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Emily Stanton

0 · 308 views · located in Wing City Spaceport

a character in “The Multiverse”, as played by Saviarre

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He will be everything that a man is supposed to be.

Don't turn your back on the city.

So begins...

Emily Stanton's Story

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Emily Stanton lifted the corners of her lips in a small smile as she met his eyes.

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Chaos. A shriek. Breaking glass. Dishes clattering. The complete shock and surprise that played over Emily’s face was real and genuine. Obviously, this was not the reaction she was expecting. In the commotion, she’d stood quickly, the book clutched to her chest tightly as she stared in confusion at him, her eyes flickering between his face and the revolver.

“I…” she started, taking a step back only to bump against the wall.

Sit.

“I didn’t mean to disturb you,” she muttered, glancing uneasily to the weapon. “I was just trying to make conversation.”

Sit.

Slowly, she moved to reclaim her seat in the booth, her body stiff and ready to run at a moment’s notice. “H-He?” she asked, trying to be nonchalant about the fact that he could kill her in a moment if he so chose.

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White teeth pulled at a rubbery pink lip, instantly darkening it as the blood beneath the skin found itself trapped. Dark eyes continued staring uneasily at the gun, stinging from the need to blink, but not daring to out of fear. He spoke to her and she listened to his words, her brows pulling down tighter and tighter as he spoke.

05… 06… those were models of the machines. She recognized that. Wait. Was he calling her a construct?

Her eyes followed his as they slid over her body and she slowly pulled the cloak firmly closed around herself. ’You are not from my past.’

Clearly, the man was insane. Swallowing, she slowly moved to stand again. “I…” Nervous eyes flickered to the weapon again. “I assure you, Sir, I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Sit!

A tentative step carried her slightly away from the table before she appeared to have a change of heart and again reclaimed her seat. Protective arms crossed themselves over her chest, hugging the book to herself. “I was merely trying to converse. I… I’m sorry.”

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With his hand away from the revolver, Emily visibly relaxed slightly, but her posture was still ramrod straight. She dropped her eyes to the book she held, her brows knitting together in a moment of confusion as she tried to work her way through this.

You don’t know him.

“I don’t know you,” she asserted. “I came here for some corned beef hash... diners usually have good corned beef hash…” She placed the book on the table, a hand over it protectively. “I… I asked about reanimation because… well… everyone has an opinion on it, don’t they? Everyone is familiar with this book… with the morality issues of playing God. I didn’t mean to offend.” She looked over toward the waitress, a silent plea for help written across her features.

Reanimation. Do you think it’s possible?

She swallowed, looking back at him. “I… I don’t know. I think it might be…But I don’t know.”

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Her eyes flicked once more to the gun, the black hole at the center of the barrel holding her attention for a moment. Uneasily they lifted back to him. Swallowing, she twisted her fingers around each other.

Tell him what you think about the book.

Emily’s eyes shifted to the waitress again. “Perhaps you would like to discuss over dinner?”

Tell him what you think about the damned book!

The cringe was almost imperceptible, but the sharp intake of breath was hard to ignore. “I… I pity the monster. Frankenstein had everything taken from him… his family, his wife… because…” she hesitated, glancing once more at the concealed revolver. Even though his hand wasn’t on it, it was obvious that it had her attention. “He deserved it.”

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Her teeth sought her bottom lip again as she listened. “Dr. Frankenstein’s assistant?” she asked, honestly confused. “Clerval?” She shook her head slowly, not taking her eyes from him. “Clerval was his friend. His best friend. Frankenstein’s creation killed him.”

He’s not talking about the book, Emily.

Clearing her throat, she stiffened as the fingers found the revolver again. “You… you’re not talking about…” she stopped, brows furrowing. Reaching for the coffee that had grown cold in the cup in front of her, she swallowed some of the bitter liquid with a grimace, her eyes never leaving the weapon.

If Frankenstein’s assistant stopped the monster, the people would respect him. Frankenstein created the monster that killed so many. The assistant would be a hero. Everyone would spit on Frankenstein’sname. Say it!

