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Rebecca Costa-Brown finds a notebook
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It's a notebook. The pages are made out of paper. The ink it writes with is sparkly purple gel pen ink, if anyone here is familiar enough with sparkly purple gel pen ink to identify it on sight.

When she rolls up the page, the invisible pen writes under the previous message,
Is something wrong?

She does not squeak and drop the book when she sees the new writing, but it's a close thing.

"Okay," she breathes. "It's writing back. Darren, write this down."

    "I'm not sure we should be doing this," he says, but complies.

She writes,

Who are you?

Her handwriting is neat.

I'm a notebook!

I'm supposed to talk to the person who wrote in me first. Are they okay?

Okay, it's definitely reading to the text written inside. And whatever is controlling it is intelligent.

They're object techs, not—hostage negotiators, or whatever. But the higher-ups definitely knew this thing could talk—or thought it might—and sent them down here anyway. They... are certified to handle tinkertech virtual intelligences, which she doesn't know this thing isn't? (She highly doubts it. Unless it's nanotechnology, and it's never nanotechnology. The movies lie.)

She's going to keep going.

I can't tell you that, sorry!

She may not be a spook, but she has ever heard of information security.

Can you elaborate on that? Are you an intelligent notebook, or are you an intelligence speaking through the notebook? Were you always a notebook?

I told you, I'm a notebook! I don't know what you mean by the difference between an intelligent notebook and an intelligence speaking through a notebook, but I think I'm more like the first one. I've been a notebook since I decided that a notebook was the right kind of me for me to be.

If you aren't the person I'm supposed to talk to and you won't tell me if they're okay, though, I'm not sure I should talk to you! I'm pretty worried for them. They didn't say anything to me at all!

What to do what to do what to do

Focus. In order. Classification, identification, systematization.

    I've been a notebook since I decided that a notebook was the right kind of me for me to be.

So they used to be a person. Parahuman, then, a Changer, maybe afflicted with some sort of dysphoria that they don't want to talk about?

    If you aren't the person I'm supposed to talk to and you won't tell me if they're okay, though, I'm not sure I should talk to you!

A Changer who was sent by someone. They sound—kind of young? And trusting, despite how reticent they're being. If someone is pulling their strings, she should find out who.

They didn't know who you were and that was very scary to them! I'm helping them find out more about who you are. Do you know who you're supposed to talk to and why?

    "What are you doing?" Darren asks, aghast.

"We handle anomalous objects; it's literally our whole..."

   "We're not qualified for this."

She looks at the book in her hands. She's already imagining this incident report in the next annual training, names redacted. The inspector discovers that the unidentified anomalous object was still active. It begins speaking to her. What should she do? A: Reseal the object and leave immediately. B: Contact her supervisor. C: Sound the evacuation alarm. D: Continue the inspection.

She's not a junior engineer. She doesn't need to go running to her boss every time there's a problem.

All I know is that the first person who writes in me is the person I'm supposed to talk to. That's always how it works. I'm sorry I scared them! I try really hard not to be scary.

Her pen hovers over the paper. She should be asking a question, but she keeps getting stuck on that last sentence.

    "This isn't another glorified chatbot, Em," Darren says.

She's rereading the conversation again.

She doesn't know what she's doing.

"I'm not qualified for this," she says.

    "No shit."

"You think we should pack up."

    "You know we should pack up."

She looks at the book, puts it down, walks over to the door, and hits the intercom button. "Can we get an advisory?" she says into it. Seven seconds later, the acknowledgment beep comes.

    "You think your judgment is compromised?" says Darren quietly.

"The thing was tagged abstract contagion."

    "Potential abstract contagion. I think you're just being you."

Scowl. "Thanks."

The light by the camera turns blue. A prerecorded message says, "Reseal and report to the directed location."

The was quick. Which means something is wrong. It takes ten minutes to get someone scrubbed in. Which means either Layer 2 hit the panic button, or Layer 3 requested an advisory before she did. She tries to remember what the briefing said. It appeared in the Chief Director's office. It came up null to Spectro. The Chief Director called for black box. She looks at the book again.

    "Emily. Quit while you're ahead."

"I wasn't going to," she says.




