2014.09.28:The Empty House
|The Empty House|
|The future of education. Maybe.|
|IC Date||September 28, 2014|
|Players||Brandon, Branton, Jennifer_Green, Eerika, Phil, Rook, Stephanie, Molly, Liesl, Penny|
|Location||Desert east of Prospect|
It's half past sundown, and the meeting is scheduled to start any minute now. The meeting of what? The handwritten invitations received by a select few individuals identify it as the Immersive Learning Foundation, offering a free dinner and presentation at such-and-such address.
The house is a nice one, if a little bland: all square lines, smoked glass, and light brown stone walls that blend in with the surrounding desert. There's a whole row of the things on this street, the legacy of an ambitious expansion project that might someday get off the ground but appears to be stuck in neutral.
Brandon might be one of the first to arrive. Mysterious invitations are kinda right in his ballpark. So he shows up, dressed... up... kinda. Suit jacket and tie, over blue jeans and cowboy boots. He even half-way shaved for the meeting.
Branton pulls up in a fancy looking SUV and gets out, looking over the house breifly before opening the back door to get out the invitation in one hand and a finely crafted three foot long rectangular wooden case tucked under the other arm. He pauses, taking a moment to consider the house and look down the street at all its clones before approaching. Brandon gets spotted and recognized and Branton waves with the invitation.
Jennifer moves towards the house quietly, looking around at the other people gathering around. "So.. is this like Scientology?" she asks Branton since she's at least seen him before.
Eerika arrives, pulling up outside in an old Army Jeep, painted blue with a surfboard on top. The girl slides free and glances about the street curiously. The athletic teen is dressed in short shorts, running shoes, and a sleeveless white shirt over a bikini top. Over that is a battered leather jacket. She flicks a cigarette away and starts slowly up the path towards the house.
There's a squeal of tires as a silver Acura pulls up to an abrupt stop, Phil and Rook emerging together. "Well, so much for needing to check the numbers, huh?" he says to her, gesturing toward the one house that multiple people are heading toward. A few others are already hanging around outside, in fact, carrying a casual meet-and-greet sort of vibe.
Rattle rattle chunk chunk chunk squeeeee. The elderly bronze coloured Oldsmobile trundles up the street, its engine obviously not in the greatest of conditions and someone needs to tighten that fan belt stat. Finally the land yacht docks at the curbside and its tallish young occupant (ed: Stephanie) eases her way out of it and starts toward the place, slowing when she sees the crowd already assembled. She pauses and takes a moment to check her makeup before finishing the journey to the group, dangling the invite from her fingertips like a dead fish.
Molly arrives and is uncerimoniously pushed out the door of the black escalade to stand there blinking with a faint look of confusion on her face. She turns to ask the driver but they are already pulling making the call me sign to the brunette. Turning Molly looks at the house and for a moment that cold trickle of fear runs down her back is this another intervention...then she realizes she doesn't know a single person here then it dawns on her. The slow trudge towards the others begins as she tries to work out the kinks in her back. Another look at the crowd and then the house has her trying to remember just what she was invited to.
Rook pulls up getting a ride with Phil, looking out at the others moving about with a raised brow. "Oh yeah, right after watching Cabin in the Woods, why am I not smart enough to just have you drive me off.." She gives him a look to say its all his fault but then steps out, folding her leather jacket over one arm. Then because she has to, she looks at the people, clears her throat and strikes a pose to soeak in a firm, clear voice. "I have called you all here tonight because, you have each stolen from the company.... Now you must all die..."
Liesl shows up, in a fairly nice car, but not the fancy car. That only comes out for special occasions. Not for a place in the middle of a stalled housing project. And, as she usually is, she is there right when she should be. Which is not necessarily the time on the invitation.
Eerika glances about curiously, taking everything in quietly as she slips her hands into the pockets of her jacket. The blonde fishes out her invitation and stares at it for a moment before glancing oer at Rook. "Huh?"
Branton turns to look over at Rook and narrows his eyes at her, then he notices Phil standing near her and realization dawns. Branton rolls his eyes and snorts in amusement before turning to head over towards the house.
What is it with Phil's reputation involving women, anyway? It's not like anyone has ever /seen/ him and Rook making out up against a brick wall. In this county.
There's a round of casual laughter from some of the attendees who overhear Rook, especially as the /actual/ scheduled speaker has just gotten started. He looks somewhere in his forties, hair turning silver but body well cared for, dressed in jeans and a white button-down and sneakers. "Thank you for coming, everyone. Help yourself to the sandwiches, if you haven't already." There's a tray of generic but decent catering sandwiches just inside the door, ham and turkey and a few others for those with special diets.
Brandon finds himself a place to lean and doesso. No food, no drink just yet. Not until he gets a better feel for what's going on.
Oh, so THAT is where Penny is. She's already downed half a dozen sandwiches. And she looks pleased wirth herself. Got to be sure to wipe away the crumbs as she steps away from the refreshment table and looks Brandon up and down, "Well... hellooooo again gorgeous," she intones in a quiet contralto. "No doggie this time?"
Jennifer looks over the food and chooses not to eat the sandwiches.. for some reason associating this weird events with cults and sandwiches with Kool-aid.. She looks over at the others, then up towards the speaker ready to listen to what he says.
Eerika doesn't seem to really know anyone here for the most part, so the blonde moves over a bit. She stands near the food, but doesn't have any. Instead, she turns her attention on the speaker, watching and listening curiously.
