33 – OK Computer

Stef stared at the ice cream shop. While most were just a counter, a freezer, and barely enough room for customers, this one actually had the room for several small tables, in addition to a higher counter with stools at the window beside the door.

‘Am I supposed to ask how you knew exactly where to go?’ she asked as Ryan pushed open the door. ‘There can’t be that many ice cream places open this time of night.’

Ryan gave her his inscrutable narc look. ‘Consider it a benefit of living in the same city for over a hundred years and having impeccable recall.’

‘I’ve told you that you’re cool, right?’

He smiled, then gestured at the freezer.

She pressed her nose to the glass and stared in at the rainbow of frozen colours. She looked away from the ice cream to the menu board, to check on the prices.

Require: money, remember?

She looked back into the freezer and slowly started counting on her fingers all of the flavours and extras she wanted. When she ran out of fingers, she grabbed for Ryan’s hand and proceeded to use him as an angelic abacus. With four of his fingers raised, she looked up at him. ‘Do pink and white marshmallows count as different fingers?’

He raised another finger.

‘K!’ She stood on tiptoes so she could look at the clerk. She pointed to the monster sundae on the menu board. ‘One of those, plz!’ She counted off each flavour and topping and grinned as a sundae worthy of idol worship took shape.

She looked up at Ryan when all the fingers had been relinquished. ‘Was that all I wanted?’

He angled his head to look at the monster creation, narc expression firmly in place. ‘If it’s not, you can come back for seconds.’ He stepped up to the counter and paid as she carried it to the high barstools by the window.

She immediately started to pick at the marshmallows – dipping them into hot fudge and whip cream. ‘You can totally share this,’ she said as Ryan sat beside her.

‘There’s no need,’ he said.

‘Don’t you have some sort of angelic imperative to enjoy all the sweet things in life?’

Marshmallows gone, the ice cream called. ‘Crap.’

‘What?’ Ryan asked.

She tilted her head. ‘There’s no spoon.’ Ryan held up his hand, and a spoon appeared. ‘Thanks.’

Half a dozen messy spoonfuls of ice cream later, Stef stopped nomming and wiped her mouth with the back of her hand. ‘Um, question?’

‘No,’ he said, ‘you don’t have to finish it.’

‘No-no, not that,’ she said. ‘This is probably gonna be a stupid questions, but you should expect a lot of those – like I said, I’m a problematic pet, and–’

He pulled several serviettes from the dispenser and handed them to her. ‘It would be faster if you simply asked.’

‘Do, um– Do you need to eat? Or can you only eat certain things?’

He turned the large bowl. ‘This side is starting to melt.’

‘Was that a bad question?’

He shook his head. ‘No, but I’d like to see if you can work it out. You understand what I am; you understand what my function is.’

She smiled at the challenge. She closed her eyes and listened for a moment.

‘Okay, so you breathe,’ she said. ‘You’re in one of those stupid, horrible, public-facing roles. People would notice if you didn’t breathe. But, it’s a question of whether you actually need to, or if it’s only for the sake of appearances. I mean, yeah, it probably helps for speech, but you could…’ She tried to bend the spoon with her hands. ‘This probably isn’t too much of a leap, but you could probably set an automatic requirement to trigger every time you needed to talk so that the act of breathing in wasn’t actually necessary.’

He held up a hand to stop her. ‘Some agents do operate that way. Continue.’

‘But at the same time, that would dedicate a lot of–’ Thoughts ground to a halt. She leaned back on her stool and looked him up and down. ‘Holy fuck.’


‘Seriously, holy fuck. What– What are you?’ she asked, trying to keep her voice down. ‘I was just about to say an automatic requirement would take up a lot of processing power– But– But–’ She put her hands to the sides of her head, almost able to feel the thoughts forming. ‘And I get that there’s the system, and whatever, but– So there’s the server processing power, but it only works if there’s a local component too. Okay– Okay, I can require shit– Can you actually require shit? I can require stuff with a thought, so there’s–’ She let her hands drop away from her head. ‘I’ve been– I am such a fucking moron.’

