Circuitry

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Re: Circuitry

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Blackfridayrule on Sun Jan 15, 2017 2:29 pm

Ace blinked, pondering the suggestion in silence for a moment. Who would want to block him from remembering things? And what purpose did that serve? It didn't make any sense, but then neither did having some device in his head, and neither did amnesia. Nothing made sense, so in theory anything was possible. Somehow that wasn't a thought he liked. "You really think someone is...communicating with this thing or did something to me to make sure I don't remember anything?" Ace shook his head, more out of defeat than rejecting the idea. "I don't know man, but anything seems to be possible. Which begs the question...I clearly have been...modified and trained and so I can assume held by some entity out there. So was I released intentionally? Or did I escape? Neither sounds right to me. Or rather, neither rings a bell, but that doesn't mean they aren't true. I'm just at a loss." Ace gave a small but wily grin. "You don't think it's aliens, do you? Betcha that's it." But that didn't explain the training.

"If you think you can get in there and maybe clear some things up...I mean...I'd like to know what it is anyway. I'll let you...you know, poke around. But I'm worried for you. I don't know what you'll find in there but more importantly I don't know what that will do to me. I seem to be...reactive. Reflexive almost. And if you trip something and I hurt you, I could never forgive myself. I just need you to be careful. I don't know what your process is but it might be important where you are...you know, if you can distance yourself from me. Or maybe if you had both my hands and tried to pin them down if something happened. I don't know. I just am worried." And that was an understatement. He was worried about the amnesia and what caused it. He was worried about what had been done to him and who had done it, and why. He was worried he was not supposed to be lost, that someone was looking for him. He worried also that no one was, that he was alone in this world and had nothing to ground him. He worried he might hurt her or get her in trouble somehow, and frankly he worried about what her poking around in there would do.

"Okay, but yeah, get some essentials first," he said, pouring himself a large cup of coffee and spreading butter on multiple slices of toast. "Get settled a little. That sounds like a good plan. Cereal? Where is the--ah, found it." He helped himself to a bowl even as he crunched down on some toast. Goodness, he was hungry. Was he always this hungry? He was an athletic body type, so he probably had a quick metabolism. After inhaling both food and coffee like it was nothing, Ace found his shoes and jacket and put them on. As he picked up the jacket, the pistol stared him in the face and he hefted it for a while, debating what to do with it. When he first picked it up, he looked like he was holding a snake, something that might lash out and bite him unannounced. But as he held it longer, it seemed to melt into his hands like a long-used object. It was his. And it was...comfortable in his hand. He knew the balance of it, the weight, where it settled in his palm, where his fingers were supposed to go. He didn't know if he hated that or was comforted by it. Eventually, Ace placed it back into the inner pocket at the side of the jacket where he originally found it. Weirdly enough, he felt better with it than without it.

"Alright, ready to go when you are."

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Re: Circuitry

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby SkullsandSlippers on Tue Jan 17, 2017 8:49 pm

Eleanor sipped her coffee as he moved about the kitchen, eating. She let her eyes follow his movements. She had offered to help him get some essentials and now she realized she was willing to let him stay here. She had known, subconsciously, but she was acknowledging to herself what it meant.

She was okay with it. It felt safer to have him here. Eleanor downed her coffee and moved towards the door as Ace stated he was ready.

"Alright. Let's go shop."

Out of the apartment the world was louder, brighter. Eleanor wasn't usually awake this early in the day. She preferred to stay up late, party and sleep in. It wasn't like her work was your typical nine to five.

She led Ace across the street. "We can start here." She pointed to the same store she had stopped into this morning. "Anything else you need or we want we can walk a few blocks. This area has everything."

Eleanor let him wander as she thought about how she might tackle that thing in his head. It would be a challenge but imagine what she might find. Curiousity mixed with fear. It was the perfect mix to make a hacker drunk on excitement.

She grabbed a bag of pasta from a shelf. That would come later though. First she would exhaust the normal routes. The company scared her more than the thing in Ace's brain.

Eleanor strolled the aisles picking up random staples. She needed to think for feeding two. She didn't know what he liked but really, neither did Ace right now.

"Finding anything? Do you think you like pasta?" Eleanor approached Ace.

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Re: Circuitry

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Blackfridayrule on Tue Jan 17, 2017 11:09 pm

Ace was a different person outside of Eleanor's small apartment. The same man that had once been shuffling around the kitchen inhaling toast was now ultra alert, eyes sharp and attentive as he walked around with squared shoulders and a steady, sure-footed gait that made it clear he was powerful in his own way. He was not the draggled stray cat she met the day before, at least not on the outside. He just looked like he was on a mission, and to be fair, he was. Granted, that mission was toothpaste and some deodorant that did not smell like a middle-school boys' locker room (or like anything, if he could help it), but still, he had purpose in every movement. His eyes, however, betrayed the fact that he was still a little nervous to be facing the world again. What if he spazzed out at the worst time? Or attracted more attention from the police? And some honest but somewhat humorous part of him worried someone would have the gall to give him small talk and ask him questions about what he liked to do on saturday mornings or what he did for work.

Despite all of this confidence and strength that had not been there before, he still looked overwhelmed. They'd only gotten a few feet away from the door to the apartment and Ace's hand reached out and grabbed her arm. His grip was gentle but urgent and for the moment, it was all he could do to communicate. The sensory overload from just noise alone was staggering, not to mention all the scents involved in walking through a city. Ace had his head down and eyes shut. He couldn't speak, not yet, so he held up a finger to tell her to give him a minute. He had to adjust to this, had to ease his way into it like someone who is cold dips slowly into a hot tub. But he'd get it.

Focus. Breathe. Remember your training.

Okay. He could do that at least. Some of it anyway. With deep breaths, Ace tried to focus in on one particular noise, something to make him feel more grounded and less bombarded. He chose the soft blipping of a crosswalk signal. Blip. Blip. It was rhythmic and not a horrible noise. He bent his entire focus onto it, imagining that all other sounds did not exist. And strangely enough, it worked. With some effort, he could keep himself tuned in to one or two sounds at once instead of seventy. He could do this. He knew how, he just had to remember. "I'm okay," he breathed to her, not yet willing to add the fullness of his own voice to the cacophony. "There are so many noises...I just have to kind of...tune it out." A few deep breaths. "Okay." Another for good measure. "I think I'm good." He began to walk again. "I'm just very sensitive and that was...a lot to take in. It still is, but like...I can sort of push it away a little bit."

They walked and he had no more setbacks. Still, his head swiveled this way and that, eyes scanning the area for everything and anything that jumped out at him as odd or relevant, though for what purpose, he didn't know. In some ways, he felt like a machine, mindlessly doing things that he did not understand. The store was an experience. He recognized a good eighty percent of the brands or at least items on the shelf, but some things he couldn't place, and these he would grab and bring to Eleanor to ask her about. Some of these things included a tube of mascara, popsicles, hummus, gatorade, a radish, and an outdoor grill scraper. When asked if he liked pasta, Ace shrugged. "I don't know. Probably." He put his nose to the box and drew in a long huff of air. "Yeah, probably. We'll assume I like stuff until I find out I don't. Except sardines. I hate sardines for sure."

