Black Box

No Playing With Gods In The House

or Why I Learned To Listen When Opposites Agree

Once the debate about the potential implications of being able to activate and/or deactivate psychics comes to a close, Vanessa goes to visit the Triplets. Settling into meditation, she once again feels a presence in the room with her. She gets a sense that they are waiting, expectant, that something has changed. However, no matter how she tries, she is unable to connect to it.

A few days pass before the group is called into Blackwood’s office. He appears more sickly than usual, and clearly hasn’t had much sleep. He informs the group that something has happened to Terry; he was brought down while on an operation a few days ago, and Blackwood believes he was taken to the Department HQ for “deprogramming”. Before the group can start planning a rescue, Blackwood informs them that, although Terry has been trained to resist interrogation, that will likely only delay the inevitable. There exists sensitive information in Terry’s mind, and the Department will stop at nothing to get at it. The Department likely also knows of Terry’s association with the rest of the group, which is a new variable.

Rather than wait for the Department to attack, once they have ripped the location of the Resistance from his mind, Blackwood reminds the group of a plan he had suggested earlier. Namely that they allow the Triplets access to their memories, to try to triangulate where the Department is located. The group agrees, and asks how quickly they would be able to reach Terry. Eugene points out that, while Terry may have been trained to resist psychic interrogation, there are perfectly mundane techniques the Department could use. Blackwood’s response is simply that everyone should assume the Department knows whatever Terry does, and that he is a write-off.

After the vitriolic reaction to this news has died down, Suzie asks what the plan is if the Triplets are able to get the location of the Department. Blackwood’s primary objective is simple: smash the Department. Rescuing Terry comes as a distant second.

Returning to their room, the group discusses Terry’s fate. Phia stated that Blackwood is probably right, it’s too dangerous to try to bring Terry back now. Pete is not in the least surprised, and asks what Phia would want if she were the one captured. When she says that she’d want to be left behind, Pete replies that he would never leave anyone behind. In cold rebuke, Phia says she’d leave him.

Preparations for their visit with the Triplets begin the next day. The group is coached on how to behave: they are given breathing exercises and instructed not to be afraid. They are also told not to read too much into anything they see. The day of the ordeal, the group is told that they will be sedated, and that each will have a (non-psychic) orderly with them holding their hands in case they begin to panic. When asked, the medical technician explains that the reason for the sedation is to make it easier for the Triplets. As psychic power increases, it becomes increasingly difficult to be gentle and not scar someone’s mind.

Everyone ends up in hospital gowns on gurneys inside the Triplet’s room. As the drugs start to kick in, the group becomes aware of a presence in the center of the room. It begins to expand, filling the room and overwhelming their minds. They are assaulted with random images, sounds and sensations as the presence sifts through their memories and dreams. Rather than her own memories, Suzie has a vision of three white-robed figures, siblings, pinned in place by a hand coming down from the sky. The hand is well cared for, but sickly, and she is filled with the feeling of being trapped.

Eventually, the presence recedes. The Triplets seemed gentle, but inhuman; almost angelic. The group is wheeled back into the medical bay to recover. While the drugs are still wearing off, Blackwood comes to visit. He looks excited and grateful. Suzie is cognizant enough to examine his hands, they match those in her vision.

Back once more in their rooms, Suzie tells the group about her vision. She and Vanessa believe that the Triplets are trapped here, that they want to die but are being kept alive by Blackwood. Vanessa reminds the others that she’s been visiting the Triplets for several weeks, and she has the sense that they were waiting for us to arrive. She also admits that she has been unable to truly communicate with the Triplets, and believes that if everyone works together they should be able to find out what the Triplets want.

While debating it, Eugene suggests that the group might be able to use the Triplets to turn off all psychics. Assuming the group can figure out how the process works, they should be able to teach it to the Triplets who aren’t dependent on line-of-sight to influence others. A few agree that this is a good idea, although Phia worries that the group will be caught in the line of fire as well.

