Saturday, September 7, 2013

Woods Random Legacy: Chapter 59 - Ghostbuster

Epsilon cleaned the entire house top-to-bottom before she left.  Of course, there wasn't much to clean, as Omicron had coped with much of his anxiety through copious amounts of scrubbing and laundry, but she made the place as neat as possible.  Alpha would be stopping in from time to time to make sure nothing was wrong, but it wouldn't be fair to give her any more work than was necessary.
Epsilon's studies were much more focused, even more so than the other seniors.  She'd gotten special dispensation to take mostly individual study classes, but even the standard theory courses she supplemented with were very advanced.  The catch-up work was on her to complete during what free time she had, and her professors were more than understanding of any late work.
Because, of course, the Omega project was the university's top priority.  Whenever she wasn't in one of her many classes or frantically trying to catch up to her classmates through self-study, she was either in the lab or working on the main containment unit.  It turned out that bigger was better with this technology, so Carlton's experiment had been scaled up to a three-story contraption.  Replicating the mechanical construction was easy, but determining the necessary core composition was turning out to be much more difficult, as the original research notes had been lost.
No matter how important the work, Epsilon always headed back to her student accommodations before night fell.  She knew that she was no safer in there than outside, but it was a lot easier to block out the memories of the night she was attacked in her living room than in the lab where the attack had taken place.
She felt the ghosts to some degree almost every night.  She'd grown to associate the churning of her stomach and brief dizzy spells with the reports of ghost activity that she read about in the security blog the next morning.  Nobody else mentioned it, so the phenomenon seemed to be limited to herself; rather than expose her non-human status, she chose to keep the knowledge of her coinciding sicknesses between herself and Brendan.  She hardly ever saw him, due to the high level of classwork, but she always called him when ghost activity was high.  Just the sound of his voice calmed her, comforted her, and made it easier for her to make it through the long nights.
A breakthrough in the Omega project took place near the end of term.  Finally, a core that would engage was found!  It wasn't very efficient, but the machine spun up, which meant that it would do its job of capturing spirits.  Now the only challenges were to further refine the core and miniaturize the device to the point where it was practical.  No small task, to be sure, but having something - anything - that worked increased team morale.
The end of term, and Epsilon's graduation, came all too soon.  The piece of paper that they handed to her on the stage didn't even matter to her anymore; all she cared about was the Omega project, and solving the scientific riddles that it consisted of.
Between graduation and her inevitable trip back home, she worked almost exclusively in the labs.  Her focus was on refining the core - miniaturization was coming along nicely - and that work wasn't finished yet.  Not by a long shot.
Eventually, her lease on the apartment ran out, and certain deadlines in the contract she'd signed were looming.  She had to make her way back to Sunset Valley, whether her research was complete or not.  Reluctantly, she packed up her possessions and prepared to return home.