Uneasily, she lifted her eyes from the weapon to look at the ceiling, attempting to recall it all. “If Frankenstein’s assistant stopped the monster, the people would respect him. Frankenstein created the monster that killed so many. The assistant would be a hero. Everyone would…” she hesitated, her hand tightening around the cup. “…spit?... on Frankenstein’s name.”

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Bug hesitated a moment before pulling the fish from the fire and setting it on a nearby stump that served as a table. “’ere’s nothin’ wrong w’ ‘ere,” she admitted. “I was jus’ thinkin’… M’be…” She stopped and shook her head. “N’ermin’… yer righ’…”

She avoided the question of money by plating up the fish before turning back to the fire to coax the hot potatoes from the angry coals. “I like it ‘ere w’ you.”

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ic Bug

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As he stood, Emily sank back against the vinyl booth, pressing herself tightly against the seat as if trying to absorb into it. She was afraid of this man now, clearly. He was not only insane, he was towering over her. She felt trapped. He’d called her Emily. She hadn’t given him her name. Despite the appearances otherwise, Emily was starting to suspect that maybe this man wasn’t simply insane. He knew her.

Why didn’t she know him?

As the barrel of the gun pressed against her forehead, time seemed to stop completely. She closed her eyes, squeezing them so tightly that the blackness was speckled with red dots.

Open your eyes, Emily.

Around the cold metal, her forehead broke with tiny beads of perspiration. The hands that were once lying so protectively on the book in front of her trembled violently against the black cover.

Open your goddamned eyes!

“I… I don’t want to die,” she whispered, a single tear somehow escaping her tight eyelids.

Tell him he won’t do it. Tell him he’s killed you once already. Tell him he couldn’t bear a second time.

These thoughts made no sense to her. His words made no sense to her.

Open your fucking eyes, Emily! Now!

The words that came from her mouth came from somewhere within her… a place she didn’t recognize. They were nonsense. Complete nonsense spoken barely above a whisper, her lips trembling for a moment before she could get the words past them.

“Soon the dark will pass. D-Don’t… don’t turn your b-back…”

What did that even mean?

Goddamnit, open your fucking eyes!

But they remained shut as tightly as she could manage.

The setting changes from Canti's Diner to Gambit's Bar

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Stepping in behind the previous woman, Emily had to agree completely about the heat, although her method of dealing with it was different than the other woman’s. While Torture opted for shorts and flip flops, Emily remained in the long sleeved, high necked lace dress she normally wore. For the most part, she could ignore the sweat trickling down her face, her back, her chest. There were far more important things to consider… like her purpose here in Wing City.

Slipping around to a booth off to the side of the room, she glanced at the others with whom she would share this space for the short time she intended to be here. However, the glance was short lived and she turned her attention to a folder she carried. Why Arthur wanted a factory and a lab here of all places, Emily would never understand. It was too hot. And it wasn’t exactly… friendly.

What was wrong with staying in the City? Everything was perfect in the City. Why come here?

Perhaps Arthur wanted to extend his gift to Wing City as well… and then Wing City could be as perfect as home.

With a small smile, Emily pulled a small notebook and a pen from the stack of papers and began composing a letter.

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As Emily composed the letter, she flipped between pages in the stack of paper she had. Real estate information for property in Wing City. Albert probably would have preferred a phone call or an email, but Emily wasn’t a big fan of technology. Despite the fact that she worked with it, when she had the option, she avoided it, instead utilizing methods that didn’t involve technology. She’d rather hand-write a letter than compose an email. As far as she knew, she’d always been that way.

Albert didn’t seem to mind, though he got annoyed when anyone else did so. He preferred instantaneous information. Perhaps he was just patient with her. How’d she get so lucky?

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The day had already started out incredibly hot, and it would only get worse. While most of the pedestrian traffic in Wing City had opted for shorts and flip flops, Emily remained in the long sleeved, high necked lace dress she normally wore. For the most part, she could ignore the sweat trickling down her face, her back, her chest. There were far more important things to consider… like her purpose here in Wing City.

