1964-06-29 - The Signal Spinners
Summary: Maximus tries to convince the newly awakened Inhuman to come out.
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Theme Song: None
maximus vesper 

Oh, Maximus is totally eating his chinese food. That's why he took his plate way over here and ordered in, planning for possibly days worth of waiting to see what she becomes. He eats slowly, keeping an eye on the cocoon, and then wanders over to his inventing table to work on some things, too, always glancing.

The strands spun around her emerge from the Mists in reaction to the dark-haired girl's skin, her breath, something. Has anyone ever determined whether it's a natural phenomenon or a Kree byproduct, the crystallized barrier that encloses a nascent Inhuman in the first stages of becoming terrigened? Vesper adopts that age-old position that so titillated and horrified the 18th century Europeans who dug up Herculaneum and Pompeii, finding ash-encased hollows that depicted the unfortunates killed by Vesuvius curled up on themselves. Fire victims in high-rise towers are much the same. They have some similarlities to her, the same protective position bracing for an impact that is never sought. In silhouette barely visible beneath the thickening shroud around her, it's like waiting to see what the caterpillar does.

Play chess? Dream a little dream of crawling on green leaves and chewing through flowers? Maybe the great secrets of life are learned in those encoded moments as her genetic code shudders and shifts, bending and turning to new formations. The walls around her are opaque, allowing little light through, and it's questionable she hears anything at all.

Tick tock, Mr. Clock. Seconds melt away. Hour the first, immobile. Second, the air temperature warms up a bit and nothing else thrilling. The process can take a very long time or less time. Whatever secrets are there? Third… Third should go without notice. Because nothing happens there, either, initially.

Maximus continues fiddling with his inventions, moving between one and another, changing his mind and going back again. He fiddles with the garish crown of the Inhumans as well. He's definitely rigging it somehow. He glances over at the cocoon regularly, making sure he notices its changes. He knows it can be fast. He also knows it can take sometimes /days/. "Tra-la-lee…what will you beeee…" he sings.

|ROLL| Vesper +rolls 1d20 for: 8

Size gives no alteration: whatever she is on her way to becoming, it's not a crocodile or something along the lines of Gorgon. Nor does the woman arch and scream in any audible voice, though one muffled waver of a cry skims along the audible spectrum. The thickening walls contort slightly to envelop her, and then the silence becomes a particularly lengthy ordeal. Surely some noise ought to be found: scraping nails on the floor, the hiss of clothing or steam or boiling shadows as the temperature steadily lifts by degrees and the lights flicker.

Maximus knows that sometimes…the people on the inside can have a devastating effect. As the temperature starts to rise, however, he grows more concerned about this and he moves further away, putting some space between him as her cocoon, particularly when the lights flicker. safety first! Said Maximus almost never.

All that's needed is a gap, a hole no wider than the micropiercing of a pin. It's enough to crack open the vault of existence to one.


Her senses report the enormity of the night, the vastness beckoning within the solid walls, the
… smell of heavy oil clinging to the air …
… sound of the copper wire hum …
… touch of vibrations, cool and hard and swift …
… retreating king-not-king-engineer-dreamer and the heavy crown …
… the edge of violet spinning over a bent web of linear shapes …

Nothing quite belongs in the jigsaw witnessed by the girl, she who isn't likely witnessed by anyone else at the moment. Being hemmed in doesn't comfort her and she rushes at the sudden barriers. Hands outstretched feel along the imprisoning gates and bars, fingers stretched out in front of her. Ozone sizzles and something pops in an explosive loud flitter-crack of tungsten blown out in a white-hot flare. So what would one do, lost, as anyone does? She calls out — just not in a language anyone is likely to know. Hear. Understand. In silence, a voice repeats the words. She seeks the reassurance, perhaps, by pulling the familiar to her. It's slow, too slow, this drag of power as she drags it inwards, the surges crackling and vibrating.

"…be free…"
"…can see…"
"…what have you done, Maximus!?"

