of Nina's more commercial medical centers. Typically it catered to various bio-sculpt or personal expression procedures as well as boasting some of the best cloning facilities in the system, but today it would play host to one of the very rare procedures undertaken by a very, very few in Origin and perhaps nowhere else. Today a multiple was being re-born.
Apparently her boss's boss favored the personal touch in all his facilities as a real person, rather than the more common automated system, greeted Meyan's entry. "Ahh, hello Ms. Kasil, I believe you are anticipated just down corridor C and to your third left in the main operating suite." Meyan smiled back in appreciation and mentally remarked at how nice the personal touch actually felt.
To call the room she walked into next an 'operating suite' was perhaps a bit misleading. The name implied something much more similar to that of an operating theatre like one might find in a medical ward. This palatial room was something more on the side of what a hacker, biophysicist, and engineer might have dreamed up together. Not unlike the room in which Bee had been re-lifed in only a day before, this chamber had the feel of a biomechanical lab as well as the dedicated server interfaces on each wall. However, where Bee's theatre had been built for space and time efficiency, this room was almost gluttonous in it's space usage. A full three decks in height it was like entering a cathedral to the re-life sciences.
The room's spacious impact was only enhanced by the four simple medical tables set beside three portable clone stasis chambers at the center of the chamber. Each of these seven currently stationary fixtures were accompanied by several technicians buzzing about them. Meyan couldn't make out any sort of chief within the mix of techs and no one else had approached her after entering so she simply waited beside the door and continued to look over the space.
All of the activity was well centered in the room and beyond it there were a solid four to five meters of clearance before her eyes came to the walls of the room. Those walls were lined and equipped in typical laboratory or medical fashion with the exception of a pair of massive articulated mechanical arms at either end of the octagonal room. Meyan surmised that it had been these arms which had retrieved and deposited the clone stasis chambers on the decking below, a hypothesis supported by the massive magnetic tracks each arm was set on which seemed to end at a closed doorway on the upper portion of each wall. Clearance for the arms could certainly be one reason for such a massive space.
The great arms drew her gaze upward. The upper levels and all about the room were lined with either digital viewing interfaces or actual physical seats. Those seats were of course empty and the interfaces glowed with a peaceful blue-green of inactivity. Were this not such a personal event, perhaps those screens and seats would have been filled with Origin's advanced biology students or even austere visitors from beyond Origin itself. And thus she surmised the second reason for such a massive space. This hall could be used for teaching too. It hadn't existed while Meyan was at University; if it had she certainly would have found at least some chance to attend a procedure or lecture given in such a place as this. But she was here now and as her eyes once more fell to level with the medical tables before her the group of techs and physicians seemed to settle. One of them even beckoned for her to step forward.
About two meters into the room she felt herself pass through the decontamination field as it tingled across her skin. Once inside Meyan made her way toward the physician standing just beside one of the middle tables. It had been she who had beckoned to Meyan however before Meyan could move more than half way across the floor one of the other techs, who had been fully covered by the typical shirt and static reducing hoods worn by the other professionals, began stripping out of her garments and letting them fall to the floor. Another tech gathered those up and the now naked woman turned to smile at Meyan.
"I'm glad you could make it." Meyan's momentum ceased as Solu looked back at her with a grin.
She couldn't think of a good answer but instead let her eyes review her friend before her. Solu's skin was nubile and pristine. Meyan knew that she, or at least this clone of hers, had entered Origin from its capsuleer rebirth in the Jita system only a day earlier, just in time for Bee's re-lifing. While Solu's previous body had made it back safely to Origin from the hunt to save the kids, ultimately her unorthodox disconnect from her ship and pod had left that body far too damaged to warrant saving. Once both Solu and the physicians had been certain of success, the pod, still connected to that clone of Solu, had been jettisoned into space and summarily self-destructed. This in turn activated the Transnural-burn process built into every capsuleer which shifted Solu's consciousness light-years through space and into her new clone. Meyan had had only briefly interacted with Solu during and just prior to Bee's re-lifing but she'd had to leave so quickly afterwards to start preparations for today that the two of them hadn't really been able to talk. Yet seeing her now, in the flesh as she was, brought a smile to her face.
