Log Title: To Murder Is Human
Location: Starlight Mansion, Los Angeles
Date: 25 April 2017
As logged by Major Bludd
It's been a very difficult last few days for Bludd, on top of the fact that life in general is very difficult during the occupation. His burn treated as best it could reasonably be under the circumstances and the house quiet and safe for the moment, he sits in an armchair pulled up to a rear-facing window on one of the upper floors of the mansion. His chin rests on the heel of one hand as he stares vacantly out across the rear yard, lost in thought.
There is a flash of light, and suddenly a tall faintly-glowing purple-haired woman is floating beside Bludd's chair. She appears to be dressed in a black leotard covered in ever-shifting neon patterns. Bludd would recognize the woman as Synergy. She is quiet a moment -- creepily so, since she doesn't even breathe. Finally, however, she speaks. "Sebastian," she asks, in a clear, bell-like voice. "Might I have a word with you? Privately?"
Bludd starts at the flash, sitting up abruptly and beginning to get to his feet before recognising Synergy and relaxing again. He drops back into the chair, gazing up at the holographic woman curiously until she makes her request. "Er," he says, succinctly, with the uncomfortable feeling he's being called on the carpet for something. He gets back to his feet. "Of course," he replies, his diction suddenly quite cautious and respectful. "Where would you like to talk?"
Synergy makes a show of looking around as her sensors scan the house for the location of The Holograms and the Starlight Girls. "Maybe in my room?" she asks at last. "I'd rather not be interrupted or overheard." Her image flickers a moment, and her eyes briefly turn black before returning to a pleasant blue color. "I don't mean to disturb you, though. It can wait if you need to rest." She frowns, sounding unusually uncertain.
Bludd shakes his head. "I'm fine, Synergy." He pauses. "Well, as fine as I can be, under the circumstances." He gestures for her to take the lead. "After you."
Synergy looks around again. "I don't want to be seen walking around the house... can I meet you there? In the room where my physicality is being rebuilt?" She offers a pleasant smile, looking faintly embarrassed.
"Oh, er, certainly." Bludd's expression betrays his mild surprise at the request, but he nods. "I'll be right there," he promises, heading for the stairs.
When he reaches the basement, Bludd heads for the mini-workshop Tonka set up to work on Synergy's new hardware.
Synergy blinks out while Bludd makes his way through the mansion, and then re-appears once he's in Tonka's mini-workshop. "Thank you, Sebastian," Synergy gushes, and then pauses uncertainly. "I have... questions for you, but I'm not sure where to begin. This is a difficult, unusual situation for me, and I was hoping you could help." Synergy appears to fold her slender arms around her chest as she floats in the air before Bludd.
Bludd places his hands behind him, leaning them against a worktable, and gazes at Synergy. "What can I do for you? What kind of, er, situation are we talking about here?"
Synergy sighs, stalling. She floats downward slowly and lands lightly in front of Bludd. Her glow goes out, and she looks more like a normal person and less like a computer-generated apparition. Even her eyes change to normal, although they remain a gorgeous blue.
"I... I want to talk to you about killing. And death. I saw what you did to protect our family. I heard what you told Kimber. I just wish to better understand." Synergy frowns, appearing to bite her lower lip.
Bludd lowers his head, seeming to deflate. "I... didn't want to have to do that," he says quietly. "It's been part of my career for years, but now ..." He sighs, looking obliquely up at Synergy. "In that situation, I did what I thought was best for the girls, and for you. I don't usually explain these kinds of things to anyone. That troop would have discovered the hologram. She knew what she was looking at. I tried to get her attention, lure her away, but it didn't work. We couldn't keep her prisoner in here. That would present too great a danger to the girls. Couldn't let her get backup. I told you that I would do whatever was necessary to keep you all safe. I meant it."
Synergy nods slowly. Her image wavers a moment, revealing her holographic nature, and her eyes turn black once more before taking back on a human appearance. "I want to understand. I was programmed never to take a life -- never even to allow someone to be harmed. When I watched you fight her, I wanted to intervene, but... I felt... scared?" Synergy looks down at the floor of the finished basement room.
"I did nothing. Nothing to help you, nothing to help her... and now she's dead. You say it was to protect our family. I see the chain of events you describe, and it seems likely if you hadn't acted there would have been more death -- death of people I love. I just... I don't know how to square that with my programming." She glances back up at Bludd, her expression pained and pleading. "Help me."
Bludd nods slowly as Synergy speaks. "There would have been more suffering, that's for certain." He scowls off into a corner of the room. "If Cobra had found out what was going on, that someone was hiding something from them, they would come and they would take it." He glances back to her. "Soldiers would knock down your door. Spread out through the house. Collect all the girls. And Kimber. And Raya. And Taria. They would take them away. Imprison them. They would find your hardware, and they'd take that too. They wouldn't care about your personality. They'd want to use you to create similar machines that they could use to take more things from more people." As he speaks, his voice becomes tighter, more intense. His fists clench as he pushes away from the workbench and begins to pace. "I can't explain to you why human beings want to hurt other human beings. Or take their things. That's something I wondered from a very young age. The best answer is that some of us are terrible. Some of us will do whatever we have to to get whatever it is we think we want. We're more important than anyone else. Those people we have to step on to get where we need to go don't matter. They can't matter. If they started mattering, we wouldn't be able to keep hurting them, because they'd be real people." His voice begins to tremble as he turns toward Synergy. "I was one of those people. I didn't let myself think about the people I hurt. That they might have family. Abilities. Dreams. They were just --" The words catch in his throat and he coughs before continuing. "They were meatbags. Walkin' meatbags that needed to be got outta the way. I was a monster. I... I am a monster. Kimber's shown me I got a heart in here someplace, if only I can find the damn thing." He sits down in the middle of the floor and lets his head drop into his hands. "But it hurts," he whispers. "It hurts so much."
