A Friend in Need is a Friend Indeed [Part II]

[Joint post between Megumichi and OhManMyBad]

She felt thorns. More emotion, more anger, and the bed of thorns that was meant to separate her from anyone else. A sneer. That was her sneer. When had she become some angry, so bitter? She couldn’t fucking pinpoint it. It was just a feeling. Feelings that should be hers, and hers alone. He wasn’t allowed to share them. She couldn’t give anyone a taste of them. S-She shouldn’t. They’d just fuck her over again. Abort literally every single pla-arg, fuck, she didn’t feel like making plans. She just wanted all this shit to go away. Why did she keep being fooled into this state?

“...S-SHUT UP!” How was she even meant to counter that? She knew it was true, that she was just a fucking idiot. Why would he care? He didn’t care. She wasn’t harming anyone except herself. “YOU WANNA FIND THEO, GO LOOK FOR THEO!” She turned her back on him and grabbed at whatever she could find on her desk, the ink on her notepad beginning to smudge as stray tears failed to be caught. These people needed to stop. She didn’t want to feel like this. She didn’t want to feel anything. It was easier this way. Not this way, but...ARG, fuck, get out.

Kris sighed, he didn't make a habit of using his telepathy. While it was less strenuous than his other magic, it was intrusive and rude. Though in a state of heightened emotion, he couldn't help but pick up a thing here or there. Clarisse was distraught. She felt alone and against the world. Kris knew that feeling, he knew that emptiness. This girl wouldn't be wooed by the promise of grandeur, or the saddling of some manufactured moral obligation to defend those who couldn't defend themselves. “I do want to find Theodosia, but I also want to find myself. Don't you? Clarisse, I think it was a good thing that I came here. We're both in short supply of friends… and nearly vacant of purpose. I don't know why you feel the need to push people away, to hide. Perhaps it's because you genuinely hate the world. Or, maybe it's because you think the world hates you, or would hate you. And you just don't want to give it the chance. I honestly don't either, but unfortunately I don't have a massive comforter to hide beneath. I do have this armor though, and the desire to use it for good. Do you? Have the desire to do good I mean?”

Oh, right. It wouldn’t be a meetup with a do-gooder without a big speech. Props to him though for not being a self-righteous prick for his speech though. It was still unbearably long and feelsy, but at least she didn’t feel anymore antagonized. Take notes, Fake Avengers. “...That’s debatable, you dickhead.” She was too fucking tired to put any energy into her insults. She’d insulted enough superpowered individuals to last her a lifetime by now. All it seemed to do was wear her out. God, it sucked when people didn’t take offense to any insult except “nutter”. “I don’t have a fucking self. Not much to find.”

This was the worst conversation she’d had so far. At least the other two had eventually lost their tempers and yelled back at her. Why didn’t this damn guy be the same and just stop trying to reach out nicely to her? It was too awkward for her to be admitting to her inner contradictions. She...she did want people to like her, but she didn’t really know how to react to anything close to that. “I dunno, really. Don’t see anything outside this tower that’s worth my time or effort.”

“Maybe nothing is. Do you think any of it was worth your father's time and effort? I don't expect you to assume his sense of obligation to the world, but perhaps you'd benefit from having a reason to wake up in the morning. I noticed you can code…?” Kris pointed towards the array of computer monitors in her room, one of them displaying a scripting program. From what he could tell, the script was for a video-game. Nevertheless, it was elegant. He'd only just seen it, and that felt like a sign considering his previous issues with the armor. “Rather serendipitous, considering I need a coder, a great coder, to help me solve this problem I have with my helmet. Though I don't suppose you'd be interested?” Kris decided that Clarisse had enough to chew on in the way of sanctimonious platitudes. Perhaps what was needed was a completely unrelated segue into a topic he figured she wanted to talk about.