Ace dropped a handful of things into the cart. "I found some toiletries and stuff, and also this." Ace held up a jug of orange juice. "I do know I like orange juice. Also, is there a place nearby where I can find some basic clothes? I mean just like, a clean t shirt, maybe a hoodie, some socks, and some comfy pants to sleep in. Real basic, real cheap."

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Re: Circuitry

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby SkullsandSlippers on Wed Jan 18, 2017 1:00 pm

Eleanor watched Ace for any signs of being overwhelmed or panic. She saw none which she was grateful for. He seemed to be doing better than yesterday and even from when they first stepped outside.

She understood the idea of being overwhelmed by things. The world was so full of electronics and computers that she was constantly bombarded with noise. It was as if someone was always whispering in her ears, both of them at the same time. She had learned to try and minimize the noise and how to pinpoint certain 'voices' over others. He seemed to be able to do the same but for sounds and such.

A chuckle was held back as Ace smelt the pasta box. That wasn't entirely what Eleanor had expected him to do but it accomplished something so she wasn't about to argue.

"Grab whatever you want to eat or try." She frowned when he asked about clothes. "Why real cheap? I mean there are lots of places we can get some clothes for you but they don't need to be badly made. Money isn't a thing if that is what you are thinking. Okay?"

Eleanor wasn't ready to explain to him that money was never in short supply for her. Between the jobs she did and her ability to skim money and launder it well she was never hurting for money. Not that she took so much that she was a millionaire but her rent was always paid, she always had money for the basics when it came to food and enough stashed away to bail out of the city if she needed to. There was always money if one knew how to get it.

She gave him a shrug. "Whatever you need we can get."

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Re: Circuitry

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Blackfridayrule on Wed Jan 18, 2017 11:58 pm

Ace just stared back at her blinking dumbly when she told him that he ought to have nicer clothes and that he could get whatever he needed or wanted. Again, not for the first time and likely not the last, Ace realized the scope of the kindness she'd shown him within the last 24 hours. Frankly, he was floored by it. She was being incredibly kind to him, taking care of him in his time of need. But in addition to that, as if to compound the feelings of hopeless gratitude he had, Ace knew that she was the only person he knew in the entire world right now. She alone was his ally, and he could trust her and no one else, at least for now.

Ace looked a bit sheepish. "You know I can't pay you back. Not with money, like, I have nothing. I mean, anything else I can do, you name it, but...I guess I'm trying to say thank you. You don't have to do any of this, you really don't." But she was glad that she did anyway. He tried to tell himself that he would stay afloat on his own, that he could handle things and get by and still put his life back together without help, but honestly he didn't know where he'd be without her. Probably back on the park bench he woke up on yesterday.

Deciding it would be to his benefit to take advantage of her offer to try things, Ace went in search of something that pulled at his curiosity. After all, he did need to familiarize himself with the world and society again as best he could if he was ever going to move forward. He ended up with a pack of jello cups, bright green. He held it up, sniffed at it and could discover nothing but a more intimate awareness of the cardboard packaging, and then showed it to her. "You think I've had jell....O before?" He did not say the single word, 'jello' but instead emphasized the break like it was written on the package. "Like is that a thing most people have? And is there one thing that you can think of that I might have forgotten about that I just have to try?"

And just then his brows furrowed just a little and his eyes focused in on his fingertip, studying it. As if for the first time, Ace was now aware of a burn on his right ring fingertip. It was small but seemed rather intense and had only barely begun to blister. It was fresh, within a day or so. "A burn..." he mused, showing it to Eleanor. "It looks recent but I don't remember getting it. It must have happened before the amnesia." Ace couldn't think of why it would be important, except in the sense that it was just one more piece of his confused story, but it was something at least. He'd take what he could get.

They went to a clothing store next. Ace tried to keep in mind that Eleanor told him to grab anything he wanted, but he gravitated towards modest and unremarkable clothes anyway. Okay. So he had simple tastes and apparently liked dark, muted colors. But what he did get was comfortable and he was sure they wouldn't fall apart in a week, so he'd get some good use out of them. Two short sleeved t-shirts, two long sleeved ones, a large pack of basic black socks, an extra pair of jeans, sweatpants for sleeping in, some underwear, and a hoodie that he could easily wear alone or layer with his canvas Carhartt jacket. Now that his immediate needs were met, his curiosity about the thing in his head and his identity was bubbling. "Alright, I think I'm good. Let's go see what we can find out, eh?"

They had not been walking outside long when a scruffy, thuggish looking man popped out from around a corner with a knife in his hand and stopped them in their tracks. "Drop the bags and empty your pockets, cell phones, wallets, all of it." The guy was thinking he'd found two tourists who'd just gone on a shopping spree and would be easy targets. Disoriented in a new city, caught unawares. But the poor sap had no idea who he'd just intercepted, and if he had any idea what he was in for, he probably wouldn't have tried in the first place.

Ace did not ask questions or speak in any way. He did not hesitate. He did not waver. He did not contemplate or debate or waffle or have any need to work himself up to the point. It just happened. It happened before he could think about it or before he realized what he was doing. It was fast. Ace charged the distance between the two of them and one hand shot out lighting fast to grab the knife-hand of the thug. He twisted and there was a bony 'pop!' and a gasp from the man. The knife clattered to the ground. A fist went hammering into the mugger's face, and while he was stunned, Ace shot his hand out again to grab the man by one ear and bash his head into the nearby brick wall just hard enough to render the man unconscious. In scant seconds, the thug dropped like a crash-test dummy.

Ace took a half step to leave and then realized what he'd done. His green eyes got wide and he stared at his hands like they were covered in unseen blood. His face was that of a man in terror, shock, fear, awe...all of them at once. Ace's hands shook. "What...what did I....how..." Suddenly his upturned hands flexed and contorted as his signal went wild for one second, two. Then back to calm. Ace sucked in a breath as he regained control like he'd come up from underwater to breathe.

"Eleanor what just happened?" He gasped, hands still trembling. "We gotta...we have to go. People saw, cops are gonna come and-d-d-d-d." The signal warped again and Ace growled in frustration. "Home," he said as soon as the signal went calm again. "We gotta...we gotta go. Get home and get out of sight and...figure out what just happened, I...just hit him and I didn't even think about it, I...who does that? Why would I do that?"

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Re: Circuitry

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby SkullsandSlippers on Thu Jan 19, 2017 10:25 pm

Eleanor shrugged it off. "Don't need the money. Figure we are safer together right? I mean given what I know and what you know..."

She smiled a little. "You are welcome. Really not a big deal."

Eleanor had to laugh when he appeared with jello. Even more amusing was listening to him try to pronounce it. "Jello is something everyone has at some point. If you were a kid, went to a chinese buffet, were in the hospital. Jello is a standard. So yeah I bet you have had it."

In her mind she imagined him trying it, watching it jiggle on the spoon. She really hoped he wasn't one of those people who had a texture thing when it came to food.

Her eyes moved over the burn. "Interesting. Not sure what causes that. Let's get some stuff to take care of it though." She added some first aid stuff to the cart.

That store complete they headed off to get him clothes. She browsed too, adding some stuff to the pile for herself. A new skirt, new long sleeved shirt in a deep purple and a pair of fun striped socks.

Eleanor paid and arms loaded down they stepped outside.

