(2018-08-25) Theo Asks Good Questions
Theo Asks Good Questions
Summary: Syd winds up on the wrong floor of the dorm (You knew that was going to happen eventually) and wonders why her room door won't open. She meets Theo instead. They talk.
Date: 2018.08.25
Related: None
NPCs: {$npc}
Scene Runner: {$runner}


Metis/Prometheus Upstairs
Effectively this is the common area of the dorms. There is a large screen TV, with a hi-tech entertainment system and surround sound. There is a collection of couches and other comfortable chairs and tables all grouped in an assortment of conversation spaces, along with a bookcase or two, not that many teens read books anymore. They are there for the ones that still do. The walls and floor are done in tasteful neutral colors though there is a splash of green or yellow, in the curtains or the furnishings.


Sydney yawns. It's been a busy day. She's been and back to the mainland to do one more Craigslist job. A hundred fence posts at a buck a whack. It was too good to pass up. A quick shower at the Y and a change of clothes and she came back, plodded into the building, and headed upstairs from long habit at the mansion. She waves her id card at the door to the room in the right place and… it fails to open. She turns the doorknob gently. "The fuck?" (repose for the log)

A blond kid peeks around a corner, popping around as if he expected her to be there. "Something wrong?" he asks. It's Theo. He hadn't seen the metal girl, no… but his spiders had. He's had them out for about a night, mapping the place, exploring, and trying to find little hidey-places. Not to worry, Sydney fortunately isn't assailed with the vision of spiders all over the walls and ceiling. A number of students can't see them.

Sydney is, in fact, one of those students who can't see the spideys at all. Which… is good. She's not a big fan of our 8 legged friends. She stares at Theo a moment, a combination of puzzlement at the unfamiliar face, and wondering what he's doing on the girls… and then the 'oh shit' moment hits. Syd facepalms. Either her head or her hand (or both) clang like hitting a shovel. "I'm on the wrong floor. No wonder." She sighs and smiles at Theo. "I'm Syd. What's your name?"

She stares, and he stares back, also bewildered. But he doesn't seem too upset that there's a girl on the boys' floor. He chuckles as she notes the mistake. "It's a new school, there are bound to be mistakes," he notes. The introduction gets him to bow slightly. "Theodore," he offers. "You can call me Theo if you'd prefer."

Sydney nods. "Sydney, if you're being formal. Otherwise Syd is fine. Nice to meet you. And yeah… I got used to climbing stairs and I wasn't thinking." She runs her hand through her hair. "So what do you think of this place? I've never lived on an island before."

"Pleased to meet you, Syd," Theo replies. He's lost a lot of the formality that he used to interact with people using. Then again, Sydney wouldn't have any way of knowing that. The question gets a tilt of his head. "I'm not sure what to think yet," he notes. "I got here right after the original school was damaged. I'm still exploring the place."

Sydney puts down the bag she's carrying. It makes a noisy metallic rattle, like it's a brake drum and some lug nuts. Which it is. She offers that hand to shake. "Yeah? Ok. I got here right before prom, basically. Did some placement testing, and spent the summer in remedial classes. I'm with you. Still exploring the place. So are you part of the Consortium of Metis, or Guardians of Prometheus?

Theo returns the handshake, it's a light one without a lot of strength in it. Her explanation gets a nod. "Welcome, however you got here," he offers with a warm smile. The question gets an answer, "Prometheus. You?"

Sydney nods. "Metis. And I got sent here by the state of Illinois. They and my foster parents and I decided a power high school was probably the best idea. I got mad and yelled at them once. When you can throw a minivan onto the roof of the house, people get scared. I mean I didn't do anything like that but… I understand.

Theo nods. "I think that's why most of us are here," he agrees. "There are at least other powered people nearby if any of us get out of hand. At least it hasn't been as bad as it is in some of the comics, right? I don't think I could take getting tomatoes thrown at me just because I happened to be different."