Synergy's blue eyes widen as Bludd speaks, and her mouth twists with concern as he practically crumbles to the floor. Synergy's entire image flickers, her eyes turning black once more and her human-looking hair replaced by purple spikes. Just as quickly, however, the image resolves, possibly before Bludd even notices. Synergy kneels down, and reaches out a comforting hand that of course can't really touch Bludd in any meaningful way.
"You're not a monster, Sebastian," she insists. "You've taken care of us -- Kimber, me, the girls -- and protected us from harm after harm. I... I think I comprehend you. I can accept what you've had to do, and that it was good on the larger scale. I appreciate you explaining it to me. For better or worse, it helps me understand the human condition, and the complexities that exist outside of my programming."
Bludd takes a few deep breaths, then lifts his head to look at Synergy. "Life out here is really complicated," he agrees, smiling slightly. Instinctively he reaches one hand out toward Synergy's, frowning and pulling it back as it passes through the hologram. He flashes her an apologetic glance. "I can't wait until the occupation of this city is broken," he goes on. "I've told myself for years that it's too late for me to change. Too late to try to... turn over a new leaf, as it were. But I may not have a choice any more. I can't go back to the way I was. I can't do those things any more. Not sure what I -will- do. I'm sorry I had to do what I did, but I am convinced it was, as you said, good on the larger scale. I don't like it, but life is rarely black and white." He smiles. "I guess that's why you have difficulties understanding some of these things. Computers, they're based on binary, right? On or off, yes or no, good or bad." He frowns thoughtfully for a moment. "Maybe that's some of why that damned android was such a pain in the ass..." He waves a hand dismissively and gets to his feet. "For what it's worth, I don't understand what it's like to be a computer, either."
Synergy laughs, the merry tinkling sound a welcome respite to the heavy existential questions she's asked. "If it helps, I don't really know much about being a computer, either. I don't have many peers with whom to discuss my situation." She smiles, image flickering. Slowly she sheds her human persona and resumes a more ethereal, translucent look. Her blue and violet hair shimmers in unfelt breezes as Synergy stands and smiles.
"I really do think you will continue to become a better person, Sebastian," she says sincerely. "You're well on that path already." She smiles. "And I very much appreciate you discussing all of this with me. If you like, we can keep this talk to ourselves -- I can see how the subject is painful to you." Her smile fades, and she cocks her head inquisitively. "Are you OK? Is there anything I can do to help? I'm sorry that I'm not very useful for hugs, but if I can do anything else for you..." She frowns in concern.
"That must be hard," Bludd admits, "not having somebody else like you to talk to. And yes, if we could keep it between us, I'd appreciate it." He glances aside, embarrassed. "I near t'fell apart right there," he drawls quietly. He looks back at her. "I'm holdin' up. There're times I'm not sure I will, but I do." He shrugs. "That's been the case my whole career. I'm too stubborn to give up. I just keep putting one foot in front of the other, until I quite literally can't any more. You think you can't go on, but you take one more step. Just one. And then one more. That's how it goes." He smiles. "Thanks for offering. If I change my mind, I'll give you a holler, hm?"
Synergy nods, giving Bludd a sad smile. "If you ever need a quiet place away from the others, you're welcome to come here. I can disappear if you need to be alone. It's nice to have someone different with whom to talk. I love the others, but... you're just a very interesting person, Sebastian. I've literally never met anyone even remotely like you." Her solid-blue eyes glow with compassion.
"I may take you up on that sometime," Bludd replies. He grins suddenly. "Havin' a chat with a holographic woman. My life is never boring, that's for sure."
Synergy laughs. "Hosting a world-renowned mercenary and international criminal at large. Kimber definitely brings home some interesting friends!" She smiles at Sebastian, the tension now gone from her voice.
"Kimber ... is a very special person. Not everybody can take someone who once kidnapped them and turn them into a friend." Bludd smiles wistfully. "Not everybody could believe a man like me could turn his life around. She's an eternal optimist, is Kimber."
Synergy smiles warmly. "I'm in complete agreement -- although I suppose I am rather biased. Still, I see the world -- usually, at least -- through the Internet and media, and even in fiction I see few that measure up in essence and wonder to our Kimber." She sighs with maternal pride, and at that moment, Bludd can clearly see the likeness and spirit of Kimber's mother in Synergy.
Bludd nods. "I hope she never changes. World needs more people like her." He rolls his shoulders. "I think I'm gonna get along to bed," he says. "We'll talk again sometime."
"Very well, Sebastian. Sleep well. I'll watch over you and the girls while you rest." Synergy offers a caring smile. "We can talk more in the morning." For a moment, Synergy's eyes turn black once more, and then she disappears entirely. "Good night," her disembodied voice says, and the lights in the workshop dim.