Molly turns faintly green as she looks over the food and then she is looking around for an open bar. Not seeing one of those she finds an out of the way place to lean and just listen to the coversations going on around her. Idly patting herself down making sure she remembered to pack all the essentials in to her clothing, phone, cigarettes and flask. Everything in place she lets her eyes wander over the seeming host then over the other faces.
Branton tucks the invitation into his pocket and turns to look over the gathered crowd briefly before turning to watch the speaker get started. The long case stays wedged under his arm and not propped or leaned up anywhere.
Stephanie settles down in the back somewhere, eyeing the speaker quietly as she settles herself. Her phablet comes out of her handbag and she slides her fingers over the screen to activate it, but her attention is focused, for the moment at least, on that speaker.
Liesl recognizes a few of the faces that arrive, and she offers nods and smiles. Dinner is a bit of a misnomer, if the sandwiches are supposed to be such. She's just as glad to have eaten before she left. She studies the host from off to the side.
Rook ahs softly when no one breaks away in panic, having actually stolen from some company that might kill them for it, revealing their guilt. Though Branton's reaction causing a wolfish grin. A glance to the speaker, dismissively at the food, then to her event date. "Since they outlawed screaming fire in theaters, I never get to have any more fun.." Ok, she's in a mood.. While walking to mingle range with others, tucked close along side of Phil. "Hello, we're Phil and Rook Furio, nice to meet you.
Eerika glances over when she hears an introduction. "Eerika Holt, it's nice to meet you." Her accent is pure California beach, no question. She finally moves over to the table, but grabs something to drink instead of eat. She sips at her beverage.
Brandon lifts a hand. "Brandon." He doesn't add his last name, because that rarely ends well. Best to just leave it at that until he finds out what the hell is going on here.
There's no obvious cult uniform, but a few people have that aura of being part of the staff. One of them clears out the empty cardboard-and-saran-wrap containers that the sandwiches were in, while another passes out one-page flyers with some fluff text about the Foundation and its founder (one Lucas Shelton, his photo matching the speaker).
"I see some first-timers here," he continues, "I'm sure you have a number of questions. What sort of learning do we pursue here? Is this something like Scientology?" He probably gets that one a lot. "Rather than launch right into the jargon and put half of you right to sleep" - another round of light laughter - "I always prefer to start out with a quick demonstration."
Raising he rhand, black curls shimmering as she grins and grins broadly with her wide smile, "Penny Denarii!" Penny Denarii? Her name is all about money. Is that an alias? She seems to be pretty easygoing about it if so. She watches Phil, not having been informed what is going on herself though this is the man in whom she puts ALL her trust! "Phil! I love you Philly!" she calls.
Brandon's eyes slide over to Phil and then Penny, then back to Phil. Wasn't he dating that blond? But then there's his wife..and someone else professing love for him. Weird people. But demonstrations are good. He looks back to the speaker, waiting, crossing his arms over his chest
Taking the flyer Molly looks it over and then casually deposits in a trash receptacle. A piece of gum is folded in to her mouth before she thumbs on her phone and begins to thumb through her email. As the introductions begin she adds her own in a very clipped British accent, "Molly." Then she spots Phil, his missus and his fan club and pops a bubble before tapping two fingers to her brow, "Hey Ducky."
"I'll pick up you some tacos on the way back," Phil promises Rook, before looking over and waving to Penny and Molly in turn. "Hey, you two." He keeps it quick, though, waiting to see what Lucas has cooked up.
Jennifer doesn't take the time for introductions since the speaker is already going and that would be rude.. She's really waiting for the crazy and so far that hasn't happened...
Rook smiles and nods while trading greetings as if she had not just said the horrible comment right before. Penny Denarii? Ok that has her smiling at the creativity and general awesome of it. Then her attention is stolen and she leans against Phil while half turning to look at the speaker with brows raised curiously. The Scientology part echoed causes a small smirk as she waits on the demonstration. She whispers to Phil. "Clear your Mind Ray, don't think of anything."
Stephanie likewise hasn't participated in the introduction spree for more or less the same reasons. She purses her lips a little as she watches this Lucas person, tapping idly at the screen of her phablet as she listens.
Liesl is the watch and see sort herself, and she stays quiet on her edge of the gathering, waiting for the demonstration that is promised.
Funny that Rook should mention that. A couple of the staff types head up to join Lucas up front. "Howard, you've never read much Shakespeare before, have you?"
"Not really, no. I've heard of Romeo and Juliet, but that's about it." Howard has the calloused hands of a blue-collar worker, not the type one would expect to have taken or retained a lot of literature classes.
"Well, normally you could watch a movie and maybe get part of the surface layer, or you could spend a week reading it and then some notes about it and get a better idea. And that's for /one/ play, out of dozens, out of countless subjects. Who has time for that sort of thing? Not Howard here, he's busy providing for his family. Some people pick it up in school, but wouldn't it be a better world if /everyone/ had access to this breadth of knowledge? Or, something a little more practical? If everyone had access to some common reference points, imagine what basic misunderstandings in politics would just fall away. People could focus on what's really out there, what's really important."
Okay, so this doesn't sound much like something Brandon's interested in. It smacks of THEM and he doesn't much like THEM. He stands up a little straighter and peeks around him, making sure he's got a clear line for the door.
