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May 25, 2020 3:52 PM
It was z and Jinx, with the doom cannon, in the world of darkness
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...It's fucking empty.

It's just batteries and scrap.


He stares up her and barely even makes a noise when she rips his earring out, despite the pain. He watches her hands as blood trickles down his jaw.


Then the grasshopper lands quietly on his shoulder, and he loses it.

(He's not sure exactly what he lost.)

He laughs, just quietly at first. His head is buzzing.

"This...this is fucking incredible."

He stares at the grasshopper, at the empty gun, at her. Nothing works like he thought it did, does it? Another laugh bubbles up out of him, charged with the same knot of energy that thrums now in his chest.

Blood drips off his chin, and the air smells suddenly like ozone.

He lets the insect step onto his finger and holds it out in front of him. The world doesn't work like he thought it did at all, does it? It's so much more...



Jinx bends down, and kisses him atop his forehead. 

"Go on then, have fun." 

She thumbs a device on her belt, and disappears. 


He'll find her again someday. He doesn't think he can follow her now, but he'll find her.

He looks down at the gun. If he stretches his mind just right, moves the lens through which he sees the world just so, he can almost understand it: two plates of scrap metal, two conductors between which to conduct and amplify and contain energy, never mind that's not how it's supposed to work. Now, if he just adds some kind of liquid, maybe a suspension of metals--

He digs his fingers into the tear in his ear and splatters the blood into the compartment, then forces the plate he ripped away back into place. As it charges it starts to whine and crackle.

Slowly, he pulls himself to his feet, and makes for the closest exit.


He emerges into the backstage area, which at the moment is vacant of everything save a few amplifiers, part of the stage lighting, and an abandoned laptop.


Oh, yes. This is perfect.

He should, logically, be mostly concerned with getting out of here. Instead he starts to work.

Dragging all the amplifiers into one spot is easy enough. Getting the lights unhooked and down to the ground, in his current state, is hard, but he manages it. Once he has his pile of parts, he grabs the laptop and sets it next to him on the ground.

(He can do anything. He knows he can do anything.)

He thinks first about finding Jinx...but, no. That's thinking too small, much too small for the incredible world he's just opened up.

He has to find them all. Every single one. There's more than just him and her, he knows it, and he has to know how many.

He digs in his pocket for the multi-tool he brought with him โ€“ thank god he takes this thing everywhere โ€“ and sets to work tearing one of the amps to pieces.


About halfway through his disassembly, his fingers lighten, his hands steady, his pulse quickens, and he feels the urge to vomit again. Whatever Jinx did to his system is wearing off. 


Oh. Not great.

He pauses in his deconstruction to take off his shirt and slash it into strips with his knife, wrapping and tying one around his bitten wrist and the other around the wound in his shoulder.

Then he runs to the corner to puke into a trash can. No big deal, though.

He finds someone's water bottle on a shelf and rinses his mouth before he gets back to work.

The further he deconstructs the amp, the more the reconstruction takes shape in his mind. Each piece slots into place in his vision. 

But then he's finished, and there are parts still missing.

He only looks at the laptop for a moment before he's cracking the case open. The tiny screws inside are hard to deal with, but peeling apart glued-together parts is fairly easy.


The earring-grasshopper falls off his shoulder, twisting apart into three strands of metal. 


Aww. Good night, sweet grasshopper.

He picks up the strands, twirling them in his fingers, and tucks them into his pocket...


And then he starts to build.

He twists wires together and splits cables and bends metal according to the picture in his mind. It all holds together so much better than it should, without even a soldering iron to stick it in place.

He has no idea how much time passes while he works. Somewhere during the process, his creation ceases to be a pile of metal scrap and starts to be something else entirely.

The whole thing fits beautifully into the case of the amp, and the screen of the laptop is easily affixed to the top. A quarter-inch plug attaches it to his phone.

He crosses his fingers and plugs it in.

It wails as it starts to work, a screeching, almost pained sound. He just laughs in delight and waits for the first coordinates to start to appear.

(He doesn't even know exactly what this thing is looking for. He just knows that it will find more people like her--and like him, now.)


Coordinates appear, neatly marked. The device itself. Him. The gun. A pink-haired girl standing on a roof nearby. The device's map of the block pulls back to a map of the city, then the country, then the globe, patterned with lines and clusters and whorls of coordinates, some registering individual signatures of Maniacal artifacts or people or... indeterminate: some marking gatherings and congretings of Maniacal energy - buildings, organizations, places. It's a flood, a torrent of data, more of an answer than any search engine could have produced. Hell, more of an answer than the entire US military could produce. 


It's beautiful. It's so fucking beautiful.

He grabs the handle on the back of the amp with one hand and the lightning gun with the other, and starts to lug the thing towards what he thinks might be an exit. He has to find that closest mark first. He has to share this. He has to know more.


On his screen, the pink haired girl looks directly at him - then she sits down to wait patiently.


...ok, that's some horror movie shit.

He walks on anyway.


She taps at the screen of a tablet she's carrying, then holds it up to the "camera." 

You do realize you just pinged every Genius alive, right? 


"I have no idea what that means."

Lug. Lug.

"...or whether you can hear me."


The text on the tablet changes instantly. 

I have a scanner like yours implanted behind my right ear, of course I can hear you. Would you like some answers? Maybe some help transporting that thing? 


" can make one of these things that small?"

His mind whirls with the possibility for a minute before he calms down enough to answer.

"Both would be good! And maybe some help implanting cool stuff in my body."


Well, it's not quite the capabilities of the one you're lugging there - I don't have the grounding in the Axiom - but it's more than good enough for this sort of simple communication. I could do telepathy if you'd rather not talk to the air, but I prefer to ask before trying that. 

Could you please shut your scanner off for a moment? The ongoing pings are getting very distracting, not to mention the screaming. 


"Yeah, I don't know why it does...that."


"Wait. Telepathy? Show me."

Just as he asks, he reaches the limit of the amp's power cord, and it pulls out of the backstage wall. The screaming stops abruptly.

He knew there was something he was forgetting.

He sets down the thing momentarily to pull in the cord and wind it up.


An image of a lozenge-shaped implant appears in his mind, next to a small blue notebook with the title "Echo: A Device For Polite Communications." As he considers the notebook, it flips open, and the implant disassembles itself neatly in his mind, showing an intricately grown network of nerve tissue spliced with plastic-encased capacitors and what looks like some form of purple ivy. 

Convenient, isn't it?


As soon as the cord is vaguely bundled, he stops to drink in the images.

it's amazing.

He touches a spot behind his ear thoughtfully.

why "polite"?


Speaking aloud makes noise when you don't have to make noise. Keeping yourself small is polite. 

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