Session 18

Fran escorts the party into her quarters. Immediately obvious is a clash of three moods. The bed is made and not a single piece of laying-around clothes is to be seen; most of the room's interior seems neat and orderly. On the other hand there is a pile of mail, and another of newspapers, cluttering the desk.
On the third hand are pictures lining almost every free space of the walls, showing Fran and her husband in various romantic or slice-of-life times, or of them with Anna, Luthor, or both. Quite a few - recent, judging by their age - show Fran with Sensor, oddly.
…and then there is the one showing Fran behind Sensor in the gym, apparently taken quite recently. But Fran is standing well outside the marked-off arena, while Sensor is in the trainer's box?!?
Fran gestures to a few couches and chairs - those not occupied by her husband and his ampharos, still leaning against each other unconscious. Fortunately they are not snoring.
Jack falls back into a chair and puts his feet up.
Max Thorn elects to hold up a wall instead.
Fran shoots Jack a mild frown as she sits properly. "So as not to waste your time or mine, how much do you already know about porygons and pokemon creation?"
Esme flops down onto a couch.
Sam Spade says nothing.
Esme: "Enough to make one, at least once."
Fran appears to have intimidated Anna into silence, for now.
Fran smiles at Esme. "Ah, good. Then I need not start with the basics."
Fran: "As you know, the invention of porygon postdate the harnessing of electricity for mankind's benefit. When my great-great…well, 'distant ancestor', you won't care about the number of generations. He came here with a generator on his ship, and began the electrification of Amoda."
Fran: "Ever since, my family has lived for our region's benefit, upgrading the plant and making life better. We still have that original generator in a museum; Luther can get you access if you wish."
Esme nod nods.
Fran nods toward Max, smiling slightly. "I heard you mention, as you came back up from the Source, aspersions upon digging for resources. That was a thought shared by us as well, thus our conversion to pokemon power."
Fran: "It has been a slow process, as the needs of Amoda are great and any individual pokemon can only contribute so much. But I am proud to say that I finished years ago what my grandmother conceived of and my mother began."
Jack Layfield: "Riiiiiiiiiiight."
Fran: "At first we used wild voltorbs, magnemites, and their evolutions. But they were used to freedom, and would tire of pushing magnets around and charging plates. So we began creating pokemon, just for this purpose. A bit dull, useless for battles or most other purposes, but suited for life as generators. Porygon do not even need to eat; they can just stay down there, for their entire lives."
Jack Layfield: "So, quick question, here's a radical thought. What's the backup plan?"
Fran: "There…was none, at first. As I mentioned, Luther talked me into storing short-term battery backups to smooth over any interruptions. I could not conceive of how there could be any." She shrugs. "But, as you saw…"
Sam Spade shows polite interest on her face, due to the ease of long practice.
Max Thorn …somehow manages to maintain a neutral expression.
Jack Layfield: "What if the porygon suddenly decide, 'Hey, I don't want to spend my entire life stuck in one chamber!'?"
Fran blinks at Jack.
Fran: "If…w-well. IF that were to somehow happen, we would let that particular porygon go and make a replacement, of course."
Jack Layfield: "See I'm not the mechanical geniuses my parents are, but I _am_ a Layfield. I have a brain, as uncool as that may seem."
Sam Spade: "Surprising."
Fran smiles weakly. "Trust me, dear, brains ARE appreciated around here."
Esme: "If they wanted to leave, why did they just go back inside the basement after the wall got busted?"
Sam Spade: "Because they don't have much knowledge of the outside world, but they do know the generator."
Max Thorn bites his tongue.
Fran: "Indeed! The generator is all they know. Why would they want to leave?"
Sam Spade: "Striking out on your own can be scary, especially if scary things like that Stormderp Pichu bust through a wall, even if they say 'they're here to rescue you.'"
Fran: "The generator is life. The generator is purpose. The generator is meaning. They don't need food, so what do they need? Something to live for. That is the generator."