A speaker pops to life, carrying that voice in explosive, queerly thin bursts of sound before dying to silence.

"I have revealed your true self!" Maximus yells to the cocooned Inhuman as she starts to break loose. "You are free now! One of the few, the chosen! Let me see you, you magnificent creature!" Then he murmurs, "Also this is fairly disturbing…but I like that I'm not dead."

Perceiving her in any sense is terrifically difficult. A glimmer erupts on a glass screen, the briefest sheen of an outline shown against the inert figure. Look quick and there indeed is a living phantom of a sort. Maximus' reflection is superimposed over by the iridescent feminine melting into greater detail. His black curls are etched instead of spectral transparency. Her mouth is fuller than his but his eyes have actual substance that aren't prone to shift from ultraviolet - literal ultraviolet - to shining white. She lifts her hand to the glass parallel to his cheek in reflection. Clearly she can see him through that lens. If it's a television screen or some arcane object of his own devising….

…she's the ghost in the machine.

//…Maximus…? Let me free — //

Hearing her is again through the proxy of warbling, trembling electronics approximating her voice in a chorus. Until the wires squeal and shudder as the energy surges through them and up, up, up. Ever tried to see light shifting phases?

"My darling, this is why they prepare for years, but you are just as strong as they are. Just as wonderful. You CAN grapple yourself…make yourself whole. You are your own destiny…you will be able to breathe, or maybe…if you are made of electricity, now, you will not even have to." His blue eyes dance and he does still kinda hide, because electrocution is bad too. He just praises a lot, because, its true, but also because he knows women dig that.

Electricity would be the nice possibility. Worse, in many a way, for what sings along those cables and blazes into being. Maximus will not smell ozone so much as the discharge of a different kind of plasma. The girl who once stared at the constellations with such awe is more daughter to them than she might know. Vesper, the evening star, is light.

Vox machina; vox astra.

Now just to convince her to be less light.


Rise-rise-rise-rise-let me out get out get out

The first disruption takes place approximately three and a half hours after dusk. So close to the summer solstice, nights creep slowly over the horizon. Somewhere around the island of Manhattan's poshest districts, a penthouse suffers certain problems. Lights flicker. One blows out when the tungsten filament explodes for the surge pushed through it.

Then the devices sing in their bittersweet chorus. A chant of them answering wave-particle pulses. Television, radio, things built by a brilliant experimental scientist. They hum.

"…I need to be free…"
"…Is it here? I think I can see…"
"…what have you done, Maximus!?"

A gap of about a minute follows. The same reverberating murmur blazes along the radio towers as the signal goes up. It rebounds from that epicentre in erratic angles and ninety degree turns, striking with the same question to some distant low-orbit satellite and slammed back down again.
"What did you do to me?"

At the moment, Nexus Oculai rests comfortably on his bed, sitting cross-legged, his hands on his knees, his eyes closed. The circuits in his skin are as bright as they can be: they look like pure silver-white lines that pulse briefly, for though Nexus is *there*, he is one with the city. His mind encompasses it all: the computers in the major companies and universities. The radios, the the phone lines. His mind encompasses the signal: phone, radio and television. He isn't doing anything specifically, he's searching the signal for a disturbance he sensed earlier. He didn't get to the strange signal quick enough, so now he waits.

And he senses it: and he is uncertain.

The words are clear enough, but he can find no origin. No machine modulating the frequency to project them. He doesn't understand: the humans do not have the technology sufficient to broadcast that strong within the city but beyond his ability to at least get a sense of *direction*.

He tries to reach out and isolate the signal, to study its complexity, but pull it away from the other signals and improve its coherence, so it is more *itself*. On a similar frequency, he broadcasts, "What is this?"

Signals obey physical laws transmitted from a source and traveling along lines to reach their receiving destination. They rarely stray. A broken bit of equipment or an experiment could produce anomalous results. But signals do not turn around midway through being shot out and winnow fast as they can for another tower. They do not bang around lost in a square and track back through a maze for another outlet.