Slipping around to a booth off to the side of the room, she glanced at the others with whom she would share this space for the short time she intended to be here. However, the glance was short lived and she turned her attention to a folder she carried. Why Albert wanted a factory and a lab here of all places, Emily would never understand. It was too hot. And it wasn’t exactly… friendly.

What was wrong with staying in the City? Everything was perfect in the City. Why come here?

Perhaps Albert wanted to extend his gift to Wing City as well… and then Wing City could be as perfect as home.

With a small smile, Emily pulled a small notebook and a pen from the stack of papers and began composing a letter.

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As Emily composed the letter, she flipped between pages in the stack of paper she had. Real estate information for property in Wing City. Albert probably would have preferred a phone call or an email, but Emily wasn’t a big fan of technology. Despite the fact that she worked with it, when she had the option, she avoided it, instead utilizing methods that didn’t involve technology. She’d rather hand-write a letter than compose an email. As far as she knew, she’d always been that way.

Glancing up to the bartender, Emily lifted a hand to catch his attention. “Excuse me,” she started. “If it’s not too much trouble, could I get some tea? Earl Grey if you have it, otherwise, any kind will do.”

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As the steaming mug was set before her, Emily smiled at the bartender. “Thank you,” she nodded before turning back to the stack of information in front of her. Before adding anything more to the letter, she laid the pen down and lifted a single sheet of paper. This one. This listing was perfect. The warehouse was huge, the asking price was reasonable, and there would be plenty of room for a lab as well. Albert would love this one. She was sure of it. Setting aside the paper, she quickly flipped through the others to check to see if any of the other potential properties was as good. This one would be a good candidate too. And this one.

Sighing to herself, she laid all of the papers down and reached for the mug. Blowing across the steaming liquid to cool it, Emily closed her eyes and smiled as the scent of the bergamot infused tea washed over her. It really was the simple things in life, wasn’t it?

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Emily glanced up at the newcomer, lowering the mug of tea from her lips as she studied him for a moment. Smiling politely in acknowledgment of his presence, she picked up the papers once more, studying the details of the real estate. Her eyes kept returning to the first and she laid it on the top of her stack. Studying it just a moment longer, she lifted her pen and continued to compose the letter to Albert.

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She’d been so caught up in writing her letter, she hadn’t realized that activity in the bar had continued as usual. The voice broke into her thoughts, however, and she glanced up, momentarily disoriented. Name? He wanted everyone’s name? Seeing no harm in it, she laid her pen down. It wouldn’t hurt to make some acquaintances while she was here, would it?

Don’t, Emily, don--

“Emily,” she responded, leaning back and sipping her tea. “Emily Stanton. You?”

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Emily blinked at Varius’ reaction to her name. “Y-yes,” she responded. “Emily Stanton.” What was wrong with her name? She repeated it to herself mentally a couple times, but it sounded perfectly normal to her. Nothing special. Just a name. Her name. Emily. Stanton.

As he mentioned Wily, however, Emily’s eyes narrowed distrustfully. “Wily?” she asked, shifting slightly. “As in… Albert Wily?”

Time to go, Emily. Don’t get into this conversation.

Yet Emily remained, completely curious. “You’ve heard of Albert?”

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As confused as Varius was, Emily was right along with him. She blinked as she looked at him. Songs? Well, just because she wasn’t aware of any songs about Albert didn’t mean that they didn’t exist. He was, after all, greatly loved and respected in the City, wasn’t he? But how was her name tied to his? Surely she wasn’t in these same songs.

Clearing her throat, she took a sip of tea before leaning forward, a protective hand over the papers in front of her. “I work for him,” she responded. It wasn’t exactly a lie. It was only part of the truth.

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Emily was staring down into the notebook she carried, her face pure puzzlement. The equations weren’t working out for her. Things wouldn’t work until she got these calculations correct, but there was something wrong. Quietly, she read the equation to herself as she moved across the room, until something caught her eye. Emily glanced up just in time to see the soldier’s movement. Instantly she stopped in her tracks, mouth agape. That suit… She blinked, studying him openly for a few moments before realizing herself. Clearing her throat, she looked down at her notebook again, trying to remember what she was doing when she saw his armor. Right. Equation.