Sydney shrugs. "I kind of stand out in a crowd, but so far nearly everyone's been nice. Little kids stare a lot and sometimes treat me like I'm wearing a costume or something…" she chuckles. "I'm OK with that. But I read there are hate groups for us too." Syd shrugs. "Someone wants to pick on me, they may regret it.

"That would just feed into it," Theo notes. "It's a self-fulfilling prophecy — 'that group is dangerous!' So they harass that group until one of them retaliates and someone gets hurt, then they retreat back to their little corners and go 'See?! See?! We warned you all about them, who's next?' — yadda, yadda." Here he smirks. "Besides that, I've noticed that people picking on you tend to get more upset if you ignore them completely."

Sydney nods and rubs the bridge of her nose. "Yeah… yeah, I know. You're right. I was talking more like getting physical. Someone hits me, I'm probably either gonna hit back or just harden up so they break their fist. Plus I have friends around here that are less… durable on the face of it. I dunno. I'm new to this century. I don't know what it's like for powers in 2018. Not really."

Theo tilts his head at something she says. "New to the century?" he asks. "How do you mean?"

You say, "I got frozen in 1982, about two years after I went metal. Didn't get thawed again until the beginning of the year. It's a lot the same…all my favorite bands are breaking up because their members are dying of old age…except the Stones…but… what hate groups are doing what? That's pretty…fluid, I guess is the word."

"Oh, I see," Theo replies. "I'm sorry to hear that." This about the bands, of course. As for the hate groups? "That's a common tactic for any hate groups — denounce a group, then prod them 'till select members retaliate and point fingers at the group as a whole for what one or two members of the group do. They've been doing that forever."

Sydney nods. "Yeah, true enough. Funny how they never denounce the badguys though. Probably too afraid of getting greased." Syd shrugs. "Anyway… so I'm your basic brick. I'm strong, I take damage well, and I break things. What do you do?

Theo nods, his brows raising. It's a classic 'yup' expression. "Pretty much," he agrees. "Most only needle a group because they feel like said group won't come after them." The second question gets a tilted head. "Hm… that's a little difficult to explain. Look up at the ceiling. Do you see anything?" She probably won't.

Sydney looks up at the ceiling. "mmmmnope." She looks carefully just the same, then looks down at Theo.

"Sorry, I have to ask that," Theo notes. He draws a breath, pausing a moment to try to figure out how to explain it. After a moment he finally just says, "Brainspiders." He chuckles, rubbing at the back of his neck almost sheepishly. "It's hard to explain. I have a colony of psychic spiders under my control."

Sydney shudders very slightly. "Like those ones Ashton has hanging out in his shirt?"

Theo nods. "Something like that," he confirms. "Ashton has three, and I think he made them from his blood. They're adorable. I have a lot of spiders… somwhere around fifty, I think, at last count? They're tiny and white, and not quite shaped like a normal spider. Like Lucas."

Sydney shudders again, more vigorously. "Fifty? And who's Lukas?" She holds up both hands. "Ok. Ok. I'm cool. Just… not big on spideys. So… what do your spiders do?"

"Lucas is a Pixar-style animated spider on the Internet that's voiced by the creator's son," Theo explains. "He's cute. Mine are just… extra hands, extra eyes, that kind of thing. I can see through their eyes, they can carry stuff… oh, their webs can stitch injuries together."

Sydney nods. "Oookay. Haven't seen Lukas. My computer's kind of a wimp about video, depending on what kind it is. I probably need to pay for the codecs, if I understand the directions right." She scratches her ear. It resists a moment, then deforms more normally as she relaxes a little. "They don't sound super-nasty… So you project these out of your mind the way Bryce does with his claw and stuff?"