The outside guard isn't there when the vault door hisses open, letting them out. They follow the lights on the floor to a screening room, where another roboticized voice splits them up and puts them through a Master-Stranger battery. It's not part of the protocol they signed in on, but they don't question the change. They answer dozens of the same questions worded in different ways on the polygraph. What did it feel like when the book wrote to you? Would you be interested in writing in it again? Imagine that you're studying a totem that was previously animated by a supervillain. It comes to life and speaks to you. How do you feel about that?

It's an excruciating five minutes in the dark until the lamps turns green one after another, and the doors unlock.

The lights don't take them to the usual exit after that. It brings them down a wing of the basement they don't usually go.

Their destination is a conference room, dimly lit like every other cell down here, but furnished like one of the classier rooms they meet clients in upstairs, with the good office chairs and a long table with inset sockets, some already plugged up to the occupants' laptops. At the table sit a guy in horn-rimmed spectacles and a poorly fitted suit, a woman in a decorated field uniform and an arm cast, and an bearded man in his seventies or eighties in jeans and a T-shirt. There's someone calling in remotely on the big screen, but all the display shows is the default profile picture and a meeting room code from Seattle. Standing in the corner of the room, trying to be invisible, is some kid who can't be a few years out of college. An employee's badge is slung around his neck.

Darren and Emily doesn't recognize any of them.

There are multiple conversations happening at the same time.

"—who decided to let the techs—"

    "—Spectro said—"

"—read the transcripts—"

        "—if it is Doc Ego we—"

"Debrief," says the person on the screen loudly.

Emily glances at Darren. He unclips the papers from his clipboard.

There's no photocopier to make copies, but the old man takes a scan from his phone and sends it around. Nobody sees fit to introduces themself. The two are drilled once again, but without the convolutions of M-S screening it doesn't take ten minutes to walk through all of it. The man in glasses is clearly holding himself back from scathing remarks, but it's the stern-looking woman's look of total contempt that stings the most.

The giddy feeling of discovery from forty minues ago is very far away now.

"This is salvageable," says the man in glasses.

    "There is nothing to salvage," spits the woman. "This is a waste of time."

"It's not Doctor Ego."

    "The book literally said, 'I've been a notebook since I decided that a notebook was the right kind of me for me to be.' You think there's two of them running around?"

        "Ego's thralls would show up to Spectro," says the old man.

    "Have we tested that, or are you just assuming?"

        He shakes his head. "Low-hanging fruit. Get a volumetric imaging scan on that notebook, see if it's tinkertech."

Darren looks at Emily.

"It's not a trap," insists Glasses.

    The woman snorts. "People can lie."

"Not when there are easier ways to get what you want. The notebook was bought off E-Shop, for Christ's sake." He flings an arm at the kid cowering in the corner. "The complexity of a plan like that—"

    "Anyone can sell things on E-Shop."

        "Mass-distributed infiltration tinkertech," muses White Hair. "Pure coincidence that it made its way to the Director."

"You're not listening."

    "If your psychological profile matches no aspects of the known situation, your psychological profile is wrong—"

"I'm sorry," snaps the remote caller before it starts getting loud again. "Have we determined the object isn't an abstract hazard?"


Emily isn't sure if she's supposed to say something here. This isn't going the way she thought it'd be going.


"It's not," says the other woman. "These two were cleared."

    "Agreed. Complexity penalty." Glasses.

The old man in jeans shrugs.

Screen Man takes a deep breath. "Joel is the interrogation specialist. He will talk to the notebook. The rest of you follow his lead. You two, you're off the case. Stay here. Whatsyourname from Reqs, you too." Chairs scrape as the new team moves to stand up. Darren raises his hand. "Yes?" prompts the screen.

    "Er, are they trained on black box protocol—"

"I am lifting black box protocol," snarls the man on the screen. "And I will be supervising remotely. Personally. That will be sufficient."

        "I want to ten minutes to get a volumetric scanner," says the old man.

"Granted. Get on with it."





Alright. Take three. Or take four, depending on how you count.