The city was known for muggers, thieves and all around rough types. It shouldn't have surprised her that they were easy targets with their numerous bags yet Eleanor froze at the threat.

Ace did not and she watched it as if it were a movie. Bags dropped. Eleanor remained in her spot as Ace took care of the mugger.

She felt the glitch in his system. She winced a little but didn't move, didn't talk. Eleanor had no way of explaining what had just gone on. It was much like his reaction last night.

"Let's go." it was forceful as Eleanor scooped up the other bags and moved towards him. He was right, people saw and they didn't need trouble. "Just get back to my place and we will figure things out."

She moved, crossing the street despite the traffic. She was moving as fast as she could and hoped Ace kept up. She did look over her shoulder occasionally to make sure but that was all.

At the building she let them in and into her basement apartment. The door was locked behind them and she put the bags down. Eleanor focused on the groceries as her mind raced.

"Sit, have some water...I gotta think.." Eleanor began putting the food away.

"So regular people, those without martial arts or fighting training don't do that you know...." She paused and looked at him. "You have been trained. Not military but fighting. Someone wanted you fast and deadly."

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Re: Circuitry

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Blackfridayrule on Sun Jan 22, 2017 9:29 pm

Ace was in quite the state of shock and distress, but not even that could keep whatever training he had from coming to the surface once again to help him along. The moment Eleanor made a move to leave, it triggered something in him to focus and keep moving. Jaw set, he moved effortlessly and tirelessly behind her, everything about him exuding confidence...except his eyes. Those were still wide and darting back and forth, occasionally behind him too, and showed the uncertainty and confusion and fear that he felt underneath. But for now, he was a rock solid impenetrable wall of purpose.

It wasn't until they got back into her apartment that he began to come down a little bit. Of course, this didn't happen until he checked that the deadbolt was locked, all windows were closed and locked, and blinds shut. A weight in his jacket reminded him that if anyone tried to come in here, he had a gun, so he sat down on the couch. But that immediately brought up the confusion of the incident on the street again, and his thoughts only seemed to confirm what Eleanor was saying. Fast and deadly. He couldn't deny any of it. He couldn't say it was false or exaggerated or anything...it was all...accurate. And he hated it. Hated himself. Hated whatever he was and whatever he had become. How long had he been this way? And who was he before?

Ace didn't speak for a while. He was too consumed with thoughts of the spasm, the fight (though 'fight' was a horrible description for the one-sided altercation) and how he had responded and acted through all of it. Fast and deadly. And the way he was able to just shut everything off and coldly walk away. He never even had time to think about hitting the guy! It happened so fast.

"Okay," came a shaky breath. "I have been trained for a purpose by someone. I don't doubt anymore that what's in my head--whatever that thing does--and my heightened senses and weird paranoia and my apparent combat ability...it's all connected. It has to be. But I don't understand why. And I don't know where the amnesia fits into all this but I'm starting to not believe in coincidences anymore." Ace looked up at her with pleading eyes. "I'm so sorry I brought you into this. And at any time if you want out you say the word and I'll make sure you never hear from me again. But..." Ace took a breath. "If you're willing...I want to get to the bottom of this. I wanna know what this thing's for. Do you...think you can poke around in there and check it out?" He was terrified of doing this, but he needed answers. They both did.


---

"Where is Dominic now?" A woman asked as she tied back her sprays of dark corkscrew curls with an elastic band. She was seated on the couch on the other side of the room, facing Jesse's expansive desk. She picked up her mug again and stared down at the now lukewarm amber liquid. She'd hardly taken a few sips from it since brewing it, and somehow she couldn't convince herself to have anymore. She set it aside.
Jesse sighed. "Down in the basement gym. Pacing the floor. He wants to be out there, Aleah. It's killing him to sit by and wait while Ace is out there doing who knows what."
"I know."
"I'd love to send him out there, but I've got no idea where Ace went off to. I just know he's not doing great. This glitch keeps popping up, less so today than yesterday, but that's concerning."
"More than you know," Aleah added softly.
"I was worried that was the case. But he's also just at a high level all the time. He's under duress, that's clear. He dropped down from working levels last night but he went really really low."
"What does that mean? You think he's been drugged?"
"Or drunk. Anyway he's been back up to juuust below working level all morning. Until here...there's a bit of a spike. It's still a little high." Jesse pointed to a constantly refreshing feed, a graph of sorts that resembled a more complex seismograph. "But there's something up. We expected him back two nights ago and things have been weird since. And it can't be a coincidence that we've lost all contact with--whoa, hey...."

Jesse pushed himself to one end of his desk to inspect one of his many computer screens, and after a moment he pulled up a police scanner application and with a wave of his hand, tossed the application on to a massive smart screen. They both listened intently and learned that there was an incident just downtown. Witnesses apparently reported a man, dark haired (and some reported a white splotch). He was with a woman and had attacked another man who had evidently tried to rob them. It was mentioned that the attacker seemed to know what he was doing and could handle himself well.

Jesse and Aleah exchanged looks and both knew without any doubt that they had found their man. "You update Norman. I'll brief Dominic and send him on his way. He'll find him."

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Re: Circuitry

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby SkullsandSlippers on Wed Jan 25, 2017 8:37 pm

Eleanor couldn't think too long on Ace. She needed to focus on the groceries, the clothes, the normal things. Her heart was in her throat and she was trying hard to keep calm.

She was glad that he said nothing back to her for a while. She needed to focus once more. Her head was hurting. The adrenaline that rushed through her were making it possible for all the surrounding signals to flood her mind. It was too much. She stopped and closed her eyes for a moment.

Eleanor took a few deep breaths and sorted out her mind. She mentally sorted the signals and quieted them down the best she could.

Ace started talking. She moved to sit near him. "I brought you here remember? You don't need to apologize because I stopped you in the square, I brought you here yesterday. I want to help." She waved away his comment about her telling him to go.

Eleanor nodded. "Just give me a minute here to focus and then I will take a look and see what we can come up with."

She stood and went to the bathroom. She splashed water on her face and let her heart rate come back to normal. She needed to be on her A game. She needed to be super focused.

Eleanor returned to the couch.

"Let's try this. You have to stay as calm as you can. I need to be able to talk to it and I can't be distracted. I don't know what sort of security it has or anything. Plus you stay calm and the signal stays calm and that is good."

She looked at him. "You understand? You still want to do this Ace?"

She put her hands out. If he agreed all he would have to do is take them and it would help her connection.

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Re: Circuitry

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Blackfridayrule on Sat Jan 28, 2017 12:11 am

Ace took a deep breath, studied her face, and then nodded. "I understand." He didn't. Not really. He knew what he was supposed to do and he knew what she intended to do but how exactly that would all go down was a mystery to him. And he'd be lying if he said he wasn't scared. Who wouldn't be? What if it hurt? What if she poked at something and damaged it somehow? Or what if her going in there unleashed every single one of his lost memories at once and his brain just exploded all over her living room? Of course that was preposterous, but that's where his mind was going at the moment. Still, with his breathing controlled, Ace settled into the couch and made himself as comfortable as possible.

"Okay. I'm ready." And with that, he took her hands.