Sam Spade: "That said, I wouldn't be surprised to see a lot more discontent down there now."
Sam Spade: "They know there are alternatives, even if the alternatives are scary."
Fran frowns. "You…may be right. Thus it is all the more important that you recover the nursery."
Esme: "Hmm. Would definitely need a backup quick, then."
Sam Spade: "Yeah, and humans tend to be more solicitous of most pokemon than pokemon are."
Sam Spade: "Say, for example, a Pichu that appears to be running its own team of criminals."
Jack Layfield: "And what happens if some kook hacker with an upgrade starts messing with your pokemon?"
Fran tilts her head. "The porygon…get upgraded?"
Fran: "I am afraid I do not take your meaning."
Sam Spade: "Basically I'm wondering if Team Stormderp wants the nursery to make bombs, or something like that."
Max Thorn: "Gee. You claim you appreciate brains, but your porygon-pokemon who ought to have incredible computational capabilities-are treated as slaves rather than as partners."
Fran: "I meant Jack, but…do you mean they would make voltorbs to self-destruct?"
Sam Spade lights up.
Sam Spade: "Ah, it wouldn't be the first time."
Fran shrugs. "We DO appreciate brains. They do not use theirs. But they are content."
Sam Spade: "It was a togetic that self-destructed and took out their carrier."
Fran: "Ah, yes, the carrier. I was wondering if you might tell me what you knew of it. I am most curious about their designs."
Jack Layfield: "I don't like any of this. Batteries are one thing, but why isn't there a mechanical generator backup? Machines would be _more_ reliable in a crisis than a bunch of easily scared, herd-like pokemon."
Max Thorn: "…"
Max Thorn: "I will have no part of this. Good bye." Max opens the door and, somehow, manages not to slam it on his way out.
Esme: "Later, Max!"
Fran smiles at Jack, ignoring Max's exit. "And what, exactly, ARE mechanical pokemon, when you get right down to it?"
Sam Spade: "Thinking beings?"
Fran's smile slips a bit. "Machines. By their body's nature."
Jack Layfield: "Oh really dudette? What happens when you disassemble a mechanical pokemon then reassemble it?"
Esme: "Well, depends on how you do it and the way you do it."
Esme: "Since that's essentially how the storage system works, and that works on non-mechanical pokemon as well."
Fran: "Surgery. Hopefully the pokemon survives, if done carefully."
Fran: "It is the same with any pokemon."
Fran: "Even if the exact procedures differ a bit."
Max Thorn wanders around town for a bit, fuming.
Fran: "In a sense any pokemon, or even a human, is a machine - even the ghost types. But messier and less straightforward, and more prone to…problems…when used as one, than with our creations."
Max easily finds where Team Stormcloud tried to dig under the gym - if only because the swarms of pokemon are still pulling their buried members out of the rubble.
Max Thorn pauses, taps a note to Esme into his pokedex: "Query: Are the pokemon given a choice, or do they go immediately to work? If the latter, give them a choice in the matter and ask them what they'd like in exchange for their work."
Max Thorn: "And drive home the point that pokemon are not slaves, to be driven to work without recompense, but /partners/."
It does not look like they have noticed Max yet.
Max Thorn: "Hey there, fellas. Any way I can help?"
Esme: "My question is still, how do the porygon feel about this?" She looks down and notes her message from Max. "Hah. Timing."
The swarms look up as Max approaches. They collectively blink.
Fran: "Feel? It is the only home they have ever known. They are content."
Sam Spade: "Because if they are machines, then by ensuring that have nothing to compare their lives with, and no knowledge that complaint could change things, or even the idea that things can be better, then they will not try for it."
A collective Thunderbolt from at least five sources strikes the ground in front of Max. Part of the swarms assemble a defensive formation while the rest get into a flurry of throwing rocks this way and that to rescue their friends.
Sam Spade: "Because all thinking things are machines."
Sam Spade: "Explains so much about how Anna grew up."