Like she would know. If her dad wanted to go and save the dumbasses of the world, he could. Only he was as dead as a fish left on the bank of a river. No way of asking him what he’d seen in others that she couldn’t. All she saw were loud, obnoxious fools who couldn’t handle opinions that differed from their own. “His opinion, not mine. I ain’t his boss.” She didn’t control anyone else’s thoughts, and they didn’t control hers. Simple as that, really. The only obligation she had was to herself.

Coder, huh. She’d done most of that code ages ago. Back when she’d given some kinda shit about her oh-so-great IQ score. “Possibly. I don’t do favors though.” Well, with the exception of her mum. Equivalent exchange was the best principle that alchemy had to offer. Otherwise, she didn’t particularly care for the matter. She’d only added tidbits to the code of that game since it’d gotten her fucking expelled for coding it during class. Not that the teachers had anything interesting to actually teach her or nothing. Apparently, they just didn’t like the fact that she didn’t pay attention, disrespected them for being stupid and then passed anyway. Most of the code was old. Like, really old. Probably still good, but that was cause it was easier to wrap her head around communicating with computers than with humans.

“Ah, so quid pro quo then? Well I haven't much to offer. Perhaps if you ever decide to… I don't know… build a mechanized battle armor to fight and fly, I could be of some help. Red and yellow paint job is optional of course. Look, Clarisse, I don't want anything from you. But I could use a friend… and some help with this blasted helmet.” Kris knocked against the metal frame on his head, wondering if she'd noticed he was still wearing it.

Eugh, red was the worst colour. So was the entire design of the suit that Tony had built, at least for her uses. It’d be cool to just be able to remotely pilot it. She didn’t wanna fucking die. “Hmm, depends. You know anything about long-range control and why orange is the best fucking colour? Also, we ain’t friends. Give up already.” Shit, the helmet would be cool to tinker with though. Coding wasn’t much of a hobby nowadays, but it was something that wasn’t fucking porn. That stuff was drawing to the end of it’s arc along with her sexual drive. Thanks for ruining all her old kinks, Pornhub.

“Very well then. I do know quite a bit about long range remote frequency if that's what you're referring to. And I don't really have a color preference… though I do tend to avoid the color green.” Kris made his best attempt at humor but it likely just fell flat.

Good, that worked just fine. She didn’t really have any interest in hero work, but she did have interest in controlling a giant suit of armor as if she was playing a mecha game. Maybe she could make her own version of an Oculus Rift to maximize control. Sure, it was kinda impractical altogether, but she wasn’t overly serious about the project. To her, pretty much everything was just a cog in her larger series of experiments with technology and its many functions. Not that she wanted to be an inventor or nothing. Game design was still fun: too fun to pass up on for her entire life.

Kristoff tapped a button behind his neck and the helmet unlocked, emitting that same hiss as the breastplate. “Fair warning, I get a little irritable when this is off. Could you take a look and tell me what you think about the mental interface? I having trouble syncing it to my commands.”

She accepted the helmet, turning it around and peering at it closely. It appeared to have some sort of linking technology. That would explain why the weight was properly balanced: the mechanics within the limbs of the armor would move in time with his real limbs, meaning that he didn’t have to physically lift it. That was some good design, although admittedly difficult to pull off. Linking your mind to technology was still dangerous, no matter how much experience humanity gained in the field. It was the perfect device to base a remote control on, as long as she could get it to respond over longer distances. Fuck, this was way better than learning about a c i d s a n d b a s e s a t a b o u t t h i s s p e e d.

Anyway, as for the coding of the device. “I need to know where the database of code is located within the helmet and what exactly you want me to fix within it; assuming you want something specific.” She knew her way around code, yes. The inner workings of a helmet? Nope, she needed a way to both access and edit the code. It was a rare sort of science to encounter, so she had basically no experience with navigating the system.

Kris flipped the helmet over in her hands, revealing a USB-C port on the bottom. That seemed primitive didn't it? In comparison who would think the interface could be accessed by a phone charger? “There you go. Just open it on your computer. The program will run automatically and allow you to read what I've got far. I'm trying to control more than one field of my armor simultaneously, and so far I've not been able to master that. Think of it like rubbing your stomach and patting your head, except by proxy.”

