(2017-12-19) Spiders on the Brain
Spiders on the Brain
Summary: Telepathic spiders? Well, probably no weirder than telepathic birdmen, really…
Date: 2017-12-19
Related: None
NPCs: {$npc}
Scene Runner: NA

No one would argue that it has been a rather odd couple of weeks. Taká certainly won't. Things seem to have finally settled down following the incident that closed the old school building; of all the students who made it out, he's certainly been among the least affected. He certainly never made any secret of his dislike for the underwater life, and those who've known him since last term will probably all agree he seems more relaxed, and not just as a matter of being more used to this planet.
Relaxed or not, it simply isn't flying weather outside, not today. Too cold—or at least too cold too fast, and Taká's not used to the winter weather yet. So, indoors. At least the windows don't have fish shimmering by them every now and then.
So what he's doing with himself is… not much. Lounging in the presence of the TV without actually watching it, occasionally nibbling on orange wedges, and making neat and precise notes with what not only looks like a quill pen, but of a color that might have come from one of his own wings.

Something strange might brush against Taká's consciousness, on the telepathic level. Curiosity. Aimed at Taká. The thoughts are on an instinctual level, like an animal's—the curiosity is a fearful 'friend, foe, or food?' sort of mindset.
Skitter skitter. Something skittering around, like a bug. On the ceiling. There are about five of them—tiny, quarter-sized white spiders that only a telepath would be able to see. They're completely white, almost translucent, shaped like jumping spiders. But there are small spots on their abdomens that form small faces. And those faces appear to change. One moment seeming to peer at Taká from above, one moment seeming to be sidelong glancing at each other, and then back to peering at Taká.

It's been so long since he's had telepathic contact without physical contact, it genuinely takes Taká a moment to positively identify it as such. He shakes his head, as one might if a fly had landed on their cheek, and instinctively flicks his mind out with a greeting: (Kié? Is someone there?)
He gets up and looks around—left, right, forward and back, but oddly not upwards. But that would remind him there's a ceiling lower than he would like, so maybe not oddly after all. And he sends his mind out again, with another inquisitive, (Kié?)

Skitter skitter! A lot of facespots get very surprised! A few get confused. But the 'mind' makes cautious contact again. It's not just one mind. It's many, all linked into a single unit. Fifty one-minds. Fifty of them are animals. One… is not. But that one isn't listening. In fact, it's actively trying to tune the rest out.
Why would it be doing that? Because they're all 'talking' at once. Animal concerns. Shelter. Scouting for enemies. Curiosity. Keeping the other mind healthy… like worker bees tending a queen bee.
It really is a cacophony of mental voices—chittering, hissing voices that don't sound anything like humanoid language, but are understood nonetheless. They're not loud, really… but it might be a little unsettling for a humanoid mind.

Taká's mind may be humanoid, but he's also accustomed to sharing it with many others at the same time. Fifty voices is a lot, but it's not overwhelming, especially as they're individually small mentalities, not fully sentient minds.
The fifty-first mind, that's different. Clearly, firmly, but not forcefully, Taká addresses himself to that one: (Hello?) In tone, it's not unlike a gentle clearing of the throat to get someone's attention without startling them. (I hope I'm not intruding… can you 'hear' me?)

The first thing Taká gets is much akin to the 'alert' sound from many stealth video games of this era, combined with, (…Wha?!) Then… music. It stops before too long, though. One of the instinctual minds points Taká's location out to the sapient mind. And in a few moments, a blond teen suddenly appears at the door of the great hall. Not literally 'appears', he just walks in rather unexpectedly.
He's not in uniform, since they're not in class—a green shirt, denim vest, blue jeans, and hiking boots. There's a couple of pins on his lapels; on the right side is a skull with an open mouth that sports fangs, on the left is a heart with a lightning bolt shaped groove cut in the middle that gives the suggestion of a broken heart.
He pauses when he sees the winged person, and blinks. "Uh… did you call?" he asks. Verbally, to note. The mind-cloud is still there, he's just not using it at the moment.