Theo nods. He gets out his smart phone and starts to mess around with it. While he does, he answers her question. "Kind of. They're… well, they were natural creatures, before… a thing happened. So they're always THERE, they're just not always in this plane. If that makes sense. They can't interact with the physical plane unless they're on it themselves though." And apparently he found what he was looking for, because he turns the phone so that Sydney can see the screen as the video plays. "This is Lucas."

Sydney watches the phone with the expression of someone who's seen smartphones before but still boggles at the things they can do. She laughs. "Boop 'im on the nose… That's adorable." She listens to Theo and nods. "I guess that makes sense. So they're not on the physical plane unless you tell them to be?"

"I worry for Lucas's sense of self-preservation if his first instinct with what he believes to be a polar bear is to 'go boop 'im on the nose'," Theo replies, chuckling. But he puts the phone away, and then nods to the question. "Yeah. Most of them don't have any personality, but there's one who does have. I think he's taking on aspects of my personality."

Sydney folds her arms across her chest. "Probably… ought to introduce us, so I don't stomp him into oblivion some time."

"That's all right," Theo replies. "It would be hard, because even when they're on this plane, some people still can't see them. I've covered him in flour once to let someone who couldn't normally see him be able to temporarily…" Pause, and he looks up at a nearby wall, as if something attracted his attention. And then he smirks. "…And he has said that under no uncertain terms is he going to do that again."

Sydney looks at the wall. "He's… there?" She doesn't see anything. She slowly holds a hand out to the wall, although it's obvious it's a matter of will to do it. "If he crawls on my hand, will I feel it, even if I can't see him?

"You might," Theo confirms. "Your skin is a little different than normal, I guess? So it's hard for your subconscious to convince yourself that there's nothing there?" If, as he said, her subconscious doesn't do that — or she's able to prevent it from doing it — she might feel a tentative tap-tap-tap on one of her fingertips.

Sydney ponders that question. "My whole body is different. A lot of its 'brainpower' is tied up emulating the body my DNA is supposed to make. I'm still made up of my own cells, just… they're all fused with nanomachines. And not differentiated." She frowns a little, a strange tickle on her fingertip. "Wait… I'm feeling it. Him. I think… It's like how sometimes in a quiet room you can hear air molecules bouncing on your eardrums… that faint.

Theo nods. "They're all pretty tiny individually," he notes. Though he does pause at her explanation. "Nanomachines? So you're… basically a colony of them?" he wonders. "I wonder if they look anything like Spin Doctors?" A pause. "Oh, uh. 'Spin Doctors' is just what I call the group of spiders as a whole. It's a riff on an old manga."

Sydney nods. "Kind of. I guess. My nanomachines are pretty dumb individually. Not like Saoirse's. Hers are way more modern. But… they get the job done. For 1980, they were way out there." Syd shrugs. "haven't read any manga yet. I'm still busy watching the 'must see' anime. Ghost in the Shell, Akira, BGC2040 uhh… Tri..gun? You know.

"Ah. I haven't met her yet," Theo notes. "I may need to ask." A pause, and the rubs his chin. "If you were around during the late 80s, you might have known a little about the manga I was riffing — the particular part I was riffing on ran from 1989 to 1992."

Sydney chuckles and shakes her head. "Nah. I went into the freezer in 1982. Only anime I'd seen was Battle of the Planets. Which was a cut-up version of Gatchaman, apparently. It made less sense than Scooby Doo, which is saying something. Now, they were both lots more fun when I was high, but… yanno. Lots of things were. So what's your story? Were you born with brain spiders? Geez, it sounds like having crabs or something.

"I… vaguely remember that," Theo notes. "Gatchaman makes a lot more sense without being chopped up." As for his brain spiders? He snickers a bit at the observation. "Well, one thing I have over them not being lice or crabs or something — they're not contagious." He smirks. "Though no, astral spiders are a completely normal creature that drifts through the astral planes, completely unseen, nibbling on the passing auras of people and then floating off again. They're generally black, but mine are white. See, a couple of friends and I were messing around with some literature claiming it could 'open the third eye'. It didn't work for them. But it worked too well for me. It started attracting the little buggers en masse. So instead of trying to fight them, I blasted them with energy and basically over-fed them. They turned white, and now they're mine."