Branton watches curiously but skeptically, there's no such thing as a free lunch after all. He doesn't move to walk out though, just watches and listens for now.
Eerika is silent, but obviously uncomfortable. She glances about at the others, narrowing her bright blue eyes as she takes in the goings on. She shifts her weight from one foot to the other, hands in the pockets of her jacket.
Oh, but Brandon DOESN'T have a clear line for the door. Peny has come up upon him! She puts her hand out, palm first, saying "Hiiiiiiiyiii! Sounds a bit like The Man in here doesn't it sugar-pie?" She rolls her eyes. "I guess you didn't bring your big puppy with you this time, huh? Well, he probably wouldn't want to be in here I suppose. So what brought you in here? Curiosity?"
Annnd then that happens. It must be a decent sell because Rook begins to quit screwing around for now. Instead her brows lift in a politely questioning 'Ohh? Tell me more.' expression. Interested but very unsure how real world useful such might be, her demeanor clearly states. She whispers to Phil, just loud enough to carry. "So, its like Rosetta stone for culture?"
Jennifer blinks.. She's silent so as not to interrupt.. but she can't help thinking.. Are they talking about wikipedia?
"More like Miss Cleo." is called out by the Eurotrash peanut gallery aka Molly. She has stopped watching the presentation and is instead it seems immersed in a quiet but intense game of Angry birds on her phone.
Except that Wikipedia is already famous, they wouldn't be advertising out of some guy's house. Even if it is a nice house. "Thirty years ago, everyone had to cram into classrooms. Not enough teachers, not enough books, not enough anything. Nowadays, online learning is picking up all sorts of momentum. But what about another thirty years from now? Can we go /further/ than that?"
Anyone who wasn't already getting skeevy vibes from this bunch, probably starts to get them now: Howard is handed a little white pill and promptly swallows it, washing it down with a glass of water. Could be LSD. Could be aspirin. Could be anything, really.
Stephanie watches with evident interest, covering the screen of her smartphone. Then the little white pill comes out and she frowns, pursing her lips again, narrowing her eyes as she once again regards this Lucas person carefully.
Evening classes. Liesl remembers some reference to 'evening classes' that come in pill form. She just doesn't remember where from - a movie, a book, a TV show? No matter, but that's what this looks like. She looks curious, but skeptical.
Jennifer looks around at the other people hesitantly, then back at the people.. She contemplates doing something, but seems to scared too... Somehow visions of Invasion of the Bodysnatchers comes to mind with Donald Sutherland Screaming and everyone chasing her..
Rook ohhs softly at the pill being taken, that a publicly to be unexpected answer for knowledge transfer and so she appropriately frowns at the display in disbelief with head half turning back away. Must be some trick obviously.
Brandon frowns. Yeah, he doesn't like this at all. He slides a half-step closer to the door, but curiosity keeps him hanging on
Phil arches a brow at the presentation, glancing over sidelong toward Rook. "Something like that," he murmurs in response.
Stephanie goes back to tapping at the screen on her phone, though she never takes her eyes off the tableau before her.
Molly visibly perks up as the pills come out. Leave it to the yanks just when you think the party is going to be a total groaner they do something interesting. She watches to see what will happen to Howard after all if it makes his head explode it's definitely not something you want to take while wearing white.
Branton straightens as the pill gets swallowed by Howard and gives a suspicious look at the other people up by the front. The Founder in particular gets special scrutiny.
Howard walks over to one side and sits down for a little while, looking not particularly different than when he first walked up to the front. Lucas checks his watch and nods. "That should be long enough for the engrams to take effect. Let's take Hamlet-- what are some of the different interpretations of his motives?"
"Well," Howard answers, in that same casual tone, "if you assume that Hamlet is completely sane, then he's visited by the ghost of his father who pushes him to take revenge, then he pretends to be crazy to throw people off his scent, and when his old buddies are sent to throw him under the bus, he switches it around on them and escapes. On the other hand, maybe he really /is/ crazy, and the ghost is all in his mind-- he may just be projecting because he resents his mother for moving on so quickly."
Lucas nods, holding up a hand. "Thank you, Howard, that'll do." He turns to address the audience. "Now, of course, this by itself doesn't prove a thing. Howard could have been coached, or he could have known this all along and just been pretending earlier. For those of you who'd like to find out for yourselves" - the girl on sandwich duty is now carrying around a tray of identical little white pills in individual shrink-wrap packets - "you're welcome to try it out. If you're skeptical, you're equally welcome to take it with you-- take it to the biochem department at UCP, say, have them confirm that it's nothing harmful. And /then/ I hope you'll try it out."
"Ladies and gentlemen," he continues, "you literally hold the future in your hands. And if that excites you /half/ as much as it does me?"
Brandon's brow arches high. Yeah, that proves... not a goddamn thing, really. He taps his fingers on the inside of his elbow, chewing on the inside of his lip. "YOLO, right?" He standsa little straighter and takes the pill in hand.
Jennifer claims one of the pills, but doesn't take it. She pockets it openly since he invited her to do so.. Though again a thought comes to 'alien seeds' that will sprout, crawl over and climb into her brain, but she pushes that out of her mind.. she has enough nightmares without that.
Stephanie takes at least one, two if she can manage it, tucking them into her handbag for now with one last hairy-eyeball at this Lucas guy and then giving this Howard person the once-over.
