[AotA] Alpha station observatory

Quarters sorted and belongings stowed, Nur roams the hallways of the station, nodding shyly to the inhabitants as she passes. Eventually she finds herself in the observatory, staring at the beauty of the stars through the window as she watches the ship she arrived on depart, leaving her the only of her kind here.

Four and Dwi how do you end up in the observatory?


  • Dwi had been feeling out of sorts. The Liminal had yet to make an appearance after summoning him to the Alpha Station via a high-priority quantum-entangled message, and the stress of not knowing precisely why he's been summoned on this voyage has started to get to him. So he sought out Four in a professional capacity.

    Dwi is lounging on one of the benches near the large observatory viewport, Rocky sleeping soundly at his feet, as he and Four discuss his misgivings about the situation here. He doesn't initially notice Nur has entered the room, his back turned to the majority of the enormous observatory.
  • Nur watches the two of them from the edges of the room behind a column, entranced by their appearance, so different from what she's familiar with.
  • Dwi is visibly uncomfortable talking about sensitive matters with someone he just met, but it's clear from his demeanor that this isn't his first rodeo with a counselor. His eyes are distant, staring out into the void surrounding the protostar Alpha Station orbits. It looks like he belongs anywhere but here...

    "... Look, I'm sorry I'm wasting your time with this petty slag, Minister — I just don't think I really belong here, you know? What use does the Liminal have for someone that can't step foot on half the worlds between here and where it's going..."
  • You are not wasting my time, Dwi- I am here to listen. You are providing me the opportunity to serve the purpose I was brought here for. Thank you for that. She bows her head in honest gratitude.

    I can't presume to know the Liminal's plan, but I've reviewed your file- you possess a perspective not many in this universe have. I imagine it's been difficult to be so ostracized- can you tell me about a time where you felt like you belonged?
  • Dwi's leans in to the conversation as Four assuages him. "I don't know," he answers honestly, searching his memory for something worth sharing, "I've always been between two world, so to speak..." He sighs, and rubs at Rocky's tummy with the ball of his foot. Rocky doesn't stir.

    After a brief pause, Dwi nods. "This is going to sound ridiculous, but I feel like I belong out there, amongst the stars... Life in the Flotilla was always a crazy balance between not getting the other Taulan kids sick, and not understanding what all the hubbub was about with Capital kids and their games... When I finally got out into a spaceship, chattering with whoever was out in the void, making a home for myself with my dog, and my ship — that's when I felt like I belonged. Even my ship's AI makes me feel more at home than chatting with people face to face..."

    He laughs, and bites his lip nervously — like he's overshared. "No offense. Not that all casual conversation sets me off or anything — you folks seem just fine. Do you know what I mean though? I feel like that's not normal. Like, where do you belong?" He watches Four carefully to make sure he didn't offend her.
  • Nur listens but doesn't interrupt, then realizes her listening might be an invasion of privacy. She dithers about what to do, wandering in and out of her spot of concealment a few times.
  • Interesting- he feels like he doesn't belong during face to face interactions- does he not feel like he justifies or deserves the space he occupies? He has a place here, the Liminal invited him that same as they invited me, and yet he's uncomfortable. Belonging seems important to him, I note that as a point to talk about in future conversations. For the time being he's indicated with non-verbal cues that he's uncomfortable and I won't press him on it until we've established further trust.

    To be fair, Dwi, normal is relative. The universe is vast and organic beings are a marvel of differentiation. You've developed as a product of your circumstance and experience- if you aren't happy with that development, then act to change it. If you are happy with yourself now, there is no use comparing to hypothetical beings.

    I note Nur observing us- I don't believe Dwi has said anything she shouldn't hear,
    but I will protect his privacy by asking her to leave if needed. I make a note to offer to counsel her, if she would find that helpful.
  • Dwi chuckles at her use of the term "Normal" — like there is some sliding scale where he passes muster. "I guess my point is, Minister, nothing about my circumstance and experience is normal — and at this point in time, I'm not sure I know how to be anything but who I am. If the Liminal sees something useful in my file, it would be news to me — because everyone seems to think I belong in a different camp from the one I'm trying to be in, and I'm tired of having folks disappointed with what they find."

    He sighs, and sits back in his chair, looking out the window. He thinks back to his arrival on the ship, and how Nur tried to shake Rocky's hand. "You see how that Nur lady tried to shake Rock's hand, earlier? She may not know a dog from a sapient being, but at least she knows who she is — why she's here. Same with you — we've barely even gotten to know each other, and you've already got a bunch of billable hours going!"

    Dwi's face contorts, and he shakes his head to aleviate some of the discomfort. "I should just shut up — look at me squaking like an open COM on public 7... I don't even know anything about you, let alone given you a chance to get a word in edgewise..."
  • edited November 2017
    He does not like talking to others... Nur frowns, backing away. And he does not know his purpose here... She casts a last glance at his profile before settling out of earshot and away from their sight. For that matter I am not truly sure of mine here. Surely there was someone else more qualified for this than a greenling just out of the orchard...
  • I chuckle at his 'billable hours' joke. I was created for this purpose, there is no one to bill. I often envy organic beings' ability to feel things in such contradictory ways. Here he is, on a journey with the Liminal, feeling frustrated.

    If it makes you feel better, you can ask me about myself. I don't particularly need to speak about myself- as I said my purpose is to listen and offer advice. I'm here to help you be more comfortable.
  • Dwi shifts in his seat, his brow furrowed in thought as he eyes Four up and down. Her response bothers him, and he can't quite put a finger on why... "Does that bring you comfort? I never knew a Minister of the Doctrine that couldn't talk your ear off about why they joined the ministry, and what their favorite passage was... Surely your life's got a few things worth mentioning. How long have you been counseling folks?"
  • Four observes the change in Dwi's posture. I have been counseling for 5 years. I was brought online 8 years ago, with access to the database of a similar AI who was online for 37 years.
    I don't have a favorite passage, though I find several of them to be particularly insightful or thought provoking. My purpose isn't to push my own thoughts and beliefs on people, but rather question theirs in order to help them know themselves better.

    Four's tone is even and gentle. She is trying to sooth Dwi and is not accomplishing that talk.
    She sighs- an affectation learned from humans that conveys complicated thoughts or emotions.
  • Dwi purses his lips, trying to decide whether Four is deflecting talking about herself, or if this is some complicated free-will thing, like the stuff TASHA hates talking about. He opts not to press it — at least not right away. They're going to be travelling together, after all, and there will be ample time to explore that orbit.

    He sighs sympathetically, and relaxes in his chair again. "You sound like my kind of minister, Minister... What do you do when you aren't counseling?"
  • Four's face splits into a grin. I make things! Mostly textiles- I weave fabric, knit, sew, and such. I like to make clothes.

    Four talks as long as Dwi will listen about past projects, techniques, and such. After a while, Dwi yawns and Four realizes that she's keeping him.

    Oh, I'm so sorry, I've kept you from settling in! I can talk at length about my pursuits at any time, please, let's retire and we can meet tomorrow? She says it with slightly less stress in her voice than you'd expect- probably because she isn't stressed but rather performing the words like she's seen them expressed.
  • Dwi nods, and stands up from his spot, Rocky rousing from his nap. He expresses interest in seeing her projects "at some point".

    Then they shake hands, and go their separate ways for the evening.

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