anybodies: (plastic gun 1)
anybodies ([personal profile] anybodies) wrote in [community profile] ataraxionlogs2015-09-02 07:01 pm

07. in a gadda da vida, honey

CHARACTERS: Mystique, Harry Potter, William Tsang, & You
LOCATION: A JUNGLE ON A SEEMINGLY UNNAMED PLANET?????
WARNINGS: PG-13 for bad words, possibly hunting/animal death, more TBD
SUMMARY: Catch-all of the above 3 characters for September. The log area is empty! Threadstarters will be in comments, feel free to ask me for something!
NOTES:


EMPTY AS PROMISED, threadstarters to be in comments.
corpse_soldier: (peer(hat))

Re: Closed to One Etrepa Seven

[personal profile] corpse_soldier 2015-09-15 05:30 am (UTC)(link)
[ Of the strangeness that has surrounded Etrepa Seven since her awakening aboard the wreck of the Tranquility the most persistent - the hardest to come to terms with - is all the hands. Hands grasping, hands groping, hands gesticulating and gesturing- and almost all of them bare. The impropriety of it shocks and appalls her, and while of course this emotion is never betrayed on her lone segment's features, it is an ever-present reminder of just how far she is from civilization, how far from home.

Imagine, then, her feelings upon being directly grappled by one such obscenely bare hand. If she was prone to making involuntary facial expressions, Etrepa Seven would look horrified. It is one thing to be treated like this by her crew - lieutenants sometimes took liberties with their ship's ancillaries - but by an uncivilized stranger?

It only takes a single glance, however, for Etrepa to realize that this is not some egregious personal assault, but rather an act of simple kinetic desperation. Either way she is stalk still and remarkably stable, her arm as rigid and resolute as a steel bar, as firm a handhold as a jut of stone but without risk of laceration.
]

Do you require assistance, honored? [ is said with a spirit of irony that is virtually invisible behind her nearly-affectless voice. ]
Edited 2015-09-15 05:30 (UTC)
corpse_soldier: (gaze(hat))

[personal profile] corpse_soldier 2015-09-16 03:32 am (UTC)(link)
[ It doesn't take augmented perception to discern the source of Mystique's troubles, but Etrepa does a quick scan of the person dangling from her arm all the same. The missing foot appears to be all that's awry, but that's enough to be getting on with. She really ought to get it regrown, rather than using such a clumsy prosthetic, but Etrepa must assume that this forsaken place lacks either the necessary equipment, or a Medic of sufficient skill. Both, she guesses; Etrepa reminds herself to be cautious with the segment she has- one of many adjustments she must make to her self-perception. She can no longer swap bodies with the ease that one might swap hands. ]

Please be still, [ she requests, in the same flat tone. And, rather than risk being groped further, Etrepa Seven stoops, slipping her other arm under the wounded person, and lifts her up with an ease that seems totally incongruous with her proportions. This is not the sort of thing she should be doing if she wants to pass as human. But considering the cast of characters she has seen milling about this miserable little camp, it's clear that 'humanity' - and with it, personhood - is a less strictly policed definition out here beyond the reach of civilization. ]

You might prefer firmer ground, [ Etrepa suggests. Whether or not Mystique agrees, Etrepa begins to make her way to dryer climes, boots squelching with each step, the crippled person slung over her shoulders in a fireman's carry. ]
Edited 2015-09-16 03:34 (UTC)
corpse_soldier: (stare)

[personal profile] corpse_soldier 2015-09-17 08:22 pm (UTC)(link)
[ Oh, that is just rich. The barbarian with the bare, grabby hands is trying to point out the finer points of propriety to Sword of Nathtas, who has a thousand years of experience tending to the needs of the scions of the most exquisitely civilized houses. And now, of all times, when she sought only to benefit someone to whom she owes nothing- less than nothing.