Branton takes a pill as well, still looking rather skeptically up at the staged 'demonstration area'. The pill gets tucked in the pocket he put the invitation in and the case gets resettled, the weight of it getting akward to keep balanced for so long but he's reluctant to set it anywhere....especially now.
Pursing her lips, Penny's brows crease. Her raven brows lower deeply, her smile doesn't so much fade... as become something VERY grim. She takes a pill in hand, her curiosity is burning in her eyes. She looks over the pill, purses her lips, looks to Phil... looks back to the pill in her hand, and remains standing beside Brandon.
Liesl picks a packet off the tray, though there might have been a second that stuck to it. She studies it in its packet, before looking back up to the speaker. She's still in watch mode.
Rook looks at Phil for several moments and squeezes his arm before looking back at the demonstration, showing that she is a little unsettled so far. Then she watches the continued demonstration. Pausing to consider it, work it through, how it might work. With the hows, then what could be done in various ways for good or bad, giving it a decent consideration all in all. "Thank you." She takes up one of the pills with her nails, looking at it curiously just because, its what people do. Taking it to the college, good advice, freely given right. "How is the information 'written' into the pill. In /very/ layman's terms? I mean, Hamlet as opposed to having read up on how to play the Cello, or like when I youtube how to cook something?"
And just like that Molly looses all interest in the smart pill. "So your idea of the future is a loss of individual struggle and growth as they seek enlightenment and replacing it with a pill that gives you the answers." She shakes her head and slumps back against the wall not bothering to take a pill.
Brandon holds the pill in hand. Left hand. Right hand. Left hand. Right hand. Then he pops the pill in his mouth. If there's water offered, he'll use that. If not, he'll dry-swallow it
Branton looks over at Brandon a little wide eyed when he swallows the pill on the spot, glancing between Brandon and Lucas, Branton observes intently
"Sti' rza lo'n, " murmurs Penny very, VERY, softly, "Ut omnia quae in elelments" She opens her palm, looking the litle pill over, her cerulean eyes seeming todrik in its every detail. She frowns faintly, looks aside to Brandon taking the pill, then sighs and goes ahead and pops it in her mouth.
After a long few moments of considering Howard and Lucas, Stephanie reaches back into her handbag and pulls one of the pills out. She takes it with water if some was offered, otherwise heading back to the refreshment table to find herself something to wash it down with.
Brandon just waits. He seems okay so far. His eyes do lift and wander about briefly, however, eyes narrowing just a touch
Eerika shifts a bit as she feels something in the air, and her eyes narrow a hint. She glances about at everyone else, and clears her throat. The calm surfer girl is now visibly tense, and people with knowledge of fighting would note that the girl is now carrying herself as someone quite attuned to violence.
Jennifer looks about, but doesn't do much more than that, she has the pill, but she is NOT taking it.. She can wait.. pay some undergrad $5 and read his mind as he takes it.. you know if she can't find a knowing volunteer, but after Velok, she's scared to use her powers around strangers.. you never know who might be sensitive...
"Not at all," Lucas replies, looking to Molly and addressing her directly. "This is like anything else we create-- it /can/ be abused, and we do need to be on the lookout for that. But it's an option. No brainwashing here-- you can tell that the knowledge came from an external source." As for Rook's question? "All right, in very basic terms. Your DNA contains the blueprints for creating all the parts of your body, but you have to put it in the right context so those blueprints will actually be built. This is basically the same thing, only for knowledge; in this case, the 'factory' is your brain."
Liesl frowns just a little as the pills start to be swallowed. She looks around the room, slowly scanning faces one by one, especially as Lucas starts to explain things, or at least prevaricates about the demonstration.
Molly looks around and on seeing no signs saying not to lights up a cigarette, "I do have a question though one that i've had since I got here. Your pushing pills and really this doesn't look the group for it. I mean sure maybe i'm mistaken and you have business tycoons here, pillars of learning. But then i'm here and my only claim to fame when it comes to pharmacuticals is consuming them. Are we your target audience or something? And if so why us?"
Rook watches BranDDDon pop the pill with a raised brow in much the way Molly watched earlier or how the Croc Hunter use to be watched. He poked the snake in the bung hole.. Her own pill gets dropped into a pocket. Again by her nails because, not allowed to even touch her finger tips. Ewww scary thing. She tilts her head after listening to both parts of Lucas' comments, to both her and Molly, then smiles again at the answers in thanks. To Molly she intones. "Public trials? Focus group research maybe?"
Stephanie's brow furrows after she swallows the pill, and she closes her eyes for a moment, as if concentrating on something important.
Brandon blinks a time or two, standing upright even more. He blinks again, more slowly this time, and he starts to nod slowly to himself. "This is....oh yeah. This is nice," the author says, almost with a little purr of delight.
Brandon must have bumped his chair with his leg or something, it tips over and almost crashes to the ground-- but no, it doesn't quite go far enough, and a second later it falls back down into its original position.
"'Focus group' is probably the right term for it," Lucas explains, gesturing toward the young lady who was handing out the merchandise. Does it count as merchandise if they're giving it away? Maybe it's the old 'only the first one is free' pitch. "Katherine here is my right-hand man, so to speak, she's been picking out a few people who seem well suited to work with us." "It beats actuarial work any day," Katherine adds, flashing a polite smile.