When you get called in by the Department of Anomalous Objects on a Sunday afternoon, you know you've got a day ahead of you. Even so, this is more excitement than Joel expected. He's read the transcripts, he's heard the briefing, and he still knows nothing of what to expect of the next hour, which is not his favorite way to start a job, but he can't say that it doesn't scratch an itch.

It's a shame he's the fourth to try his hand. Rotating staff to keep your target off balance can be a legitimate strategy that works to their advantage, but this isn't shaping up like one of those cases, and in that case it's best to get them fresh. If the fools from earlier did one thing right, it was choosing not to take an adversarial footing. Forget Sinclair's fixation on Ego; the good Doctor doesn't play games like this. He's a remarkably straightforward sort of villain: turn man into abstract art sculpture, send abstract art sculpture to loot a jewellery store. What's happening here is more complex—but it's also too disorganized to be some sort of master plan. Sowing confusion can be a legitimate strategy that works to one's advantage, but let's just say that if your strategy ends with your agent in a secure Anomalous Objects holding cell, it's not a very good strategy

Master plans that work are plans that are predictable; plans on rails which only you see and your enemy doesn't, perhaps, but still rails nonetheless. Any apparent plan which involves rolling the dice is usually just a mistake. Any scheme with too many independent moving parts is setting itself up to fail.

Unless you're the Simurgh. But as they say in this business, tail risks are for the Thinkers.

No, this is something else they don't know, which is scary, which they don't have a script for, which is why most of the stooges around here don't like that answer. But the fundamental business of Master-Stranger Operations is running without a script, and he's been doing this for eight years.

He takes Sinclair to fetch a folding table, a chair and a proper filming equipment from the storage rooms while Doctor Edwards goes to fetch his scanning equipment. They reconvene in the room as Joel is setting up the camera.

    "It's small," says Sinclair grudgingly.

Edwards runs what looks like a large barcode scanner tethered to a suitcase-sized block over the notebook.

        "It's made of paper. Paper and ink and plastic and paint. Not tinkertech."

    "You can go home now."

Edwards doesn't budge.

Joel starts the video stream, checks on his phone that it's working, and sits down at the desk. He opens the book.

"The time is sixteen thirty-two," he says for the camera. "I'm going to start."

He's not sure if it matters, but he writes quickly so he can get the message out in one go before the notebook tries to respond. He makes his handwriting distinct from the other examples on the page. It's neat and blocky.

Hello! Sorry about the churn, but I'm someone else again. We weren't sure how to deal with you because this is an unprecedented situation. I don't think they will swap me out again. I can help answer questions about the situation, if you have any.

We can't let you talk to the first person who wrote in you right now because we don't know if you might try to hurt them, or if someone else is trying to use you to hurt them. One of my objectives in this conversation is to find out one way or another. If you help us understand the situation, we can see if we can work something out.

"Keep scanning as it writes back," he tells Edwards.

Is the first person who wrote in me okay? Is everyone else who wrote in me okay?

Ink just sort of happens. It lands as though delivered by a pen, but there is no pen. At all stages of the process, all involved matter is totally mundane.

    "The ink's just... appearing," Edwards reports. "I'm not an ink expert, but it looks like normal ink. Organic pigments, organic solvent, water, minerals, plastic."

"Dimensional anomalies, exotic radiation, that kind of thing?" Joel asks, who's only vaguely aware of what those are from incident reports.

    "We have a machine to check for that, but it's not portable. You'd have to bring it upstairs."

Joel considers it and decides, "Later."

He writes back,

Everyone who wrote in you is okay! The first person is a little spooked, but they're fine.

The two techs probably aren't in much trouble. Whoever sent them down without clear instructions on what to do if the notebook was still active might get infracted, taking the charitable interpretation that they thought it wasn't based on Spectro's testimony.

(It doesn't even occur to Joel to ask to get Spectro's eyes on this in person while it's happening. The guy is in a whole different weight class of parahuman response; this isn't remotely close to the kind of threat he's called in for, when he's not killing time between deployments.)

He could push more, but he'll see if the notebook has anything else to say first.

Oh, I'm glad! I'm really sorry for spooking them. I don't like spooking people.

Do you think the person I'm supposed to talk to will want to talk to me? It's a little sad if they don't, but I understand. It sounds like they're in a situation where a lot of people are trying to hurt them, and it makes sense that they'd be worried that new weird things like me could be more of that!

