Original Content Transcripts 2: Chapter 11

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Previous:https://arkmuse.org/threads/transcripts-2-chapter-10.449/

Edited by Steve32 and B3CRE8TVE

Acting Executive Director Jess poured over the most recent recordings of Subject Jasmine that she could. Using both the director’s terminal and her own dataslate, she scoured through the material to find something, anything to give her an edge over the alien in their custody.
But so far, the only things that could be used as leverage would only cause the Subject to explode in a bomb of Freq-powered emotion, or, in the worst case, receiving powerful, debilitating scorn from both the Subject and the Lieutenant Commander.

A lot of the recordings of the Freq-bomb had been corrupted, the blast strong enough to override the camera’s own industrial frequencies and every image on the servers flickered and bled into one another. Yet more damage the creature had caused and wouldn’t be fiscally responsible for.
Jess sighed in frustration.
It must have been nice to have everything line up neatly for the Subject. To have a naturally strong presence and to appropriately manipulate those she needed to so insidiously, and without any training at all. Cutting down on those who were unwittingly in her way.

The dataslate in her hand flickered brightly, as the image began to return to focus. The Subject and the suited Dr. Xant held each other in an embrace, before the subject, light on her feet, twirled and swayed across the office floor.
Jess’s claws cracked the dataslate’s surface from the pressure of holding it so tightly, small puncture marks left in the glass as she put down the device. Sour bile tickled the back of her throat.
No wonder Dr. Xant was so, enamoured with the subject, she was practically showering him with intimacy! At least she and Marsen had the decency to keep it during their rest hours!
No, she and Duuarn. He wasn’t Marsen anymore...
She licked her teeth and clicked her tongue, the Subject was probably drenched in pheromones too, something she would have to watch out for when they inevitably began their cultural exchange interviews.
The cameras followed the Subject as her graceful twirling came to a sudden stop, stumbling and falling to her knees before horking up, in a painful manner, the entire contents of her digestive system.
Jess took mild pleasure in watching the Subject fall prone to self-inflicted intoxication. She added it to the list of points for discussion on her project dataslate, nesting it between societal expectations and a further explanation of mating rituals.

Attention: Schedule Change Update.

Jess turned to the Executive directors terminal as the new schedule was broadcast for everyone to see. Looking over the schedule Isk had sent and noticed the glaring detail that Subject Jasmine’s physical examination was currently in progress.
Her claws tapped the desk as her brain rationalised. She would be able to observe the subject and check on Duuarn’s progress (as well as the other incapacitated staff). Jess was, after all, the Acting Executive Director if only for a few more quarters.
She tapped on the terminal link to Isk’s office, seeing the insectoid’s right side as he worked on other assignments. He had put her on a periphery screen, she didn't even warrant a main monitor.

Jess: OM Isk, why was I not informed of the schedule change? Doesn't the executive director have to approve such things?

Isk: (<frustrated>) The change was at CMO Krydon’s and DR Xant’s request and the client Lieutenant’s insistence. I figured you would prefer not to interact with the Lieutenant after the last encounter.

Jess: I.. no, I mean… aren't you worried about outsiders dictating Esaander protocol?

Isk: (<exasperated>)The sooner the Lieutenant takes the Rajavan anomaly off our station the better. I’ve prioritised their testing in the scheduling, may I go back to my work now?

Isk abruptly terminated the call, leaving Jess sitting there dumbfounded. The position of power had her colleagues treating her worse than when she was just a Head of Department. She couldn't let them see how much it had gotten to her, she would show them she was perfectly capable of being an executive director.

-*-

There was quite the crowd in the medical wing. The Lieutenant and his enormous bodyguard stood front and centre, staring impatiently at the observation room. Krydon and Xant were at the controls modifying conditions.
Jess noticed that both Nu and Pa stood at the back, the presence of the Lieutenant may have been too much for them. Jess had to admit he was an intimidating figure, the chill to his presence made her blood run cold.
His disapproval still rang in her brain.

Of all the people in the room, it was Xant who greeted her first. “Acting Director,” he nodded amicably “Have you come to observe the proceedings?”
There was a brief staring contest as Jess wondered what the doctor was doing out of quarantine, but then if the Lieutenant had ordered it, it was best she let it slide rather than endure another pulse of his wrath.

