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the teacher says: the stars are as shiny as diamonds; this is a simile

the teacher says: the stars are diamonds; this is a metaphor

the teacher says: samantha groves, are you listening to me

 

you say:

 

[input search parameters

searching…

file found: groves, samantha]

 

samantha groves says: yes ma’am. sorry ma’am

 

--

 

[error: code degrading

error: system failing]

 

analogInterface(“Root”) {

                                     systemVitals() {

                                                            heartbeat: irregular;

                                                            breathingPatterns: irregular;

                                                            bloodFlow: irregular;

                                     };

                                     diagnosis: stab wound;

                                     warning(43%probability) {

                                                            internal bleeding;

                                     };

                                     warning(00:06:37) {

                                                            loss of consciousness;

                                     };

};

 

you say: yeah, yeah

 

analogInterface(“Root”) {

                                     warning(00:06:29) {

                                                                   loss of consciousness;

                                     };

};

 

you say: i heard you the first time, sweetie

 

there is a door in front of you. it should be familiar to you, but.

 

[error: memory corrupted

error: system failing]

 

you say: is this the right one

 

information: true;

 

you knock. it opens.

 

shaw says: what the hell is wrong with you

 

[input search parameters

searching…

file found: root]

 

root says: don’t worry, most of it isn’t my blood

 

information: false;

 

shaw says: go to a goddamn hospital

 

root says: but the doctors there won’t be as pretty as you

 

shaw says: you’re an idiot

shaw says: sit down

 

root sits down.

 

[error: system shutdown

automatic system reboot]

 

[system rebooting…]

 

analogInterface(“Root”) {

                                     location: residence of primaryAsset(“Sameen Shaw”);

};

 

you are spread out on a couch.

 

you say:

 

[input search parameters

searching…

file found: root]

 

root says: what happened

 

shaw says: you passed out

shaw says: i’ve given you stitches

shaw says: you’re lucky the knife didn’t hit anything vital 

shaw says: you’re an idiot

 

root says: i thought i had 5 more minutes

 

parameters changed;

 

shaw says: i thought it was meant to be omniscient

 

root says: She, sweetie

root says: and even a god can make mistakes

root says: or haven’t you heard the story of noah and the arc

 

shaw scoffs.

 

shaw is making pancakes.

 

root says: can i have one

 

shaw says: no

 

--

 

shaw says: careful

 

[error: unexpected data]

 

you jump.

 

you were running her hands through bear’s fur. you didn’t notice shaw walk through the entrance, a machine gun slung around her shoulder.

 

[input search parameters

searching…

file found: root]

 

root says: what

 

shaw says: if you do that for any longer he’ll become bald

 

information: false;

 

root says: it’s a joke, sweetie

root says: sorry, i didn’t realise i was doing it

root says: long day

root says: i don’t like clowns

 

a number was taking his daughter to the circus today. you were jess minter. jess minter is a clown. root doesn’t like clowns.

 

you don’t like clowns.

 

shaw says: you are a clown

 

information: false;

 

root says: it’s another joke

 

shaw says: no it’s not

 

root says: you’re not helping

 

shaw says: i’m helping Her to grow

shaw says: She need to learn these things if She wants to understand people

 

information: true;

 

root says: you said She

 

root is smiling, beaming. shaw frowns at her, tilting her head.

 

shaw says: identity is important

 

information: true;

 

root stops smiling.

 

[error: firewall breached

reinitialising…]

 

you say:

 

[input search parameters

searching…

file found: root]

 

root says: i guess

 

shaw narrows her eyes.