Sydney squeezes her eyes shut. "Yeah, I knew I shouldn't have asked. I so did not need to know I have spiders nibbling at my aura. But. Yeah, ok. Do you have any other abilities, or just the spideys?

Theo snickers a bit. "I'm sorry. If it makes you feel better, most people never encounter them." As for his abilities? "None that are supernatural. I sing, I dance. What about you? What kind of abilities does being made of nanomachines give you?"

Sydney chuckles a little. "Okay… I'll try and keep that in mind. Me? Oh… Well, my whole body is basically a non-Newtonian fluid. If you push gently and I don't do something about it, you can stick your hand all the way through me. Doesn't hurt, doesn't inconvenience me much… although it does feel really weird in some places. By tightening the matrix of my cells, I can change the hardness of my body. I'm doing it right now, so I have like bones and muscles and skin, and I'm hard and soft in all the same places I was before… I can also puddle, basically go into a puddle of reflective goo. I'm told I snore in that form. I'm learning to make a fighting outfit, so I can quit destroying my clothes when I practice. I can get in it and out of it pretty reliably, but if I get my brains rattled in sparring, sometimes it glitches. I think they call that a wardrobe failure.

"Is that a conscious effort on your part?" Theo asks. "Changing the hardness, I mean. Does it make sleeping difficult, if you puddle?" Though he snickers a bit at the mention of clothes being destroyed. "It's too bad unstable molecules don't work like they do in the comics. If you had a suit made of that, it woudl change with you."

Sydney chuckles. "That's what I mean when I say most of my body's brainpower is tied up emulating my old meat body. I mean theoretically, because every cell is part of my brain, I should be smarter than I was. But I'm not. So no, it doesn't take much concentration, any more than like… balancing on two feet does for you. And actually puddling, until recently, was the only way I slept. I found out I don't have to puddle to sleep, which…goes against something the guys who made me told me. I don't know what to think about that. I have to be careful when I'm puddled. If I go down the drain or into the ocean or something, I can suffocate.

Theo nods. "Sort of like the saying that humans only use 10% of their brains for thinking. That's not quite true, but it almost is — the rest of its processing power is tied up with involuntary functions and making your body do what a body gotta do." As for finding out she doesn't have to puddle, "Maybe that's exactly it… part of your brain has devoted itself to keeping your shape. The people who made you might not realize your brain would do that."

Sydney ponders that. "They were disappointed that I wasn't smarter, now that you mention it. That was one of the things they wanted to look at during destructive testing. Which… thankfully… we never got to do. I was just a prototype. The real project was a badguy in 1980 called Iron Fist. I was just cheaper than a chimpanzee." Syd shrugs. "He's gone. They're gone. I'm still here. I guess that's a win."

"I'd say so," Theo replies, to the mention of her still being here, being a win. "The fact is, to create a 'super-genius' — in human terms, mind — they'd have had to figure out how to exponentially increase the surface area of the brain. Smarts aren't 'how big a brain'. You've seen drawings of a human brain, right? You know all those weird folds? That's actually what causes intelligence. More folds means more surface area. That's what does it. Of course, just like you can only fold paper a certain number of times, a static 'add more brain' won't do it."

Sydney nods. "Yeah, there's that too. I don't know if that holds true for mine, to be honest. I only wrote the user manual, not the technical manual, if there was one. One of my make-Syd-useful jobs to keep from being tested to destruction. So yeah. To answer your other question, I can change forms. I mean, I can make myself look like a trash can, or a motorcycle, or anything else that I have the volume for… but that does take concentration, and it seriously gives me the willies if I do it for more than a few hours. My therapist says it's like trans kids get with their regular bodies. Dysphoria. I'm at least not stuck like that."