Again she moved toward the counter, making a point to keep the soldier within her sight, lifting her eyes to him periodically. If only she could get her hands on it… Albert could do great things with that.

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Talk to him, Emily.

She swallowed, glancing up at Agares again, her eyes moving over the suit. No, she couldn’t. What would she say? Your suit is impressive and I’d like to study it?

Do it, Emily. For Albert. Do it for Albert.

Again, that voice in her head… Emily tried to ignore it, looking down at the figures in her notebook. She had to solve this equation. She had to get the calculation correct. Otherwise, the machines back home wouldn’t work.

Just talk to him.

She looked up at the soldier once more, noticing the woman with him. No. She wouldn’t interrupt.

Damnit, do something! Give him your number. Something! I—er… Albert needs information on that suit.

Scribbling a number on a piece of paper, Emily doubted she had the courage to give it to him in the first place. He probably wouldn’t call her. And even if he did, what would she say? If it weren’t for the voice goading her to do so, she would have simply sat still. Instead, she called the bartender over, handed the slip of paper to him and with as much composure as she could muster, she gestured to Agares. “Please be sure that he gets that.”

The setting changes from Gambit's Bar to Northern Main Street

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In the warehouse that served as their workshop and their home, Emily lifted her head, tearing her eyes away from the symbols on the notebook spread open on the oak table in front of her. She lifted a hand to massage her forehead. Her eyes closed as she rubbed. She had been staring at the equation for so long the image had temporarily burned itself into her retina, and upon closing her eyes, it presented itself, the symbols white against the darkness of her eyelids. She studied it for a moment as it slowly faded, yet the equation did not resolve itself any better in darkness than it did in the light. She’d gone wrong somewhere, but she could not figure out where for the life of her. With a sigh, she laid her pencil down beside the notebook. Her spine cracked quietly as she arched her back, stretching the muscles that had been hunched over the table for too long.

Across the room, Albert was busy welding something on his newest project. She could smell the superheated metal – a smell that was now as familiar to her as any other. The scent would work itself into his clothing, and later that evening while she laid her head against his chest, she would inhale the smell that was uniquely his – superheated metal, dried sweat, the ghost of his shampoo, and a very faint hint of rust. The smell of home. She opened her eyes and watched him for a few moments. A faint smile rose as she studied him. His dark hair was tousled and damp with perspiration. His face was hidden behind a dark face shield, but she knew it just as well as she knew her own face. She could imagine the creases beside his eyes as he squinted, focusing on the task at hand. She imagined his jaw set in determination, his lower lip pulled between his teeth as it tended to do when he focused intently on something. Her Albert. Without Emily realizing it, the fingers of her right hand shifted to toy with the small diamond ring on her left.

With a final glance at the equation in front of her, Emily decided to give up on it for now. She had to get away from it for a bit. Maybe clearing her head and approaching it from a different angle would be better than forcing a solution. The future of Albert’s next creation depended on it! It was a huge responsibility. Emily stood from the table. It was a responsibility that could wait. She crossed the room toward Albert, keeping her eyes averted from the intense white flame as Albert worked. She waited patiently until he stopped, straightened and turned off the machine. He lifted the face shield and wiped the back of his arm over his perspiring face.

“You alright, Love?” he asked.

Emily didn’t respond right away. Instead, she stepped close to him, slipping an arm behind him and resting her head against his shoulder. Together they looked down on the form on the workbench. The body was taking shape. Emily could clearly make out a torso, a leg, an arm. “It’s looking good,” she commented.

Albert’s arm snaked around Emily’s shoulders and he pulled her closer to him in a one-armed hug. “It won’t be long now,” he agreed. “How’s the equation coming?”

Emily shook her head. “I messed up somewhere. I have to figure out where, but I have to get away from it for a little bit. It’s too…” she fumbled for the word, and instead just shook her head again. “I keep getting hung up.” She reached forward and ran her fingertips over the metal thigh on the workbench. “I think I’m going to go out.” Beside her, Albert stiffened as she knew he would. He hated when she went out. He always seemed so nervous about her leaving, as if something would happen to her while she was gone. As if he hated being without her. She tightened her arm around him slightly. “Our anniversary is coming up,” she explained. “And I don’t have anything for you.”