That flesh was still quite new and as if to emphasis the point Meyan's eyes were drawn to the stump on Solu's right arm where the mechanical arm had been interfaced only yesterday. Solu noticed the movement of Meyan's eyes and her smile grew warmer.
"This body won't need that anymore." The words seemed to remind Meyan that she was only part way across the room and she continued walking.
The physician turned back to Solu. "We will need to get started soon ma'am."
Solu nodded. "This should only take a moment." She turned to look back at Meyan who blushed.
"I didn't mean to hold things up."
"Nonsense, I invited you didn't I?"
Meyan glanced about at the rest of the empty chamber. "And only me, apparently."
Solu's lips betrayed the hint of a grin. "Perhaps." Meyan slowed to stand just before her friend. "I wanted you to be here, especially after... everything."
Meyan wasn't sure exactly how to respond physically. The moment onboard Solu's Akatsuki had certainly been intense enough to crash through any boundaries of propriety which Meyan was currently feeling but that had been then, and this was now. Her cheeks flushed purple but then she caught herself and remembered her own thoughts from earlier. She was who she wanted to be. Her stomach erupted into flutter-flies and that still nagging voice she had finally buried still shouted at her, threatening to release a torrent of nervousness but she pushed it all down and held out her hand.
Solu's hand grasped hers.
There was a pause as they both shared that moment but a gentle clearing of voice from just beside them brought time back to their space. Solu's eyes turned resignedly from Meyan to the physician. "Very well, let's proceed." Solu released Meyan's hand with a last little squeeze and as Meyan took just a few steps back Solu made her way over to the left-most medical table. This seemed to initiate some unspoken moment because suddenly all of the techs immediately started moving.
There was a general hum which vibrated the entire chamber as a massive column descended from the center of the decking above. Even as the column lowered four separate sets of capsuleer grade jack-cables preceded it. As each of those cables reached the waiting techs below they efficiently collected them and set them each in a set of six into a sort of hook attached to the top left of each medical table, just beside where a head might go. As suddenly as the rumbling had started all movement from above ceased and Meyan's eyes looked back over to where Solu was now settling into the left table. From her vantage at the periphery of it all, Meyan watched as another lull seemed to fall over the group. Something about the reverence evident in each tech's movement and in the way each part of the process seemed carved out in time struck her. It was almost as if some archaic ritual were being played out before her and she was bearing witness to it all here within the very heart of some Holiest of Holies. The weight of it cause her to shiver.
Each of the three clone pods opened suddenly and as one. Not a single tech so much as started but Meyan felt those flutter-flies from before try to escape her throat. A cool mist evaporated quickly from each pod and within seconds it was as if the mist had never been there at all leaving the lids to peel slowly up and reveal three additional starkly identical copies of Solu within. The only dissimilarity they held from the original was that where the first clone of her friend's arm had ended in a stump; each of these clones displayed a fully upgraded and very natural looking forearm and hand.
The chief physician nodded to what must have been the chief technician, a heavily bearded man with an aged face, who nodded back and in turn looked over to the original Solu. "We are prepared."
Having witnessed the revelation of the three new clones Meyan suddenly wished only to see the original one, as if what she knew was about to happen might somehow rob her of the friend she knew. A few steps brought her around to the left and within eyesight of Solu who now lay prostrate on her table. Solu turned her head to make eye contact with Meyan and smiled again to her. There was such warmth and confidence in that smile. It wasn't a cocky confidence or even a fake one, some misfounded attempt to reassure Meyan when trust wasn't there for herself. No, this was the path that Solu was choosing and it was one she had spent a lot of time, heart, and soul in choosing. She knew that this was what she wanted and all that passed through and into her smile to Meyan. "Proceed" Solu closed her eyes but the smile remained.