A USB? She was expecting something totally alien, given how advanced the technology was. Yet against all odds, it ran on a USB? What a beautiful world. Pity that it wasn’t cooler, but you couldn’t get everything you wanted. “Wow, what magical tech.” She muttered, plugging the drive into her pre-running laptop while awkwardly wiping her eyes with one sleeve of her sweater. OK, stop being an angsty teenager, just stop. He was not-really-trying to save her with more logical matters that spared her from mush and gush. Time to put on her personal pair of big girl shoes and do what could full well be the easiest coding job she’d ever completed. ‘Cause running things simultaneously was easy. Well, it usually was at least.

Shit, she should have predicted the sheer length and complexity of the database. It had to issue almost any command presented by his brain pertaining to the movement of limbs and weaponry. Which sadly meant that grouping all of it into the same process was absolutely impossible. Not without potentially breaking the entire code. “Well, good news and bad news. It’s a simple fix, but it can’t be applied to everything simultaneously. Unless you want the process to finish its run in a year.”

Kris sighed, he'd suspected that this would be the case. Unless someone invented a new compression algorithm for code, it just simply wouldn't be possible to control different parts of the field at once. He shook his head, then quickly disengaged the helmet from her computer and put it back on. He reactivated it, then sat down next to her. “Well thanks for trying. See? Already helping the helpless. I knew you had it in you.” He cocked his head to the side with a smirk, prepared for whatever vitriol she'd respond with.

Urg, this was such a pain in the ass. “Bitch, you are not a damsel. Any monkey can fucking code a process.” Hmm, she might actually be able to do better if allowed to absorb some information overnight. It was really, really easy to memorize stuff, so she could do a late night surf on the internet for more advanced techniques. “Gimme the helmet, and I’ll look into it. Some stupidly nerdy geek has probably figured out a long, complex formula that I might as well store somewhere.”

Kris shook his head fervently, “I'm sorry that's just not possible. This helmet is the only thing keeping my mind in tact. It's a long story, but to be quick: My mind is incapable of filtering out information. Without this helmet I will process everything happening around me at once. Trillions of terabytes of data being received and stored with no off button. Within just a few hours I'll just break down. My body can't supply the energy necessary for that amount of brain power. The helmet allows me to consciously decide what to receive. I can't leave it here. I suppose we're out of luck.”

Well fuck, so much for creating a remote-powered robot. Not that it was a huge priority, but it’d have been fun to mess around with the logistics there. Wasn’t her fucking fault she never received a formal coding education. In case the world didn’t notice, she didn’t even complete her goddamn education. God, she wished that Pepper hadn’t punished her by refusing to buy her a pet. Wasn’t her fucking faul-nice thoughts, nice thoughts. It was about time she stopped sobbing over the losers of the past like a little bitch.

“Well, great. A super I.Q. Guess the deal’s off then.” She threw herself back onto her bed, bouncing slightly and burying her head in a massively fluffy pillow with a wolf staring right back in her face. God, she loved that pillow. Couldn’t even bring herself to punch it, despite all of her frustrations. “Have fun being smart then, bucko.” See? Now that was a good I.Q. Take that, people who issued that stupid test to her. This was proof of their foolishness as well as how dumbed down the questions had been.

“You seem irritated. I'm sorry if I upset you. Honestly I didn't think you cared if you solved my problem one way or the other. As for your problem… is it a problem? Regardless, I have some micro radio transmitters back at my father's laboratory. I can take you there if you'd like, and maybe you'll find what you need. I also have the materials to build your own suit… well some of the materials. I disintegrated most of it in acid. Don't ask. Anyway, uhm, I can teleport you over there with me, but we'd need to go out onto the balcony. I should be able to see the alley from there. And if you throw up I'll understand, I probably will too.” Kris stood up, prepared to leave if she accepted the offer.