Brendan, of course, accompanied her home.  He'd been picked up as a technology specialist by the military, but didn't have to report for basic training for about a week.  He intended to make good use of that time.
"So, you're really going to go work for them?" They stood in the front room, the late summer sunlight illuminating the house through the front-facing windows.
"Well, I don't really have a choice."
"Of course you have a choice.  It's just easier to go along with it."
She nodded.  "It is.  And I think I should, at least for now.  There's still so much good I could do.  You'll be using one of the rifles, right?"
He nodded.  "I haven't seen it yet, but I know we'll be trained on it.  I know you've done good work, thanks."
Epsilon shrugged.  "It's my job.  But you're welcome.  I guess I should go put my stuff in my room."
She turned to walk through the kitchen, but paused as Brendan spoke.  "Wait.  Isn't the master bedroom through there?"
She turned, shrugging.  "I guess.  But that's not my bedroom.  That's Dad's..." she trailed off, realizing how silly that sounded.
"Right.  And he's gone.  You're the head of the house now, so it's your room."
"I know, but it just feels so strange to think about sleeping there.  It's so...him!"
"It can't be that bad.  Let's go see it."  He took Epsilon's hand, leading her into the bedroom.
"Wow, okay, I take that back.  Your father was clearly not an interior designer."  Noticing Epsilon's look, he quickly added to those statements.  "But we can work with it!  You're not really a green sort of girl, but that's fine, we can wallpaper over the paint.  Everything's very sleek and modern, also not really your sort of thing, but I saw a furniture store on the way into town, so that's easy to fix.  Well, depending on the state of your bank account."
"There's plenty," she said flatly.  "Money isn't an object."
"What did your father do, anyway?"  Brendan looked at her curiously, a frown tugging at the corner of his mouth.
"I don't know, and I don't want to know.  I don't think it was anything honest, and not knowing the particulars is fine with me."
Remodeling the room helped to distract Epsilon and Brendan from their impending future apart.  Reclining on the bed after a long day of finishing up the work, they looked around, satisfied.
"This is so perfect," Epsilon said, smiling to her boyfriend.  "Thanks.  You knew exactly what I needed."
"I always do.  Come on, let's make dinner."
After dinner, they retired to the bedroom.
"I can't believe you're leaving tomorrow," Epsilon said, hugging her knees as she looked down to Brendan, reclined on the bed.
"We both knew it was coming.  I just can't believe I ended up here, running off to basic training tomorrow.  I was majoring in technology to get a nice, cushy job.  But times change."
She nodded.  "They do.  And we do what we have to do, otherwise who would we be?"
Brendan nodded, reaching up to stroke her hand.  "Exactly.  I couldn't live with myself if I just sat by and did nothing.  If something happened to you, because I was afraid to step forward and provide a defense..." he trailed off.  There was no need to finish that sentence.
Epsilon let go of her knees and stretched out, leaning over Brendan, who rolled over onto his back to accommodate her new position.  "I still don't want you to go," she said softly, looking into his eyes.
"Me either.  Do your job, Eps.  Make those guns, and find ways to make them even better, so I can fight these ghosts.  I'll come back to you, whenever I have leave.  I promise."
"I know," she said, leaning down to kiss him, savoring the feel of his lips against hers.
"Eps?" he whispered as she started to pull away.
"What?" she whispered back, pausing so that her lips hovered within an inch of his own.
"Give me something I'll remember, until I see you again."
She did.  And then they slept.

After Brendan left for basic training, Epsilon called and confirmed her employment.  She would be testing the new gun models, by night, on whatever spirits manifested around Sunset Valley.  The small town wasn't a hotspot of hostile ghost activity, so it was the perfect place to test new technologies before deploying them to the military.
The gun she was using was clumsier than the standard anti-ghost rifle, but more effective - in theory.  If it proved so, then then design would be whittled down to something that the military could easily use, but Epsilon had to prove the function first.
The beam deployed as expected, though there was some instability.  A good whack to the side of the gun got it going again, but that was unacceptable.  Brendan could be relying on it to work every time, so the technology had to be perfected before the gun could be issued.  Work was still required.
After a long night of testing, Epsilon arrived back home.  She got ready for bed and then slipped under the covers as the sun rose, closing her eyes tightly to block out the intrusive rays.
A few hours after dawn, a man knocked at the door.  Epsilon, exhausted from her nighttime exertions, continued to sleep.  The man knocked louder, attracting the attention of Shadow.
The cat lept upon the bed, mewing softly as he padded over towards Epsilon.  Pawing at her face, he mewed insistently until she opened her eyes.
"Shadow?  What?"
His duty done, the cat jumped off of the bed, leaving Epsilon alone and confused, until the next knock sounded.  Who could be knocking at the door so early in the morning?  She swung her feet to the floor and stood, walking to the front room.
An old man was visible through the glass-paned front doors, so Epsilon opened them.
"Hello?  Can I help you?"
As she spoke, she noticed the man's eyes.  They were wild, seeming to almost glow in the early-morning light.  She felt that this meant something, but precisely what it was evaded her.
"Yes, Miss Woods.  You can."

~ * ~

Who ya gonna call?

Mystery man at the door!  I wonder who it is?  For a generation where I promised to give you guys answers, I'm sure asking a lot of questions. :P

See!  See!  Brendan isn't dead OR pregnant.  You silly people.  I love you guys. <3

Pay no mind to the weird graphical glitches on Epsilon during her university stay.  For some reason, music waves(like from the stereo) were emanating from her stomach.  I tried to take pictures in between glitches in the matrix, but a few pictures are still distorted.