The next few minutes were a bit less climactic than Meyan had anticipated. Solu remained peacefully quiet while her other clones were extracted from their pods and laid, in a similar fashion as she had been, onto each of the other three tables. The original Solu was then jacked up to each of the six cables which had been gathered and hooked into her table. This was shortly followed by the techs performing that process three more times with each of the other clones. Meyan again wondered at the seemingly reverent and methodical rhythm with which each tech shifted and inserted each coil. Another tech would then review the first tech's work and then yet another tech would carefully re-gather and restrain the coils back into the hook.
Meyan's thoughts drifted back to a conversation she'd had via com relay with Solu only two day's ago.
::No, it won't be exactly like what Coordinator Saede did. Similar yes, but with some rather specific differences.:: Solu Terona
::Oh, like what?:: Meyan Lui Kasil
::Well, for one, I'll be balancing ultimate control of the hive mind between all three clones. Sort of like you might balances the load of multiple computer processors.:: Solu Terona
::Hmm, I think that is more Petrian's area than mine, wrong half of the team.:: Meyan Lui Kasil
::Don't sell yourself short; and I wasn't being that technical.:: Solu Terona
::No, I guess you weren't, and I'm not.:: Meyan Lui Kasil
::Anyway... It will be terribly confusing at first, and I am sure there will be some rather embarrassing moments as we try to sort out which clone is seeing and experiencing what at any given moment. But ultimately the idea of having some centralized mind hidden away somewhere seems way too... impersonal.:: Solu Terona
::So each clone will experience everything the others are concurrently? How the hole will that work?:: Meyan Lui Kasil
::In short? With practice... The long answer is that each clone will be completely independent of the others as an autonomous unit however all of that clones experiences and the memories they form will be simultaneously shared with the other two and each clone's implants will help pick up the slack and ease any erroneous lags in data flow should they occur.:: Solu Terona
::That still seems confusing.:: Meyan Lui Kasil
::Oh, it will be! At least until I get used to it. For a while though I'll have to adjust for the distinct chance that one clone might suddenly become confused by another clone's concurrent experience. And it will take even longer to ensure that a very intense experience for one clone doesn't mean that the other two are suddenly and 'inexplicably' reacting to it and thus looking quite silly in public.:: Solu Terona
::Yeah, that could be quite bad... and possibly hilarious.:: Meyan Lui Kasil
::And you'll of course be laughing with me, yes?.::Solu Terona
::Oh, of course! I'd never dream of something so mean and treacherous. Why would you even think of such things.:: Meyan Lui Kasil
::Uh ha. Why indeed...:: Solu Terona
Meyan's attention returned to the present yet with the lingering image of exactly how she'd pictured Solu's smirk to have looked. She smiled; recognizing emotion through one's mental voice wasn't exactly easy, but she was really getting the hang of it. This in turn had meant that her conversations with Solu had taken on a much richer quality despite the lightyears of distance between them as Solu made her multi-system journey home. They had been good conversations too. Before her the flurry of tech activity had been completed and again rechecked by the chief tech himself. Solu's eyes opened once more.
"Meyan." Solu beckoned her over again.
Meyan glanced first to make sure she wouldn't be interrupting anything but all of the techs had moved to surround and inspect only the three new clones leaving Solu apparently free to her will.
"They'll be busy with the hardware for this next bit so we have some time to talk." Meyan nodded in acceptance. "So, any updates on the new lab space?"
Meyan winced just a little. There was no disapproval or distrust in Solu's voice but Meyan's tardiness in actually finalizing the deal felt pretty heavy regardless. She hadn't exactly been stalling, but she hadn't been actively seeking out the one person she needed to talk to next. "Well, not really. I'm still very close to securing the space but I still have just one more step to complete."
Solu must have mistook her hesitance. "I know you aren't actually that eager to move, at least not as much so as I am."
"What? Oh, that." She shook her head gently. "No, it's not that. I'm ready to move. It will be... difficult, but I think I have some ideas as to how to simulate the spectrum I get here." Meyan started to wonder as to why it seemed so obvious to everyone else that she might be worried about such things but then she lifted her hand to brush a stray hair aside and the flash of brilliant green reminded her that for those who even remotely knew her, it was as clear as the color of her skin.