A single eyebrow was arched as she narrowed her eyes into thin brown slits, thoroughly unimpressed by the offer. Charity was such a ridiculous concept when applied to someone like her. Besides, his observations were beginning to unsettle her. “Stop. Just. Stop. Firstly, why the fuck are you repeating my fucking feelings back to me? I dunno whether that’s part of your “sorcery” or if you’re spouting psych school stuff, but stop it. Secondly, I don’t accept favours.” Hypocrisy was not her biggest flaw at least. She didn’t want free shit from anyone.

“To be honest… I can read your mind. But only surface thoughts and only when you're particularly emotional. I will say that I still fully intended to help you. Frankly I haven't much else to do. You tried, and that's more than you were doing half an hour ago. I'd say that's progress. The offer stands. As far as I'm concerned our deal is still in effect. Plus… wouldn't you like to lay eyes on the lair of one of your father's greatest enemies? Is that the kind of experience you'd pass up?”

...SHITTTTTTTTT. He hadn’t seen any porn in there, had he? Surely those weren’t surface level? “Aw, c’mon. Theo already got in my head, you don’t need to do the same thing irl.” Please don’t have seen her porn in her head. Oh wait, was she making it surface level? God, she didn’t know, but that was a secret she had to keep! SHE TOLD HER MUM THAT THE MOANING WAS A DEATH SOUND! OK, just don’t panic, and he couldn’t tell...shit, IT WAS TOO LATE FOR THAT SHEWASATEENAGERANDAVIRGINSHELIKEDWATCHINGPORNDON’TJUDGE! GAAH!

“Yeah, well, no. It ain’t a deal unless I do something, and I wasted my fucking life coding some stupid game. Well, and artsy stuff. Designed some pretty cool outfits for the game. Anyway, just lemme do my research overnight and then I can get back to you.” She was gonna need soooo much coffee for this project. Communing with fellow coders wasn’t too difficult, but the trick was the dreaded enemy of all internet users: time-zones. They were such a bitch.

“Are you sure Clarisse? I'm not trying to exploit you, this isn't a game. And I'm not getting in your head… you just think very loudly. No, I didn't see any of your pornography, no need to worry.” Kris shrugged, bearing no amusement in his face, “Before you put me out, do you know of any way to contact Theodosia? After all, she is the reason I came here to begin with. Though… she's certainly not the reason I've stayed.” He mumbled that last part, though not quiet enough it would seem.

OH NO! “NO, NO, NOOOOOO!” Chill factor dropping, chill factor at 1%...shit, this was her life. “D-Don’t tell Pep man, please~? She’ll withhold my birthday puppy for another 10 years. I WANNA PUPPY!” She just wanted a damn puppy. Was that really so much to ask from her hardworking, intelligent, kind, red-headed mother? Well, apparently ‘cause she’d been a major dickhead when she was a kid. Actually, had that even changed? Urg, she regretted her life decision, her I.Q score, and everything to come.

“I’m gonna call it Pog, and I want it to have a Corgi butt, cause Corgi butts are surprisingly cute, and I honestly can’t help you there. Please excuse yourself. I...need a ginger beer.” Hahahahahahahaha, fuck her. What happened to being cool, chill and a total dick? She was failing at life in more ways than one, and somehow failure was a stacking debuff.

Kris had completely lost the conversation at this point, “Who's Pep? Oh your mother. I will not tell her anything. In fact it would probably be best if she never knew I was here. 26th and 5th Avenue, it's an office building. There's a sub level beneath the basement. If you change your mind, that's where you can find me.” Kris stepped back up into his armor and sealed it. He looked out Clarisse's window, and sure enough he could see the alley. The sun was just coming up, he'd been here all night. Turning back he smiled at her, “I'm very happy to have met you Clarisse. Whether you like it or not, we're friends. Oh and… look who's tall now?” He winked, then he vanished, his absence signaled by a low frequency rumble as his spell lapsed space-time and sent him home.

< Prev : A Friend in Need is a Friend Indeed [Part I] Next > : It’s Unfair to Judge Those Like Yourself