"I… suppose I did." He makes an easy transition from mental to verbal communication. The birdman's physical voice is identical to his mental one in tone, but he speaks English with an unplaceable accent. "I felt another mind and have not for some time and I just… reacted out of instinct, I think. I apologize for disturbing you; I hope you were not distracted from anything important."
He bows, spreading his wings slightly—and taking care not to knock anything over with them. "I don't think we have yet met. I'm Taká. Are you a new student?" He does not appear to have noticed the spiders yet; at the very least, he hasn't been seen to even glance at the ones overhead.

The blond teen is quick to assure Taká, "Oh no, you didn't. I was only listening to some music." Which probably explains the music Taká heard. He smiles at the introduction, and offers in reply, "I'm Theodore. You can call me 'Theo' if you wish." He has a strangely formal sound to his words, one that's unusual amongst humans of his age. Though he's very definitely American.
Theo tilts his head. "So… you're telepathic?" he asks. "The only people who have been able to sense their minds thus far have been telepaths."

"Theo," Taká repeats, though he pronounces the 'th' as in 'Thomas'. "Yes, I am telepathic, although completely only with other telepaths. Otherwise I need to make physical contact, in order to make mental contact. It was a curious mind-feel, a large number of smaller minds all orbiting around yours. I am used to multiple minds, but not like that. Where are they all?"

Theo doesn't bother correcting the pronunciation—it could be an artifact of his language, and that's hardly Theo's place to police. He nods as Taká explains. "I'm… still getting used to mine, unfortunately. They were a bit of an accident."
As for where all the minds are? "Most are spread out around the house," he replies. "I've restricted them to the ceiling so they don't startle people. There are a few in here, though." He doesn't directly point them out, but his comment about restricting them to the ceiling should be enough to give a good idea of where they are.

It does: Taká automatically looks up and sees the five small glowing white spider-like things. He steps back so none are directly overhead. "So these are what I sensed first? Fascinating! No animals on my world have an organized enough mind to reach remotely, and even with physical contact, it is dim and murky at best."
He can't help himself. He waves up at the spiders—Theo may notice Taká's hand has three fingers, not four—and says cheerily, "Hello!"

The creatures' abdomen-located face-spots display one expression of surprise, two sidelong looks at each other, one suspicious look, and one happy look. The one on which the happy look resides actually raises one foreleg and waves down/up at Taká: (o.o) (>.>) (<.<) (-.-) (^.^)/
"They're astral creatures," Theo explains, even as he's looking at Taká's hand—did he see that right? "They're normally not visible, but our situation is a little unusual. They usually chew on auras for sustenance, but these don't need to because they're connected to me. As long as I stay healthy they're healthy."

"That's a good thing, assuming you stay healthy. And it's probably best they know not to get too near me without warning," Taká says. "I have gotten in the habit of using my powers to, uh, deal with insects that land on me, and I wouldn't want to hurt one of them accidentally." He doesn't at all sound threatening, just matter-of-fact. And he doesn't look particularly weirded out by them—the one that waved back gets a huge grin, in fact.

"They didn't until I told them to," Theo replies. "They're accustomed to people not seeing them, and them being able to move about with impunity. And also being able to latch onto people's auras with the same impunity. I had to tell them people might see them, and that they should stick mainly to ceilings."
On the ceiling, the one who had waved to Taká scuttles about a bit, as if it recognizes the look (possibly through Theo's association with the expression) and is happy. Theo shakes his head a bit. "They're not usually this calm. Their species, I mean." He talks like they're unusual examples of a typical life-form.

Taká can't help but chuckle, and it's a light, almost musical sound. "If there is one thing I know for certain about this place," he says, "it is that the unusual is more usual than the usual. And I don't think there are typical life forms of any species at this school. I would bet even the cleaning staff have powers of their own."

