The Institute is one of Chicago’s fixtures. An understated looking set of buildings on several acres of greenery in in the depths of Chicago’s Far North Side, the organization’s Main Campus serves as it’s regional headquarters, office space and of course a school for teaching mutants things that they can’t be taught by home VI’s, like control of their powers in controlled environments.
This is one of the few places in the world one is apt to see children or really anyone younger than about twenty or so. And being a school, it has a library. A library that Ian Owenshire has been offered a job at. One that has asked him to come in and view the place so that he can look over the place and they can look over him.
When Ian arrives there’s clearly some kind of aerial class going on. Maybe a race? Maybe a game? People are zipping about in the sky, some with obvious means of locomotion, some without. There are so many of them that it may be easy to miss the one in the sky with amber doing some rather expert aerobatics while a group of people watch and look at instruments on the ground below.
It seems to be a nice enough day for outdoor activities of such. The weather’s been fair enough that Ian hasn’t bothered to bring an extra coat to wear over his blazer and likewise his standard attire for a day at work, neutral grays with a subtle texture and a light tan sweater vest over a light button-up shirt. If he’d felt strange coming to the Institute dressed as such rather than his casual wear that he’d normally sport for a day of studies, then it’s already been dismissed as the above antics distract him, along with the slight eagerness at being able to delve into the domain of another library.
He slows his walk as he lifts his head, bringing a hand up to nudge his glasses from where they’d slid a fraction out of place. If there’s some point to the aerial display then it’s beyond him. He stops for a moment to watch them, pale eyes scanning the skies to watch. His own experience with flight had been sudden and out of his control, so as fascinating as it looks, the librarian’s rather comfortable with keeping his feet on solid ground.
One of the group on the ground is Kaylee Simmons and her attention is fixed solidly on a handheld device she’s holding. “Can you do that again, please, Brigitte?” her voice carries across the lawn as she glances upwards, seeing Ian just as he stops.
“Ian!” she greets the man and gestures for him to join her, if he wants, then she’s momentarily distracted as one of the girls in the air, swoops and tumbles.
A young looking redheaded woman that Ian may know as Dora Grey steps out of the front door with an older looking white haired man in a suit. Both make their way over to where Kaylee is standing. “How are the physicals coming Doctor Simmons?” Dora says with a smile. “Oh! Is that Ian? Hello Ian!”
Just as she’s waving someone swoops low and pulls up sharply to drop to the ground enviably lightly. He has two large glowing amber wings that make him look almost angelic. Which is ironic because Ian probably thinks he’s the devil.
“Ah, Hello Ian. Dora. Headmaster Archimedes.” Jericho Trent says as his wings fold and vanish. “Those kids are wearing me out Kaylee. You almost done?”
Hearing his name, Ian glances over then, a smile quirking his lips. He turns to head towards Kaylee’s direction. “Hey Kaylee. Oh, and Miss Grey,” he says in greeting as the redhead emerges along with someone unfamiliar to him, but all the same, Ian offers a polite nod.
“Jericho,” Ian adds once the man makes his own presence known, a brow arching over the rim of his glasses although he figures by now he shouldn’t be surprised to run into the hacker anywhere by now. Noting the wings as they’re ‘put away’, he nods to himself as he considers the earlier display before turning to look towards the others again. Headmaster, was it?
Kaylee smirks as Jericho lands and shakes her head “I don’t think so, Jericho. I think I need another a good solid hours of data.” Her eyes are dancing with those words though and he can tell she’s teasing. “The kids are enjoying themselves, would you really deny them that?”
“We’re done, Dora. I’ll review these in my office and get a report to you and the headmaster. Hello Headmaster…” The grin she casts at Jericho is impish indeed. “What brings you by, Ian? Have met the Headmaster of the Institute?”
“Ian Owenshire, yes. We have not yet met but I was expecting.” He seems like just an older man, greying hair, pale skin. Nothing particularly unusual about him to the eye but then this is the Institute. Many things are unusual. “Pleased to meet you Mister Owenshire. I’m called just ‘Archimedes’. You’ve met Dora Grey already I see. You’re still interested in that Library position? It’s an unusual one but your qualifications landed you at the top of our list.”
Jericho takes a deep breath and mock-glares at Kaylee. “Yes. They’ve had enough fun with me.” He’s not actually upset and would probably keep playing with them – and generating medical data for Kaylee – if she really needed. But he’s tired.
“Oh… are you considering Ian for the Special Librarian position?”
“Restricted Stacks, yes Jericho.” Dora says with a smile.
“Interesting. Have you seen those yet, Kaylee?”
Ian turns his head away from Kaylee and Jericho for a moment to hide his own smirk as the LMD teases the hacker. “Ah, well I was just…” he starts, but as the headmaster apparent speaks up, he quiets and nods as he turns his attention to him. “It’s nice to meet you as well, Headmaster Archimedes,” he says before allowing a bit of a smile. “I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t interested in the position.” Although the description of it being unusual does make him a little wary, although even more curious.