Next chapter won't be until next weekend at the earliest, probably later.  I have to do real-life research before I can write it, because I'm way too perfectionist to just make stuff up - I have to make stuff up based on actual facts!  So yes, it's not the sets or the pictures that are holding me up, it's the google time.  Bear with me, please.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Woods Random Legacy: Chapter 58 - Decision Points

(Music time!)

Even before she opened her eyes, she recognized the familiar feel of her dream library.  That was good, as she had a lot to talk to her familiar about.  She pushed her head off of the downstairs table as she opened her eyes, her expression of relief changing to confusion as she looked around the room.  This wasn't right at all.
The room, lit by several candles, was hardly bigger than her bedroom back home, a far cry from the vast, dark library that she'd first dreamed as a child.  And yet, it felt like her library.
A panicked feeling knotted in her stomach.  The last time she'd dreamed it, it had been all wrong.  Had her injury broken it somehow?
A familiar voice came from behind her.  "Epsilon.  Don't be afraid."
Despite the familiarity, she was still startled as she turned, relaxing only once she fully recognized the speaker.
"Shadow.  You scared me.  What is this place?  What happened to my library?"
"Nothing.  It just changed, you know it can do that."  He stepped from the shadowy corner, moving towards her.
"Yes, but those were little things, like a carpet or a table.  This isn't even the same place, just look at it!"
"It is the same place.  Major changes like this are rare, but they can happen, usually as a result of trauma."
She nodded.  That night had certainly been traumatic enough.  "That makes sense.  It's just strange, being someplace that's so familiar, and yet so strange.  Oh, I almost forgot.  Thank you for taking care of Omicron, when I wasn't there."
Gregory inclined his head to her.  "I couldn't very well leave him there.  He never would have thought of the catacombs on his own.  I'm just glad I was right, that the spirits there would take care of him.  You might want to have a word with him about forgetting me down there, though."
Epsilon's jaw dropped, then she nervously giggled, quickly stifling the sound.  "He never mentioned that!  That's so like him, though.  I'm sorry."
"Don't be.  I got back safely on my own.  Now, what's troubling you?  You never dream unless you're troubled about something."
She opened her mouth to protest, then shut it, realizing what he said was true.  And something was troubling her.  "If I could help people who were in trouble, with the attacks and everything, do I have to do it?  Even if it means abandoning the dreams I've had since I was a kid?"
Gregory stroked his beard.  "Well, you don't have to do anything, assuming of course nobody's holding a knife to your throat."
Epsilon sighed.  "You know what I meant.  Do I have to, ethically?  I don't want to, I really don't, but then I think about it and that just feels selfish.  What if I could make a difference?  If somebody dies because I didn't help, is that blood on my hands?"
"It sounds to me like you already know the answer to that."
As usual, he was right.  She knew she could help.  What the businessman had said, that she had a "brilliant mind," was true.  She could comprehend the research, and move it forward.  And it would be wrong not to, in a way, but didn't her own desires matter at all?  Wasn't there an entire school of philosophy that said that sacrificing one for the good of many was morally wrong?  She didn't know, philosophy had never been her thing.  All she knew was that it felt selfish.
"Think on it," Gregory said, interrupting her thoughts.  "I can't help you with this.  You have to decide on your own what you want to do.  Whatever you decide, I'll support you."
"I know."  She smiled weakly.  "Thanks."
He smiled back, waving her compliment away with a hand, then glanced to the right.  "That's a curious painting.  Do you know that woman?"
Epsilon looked over.  "No I've never-" she stopped, frowning.  That wasn't true, the woman in the painting was incredibly familiar.  But why?  Epsilon was sure that she'd never seen her before.  "Wait."  She stepped over for a closer look.
"I don't know," she said finally.  "I don't know who she is, and I don't think I've ever seen her before, but I feel like I know her.  I don't understand it."
"Her portrait appeared in your dream realm, that doesn't happen by chance.  Or, I should say, I've never heard of it happening by chance.  I suppose there is a first time for everything."
"It's unlikely.  I just wish I could remember."
The room fell silent as they regarded the solitary portrait.  Who was the woman, and why had it appeared now?