Stef stabbed her spoon into the ice cream and took an angry bite of chocolate and fudge. ‘I came to you an hour ago, worried that you’d reject me for being a criminal. Now I realise I’m just criminally stupid.’

She buried the spoon in the ice cream and wiped her hands on her pants. ‘I’ve been thinking way too much about the magic, and not about the tech. Cause this is tech, isn’t it? Fine, I can accept that maybe I can conjure stuff – and for food and stuff, that’s fine, cause I know what food tastes like, and that’s the important thing. But – but if it was solely based off my brain, then all the comics and stuff I was requiring would be only filled with as much as I know, right? So I get there’s logical redundancies for things like guns, where I don’t know the exact design, but I know it’s “pull trigger equals bang”. But for there to be a logical redundancy, then there has to be some sort of system. So – so the require command is actually a command. It’s a lookup from my brain to correspond against some global system search to give me what I actually want.’

He gave her a slight nod, and she pressed her fingertips against the bench.

‘And I’m just a recruit. I don’t need any access to anything more advanced than “require: gun” or “require: cookie”. You – you need a hell of a lot more than that. Okay, fine, so maybe you can shift cause you know where you’re going, but what about when you don’t know where you’re going? It’s different to picture and teleport to your office than it is to that mansion I was in. Had you ever been there before?’

He shook his head.

‘So, what; am I supposed to believe that you’d shift to somewhere that you did know, then shift closer bit by bit? That…that makes sense for like Nightcrawler and people like him, but if you were–’ She could feel her argument losing steam. ‘But – but – but if you were on-purpose built for that, having to rely only on places you know, then that’s stupid. It makes no sense. That would be with the type of magic where my comics were missing half the panels because I can’t remember the details.’

She sank lower in her chair. ‘So – so that means that you need to be able to target yourself properly. It’s an assumption, but I’d guess that just staring at Google Maps isn’t enough, so you’d need some system to be able to target. And it needs to be internal, cause I haven’t seen you using a computer or a phone or anything when you’ve been shifting us around.’ She started tapping out prime numbers on the counter. ‘And if we assume that, then there’s other stuff that comes along with it, like – like exactly how you knew who I was. You’d need some sort of facial recognition or something–’

Stef pushed the sundae away. ‘It’s going to sound totally– You’re – you’re a computer, aren’t you?’

‘I’m an artificial being, and all of my functions are controlled through my HUD.’

‘I’ll say it again. Holy. Fuck.’

‘If this bothers you–’

‘The only thing that bothers me is how long it took me to figure it out!’ Stef said, her voice rising. ‘Do you have any idea how cool this is? Oh – oh, my god.’ She sent up a silent prayer to Turing, then raised a hand and held it an inch in front of his face. ‘Is your HUD on all the time, like a Terminator? Does it change how you see things? Do you have apps? Can you set a different desktop theme?’

‘You truly aren’t bothered?’

‘You have spent more than five minutes with me, right? Why the hell would you think I’d be bothered?’

Ryan stared at her with his narcy look for a moment, before he let it drop into something a lot less certain. ‘Because of our nature, we do get a degree of–’ He paused for a moment. ‘Let’s say “disregard” from some fae.’

‘I’m only bigoted against stupid people.’ She stared up at him. ‘Can you show me how you see stuff? Like, is it possible to take a screenshot from in your HUD?’

‘My recruits generally aren’t this accepting,’ he said. ‘So it’s not something we advertise.’

‘Is that a polite “No, cause it’s classified” or something?’

He looked away.

Her stomach twisted. ‘Look, you can just tell me to shut up if you want.’


The world shattered.

[table id=15 /]

32 - What Came from the Moon
34 - Blackout

  24 comments for “33 – OK Computer

  1. Anonymous
    June 21, 2012 at 11:59 am

    for knowing the the brick joke. A friend of mine once tested the limits of it. Turns out, 6 months and 5 states distance between the two halves is too much. More studies to follow.