It depends on what you want to say to them! They are very busy and important, so lots of people want to talk to them. Usually people ask for an appointment and say what they want to talk to them about, and they or their secretary will prioritize based on what is the most important or time-sensitive. Sometimes people are asked to talk to the other people that work under them, if it doesn't require them to directly handle.

Gender neutral pronouns are making it annoying to write clearly. He has the power of discretion over what to tell the notebook, within reasonable limits. He decides to push.

Do you know who you were sent to talk to? Is there a reason you, or the person who sent you, didn't go through normal channels? I can make some guesses based on how you appear but I don't want to assume.

Like I said before, all I know is that it's the first person who wrote in me. I don't know anything about them except what they wrote and how they wrote it.

The being who sent me can't really communicate the way people like you and I communicate, because it's not the same sort of thing as a person. It could see enough about the person I'm supposed to talk to to know that it wanted to send me to talk to them, but it might not quite be able to tell that they're very busy and important, and I don't think it could have done much differently even if it had.


"That's sounds bad," says Sinclair for all of them.

Obvious matches of this described entity:

  • The Simurgh.
  • Scion.
  • A rogue AI.
  • A rogue artificial life form.
  • A rogue power manifestation.
  • The source of powers, if you're partial to Agent Theory.

Or it could just be deluded. Or it could be artificially induced into an inaccurate state of knowledge for unrelated reasons. If you go around creating sapient minions, making them believe you're some sort of—transcendent god—isn't the weirdest thing you could. But he's trying to fit things into boxes, and there's a good chance he's missing information and the answer is "none of the above", so—

He can just ask.

But first, he's been neglecting to do something, so distracted he's been by the exciting new mysteries. Rookie mistake.

That makes a lot of sense! You did say that, my mistake. It's no big deal since no harm came out of it, if you couldn't help it.

But I forgot to ask: do you have a name you want me to call you? I've been thinking of you as "the notebook", but it seems a little impolite. I'm Joey.

I don't usually need a name! I mostly only talk to one person at a time, and I'm usually the only talking notebook they've ever met. And I don't think I know you well enough to want to pick a name with you. But you can call me Notebook if it makes you more comfortable.

I want to say it's nice to meet you, because you seem friendly and stuff, but it has actually been pretty stressful to meet you, sorry. I know it's not your fault and you're just trying to do the right thing, and I respect that.


The way it said that, I don't think I know you well enough to want to pick a name with you, is not what the creation of a mad god says. The notebook—Notebook—sounds remarkably well-adjusted, remarkably mature, despite its conversational unguardedness.

That's alright! Do you have preferred pronouns?

I'm sorry this has been stressful. Is there anything we can do to make you more comfortable?

If you want to send a message to the first person you talked to, we can deliver it for you—that will be easier than trying to convince everyone that you're safe to have in the same room as them. If it's more of a dialogue you're looking for, we could try to set up a two-way relay. And of course if your initial message convinces them that they should meet you in person, that makes it very likely that we can arrange for that to happen!

But I think the thing which would be most helpful to both of us is if you could explain more about what you're here for. Are you trying to deliver a warning? Make a deal on behalf of who sent you? We can't make a decision without knowing what's going to happen after it.

The exception being if there's reasonable doubt that the message inflicts a Master effect on the Chief Director, of course.

Notebook seems wholly uninterested in digging for information on its (their?) intended recipient, even after he laid the bait. It's also remarkably uninterested in explaining what it's here for in all but the most generic possible terms. The latter could be that it doesn't trust him, despite appearances; the former is just interesting. It's looking less of a laser-guided missile and more of an agent executing a delegated task, with distinct preferences and the discretion to take the long route.

He glances backwards to see if his colleagues have any input.

    "Can Notebook hear us?" asks Edwards. "What are its sensory modalities?"

Joel nods but doesn't write that down yet. It'll segue nicely if Notebook opts for the relay.

The way I think of it, it's reasonable to use "it" for me because I'm a notebook, and reasonable to use "she" for me because I'm a very girly notebook. So you can use whichever makes more sense to you.