Withdrawing her (ed: Penny) sketchbok, settling into a chair. She begins to draw out complex formulae, mathematic equations, and finally clockwork gears,. She begins to sketch, with a mechanical pencil on her six by four sketchbok, a complex clockwork device... obsessively, "Must get it down... MUST get it down NOW.... " she murmurs.
Molly shakes her head, "Best of luck with that but if I want to learn something i'll read a book. If I am going to pop pills it's either to get rid of a headache or to get high. Not much interested in something that is going to suddenly make me like Dostoyevsky." She settles in to a chair and just watches those who have taken the pills this is an utterly new experience for her.
Branton listens carefully to the exchange between Rook and Lucas, too many people to watch the pill's effect on so he settles for observing the interrogation/interview.
Phil, for his part, just pockets one of the pills and lets the others do the talking. He knows a couple people at the university, maybe he can run it by one of them later.
Rook looks at Stephanie as she decides to as well, going back to BranDon soon. "Ohhh Nice? New Hamlet insights? Only did the Mel Gibson version myself." A pause to listen to Lucas and Katherine, the latter causing a polite smile at the joke. A curious look at Molly for her words and inspired by them she begins. "I did read A Brave New World though. In that view, with the sleep training, I think it was something about the 'longest river in Africa' the children had a horrible time using that information as usable information. But taking it in as subconscious rote information like how political parties like to use catch phrases: 'Personal responsibility' 'Change' 'Reform' as accepted dogma without the people spouting it even knowing what it means, it worked fine. Was the view of implanted knowledge in that book just outright wrong and and Howard could write and interpretive paper of his own views on Hamlet now. Or were those just noted views listed in the knowledge he got, answered when asked, like the Nile being the longest river?"
Lucas nods to Rook. "That's an excellent thing to be concerned about. Could someone come up with a memory implant pill that works that way, or subliminal recordings, or something like that? I suppose so. But this doesn't work that way-- feel free to talk with Howard yourself, convince yourself that he actually understands what he's learned. Or talk to the others who have tried it for themselves."
Jennifer looks over Katherine carefully.. She picked them.. She looks back at Phil, then at Branton.. she wonders if she might have an idea of what they have in common. Her eyes start to dart as she remembers the talk of the zaibatsu and she looks a little apprehensive..
"I really think the Nautalis was feasible!" says Penny softly, "And that 20,000 leagues under the sea was just a metaphor for the great battle of humanity against his own nature.... " She smiles, "Lord of the flies had a Jesus story to it, did you realize that? Even the figur eof Piggy was like a sacrifice... "
Brandon just shakes his head, clearing his thoughts a little bit and wanders over to Penny, peering over her shoulder, his head cocked to the side. "This is great. Everyone should... like... if everyone could do this.. could SEE....." He's kinda talking to himself, kinda trying to tell everyone else.
Molly chuckles, "Don't remember a Brave new world ending all that well. Most stories of the future where something is replaced by an easier method tend to fail." She lifts a shoulder, "True knowledge and understanding are gained through personal effort. Such as with the nile, you can tell someone it's the longest river. Point to a map and say here it is, but until that person sees a real river their knowledge is abstract." Molly holds up a tattooed arm, "This is flesh is covers bone and muscle it is composed of cells, blood and ligaments. That is what it is, but it is not everything it is. You don't know the mystery of flesh until you experience it for yourself."
Rook nods to Lucas' answer and looks to Howard. But how to ask a searching question on a topic she only sort of remembers.. That stops her. "Alright, thank you." To Penny she smiles and head shakes, having missed all of those though curiously watches BranDon's interaction with her. She wanders to Molly and nods. "Well, yes but I blame much of that on the 'Savage' as his point also had a lot of flaws too. His 'to be human is to face trails, exert, struggle, as individuals, and overcome, conveniently narrates out that the vast majority fail and suffer miserably in doing so. That kindof gets into Nietzsche and social Darwinism is you think of it. Apex predator stepping over bodies logic works if you are destined to be victorias and not one of the masses in the heap." She nods to Molly's other words though, fully seeding that point.
Brandon pats Penny lightly on the shoulder. "Just go with it. Let it flow. Just let it all out. Isn't it amazing? Just imagine if everyone could see all this? Feel all that we're feeling."
Liesl edges over to watch Penny and Brandon, though, she's searching out others in the room. Katherine for one, studying their faces, their movements. Lucas also gets a study, but she watches him to see who he is watching.
Stephanie doesn't seem nearly as 'one with the universe' as BranDon is, though she does slip to her feet and look curiously over at the crowd around him, then over to Lucas. "What controls what you start to learn then? I already knew more about Hamlet than is probably healthy to begin with."
Penny nods once, "Yeah... YEAH you're right... it all converges together. If only EVERYONE could see this! See ALL of this! The language is just... there! Lingua est ad esse clavem!" She turns to Brandon and nods once again, her eyes bright "Ta ergalea gia tin istora , i' istora mas enai ed' prin ap ems!" She shakes her head then"ALL around us... you could just reach out and pluck the tools from the sky... I could write an entire BOOK!" She turns anothe rpage in her sketchbook and begins to write in multiple languages.
Branton frowns as Brandon and Penny start riffing off eachother and he looks between them then over at Lucas again, seeming even more suspicous than before. Muttering to himself he says "Gotta wonder who's getting their liver pecked out for eternity over this one."