The signal became much stronger, much clearer and brighter as if it was a lens that was now in focus. It was very much alive, but also not. Organic and synthetic all in one, combined so seamlessly it was as if there was never any separation between the two. The device itself was actually not just one thing, but a network of tiny objects, almost like microchips, that were embedded into different parts of his brain. Each one was feeding a central chip information, sometimes slowly and ambiently, other times rapidly and with purpose. This network augmented the very function of his brain and his thoughts and the resulting brain waves were somewhat readable. Some parts worked harder than others, and at different times.

Most of the information that cycled through was sensory information--color and the subtle differences in sounds or smells. Looking through the information gave a tiny glimpse into Ace's world and it was like a magnifying glass had been put on the world where it had previously been hazy and vague. The information was primitive, basic, and did not think for him. No, it was Ace's brain that was doing the thinking. But the network of chips and implants stimulated parts of his brain that would be more dormant otherwise, or made more efficient use of information. Ace's brain was a living computer of sorts.

But there was something off about the whole thing. While the signal was strong and appeared to be consistent, there were some things that didn't line up, like trails in a forest that seemed promising and then would suddenly halt and meet an impassable ravine. Some information pathways that should have been there were gone, dropped from the network. Others would not function well.

Ace's grip on her hands tightened involuntarily as another spasm hit him; it was like everything had shut down except for one or two random sectors of the network, and those would spike to insane levels of activity. And then as Ace was able to breathe normally and loose his clenching grip on her hands, the signal normalized, and what had been nonfunctioning a moment before would work smoothly again. The shift was random and not universal. It was chaotic and unpredictable. There was nothing systematic about it.

Something in there was damaged.


Ace could feel her in there. Not physically, and not in any way he could really describe, but he knew immediately she had made a connection. It was a little unnerving but his curiosity and determination to put pieces together out-won his caution or discomfort. He had to know. They both did. And Ace had a horrible, sinking feeling that this was just the beginning of something larger to come. He didn't know what, or how, or why. But he couldn't deny what he felt, and right now his gut reactions were all he had to go off of, so he would trust them as best he could.

Ace's grip tightened a little on her hands again, but each finger had even pressure and control--it was intentional this time. He didn't speak, he was too wrapped up in the images in his mind that came across through his chip network as basic stimulation and primitive information. But to his mind's eye, the images were all too clear.

A woman. She stares at him silently. Horrified. Somehow, still calm. Her face is pale. She is alone and she knows it, she does not try to retaliate because she knows she is outmatched. In his hands is a gun. His gun. Action engaged, ready to fire. Silencer on.
She speaks. Softly. "You don't have to do this."
But he does. A simple move of one finger and there is a flash in the dim light and a muffled but still loud noise. She falls. Blood in the industrial gray-striped carpet. The smell of gunpowder in the air like bad eggs.


"Stop! Stop!" Ace cried as he let go of Eleanor and recoiled away from her. His face was the picture of horror and disgust. His green eyes reddened and a sheen formed at the corners of his lids. "There was a memory, I think you stumbled over it and uncovered it, I...I...I think I..." He continued to shy away from her touch, but it was not entirely for his sake. It was for hers, too.

"I think I killed somebody. I did. A woman. I shot her...I think I killed somebody...I remember her face and the...She just looked at me like she knew me and I killed her!" He was crying now, not sobbing but tears gushed from his eyes. "I don't think I'm a good person. I'm not. I want to be but I don't think I am....I'm sorry, I'm so sorry..."

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Re: Circuitry

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby SkullsandSlippers on Wed Feb 15, 2017 10:01 pm

He sounded about as sure as she felt right now. Eleanor took a few deep breaths. She needed to remain very calm and very in control with all of this.

Ace took her hands and she opened herself up to the thing in his head.

It was as if a floodgate opened. The signal was strong, clear and much steadier than it was before. It was not entirely what she was expecting. It was machine but it was so much more than that.

Eleanor's eyes dilated and she stared seemingly at him but not at him.

It wasn't one it was many. That explained the messy signal. They all were connected together. They seemed to fluctuate between each other as to which talked when or what she could read and at what time.

Eleanor was holding her breath. It seemed as if she could see the world the way Ace might. Everything was heightened - sight, smell and sound. She was almost overwhelmed by it. That explained the way Ace reacted at times.

Eleanor could see what was working, that Ace was thinking but this network seemed to alter it. She couldn't imagine the work that it took to get this thing in there let alone working the way it was. She was in awe and for a moment she just took it all in. It was beautiful and complex.

She had to shift her focus, reminding herself why she was here. It was then that she took a critical look at it. As beautiful as it was it was not rational. Someone had made a bit of a mess. She followed paths of information to dead ends. She found that some wouldn't respond at all.

What the hell is this?

The spasms hurt more here, in and connected than it did when she was just reading it. Her grip matched his, her nails digging in a little to Ace's skin.

What the hell?!]

Eleanor was having a hard time making sense of the rises and dips of the signals.

Oh man... Her hands loosened as she realized just how much they had messed around in Ace's head. It was like a giant mess. Someone played around. He seemed to be a prototype almost. This hit Eleanor hard. Ace was an experiment. It was her greatest fear.

Eleanor read it all. She felt the blood leave her face. Her eyes dilated fully. Murder. Woman. Gun. The microchips told it all to her. She felt a knot of nausea rise in her throat.

Ace broke the connection. It was abrupt and that hurt. Eleanor cried out, hands moving to her head to try and dampen the pain.

She closed her eyes tightly and swallowed. Ace's voice came to her as if through water for a moment.

Deep breath...just breathe.. The broken connection was hard on her and she couldn't even begin to react to him. Not yet.

It took time for the pain to ease, leaving a dull ache. Eventually she opened her eyes and looked at him.

"Yeah.." Her voice was hoarse. "I think you did but I don't think it was your choice. That stuff in your head is fucked up. Amazing and unique but beyond fucked."

Eleanor tried to stand but lost her footing. She fell against the chair. "I-need a minute. Just try not to freak out okay?"

She made her way to the bathroom where she felt her stomach give way. That was the hardest read she had ever done. The mess in his head was like a labyrinth but there was no rhyme or reason to it at all. She felt a little disoriented.

Eleanor rinsed her mouth, washed her face and then returned to Ace. "Someone put something very messy in your head. Like, experimental level stuff but so messy...."

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Re: Circuitry

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Blackfridayrule on Mon Feb 20, 2017 10:59 pm

Ace just stared at her, a glint in his eyes showing that he was on the verge of tears. How did she know that? How could she tell that it wasn't his choice? He could see it, the horror in that woman's face, the look of defeat. Like she knew that moment would come. And he had coldly stared her down and pulled the trigger without a second thought. The memory felt old and faded, like a picture in a glass frame tossed outside to endure years of weather and then found later, cracked, missing some parts. But still visible. Still there. He wanted to take his gun and throw it, throw it out a window or off a bridge or into the Hudson river or something, but an even stronger desire to keep it kept him from doing so.

Don't. You need it. You have to be ready. Always.

Ready for what?

He continued to stare. She just kept saying more words. Something about how messed up his head was. Or the stuff in his head. Or something. Ace stared. Experimental. Something experimental. Ace stared. She told him not to freak out. Ha! Like that was possible. Still, Ace just stared. In fact, aside from his shaky breathing and the occasional flicker of his eyes, he didn't seem to move at all, too stunned by everything to really contemplate a functioning body. She went to to bathroom and he could hear her throw up, try to collect herself. And then it hit him finally. His skin went pale and his face cold, though he felt hot and sick on the inside, and like his knees were going to give way. Suddenly, life sprang back into him as one sole objective consumed him: he was gonna hurl, and he needed to not do it on the carpet.