Solu smiled in reply to the soft blush which Meyan wasn't aware she'd even made. "Actually, I've been thinking." Well that sounded ominous but Meyan's curiosity had been sufficiently peaked. "I won't be dismantling the lab facilities here at Icarus as I had originally intended. At least one good thing to have come out of the past few days has been a considerable increase in interest from the OSS as to using Trinity Cybernetics' implant services for future needs, and with much of their operations moving to fill soon to be vacated sections of Icarus, I'll need at least one lab here."
Meyan could tell that there was more so she didn't want to interrupt but her face betrayed an anxiousness to know where Solu was taking this and how it involved her skin. "This will also help me keep the new Indigo City facilities more commercial facing without having to worry about losing staff or lab resources to any 'covert crap'. I've also been told that Sub Coordinator Xepharious," Meyan winced again just a little at the vitriol in how Solu had spoken his name and how easily that emotion had sat with her own, "will be maintaining his own offices here as well as moving the recruitment offices from their traditional location at the old Indigo City to Icarus. With both the OSS and the eventual increase in new capsuleer activity here, I can't afford not to have someone I trust heading up the Icarus branch."
Meyan could tell that Solu had just insinuated some sort of question in her last statement but Meyan struggled to see it.
Kindly, Solu elaborated; "I'd like you to run the Icarus Offices; for a short while."
There it was. It took a few moments for Meyan to fully comprehend and once she did her mind was torn between several conflicting emotions and questions. The only one which made it out her mouth was; "What?!"
Solu smiled again. "After what we've both been through, I just don't trust Xeph and Naraish very far. And while they are certainly capable of managing the clandestine end of things without much regard to how I might feel, so long as they will be using my services, I'll at least have a small window into what they are up to. I need someone who won't be pushed over by those two and moreso might actually question what they are trying to do. And I trust you."
"But I'm not even the best biologist, much less engineer, biotech, or nanotech you have. I'm not even the best researcher. How I am remotely qualified?"
There was a bit of a pause as Solu took a rather introspective breath. "Because you care more than they do." The warm smile dissolved slightly into something closer to a patient look of hope. "And, as I just mentioned, I think you'll also know the difference between right and wrong and I need someone who isn't afraid to tell me when something fishy is going on."
Meyan still wasn't ready to accept what she was hearing or what it meant. "So, you want me to play security officer."
"No, I want you to think with your heart and with your head. But I also think you have the vision to push when you need to and that's something too." Solu paused for a moment. "And yes, there are others who are better researchers, and yes I do want them doing that better research in the new lab. But I also think that you would make a better administrator than they would and after all of... this..." her gesture took in all of the current lab but Meyan could tell it had been intending to mean the past few days as well. "I'm not interested in looking outside of those who I trust to run this branch of the lab, even for a short time."
Meyan nodded. It wasn't a full acceptance but that part inside her who thought this was all just a little too good to be real was starting to give. Then something else occurred to her. "Wait, why not just run both, you actually can be in two places at once."
"Well, that's the temporary part of this." Solu smiled, apparently having correctly read Meyan's question more as curiosity than continued resistance. "Actually, with going into this new form of multipling I am a little worried about the adjustment period and I don't want to initially strain the system, our system too much." Solu's pronoun took in all three of her new clones. "This will give you a chance to try something new while letting us feel just a bit better. If you find you don't enjoy it, you can always go back to research."
"And if I do? Find that I like it I mean."
"If you like it?" Solu smiled warmly. "Then the system is at your feet and we find you a spot somewhere that fits. It might not be with Trinity Cybernetics, or maybe it will be. But we'll find it together; as long as thats ok with you."
Meyan nodded with a soft but warm smile. She was certain to have more questions and could she have waited there just a moment longer they surely would have come to her. She also found that the idea of working with Solu as a partner in any respect was both enchanting and a little frightening and just that thought alone was sure to raise several more questions any second. But the chief physician chose that moment to intrude on their private moment. "I'm terribly sorry to step in, but we must continue with the transition now or there may be additional complications."
Solu nodded first to Meyan and then to the physical. "Let's proceed."