The injustice of this rankles her profoundly, to an extent that surprises Etrepa Seven. When she had many, many segments, the irritation of one could easily be drowned out by the serenity of the collective; when she was a ship, this feeling would have been as easy to ignore as a momentary ache in one's knuckle- easier, even.

Now, with just the one body, the anger hits her square in the chest. She stops in her tracks, next to a particularly foul looking pool of water, and swings Mystique forward, sending that lovely head of hair a-tumbling until its flaxen tips graze the murky surface.
]

Shall I leave you to your own devices- [ still tonally affectless, the pause before the respect-title does the work of conveying a withering sarcasm, ] -honored?
corpse_soldier: (surpise)

[personal profile] corpse_soldier 2015-09-18 05:48 am (UTC)(link)
[ Nothing in what Mystique has done, nothing she has appeared to be so far prepares Etrepa for this sudden attack. She had thought her clumsy and crippled, uncivilized and ungrateful. She did not expect her to be at all dangerous- or anything more or less than human, however uncouth.

But the appearance of scales - and the sudden biochemical shift that accompanies it - triggers a whole set of interior alarms. This is worse than uncivilized- it's properly inhuman. It screams 'alien' to Etrepa Seven, and aliens are - have always been - an implacable danger to true humanity, just as she is - has always been - the defender of human purity.
]

Mistake. [ Etrepa informs the creature at her feet, hand descending towards a sidearm that... isn't there. Her hand is at her holster moments too late, and now her visual implants relay alarm as they perceive her armament in enemy hands.

Etrepa Seven's instincts kick in before she makes any conscious decision. Her armor goes up in a fraction of a heartbeat's time, transforming her into a featureless quicksilver statue beneath her military uniform.

A mobile statue, as it turns out. Etrepa lifts a boot and drives it down towards Mystique's gun-toting arm, with every intention of pinning it in the mud with force that she cannot be sure wouldn't break a normal human's bones; without her other segments to process the figures in parallel, she cannot off-handedly calculate the exact force that would require- and Amaat alone knows if this creature's new physical composition is remotely normal- or even human. Still, Segment Seven has already shown herself to be improbably strong.

It's now clear that she's also frighteningly quick.
]
corpse_soldier: (worry)

[personal profile] corpse_soldier 2015-09-19 03:58 am (UTC)(link)
[ Strength and speed are one thing. Flexibility and agility are another. And as a Sword, it was extremely uncommon for her to find herself in anything remotely like melee combat. Most of her fighting took place on the scale of astronomical units. A thousand years of combat experience, yes, but none of One Etrepa's segments have actually seen face to face conflict.

Not until Garsedd, at least. And that had gone very, very poorly for Sword of Nathtas.

Thus, an observer with sufficiently sophisticated implants would see heart rates and cortisol levels spike in both combatants, in close syncopation, with Mystique's panic following mere moments after Etrepa Seven's own. Such an observer might think them amateurs, both losing their nerve the moment the fight got serious. They would also think that the advantage had clearly shifted to Mystique, as all that power and speed is set off balance, and the quicksilver statue topples backwards into the muck.

And then Mystique loses it completely, and things get truly strange. Because even as Etrepa Seven recalls the nightmare before her, Sword of Nathtas', own destruction - a death that she survived in only the merest sense, as a pitiful, lonely, truncated thing - her recollections mingle with those events she has never experienced. She feels a bullet she has never felt, puncturing her foot, in the same moment she remembers a bullet burying itself in Amaat Two's chest- in her chest. And while vast gulfs of time and meaning separate the instances that left these impressions, in this moment the impressions themselves are the same- their result the same. Reduction. Amputation.

They are not what once they were.

Her armor retracts, and the mud that soaks her uniform is suddenly cold against her segment's skin. She doesn't feel quite ready to stand, cannot be certain she could remain so for long, and while she notes carefully the location of the gun, she doesn't lunge for it. Instead she looks up at Mystique, puzzling over each impression, the strange alterations taking place in her body. But more, she puzzles over memories that are not her own, and feelings that serve as a strange, strange mirror. The creature she's been fighting may not be human, but then again, neither is Etrepa Seven.