Ace just moved, eyes sort of glassed over as he burst into the bathroom behind Eleanor, and in a split second realized that he wasn't going to make it to the toilet bowl, so he dropped to his knees in front of the bathtub and leaned in it, stomach retching. So much for trying to eat breakfast. Some sane part of him groaned inwardly at this fact, knowing he needed sustenance, but that logic was driven out by the adrenaline. Ace spat, made a disgusted face, and turned on the bath faucet, opening his mouth and plunging himself under it to wash it out. A cough or two, a final cleansing spit, and then a very hoarse, very weary, "I'm sorry..." He began almost feverishly scooping water with his hands onto the bile in an attempt to wash it away, working faster and faster until tears blurred his eyes and he could no longer command his hands to move.

Ace's head resounded a dull thump on the side of the bathtub as it dropped down to rest there, and he was racked with quiet sobs. But he was quick to compose himself. Just a little crack in his armor was all he really needed to get it out, and then he sobered a little. And after a while of sitting there, crumpled over the bathtub rails like a broken marionette in silence, he lifted his head, face red (at least his color was returning) and eyelashes clinging together, bound by salty tears. "So...you're telling me...You're telling me I'm some walking experiment who murdered someone? In cold blood? Wh...Why? What is that thing in there? And who did it? Please tell me you found out something more than I'm just some...experiment..." He shuddered at the word. It did not have a good connotation, though he couldn't place why. And then he remembered a voice....

"You would be poked at, prodded at. Tested. You'd never get any peace. Not with me, though. I look after my crew. You're much safer with me. Trust me."

Trust who? And was he really so sure he wanted to trust them anymore, whoever they were? He didn't feel like trusting anyone right now. Eleanor, he supposed, was an exception.

"I don't think it's...new." He said finally. "I can remember a voice telling me that I would be tested and stuff, but I was safe with...him. It was a him. What if someone's looking for me? What if I'm lost or escaped or something, I don't know, and someone's looking for me? What if they find you hiding me? Eleanor, what do I do?"

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Re: Circuitry

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby SkullsandSlippers on Wed Mar 15, 2017 10:24 pm

Eleanor pressed herself against the sink as Ace burst through the door. She stared for a moment he lost his stomach contents into her bathtub. She turned back to the sink as he finished up.

"Don't be sorry. It's okay. I-" She splashed more water on her face.

The whole thing was messed up. The thing in his head was sophisticated, intricate and she had never seen anything like it. Still, she had talked to it. She had poked at it and what she saw freaked her out.

Eleanor's eyes were on Ace. What she was going through and processing was nothing compared to what he was doing.

She sighed sadly and moved over to sit on the floor near him. Her eyes were full of sympathy. "I am telling you someone put that in there and they really messed around with your brain. Thing is...according to what we found you are supposed to be dead. So...did you agree to it or did they do it after the accident when others made decisions for you? I mean-"

She rubbed her face. "There are so many questions and I don't have enough answers. I would need to go back in there and poke around. For now, I was thinking you need to rest and I will go on line, see what else I can dig up on that company. They seen like the most likely option."

More questions that Eleanor couldn't answer. She shrugged sadly. "I think someone did it and maybe they are looking for you. Maybe you went AWOL and that is why you were in the park? Maybe it went buggy and the signal got messed up and that is why you were in the park...."

Her voice trailed off. "I think for now we get some water. You get some rest."

Eleanor stood and offered him her hand.

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Re: Circuitry

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Blackfridayrule on Thu Mar 23, 2017 12:49 pm

This couldn't be real. None of it could. And yet there he was, doubled over a bathtub rail and trying to clean up whatever he'd once eaten for breakfast. He already could feel the empty chasm-like sensation in his stomach and he wondered if he ever managed to digest any of that before it came back up. Everything in him wanted to just shut down, to curl up and hide under a blanket someplace safe and warm and forget everything. Forget that he forgot everything. Just be done, or to have any semblance of peace.

"I don't know," he answered mechanically to her questions. He couldn't remember. Did he volunteer? Or didn't he? He searched his feelings and his instincts and memories and came up empty. Nothing. He had no recollection, no idea. If he had volunteered, he would have an easier time once whoever did this to him found him again--it was only a matter of time, he thought. But if he didn't, he wasn't so sure that the party responsible would let him just walk away quietly. And then, as that thought hit, he knew as if for certain that this was not going to be just as easy as walking away. He didn't know what was going on here, but it looked like it wasn't done with him yet.

"Someone's gonna come looking for me, I know it. I mean you're right, I'm legally dead. What am I gonna do on my own? Like I can't go anywhere and I have no ID or Social Security or like...my birth certificate...isn't it kind of invalid now that I'm dead? But I'm clearly not dead...that doesn't just happen. Someone did that on purpose and whoever made me 'dead' wanted to make sure that I didn't exist. I just don't know why. I don't know why I was out there, or how I got here, or how this thing got in my head or why, I just don't know. I don't know."

It took him a while to stabilize himself, but Ace finally stood and went to the kitchen to get some water. It just made his stomach more painfully aware of how empty it now was, so he looked at Eleanor with a sheepish, guilty expression and asked softly, "Do you have something to eat...again?" Despite the fact that they'd just gone shopping, he felt he needed to ask. This wasn't his home after all.

"Do you think you'd be able to guess a few companies or like...sects of the government that would do this kind of stuff? I mean you say you've been afraid of this your whole life, have you ever looked to see who might be interested? Maybe something will come up." Despite the shock he'd just experienced and his intense desire to just leave everything behind, he still was determined to continue. It was all he had left, the only purpose or guiding force in his life at the moment and he couldn't just let that go, not yet.

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Re: Circuitry

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby SkullsandSlippers on Wed Mar 29, 2017 9:17 pm

She stood there in the kitchen and looked at him. "Help yourself. You don't need to ask, really."

Eleanor sighed softly. "I feel like I am in some crazy conspiracy movie and I can't get out..."

She sat on the couch and tucked her legs up. "I think you are right, someone is probably looking for you. What is in your head is worth a lot of money and I can't see someone giving that up willy nilly."

She began to play with her hair. He did pose an interesting dilemma. Ace didn't exist, not as he was anyway. That man was supposed to be dead. He was right that he had no identification but that was something she could fix pretty easily.

What Eleanor needed was time and a clear head to tackle this. What she wanted was a drink and to try not to think about the implications of it all.

She released her hair, the more she played with it the more it was knotting up. "Look, identity wise I can get you anything you need to blend in with people. The rest I need to do a bit of digging. I can make guesses but I am a little well - fuck that is a lot to digest and it isn't in my head. I can only imagine how you feel right now."

Eleanor rubbed her face. "Military is my first go to. Always knew at some point they would get wind of me. This is the sort of thing that reeks of their research and development side. All high tech and shiny."

She looked over at him. "Look, get something to eat, come and sit and we slowly pick this apart. I am going to log in in a second...I want to see if anything is moving, that me poking at it didn't set anything off.."