The chuckle makes Theo smile—he likes music, and that sounds like music; therefore, he likes Taká's laugh. He has to agree, "That's true. This is basically the place where all the weird people go to learn to be less weird, from what I've seen so far. Granted, I've not been here very long, so that might not be strictly correct, but it seems so from initial impression."
Theo looks up at the spiders. "Though those? Those are… actually something that exists. They're called 'etheric spiders', and psychic energy attracts them. The group of them that I have were initially trying to feed on my aura, all at once. That's pretty dangerous. They're only 'mine' now because I sort of… overfed them when they wouldn't go away. It wasn't like starting to feed a stray dog or cat and it becomes 'yours', either."

"In my experience, the best pets are the ones that choose you," Taká replies with some amusement. "My brother fed a sóqa… sorry. It's a bird, native to my world. Your jays and cardinals are similar. Now we say it owns him; they're inseparable."
He peers closely at the one that waved back. "Are they native to this world? I have seen similar, but they are just normal creatures, not at all mentally active. And they don't glow."

Theo chuckles at the mention of the bird choosing Taká's brother. "That happens sometimes, yes," he confirms. "Though generally only with domestic animals. There have been cases of wild animals doing that, though it's rare. Humans aren't exactly… part of nature. It's weird."
As for the spiders? "They are, though most people can't see them. There's a concept of an 'astral' plane—a sort of world that overlaps the physical one, that's out of phase with the real world. Etheric spiders supposedly inhabit that world, and sort of float around on psychic webs, going from person to person and chewing on auras a little. It's never too much, unless there's an infestation."

"I must not broadcast too loudly," Taká muses. "I have never seen one before, nor have I felt anything gnawing on my soul." He gets directly under the friendly one, and holds out his hand, palm up, encouragingly… then glances over to Theo. "They're not… dangerous… for a telepath to touch or hold, are they?"

"A lot of people don't see them," Theo replies. "I didn't until my accident." Notably, when Taká reaches up, most of the spiders scuttle away into the corners of the room. Theo peers at the spiders that skittered. "Oh, come on. He's not gonna eat you." Sigh. "Animal minds. I'm trying to fix that, but it's difficult." The question gets a shake of his head. "They shouldn't be. Though granted, most people have stayed away from them, so I'm not completely sure. No time like the present, I suppose, if you're all right with it."
The spider on the ceiling, the friendly one, begins to descend slowly towards Taká's hand from a glowing blue thread that resonates along a psychic spectrum too. Taká shouldn't worry; if he leaves his hand there for the spider to land upon, the only thing that happens is he'll feel a more 'secure' connection with the 'collective' that is Theo's mind. Though the whispers from before are, strangely, not present. It's only Theo's mind.
And if Taká does leave his hand there and the spider is allowed to land on it? Clearly Theo can feel the connection too, since he reacts with visible (and mentally sense-able) surprise. "Oh… that's weird," he remarks. The spider just sort of turns towards Taká and looks up—with all eight of its actual eyes. They have eyelids, weirdly, and blink in unison.

Taká had his hand out specifically for the spider to land on, and waits patiently for it to touch down. "Hi there!" he greets it cheerily, and then realizing the mental connection is active, switches to that. (Sorry, that probably echoed weirdly for you.) Mentally, he has no accent, though his tone is still slightly musical. One can only wonder what his native language must be like. (Blue is my lucky color,) he adds, watching the thread.

The spider waves a front leg at Taká from the hand. The mental connection, weirdly, is between Theo and Taká, but the spider does seem aware of Taká being there. For himself, Theo also seems surprised when he's mentally spoken to. And something weird happens—the mental equivalent of very quickly switching between radio channels. Taká might pick up snippets of conversation Theo's had recently, in both English and Japanese.
Finally, (Sorry. I'm still learning how all this works.) There's no whispers now, this appears to be a 'clean channel', so to speak. The spider seems calm, almost like it's meditating. (I suppose they're like little USB plugs,) he observes.