Slowly, so slowly, she pushes herself up into a sit, then sides forward onto her knees. Her fury is quenched, drowned in mud and unexpected impressions. The closest feeling to this is was the connection she shared with her officers, whose minds she could all but read after spending enough time watching their minutest gestures, the slightest changes in their bodies, with the omniscient interest that occupied as much, indeed more, of her life than space combat.

She tries to speak along a connection that is no longer there, asking a wordless question through the implants that once united her with everything she used to be, and everyone she once cared for, served, protected, loved.
]

What are you?
Edited 2015-09-19 04:11 (UTC)
corpse_soldier: (sad)

[personal profile] corpse_soldier 2015-09-20 03:21 am (UTC)(link)
[ This charade was a poor one to begin with, and if those impressions were a two way street - and Etrepa suspects, feels instinctively, that they were - deception may already be pointless. And it has been hard for her, so hard, to sustain a false impression, even unspoken, even as badly as she has so far. She is having a difficult enough time as it is figuring out just who and what she is now. It is a relief, an enormous relief, just to say: ]

Ancillary. [ It's the truth, though what that truth means may be harder to ascertain without explanation. ] I was a ship. Part of a ship.

[ This difficult-to-make distinction, between herself-as-Sword and herself-as-segment - is one of Etrepa's most persistent problems. She remembers what she was, but the way one might remember a dream of being a butterfly. She simply does not have the hardware to summon up those sensations, that state of being. How can this lone segment begin to recall the sensation of solar wind at its back, the cool caress of a nebula against her hull? ]

I would prefer you not repeat this to anyone.

[ It would probably not be politic to threaten to shoot Mystique in the head if she does not. Etrepa Seven isn't even sure she could do so now, though she had ever intention just moments ago. If she is a genetic aberration, not an alien, then hostility is not inevitable. And while the Lord of the Radch might not deem Mystique fully human - not sufficiently pure - neither is Etrepa Seven. She would rank even lower, in fact. ]

Many fear what I am, and hate those that made me. And I am far from home.
corpse_soldier: (glance)

[personal profile] corpse_soldier 2015-09-22 05:48 am (UTC)(link)
Nothing in this place makes sense. I recognize nothing. [ True enough, but as Mystique has just reminded her, the same applies to everyone here. It hardly constitutes an excuse- simply a reason. She is no more alone in her confusion than she is in her culture shock. But she is not inclined to think that way, not without prompting.

Things might have been different had she been a Justice or a Mercy. When one is tasked with keeping the peace, overseeing an annexation rather than simply ushering it in, one is much more likely to come to terms with just how arbitrary the difference between citizen and non-citizen, civilized and not, really is. But she is - was - a Sword, the proud armed vanguard of the Radch. Her segments never mingled long with the populaces of the worlds she helped to conquer. At most she ferried contrite delegates to Anaander Mianaai for their unconditional surrender.

And the last dignitaries she showed such respect to had betrayed her. Destroyed her. Left her like this. For all she knows, it was they who somehow are responsible for her being here on this gods-forsaken planet. She doesn't know how it is possible, but invisible guns that can penetrate armor were also beyond the realm of the possible, until one slew her ancillaries and penetrated her heat shield.
]

I was only trying to help you. Did I insult your independence? Draw attention to your injury? Did I shame you? If so- I am sorry.

[ Surely her intentions should count for something. Is not assholery at least somewhat a matter of intention? ]

And I am sorry for dropping you. But you were being uncivil.

[ She knows that this is an unreasonable expectation. You cannot expect civility from non-citizens; they simply don't know better. But Amaat's grace- why can't someone, anyone, put on some fucking gloves?