Albert was quiet for a few moments and when Emily looked up at him, he was frowning. “You can finish the equation. That is the only anniversary gift I need.”

Emily laughed. “Don’t be silly! That is no anniversary gift! You’re going to get the equation no matter what. But we’ve been together for a couple years now, and that is worth something special, right?”

Albert considered this. “It’s not a real anniversary,” he said, his frown deepening. “We aren’t married yet.”

The small diamond flashed as Emily waved away the argument. “Yet,” she emphasized. “But we’ve been together for a couple years.” She stepped away from him, and looked into his face earnestly. “I’m getting you something, and that’s final. I need to get away from the equation, and it will be a nice break for me to find you the perfect gift.”

He looked down into her face, his brows knitted together. He hated having her out of his sight, but he understood. He couldn’t keep her at his side all the time. The threat had minimized since they’d moved to Wing City. They had escaped. They were together. Nobody in Wing City knew the truth. They weren’t in any danger here. He realized that he didn’t have to monitor every move she made while she was out and about. They were safe. Besides, if she wanted to get him a gift, it would be nice for it to be a surprise for once. His hand lifted to stroke Emily’s hair and he lovingly curled his fingers behind her neck as he bent to kiss her forehead. “You’re right. Be careful.”

-----------------------------------------------------

Emily made her way up Main Street slowly, taking her time to look into the windows of the shops and stores along the street. She would find the perfect gift. She was sure of it! She was not sure, however, exactly what the perfect gift would be. She figured she would know it when she saw it though. So she looked at everything, weighing in her mind whether or not it would hold Albert’s interest. In the back of her mind, she continued to puzzle out the equation. Had she accounted properly for the right variables? Had she underestimated?

Outside an antiques and curiosities shop, Emily paused, her attention arrested by the most magnificent item! She stepped closer to the window, her fingers brushing the glass as she peered through. Breaking into a grin, she whirled to the door and pulled it open. Bells jangled announcing her entrance, and she glanced around for a shopkeeper. Figuring they must be in the back room, Emily turned to study the object that had drawn her into the store. The automaton was old – eighteenth century if she had to guess. About a meter tall, it took the shape of a woman sitting at a desk, feather quill in hand. It would be expensive, but it was perfect! Albert would love it! Even if it didn’t work when it was wound up, the clockwork inside would be easy to repair. She could do it herself if she had to.

"Hello?" she called into the store, her head turned toward the back.

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In a small, damp smelling front office sat a man. He was unremarkable. Was also, to an extent, irrelevant. Who he was, the life he lead outside of that room was beyond the scope of interest to most observers- just as it had been for the 'couple' who had booked a room several weeks ago. They hadn't cared for his dreams or his hopes, with only the woman seeming to pay him more than cursory attention at all, and when she'd left two days later the clerk had been happy for her. She deserved more than some cliched biker boy, and she'd tipped well. The man only ever paid his bill. No tip. The clerk snorted in disgust and thought briefly about what type of man would bring a lady here for week away anyway? And who would let her go without a fight? (They hadn't fought after all- he'd been on shift more than anyone, and he would've heard it through these walls). What a...

As though his thought had summoned the figure from his isolation, the clerk finds himself suddenly aware that the man has descended the stairs and was stepping his way around the reception desk even now. A small, precisely folded wad of notes is placed on the countertop and slid towards him. "This is sufficient for another three days, correct?" The clerk mumbled something in affirmation, and the man nodded, turned and walked out without a second thought. The clerk mulled over some choice insults, his eye still on the door. After all- who did he think he was trying to impress? Wearing sunglasses inside for gods sake...

+x+x+x+x Control: Tracking in progress. Confirm go order? +x+x+x+x

----- TOMA(S)7: Accessing live feed. Standby -----


Tomas moved quickly down the sidewalk, booted footfalls lost in the noise of the street-life around him. Tracking the target was relatively easy- a medium sized humanoid walked at a speed within certain parameters. Their routes and behaviours were, often, habitual, and this made it possible to predict with a small margin for error where the target would appear each time she evaded his direct line of sight. Still- there were certain precautions to be taken, and the first contact with the target was at a small street crossing.