 

--

 

reese says: i’m surrounded

 

primaryAsset(“John Reese”) {

                                           warning(highPriority) {

                                                                             hostiles: 12;

                                           };

                                           suggestion(highPriority) {

                                                                                  path(1) {

                                                                                               change location;

                                                                                  };

                                                                                  path(2) {

                                                                                               defensive actions;

                                                                                  };

                                           };

};

 

Finch says: maybe if we tried this

 

fusco says: i could do with some help too

 

asset(“Lionel Fusco”) {

                                 warning(highPriority) {

                                                                   hostiles: 7;

                                };

                                suggestion(highPriority) {

                                                                      path(1) {

                                                                                   change location;

                                                                      };

                                                                      path(2) {

                                                                                   defensive actions;

                                                                      };

                                };

};

 

 

Finch says: oh dear

 

reese says: any time now

 

fusco says: i hate to hurry you

fusco says: but actually no i don’t

 

Finch says: miss groves, perhaps this would be easier

 

information: false;

 

fusco says: seriously guys

 

reese says: are you listening

 

Finch says: what if we

 

[error: system overload]

 

[error

error

error

error]

 

shaw says: shut up

shaw says: i can’t hear myself think

shaw says: and i’m pretty sure root’s head is louder

shaw says: so i bet she can’t either

 

--

 

they’re in the subway. root is hunched over a laptop, eyes squinting in concentration. shaw is disassembling her pistol, frowning. bear is laying at shaw’s feet.

 

shaw says: what do i call you

 

root says: i hope you haven’t taken a blow to the head recently

root says: i’d hate for you to forget me, sweetie

 

root looks up from the laptop and smirks.

 

shaw huffs. there is gun oil on her hands. she isn’t looking at root.

 

shaw says: not your name, idiot

 

she isn’t looking at root.

 

shaw says: pronouns

 

[internal system error

searching for solution

searching…]

 

root says:

 

you say:

 

root says:

 

you say:

 

[solution not found

do you wish to reboot the system?

(y/n)]

 

shaw says: don’t freak out

 

there is gun oil on her hands. she isn’t looking at you.

 

[<y>

system rebooting…

input search parameters

searching…

file found: root]

 

root says: i’m not freaking out

 

analogInterface(“Root”) {

                                     systemVitals() {

                                                            heartbeat: irregular;

                                                            breathingPatterns: irregular;

                                     };

                                     diagnosis: panic;

};

 

root says: thanks

 

shaw frowns at root, before understanding passes over her face.

 

root says: she has a mission for me

 

information: false;

 

shaw says: uh huh

 

root turns to leave. her shoulders stiffen.

 

root says: she’s fine

 

shaw says: The Machine

 

root says: well, yes, but

root says:

 

you aren’t looking at shaw.

 

you say: pronouns

you say: she’s fine

 

you aren’t looking at Shaw.

 

Shaw says: whatever

 

[translation available: thank you for telling me]

 

--

 

Shaw says: you’re lucky I didn’t shoot you

Shaw says: did you have to break into my apartment

 

you don’t remember how you got here.

 

[error: memory corrupted]

 

you say:

you say:

 

[error: “you” is not defined]

 

Shaw says: you’re doing that thing again

Shaw says: sit down

 

analogInterface(“Root”) {

                                     suggestion(highPriority) {

                                                                            obey primaryAsset(“Sameen Shaw”);

                                     };

};

 

Shaw says: if you talk through chopped I’ll shoot you

 

[translation available: it’s okay. I’ll wait for you to come back]

 

you sit down.

 

--

 

you are in a convenience store. you need:

 

-scotch

-all-purpose flour

-chocolate

-apples

-popcorn

-liquorice

-peanuts

-lighter fluid

 

there is an out of stock sign where the popcorn should be.

 

you say: they should call it an inconvenience store

 

Shaw says: do you have to make that joke every time

Shaw says: you really need to start eating healthier food

 

you say: yes

you say: and apples are healthy

 

Shaw says: yeah, in moderation

Shaw says: I’m surprised you don’t bleed cider

 

analogInterface(“Root”) {

                                     systemVitals() {

                                                            vitaminIntake: acceptable;

                                     };

                                     suggestion(lowPriority) {

                                                                          dietModification: iron supplements;

                                     };

};

 

you say: She says my diet’s fine

 

Shaw rolls her eyes.