Theo nods. "Unless you psychologically identify as a trash can, motorcycle, or whatever else, it does seem like long periods of time as something you aren't, would mess with you," he agrees. "I still have problems getting so many bodies to do what I want them to do. If I have more than about… ten of my spiders doing things at the same time, I tend to mix the tasks up."

Sydney listens, thinking about it. "It's like running out of RAM, or just having too many processes running and the system just spends so much time thrashing between processes that nothing gets done." She blinks. "Sorry. I've been learning Linux. It's all my computer will run."

"No, that's exactly right," Theo replies. "After a point I just don't have any more 'processing power'. The brain's a lot like a computer — it only has a certain amount of RAM, it needs power, et cetera." He tilts his head though. "What about a newer computer?" he suggests.

You say, "Oh it's brand new. Just… it's a Raspberry Pi. I thought about getting like a 7 year old laptop at the thrift store, but I figured… new electronics…I'm used to CP/M on a z80, it'll all seem fast to me, but if it dies from being 7 years old and full of dust and nicotine… it's still dead. I was mostly right. I wind up using my school iPad for web stuff, especially movies. Um. Except for sometimes. Some stuff I don't want right there while I'm in class. I mean… internet, you know?" Syd has that expression of someone who's been overwhelmed more than once by the sheer volume of stuff out there, or perhaps the results of some web searches."

Theo snickers a little. "Heh… yeah, I can think of a lot of things I wouldn't want right there while I was in class," he notes, with a smirk. He's talking about porn, obviously. More seriously, he notes, "But I can understand… if you came right out of the 1980s, giving you a top-of-the-line Alienware computer would probably blow your mind. Heck, it would blow MY mind, and I know how to use a modern computer."

Sydney chuckles. "Dude. Quad core, gigahertz cpu and a gigabyte of RAM? I had 32k and 8 inch floppies. My new computer has a friggin' terrabyte drive hooked up to it. I could put movies on it. And it'd fit in a sandwich bag except for the power supply. My mind was blown. The graphics alone were science fiction in 1982.

Theo laughs. "I can understand," he assures. "Having seen the old 'Money For Nothing' video, I imagine it must be quite a jump. Have you gotten used to it, at least? The jump in technology, I mean."

Sydney looks away and thinks about it. "If you think of it as magic, it's easy. But I hate that. So I'm still trying to wrap my head around it. There's a lot going on. The big thing I notice most is the internet. I mean, Wikipedia… some days I have to ration my time with it so I can get homework done and get my workouts in.

Theo nods. "There's a wealth of information basically at your fingertips. The curious can easily lose hours there. At least you haven't discovered TV Tropes yet. I know you haven't because if you had, you would lose DAYS."

Sydney laughs and closes her eyes. "No, no I had not discovered that yet. I'll try to forget about it now. Fortunately, most of the tv references I've heard are pretty alien to me. I mean, current TV at the time I went into the freezer was Dukes of Hazzard, Knight Rider and Battlestar Galactica was still in reruns. So was Star Trek, but Star Trek is always in reruns. Like we have always been at war with Eurasia."

Theo emits a quiet snort of a laugh. "Well, yes… Star Trek is still in reruns — the original series, even. There's a station called MeTV that shows older TV shows. The only one I haven't seen of the list you mentioned was Dukes of Hazzard."

Sydney raises an eyebrow. "You've never seen Dukes of Hazzard? It's… Well if you like car chases, good looking redneck boys or Catherine Bach's butt, it's entertaining. Knight Rider had a little more brains. Only a little. But. The chief scientist was Bonnie Barstow. I watched that show just to believe girls could be smart, you know?

"I've seen it, just not on that channel," Theo assures. "I preferred Knight Rider. I thought Hasselhoff was better-looking." Well, that clears up whether he'd be interested in Catherine Bach's butt or not, doesn't it?

Aaaand there we had to wrap because of the time

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