+x+x+x+x Pheromone Signature Locked. Initiating all level frequency scan. +x+x+x+x


The man beside Miss Emily Stanton (decd) glanced down at his watch, up at the nearest street sign, and then towards the horizon.

+x+x+x+x Scan complete. Priority: Urgent. Result: Known frequency channels inactive. Deep scan results show only commercial frequencies and activity within usual levels+x+x+x+x


A gap in the traffic appeared. The man stepped forward, outstripping Miss Emily Stanton (decd) within a few strides and continuing further down main street for almost a minute (57.8321 seconds) before turning to look at something in a nearby shop window. Real estate. Tomas scans across the offerings before turning and regarding the pheromone pattern that snaked its way behind him- erratic to some extent, but disappearing quite distinctly into Precious Salvage.

A small blinking bar appeared at the corner of his internal viewer. Tomas waited patiently- human data entry was notably inefficient.

----- TOMA(S)7: Assignment status: Active.-----


Tomas didn't nod- after all, there was no one to communicate the gesture to, but transmits the affirmation code instead and turns fluidly, wandering towards, and entering Precious Salvage.

A partner had once explained the importance of first impressions to Tomas at some length- unsatisfied by the cool scientific basis the android had quoted as an explanation for 'gut feelings'. "It happens in seconds. Heartbeats, man. You just [i]know[/]" Tomas could almost hear the ghost of the recording now- stepping into the boutique was an introduction to a chaotic mind. The air contained increased amounts of nicotine, ammonia and hydrocarbons, with the wall coverings showing significant daylight degradation. A scan across the items inside leads to an estimated 37% failure rating on any purchased item.

This was a place where "money talked". Tomas takes out a second tightly folded wad of notes and walks to an empty space at the counter. Placing the cash upon the glass, his sensors detected movement in the back room, and 17.5402 seconds later, the entrance of the proprietor. Tomas watched the eyes of the older gentleman (a swift record search returned two different drivers licenses and one outstanding warrant for arrest) swivel first to the young lady stood in his shop... and then to the money.He spoke to Tomas first. "Can I help you?"

Tomas nodded. "With discretion. I'll wait."

That's enough to grant him an odd expression quickly suppressed (interest; concern; suspicion) and a returned nod. The proprietor moves towards the only other occupant of the shop then, the friendly, keen-to-help retail persona sliding into place between the space of one heartbeat and the next. "Hello, Miss. Can I help you?"

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Despite the hand-lettered placard leaning against the automaton instructing those nearby to please not touch, Emily reached a gloved hand forward to lightly finger the skirt of the figure’s elaborate dress as she waited. At the arrival of another customer, she pulled her hand back guiltily and turned her head to study him for the briefest of moments. His lack of interest in her relaxed her and she turned her attention back to the automaton, lifting the skirts to try to get a glimpse into some of the cogs that functioned together to bring the thing to “life.”

She was aware of the conversation between the proprietor and the other customer, yet the words did not carry to her with any clarity – just a murmur of voices. She was focused on the perfection of the mechanics in front of her, grinning at her luck at finding such a perfect gift. As the shop owner approached her, Emily smiled at him. “She’s exquisite,” she said, gesturing unnecessarily to the automaton. “Does she work?” If the man was surprised at her personification of the automaton, he did not show it. Instead, his imagination already filling his cash register with the requested price, he nodded. Lifting the automaton’s skirts, he pulled a small hidden drawer from the base, revealing a simple key. He slipped the key into the small hole at the base and wound it carefully. Emily could hear the small clicks within the machination, and when he removed his hand, the figure came to life. The woman bent over the desk, the quill in her hand moving as the figure appeared to write. After a few lines, the figure straightened and tilted her head, appearing to re-read what she had just written before bending once more and continuing to write.

Emily clapped her hands together. “She’s perfect!” She took a step back and considered the size of the automaton. “Would you pack and ship it to a specific address?” she asked. There was, after all, no way for her to carry such a large and delicate item home.

“Certainly, Miss. If you would just step over to the counter.”