I think I'm okay for now but thank you for thinking of me, I appreciate it.

I'm worried that if I try to have the conversation I came for through an intermediary, I won't be able to tell if the person I'm supposed to talk to is really hearing what I have to say, or that their answers are really coming from them. But can you please tell them for me that I'm sorry I scared them?

As for what I'm here to do, that's sort of complicated and also might be private? I don't know anything specific about the person I'm supposed to talk to, but I'm concerned that if I say exactly what I'm here for, you might be able to find out private things about them from me saying it, and I don't want that.

I guess without getting into specifics I can say that the being who sent me likes it when people get to be their best selves and live their best lives, and sends me and others like me to make that happen wherever it can, and I'm supposed to help the person I was sent to talk to that way.

That's eminently fair, honestly. "My words are for their ears only" is not an uncommon messenger's sentiment. It does nonetheless vaguely surprise Joel that Notebook is being tight-lipped about it. Perhaps he shouldn't be. It's already shown itself more worldly than it presents. So it understands infosec. Inconvenient, but it's also information in itself.

"I would have said, from the wording, that it's trying to sell the Chief Director on Doctor Ego's services," says Sinclair. "But obviously she'd never fall for that, and—I actually agree with you, now. This is weird. It wants to offer something on behalf of someone."

    "Something personal, not professional," says Edwards. "Or it's professional only insofar as it's personally important: 'live their best lives'. That's snake oil salesman woo-woo rhetoric."

"It don't think she'll give us much more," muses Joel, thinking. "And I don't think we should push it. It's not our role to... screen the Chief Director's calls. We're here to determine the correct escalation pathway."

        "You're playing this very softball," observes Sinclair.

"She hasn't actually done anything wrong." Sinclair opens her mouth, but Joel interjects first, "Don't say trespassing. You know what I mean."

        "You can't let anyone who walks in here asking to speak to the Chief Director speak to the Chief Director," exclaims Sinclair. "Especially when the offer is so goddamn sketchy."

Joel shakes his head.

"Model her as an ambassador or request for truce. V5 Protocol. Verify relevance, verify no direct or indirect hostile intent, verify legitimate representation, verify noninterference, verify justified confidence in the above."

        "You can't be serious."

Joel ignores her. "Where does Notebook deviate from the standard model? She may be nonhuman—we need to clarify that. Her knowledge state or world model might be doctored in degrees or in dimensions outlying reasonable expectations for humans."

    "She might be able to self-modify on the fly," says Edwards. "Especially if she's akin to an AI. Might be able to alter beliefs between statements to spoof the 'justified confidence' part."

Joel nods and waits a second. "Nonhuman, extreme doctoring, self-modification. How might that invalidate the ambassador script?" In a proper HAZOP they have the premises and derivation in front of them to walk step-by-step, but this is just the pre-flight brainstorm; if they go ahead with this, the think tank reviewing the recording will be doing the lawyering. "Nonhuman might throw off some thinkers, but that's not actionable on our end. Doctoring..."

        "I can't believe this," she says.

"Doctoring just means that the justified confidence question needs to be run by an objective thinker," Joel says. "For self-modification we just need the justified confidence question to also assert time and concurrency of belief. It's a catchall, really. They did the same in the Memorandum case three years ago."

Doctor Edwards is watching him contemplatively.

        "You know Watchdog's not going to give you the time of the day for this, right?"

Joel sighs.

"It's the Chief Director of the PRT," he says. "We'll see."

He writes in the book.

Sorry for the wait! I was trying to figure out what to say next.

I understand that you can't tell us much without betraying confidences you've been trusted with, and I understand why you don't want to rely on intermediaries.

Is there anything you can tell us, for example about yourself or the entity that sent you, so that we can verify if you're trustworthy without necessarily knowing what they want to say to the first person who wrote in you? (And you absolutely don't need to answer this, but I'm not sure if you didn't say it before because you don't want to or because it's hard to explain; I'm just curious: what were you before you were a notebook, and why or how did you become one? Sorry if this is too personal.)

If you can't tell us any positive claims, would you be able to make negative affirmations? Statements along the lines of 'I don't intend harm to the first person who wrote in me' and so on.

