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Conversations In The Dark

Posted on Dec 16, 2014 @ 3:33pm by Captain Kassandra Thytos

Mission: Birth Of An Empire

“Conversations in the dark”

(Continued from “Confessions”)



Scene: Gymnasium



Thomas had stayed I the quarters he and Sylvia were assigned for the
the entire time after Sylvia has reported to Engineering. The only
time that he had considered leaving is when Sylvia had checked in on
him and totally blew through his smokescreen and informed him that if
he did not leave then she would be very upset. The thought of her
being upset with him, was something that Thomas found out recently, he
could not bear.

Having taken a moment look at the layout of the ship interior, at
least what his currently clearances allowed, Thomas found himself to a
section running on minimal power, or at least he thought. Having
arrived on deck in complete utter darkness Thomas breathed as his
heart jumped slightly and he force it back down stepping into the

It took quite a while; but, Thomas found himself entering a completely
darkened fitness area. He didn’t know if he would be able to find an
area of the room that was clear, or if the room had any equipment in
it at all; but, he was about to find out. As his hand moved away from
the wall he slowly moved to what he thought the middle of the room was
closing his eyes listening until his feet found a mat. Smiling to
himself he slowly moved until feeling comfortable enough to sit down.

Slowly sliding his coat off his arms and laying on the floor next to
him Thomas took a deep breath as the air touch his shoulders and skin.
Reaching up loosening fastens on both sides of his arms he felt his
wings move freely. Slowly sitting and crossing his legs he took a deep
breath before stretching the wings out as far as he could and holding
them open.

Suddenly there was a slight cough from his left side and his eyes flew
open to see a floating blob of twinkling green light. The blob got a
bit closer, and he could see that it appeared to have eyes and a

"Don't freak out, Wingding," The face said gently. "It's Kassandra
Thytos. We met earlier in the shuttle bay. I just thought I better let
you know you ain't alone before you started divestin' yourself of
anymore clothes."

"Why are you lurking in the dark?" Thomas asked. There was a slight
sound from the Marine that sounded a bit like a sigh.

"Sensor nets, remember? I don't need the lights to be on to see, and I
didn't figure anyone else would be down here, so I didn't ask the amp
tramps to turn 'em on. Engineering' has enough things to bother with
than the gyms. Better question is why *you* are skulkin' around in the
dark?" There was definite amusement in her voice.

Closing his eyes again Thomas slowly took a deep breath, "solitude and
the ability to exercise without prying eyes. To many people don't know
and when they do they want to find out what makes them work.
Especially those in the medical or science fields."

They sat in the dark in a contemplative silence for a few minutes.

"Do your wings work? I mean, can you actually fly?" Kassandra suddenly
blurted out. Almost immediately he got the sense that she was
embarrassed that she had asked.

"Yes, I can."

"Why don't you, then? Why do you keep them hidden? If I had wings I
wouldn't leave planetside, ever. I'd spend every day flyin’." She said
it casually, but he could hear the longing in her voice.

Nodding Thomas smiled slightly, "to much of an explorer to stay home.
I was doing this first before I got the wings."

Shifting his posture he took in a deep breath ignoring the pain of
muscles burning from sudden use after a period of rest, a very long
period. He had considered leaving but that would be easier said than
done and him sitting here was less of an embarrassment than fumbling
in the dark while she watched.

Opening the corner of his eye Thomas looked for the green blob, "I get
the feeling you're not in here because you want to stretch your

"I'm not as young as I used to be, I start goin' soft in the middle if
I slack off too much. Plus, I'm a bit of a pariah amongst the crew
right now, I don't think they're awful sorry not to see me around.
It'll blow over, sometime."

"Why're you a pariah?" Thomas asked, frowning.

There was a long silence and Thomas was beginning to think he had
offended her, when two sparkling green hands fluttered up in a shrug.

"Guess it ain't a secret," the Marine said with a half sigh. "I was
brought on board as an unknowin' accomplice to the Neo-Essentialists.
I helped stage a mutiny, then helped save everyone once I realized the
leader of the mutiny intended to icebox them. It wasn't pretty. Some
people died. Core worlders are a sensitive lot, and most of 'em are
scared of me. Grateful that I helped save them, but scared of how I
did it. That'll pass, but for now I think it's better for me to make
myself scarce."

"For their sake or yours?" Thomas was curious.

Kassandra snorted softly at that. Without being able to see he
couldn't tell if it was amusement, annoyance, or if the comment had
hit too close to home.

"You tell me your answer to that question, I'll tell you mine. I can
tell you're hiding from the world down here just as much as you think
I am. I used to be a counselor." She paused, the green blob tilted to
the side and she quickly added "Don't get your pants in a twist. Ain’t
fit to be one anymore. I was a terrible counselor. One of my former
counselees is now a serial killin' psychopathic gun for hire. But I'm
pretty good at listening, and it's always easier to talk to someone
you can't see. I'm also pretty good at takin' people's mind off things
by teachin' them how to fall... repeatedly. I'm happy to let you avail
yourself of either one."

Thomas merely shook his head, “you sound like someone I have had the
unique experience of being counseled by before.”

Standing slowly he began the ritual of placing his wings back in their
restraints and slowly placing his coat back on. Not really sure where
to turn but facing in the general direction of where her voice had
come he took a slow deep breath, “well, this was, unique to say the
least; but, if you’ll excuse me I do believe I will be leaving.”