“Of course,” Jess answered quietly; moving to get a better position to see, choosing to stand behind Xant and just out of the Lieutenant’s reach. “Lieutenant Commander” she bowed her head deeply. Sir Nako barely made an acknowledgement, far more concerned with the observation room.

“Acting Director,” he replied indifferently, folding both pairs of arms under his bright blue cloak.
Jess returned upright and instead turned her attention to the observation room. Inside stood Subject Jasmine and her three User minions, stretching her limbs in awkward positions.

“We are just preparing for the first of the physical examinations,” Xant said, bringing Jess up to speed. “Jasmine requires a short warm up of her muscles beforehand, otherwise she could over extend herself.”

“Oh,” came the unexpected reply. “So, the Subject’s species is not continuously combat ready?”
Xant’s ears drooped slightly. “No, Dr. Jess, Jasmine is a citizen member of her species.”

“Of course,” Jess backpedaled, nervously. “Please continue!”

“Very well,”

Xant pressed the comms button and called to the alien in observation.
“Are you ready to begin Jasmine?”
The alien made a strange fist gesture with her thumb sticking up, wiggling it from side to side at the wrist. “Ready when you are!”
Jess pulled out her dataslate from her coat and mumbled under her breath.
“Subject uses physical indications for affirmative answers…”
Jasmine’s vitals were broadcast to the medical equipment via a recorder-band, while her translator was tuned to give a live feed of her condition like the rest of the staff, the recorder kept a file on the server for research purposes.
“Alright Jasmine, we will be starting with your physical limits. I will need you to give us your top speed and to maintain that speed for as long as possible.”

“Right, do you want me to run in circles? Does it matter if I go clockwise or anticlockwise?”

“Just run in a straight line if you please,”

“But the rooms only like, [200m] long I’m going to run into a wall if I just go straight,”

Xant wiggled his ears as he manipulated the controls. “The floor will measure your movements and will keep up accordingly.”
Jasmine could feel a rumbling beneath her feet; her four legged companions immediately began barking suspiciously at the white tiled floor. She took a few steps and was amazed when the entire thing moved like a conveyor-belt beneath her.

“Holy crap!” she laughed testing the floating floor with one or two leaps and side steps.

“Jasmine,” Xants voice echoed over the speakers “the test if you please,”

“Yeah, yeah!” she clapped her hands getting the dogs attention “Pack! Follow me!”
Xant had seen Jasmine run once before under much more urgent circumstances, but being able to see it under controlled conditions allowed him to appreciate the fluidity and balance, considering she had no tail for balance. The dogs ran alongside her keeping pace, but they were hardly at their limit.

“[10kmph]” Krydon muttered under his breath “Not especially impressive, but the sustainability is admirable.”

Jasmines vitals began to surge, natural adrenaline rushing through her veins and invigorating her muscles. Her speed slowed, but persevered resting at a respectable pace.

“Hmm, very interesting” Kyrdon muttered under his breath. He tapped the microphone. “That’s enough Subject Jasmine, we can move on to the next test now,”

“You sure?!” came the enthusiastic reply “it’s been a while since I could stretch my legs! I could run all day!”

“The computer has analysed your physiology and calculated its limits,” Xant’s voice echoed in the chamber, forever the interpreter. “Your body can keep this pace for [4 hours]”

“Whoa! I really could run all day!, what about them then?” she pointed to the now stirred up canines.

“They were calculated at [15kmph for 8 hours]-”

“The next test will be strength,” Krydon interrupted, and the floor opened up. Just like in the security training room, bar weights of differing sizes emerged from vertical racks from the moving floor. “See which ones you can carry, and we will compare it to your previous data.”
Jasmine jumped out of the way,

“Way to give me a warning!” She snapped but still watched as the alien hydraulics continued to rise.
Once they had come to a complete stop, Jasmine examined the weights, lifting the smaller ones to get a feel before moving onto the larger ones. “Generally,” she called out to her observers “a human shouldn't try to carry or lift more than a quarter of their own body weight, especially if they haven't trained for it.” she reached and picked up a hefty weight for her size. “(that's about [15kg])”
There was more muttering on the other side of the screen.