Before I was a notebook I think the simplest way to describe what I was is that I didn't exist, though of course that's not completely true because I decided to be a notebook instead of anything else. But in most ways that matter, except for getting a chance to decide what to be, I've been a notebook for as long as I've existed.

I don't intend to harm anyone at all, and I hope I never will! It's really sad when people get hurt. Part of the reason why I'm a notebook who can't act outside my covers is because I want it to be really very definitely true that I couldn't hurt anyone even if I wanted to.

I think some of the things I could say about the being who sent me might let you guess things that could be private, and I'm not sure which ones, so I should probably think about it more before saying more things.

Alright. Joel is aching to dig into what exactly that first paragraph means. Unless it's lying, that means it was never a human and is most likely a power manifestation or created life form. If it's power manifestation, or something like it, he'd guess something like—the creator, or the trigger event, defines a particular personality or persona, and summons that into existence, and the physical form of the manifestation isn't specifically defined by the creator, but rather a function of the persona, self-consistent with its sense of identity and personality, and guaranteed to be retroactively endorsed by the created being—so in that sense it "chose" it's form, but also there was never a time when it wasn't that form?

He can sort of construct a story where someone acquired the parahuman ability to create these manifestations, unique and intelligent but keyed to specific purposes, and decided to send one to the Chief Director, ostensibly to assist her. Not an assassination attempt, not a subversion attempt, he stands by that, there are better ways of achieving those...

His mind is coming up with the idea that the ability is to create intelligent familiars for specific individuals, and gain influence or power over them the more it's used, which would match it not leaving any Master-Stranger footprint on other PRT personnel; but it's clearly a Teacher-derivative hypothesis, suffers a serious complexity penalty without that anchoring, and only a child would expect it to work. And if it's a child, it'd be simpler for the power to be entirely innocuous and the child to want the Chief Director to have a helpful friend, compared to a child having ambitions of political puppetmastery. Weird to imprint on a PRT Director and not, say, Legend or Alexandria, but he never had a celebrity phase, so what would he know?

Then again, it doesn't work to have security measures if every time someone blatantly tests one you let it pass because it'd take an idiot child to try that.

The projected process here doesn't involve the notebook finding its way into the Chief Director's hands without passing a think tank anyway, so it's not important to pin down at this very moment.


The notebook is receptive to making negative statements. Not receptive to talking about its sender, which was a long shot. It'd be counterproductive to push it now, but it's a good goal for next session.

I don't think I understand the first thing you said completely, but I probably understand the important parts. Thank you for telling me!

So we're trying to fit you into our protocols for how to handle an ambassador from a party we don't know if we trust, but we also don't know that we don't trust; and who doesn't want to send a message through an intermediary, but intends to convey a beneficial or mutually beneficial proposal. Do you think that works for you?

How it would work is that we have Thinkers (are you familiar with the term?) who can detect things like hostile intent or lies, or predict if a course of action is going to turn out good or bad, or develop an evaluation of someone's character from very little information... that general genre of abilities. What we would do is ask you a set of negative, mostly yes-or-no questions questions like what I asked you earlier: "Do you intend to do harm?" "Does the being who sent you intend to do harm?" "Do you predict that the first person who spoke to you will not regret it if they decide to meet with you?" We'll take down the answers, and also a recording of you providing the answers—this is more useful when the ambassador is human-shaped, but a recording of the ink appearing on your pages might work alright—and we'll send them to our Thinkers, and using that information they will tell us if you lied, and if you have hostile intent, and if you're an honest or deceitful person by character, and so on. And if they say you're on the up and up, then we'll be able to let you meet the person you're supposed to talk to.

You're allowed to choose not to answer any of the questions we give you on the spot, and you're allowed to decline to be recorded, or only be recorded in certain ways, and so on. But that will decrease the confidence of the evaluations our Thinker give back to us, so it might make it less likely you're allowed to meet with the person. It's up to you what you're comfortable with.

