Carpathia III: Episode 121: Sentience
The Outlands, Yseri
Over the next few days, the group recovered from their journey and worked to find their place in their new community. Kaoru was the first to take to a new role, working on the farms. The others were more content to rest and reorient themselves to their new lives, helping out here and there mostly with small tasks. The villagers were patient and allowed them to take their time.
Meanwhile, the group was divided between Nita's house and Jacob's, thus providing extra space until suitable housing could be built. Deciding that it would be an intolerable nuisance to keep their powers and the androids a secret, they decided to be open about them, first to Jacob, who helped smooth the information to the others. The villagers accepted this with relative enthusiasm, now believing themselves better protected.
This day, Adell had first gone to the river to wash and, when Artemis did not show up for a bath, he scoured the village looking for him. Returning to Nita's house, he found Zet standing outside, gazing forlornly at nothing in particular.
Adell: Hey, Zet. Are you okay?
For a moment, Zet didn't move before slowly turning his head in Adell's direction. Zet's eyes seemed lost, and even though Zet's eyes fell upon him, Adell got the distinct impression that he wasn't really seeing him.
Zet: Huh? Oh... I'm fine. I guess.
Adell watched skeptically as Zet absentmindedly pulled a leaf from one of the trees and turned it over in his paw several times. Zet had been this way since Ryuu left, barely communicating with anyone.
Adell: Well, have you seen Artemis?
Zet's mind appeared to be stretched by the question as he took time to ponder the words.
Zet: He's inside.
With that, Zet turned and wandered away in a daze, as though he'd been addled by a head injury.
Zet: I'm going to go this way now.
Adell watched as Zet slowly shuffled away. Hoping that his mood would improve once Ryuu returned, Adell went inside. There, he indeed found Artemis who had set up a makeshift lab on the counter in the kitchen. Phobos stood by and watched as Artemis made adjustments on his computer, which was connected to Deimos.
Adell: So, you've been here all along.
Artemis responded without looking up from his computer.
Artemis: Gold star for you, nitwit. How long did it take you to figure that out?
Taken aback, Adell scrunched up his face, thinking this was a harsh response even for Artemis.
Adell: Jeez, who peed in your petunias?
Artemis said nothing as he continued tapping at his computer. It wasn't long before whatever he was doing was complete and he unhooked Deimos from the computer. Artemis took a deep breath and sniffed, rubbing his nose immediately thereafter before addressing the little androids directly.
Artemis: That's it. How do you feel?
Phobos and Demios looked at each other and then themselves.
Phobos: I don't feel any different.
Deimos: Completely normal.
Adell observed the exchange, saying nothing. He didn't know what Artemis was up to, but it seemed to be important.
Artemis: Well, that's a start, anyway. At least it seems that nothing got messed up. Why not go outside and wander around... you know, see what happens. Let me know if you feel any differently later.
Phobos was first, running up to Artemis's chest, giving him the tiny android version of a hug. Unable to spread his tiny arms wide enough to wrap around his body, Phobos simply put his arms straight out to his sides and splat himself against Artemis's chest.
Phobos: Thank you, Dad.
Next was Deimos's turn, who ran up and did the same.
Deimos: I love you, Dad.
With that, Phobos and Deimos leaped down from the countertop and charged out the front door, leaving Artemis and Adell alone. Artemis buried his face in his hands while Adell walked up and gently placed his hand on Artemis's back.
Adell: What was that all about?
Artemis sniffed and rubbed his face before leaning solemnly back in his chair.
Artemis: I just gave them complete control over their personality parameters. What that means is that they are entirely self-sufficient now. The don't need me for anything anymore.
Adell supressed a chuckle as he reached up and rubbed the end of Artemis's ear.
Adell: Aww, that was sweet of you. You're like a father sending his kids off to college.
Artemis: I'm glad the village knows about them. I've also decided, no matter what happens, I'm not asking them to hide anymore. It's not fair to them.
Adell kneeled so that he could look Artemis in the eye. When Artemis did not turn, Adell placed his hand on Artemis's cheek and gently pulled so that they might see each other. Leaning in, Adell gave him a quick kiss.
Adell: Now let's get you washed up. As Roose would say, you stink.
Kagurain positioned himself off the dirt path so that he wouldn't inadvertently harm anyone. There, he was able to practice using his ability with electricity. Over time, he discovered that most of this ability was concentrated in his fingertips and that subtle flexes, such as the motion of flicking a light switch, produced a myriad of results.