Brandon nods to Penny, giving her shoulder a little squeeze. "Exactly," he says. He lifts his gaze to Branton and shakes his head. "No, man. You don't understand. The world just opens up. Come here. Look at this." He motions to Penny's page. "Look at what she's writing. It's for real!"
Lucas looks around, considering. Molly and Rook seem to be carrying that debate just fine between themselves for the moment, while Brandon and Penny are gushing to one another. He leaves them to it and answers Stephanie instead. "A number of us have had some of our memory engrams scanned and encoded," he explains. "These pills actually contain several of those packages in different layers, but what actually activates varies from one person to another. We're still researching the details, trying to work it out to the point that we may be able to predict it in advance, tailor for it."
Molly lights another cigarette, "In the end my objection..and seriously I can not believe I have an objection to a drug like this..." She says this with a grin, "Is some of the worst episodes in history have come about when you have someone who can sway the masses. Sure this pill opens the mind and lets you see the world, but who's thoughts are flavoring it. Worst case a man with the charisma and intent of Hitler hands out these pills 'encoded' as Lucus calls it with bits and pieces of himself. Now he has a powerbase who take his pills open then mind to his rhetoric cause i'm sure what you do and listen to will affect the way your mind expands. There was an experiment once in which people, normal rational thinking people were told to shock a test subject under certain circumstance. They found that many in that situation where they were told to do such things would because they were told it was okay. What is to stop our host there from taking his test subjects, giving them pills with his thought code and then 'helping'.." Yes she makes the finger quotes, "Their education along with his own agenda."
"So in other words," the wild-haired violet-eyed Stephanie asks, "You're not a hundred per cent certain what someone is going to 'learn' when they take the pill?" She then trails off as Molly gets more deeply into it than she was planning to, and instead looks over at BranDon and Penny, perhaps trying to figure out why she's not in the same 'zone' they seem to be in.
Liesl leans closer to look at what Penny is writing, then looking about again. She gives that page a look every so often, to see what else has been written.
Brandon shakes his head, pointing at Penny's page. "That isn't what I learned. I don't have a clue what that is. But it all makes sense. Think of what we could do. It wouldn't take much. And you couldn't maybe give it to EVERYONE, but most people... yeah... most people.. almost everyone could ..... it's incredible."
Rook got a little sidetracked debating Molly there, apparently that discussion meaningful to her. Ahem, whoops, impulse control... Reaching up, she smooths at her hair some and smiles self consciously while again looking over to the Derpyness/OR/Expandedness that have become BranDon and Penny, though not really Stephanie.. Interesting, then to Phil. She has to nod to what Molly says there. "Nature vs Nurture, what makes a person who they are. Social influences but accumulated experiences which are just knowledge made more vivid with emotion and sensation. So.. Yeah. Could save the human race, be neutral, or dam it, all depending on who., WHat happens when the technique is replicated and open market. Kim Lil Lil Nil.. Whatever the current Korean Dough Boy's name is, would loooove this and have it within how long of delivery of formula to FDA?" She looks at Lucas for this answer. "Or Isis, or, the new Hitler... Ick or just Rush Limba."
Branton steps over to Penny and Brandon, still looking suspicious but surely looking at a page in Penny's notebook couldn't hurt.
"I knew an Isis," Phil murmurs. "Not that one." Again, though, when /everyone/ is being a loudmouth? There's no contrast to be gained from it. This is their time in the spotlight.
Lucas nods to Stephanie, looking back to Rook and Molly. "That's the short version of it, yes. The details are more... detailed. And yes, that's a question that's been very much on my mind. How /do/ we stop this from being abused? As simple as it would be to just stuff the genie back into the lamp, that's only going to work for so long; sooner or later, someone is going to start putting these same pieces together."
Brandon nods, a little grin coming over his face as Lucas speaks. "I'll be a guinea pig. I've got not a fucking thing to lose." He's impressed. He wasn't impressed. He was pretty fucking skeptical. But this is WAY better than locking himself in his office and drinking himself to death while he cries on his mop dog.
Turning her head Molly looks at the over excited Brandon and comments with a deadpan expression, "You Sir need to get laid." She then looks first at Lucus then Rook, "This is just...creepy."
Rook gives a mirthless laugh and smiles at Lucas. "Pocket Fusion question. Hay this is awesome. Free power for everyone. Ummm some dink is going to weaponize it in about.." She makes to look at a non-existent watch. "Yeah.." She shrugs at that answer because, well, same answer as everything else, flying is cool, used for bombing before medical rescue. She coughs at Molly's comment, grinning. "Sooo are the learned elements permanent, do they fade, do new doses keep adding new things or needed to maintain the old?" She reaches under her coat and pulls a single ear bud cord to begin listening too while things go on. To Phil she awws. "Well dam dear, would have loved an introduction."
"Somewhere in the middle," Lucas explains. The abuse question is filed away for later brainstorming. "It's like regular education in that respect-- if you don't use it for a while and you didn't have a natural aptitude for it anyway, it tends to fade. These memories are much the same way, but we've observed enough retention that we think we're really on to something big here."
Brandon eyes Molly for a moment or two, then his grin only widens. "What, now? We don't even know each other." Not that that's really ever stopped him, but there's more to talk about than sex right now. Like.. this wonderfulness. He nods to Lucas. "If I had to take a pill once in a while for THIS? I'd totally do it. Where do I sign up? Seriously. This might be the best thing that's ever happened to me."