Meyan stayed to watch the rest of the procedure as she took up a seat somewhat further away but in direct line of sight with Solu's original clone. She did have a moment of unsurety just before the actual transfer of consciousness when she struggled with the idea of whether or not to stand just beside Solu, the first one, for the actual shifting of her mind from one clone to the other three. Ultimately she'd decided against it, she didn't want to interrupt the process or accidentally cause some sort of neural feedback loop or anything. She wasn't even sure if that was a possibility but her lack of awareness just added to the 'don't do it' column.
There was no discernable difference from one moment to the next but somehow Meyan just sort of knew it had happened. There wasn't any increased activity from the techs or either chief, and no tones or alerts heralded the transfer, but she just... felt it. A few moments later the chief physician approached her and Meyan stood.
"The transfer appears to have been successful, however we will need to begin a neural-diagnostic stimulation process which could take up to an hour and following that we'll be placing each of Solu back into stasis until the diagnostics can be fully reviewed." Meyan raised an eyebrow. "Sorry, yes... you see, if there are any abnormalities discovered in the diagnostics, all chances of correcting them diminish with each moment that the clone is active following the scan. Stasis will prevent any such activity."
The physician smiled to soften what she thought would be unhappy news. "As long as everything transferred ok, you can see your friend again tonight."
Meyan nodded and turned to leave. She took one more glance back over at Solu's original clone which was now being gently removed from the table and placed into a stasis pod itself. She wished she had actually gone over to her for the transfer, despite her reservations. The large mechanical arm started it's movement to retrieve the pod and Meyan finished her walk to the door.
She stepped out of the lobby and into the corredor rubbing her temples. Somehow, despite actually participating in Bee's re-lifing, the time spent waiting and sitting in the operating suite with Solu had been even more emotionally exhausting. What she wanted now, most of all, was to find a nice, cool refresher and just luxuriate in the mists. It was precisely upon that comforting feeling that she stepped around the corredor corner and virtually collided with Sub-Coordinator Xepharious.
"I'm sorry I should ha-" Meyan's apology cut short as her eyes came up and she noticed who she had almost run into. Many thoughts suddenly raced through her head but rather than catch upon any of them she could only stand there staring at him, her words pulled up abruptly.
"I'm sorry, I was coming to speak with Solu about... about a request she put in." She couldn't' tell what it had been which had changed his mind, but he'd clearly been about to say something else.
Meyan found words to match her current attitude. "I'm afraid you'll have to try again tomorrow. They are currently indisposed." She let the weight of the pronoun fuel the glare she leveled at him.
The Sub-Coordinator furrowed his brow but seemed unable to decide what to do next.
"Fine, would you like me to take a message for them?" Meyan crossed her arms and waited.
"You?" Something must have just clicked for him because the look in his face shifted. "It concerns Bee."
Something in Meyan finally snapped into place at hearing xer name. "Bee!? It concerns Bee!? You heartless, fetid, ice-cloud-for-brains, egghead. You didn't even go to her re-lifing and now you have this burning need to talk with Solu and maybe me about it?" He didn't seem to know how to respond, and even had he known she didn't really feel like letting him. "Do you even care? You endangered the lives of how many children and now you walk about like nothing even happened?"
"I'm not finished yet." She didn't even care that she'd just cut him off. The condescension in his look told her that whatever he had been about to say would only have served to piss her off more. "I thought you were different than the other pod jockeys, you know? I really did. But we're all just 'baseliners' to you aren't we. Plain, boring, and disposable." Now it was her emotions talking and not so much her reasoning. She could see the anger building in his otherwise expressionless face so she took only a slight breath and changed her tack. "I don't doubt for a moment that you thought you had it covered, that you thought you were so smart. But you're not and what's more, you know it. You know it and yet you still put those kids into harm's way."
He didn't try to respond this time.