When Epsilon knocked on the door to Alpha's house, she found it to be ajar.  Worried, she pushed it open, and was greeted by the sight of one of her nieces waving up to her from the living room floor.  She stepped over and picked up the toddler.  "Hey, Marsha.  What's going on?  Where's your mommy?"  Of course, she didn't know how to talk yet, so she couldn't answer that question.  Epsilon tickled her, prompting the little girl to giggle happily.
"I'm up here!"  Alpha's voice came from upstairs, and Epsilon watched as she came down.
"The door was ajar," she said, pointing to it.  "Probably a bad idea, with toddlers and all."
"Oh, my god."  Alpha frowned.  "I swear I'm going to kill Allen.  He keeps doing that!  I'll break up with him if he doesn't get it together, and learn to shut the door when he leaves."
Epsilon put Marsha down on the floor, then greeted her half-sister with a hug.
"I was so worried when I heard about what happened to you," Alpha said, releasing Epsilon.  "But Omicron let me know as soon as you called from the hospital.  I'm glad you were okay."
"Me too," Epsilon said.  "But it's everybody else that I'm worried about."
"What do you mean?"
"Let's say, hypothetically, that I had a job offer.  Something that could save lives.  Am I selfish for declining that offer, and pursuing my own goals instead?"
Alpha thought about it for a long moment.  "What kind of offer?"
"The technology that saved my life.  I have a chance to work with it, and develop it.  The girl whose project it was died that night, but there's at least one company that's willing to fund the research, and I've been offered a position on the team.  But it would mean abandoning medical school, everything I've been working towards since high school started."
"And yet," Alpha prompted, looking into her sister's eyes.
"...and yet," Epsilon finished for her, "it could save lives.  So I don't know what to do."
"You said selfish.  Are you worried about turning into Dad?"
Epsilon nodded.  "A little.  I know I'm not like him, not inside, but that was always his thing.  He put himself over everybody else, even his children.  Hell, he pretty much left you to raise Omicron and me, sacrificing your own future."
"My future wasn't sacrificed," Alpha said, gesturing around the room.  "I've got it here.  I don't regret anything, and don't think that you owe me one just because I helped to raise you.  Everything has worked out in my life, even Niki and Marsha.  I didn't necessarily want to be a mom so fast, especially a single mom after Mason died, but it got me out of the military, with the best timing possible.  They've been calling in the reserves, I don't know if you heard.  But since I have the twins, I don't have to report."
Epsilon nodded.  "That's a bit of luck, then."
"I know.  I don't really know what to say for your situation, other than don't be Dad.  If you feel that you have to do this in order to not follow in his footsteps, then maybe you should.  You know your own feelings better than I do.  Do whatever feels right."

Back home, Epsilon stood in the empty kitchen, staring at her phone.  To call, or not to call?  Shadow and Epsilon were both right - she knew what she should do.  She just had to work up the nerve to do it.  Before she had a chance to second-guess herself, she punched in the number, holding the phone to her ear.
"Hi, this is Epsilon Woods, calling for Mr. Olivers.  Oh, sorry, should I call back later?  Alright, a message is fine.  Tell him I'll do it."

~ * ~

So, about the library.  I accidentally deleted the save that had the library set in it, and didn't want to reconstruct it because it wouldn't look right.  So I just started over.  Gregory had to be remade as well - I thought I'd had him saved in the CAS library, but that was actually Shadow the cat, not Shadow the wizard.  So I did the best I could, please just ignore minor inconsistencies.  And yes, the change is plot-relevant, because I WILL make the best of my mistakes damn it!

New library, new song.  A little more heavy mystery and a little less childish wonder suits grown-up Epsilon and the new library.  Check out that guy's youtube channel if you like the new song, I've enjoyed writing to a couple of his compositions since I discovered it.  Song titles are a bit over the top(I think english isn't his first language), but the music's beautiful.

Alpha's kids are adorable, even if she has a bit of a problem with getting knocked up and then staging shotgun weddings(she has another kid on the way in my game).  I hope Epsilon's smarter than that.  This being a legacy, though, birth control is naturally less than effective. ;)

I would just like to say that I have four different plot lines working their way out this generation(yes, four - I worked it out during a particularly simplistic example that the professor spent way too long on during my mathematical modeling class today).  Two are sort of the same plot, but as seen by two different groups of people, therefore requiring two plots worth of screen time.  Expect this generation to be long and complicated, but I figure you guys are overdue for some answers, and I can't just keep spawning antagonists.  At some point, I have to take at least a few of them down.  I'm not sure yet if this generation will be that point, but it's at least setting the groundwork for the eventual victory.