Phia also suggests that perhaps the group should try leaving the Resistance bunker before attempting to communicate with the Triplets. Shockingly, Pete agrees. Suzie and Vanessa worry about being able to come back, as the group will need physical access to the Triplets in order to turn off the meds keeping them controlled. Eventually it’s decided that the group will go ahead with reaching out immediately, but Pete will stay out as a spotter to make sure nothing goes wrong. Led by Vanessa, the rest begin to meditate together. Focusing on “hope” – that they will be able to help the Triplets, be able to communicate, and be able to help themselves – the group reaches out.

They feel the attention of the Triplets start to shift towards them. Unlike the gentle touch earlier, this time the presence rips into the groups’ minds. Images begin to flash: Terry tied to a chair, hair lank; a red desert; a white-masked figure levitating with a stone ring turning behind it; Blackwood standing on the opposite side of a desk from Stern as a room is torn apart around them. They get a sense of paralysis, of being trapped and used against their will.

Then something else, a presence other than the Triplets so vast it seemed a part of the landscape, begins to turn its attention towards the group. They try to wake up, but feel the tendrils of the Triplets keeping them in place. As the larger presence continues to turn, the group can feel the Triplets begin to dither – they don’t want to let go. The group can hear alarms blaring as they start to panic, and then mental barriers slam down around them.

They wake up to find Pete standing, having thrown mental shields around everyone else. They all have stabbing headaches, and Suzie’s nose is bloodied. Alarms are still blaring. A stampede of people in white labcoats rushes into the room and starts examining the group. Under a barrage of questions, they explain that something happened with the Triplets, and that hopefully there was no permanent damage. The group is placed in wheelchairs and brought back to the lab for further examination.

After insuring that there has been no serious damage, the group is reluctantly permitted to go back to their rooms. A nurse is positioned in the rooms across the hall, in case anything else goes wrong.

Pete is told what the other saw, and the group discusses what the Triplets were trying to tell them. Regarding the scene between Blackwood and Stern, it’s wondered whether that was literal or a figurative representation of the battle between the Department and Resistance. If it is literal, the group wonders if it happened in the past or is coming in the future. Phia muses aloud about the possibility of Blackwood & Stern actually being in league together, a chilling thought.

Discussion turns next to the larger presence that began to focus on the group, and whether it was T-0. Returning to Eugene’s suggestion of using the Triplets to deactivate all psychics, Phia wonders if that mightn’t anger the larger presence. A new idea is suggested that the group may need to form their own organization, independent of either the Department or Resistance, to police and turn of psychics as necessary. Such important work should only be performed by those who can be trusted.

Blackwood comes to visit the next day. He apologizes for what happened, saying that it is harder to control the Triplets after they’ve been working. He is, however, optimistic that they will have the location of the Department in a matter of hours. Once that is obtained, he plans to set up surveillance and start planning the attack. He also wants to know if the group is willing to participate in the attack, to which the response is a resounding yes. At a conservative estimate, he believes the attack will take place within two months.

Two weeks later, they are called into Blackwood’s office. He asks if any remember hearing about the white knights in the Department. Although some recall hearing the name, no one knows any details. Blackwood shows them an image that was picked up from the surveillance on the Department HQ. It looks like da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man; a figure in white with its arm outstretched, a fifth of a ring behind it. The group is also reminded of the image they got from the Triplets. While discussing it among themselves, Eugene theorizes that the ring acts as a psychic amplifier.

Two more weeks pass before the group returns to Blackwood’s office. This time he is dressed in fatigues. He hands the group briefing papers, the attack is scheduled for tomorrow. The group is to guard a loading dock at the rear of the building, and are instructed to lead a charge in the unlikely event that things go horribly awry. Joining the group will be three more psychics and five volunteers.

For the first time, the group isn’t blindfolded on their way to the plane. Blackwood tells them, for better or worse, everything ends today. As the plane takes off they are told that they’re leaving California, and are on their way to Arizona.

~~

Quotes Without Context

“I thought that was just friction.”
“No, that’s the syphilis.”

“Roll to boner.”

“If I could interrupt your game of Genital Scribblenauts for a moment…”

“Left Science to full!”

“It’s a coping mechanism.”

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JCat Bootler

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