For her part, this entire time Penny has been scribbling, writing, sometimes drawing. But mostly it is writing, and writing, and writing. Languages pour out onto the page, at least four different ones. She may soon fill her book up. Some of it is repetative, some of it is not. She murmurs "You... you maybe shouldn't... " She says to Brandon, "You maybe shouldn't. I mean, this... that girl... " She points to Molly, "She makes some sense. Hahah! My name is penny and SHE's making snense. I kill me.... "
Stephanie drifts over to the refreshment table for now, her eyes widening a little as new insights come to her. She mulls them over while she tucks away a sandwich, cogitate and masticate - think and chew.
Branton pauses in his approach to look at Penny's notebook to ask a question of his own, speaking up "Here's an important question, probably should have been gone over before anyone took some, What about side effects?"
A hand is waved in Brandon's direction, "I could lie and say I never take advantage of people under the influence of mind altering drugs, but.." She shakes her head, "Your cute luv but the pill just creeps me out. Come see me when your straight and we can discuss your insights in to the world with drinks and furry handcuffs." Molly looks for a watch cause she doesn't wear one herself then over at Lucus, "You never did say why us. What makes all of us so special that you want to share your magic pill.
Rook closes her eyes for a few moments as her music washes over then looks back up to the show. She grins at Penny, soft '/ha/' in appreciation. Same humor.. That dose not speak well for either of them really. She mmms at Branton's question then back to Lucas, assuming this sort of back and forth is what the group wants. And then as Molly presses.
At this point, Katherine decides to speak up again, going over and retrieving a /thick/ sheaf of papers. An entire ream, at least. "There's an answer to that," she replies to Molly, "but it really would bore you to death. Short version? You're not the /only/ ones, or the perfect ones - well, more accurately, we can't tell the perfect ones from the good ones - but you're good enough. We looked for people who might have strong reactions, people who might favor or oppose the project. Mostly, we looked for people who would /care/ about it. It's our baby, we want the best for it."
Lucas, meanwhile, nods to Branton. "Haven't seen any significant ones yet. Some headaches and dry mouth. We're keeping an eye on that too."
Jennifer hmms, watching and listening, though she IS looking worriedly at Penny and Brandon.. and then she listens to Katherine carefully.. "How do you figure out who might care???" she asks.
Brandon grins at Molly. "I'll give you my number." But then back to other things. Like.. side effects? Oh yeah. And more questions. He looks at Jennifer. That's a DAMN good question. And then he looks back to Katherine for the answer.
Stephanie finishes tucking away the sandwich while she listens to the conversation go back and forth, starting now to drift over to where Penny and BranDon are so she can try and sneak a peek at Penny's notebook herself.
Suddenly, Penny stops writing. Her eyes are wide and then they narrow. "No. Nonono. What if this goes away... doesn't work a second time... " She closes her eyes, "Oh for the love of th egods I've been through worse. What IS this stuff?" She scrubs her hands through he hair. "Nonononono... " She grips her sketchbook. "I'm here. I'm now. I'm alive. I'm me. Because I willed it to be so, because I came through it. Because of my OWN power. Because of MY mind... not some pill... NO.... " She scrubs at her hair again, actually ripping a few strands out. "No no no.... "
Liesl is now seriously reading the story that Penny is pouring out onto the pages of her sketchbook. It's a disturbing tale, apparently, as she frowns and shakes her head from time to time. She backs away as Penny stops writing, and goes into fits. This does not bode well.
Rook is amused by Katherin's words. "Then we are perfect. I was in a casino when our last war was announced... America.. Is now again at war... Our forces are.." She shrugs. "Almost no one stopped gambling and people at the bar were pissed that some of the sports channels were interrupted.. For a war report... We left home, tv, and chosen entertainments and are still standing here, watching and asking, that is deep caring for our society. Well past the thirty second news bite." ....... She stops and watches Penny go Bad. "Whoops, that looks bad...."
There is silence from her as Molly watches strands of Penny's hair float in the breeze towards the floor. Her eyes move to Katherine then Lucus, surely they have medical personal on hand for such a situation. Bad trips happen all the time and since they seem to be treating random people as lab rats. Again her eyes move over the group looking for those angels whose job it is to talk the jumper off the wall. "Nurse?"
Katherine flips through some of the pages, alluding to 'here's the long version' without actually saying it out loud. Before she has a chance to get into it further, though, she sets it aside and goes over to help Penny through her moment. "Relax! Relax. Here, have a glass of water, you're going to be all right, I promise."
Brandon frowns as Penny starts to freak out and moves over to put a hand on her shoulder. "Hey, yo. It's cool, right? Everything's okay. Just breathe." He eyes Katherine. He seems to be doing okay, right? Yeah. He's totally fine. Right? Yeah. FIne.
Stephanie also appears to be just fine, though when Penny starts to freak she closes the distance a bit quicker. She's not quick enough however, and others are already working on getting the woman calmed down. All she can do, apparently, is watch, so that is indeed what she does.
Branton pulls up short when Penny starts freaking out and looks over to Lucas and Katherine. When Katherine moves to assist Penny promptly Branton looks to Lucas and quirks an eyebrow "I'm guessing that wasn't part of the plan?"