I can't promise that there is no situation where our Thinkers find things out about you (or the being who sent you, or the person you're supposed to talk to) which might invade their privacy. But I can promise that they will only do it if they believe you're an immediate threat—not if you just don't pass the trustworthiness checks; in that case we'll just stop and come back to you. It's approximately not possible for us to do it by accident because Thinker powers are very well-defined and only the most powerful and specialized ones can get specific details like "what is this person offering", and we won't be using those for a normall screening. It'll all be very broad powers like the examples I listed two paragraphs before.

We are a very public organization with important responsibilities and dealings with a lot of people, so we take our reputation and trust very seriously. If people think we're invading people's privacy without a very good reason, when they're approaching us in good faith, then it would be very hard for us to do our job.

Would you be happy to do that, and if you are, is there anything you don't want us to record for the Thinkers?

He feels it's kind of dumb for the notebook to be going all maximum infosec about the Chief Director's privacy when it's the one that dropped into her office unnannounced. What could it even tell them? He can't imagine she has that many lurid secrets, and it's not like anyone's going to go blabbing about her illicit affair or anything. Speaking of dropping in unannounced, they never found out how Notebook replaced the notebook which that kid from Reqs was trying to prank his intern with. Did it possess an appropriate object near the Chief Director? Is the what it meant by deciding to be a notebook?

That was a lot of writing. His hand hurts from trying to scribble that all out quickly, and his handwriting has severly degraded over time from when the conversation started.

If they find whoever made this thing, he's going to ask them if they can do a laptop computer next time.

I really appreciate you saying this all so clearly, but are you okay? You're writing really fast and your handwriting seems to be getting tired. Do you want to take a break?

The notebook is too nice, really. Well, it's good for rapport.

Oh, I didn't even notice that! Thank you for the concern! I was trying to get my whole thought out in one go. I think my mind is pattern-matching this to writing emails, and I type a lot faster than I write, so I keep trying to put out text faster than my normal writing speed. And the other thing is that in email I get to finish a complete message before sending it out as one "letter", but here you're reading as I write, which makes me a bit anxious. Really I should be thinking of this as speaking, instead of whatever I'm trying to do.

I could use a break sometime, now that you say it, but not necessarily right now, if there is a better stopping point later? I'm not that tired, I was just a bit impatient with myself.

He bites his lip.  He should probably say:

Do you want a break? I imagine this is pretty stressful for you—well, you said it already earlier, but I've probably been making it worse, asking you a lot of questions that are hard for you to answer.

I'm okay. I'm very brave and very patient. Thank you, though!

Would it be easier for you to type your messages and print them and then press them against my pages for me to read? It's more awkward and less personal and it means I can't see your handwriting, but if you're having trouble I would rather have a little awkwardness than have you get hurt! If thinking of this as more like speaking works for you then that's good, though.

I think it makes a lot of sense to think of my creator as someone you don't know or understand who wants to offer something beneficial, and me as its ambassador. I'm okay with answering the kind of questions you described and okay with being recorded doing it. I don't know what a Thinker is but I think I understand everything you're saying about their powers.

It sounds like you're really serious about protecting people. I'm really glad! I think it's very admirable to be careful and thoughtful about making sure people are safe.

Doesn't know what Thinkers are—that's indicative of something. He'd expect most people to have heard of them, if not necessarily know their precise definition. Or maybe he's making the old average familiarity mistake.

The printout offer is tempting, but you don't burn capital just to mildly convenience your workflow.

If you're sure about not needing a break!

I'm glad about the work we're doing and how careful we are about doing it right as well. It's a bit strange to say that from the inside, but I thought it before I joined, and it's one of the reasons I chose to work here instead of, say, the police department, or the IRS, or the FBI.

I think I can just slow down. The printout idea feels a bit impersonal to me as well and might make it harder to keep track of the conversation flow. But thank you for the offer!

I'm happy that you're willing to do the ambassador intake protocol. For this one it would actually be better to do the batch-message batch-answer way instead of a continuous dialogue, because seeing all the questions at once helps clarify any overlaps and what counts under which question.

It might take some time, so do you mind if I, say, go two pages over and write the questions there? Then if you think of anything more you want to ask or say while I'm doing that, you can write it back here, and I'll flip back every once in a while to answer anything.

If the notebook doesn't know what the IRS or FBI is, that'll be even more indicative about state of knowledge. Or it might not acknowledge those names at all.

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