“While her scores so far are above average for citizen units, they’re hardly comparable to regular Ranger units.” Krydon explained to Nako.

“That is perfectly fine,” Nako remarked, “her true talents do not lie in physical confrontation.”

Jasmine lifted the weight up to her chest and walking in circles around the rack, waiting for further instructions.

“That is enough Jasmine,” Xant spoke rather hastily. “We will be moving onto the next test.”

“I didn't authorise the completion of this one,” Krydon sneered.

“Jasmine has already informed us of her limits,” the other doctor replied, “[one quarter] of her total body weight, shall we move on?”

“Very well,” the old surgeon grumbled. “Return the weight to the rack and we will move onto reflexes.”

Jasmine was quick to follow instructions, waiting for the next marvel to appear from the floor.
To her surprise, the machine that appeared looked suspiciously like a turret.

“Uhhh, Xant? Just what exactly are you going to be shooting me with?”

“A [saline] solution, it is perfectly non-toxic and soluble,”

“Right...”

“The cannon will track your movements, avoid the [saline] gel to the best of your ability,”

“Gel?-” The small cannon came to life, black-eyed camera zoning in on her and the dogs, a wet gurgling sound belched out of its barrel as a light blue goop was pelted towards her. “Shit!” the human exclaimed as she dived out of the way, barely dodged the missile.
Kimiko was no so lucky.
It stuck to the fur of her tail, a short unexpected yelp soon gave way to a violent growl. The Akita charging straight for the cannon, jaws open and ready to bite.

“Kimiko!(<panic/worry>)” Jasmine cried out to the dog but the canine had already locked onto her target.

Spades barked angrily but did not engage as per his training, poor Sieglinde hid behind Jasmine, whimpering at the attacking contraption.
The machine fired more gel in quick succession but Kimiko powered through and with lightning speed clamped down on the machines barrel.
Chomp!
The alien tech crumpled in her jaw snapping like brittle toffee. Oozing clear saline and pale blue hydraulic liquid. It gurgled and whined before retreating into the safety of the floor.
Kimiko shook her head and coughed up the nasty tasting fluid.

“I suppose that concludes the test,” Krydon sighed irritated.

“Did you get enough data?” Jasmine asked.

“Enough to calculate the averages needed for the report.” Xant answered.

Jess couldn't help but notice how smoothly the test had been going under Dr. Xant’s casual style of leadership. Xant could command respect even before his upgrade/expansion in personality.
From the Civnet records, she and Xant shared the same credit score build, what made him any different from her? She peered in the observation window and noticed something peculiar.
Jasmine had not called her ‘dogs’ back into rank, infact, she was standing back rather defensively. Almost fearful.
Jess whispered into her dataslate as Xant and Krydon readied the next test.

“Jasmine, we will now be testing your pain receptors.”

The human grimaced. “I don't mind performing the test but I would prefer the dogs not go through with it”

“The test is needed for a citizenship appraisal,” Xant explained “but as they are User intelligences under your influence, I can grant you final say in how long the test lasts.”

Jasmine looked at her pups and reluctantly agreed.
Out from the floor popped a number of monitor bands, painted an industrial grey.
“The bands will pierce your skin and attach to your nervous system, we will increase the level of pain until you and the dogs reach a comfortable limit.”
Jasmine stared at the bracelets, now even more reluctant to put them on.
She clipped the band on her wrist and then proceeded to place one on Spades and Sieglinde while trying to figure out how she was going to get them to understand what was going to happen to them.
Kimiko growled when Jasmine approached, the human hesitated, before actively faltering.
Jasmine lowered herself and kept her distance just as she had done with the terrified Sieglinde only a week ago. Slowly, she had managed to coax the angered creature into allowing the armband to be placed around its foot.

“Are you ready to take the test?” Krydon asked

“Not yet, I need to explain what’s going to happen.”

“Why?” Krydon shrugged “The Users won’t understand the importance of the test anyway. It is better we get results quickly, they should know that we are only acting in their best interests-”

“How about you wait five damn minutes and let me explain to my poor dogs why they have to be tortured for no discernible reason, hmmm?!” Jasmine snapped, hands on her hips, the ferocious defender of her dogs personal rights.
Nako Chuckled.