(Something like that,) Taká replies. (You're connected to them, and they need physical contact for a clear channel.) If anything, Taká seems more comfortable communicating mentally—but then, English isn't his first language, and telepathy bypasses the need for specific words and goes straight to concepts and meanings. Theo (and his spider) are probably not aware that Taká is thinking in his own language; over the mental link, it's the ideas and meanings that come through, not the merely mortal words. (I may be able to help you with getting accustomed to mental contact," Taká offers. (I know it intimately enough.)

In a way, the spider is more comfortable with it than Theo. This might come across in how easily the spider's mental connection works as a conduit, how it doesn't shift around or seem uncomfortable at all doing this. (So it seems,) he observes, of the connection. (I've been told people can hear all of them chittering when trying to talk to me personally. I'm not sure Rain would like the idea of having to hold a spider to get a clear connection though.)
Can images come through? Theo may not have the control not to think of that first meeting with Rain—out on the back patio, when she was trying REALLY HARD not to look at the spiders on the railing Theo was leaning against while they were talking.
But the mention of helping Theo get accustomed to a mental connection gets a nod. (That might be a good idea.)
No indeed, if there's any sign Theo's aware of the difference in language, he doesn't speak up. Given his unfamiliarity with the mental language, it's likely he doesn't even realize.

(I'm used to touching many minds at the same time,) Taká 'sends. (It's how all our religious rites are done, minds closely linked. And of course, I'd always be aware of anyone in the area. And the automated house systems. So your little friends are not overwhelming.)
He can't help but chuckle a little—images, or at least the thought-equivalent of them, can come through. (I can't imagine being frightened of your little entourage. They certainly seem friendly enough.) He shrugs, with a soft rustling of feathers. (Then again, my home was in the trees. You can't help but get used to insects because they're always around.) There's a little flicker with that last that indicates by 'home' he means something rather more than an oversized nest.

The mental overtones/undertones are something that Theo hasn't quite gotten accustomed to yet. It rather feels like someone saying two different words at the same time so that the sounds overlap. But it's understandable, unlike when someone tries to SAY two words at a time. (It's a little difficult for me to "hear" past their minds sometimes. This way seems to be easier.) He points at the spider Taká's holding. Though Theo seems to be settling in to using the mind to communicate.
(Spiders are… something people are afraid of. It's a pretty common fear.) The human mind—even Theo's—tends to cast spiders as these alien, frightening things. Slow-moving but sure-footed monsters that want nothing but to kill people. The human collective consciousness is a weird thing.
Though Theo does comment, (If you lived in a tree, then yeah, you had to deal with bugs.) There's a bit of a mental 'shudder' over that—Theo is very much an urban survivalist, and the idea of having to deal with natural bugs actually displeases him.

(We-e-e-e-llll,) Taká begins, (Not in a tree. My home was spread across the canopy of several. Here, let me sho… sorry.) The mental image of much greenery and blue skies fades before it can fully appear. (I should ask, not just push. I know Earth people aren't used to mental contact. With practice, though, I think you'll be able to filter out the network your spiders set up and focus on the person you're communicating with. I had to do that at home, if I wanted to send to one particular person rather than everyone in the area.)

Given his psychic abilities are all because of spiders, the image sort of 'slithers' across his subconscious. The conduit spider's facespots shift to something like surprise. (Oh, it's all right,) Theo replies. (You seem to be more accustomed to speaking this way. I admit, it does make sure vaguarities like tone don't spoil understanding. Must be difficult to make double-entendre, though, since the other person always knows what you mean.)