Fear pulled at her and she knew if she looked in the right places she might hear odd rumours, traces of information that might let her know that someone had been tipped off and was heading their way. Better it might give her the name of who was in his head.

Right now she wanted to make sure they were both a bit calmer and level headed. Her nerves were calming, a little but he was the one she was really worried about.

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Re: Circuitry

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Blackfridayrule on Wed Apr 05, 2017 11:09 pm

Ace nodded a little sheepishly and apologized--he still didn't feel like he could just rifle through her kitchen without permission. At least whoever trained him taught him manners. But he did not hesitate once given permission. He stuck to bland things like toast and butter without any jam, or some peanut butter. His stomach was not entirely happy still, but it was even angrier about being empty. More than that, he could feel the lack of fuel in his limbs, in his shaking hands. Or was that adrenaline? Both? He didn't know.

"You're stuck..." he snorted. He was the one stuck. And as his green eyes landed on her, a pang of guilt washed through him. He was dragging her in this every moment that he stayed here. She made her choice and insisted he stayed, but Ace felt like he had his own choice to make, and his own responsibility to keep her safe. But where would he go? "They'll be looking for me alright. But I don't know if I should let them find me or not. Maybe they can help me figure this out, you know, the amnesia. Maybe they know what caused it and can fix it. Or...or maybe they can just help me put the pieces back together. But what if it's awful? What if I wasn't a volunteer?" Ace paced feverishly as he chewed a piece of toast. He felt a sudden need to run, to punch a bag, to do something physical just to get the tension out. That made sense; his body was certainly athletic, so maybe he worked out to relieve stress. But he wasn't about to leave the apartment, so he just paced.
"I don't want to sit," he said. "I need to...I just need to move around. But go ahead, see what you can find."

He could feel his stomach beginning to protest, despite its hungry grumblings, at the addition of food. He needed that. He really needed that. He had to calm down. Okay. Right. Calm. That was something he could do, right? He could just breathe, and focus on that, could find something to ground him a little.

Focus. Breathe. Remember your training.

Always that voice. If only he could remember his training, that would be something. Instead his body seemed to know what to do more than he did, and Ace just had to find out as he went what he was actually capable of. Some part of him was curious. Another part warned him to turn a blind eye and not find out.

Focus. Breathe. Remember your training.

Well, at least he could breathe. In and out, deeply and slowly. While Eleanor settled in at her computer and began to do her thing, Ace just focused on breathing. He still paced the floor, though not quite as erratically as he had a bit ago and was slowing down a little, just like his breathing. After a while, he shut his eyes and let his familiarity with the layout of the room guide his footing as he continued on, back and forth, back and forth, in and out...

Focus. Breathe. Remember your training. Now tell me...where are you?

That felt important, momentous in some small way. Not so much the detail of the memory itself, but the way it made him feel. There was something he had to do, some purpose to fulfill. He had a goal. Where was he? Eleanor's apartment, obviously, but with his eyes shut, some quiet part of him began to ask how he knew for sure that he was actually in Eleanor's apartment without relying on just his own memory of being there. Well, he thought to himself, it had a muffled sound to it, like it was underground and shielded from outside noise a bit, and the scent of food was still in the air, mixing with the smell of dust being blown by computer cooling fans and the soft whir that accompanied them. There was a dog outside, and some birds. His shoes made a distinct noise as they tread across the floor, back and forth.

Somehow Ace found that grounding. It gave his brain something to do that wasn't panic. And he found himself finally standing still, eyes still closed and yet still completely aware of the world around him. "Find anything interesting?" He asked.

Most of the usual channels were quiet, and there were no obvious red flags anywhere to be found, no wailing sirens of something being tripped. There was, however, a dark corner of a CIA database that seemed to have a spike in traffic. It was high clearance material, not to be seen by just anyone, and it was simply titled, "SIGMA". What was more, something or someone virtually lurked there, specifically waiting for someone else to try and access that data.

---

Dominic had wasted no time moving out the door when Jesse had given him the lead on Ace's location. Whatever he was doing, he was still in the city and that made things easier. He'd gone first to where the GPS tracker said his motorcycle was, but he only found the bike and Ace's backpack, still with his phone and wallet inside. The engine had been partially disassembled, just enough to access the spark plug, which was only about halfway in--or out, Dom couldn't tell. The residue of black around the tip of the spark plug told him that it had blown, but it didn't explain why the bike was still sitting there in an alleyway, or why Ace had left his things.

Next he went to search closer to the area described in the police report Jesse had given him. A shopping mall with plenty of people...and from what it sounded like, Ace picked a fight and cleaned someone's clock--as if there was any other outcome when it came to Ace in a fight. He noted also that there was a woman in the report seen with him. It seemed important, so he asked Jesse to see if he could find any cameras in the area that would capture her face, and then if he could do any research on her. He'd find her. Dominic would track them both down and if any harm had been done to Ace, she would have to answer to Dominic for it. And that was a fate nobody wanted.

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Re: Circuitry

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby SkullsandSlippers on Wed May 24, 2017 12:37 pm

Ace headed to the kitchen to fill the void that had been left by his reaction to the connection. Not that she blamed him. Her stomach wasn’t exactly pleased with her either.

His business met she had a moment to really compose herself. Eleanor still wanted that drink but she knew it was a way to avoid the real task at hand.

This, him...this guy who was essentially a stranger to her...it was all much more complicated than she had even imagined when she stopped to help him yesterday. A part of her knew that there was more it all, Eleanor knew that the moment she felt the signals he was giving off but it didn’t mean she had been ready for the reality of it all.

Now she had talked to the thing in his head. A drink wasn’t going to help as much as she wanted to pretend it would.

No. Like she told him this felt military but bigger.

Eleanor frowned as Ace talked. He was right. Without knowing the how and why of the thing in his head there was no way to know if he should got to them or if they were the bad guy. Movies told her that military was never the good guy. Her own experience was no one who wanted to fuck around in your head was on your side.

“Even if you volunteered they just left you out there, wandering in the city with no idea of what was going on or who you were. I feel like...well if you had volunteered or not they should be watching out for you. Afterall that stuff in your head isn’t cheap.”

Her eyes registered the name and traffic. CIA. SIGMA She wanted to look but not yet. Not while the room still felt so off. She grabbed a memory stick, transferred some things and then shut her system down. This needed to be done somewhere else at first. She didn’t trust it with a ten foot virtual pole.

She stood and stretched a little. She couldn’t work, not when he was antsy and pacing behind her. It was time for a different strategy.

“I don’t think we should let them find you per say. At least not here. I do think we need to sort of look for them. Like- recon but checking up on them. I can do some via the net but going to take time and I need to know you are here and present to watch my back. Last thing I need is them breaking down my door. But-”

Eleanor moved towards the door. She began to pull on her shoes. “What if we start by a walk around the block. For all we know they are already watching. Maybe we can make actual contact on neutral ground.”

She crossed the room and scooped up a bag. “I have my little netbook. I can connect and do stuff on it, not as much as with my big stuff but enough. What if we go for a look around? Make sure the neighbourhood feels safe and then maybe we cab it out to- well I don’t know yet but everyone has offices here. Someone who knows something must have an office here.”

Eleanor licked her lips. “I found stuff, noticed some odd traffic but I sort of want to do it not here...if they get me I want them to take over and crash someone else’s stuff, not mine. We walk, you do the observant thing and I will find a connection to use to poke at what I found.”