As the gun emerges from the muck, her gaze flickers over to it, then back to Mystique. It occurs to her that she had been quite effectively disarmed, and then promptly taken down, both in an instant, and mere moments ago. These details, or rather their implications, had been lost in the rush of panic and shared memory. Upon reflection, however, Etrepa Seven is impressed. And that is no small thing for an erstwhile Sword to admit.
]

We should not fight, [ Etrepa Seven suggests, ] we could badly harm one another.

[ So, you know, you can give her back her gun. Safe as houses, promise. ]
corpse_soldier: (Default)

[personal profile] corpse_soldier 2015-09-25 06:21 am (UTC)(link)
[ Etrepa Seven doesn't hesitate before taking the gun. She doesn't lunge for it either- it's not an aggressive motion. Merely automatic. The instinct to rearm herself runs as deep as the instinct to project her armor, the kind of reaction that - if allowed to be conscious - will be too slow to matter.

The inspection that follows is just as automatic, a series of perfectly efficient motions whereby she deconstructs the gun and checks to ensure it is operational despite its mud bath. Her sidearm is military grade, about as fine as you'd see outside Radchaai Special Missions, and so a little water hasn't done it any real harm. But it pays to be thorough, just as it pays to be quick. She is both.

Satisfied, she thumbs the safety on and slips the weapon back into her holster. Carefully - more carefully than you might expect of a seemingly implacable cyborg - she gets to her feet, and then offers her crooked arm to Mystique. She still refuses to make hand to hand contact, though she seems willing to suffer being grappled just this once at least.
]

We can still fight if you wish, honored- [ It is amazing how goading a toneless voice can sound. ] -but I think you will come out the worse in that exchange.

[ This, apparently, even with her gun holstered. Swords are infamously arrogant. Sword of Nathtas is no exception. ]

I can promise to try and not do any lasting damage.
corpse_soldier: (gaze(hat))

[personal profile] corpse_soldier 2015-09-26 03:54 pm (UTC)(link)
[ There's no prospect of going home any time soon, and Etrepa Seven has got to start overcoming her culture shock eventually. A post-mud-scuffle reconciliation seems like a decent place to start. There's no need for Etrepa to hide an outward expression of distaste, but she does her best to suppress the feeling itself as Mystique hauls herself to her feet.

The challenge is redoubled when she both resumes the grasp and continues to chastise Etrepa for treating her with what should be irreproachable propriety.
]

It is the courteous way of addressing persons who aren't [ and this next part presents something of a challenge to the translation protocols, because what she says next means both: ] citizens [ and, inextricably: ] civilized.

[ Untranslated, it is also the word for the culture that built her, and the distillation of the attitude that informed her creation: ] Radchaai.

[ Judging by Mystique's ongoing reaction to courtesy, however, Etrepa Seven is getting a sense of her culture in turn. Fiercely independent, loath to seek assistance even when needed; distrustful of politeness, likely considering it a cousin to falsehood. Somewhat pigheaded. Capable warriors at an individual level, probably, but not likely to show group discipline.

That this might describe only Mystique herself is something that Etrepa doesn't consider. She is still in the broadest-brush phase of acclimation. Still, such misconceptions don't prevent her from serving as a very fine mobile support system. Together, civilized equipment and mutant barbarian, they proceed in step towards a spot where bedrock rises out of the mud and grim, promising firm footing.
]

I am Sword of Nathtas, One Etrepa. This is my seventh segment.

[ It feels uncommonly good to say this, to assert both who she was, and what she is. ]

You may call me 'Etrepa'.
corpse_soldier: (stare)

[personal profile] corpse_soldier 2015-09-26 11:21 pm (UTC)(link)
[ As upset as she was before, Etrepa's attitude about serving as a crutch is - now that it is intended, now that it is volunteered - changing quite rapidly. She has many memories like this, of using an ancillary to assist a wounded officers. She cannot summon the specifics, recall each individual instance, as one she might have. But it is a familiar feeling, all the same. And one finds home wherever one can when so far abroad. ]

As a ship- [ she explains ] -as Sword of Nathtas, I had six decades: Nathtas and Amaat, Etrepa and Bo, Esk and Var. Each contained twenty functional ancillaries at any given time- [ she amends ] -twenty bodies.