“Have it your way. But allow me to walk you to the door, for both our
sakes. Please. Comin’ up on your right,” He felt a firm hand take hold
of his elbow and lead him over to the turbolift. “See ya later,

* * *=/\=* * *

Location: torpedo bay.

“One, two, go!” Kassandra said as she and Byte hauled the photon
torpedo off the antigravity sledge, and slid it home into the torpedo
loading tube. Kassandra grunted with the effort, feeling a rivulet of
sweat trickle down her forearm and into her gloves, slicking her palms
and threatening to make her lose her grip.

The fact that it was still dark in this section of ship didn’t matter
to her, but the stillness in the air and lack of ventilation was
starting to get to her. It was stuffy, hot, and musty.

“Perhaps we should take a break,” Byte’s flat voice asked surprisingly
diplomatically for an android. “You appear to be tiring, and you only
lifting with 60% of the efficiency that you had when we started. You
are also building up lactic acid in your muscles, which at your age-”

OK. Maybe not THAT diplomatically.

“Thank you, Lieutenant Byte. That will be more than enough,” Kassandra
sank gratefully to sit on the floor, back to the bulkhead, peeling off
her gloves to wipe her clammy hands on her knees. “Just cos’ you can
see somethin’ doesn’t mean you should point it out, even if you are
just tryin’ to be helpful. People see their body as somethin’ private,
and don’t take kindly to non doctors invadin’ their privacy and
voicin’ opinions. Trust me. I’ve learned from experience.”

Byte was silent for a long moment, head cocked in a learned expression
of thoughtfulness.

“What is it like to see?” Byte asked so suddenly that Kassandra choked
on the water she was drinking.

“Beg yer pardon?” Kassandra asked cautiously once her coughing had died down.

“Does that phrase in this context convey confusion, or anger that I
asked? I calculated a 15% probability that the question would annoy

“I must be mellowin’ in my old age’,” Kassandra muttered with
amusement. She balanced her water on her knee. “I meant it as the
former. I don’t quite understand what you mean.”

“You sensor nets operate much the same was as my sensory and
perception systems. I have often wondered if how I see the world is
analogous to the organic experience of seeing, of if they are two
entirely different perceptions of the world. You have seen the world
organically, and synthetically, so you should have insight into the

“Well…” Kassandra hesitated. It wasn’t something she liked to discuss.
Becoming blind had been traumatic, actually being blind a nightmare.
“I may not actually be the best person to ask. I don’t really see at
all, anymore. I have what they call cortical blindness, my eyes work
perfectly fine, but the visual cortex is shot, so my brain can’t
translate what the eyes see into meaningful images. My sensor nets
bypass the visual cortex and feed data right into the part of the
brain that interprets the images. So I don’t really see an image, I
just… know what things look like, without seeing them. If I really
want to get an image of how something looks, I have to kinda, picture
it in my head.”

“That is not as different as you might think.” Byte cocked its head at
her. “Although I do have optical sensors, I process my visual inputs
using the same type of hardware used in your sensor nets.”

“You stalkin’ me Byte?” Kassandra grinned at the android. It looked as
confused as she thought it would. She had worked with androids before,
though none as sophisticated as Byte, and she found their literal
interpretation of everything oddly endearing.

“Stalking: to follow an organism that you are hunting or trying to
capture by moving slowly and quietly; to follow, watch, and bother a
person constantly in a way that is frightening, or dangerous. I do not
think that applies to this situation. It is simply that I have not
encountered the technology used in your sensor nets, and I wished to
know more.” Byte said sounding oddly anoxious. “I am programmed to
protect life. I would not attempt to harm you.”

“I was kiddin’ Lieutenant,” she pursed her lips thoughtfully. “How do
I explain it in a way you would understand. It’s like, lets say I gave
you a copy of the score to Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, right? Assumin’ you
know how to read sheet music, you’ll know what it sounds like, even
though you don’t actually hear the music as you’re readin’ the music.
Or if you’re thinkin’ of a song you really like, you don’t hear the
music, but you can sorta play it in your head. Well seeing is like
actually hearing the music, you might miss a lot of bits that you’d
notice if you were lookin’ at the sheet music because the sounds are
going on, and you have less idea of the exact technical foundations
and phrasing of the music, but it’s more alive and vibrant and
beautiful than the sheet music.”

“Do you miss the use of your optical cortex?” Byte asked after it had
processed her response to its satisfaction.

“Every single day, Lieutenant.” Kassandra drank the last of her water
and stood up. “I very much miss being able to look at things without
knowin’ all their flaws, and I miss bein’ able to look at something
and say ‘gee, that bird’s color reminds me of the blue skies of Terra’
or somethin’ like that, rather than knowin’ the exact hue and color

Byte seemed to be thinking about it.

“Your eyes are similar in hue to an ocean on earth, my eyes while blue
as well are more similar in hue to a flax flower. The captain’s eyes
are similar to the color of Antrichium angustatum. That is a type of
moss. Your hair is similar in color to copper that has a 20% oxidation
layer on it.” Byte tried.

This was going to be a long shift.

NRPG: OK. Gotta get myself back into the swing of things somehow. So
here is a post.

A joint post brought to you by:

Justin Owens as:
Thomas Varn


Alix Fowler as
Kassandra Thytos
Rebel with a cause


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