    • the leaking pen
      June 21, 2012 at 7:58 pm

      anyone going to explain?

      • Stormy
        June 21, 2012 at 8:23 pm

        …where you have the set up for the first half of a joke waaaaaay before the pay off.

        The history behind it is a series of interlinked jokes – in the first, a brick is tossed away, and in the last, the brick falls from the sky or is found (that’s what happened to the brick! ahahaha and such :P).

        • the leaking pen
          June 21, 2012 at 10:51 pm

          okay, but, is there a particular actual THING where the brick was used that way? Im familiar with the type of joke, i use it a lot myself (im doing that with the lady slings the blues pun on anti-Heroes, if anyone’s reading. the payoff is going to ROCK)

        • Stormy
          June 22, 2012 at 2:07 am

          Part 1

          Once upon a time, there was a man who wanted to build a house. But, being a little eccentric, he wanted to build the house using only 99 bricks. So he went to the hardware store and said, “Hello, I’d like to buy 99 bricks.”

          The owner of the store told him, “I’m sorry, we only sell bricks in quantities of 100.”

          “Can’t you cut me a deal or something?” the man asked.

          “Nope, sorry,” replied the owner. So the guy bought 100 bricks.

          He took the bricks back to his lot, and he built a house using 99 bricks. Now, if you do the math, 100 minus 99 is 1, so he had one brick left. And he took that brick, and he just chucked it, way up in the air!

          Part 2

          A guy was riding on an airplane, and he decided to smoke a cigar. Unfortunately, he was sitting next to a woman with a dog. The dog began coughing, so the lady said, “Excuse me, sir, but could you please put out your cigar? It’s really bothering my dog.”

          He angrily replied, “No, I won’t! You shouldn’t have a dog on this flight anyways!”

          “This is a non-smoking flight! You need to put that cigar out!” she said. They argued back and forth… get rid of the dog, put out the cigar, and so on.

          Finally, the man said, “Look, I’ll compromise with you. If you get rid of your dog, I’ll get rid of the cigar.” HE was thinking, “She’ll never want to give up her dog.” But much to his surprise, she agreed to the deal!

          The lady opened the window (amazingly, without causing the air pressure inside the plane to drop) and threw her dog out. The man, thinking that he had another cigar anyways, threw his cigar out the window, thinking that he had won.

          However, the woman suddenly reached out the window, and grabbed her dog’s leash! As she pulled the dog back in, she was thinking that she’d won, but do you know what the dog had in its mouth?

          A BRICK!!!!

        • the leaking pen
          June 22, 2012 at 12:55 pm


          I have heard that one, or similar. the guythat told it to me told me the first joke in the morning, and the next joke at dinner time.. i completely forgot it…

        • Stormy
          June 22, 2012 at 10:40 pm

          …that since you just got it now, that’s kinda an epic brick joke. 😀

    • Stormy
      June 21, 2012 at 9:45 pm

      …though I only get stuck for an hour or so at a time now, so it’s actually an enjoyable experience.

      I go see a movie, I come home and read the tropes. I watch a new show, I read the tropes (and probably end up spoiling it for myself).


      Tropes are responsible for 90% of my knowledge of the Dresden Files, since I’ve only read the first two, but it’s filled in almost everything else for me. ^_^

  2. the leaking pen
    June 21, 2012 at 1:17 pm
    • Stormy
      June 21, 2012 at 9:34 pm


  3. Anonymous
    June 21, 2012 at 2:04 am

    … but I gotta say I’m loving these. The story and Stef’s character are getting deeper, more polished. And she’s spending less time being totally skitzoid insane and more just insanely nerdy. And while I would love some advances in the main story line (wherefore art thou phoenixes! phoeni?) these retold scenes are different enough and important enough to get me my mirrorverse fix. So much so that I forgot what was about to happen in the ice cream shop. Well played.