Taká chuckles softly. (You might be surprised. A pun is so situational, and comes up so quickly from the punster's subconscious, there's no way to spot it telepathically before it happens. But yes, every thought has a certain amount of emotional interplay entwined with it. It has to, we're emotional creatures. I could never mistake the mindport to control the house systems for another person, it's just pure communication.)
He takes a long breath, and looks upwards, almost like he's looking through the ceiling. (Of course, I was born telepathic, and raised in a telepathic society. I'm used to having some sort of contact at all times. That was the hardest thing to get used to here—I can't sense non-telepaths without physical contact, and there are painfully few telepaths around here.)

Confusion. (House systems?) Realization! Surprise! (You could control your house telepathically?) Pensive. (Though… I guess it would be at that. It would be like talking to a robot.) Theo can't help the images of the big giant robot from The Day the Earth Stood Still.
Theo's thoughts go… well, thoughtful at this. (So it's kind of like walking through a world full of people that are missing a sense? Like a human walking through a world full of people who are deaf?) he inquires. (Or, well… maybe more like a world full of people who didn't even know what hearing was?)

(I think,) Taká sends slowly, and even a little sadly, (it's more like suddenly going deaf after being able to hear your entire life. There's a whole sense I used to use freely, and now I can only use it occasionally.)
He sighs, and grabs hold of the change of subject because following that line of thought will only get more depressing. And he can't help but giggle at the mental image of Gort. (Our robots are much more utilitarian than that. Of course, we can control house systems telepathically. Fundamentally, telepathy is just a radio wave generated by the bioelectric fields of the brain. I don't know the engineering behind the mindport, but it seems pretty straightforward as an idea.) He shrugs. (Of course, you can't really have a conversation with your house. It's strictly programmatic.)

Theo nods. He's getting a little better at picking up emotions from the thought-words, and gets the feeling he should talk about something else. So when Taká changes the subject, Theo eagerly follows suit. Pause. Thought. The tone of his thoughts here is similar to 'you have a point'. (I suppose you're right,) he notes. (Just we on this planet don't have anything to pick up those mental radio waves. But we're getting better at it. There's a headset that has fake cat ears on it, that reads your moods and changes the movement of the ears based on your mood.) A chuckle, this one verbal. (Not exactly the most noble use of the technology perhaps… but think of it as practice.)

(That… would be kind of an odd use for that kind of technology.) Taká can't help but laugh, of course. (But maybe you need to make those small steps first. I've been told that Terrans are used to thinking their brains are entirely theirs, and generally would not approve of intrusions on them.) He shakes his head (No matter how sensible it would be.)

Theo nods. (Baby steps. First, controlling fake cat ears. Next, controlling a prosthetic limb. Which I think they're already working on with some degree of success.) As for Terrans thinking their brains are 'theirs'? (That's also true. There is very much a belief that the mind is a pure, perfect temple that must never be breached, or that it's the only thing that's truly "ours", or that it's the last refuge we have. Fortunately I can't really read minds, the way most people with that opinion are afraid will happen.)

Taká nods, and the sense of agreement and understanding flows wordlessly from him. (I have to admit, if it weren't for the fact that I can't 'read minds' of normal Terrans without physical contact, I probably would be all the time, just because I can't not. Although,) he continues, looking around, and there's a sense that he's looking outward towards the village, and the nearby cities, despite the walls, (although it's probably a good thing Terrans are not. You live in such clusters. It would be too many minds too close together.)

Theo thinks about that, being too close together. (It would be like putting the whole school into one of the individual rooms and instructing everyone to scream at the top of their lungs,) he reasons. (Particularly since we're not used to keeping our minds quiet. Mental Tourette's syndrome.) Which makes him snicker a little.

(I noticed.) Taká grins. (I've had to unlearn a lifetime of habits… and be careful of coming into contact with others unexpectedly. Which is also a little disconcerting, because that's not something I ever had to think about avoiding either. So many things I used to take for granted….)