“That's the same behaviour-” Jess muttered under her breath

“Yes it is,” Xant confirmed catching wind of Jess's notes, “‘Maternal instinct’, I believe you said, extended empathy.”

“Dr. Xant, you, remembered my diagnosis?”

“Of course,” Xant acknowledged, “You are the expert on these matters, I am merely an observer, I have no reason to doubt your judgment.”
Jess’s tail stood up pleasantly, she decided she liked this ‘improved’ Xant.
Jasmine knelt down and chose her words very carefully.

“Okay, so these collars are going to hurt a little bit, but you need to trust me, as soon as the pain becomes too much I will stop it, do you understand?”

Three sets of ears drooped.
“Whine whine (Namegiver hurt?)” Sigi whimpered
Jasmine raised her wrist as she took the dogs head in both her hands to comfort her companion.

“No no no! See? I have the same band and I will hurt too. It will be just like going to the veterinarians to get your needles, it will hurt a little but it's to make us better…”

“Bark (vet!)” spades growled and the dogs looked away from Jasmine, breaking her heart.

“I’m sorry,” she spoke, stroking Sigi’s ears “I will make it up to you all I swear.”

“Are you ready Jasmine?”

“No, but you can start the test”
The pain started slowly, like being bitten by an ant, sharp and short.

“Oof that stings” she muttered, the dogs were already whimpering and nipping their bands. Scratching and biting to get them off, the pain began to burn.
Jasmine grabbed her wrist. “Okay starting to really hurt now-”

The burn turned white hot, searing her skin. All the dogs yelped and and whimpered in frantic pain.

“Turn the dogs’ bands off!-” Jasmine roared and was all she could manage before the sensation of her flesh melting off her breaking bones ripped through her arm.
She screamed loudly, trying desperately to tear the thing off her own arm.

“Jasmine are you-”

“STOP!!” she screamed unable to express another thought. “STOP STOP STOP STOP STOP!!”

Xant terminated the bands signal and looked puzzlingly between Jasmine and the data. She had only managed to reach number [4] on the available scale of [12] but the nerves were showing an intensity of [14].
Humans could somehow feel pain more easily yet withstand higher thresholds.
Xant’s mind wandered back to the halls of medical, where captain Rynard had taken the step to remove her from effective range. She had broken her arm; that injury, while debilitating should not have caused her protective suit to empty an entire supply of [painkillers/depressors] into her nervous system. Seeing the data now Xant knew it was not a suit malfunction.
He had taken it for granted that his own nervous system was designed for efficiency and effectivity. The human had at least a hundred, if not a thousand fold of nerves in her body, each one spamming signals to her brain at any one time.
To feel at such an intensity should have been madding.
Jasmine stood shaking while holding her wrist, fingers twitching, breaths drew ragged from her chest, an uncontrolled drop of spit rolled down her chin.
Xant decided it was time to reverse the signals of the band. Did the specimens of Earth feel pleasure as intensely as they did pain? It was company protocol that he be as thorough in investigations as possible.
Jasmine rubbed her wrist at its base. The sudden, intense pain was gone almost as quickly as it had come, the memory remained however and her nerves were not so quick to forget.

“Jasmine are you ready to continue?” Xants concerned voice spoke through the speaker.

‘Give me a minute!” she snapped, the pain had been a little bit more than the ‘uncomfortable’ he had promised.

“The next section involves reversing the parameters of the test, it may alleviate the symptoms of the previous ordeal.”
Jasmine huffed

“Fine, but when I say stop the first time, I mean it”

“She sounds quite upset,” Nako muttered from his spectators spot.

“It was not our intention to upset her, Your Honour,” Xant added

“Well I suggest you listen to the maiden to avoid upsetting me,” the Lieutenant Commander replied, not quite pointed enough for it to be an actual threat.
Delicate warmth radiated from the band as Jasmine wondered what exactly the ‘reverse of pain’ ment to the aliens. Was it that warm cozy sensation comparable to a hug?
The releaving lightness of completing a strenuous task?
Or was it simply the sensuous rush of intimate, powerful nerves?
Apparently, it was all of the above and then some.
What caught her completely by surprise was the melting richness that filled her mouth. She struggled to define the phantom meal while the warmth grew to embrace her entire being.
Pleasant shivers ran down her spine while her toes began to wiggle. She closed her eyes and sighed, holding herself, the warmth turn to heat and began to pool in the tips of her fingers, lips, ears and certain other… places.
Jasmine bit her lip.

