Inscrit le: 19 Sep 2009
Jeu 1 Oct - 00:17 (2009)
A Final Story: The Interview
“... so buzz off.”
“... No comment.”
“... and stick it in your favorite orifice.”
“... Shall I reiterate?””
“Er...No. Thank you.” I reply, a little nonplussed, as the tall Masquerader turns away. I hadn’t really expected him...her?...to give an unguarded response to my question, but I figured it was worth a shot. Only one person so far had stopped to talk about his experiences working in the Patent Office. Wait, here comes another person. I step forward, my recording unit at my shoulder. “Excuse me ma’am. Could I...” She hugs the far wall of the corridor, eyes averted to some “paper”-work, pretending not to notice me. Did I step in something today? So much for the vaunted openness the Patent Office promised me.
Maybe it’s time for a break. I’ve been standing in this hallway of this Office Branch for several hours, and hardly anyone passes down it. Are they avoiding me? No one trusts the Cognitive Union out here. I’m a reporter, damnit! Impartial presentation of the truth is my job, and I enjoy it. Why don’t they trust me?
I hear someone coming. I smooth my suit, straighten my tie, and stop short as a large Mechanican turns the corner. It’s huge! It nearly brushes the ceiling, and that’s a little over three meters from the floor, here; and it’s almost half the width of the corridor. It walks bipedally, on legs ending in four-toed, birdlike claws, carrying a torso like a smooth, elongated, rounded lozenge. On the upper torso, between two arms identical to the legs, is a large yellow smiley face on a black background. It pauses momentarily in its gait, (Did it just notice me?) and a large red circle-and-slash fades in over the smiley face. The Mechanican alters its course slightly, to head straight for me.
“Well, well. If it isn’t the little Cogwheel everybody’s been talking about,” he says, as he closes the distance between us. I’m pretty sure it’s a “he”, now. His voice seems masculine, resounding, sonorous. Like pipe organs in ancient temples, layered under a mellower, lighter, incongruous countertenor. It’s evocative, disturbing, like the voice of......lost that train of thought.
“I’d more than half expected you to be gone by now. I’m Seeker,” he says, proffering his hand/claw, his voice seeming to come from his whole being, now that he stands before me. I notice the sigil on his chest is now a yellow face with a horizontal slash for the mouth. I guess he hasn’t made up his mind about me, yet.
I take his hand and reply, “I’m Keshan Dafar, an investigative journalist, from the Cognitive Union. Could I ask you some questions? I’m doing a piece on...”
“Yeah, yeah,” he interrupts, “Doc Howard filled me in. Besides, everybody’s talking about you, remember. You want to know what it’s like to work for the Patent Office. Sure. They all figure you’re just going to spin it like we’re a bunch of dangerous zealots to please your overlords, but what the hell? If no one talks to you, you’ll do that anyway, right?”
“Well, actually, we don’t have overlords. And I report the truth, not...”
“Uh, huh,” he interrupts, again, crossing his arms and leaning against the wall. Through his arms, I see a flicker of the red circle-slash appear again. “The truth the way you see it. Or the way your mesh interprets it, really. But let’s not quibble. Fact is, I’ve explored Union space several times, and rarely had any trouble from y’all. I, too, wear a mesh, and I don’t consider myself a slave to it. I don’t hold anything against you, really.”
“Okay,” I reply, “Then why don’t you tell me a little about your experience here? How is the work environment?”
“What’s it like working for the Ts, you mean? You’re really digging for dirt on them, right?”
“I...well...Of course, our readers will be quite interested in any insights you can offer.”
“Uh, huh.” He pauses for a moment, and the visible parts of his sigil fluctuate, as though he’s considering things with mixed emotion. Perhaps he holds something against the Union, after all. “Alright. I admit, working here can be a little disconcerting. For instance, right now, I’m late for a briefing. But that’s okay. When I get there, they won’t mind, and I won’t have to apologize. They already pretty much know I’m going to be late, and why. But, other than the little oddities that come from dealing with transtemporal intelligences, it’s a pretty good gig. We get to travel a lot — I was an explorer before getting hired here, so that’s pretty cool for me — and work with lots of people from different cultures. We get a lot of autonomy in how we handle situations, which is great. I’ve even had assignments like ‘Go to this place at this time and wait a little while for something interesting to happen. You’ll know what to do.’” He chuckles, an incongruous sound when the laugher’s chest doesn’t move. I notice that his voice has slowly changed, too. He’s lost much of the crashing-wave, booming undertones, and sounds much more human now.
“Don’t you find that kind of management, er, demoralizing?”
“Demoralizing?! Hell, no. It’s great for morale.” He steps away from the wall, now, pacing, talking with his arms and hands, his yellow smiley beaming. “Look, we’re out there, looking out for the best interests of an entire network of societies, making sure the wheels stay greased, not the palms, if you know what I mean. Maybe we need to slap some whiz-kid on the wrist who figures out how to bypass replicator interlocks, or maybe we need to put the smack-down on some mastermind who’s training an army of these whiz-kids. Who knows what? But we’ve got to be the ones who make the decisions. Sure, we get ample guidance, but in the end, it’s our call. And that’s just so liberating, so humane.”
“Anyway,” he says, becoming less agitated, “I really should get to that briefing, you know. But this has been fun.”
“Thank you,” I reply. “You’ve been quite illuminating. I really appreciate your time.”
“No problem,” he says. “Tell you what. If you’re up to it, I’ll find you later. I’ll buy you a latte and we can talk some more.” He heads off, walking briskly down the hallway.
I watch him round the corner at the end of the hall and shake my head. Will I ever understand the people outside the Union? Maybe, but I don’t think I’ll ever suss out the Mechanicans.
< ENCADRE >
Too Good to be True?
Many people who’ve read this game feel that the Transcendentals come off as too good to be true. Are they really out for the good of mankind? Couldn’t an individual GM decide that they’re evil, manipulative machines?
Well, yes, of course. An individual GM can do whatever they like, from minor tweaks to stripping out the system and using it in a setting of their own. That doesn’t mean we’re going to put a lot of effort into supporting those options. In the canonical S.A. game, the Transcendentals are exactly what they say they are, motivated by what we’ve laid out here. If you want to change that and pit the characters against a foe who can see the future, it’s your can of worms.
< /ENCADRE >
< ENCADRE >
It’s Not Forever
The Transcendentals intend the Patent Office to be temporary. Exactly how temporary should depend on the individual GM, of course, but nothing in this game should be an eternal edifice. The civilizations, societies, and Transcendentals in this game are full-fledged characters, and every piece of writing advice we’ve ever read says “Kill your darlings.”
< /ENCADRE >