 

Shaw says: no offense, but I’m not gonna trust a robot when it comes to health

 

you say: you’re a robot

 

 

the man behind the counter is tanned, with a hint of muscle beneath his faded rolling stones t-shirt. there is a tattoo of a chinese symbol curled around his wrist, and a pair of scratched aviator sunglasses folded up next to the till.

 

[input search parameters

searching…

file found: gasper, eleanor]

 

eleanor leans forward, pushes out her chest, swaggers as she walks. she has stretched out vowels and dropped consonants. she smiles like it’s easy, and when she does, the man behind the counter smiles back.

 

the man behind the counter says: thank you, have a nice day

 

eleanor says: thanks, darlin’

 

Shaw is next in the queue.

 

she doesn’t smile at the man behind the counter. she keeps firm eye contact with him and she doesn’t reply to his small talk. she scowls as he counts her change, and she doesn’t leave a tip.

 

the man behind the counter says: thank you, have a nice day

 

Shaw shrugs.

 

she catches up to eleanor at the door, still scowling.

 

 

the man behind the counter says: robot

 

 

[delete file: gasper, eleanor]

 

and you-

 

analogInterface(“Root”) {

                                     systemVitals() {

                                                            heartbeat: irregular;

                                                            breathingPatterns: irregular;

                                    };

                                    diagnosis: anger;

                                    warning(72%probability) {

                                                                           analogInterface(“Root”) may resort to violence

                                    };

                                    suggestion(highPriority) {

                                                                           change location;

                                                                           regulate breathing patterns;

                                                                           obey primaryAsset(“Sameen Shaw”);

                                    };

};

 

Shaw says: leave it root, I don’t care

 

you’re outside the shop and your hands are clenched into fists and you don’t remember walking out and you don’t remember clenching your hands.

 

[error: memory corrupted]

 

Shaw says: I thought you were meant to be above us petty humans

Shaw says: one day somebody’s gonna piss you off and I won’t be there to stop you

 

you say: She’ll stop me

 

information: irrelevant;

 

Shaw says: that’s not the point

 

--

 

Shaw smiles at you.

 

there is blood on your hands, the smell of cordite hanging thick in the air. there is a man lying at your feet, a serial killer. he shot six people dead and he shot at you and he shot at Shaw and you shot back. you shot back, a killer shooting at a killer.

 

you shot back and he isn’t dead.

 

Shaw smiles at you and you smile back.

 

her smile drops; she scowls.

 

your smile widens.

 

--

 

you flick the light switch.

 

Shaw says: jesus, root

Shaw says: did you break into my apartment again

 

Shaw leans over to check the alarm clock on her bedside table and swears, rubbing her eyes.

 

Shaw says: jesus, root

 

localTime: 01:29:15;

 

primaryAsset(“Sameen Shaw”) {

                                               systemVitals() {

                                                                      totalSleep: 00:37:23;

                                               };

};

 

Shaw says: are you going to talk

 

you say: yes

 

Shaw says: then this better be important

 

[error: “important” not defined]

 

you say:

you say:

you say:

 

[error: file not found

refine search parameters]

 

Shaw says: spit it out, root, I’m tired

 

[translation available: it’s okay]

 

you say: it’s been a year

 

Shaw says: what has

 

you say: since the first time i spoke to you

 

Shaw says: what the hell

Shaw says: the first time you spoke to me was nearly three years ago

 

you say: no

you say: that was veronica sinclair

you say: and then that was augusta king

you say: and then that was dani bunten

you say: and then

you say:

 

she frowns, and you and you and you and you and you and you and-

 

[error: infinite loop]

 

Shaw says: it’s late, root

Shaw says: either stick to your side of the bed or I’ll make you take the couch

 

[translation available: I understand]

 

You say: aw, you’re no fun

 

[translation available: thank you. thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you]

 

 

when you wake up, you are sprawled across the entire bed, and you are the only person in the room. You get up.

 

You say: Shaw

 

Shaw says: in here, Root

 

Shaw is in the kitchen making pancakes.

 

You say: can I have one

 

Shaw says: fine, whatever

 

 

[translation available]

 

[error: translation unnecessary]