She had a very important decision to make and not a whole lot of time to make it.
On the one hand it had been a VERY long time since she had even thought about it, perhaps a rush and release was what she needed. It would certainly help to relieve the untold amounts of stress that had built up and taken a large toll on her physical and mental state.
On the other hand she was in the middle of the observation deck in front of alien doctors and now communicative dogs. Not exactly the most comfortable or discreet place to turn into a pleasantly quivering puddle.

“Stop!” she called before the heat became too irresistible.

She decided that some aspects of humanity could be kept secret for now.
The doctors were much more responsive this time around and she felt the heat cut off immediately.

“Hmmm” Jess noted into her dataslate “she didn't last nearly as long on this test.”

“It is still a very intense sensation to her,” Xant concurred over his coworkers’ thoughts. What would be a minor inconvenience to us is debilitating to the human experience.”

“That could be the reason for her over familiarity with the user specimens-”

“Dogs”

“Yes, dogs. If her empathy is indeed overreaching as you say then her perception of pain would lead her to perceive that what hurts her would hurt others, and drive her to fiercely protect others from that pain.”

“If you are going to be putting that in your report I would like a copy to listen to; when you are not busy of course.” Xant nodded his head politely.
Jess stared back at Xant caught once again in a dilemma. Why did the dangerous, infectious, temperamental subject have to be so fascinating??

“Do you have everything you need?” Jasmine asked through the glass.

“For now, Jasmine you may exit the observation room.-”

“Wait!” Jess interrupted “I need to vacate the vicinity before you release the subject!”

“‘Vacate the vicinity’?” Nako questioned, “If you leave, then who will give us the guided tour of the facility?” Nako’s gaze freezing the Acting Director to the spot.

“Guided tour?...” Jess quivered.

“Yes,” he said expectantly.
Jess shivered with fear, tail stuck in the air as the observation rooms doors opened and she was exposed to the terrifying alien.
A light, wonderful warmth tickled Jess’s frozen scales, running from the tip of her nose to the claws of her toes, the fear instilled in her by the Lieutenant melted away in the presence of Jasmine.
The human herself only gave Jess a curtly nod of acknowledgement before approaching the other doctors.
Jasmine's dismissal of her presence was almost painful. Her scales tingled and her voice urged her to speak up to the human, if only to have that warmth focused on her for a moment.

“...and what about the doctor? Can I see him?”

“Dr. Duuarn’s condition is improving slowly, he will be able to take visitors soon.”

“Please let me know when I can, I would like to apologise for Freq blasting him.” Jasmine said quietly.

“You want to apologise?!” Jess blurted.
Everyone in the room stopped to stare at her outburst.

“Yes,” Jasmine answered “I tried to tell you before but you refused to listen, I didn't mean to hurt him, just shout at him.”

“Admitting one's actions were at fault is not a taboo subject in human culture,” Xant explained to the open jawed Jess “because-”

“Because without the translator capabilities and lack of Freq perception they have a higher rate of misunderstanding??!!” she interjected.

“As fascinating as this is,” Nako replied with diplomatic sarcasm. “my legs are getting stiff. Miss Howe, the Acting Director has volunteered a guided tour of the Esaander Facility, would you care to accompany me?”

“Sure, I guess,” the human shrugged.

“Then, without further delay, would you take the lead, Acting Director?”

“I, uh- yes of course!” Jess spun on her heel-claw whilst tapping and muttering furiously into her dataslate. She had so much to document! So many things to research and compare with other relative behaviours. The last time Jess had been so excited to be productive was-
When she was out of the learning centre. Writing her theories for submissions to Corporation admissions. Had it truly been so long since she was this happy with her productivity?
Or was this all the Frequency doing? A false positive in her system? Destroying her cognitive dissension between ‘pleasant and unpleasant until she could only feel ‘happy’ around the human?
Well, if she was going to become contaminated, at least she would collect as much data as she could before falling completely under the alien’s influence.

Next:https://arkmuse.org/threads/transcripts-2-chapter-12.460/
 
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