The spider climbs up to Taká's shoulder, and starts to 'poke' at the wings as best as it can. It's pretty small, so it may not be able to reach them. Their mental connection's 'ceiling' is getting curious. Without paying it much attention, Theo asks, (Does it work through clothes? Or does it have to be skin-on-skin contact? If it doesn't work through clothes, you could just wear gloves and sleeves over your arms.) His mind thinks of detached sleeves, like for protection against the sun or chemicals in a work environment.

(I haven't really tested it much,) Taká answers. (Not many people have the patience to go through several inconvenient changes of clothing and then let me handle them just to see if I can hear their thoughts. I seem to be able to 'hear' just fine through normal clothing at least. It may just be a matter of proximity.) He shrugs, forgetting about the spider, which suddenly suffers a birdquake.

Theo nods. (Could be. Maybe it's just a matter of most people not being able to 'meet you halfway', so the physical contact is a most literal way to do that,) he theorizes. (If that's the case, it would take whatever blocks brainwaves to block your telepathy.) Suddenly Theo's thoughts go comical. (I know. Tinfoil.)
The spider in question seems to weather the birdquake well, though it needs to put all of its legs back down to the shoulder underneath it to hang on. And the facespots shift to a surprised expression. Much like the Spanish Inquisition, the spider was not expecting the Great Birdquake!

Since (so far as Taká can gather) Theo has no reason to be surprised, the mental wave takes the birdman a little off guard, until he notices the spider on his shoulder, and pieces together what happened. (Oh! Sorry, li'l guy!) As best as possible, Taká tries to address the affected spider directly, and holds his hand up for it to crawl into.
(That probably helps, that I can't touch minds without touching the person. Otherwise I might be an object of fear. I'd hate that.)

The spider crawls onto the offered hand, and then faces Taká. With its actual face, not its butt-face. Those spots turn to a happy face, and it offers a wave. The overtone of its mind is 'no worries!'. Theo does note though, (Very likely. Sadly, human minds are like unlocked warehouses full of merchandise, comparatively. And they always get upset when someone enters in through the unlocked door.)

(I know, I know,) Taká sends with a mental sigh, (and it's not their fault for not being able to shield themselves any more than it's my fault for being able to see inside. Terrans are what they are, and we Akiár are what we are. That doesn't mean I still can't find it frustrating, or confusing, or just plain odd.) Mental grin.

Theo smirks. (Even people on our own planet get that way around each other,) he points out. (There's people who think a thing another country does is weird, and just go "Well, you know those people from 'insert country here', they're all weird like that". I doubt we'd be able to figure out someone not from this world, if we can't even figure out our own species.)

(I wish I could say that doesn't apply to us,) Taká replies with amusement, (except I know exactly how some homeworlders can get about us "colonists"… never mind that my world's been settled for centuries, you'd think we were still living in the first landers—or worse.)
He adds primly—and not a little facetiously—(Of course on my world, we'd never //dream of stereotyping the homeworlders…//). Mental grin. *And* a physical one.

At this Theo actually laughs audibly. (Let me guess—people from the homeworld wonder why you'd want to live in the back of beyond?) There's a brief thought of 'city folk vs. country folk' the way it is on Earth.

Taká nods, once. (That sums it up pretty well. The homeworld has all the ancient sites, the imperial city, everything. Of course, what we have that they don't is space. My assigned home would have been much smaller on the homeworld than what I received on Kyshán. I think I'd much rather have the space than the prestige.)

Theo nods. (I can't blame you there,) he notes. The connection turns a little… well, does 'hungry' have a color? It's that color. (Want to see if we can't rustle up some grub?) The possibly odd statement might be given a little more ease in translation by the undertone that 'grub' means 'food', not a literal grub.

(Yeah,) Taká replies, suddenly hungry. (Well, I usually am ready for food. My metabolism's faster than a Terran's. Just… no coffee. Or chocolate. Both have a profound effect on me.) He doesn't actively send the thought, but there's a definite sense that they have quite different profound effects.

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