Rook is rather unhelpful in these situations and so sits back and watches. Yeah, nurse, maybe that will help. Oh yeah, actually, she can be helpful. She pulls out her phone. 9... 1... 1...
Turning her cerulean eyes on Katherine first Penny bares her teeth openly like she might bite her. And then she sighs, calming if slowly. She accepts the water. Drinking from it slowly, her raven lashes fluttering, she murmurs, "Yeah. Fine. Fine. I'll be allright." She takes a deeper gulp of water and sits back, looking up. "I'm breathing sweet cheeks," she says to BranDon, "I'm breathing." She exhales slowly, swallowing and settlininto her chair like a puppet with its strings cut for a moment.
Molly shakes her head, "I think your wonder pill just became the new brown acid from woodstock." She directs that comment to Lucus and looks over at Brandon, "Still want a steady supply of the pills?" Lifting a foot she grinds her cigarette out on the sole of her boot. "Just remember, you didn't sign a waiver I would totally hold them responsible."
No waivers, and who knows what the FDA would make of any of this. Someone who wanted could probably crucify this bunch right now. But no one seems obviously interested in doing so; maybe there's something to Katherine's mysterious selection process after all. Some of the other attendees tried the pills too and experienced some interesting positive results, though nothing so dramatic as Penny or Brandon. Some others, presumably more skeptical, have already wandered off or are in the process of doing so.
Brandon just hangs out with Penny, giving her a little reassuring smile. He shakes his head at Molly. "It's a lot to take in. You've no idea." He takes a nice, deep breath and lets it out nice and slow. Problem averted. He shakes his head at Molly. "Bad reaction. That's all. I'm not having any problems. Maybe it isn't for everyone. But I'm alriht."
Branton rubs the back of his neck with his free hand and looks between Lucas and Katherine as if he were trying to choose between them. Looking a bit perturbed maybe even a touch irritated.
Rook speaks into her phone, sounding quite worried as she gives the address, informing them that an ambulance is needed because of a possible bad ingested chemical reaction.
Jennifer moves over to the large volume of literature where the 'long form' of it all is and takes a look.
The 911 dispatcher assures Rook that they're sending someone right away, and keeps her on the line to collect additional information while it's in transit. Jennifer, meanwhile, is faced with 99 percent numbers and 1 percent heavily abbreviated labels: probably no one in the building but Katherine understands it well enough to actually draw any useful information from it.
Oh look at that Rook is calling 911 and the rats are scattering, (ed: Molly says) "What Lucus Katherine your not leaving us are you I am sure the ambulence crew and maybe the police will have questions for you."
Branton fishes a smartphone out of his pocket and snaps pictures of Lucas, Katherine and Howard. In that order of priority, so at least there's a visual record of them for the authorities.
Lucas is showing no signs of planning an exit. "Of course not," he answers Molly. "The last thing we want is for anyone to be hurt because of this." Katherine's sticking by his side as well, and Howard is over by the sandwiches but he's still here too.
Rook keeps on the line but.. Well.. That is about all the empathac helpful that she can really muster other than watching the others. Stepping over she looks at the papers curiously.
Stephanie gives Katherine the hairy eyeball next, pursing her lips and narrowing her eyes at the woman, then suddenly relaxing visibly. At this point she starts drifting toward the door herself, apparently to make like a tree and leave.
Brandon isn'tgoing anywhere. It just reinforces his point that this is legit when they don't scatter. He hovers near Penny without being too clingy about the whole thing. He doesn't know her, afterall.
Branton takes the pictures even if the ring leaders aren't leaving but then he puts his phone away. Scowling he considers the ambulence approaching he mutters "Some how I bet they're going to make this my fault."
Another cigarette is lit as Molly leans back, she's not holding and is for once sober so bring on the cops. She idly watches Penny and Brandon there is a thoughtful expression on her face. Then she looks over at Lucus and company and again gets the creepy sensation up the back of her neck.
Jennifer shrugs, "Well.. at least it's not a cult... It's just unlicensed drug testing on human subjects..." yeah.. that's much better...
Brandon is actually kinda okay with that.
Stephanie takes one last look around the room before slipping out the door and heading for her car, not really wanting to be here when the authorities arrive. The big V-8 roars to life, then there's the piercing, fingernails on chalkboards shrieeeeek of the loose fanbelt as she drives off into the night.
Time passes. The ambulance arrives; Penny still hasn't shown any signs of a relapse, but they're still attentive, because that's their job. Lucas identifies the chemical reaction as possibly involving aspirin, producing a half-full over-the-counter bottle; the aspirin pills do in fact look just like the shrink-wrapped ones.
Phil is getting ready to head out as well, but offers some business cards to some of the attendees (including Stephanie), handwriting his home address on the back. "For the after-party," he explains.
As for Penny, yeah, she is just relaxing now. She is breathing deep, and seems to simply be trying to let it all flow over her. She sighs softly, and looks towards Phil for a moment, her cheeks flushing faintly for some reason. Probably sheer, simple, embarassment. The same kindof goes when she looks up ad Brandon, smiling faintly at the man as she intones, "Hey. You're a good guy, you know that? Thanks for sticking by me. It's not like you really know me other than that brief hi-bye in the park."
Molly shakes her head as she watches Lucus do the old aspirin switch-a-roo and moves to call for her ride. Phil's card is tucked away with the hopes his after party was better then the party.
Rook heads off with her ride but soon after departs to see about the skipped dinner.