He blinks as Jericho seems to have even more of an idea of what they’re hinting at than he does, pale blue eyes shifting to look between the hacker and the redhead.
“…restricted stacks?” he prompts, looking from Dora to the Headmaster.
“I’m sure they haven’t, but we’ll let an old man like yourself have some rest …” Kaylee quips, giving the kids in the air a wave. “Have fun and thank you, all of you.” She calls to them.
“Restricted Stacks? I … have not. But they mentioned when I was aw—, came to work here. No one told what they were ‘restricted’ for, though.”
“Yes. Let me just show you. Come along now.” Archimedes turns and heads inside. Dora moves right along side him and Jericho brings up the rear leaving the other two in the middle. As they enter the main building they pass a room with lots of books in it. And people reading. The kind that, you know, looks like a library.
But Archimedes proceeds to the elevator, puts a key in one of those special locks, turns it, and then hits down.
“You don’t mind working below ground, do you Mister Ownshire?”
When the door opens it opens onto a scene from Science Fiction. A number of students are researching at state of the art holo terminals and in the center is a large collumn that absolutely looks like a tank of some kind.
It is. And if Kaylee is not mistaken, there’s biological brain tissue growing in it.
“Welcome, Mister Owenshire, to the Restricted Stacks.”
There’s little else to do but to follow along, then. Ian’s gaze lingers for as long as he can catch a glimpse into the library, the one that, you know, he thought he’d actually be assisting in, part-time. A familiar feeling’s started to creep up in the back of his mind as they move past it and onto an elevator, a feeling he’s associated mostly with whenever he goes back to the office/home of 4 and Francisco as he half expects one of the things 4’s brought home to jump him. Or when he opens the door to his apartment or closet, hoping that there’s no demon sitting on the other side of it. Paranoia, distilled and labeled for its particular brand of uncertainty.
“Pardon?” he blinks before recalling the question Archimedes poses, and whether rhetorical or not, Ian shakes his head as he stands there with his hands folded in front of him while they descend. “No- I don’t believe so…”
The scene that’s revealed once the doors of the elevator slide open is definitely not something that he would have labeled as a library. Perhaps his definition of library is antiquated as he knows that the term can apply to any mass collection of information, data and such in various forms. His preference just happens to be very much the papery, tactile sort.
Ian’s rather silent as he looks slowly from one end to the other, as far as he can properly take in from where they now stand. He’s not sure what he’s looking at here, and a small part of him might be expecting Archimedes to say that he was just joking.
Kaylee trips along quite happily. There’s much she doesn’t know about this new time she was awakened to and what could go wrong in a Library? OK. So, a pixie covered in hallucinogenic powder could. Or a take down of a crime boss or … she stops wondering at that and looks around.
It’s the column in the middle that truly gets her attention and the purple haired biochem glances to Jericho, then Dora, then Ian, then Archimedes before moving forward, circling the glass several times as she looks at it. “Who’s brain is that?” she asks. All… quite matter of factly.
“We call her Gnosis. But it’s not anyone’s brain per se. There was an experiment in using cloned brain tissue as a computing medium. And it worked quite well… until we installed a VI program to help manage all the data.” Archimedes makes a slightly embarrassed face.
Dora chuckles and motions Ian and Kaylee forward. “The VI took ‘root’ if you will much faster and more completely than anyone expected. It started ‘thinking’ and though it wasn’t really programmed to do so, it started to develop a personality. Possibly even… sentience.”
Jericho chuckles. Clearly he’s seen or heard of this before.
“Anyway.” Archimedes continues, following along and letting Dora lead. “This is a state of the art library. Tablets that can be checked out, fully equipped for the latest interactive AR literature. Digitized versions of all of the classics, plus a lot of higher learning and more exotic literature. The thing is… well, the library needs a friend as much as it needs a keeper. So we thought of you.”
Leave it to Kaylee to get right to the point. Ian can appreciate that about her, even if sometimes she seems a little insensitive to situations for it. It saves him the trouble of trying to figure out words which had at the moment escaped him.
It’s bizarre to hear them speaking about this all like it’s something completely commonplace, and Ian can’t help but look around at the others with him to see if he’s not the only one who’s been thrown by this. And here’s Jericho, chuckling. Well, so much for that.
Looking back towards the column and its contents as they’re all ushered along, the librarian adjusts his glasses again as he listens while Archimedes resumes his explanation. He very nearly stumbles over his own feet when the Headmaster arrives at the punchline.
