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Aug 03, 2021 2:48 AM
Soma but with a Margaret
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"I don't think so," Catherine says. "It shouldn't be acute, anyway."

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"Alright." She shuts down the thought of saying 'If I keel over immediately it's your fault', because that would Not be funny and also if she dies Catherine will suffer more than she does don't think about that either.

Margaret gets in the scanner.

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The scanner is the size of a small bedroom, large enough to accept something the size of a small car. Once Margaret's inside and standing in the center, there's a click and the door slides closed, and then a large set of rotating devices sweep rapidly around the room several times for a minute or so. A few moments after it stops, the door opens back up. "Come take a look at this," Catherine says. By the time Margaret can get out, Catherine has volumetric X-rays pulled up on the pair of displays outside the scanner. There's the shadow of the suit, and then...body, with half its head missing. A boxy object is situation down in the torso, and there's another jammed into the spinal column. A secondary display shows, "USERNAME: Reed, Imogene."

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She looks like a pile of garbage some teenagers threw together in a basement and she's still stronger and more durable than when she was a human. If it was possible to actually design bodies of structure gel and computer hardware, with chassis better suited to the job than "human-shaped diving suit", the potential is pretty impressive. Still not as good as ditching it all for the ARK, though, under the circumstances, so maybe none of it will come to anything. Damn comet, humanity wasn't done.

 

Enough imaginary futures and alternate pasts. She has a present to deal with. "Does it look like my hardware can be read from alright? It looks a bit . . .buried."

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"I think that's just a power cell," Catherine says. "You're definitely on a cortex chip, the same as I am. It should be easy enough to read from the standard ports. I wonder if the body plan makes any difference compared to the other robots we've seen around? A sound mind in a sound body, the best of both worlds, or something like that."

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"You think I didn't go crazy because I'm not horribly injured or attached to a wall? . . . Honestly when I put it like that it sounds pretty plausible."

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"That's what I'm thinking," Catherine says. "Of course, I'm just plugged into a wall too, but maybe I was more prepared for it?"

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"Hm. I'd definitely rather be me than you right now because skipping chunks of time and not being able to move around sound unpleasant--uh, if there's anything I should be doing to make that less unpleasant please tell me--but I don't think I'd go insane if we suddenly switched. On the other hand, we're both way better off than Carl or Amy. Robin was sort of in-between and I get the impression she didn't get more insane while she was stuck to the seabed? I don't know how much people go crazy from--helplessness and isolation--even without the apocalypse coming into it."

Wow, listing all the very good reasons people have to despair is kind of depressing and the fact that she has fewer such reasons than anyone else doesn't help as much as you'd think.

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"Mmm," Catherine says, non-committedly. "I wonder what Reed was doing at Upsilon? She should have been here, at Theta."

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"Wait, so does that mean Imogene was the . . . previous person, uh, using this diving suit?"

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"Yes. She was my...well, she was always nice to me," Catherine says.

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"I'm sorry. . . . Was she around here long enough to scan?"

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"I hope so," Catherine says. "She was on the list you read."

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"Yeah." If and when they meet up in the ARK, Margaret can just Not Mention what she was doing before that. "Anything else important on the scan, or should I get out of here and start trying to fix the backup omnitool?"

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"Nope," Catherine says. "Good luck finding spares. Let me unlock the doors."

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Once she's released from the scanner she sets to getting the case off the broken omnitool in the hope that she can see what's wrong with it.

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The problems are pretty apparent on the face of it, literally. The screen, which must be pretty tough to survive deep sea pressures, is cracked, and half-pulled from the case. Deeper issues with the logic boards inside are, as always, harder to find--and, without knowing better, Margaret can't even be sure if they're there or not without checking deep within the manual she stuck in her toolbox at Upsilon. The screen, though, is definitely broken.

 

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Well, she can at least disconnect the screen from everything it's connected to so that she could attach a new nonbroken screen if she found one. Maybe there's even a way to get the connectors in a state where they're not shorting anything else such that the rest of it will be usable without the screen if the logic boards aren't separately broken. But she'll look for a spare screen first; there are a lot of potential places around here that could have one.

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This level of Theta is the largest station Margaret's found yet--there's a large collection of different labs, with multiple corridors leading around from place to place under the flickering lights. Even with the dim and flickering lights, it's only the distant structural groans that remind her she's in a station under the ocean and not some university lab past when the custodians left for the day. There's a map on the wall, fortunately, which reveals she was in the "project development hub" to start.

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What a useful map. "Storage" and "Payload Design" look the most promising, in that order.

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Storage is just up the hall, and the door opens...but as it opens, it becomes apparent that the noises around may be more than just structural moans. There's a pair of gel-encased bodies, still breathing, half-overgrown with structure gel polyps coming off the wall. The WAU has another proxy around--or something. However...one of them looks like they were holding an Omnitool. It's still in their hand, half-encrusted with structure gel.

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That might be an entire working omnitool. It would be totally irrational not to take it. It would also be totally irrational not to try to rouse the gel-encased people. She has to repeat both of these statements to herself several times before she manages to follow through on either one, but she does eventually do both. (The detailed human sense of touch and texture is so overrated and she misses it Zero. Gauntlets are lovely.)

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The people's gasping breaths echo in the small room as Margaret pulls the omnitool free of the limp hand and the gel sticking to it. For a moment, it leaves behind a gap in the gel crust shaped like the base of the omnitool, and then a fresh flow of black structure gel starts leaking in from the sides. It looks like it is, indeed, a working omnitool.

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Blehhhhh. Presumably it will still be working if she wipes it off on . . . the cleanest available patch of wall, for lack of better options. Do either of the people so much as twitch if she says "Hello!" loudly and pokes their legs with a boot?

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Neither reacts, continuing with their slow gasping breathes inside the gel cocoons, but there's a rattle and steps in the distance at the noise.

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