"You know what you are, Mr. Omnipotent? Lucky, that's what you are, damn lucky that whatever secret stash of children's bodies you've got hidden away, absolutely horrifying by the way..., that whatever stash you have happened to include another working body for that poor child and even more lucky that the re-lifing, a miracle that you take way the hole too much for granted, actually fucking worked." Still he stood stone faced. It pissed her off to no end and as she finally hit her full stride, internally she felt herself passed beyond that block of grief and come slamming full force into the gnawing pit of rage and sorrow at the very heart. Tears, something she very much didn't need just this moment, came unbidden to her eyes but still she pressed on. "And what of KipTop?"
His stone visage cracked. She saw it in his eyes like the shattering of some great monument. Even something in his posture changed almost imperceptibly.
"Yeah. You know, him? That poor, innocent nobody you so mercifully scooped out of poverty, you benevolent god, you all knowing prat! Scooped him out, fed him with hope and lies, then sent him off to fucking die!?" The sobs were threatening to overwhelm her and she knew that she couldn't let that happen, not here, not in front of him. She took a moment and let his shock and apparent inner turmoil hold the silence as she gathered her wits. "You don't deserve it, any of it. You don't deserve those kids admiration, you don't deserve mine... and you don't deserve your new fancy restaurant either."
Her change in direction astonished even her. She hadn't intended to bring up the space in Indigo City during all of this, but now that it was out there... The abrupt change had caught him even further off guard too. "You don't and you know it. I was planning on asking you nicely for that spot, but now, now I think I'll just tell you. Sub-Coordinator Xepharious, Solu and I will be using that spot instead for Trinity Cybernetics, in honor of Bee, and in honor of Kip." To her utter shock his expression passed first through one of indignance, then anger, and then completely into resignation.
The corredor was still and heavy with all of the raw emotion she'd just thrown into it. She waited several moments for him to finally speak. "You two can have the space... I'll send it through tonight..."
Meyan tried to extract some understanding from what she'd just seen; from what she'd just said. In her attempt she found herself suddenly spent of words.
"Perhaps, " His eyes found hers for just a second as he turned to leave again, "When someday the safety of an entire solar system rests on your shoulders, you too may feel the stark pain of just one of it's inhabitants passing." He finished turning and began walking back down the corridor he'd come from. His voice traveled up and over his shoulder to the stunned Meyan behind him. "Despite what you think of me, Ms. Kasil, I truly and honestly hope that day never comes for you." He turned the corner and she was left alone to wonder at the outpouring of emotion and anger which had just erupted from her. She'd gotten what she wanted. And for once in her life she hadn't been too afraid to say what she really felt. But it had retorn the wound of Kips death within her as well. She wanted to fall to the decking right there, to lament for his loss all over again. But she couldn't, not here.
Meyan gathered herself, wiping tears from her face, and turned to take a different way back to her apartment. It was a longer route, but maybe it would give her the time she needed. Maybe, by the time she reached her door, she'd figure out whether she was happy, sad, excited, or just all three at once.
Private Relay 1458 hours:
::So, xe turned them down?:: Naraish Adarn
::All of them, yeah. Xe was offered Foster care as an option as well.:: Xepharious Wryn
::I know quite a few homes offered to take xer in, including Matron Welote with her new home. They were all very quiet about it, of course.:: Naraish Adarn
::So, that's a thing now?:: Xepharious Wryn
::Huh, yeah I guess for now, but neither of us are looking for anything long term so, I guess we'll see how long it lasts.:: Naraish Adarn
::Good for you then, at least something good came out of all of her efforts.:: Xepharious Wryn
::Very funny.:: Naraish Adarn
::You know, xe was even offered adoption; that one was done rather quietly as well.:: Xepharious Wryn
::Adoption? Really, who?:: Naraish Adarn
::Iralis and Tezra, and Solu, of all people.:: Xepharious Wryn
::Huh, I never imagined Solu as a parent, but you know... I can see it. Xe accepted?:: Naraish Adarn
::Nope, not that either. Xe argued against all of 'em and instead requested to remain temporarily 'unplaced' as a Ward of the Colony.:: Xepharious Wryn
::Ok, now you are just enjoying this, let's have the rest of it.:: Naraish Adarn
::Ok fine, rob me of my fun. Xe is actually pursuing legal action to gain full adult status.:: Xepharious Wryn