“Wait… I’m sorry, what?” It’s not that he hasn’t been listening. Even now he’s already going over what he’s just been informed of, and while it might make sense in that context, that it’s so calmly delivered is the maddening part of it all. A couple of beats of one of those awkward laughs that one gives when they’re filling in even more awkward space as Ian tries to convince himself that the Headmaster is being quite serious in this. He hesitates in what he might have said, swinging a look back towards…Gnosis, a thoughtful expression touching his face even as his brow furrows just a touch.
“That’s… I have to ask. Why me?” He hopes the question isn’t taken the wrong way as he looks again to those whom he’s accompanied down, folding his hands behind him.
Kaylee is only really listening with half an ear as she wanders around the column in wonder. “Gnosis. I like it. You’re lonely, aren’t you? Everyone comes to you looking for answers but I bet you have questions of your own…” Is she talking to it? Yes, yes, she is.
It’s Ian’s question that has her looking over at last. “Because whilst you understand how a library works, there’s more to you than that, Ian.” This is the man who, after all, called her friend, something the LMD isn’t likely to forget.
“I do, often.” An image appears on one of the consoles near Kaylee. A holographic image of a woman, all tinted blue. The features are indistinct but for the profile. Clearly it’s a ‘she’ or at least identifies as such. “Hello Doctor Simmons. Hello Ian Owenshire. Welcome to the Library.”
At least she’s polite?
“Because, Ian.” Dora says. “We’ve seen you in a lot of situations. You go out of your way to help. You’re good with data, with books. You’re quite personable in a quiet kind of way. We think you’d be a good match for Gnosis. Someone who can remember she’s more than just a program with a lot of data.” There’s a short pause. “The fact that you can lock down the students if they lose control and keep them from damaging anything is a bonus, of course.”
Ian meets Kaylee’s gaze with his own, holding it a moment before he looks towards the console as Gnosis makes herself known.
Given the things both Kaylee and Dora have said, it makes better sense. It certainly answers his question, and in a satisfactory kind of way rather than what he otherwise could have expected. After all, there are probably lots of other librarians who happen to be mutants out there. He nods slowly.
“…hello, Gnosis. Um. Thank you for the welcome.” Well, it’s a good place to start as any.
“Agent Simmons, Gnosis.” The correction is almost automatic and might make Jericho wince. It was an issue for the LMD when she was awakened. “But you can call me Kaylee, I’d like that.”
“I hadn’t considered your power in light of this, Ian but they’re right. I think you’re ideally suited and expect you and Gnosis will have lots of thrilling discussions.” Philosphical ones if Kaylee doesn’t miss the mark. If Gnosis truly is developing sentience the why do I exist question will certainly be asked.
“I’d be interested in reviewing the project, Archimedes. To learn what happened. It’s quite fascinating really… ” and there’s much the LMD wonders about her own humanity that she might learn from such studies.
“I’d be happy to let you see our records, Agent Simmons.” Archimedes says with a rather avuncular smile. “In fact if you ask Gnosis she might be able to share insights that aren’t in the offical reports.” Things like ‘what was it like’?
“Are going to be staying, Mister Owenshire?” The projections asks Ian. It seems rather focused on him. Jericho and Dora hang back watching mostly Ian but also Kaylee. It’s interesting to observe the both of them interacting with the maybe AI, though for different reasons. Ian for professional ones, Kaylee for much more personal ones.
It’s a bit of an odd smile that Ian turns Kaylee’s way. Thrilling discussions, huh? That’s what the look might read as, but Ian wouldn’t doubt that they’d at the very least be interesting conversations. And it helps that Gnosis has a more humanoid projection to interact with. Addressing a brain would take some getting use to, otherwise.
“I don’t see why not,” he replies to Gnosis as he lets his hands slide into pockets while he has more of a perusing look about the place. “I think I’ll have a lot to learn here if I’m going to be expected to be of any use, though. Maybe you can help me with a rundown of how you get things done around here?”
“Kaylee.” Another gentle correction and a smile from the LMD “I’d like that, if you’d permit access from time to time.”
With Ian accepting the position, the biochem turns to Jericho, is he smirking? “I think I need some more data from the children … ” she needles him.
Jericho lets out a long suffering sigh and turns back toward the elevator. “Well, let’s go get it before they get bored and go do something else.”
Archimedes nods and motions to Dora. “Why don’t you talk a bit more to Gnosis, Ian. Then you can come up to my office and we can discuss your employment.”
“I’d be happy to show you, Mister Owenshire.” She may have to be told to call him Ian. “We have based the data profiling systems are based on the ones used by the Chicago City Library…” Well, at least he’ll be familiar with it. This may take a bit, but at least nothing – more – unexpected should happen.
The library position that Ian had been offered at the Institute turns out to be on a completely different level than what he'd expected.
May 22, 2051
The Institute, Far North Side, Chicago
Dora Grey, Headmaster Archimedes, Gnosis