Fran: "Anna is more than a mere machine, but I have…attempted to optimize her upbringing. Is that not the duty of all mothers?" She glances at her husband. "And fathers, when able?"
Max Thorn holds up his hands. "I'm not going to stop you. Do any of you have a means of communicating with humans?" He sits cross-legged, hands on his knees.
Jack Layfield: "Optimization? Really? Authoritarian parenting isn't optimization."
The swarms whirl in front of Max, though slacken off a bit when he sits down.
Fran: "Discipline as needed. Or has Anna let you down in any way?"
Max Thorn: "I'll take that as a 'no', then. I understand that you wanted to free the porygon. Were you freeing them from human oppression? Or…?"
Eventually the same xatu from the carrier emerges from the swarm, eyes glowing. Max hears a voice in his head. "Why are you here?"
Esme rubs her chin. "So do they go straight from the Nursery to downstairs, or…?"
Fran: "Yes. As you saw, the nursery is kept down there. This is why."
Jack Layfield: "She's terrified of you, don't you see this?"
Anna Tommize trembles but otherwise holds a neutral expression.
Fran looks at Anna. "…no? I see an obedient daughter whom I am…mostly proud of."
Max Thorn: "I want to understand your cause. I want, particularly, to see a world in which we cooperate as partners rather than one side or the other being enslaved for the benefit of the other side. That woman inside doesn't seem to understand."
Jack Layfield: "Ugh, whatever!" Jack seems rather frustrated.
Sam Spade is following that old adage about saying nice things. It's why she's being rather quiet.
Xatu: "You travel with a piece of the master invader."
Max Thorn scratches his head. "You mean Tim?"
Fran: "In any case, you are correct that…some…porygon will seek to leave, even with this little exposure. We will attempt to ameliorate this as best we can, but we will have to dismiss and replace some of our capacity."
Fran: "The sooner you recover the nursery, the sooner we can let go those who wish to go."
Esme: "My friends here would probably be more content if the porygon were given some exposure outside of holes blown through the floor."
Xatu: "The one produced by the same machines as the mewtwo."
Sam Spade: "Translation: the porygon who want to leave won't be allowed to until you can make new, 'blank' ones."
Esme: "I understand their frustrations though I am…a bit more undecided."
Max Thorn: "Ah. Well. I didn't exactly get a hand in choosing my travel companions. He's a good kid, though. What would you have me do?"
Fran sighs at Sam's summary. "If you MUST put it in such terms. But yes. We have production quotas to meet. Hospitals and pokemon centers to power throughout Amoda. If we fail, even for just several hours, many people and pokemon will suffer. Many will die."
[OOC] Max Thorn: maybe don't have a ticking time bomb underlying the power generators, then. :V
Jack Layfield: "Which is why it astounds me you don't have a backup."
Esme: "I mean they probably do, the lights are still on right now."
Xatu: "Sense no binding on you. You travel as you will. Yet you choose to travel with the master invader part."
Esme: "But a backup is a backup; It's not meant for long-term use."
Fran nods. "This…I will admit, it is my son's logic when he insisted on installing the battery backups. But it is sound."
Jack Layfield: "This isn't a backup, this is stored power. A backup would be another entire generator system."
Fran: "You have spoken with him. Did he tell you of his attempts to harness the waves?"
Fran shakes her head. "I understand he is frustrated to the point that he thought the sea was actively destroying his equipment."
Esme coughs.
Esme: "Yeah, he may wish to put that aside for the time being."
Fran: "Or would you have us go back to burning what was taken from the ground? That is not acceptable."
Max Thorn: "I can't abandon my friends. More than that, my parting ways will lessen positive influences upon the kid."
Xatu: "You seek to train the invader piece?"
Max Thorn: "I seek to make this world a better place. If that requires that I train the invader piece, I will."
Sam Spade: "I'm sure there's a middle ground."
Esme: "In any case, if we agreed to retrieve the Nursery, would you agree in listening to my friends' requests? Particularly in how you treat the Porygon. I presume if you gave them a choice in whether they want to be in a generator forever, that would sit on their stomachs a lot better."
