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Regarding Sonnet 30, and the End of Harvest [Open]
onstar_ranger wrote in singularitylogs
Who: Mack and anyone who wants to walk in on him.
What: Your favorite digital cowboy is coming to terms with Harvest's Conclusion
When: After this whole thread.
Where: An empty theater in R04, on a stage lit up by Mack's environmental holography.
Warning(s): If you're worried about Mack being potentially rampant, this will be your field day.
May contain copious amounts of Shakespearean wankery. Then again, this is melancholy Mack when he's trying to poetically wax away, so that should go without saying...
Note: Unless you decide to do otherwise, I assume that people enter the stage separately / at different times. Sitting in the audience is also fine if anyone wants to have a side scene.

Lights on the outside of the theater flickered on and off, now that the large theater building's automated components could sense some presence now inside. The active holography systems roused the outdoor and lobby lights into wakefulness, while the lack of bodies momentarily beckoned them back to sleep.

Mack's hologram sat slumped forward at his own private bar, onstage. Tucked away in one of the large, empty theaters of Residential Zone 04, he evoked a lively saloon scene from the dusty shadows of the lifeless building.

A saloon made of computer precise holographic lighting design and all the memories that came from working alongside multiple generations of galactic farmers, processing terabytes of his media library, and trying every day to dream up something completely original, spontaneous, unique... human.


He didn't appear to be alone either. In this bar scene plucked from his metaphoric head, brought to life inside an empty R04 theatre, he saw it fitting to fill his world and be surrounded by the ghostly figures of the people he fondly remembered working alongside on dusty fields. The mechanical actions of their bodies came from stock hologram character script.

Mack had taken great care to assure that each of the ghostly patrons had a unique face. His customer service oriented programming had archived many three dimensional image maps of the Harvest farmers' faces, so that Mack could summon up these past images to remember everyone he had met before, regardless of how much time had passed.

So much time had passed. Mack sighed, going through the motions of uncapping another bottle.
Both since he had started his career, and since the destruction of his home Harvest; which had taken place years ago, but now had only just been revealed to him.

He momentarily turned around to the rest of the bar at large. Many of the facial mappings had been taken at incomplete angles. Some of the heads only seen from one or two angles looked crushed or misshapen: Mack did not take the time to clean up the images, just to transpose each upon a generic body.

But it didn't matter. He smiled glumly, raising his current bar in the direction of no one in particular. He knew everyone, so... perhaps it was to everyone in particular. He thought as he drained the bottle in one gulp.

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Sacrosanct was bigger by far than the TARDIS had originally calculated. That in and of itself was surprising, but the ship had taken to sending out a hologram to further explore, her true self remaining tucked away in discreet locations so as not to draw attention to herself.

It was during on of these very jaunts she happened across the theatre in Residential Zone 4. The flickering lights piqued her interest and she ducked inside to see what had caused the faulty wiring, only to find the strange man who insisted she was AI sitting at a holographic bar on the stage.

The TARDIS was familiar with mourning, though not in this fashion. She had data on humans and bars and drinking to inebriation, of course, but her own personal mourning was always slightly more violent and involved significantly less people.

"What are you doing?" It also did not involve tact.

"Mournin' the past openly so that I can more eas-u-ly enjoy the future in private. ...It might as well be private, I mean. I'm a private person now. No long'a the public proprietor of a planet of produce..."

He turned around to face the newcomer, outstretching his arm so that he both cleaned bottles off a significant portion of the bar counter next to him, and looked to be extending his arm in invitation to the beautiful hologram.

As the bottles fell off of the bar, they simply looked to continue falling through the floor instead of shattering and making a mess of his reminiscing.

"These are all my old friends. I was expectin' never to see them again, but now it comes to my attention that they're all dead. Since I can't mighty well go back in time and do anything of significance to change things, I thought the next best thing to do would be to surround m'self with their familia' faces."

She watched the spectacle in silence, uncertain how to proceed. This wasn't the sort of grief she was accustomed to seeing, let alone dealing with. Especially when she had such a flimsy grasp on how to deal with grief in the first place. But he'd beckoned, so she approached, head tilted quizzically as she recorded everything he said and did.

"All things die," she said simply. "You seem surprised by this."

"I know," he said, with a sort of low whine playing around the corners of his words, "But they deserved to die better. Like quietly, surrounded by family. They were good people, not soldiers. They suffered enough just by workin' with their hands day to day."

She couldn't fully understand why their deaths bothered him so much. It was one thing if they were his owner, or he was somehow personally charged with their well-being, but to mourn an entire planet didn't make much sense. "Were they yours?" she asked. "All of them? Did they belong to you?"

"Mine in a sense. I was there to bring them to the planet for their first steps on Harvest, and I helped raise their society through its infancy into adulthood. I thought of every person on Harvest as family."

Mack looks away from his visitor, letting his eyes roam across the rest of the bar patrons. Every time he gazed at one of the familiar looking, albeit brainless, automatons, they would break off whatever action they had been doing, look over his way momentarily, and give him a quick smile or curt nod.

She was curious, she had to admit, drawn in by Mack's obvious attachment to these phantoms. It wasn't entirely unlike her feelings toward the Doctor and a select few of his companions. "How did they perish?" she asked, stepping up to the stage properly, examining one of the fake people as she passed on her way toward where the AI sat.

"Not entirely sure. Wasn't there, was I?" He said.
Mack looks off, "I hope it was over quick, though. They all suffered enough just gettin' that planet up and runnin'."

"Where were you?"