She looked at him expectantly. “How does that sound? I don’t want to lead them here if I can help it and I think we would both feel better getting some air and some assurance that there isn’t some big bad guy waiting just outside my door for us.”

Eleanor reached out a hand to Ace.

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Re: Circuitry

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Blackfridayrule on Mon May 29, 2017 10:14 am

Ace blinked, trying to process the gravity of that. If he ended up AWOL, how did he get there? And if someone had left him there, why did they do it? "Unless...I wasn't left. Could I have gotten....." Ace fumbled for the word between bites of toast. Lacking one that seemed to really encompass his thought, he ended up with "...lost? Ugh, I sound like I'm a runaway dog. But what if something happened? Or maybe they did intentionally wipe my memory and released me back into the wild like some injured sea turtle. Dude, I don't know. I don't know anything, really, nothing for sure. And it's really frustrating...." he sighed and ran his hands through his hair. He just had so many questions...so many questions about questions that led to more questions and no answers.

Ace was lost in the ever-circulating storm of his own thoughts when Eleanor suggested that they let "them" find him. He stopped his pacing and just stared at her with a wide eyed, wild gaze. At first he felt a spark of betrayal that made a nugget of panic blossom in his chest like a weed in the sun. He took a step back, but he quickly realized she was not his enemy, and he didn't know if this mysterious "they" were his enemy, either. Ace deflated. He did need answers, and that seemed to be the only way to get them.

"Yeah...you're probably right. We can find somewhere with lots of exit points and not tons of people and good visibility...and it would be good to do some computer stuff away from our home base...I don't want to make you a target so the less trail you leave for yourself, the better. Speaking of...I hate to say it, but if something happens and it comes between helping me and putting yourself in the line of fire, figuratively or literally, please don't. I don't mean to be a downer but I'm not worth your life. Ever. Promise me if we go do this that you won't put yourself in uneccesary danger? For my sanity?"

Ace took her hand and held it tightly. There was nothing on his part that was particularly intimate about it, but instead it was a pure form of expression of human emotion. Mostly a thinly veiled fear that he was trying to keep down for his own sake. "Okay. Let's go. You can lead the way and I'll tell you where a good place to land is, yeah?"

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Re: Circuitry

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby SkullsandSlippers on Thu Jun 15, 2017 9:45 am

Eleanor wasn't sure if she was actually right or if she was just grasping at straws in an attempt to seem rational and put together. They knew so little and what they did know pointed to a whole lot of complicated coming their way.

Maybe Ace's stuff was just glitchy and that was why he could remember, maybe someone was testing him, maybe he was set up...the possibilities and implications were numerous and none seemed ideal. The stuff in his head wasn't an accident. That meant someone paid a lot of money for it.

Her mind was on a route, the places they could go and where she could connect. It needed to be secure or at least someplace she could secure in a way she needed.

Eleanor was at least grateful that he was willing to go out. Something about someone finding them here, the last place that she felt truly safe didn't sit well with her. After all they needed someplace to go when they got away.

[i]If. If they got away.[\i]

She pushed that thought out.

"Yeah sure..." Eleanor mentally checked that she had everything as she waited for him to take her offered hand. The promise was half-hearted. She wasn't really taking in what Ace was saying.

The grip on her out stretched hand when he finally took it gave her pause, brought her back to the moment. "I-"

Eleanor nodded. "I won't do anything too risky but I won't roll over either. I am going to do everything in my power to see them, to find them before they can get close to us. I promise."

Bolstered by his words, Eleanor opened the door and headed into the hallway.

Quiet.

It was always quiet though. That wasn't unusual. She needed to stay focused. It would do no good seeing things that weren't there. False threats and high paranoia were more dangerous than healthy caution.

Once Ace left the apartment she locked the door and headed up the stairs. "I am going to do a big, like loop...around the nearest blocks. See if anything or anyone sticks out as odd or if anyone is following us."

Her hand was on the strap of her bag, a habit to help ensure someone couldn't just snatch it and run but also it was somewhat comforting.

Eleanor blinked in the light as she exited the apartment building. She pulled on sunglasses and took a breath. She needed to block the constant barrage of signals.Once centred she could focus on Ace's signal and anything else that stuck out from the typical white noise of cell phones, wifi signals and the like.

Instead of left towards the stores they went to earlier, she moved straight across. Cars were stopped, waiting for traffic to move and she took the opportunity to move through them to the other side. From there it was a short jaunt to and alley which she moved into.

The alley allowed her to make sure no one was immediately following them. Not many would duck down an alley, especially if someone else just had unless they were up to no good.

Eleanor didn't believe that anyone tied to the thing in Ace was that amateurish though.

At the end of the alley she went right and back into a busy street.

"How you holding up?" Her words were low as she glanced at Ace.

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Re: Circuitry

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Blackfridayrule on Fri Jul 14, 2017 8:32 pm

Stepping outside the door was like stepping into an entirely different world. There was more light, for one thing, but more noise, different scents wafting in on the gentle breeze, hitting Ace's nose like a sensory news feed. Smoker. Hot dogs. Piss. Exhaust. Diesel exhaust. And though the area was relatively quiet, it was never quiet for Ace. He heard everything. Distant construction far off beyond sight, the hair raising wail of an upset baby, someone's horrible, wretched fingernails tap-tap-tapping on the screen of their phone as they jabbed at it like a spear at a fish. Some little part of him wanted to shout to the woman down the street, 'For the love of all that is holy, trim your nails PLEASE.' But he kept quiet.

Ace was more prepared for the outside world this time. He knew the sensory wave was going to hit him hard and he'd braced for it a bit better before stepping through the door, but his jaw still set hard and his eyes squinted nearly shut for a moment. And then he relaxed. More than that, he began to focus and something in him turned on--rather, ALL of him turned on. Every sense, every muscle, every thought was geared toward being aware of his surroundings. The signal was strong and steady, like a radar. Despite being somewhat tensed as if ready to leap into action at any given moment, he looked almost as at-ease as he had been sleeping on her couch. Whatever his purpose was or had been previously, it was essential that he was constantly aware, or so one could presume from the ease in which he fell into this focused state.

"I'm fine," he said shortly, his tone clipped and a little distant, but not particularly distressed. "It's easier than it was the first time. I can...expect it. Brace for it. You lead the way, I'll follow." He would leave navigation up to her. After all, he didn't know the area (or any area, for that matter) and he could be more useful as a rear-guard paying attention to everything else while she guided him through streets and alleys.



----

Dominic sucked in a breath of cold air as he exited the starbucks down the street from the shopping center. He wasn't much of a starbucks guy, but it was cold and he wanted some hot chocolate to warm up his hands a bit. Not to mention his calorie intake for the day had been unusually low and he needed something to give him a quick boost. What he really wanted was to find a taco bell and to indulge without Norman knowing, but he was too close to his quarry to turn aside now.

Dominic had been asking around, casually approaching people with a practiced smile that was both warm and uneasy, like he was nervous or embarrassed. He would give them this shy smile and ask politely if they'd seen his brother, whose phone had run out of battery but had been somewhere near there shopping with his girlfriend, along with a brief description. The number of people that had seen him began to increase, though their directions and suggestions were always vague. But he had a trail of sorts.