Max Thorn: "I'd much rather he found his own way to make the world a better place, though."
Xatu: "Then beware of the pillar field. You will face it soon."
Jack Layfield: "I don't know, do I look like a scientist? The point is there's no such thing as a free lunch. Everything has a cost."
Jack Layfield: "My parents showed me that much."
Max Thorn: "Pillar field, huh? Could you explain that, please?"
Fran: "We are always willing to listen to sound advice for upgrades. But they must be incorporatable. I fail to see the improvement that could be gained from shoving a certain number of porygon outside."
Esme: "I'm not going to say the porygon are slaves, as Max did. They're not stupid. If they wanted to leave, they could've blown their own hole awhile ago. They aren't even a herd species, because they're usually uncommon! So if they're all together, they've made a conscious choice."
Xatu's eyes flare brighter. Max gets a vision of a vast field of stone pillars, rusting iron beams, rotting wooden poles…and at the center of it, sadness and anger, manifesting with a purple glow.
Esme: "Well yeah. You're optimizing for efficiency of power generation!"
Esme: "My companions are optimizing for the freedom of the Porygon to do what they want."
Sam Spade: "In any case, I'm worried about what Stormderp will do with the Nursery."
Fran: "I run a power plant. My duty to Amoda is to keep it running, optimally."
Max Thorn: "Oh. Okay. What would you like me to do, when I encounter it?"
Sam Spade: "We really need to get on that."
Xatu: "Attempt to not encounter it."
Esme: "Well right now it's not running, and they're your best attempt at getting up again."
Xatu: "But your destiny runs through it. This may be impossible."
Esme smiles. "So while I respect your ideals as a scientist, you may need to compromise on this one."
Max Thorn: "Well. Is there a way to go…/around/ it?"
Fran: "On the contrary. Production is mostly restored at this time."
Fran: "And it is in our mutual interest if you recover the nursery."
[OOC] Max Thorn: someone should point out to her that people are more productive when they can take pride in a thing.
Xatu: "Physically, yes. Destiny-ily…difficult."
Esme rubs her chin. "Hmm. Oh yeah! Tell me, have the Porygon ever been known to chant? Sometimes at another one?"
Fran: "No…? They are quite quiet."
Esme pops open Lucrece's pokeball. "Well mine hatched while we were down there and they kind of started doing that. Not sure what's up with that, yet."
Fran blinks.
Max Thorn: "So going 'round physically won't do it. Do I need to plan a different route to Dojji? Or is there a particular set of actions I would need to take to alter the outcome?"
Lucrece spins in the air, before bumping into Esme affectionately. "Ryyy~!"
Xatu: "When you encounter the past, remember that it is the past, not the now. Especially, remember that you have not died yet."
Max Thorn: "…"
Xatu: "This will be important to make sure you do not die yet."
Max Thorn: "Naturally. Thank you for your advice. Is there anything I could do for you in return for it?"
Xatu: "If you wish, you may stop scaring my friends and go away."
Xatu: "The calmer they are, the less injured the buried will be."
Max Thorn: "Thank you for your time." He stands, then leaves.
Xatu: "And maybe wash off the stench of Lugia's favor."
That last one seemed to be delivered with a chuckle.
Fran stares at Lucrece, blushing a bit. "Ah, that is one of the cutest baby pokemon I have ever seen."
Esme: "It's so squishy!"
Fran soon clears her throat and recovers. "Ah! I mean, err, did perhaps the stock take it as a moment of beauty? Perhaps I could hang some art down there."
Anna Tommize: "M-mother, please b-be careful with that one."
Anna Tommize: "It does not feel right."
Anna Tommize quickly realizes she has spoken out of turn and looks back downwards.
Fran nods. "Sound advice. Let us keep it away from further interaction with the Source."
Max Thorn stooges around town some more, lost in thought.