::Does xe even meet the legal requirements?:: Naraish Adarn
::I thought not, but xe's found a rather good lawyer who says otherwise.:: Xepharious Wryn
::Well that's not going to put another wrinkle in the anti-digi' fanatic's panties...:: Naraish Adarn
::None of what's happened is likely to make them feel at all comfortable from this.:: Xepharious Wryn
::I guess it's lucky for us that most of this won't go public.:: Naraish Adarn
::You want to bet on how long that holds?:: Xepharious Wryn
::I'm not in the habit of taking bets I know i'll lose.:: Naraish Adarn
::So where will xe go? And H'Aki as well?:: Naraish Adarn
::Well, H'Aki has her heart set on being an Agent, something about helping those kids really stuck with her, despite the risk. So she'll remain in foster care for a few years through maturity at which point xe's already been offered a spot in the OSS cadet roster.:: Xepharious Wryn
::I'm not too surprised. Considering the training she's had over the past few months, she's already ahead of most first term trainees and probably more useful too.:: Naraish Adarn
::I agree, she does seem well on her way in that regard doesn't she. As for Bee? Xe mentioned something about voice lessons to Solu and Meyan... Xe doesn't exactly communicate much with me these days. I can't find it in me to blame her either.:: Xepharious Wryn
::You did what you had to Xeph. It was unconventional to say the least but you never intended for him to be anywhere near the action.:: Naraish Adarn
::But I should have seen what he'd do, his desire to help his friends was so blindingly obvious and predictable it has me questioning quite a lot of other assumptions about myself.:: Xepharious Wryn
::Checking your assumptions is one thing, but nothing about the past few days wasn't fedo-crap. You did your job and Origin survived.:: Naraish Adarn
::But at such cost?:: Xepharious Wryn
::There will be other children, we can't save them all.:: Naraish Adarn
::You almost sound convinced yourself.:: Xepharious Wryn
::Oh, I didn't say that I wasn't going to bring down the almighty hammer of the Wind on those truly responsible for... this. Just that you weren't really one of them.:: Naraish Adarn
::But she'd just found him again Naraish. She was my crew for Bob sake, my crew!:: Xepharious Wryn
::She is a capsuleer, Sub-Coordinator, and it was her own actions which lost him to her in the first place.:: Naraish Adarn
::Was it really? I seem to remember piloting that bomber which got her killed during that biomass crisis.:: Xepharious Wryn
::And how is this helping now?:: Naraish Adarn
::It's... not. Alright, you made your point. Still... :: Xepharious Wryn
Meyan shifted her weight from one foot to the other, bringing her just a little closer to the woman standing beside her. In response to her movement she could feel the hem of her pale blue dress shift slightly along the back of her knee and it's neckline move ever so slightly to match. The sensation was almost sensuously exotic as it sent a slight warmth of enjoyment and amusement through her. The dress, which she had never thought to get for herself, had been a gift from Iralis who had secretly bought it behind Meyan's back that day in the park boutique. Somehow, wearing this one felt immensely more comfortable than the pink one she'd splurged on. Maybe it was partly who she was with. That thought brought her mind once more to her right hand and the hand she held clasped within it.
They both stood in the observation deck of the Akatsuki overlooking an incredible and invigorating display of raw creation as an entire space station materialized before them. The amounts of pure energy required to move such massive quantities of material from the central container that sat, just slightly out of phase, in the center of the massive construction site out to the furthest edges of what was to be Origins newest station must have been staggering. Meyan knew, thanks to a very informative Ellie, that it was something about the way that all of the resources going into the new station were initially kept just out of phase in a slightly different sort of cloak, that allowed for the miracle she was seeing. As each nanite of material was propelled out from the center, it slowly transitioned the last few degrees into phase before coming to rest in the precise spot where that nanospec would spend the next, hopefully long, portion of its existence as part of the new Indigo City Station. Meyan's mind moved beyond the mechanics of it, as impressive as they were, and she let out a contented sigh as she focused, instead, on the incredible beauty that those mechanics were creating. The ultimate effect of each particle phasing back in such a way was an awe inspiring starburst of light which overlay a sort of ghostly image of what the full structure would eventually look like.