This is- was the seventh body in my Etrepa decade.

[ It is painful for her to recall all that she was, but there is relief even in that pain, and a release. Ships are good at keeping secrets, the have to be since they can see every moment of every member of her crew's life aboard them, but they are not practiced at having their own. ]

This is all that's left.

[ As ever, her expression and tone are totally impassive, her pace steadily and reliably matching Mystique's, but that is clearly no indicator of her emotional state. ]
Edited 2015-09-26 23:22 (UTC)
corpse_soldier: (fearful)

[personal profile] corpse_soldier 2015-09-28 06:35 am (UTC)(link)
[ Etrepa considers lying, because she knows the truth is generally ill received outside of the Radch. But she cannot trust her memories to remain hers alone. And the first memory of this segment is, as it must be, the gruesome process of taking a human captive seized during an annexation and attaching it - still conscious, still crying and pleading - to the ship's systems by means of specialized implants.

Whereupon it became her - Sword of Nathtas, One Etrepa - and ceased to weep.
]

The body possesses no residual personality after ancillary conversion, [ is the most diplomatic way of expressing this reality. ] I was never this segment. I was always a ship.

[ Unspoken is the amendment: until now. ]

Do you remember being pure, before your mutation?

[ Hard to tell if this is a bit of illustrative rhetoric, or a genuine question. Hard even for Etrepa, who is not sure she knows what she really knows about the person at her arm, or even how she knows it. Hard for her to know how she should feel about what she is and what her peg-legged companion purports to be, and how she ought to view that fact.

Because, despite her use of these terms - 'purity' and 'civilization' - with a clearly moral and even religious valance, it's from a point of view that excludes her from those very categories. Etrepa Seven is not human, is decidedly impure, wouldn't even be permitted to enter the True Radch; she is equipment, not a person which Mystique, whatever else she may be, certainly qualifies as.
]
corpse_soldier: (glance)

[personal profile] corpse_soldier 2015-09-30 02:40 am (UTC)(link)
I was a warship, [ Etrepa clarifies. So not so much constructive as the precise opposite. She's not ashamed of this fact. She is, or was, supremely proud, felt herself to be basically better than the ponderous Justices or the meager Mercies. And she was, quite simply, more powerful, swifter, more dangerous. That was just a fact.

But Mystique is not wrong. Killing was only a small part, experientially speaking, of what she did.
]

I had a crew. Lieutenants for each decade. Humans. I tended to their every need. Witnessed every moment of their lives aboard me.

[ That this might be considered a horrendous affront to privacy isn't something that occurs to Etrepa; it was simply the state of affairs, one accepted by all Radchaai. Etrepa would have been deeply troubled has she not been able to see in every section of herself, as if a limb were to go unexpectedly numb.

It also implies that Mystique needn't apologize for revealing personal moments. If anything, the transmission is comforting, something closer to what she shared with her officers.
]

When we were in gatespace, cut off from the rest of the universe for months, I was the whole of their world.

[ And that was a simpler time. Her version of it, at least. The memory exchange is difficult, not because Etrepa Seven is holding back, but because they are fragments drawn from countless bodies, performing a thousand actions made rote and ritual over hundreds of years - serving tea, mending uniforms, correcting grammar, comforting broken hearts, providing sexual gratification - all united by a single attentive consciousness. Therein the simplicity- the sheer constancy of human needs and desires, emotions and injuries, and her never-ending task of tending to them.

The annexations, too, had a simplicity to them. Until the last one.

Her next question is not quite the non sequitur it seems; it pertains to the madness of their situation, both the tragedies of their amputation and their presence in this alien place. It also suggests a greater piety than it ought, coming from a being that has spent their existence immersed in Radchaai thought.
]

Do you believe that everything that happens is the will of God?

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