Esme shrugs. "Max said they were praying. Which is weird." She squishes Lucrece's cheeks. "So far seems otherwise normal though."
Max Thorn makes his way back to the interior of the gym…
The security machoke waves Max in. The control room is almost back to normal now.
Fran blinks. "Praying? Hmm…that sounds famil-"
Anna Tommize bites her lip. It looks like she wants to say something more but is stopping herself.
Fran looks at Sam abruptly. "Have you been to Sky City lately? I heard there was, for a time, a cult lead by a pokemon able to speak telepathically."
Sam Spade: "I have not…but I think that may be very closely tied to Team Stormderp."
Max Thorn: "I may have an answer for that. I had a lovely chat with a xatu just now."
Fran: "Hmm…yes, I think it was a xatu. Do you think it was the same one?"
Max Thorn: "Given what its compatriots were up to at the time, highly probable."
Fran: "And what did this xatu have to say?"
Max Thorn: "Nothing pertaining to your nursery, so I think I'll keep it to myself, if you don't mind."
Anna Tommize: "M-max…"
Anna Tommize shoots Max a terrified look. "Why are you telling her 'no'?" it seems to ask.
Max Thorn holds up a finger. "Don't get me wrong, if we discussed anything that would help me locate your nursery, I would definitely share. But it pertains to my fate almost exclusively."
Fran: "Very well. If it does not concern me or mine, keep your secrets."
Max Thorn: "Thank you."
Fran: "But if it is the xatu I have heard of, it would preach about the fate of a group - in your case, your companions."
Anna Tommize tenses up, waiting for inevitable 'my fate of my daughter is my concern' line.
Fran: "And the fate of my daughter is your concern. Should she meet an ill end, I will hold you responsible."
Fran: "So I advise you to share the xatu's words with her at some point."
Sam Spade: "C'mon, Anna. Let's go save the world."
Max Thorn: "Ma'am, if she meets an ill end it'll be because *I* have."
Anna Tommize: "M-mother. Am I dismissed?"
Fran: "See that it is. Or better yet, don't let that happen."
Fran nods. "You may leave. I shall arrange with Luther for accommodations for your stay in Wirehold."
Esme taps Lucrece on the nose with its pokeball, returning it. "So we headed out? We got a lead?"
Max Thorn: "Dunno about a 'lead', so much. Did get a warning, though."
Anna Tommize nods. "Thank you mother."
Max Thorn waits 'til they're outside of the gym to say further, however.
Sam Spade: "So that was the Xatu she was talking about, then. And it is tied to Stormderp."
Anna Tommize marches out as if she was in a formation.
Max Thorn: "Pretty sure they're one and the same, yes."
Sam Spade: "Hmm. It seemed like the pichu was running things, but I haven't seen the xatu for myself."
Max Thorn: "Doesn't seem mutually exclusive; the pichu might've been a deputy."
Sam Spade: "Quite. Or it could be loser than a strict hierarchy."
Max Thorn: "Arceus save us from a cellular poketerrorist organization…"
Sam Spade: "Quite."
Sam Spade hesitates.
[OOC] WC GM: From one modeling itself on Zygarde? :P
[OOC] Max Thorn: *punts WC*
Sam Spade: "Thank you for saying to Mrs. Tommize what I couldn't."
Sam Spade kisses Max on the cheek.
Max Thorn: "You're welcome."
Sam Spade: "In the mean time, now that we're out…"
Sam Spade: "Can you tell us what the xatu said?"
Sam Spade snakes an arm around Anna.
Sam Spade: "I think we'd all like to know."
Esme: "Yeah, more talking psychic birds."
Max Thorn: "And you deserve to, for matter. So…" He relates the conversation.
Tim just stares when Max gets to the pillar field, a bit shaken.
Esme: "Huh."
[OOC] Max Thorn: Probably a good time to break or skip or whatever.
[OOC] WC GM: Given the time, can logend. All in favor?
[OOC] Max Thorn: Sure.
[OOC] Esme: honk

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