    One question. Are you going to keep Ryan’s confession about his feelings towards ice cream as canon?

    • Stormy
      June 21, 2012 at 2:27 am

      I think it’s because I’ve had all these years of getting to know the story and the characters, so I’ve been able to come back and tell it properly.

      And she’s spending less time being totally skitzoid insane and more just insanely nerdy.
      Well, I have also severely upped the wibble-count as compared to the old version, but I do love all the new nerdy bits (like requiring all the first issues 😀 ).

      And while I would love some advances in the main story line (wherefore art thou phoenixes! phoeni?)
      If I want to be all *puts on airs and graces* literary or some shit about it, I’d say that it’s hard to write the end of OUB, which is…an ending in so, so many ways when I’m rewriting their beginning.

      If I was being me, I’d say that the MF rewrite is just too much damn fun. ^_^

      So much so that I forgot what was about to happen in the ice cream shop. Well played.

      One question. Are you going to keep Ryan’s confession about his feelings towards ice cream as canon?
      Yes, but like as before, it probably won’t show up until MS, so it can be like three-book long brick joke.

  4. ValkyriePhoenix
    June 22, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    …OH COME ON, Ryan. you KNOW she doesn’t do well with people-people (human-y types in particular), that half the time they scare her and the other half she just really doesn’t like them, you KNOW she refers to her computer /by name/ and treats it like a person. and you just told her you’re a more advanced (ie: WAY cooler) version of the things she’s most comfortable with dealing with and you expect her to NOT like you??? *eyeroll*

    • Stormy
      June 24, 2012 at 2:09 am

      …he’s only getting to know her, so he’s still adjusting to all of her little Stefisms.

      you expect her to NOT like you???
      Ryan, as a rule, doesn’t expect people to like him…

      • ValkyriePhoenix
        June 25, 2012 at 5:23 am

        change “KNOW” to “have observed enough that you SHOULD know”

        Ryan, as a rule, doesn’t expect people to like him…
        stef’s not a people either! *flail*

        not complaining about it at all. doing the *eats popcorn and throws it at the screen when characters do stupid things and yelling at them* thing.

        • Stormy
          June 25, 2012 at 7:49 pm

          stef’s not a people either! *flail*
          Yeah, but he’s still only starting to grok onto that as well.

          Remember, from an outside perspective, Stef just seems a bit…off. And sure, he’s getting to see more than most, but he’s able to rationalise some (or alot) of it away by how emotionally and physically traumatic the last few days have been.

          not complaining about it at all. doing the *eats popcorn and throws it at the screen when characters do stupid things and yelling at them* thing.
          That’s my favourite past time!

        • ValkyriePhoenix
          June 25, 2012 at 8:58 pm

          That’s my favourite past time!
          i kno’ right? buffy’s one of my favorite shows to do that with. mostly because there’s so much scope for ridiculing the characters.

        • Stormy
          June 26, 2012 at 2:49 am

          …just so I can scream or shout or point out flaws.

          …watching Mythbusters with Matthew has both of us doing that. >_<

        • ValkyriePhoenix
          June 26, 2012 at 5:30 am

          i don’t pause. i mock over the top of the script. :3

        • Stormy
          June 26, 2012 at 7:56 am

          …that way, I don’t miss a chance to mock something else. 😛

        • ValkyriePhoenix
          June 26, 2012 at 8:01 am

          i multitask well. :3 i can mock over the top of the script and pick up the next thing to mock as well. especially with buffy, which i have pretty well memorized for the first 4 seasons at least…

        • Stormy
          June 26, 2012 at 8:26 am

          …that I won’t incessantly mock. 😀

  5. silentdeth
    June 24, 2012 at 1:43 am

    Now I want some ice cream with marshmallows, and to go to an ice cream parlor with an abacus some time.

    • Stormy
      June 24, 2012 at 2:08 am

      …if you do, take pictures.

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