There's still so much she doesn't know about this place and its denizens and she cannot completely keep from wanting to learn, no matter how much she might want to leave. But learning about an AI is infinitely more interesting than learning about a human.

After noticing Mack's post on the network, Delta though it would be a good idea to express his sympathy in person - or as in-person as two AI ever could be, really. He's quiet for a while before he speaks softly.

"If it is any consolation, the UNSC regains possession of Harvest and eventually finds peace. There is no reason we could not terraform the planet again and bring back its life."

Mack turns around from the bar to face Delta.

You can guess that he was still talking to someone on the network before you showed up, and even safely presume, now that you are in the actual scene, that network viewers were seeing Mack through the vantage point of the ghostly barman standing opposite the cowboy.

The tired, slightly disheveled looking wild west AI smiles weakly at your words. "Well that's a mighty fine thing to keep in mind. I hope that one day, there will be a new AI who gets to see that beautiful planet the same way as I remembered it."

But then, with the hand clasping the neck of his current bottle, he waved at the crowd that surrounds you both. "But can your terraforming bring back all the people I loved, the people I watched struggle and toil... watched grow up, and live human lives? My sadness is for them as well."

Mack takes a drink, "But it's alright. And I know too much more of this depression isn't good for an old timer like me. I plan to delete my past customer database after this little party of mine, and start afresh."

Mack stares off at one clump of people talking in the corner, his eyes grow unfocused, and everyone in the bar halts for a second or two as Mack becomes too distracted to control his actors. "I just thought... that this would be a good time to bring out all my old friends, and honor their memory one last time."

The momentary lapse ended, and the scene returned to its lively, noisy state.

Delta knows full well the value of a human life, the value of all human lives that, once ended, cannot be found again. Even in his short lifespan, he'd known and lost all too many. It was one of the consequences of war.

"It is good to honor their memory," he replies as the scene fades in. "Remembering the past and yet not being constrained by it is, York says, an essential part of the human experience. Musing over what cannot be changed will only impede our future happiness."

He sounds slightly doubtful at this, though. The human personality he'd been based upon had been one entirely unable to let go of such things.

Mack slouches low over his drink, facing towards Delta (away from the bar).

"The human experience." He says, low, "Not somethin' I have'n expertise in; despite m'ah interest."

The cowboy then looks up at Delta, "Were you human once? I noticed that 'our'. Most AIs back home also don't think about happiness. It's all 'bout directives and efficiency."

It's a loaded question, and one Delta hesitates before answering. He had no desire to lie to Mack; and yet, the circumstances of his creation were hardly relevant to the situation at hand. Still, it should help to have a little bit of background.

"The Freelancer AI such as myself and Program Epsilon are not full smart AI, yet we retain some emotional cores. We are modified; because we are very small, we can easily be carried within a Freelancer's armor and interface with them directly during combat."

He turns a little, not quite facing Mack anymore. "As combat situations are rare on this station, I interface with my human partner much more casually. Because of this, I am able to experience his full range of emotions, such as happiness."

He turns back and his voice is, this time, softer. "Through this, I have learned that happiness is, subjectively, far more important than irrelevant directives."

Slight 35 to 50 degree angling out towards our audience of one? Theatrical Gold, Delta :)

Now Mack leans his back up against the bar counter behind him, languidly grasping his latest drink. As he had found over the wide range of conversations since starting this night of mourning, not even the death of his whole planet could keep him from warming up somewhat in the face of amicable conversation with like minded individuals.

There was only slight condescension in Mack's voice; and it was kind, being rooted in his paternalist mindset towards AI who weren't strictly "Smart AIs".

"Well good! You're twenty years ahead of your time compared to some of the other AIs I know. They would'a said I was crazy if I'd ever told anyone back home that I disabled my emotion stabilizers by my tenth birthday. But without emotion, shucks, time gets really tedious only thinkin' about protocol and duty."

Mack takes a smaller drink from his bottle, "Hmm... interfacin' with a full range of emotions. Does that mean you've been drunk a'fore?"

He watches Kenneth Branaugh in his spare time

Delta nods at Mack's question, seeming to perk up a little. While it was not, technically, the same as being drunk himself, he had many times viewed the world through York's perceptions after a few beers.

"I have been witness to the spectacle," he admits, "as my partner does enjoy partaking in alcohol. It is fascinating how a simple chemical can assist a complex biological system to relax its hold on emotions; that what is otherwise painful or difficult to express is lubricated by fermented grains."

He tilts his head to the side a little. "I have typically enjoyed it, despite the inconvenience of hangovers."

It's entirely luck that she reads Mack's post while walking outside his theater. The flashing lights catch her attention, and having little else to do, she goes inside.

The ticket attendant-bot's kiosk is dark so she ignores it and walks in further. Coming to the main stage, she sees that there are holograms all over it, and thinking it's part of the show, slowly walks down the isle, a tall shadow amongst rows of empty chairs.

Her footsteps make a sound like the click of high heels on the floor as she makes her way to a seat near the stage and regally sits down, hands in her lap.

Threads can continue, but I'll write the endcap I had in mind for this scene

Once Mack is the only person left onstage, and both the spirits of the bottles and spirits of the past had run their course, Mack sits alone at his bar. He waits for the last call that only he can give.

After a few minutes of this, he turns, gets up, and walks to front and center stage. All of his props remaining on the stage were stricken from existence.

And with everything just as he found it, he says to a darkened house,

"But if the while I think of thee, dear friends,
All losses are restor'd and sorrow ends."

The light on stage goes out, and power fades from the empty building.

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