With cans lined up before him, Kagurain experimented with technique. Snapping his fingers, he fired a small bolt at one of the cans, which missed, slicing into the dirt where it disappeared. He found he had better control with smoother gestures, like waving a magic wand, than with sudden releases of energy. By waving his hands and curling his fingers just so, he was able to hit the cans with more accuracy.
His spear helped as well. Small differences in the way he gripped the spear with his fingers would change the nature of the charge and the spear itself amplified the result. With it, he could shoot powerful, sustained bolts of lightning. If he curled his fingers and uncurled them at a particular speed, he found that he could sustain a current which would deflect the cans away from him.
Wolfram approached conspicuously, doing his best not to alarm Kagurain, lest he accidentally receive a lightning bolt to the face. Once Kagurain spotted him, he dropped his arms and pointed to a scorched can laying on the ground.
Kagurain: Hey, Wolfram! Could you get that can?
Wolfram glanced at his feet and immediately spotted the can on the ground and picked it up.
Wolfram: Um, okay.
Kagurain: Okay, just wait a second.
Wolfram did as he was told, watching as he held the can. Kagurain touched his fingertips together. Little sparks of electricity began to surge from his fingertips as he spread his hands slowly. The sparks transformed into a lattice of bolts.
Kagurain: Okay, now throw the can at me.
Wolfram's eyes widened as he looked at the can and back at Kagurain.
Wolfram: You... What?
Kagurain: Go ahead! Throw it right at me!
Wolfram cast his eyes at the can again and shrugged his shoulders. As he watched Kagurain, behind his electric fence smiling at him, Wolfram raised the can and did as he was told, throwing the can at him. The can hurtled toward Kagurain, but, to Wolfram's surprise, suddenly slowed and changed direction away from him, landing harmlessly in the dirt.
Wolfram: Okay, that was interesting. What happened?
Kagurain released the lattice and kneeled on the ground.
Kagurain: I don't know, but it was cool!
Thinking it was now safe to approach, Wolfram stepped forward, but only managed a step before Kagurain held out his hand.
Kagurain: Not yet. I have to concentrate for a minute so that I don't shock you by mistake.
Wolfram watched as Kagurain closed his eyes and bowed his head, breathing deeply. Unwittingly, Wolfram stared at Kagurain's body, continuously moving his eyes up and down from Kagurain's head to his feet. Wolfram didn't notice when Reuli came up behind him.
Reuli: Whatcha doing, Wuffie?
Wolfram shook his head, as though suddenly removed from a trance.
Wolfram: He was practicing with his electricity and then he said he needed to concentrate for a minute.
Reuli: Maybe that's how he switches it off?
Wolfram: Hmmm... maybe.
Just then, Kagurain's eyes opened and he stood, seemingly just as jovial as ever.
Kagurain: All done!
Wolfram hesitantly took a step forward.
Wolfram: So, can I come now?
Kagurain: Oh, yes! I just have to be quiet for a minute to turn it off.
Reassured, Wolfram stepped over to Kagurain and put his arm around Kagurain's chest.
Wolfram: I came to see if you've been down to the river yet today.
Kagurain lifted his arm and sniffed.
Kagurain: Not yet. I suppose I could use a wash now.
Wolfram: We can go together!
Reuli averted his eyes as he swished his feet in the dirt.
Both Wolfram and Kagurain turned their attention to Reuli, who seemed to be having trouble finding his words.
Reuli: Wuffie... you know... Well, I'm glad you two like each other. I hope we can still be brothers.
Wolfram and Kagurain, taken aback, looked at each other before Wolfram rushed up to Reuli and hugged him.
Wolfram: Of course we'll always be brothers.
While Wolfram and Reuli embraced, Kagurain was focused on Roose, who appeared to be sneaking up behind Reuli. Wolfram noticed as well, and stepped back. Just before he could say something, Roose reached up and pinched the tips of Reuli's ears.
If Roose was expecting an expression of shock from Reuli, that's not what he received.
Reuli dropped to his knees and Roose held up his hands, clearly not expecting that reaction.
Reuli: Don't stop!
Roose glanced at Wolfram and Kagurain and each, in turn, shrugged at each other. Roose smiled and resumed rubbing Reuli's ear tips.
Roose: You like that?
Reuli: That feels great!
Wolfram grimaced for a moment
Wolfram: Hey, you never liked it when I did that!
Reuli: You don't do it right!
All city pictures from SimCity 4