Dom stood on a street corner and just listened, though he heard nothing besides the bustle of cars and people. There was no interesting scent on the air, and he couldn't see him. He had to think like Ace. Where would he have gone to? Quiet places, he told himself, and started off towards places that were less crowded or noisy. He had a good instinct.

Some small sensation that could not be pinpointed but could be certainly felt came to his attention, like a soft buzz or a warm heat like a blanket fresh from a dryer. Ace! Dom began to break into a jog, zig-zagging down the street until he could figure out which direction made the feeling stronger, and then he followed it quickly.

----

Ace went suddenly from a loose awareness to intense focus, zeroing in on something that at first his eyes did not see. He tensed, and as he did, Ace touched Eleanor's shoulder with a firm grip. Almost at the same instant, another signal cut through the din of computers, wifi, and cell phones. It was strong and regular, but not unlike Ace's when they'd first met. And it was getting stronger. Closer.

"Back," Ace barked, already stepping a few paces back towards the street with the alley. "Something is...wrong. I don't know what, but I--" And then he heard the pounding of footsteps on concrete, growing louder, nearer, hitting fast and hard. Something about that gave him pause, like it was almost familiar but not enough to comprehend it. And then before he could move any further away, a blonde man came wheeling around the corner and straight at them.

"Ace!"
Ace did not take the time to register that whoever it was knew his name. He didn't take time to examine him, size him up, or to try and run. He just pivoted, one fist cocked back like a mighty cannonball ready to fire, and then struck the blonde in the face with a dull slapping sound. Dominic stumbled back a half step in surprise but was quick to return the punch, though due to Ace's reaction speed, his came up short and grazed his chest. As soon as the failed punch finished, Dominic leapt back out of range--it was a defensive 'revenge' blow, not an outright attack.

"What the hell?!? It's me, Ace, it's me!" The blonde was tall, but he didn't have the sheer mass of Ace and was instead more of a lithe, lean-muscled figure. So when Ace took a rather aggressive, challenging step forward, Dominic understandably took a step back as his eyes darted from Ace to Eleanor. He wanted to know who she was, but he wasn't about to let his eyes off Ace. He knew better. "Easy, man. I didn't mean to startle you, I deserved that," he said, rubbing the now swelling blotch on his jaw. "But it's cool. It's just me." Dominic held up his hands amiably.

"I need more information than that. Who are you?" Ace's tone was unkind, bristling.
"The hell?"
"Answer me! You know me! How do you know me? Who are you?"
The man's face was honestly shocked, mouth agape as he tried to find the right words for the moment. "You mean...you don't know?" When Ace didn't answer, Dominic visibly deflated and something akin to hurt crossed his eyes for a half second, but then he explained, "It's me, Dominic. Dominic....?" There was no obvious flash of recognition on Ace's face. Dom sighed. "Oi...okay, why don't you take a seat for a second."
"No." Ace's answer was so forceful that he did not need to shout for it to have impact.
"Okay," he added quickly, holding up his hands in defeat. "Then don't. To start with, I'm your friend. And I'm here to get you and bring you home, and we can all figure out what's going on. Kay?"
Ace paused in thought, then in a small voice muttered, "...Home..?" There was a longing in his tone, but also not a lot of comprehension.

Dominic did not speak. He continued to keep his distance from Ace (as a wise man does) but his blue eyes were now focused on him with a locked-in sort of intensity. And then the second signal, one eerily similar to Ace's only stronger, steadier, almost healthier, pulsed outward like a radar seeking out its surroundings. Ace felt it, felt the enveloping nature of it like slipping into a hot bath. It was so familiar. Yes, yes, there it was. Something he could almost reach out and touch, something that would tell him who he was, what was happening, and make things better. Ace melted a little; he was not in any way relaxed and was still at attention, but he no longer looked like he was going to lunge forward and grab Dominic's neck, either.

Dominic's eyes shifted over to Eleanor once, then twice, and stayed there a little too long. He needed to know how she fit into all of this, who she was, and what Ace was doing with her. Was she involved? Or just someone he'd met? Ace, however, caught the shift in his gaze and immediately took a rather aggressive step forward. "Hurt her and you'll regret it."
Dominic's eyes showed a surprising amount of understanding, but he still had his attention on Eleanor. "Understood. Sorry miss, I don't believe we've been properly introduced? And do you mind telling me what you're doing here with my friend? I hope he hasn't been any trouble to you..."

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Blackfridayrule
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Re: Circuitry

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby SkullsandSlippers on Mon Jul 24, 2017 12:34 pm

Eleanor could feel his signal. It scare her a little how it went from erratic to clean and consistent. She didn't focus on him though. She needed to look ahead, move them through the city and find a safe place.

Her mind was on their route, a destination but she felt the new signal and as Ace's hand came down on her shoulder she turned to look at him. There was fear in her eyes. The signal was like Ace's. Not exactly but enough for her to know it was someone like him, someone with the same tech in their head.

And the signal was getting closer.

Eleanor felt a bit of pain in her head. Too many signals, too much noise and her own emotions were heightening it all. She needed to breathe, to block out some just to allow her to focus on the most important ones. On Ace and this new one.

She did as he said, moving back towards the alley. They were of the same mindset. Both were in flight and preservation mode. She didn't hear the footsteps, not above the signals and the sounds of the city.

Eleanor did see the man though and did hear him call out for Ace.

She moved back, away from them as Ace turned and took a swing. Her eyes moved from Ace to this new man. He was tall, blonde and definitely giving off the same signal as Ace. Eleanor pressed her hand to her temple.

This man seemed to know Ace, to know him well. Eleanor noticed the reaction when it was stated that Ace didn't know him. She wasn't blind. This man didn't understand what was going on or why Ace didn't know him.

Or maybe it was a ploy.

Eleanor watched the man warily as he talked of taking Ace home, as the signal radiated out. Her hand pushed harder into her temple. She didn't like this at all. Worse, Ace's signal became more relaxed. Maybe he was falling for what this guy was selling.

Then she noticed the blonde looking at her. Ace's signal changed a little as he noticed too. Her heart raced still. She was trying to figure out that the hell they were going to do. Run? Seemed like it wouldn't help. She was willing to wager this guy could find Ace based on his signal alone. Fight? Well she was no match for either of them and even with Ace on her side what was there to say this guy wasn't hiding back up somewhere?

Eleanor moved a little closer to Ace. She stood near him, not really behind him but not really beside him either. Then it occurred to her. Maybe she could put up a block for Ace's signal like she did when she was trying to quite some of the noise in her head. Instead of for herself she would act as his firewall of sorts.

She took a deep breath and concentrated.

"You're right. We weren't. Your friend is now my friend too. He hasn't been any trouble though if you are his friend I am surprised it took you so long to find him. Alone, starving and with no memory. Seems like you might have been looking for him a little faster."

Eleanor began to build the block. She didn't want it to be sudden. It would alert their new arrival. Slowly she wanted it to form. As if Ace was moving farther away and his signal was harder to detect until it was not there

"I guess now you could say he is a mutual friend, mister..?"

She let the question linger as she slowly slipped the block in place. Now he would have to try harder to find Ace's signal. It was going to use a lot of her stamina to keep it up but it would be worth it.

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