Her companion heard the sigh and smiled. "Yeah."
She pulled her eyes from the spectacle just long enough to glance at Solu. "Thank you, for this."
"For building a station?" Solu's tone was teasing and light.
"No," Meyan smirked as she looked back out at the starburst and station. "For sharing it with me."
"Oh, well, it helps that we have three bodies, real bodies, now." Solu emphasized the comment by giving the hull beside her a good 'thunk'. She then smiled at something which Meyan hadn't been privy to as the entire ship seemed to shift slightly to the left and then the Solu beside her accidentally staggered further toward Meyan. It took a moment for her to understand but when she did Meyan just shook her head.
"Still can't tell which one is which?"
Solu didn't rise to the bait but instead just frowned for a second and reacquired her balance. "We never said we'd have all the kinks out right away."
Meyan returned her eyes to the spectacle and for a few moments there was silence.
"So, 'Mey Lui'?" Solu was suddenly grinning again.
Meyan Blushed. "Bee told you, didn't xe?"
"Perhaps xe sensed that you wanted us to know the name?" Solu's grin turned unrepentant.
Meyan rolled her eyes up coyly and shrugged. "Or maybe xe isn't as trustworthy a confidant as I thought."
"Nonsense." Solu maintained the banter in good spirit but Meyan's face had quickly turned from the gentle blush to a happy glow.
"My mom used to call me that, when I was... much younger."
Solu's smile dimmed only a little. "Oh, well if it means something special for you with your mom..."
Meyan looked over at Solu and her smile warmed. "No, it's ok. I like how you say it too."
Both of them looked at each other for just a few moments longer, neither really sure what words could follow next. Meyan was the first to break the moment as she looked once more out at the station.
Solu's eyes followed. "How did you get this spot, we looked at the VaskTech properties available while we were recovering from the transfer, It wasn't even on there."
"Sub-coordinator Xepharious was pacing about outside of your suite after the multipling transfer and I kinda laid into him about... well everything. You were in diagnostics and then stasis as your other.. well as these clones," she motioned toward the Solu standing beside her, "and couldn't be there to do it, so I guess I kinda felt like I should do it for you. I hope you aren't too mad.
"Not mad... but we wish we could have seen his face... or yours for that matter... You actually yelled down a capsuleer!?" The look on Solu's face was more of pride than surprise.
Meyan's cheeks purpled. "Yeah, I guess I did. Anyway... I was so mad that I told him we were taking his restaurant's spot and that he didn't deserve it."
"That he didn't... Who are you?"
She squeezes her hand and smiles back. "I'm me. Finally."
They both looked at eachother for a few moments and then both out at the station for a few more before Solu spoke. "So, what did he say to that?"
Meyan simply gestured to the force field window which was just now flickering on only a few hundred meters in front of them. The station had materialized virtually right before them and now, as they looked through the brand new windows into what would be the foyer of the new Trinity Lab headquarters she felt an overwhelming upsurge in pride and accomplishment. A new chapter of her life was right before her and she finally felt ready to make it hers.
Sure, there would be loss. She couldn't prevent that. Her thoughts turned again to Kip and she spared just a few moments in honor of what he'd meant to all of those he'd touched. But she had made many mistakes too, and mistakes were made and learned from. She whipped the water from her eye and caught Solu's glance out of the corner of the other. Meyan felt her hand squeezed again in support, reminding her to look to the good things. And there would be many, many good things too.She'd actually gotten quite used to the verdant hue of her skin now, and despite the pains of it she was quite happy to count it among the list of 'good'. Also on that list now was the woman standing beside her. She really had no idea where that would lead but it sure had potential. She smiled in thought of it. This time she knew what she wanted and this time she wasn't afraid or unsure as to how to proceed. She thought for just a moment about the song Bee was always humming to xerself of late. She had her world at her fingertips and for all the trips and mistakes yet to be made, well... she was only human.