Emily and the proprietor continued their business. In her excitement, the stranger was forgotten. She was quite certain she paid double what the automaton was worth, but it didn’t matter. Albert would love her. She carefully printed the address of the warehouse on a little card the proprietor slid across the counter, and he promised that he would pack the figure carefully, and that it would be delivered the next day. His eyes shifted to the male customer once or twice during the transaction, but Emily didn’t notice.

“Thank you,” she smiled, turning to leave the shop. Perhaps she could treat herself to a cup of tea before she went home. It wasn’t often that she left the warehouse. Albert kept her so busy with the equations and helping with the creations. It was such a lovely day, and she wasn’t in much of a hurry to get back. She turned her head to the other customer as she made her way through the store toward the door, and smiled. “Sorry for taking so long. Thanks for your patience.”

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Character Portrait: T.O.M.A.S Character Portrait: Emily Stanton
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Computers did not get bored. At least, the computers of the old world, bound entirely by the limits of their programming and the intention of their creators did not get bored. Computers of the new world did not fall prey to the sensation of boredom either, in equal parts due to a recognition by their creators (and later themselves) that such an experience would not enhance their ability, and because the majority of units were constantly linked into the world of data that whirled around them. So, while some might have become impatient at the length of time it took the shop keeper to talk his customer up to an extortionate price (Tomas estimated the closing deal at 176.2% market value), the android did not.

Instead he tested his algorithms. By the time Emily Stanton (decd) was turning towards the door, Tomas had successfully itemised the stock that was visible on the shelves and estimated (based on avaliable customer and manufacturer data) the most likely issues with each piece, alongside the most efficient methods for addressing them. It had proven to be quite the task, with many items dating back to a period before digitisation, and thus requiring extensive review of imaged documentation, as well as conversation to and from antiquated systems of monetary exchange and an extensive review of other similarly documented pieces. At least- that was what his internal processors turned themselves towards in this period- outwardly his body had prowled the cases, picking up an item or two with gentle motions only to return them to their exact place after a moment of examination.

It's only when Emily Stanton (decd) turns towards the door that Tomas seems to be paying any attention to her at all. His movements them are swift- seeing her intended destination, Tomas shifts from his current haunt ('coincidently' the glass case nearest the door) and moves as though he is about to open the door for her.

It's only at the last moment that his hand clasps the handle rather than pulling it, and he pauses with Emily no more than an arms length away. His voice, when he speaks, is pitched so as to be easily heard by his target, but not so distinct to the shop owner who was, even now, turning to bustle in a set of drawers that put his back to whatever was about to occur. "Miss Stanton. My name is Tomas. Your entry into the Protection program has been ordered. Will you comply?"

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Character Portrait: T.O.M.A.S Character Portrait: Emily Stanton
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With a mind consumed with pleasure at her purchase, frustrated confusion over the damned equation, and thoughts of a steaming mug of Earl Grey, Emily thought nothing of the man reaching toward the door in front of her. “Than—“ She started her polite acknowledgment of what she perceived to be a chivalrous gesture, but the word died on her lips when the door did not open.

It took her a moment to realize that something was wrong.

The door didn’t open.

He was addressing her.

He used her name.

She looked up to the stranger before her, brows creased in confusion as her brain replayed the past few seconds, waiting for her to catch up. ’Miss Stanton.’ He knew her? Did she know him? She blinked as she studied him. She was pretty sure she didn’t know him. ’Tomas.’ Albert sometimes muttered the name “Tom” in his sleep. Was that mysterious fact somehow related to the man before her? ’Protection Program.’ Protection? From what did she need protecting? ’Comply.’ Comply?

She inadvertently took a step back, putting some distance between herself and the stranger. “Excuse me?” she asked. She waited a moment for the voice in her head that was always there, the voice of reason that spoke up whenever she found herself in odd situations. It was silent. She looked at the stranger, Tomas, and then down to the door handle. “Excuse me,” she said again, resolute, her voice rising slightly in an attempt to draw the attention of the proprietor. “I have to be going.” She took a step forward and reached toward the door handle herself, hoping that he would release it.

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