Confusion. The frantic rush is wearing out in the initial minutes. Banging fists on metal cages won't help. Flying up out of the ground-based systems introduces six seconds of terrified silence. Stretched limbs that aren't really limbs fall back into a more familiar bed of copper wire almost gratefully. The current shoves it-her-them along. Them? Her.

"I have to get out. Out. Outoutoutoutoutoutout."

The note crashes down from somewhere very, very distant. It sounds exhausted, running on panic.

"Too tight, too small, not enough for the fires and the king is calling…"

That last bit crackles with outright anger from the woman trapped in suspension. The flood happens to be centered somewhere around the largest radio tower in New York: antennae sitting atop the Empire State Building.

The signal that is no signal: the signal that says I. Nexus focuses on it, studies its movements, its flailing course and chaotic rumbling. He focuses more on what the signal does then the words that are carried, but that word: I. Signals do not have Selfhood: not even the Core of Attilan is a true mind, though after its bond with Nexus that is perhaps changing.

Matching frequencies, Nexus seizes a transmitter near to the one that centers on the Empire State Building, an he transmits: "I am Nexus Oculai. I can help you. You are lost in the signal: the signal is //mine. You must tell me who and what you are so that I may give aide. Focus upon me.//" The idea of his 'location' is conveyed by a triple ping of transmitters above the high rise hotel he is in, the center point between these is a simple, trivial radio transmitter that begins pinging in a stable pattern. Someone somewhere will be dispatched to repair this pattern, but the pattern will remain as an electronic lighthouse.

|ROLL| Vesper +rolls 1d20 for: 9

It takes time. Time is different for someone rebounding between objects and picking itself up from bone-crushing depletion of identity. Hands spread over a wall, no more than a wire stopping her from going out again. There aren't actual hands doing this. Just the glowing outline of them for a while as Vesper stares blankly at these additions that seem familiar and very strange at once.

Lop off thirty seconds of being completely confused by fingers and the purpose of palms.

The ping cracks over and over, passing right through. The wavelength she's on is too fast to be in synchrony. It would not help even if she were because it surges around like white water.

I. I. I. Who am I? That concept is puzzling. No name comes back, because she has to claw that identity out of shards and being drunk on the Mists, practically.

"I am lost. Lost in the fire."
"Where am I? Where is Maximus? Why was this done to me?"

Fear flickers around, a shivering warp warble on the line. She's not moving, at least, except in a sway back and forth. "You see me. I am not human, unhuman, the chosen, the elect he said. What did he make? My name is….? The stars?"

Ad astra per aspera.

Maximus. Nexus sighs softly where he sits, meditating on the signal. To assume terrigenesis is easy: some strange power wandering the sky, confused, being, becoming? He once breathed the mists and felt his mind expand beyond his body. And Maximus is far too much a coincidence for it to be anything but that. He concentrates on the signal, tries to call it to him with the repeated song of the pings, "You have become more: and if you have to ask why this was done to you, then Maximus has done a great crime. This is not how we do this: we protect and guide. Come to me, child. The Mists have changed you but you are one of us. I am Nexus Oculai, I am that which connects. You are lost in the signal but you can find yourself: I can help you.//"

Time. All the time needed means so little for how fast a signal travels. A handful of sparks flying down the midnight road of copper and glass fibres woven into world flesh. It darts through the complex maze and backtracks. At one point from sheer impulse, it jumps. The distance is short but some machine squawks. Closer, he talks and it follows like a puppy. A plasmid puppy. So terribly tired is it, forgetting to think of herself as she. But she is on his network through the relays. And she does show up in some nearby sense. Light doesn't sleep or stop. This does, a weak shimmer that curls up on the closest ping point and drowses atop it. In it. Is there some difference? It cannot get free but it - she, her, woman - rests at a melting low frequency. Wherever that location is, the hotel room is far brighter than it has any right to be.

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