Log Title: Synthesis
Summary: Aseneth Li has her first psychosurgery session with Dr. Wisteria Tau.
IC Date: Mon Feb 18 21:02, 2381
OOC Date: Mon Feb 18 21:02, 2019
Related Logs: An Appointment Made
winteraseneth

 

 

So, I imagine you get this sort of thing a lot.

  • * *

Dr. Wisteria Tau sees both walk-ins and appointments, humans and synths. Have DHF, will travel, after all, and most of those travels come with baggage. The psychosurgeon is currently in their back room, or at least there's faint music coming from that room, the door is ajar and the light is on. It's a dreary day in Bay City, because the sun is only for those rich enough to live above the permanent cloud cover, but it's not raining or too windy, so pleasant enough. In the waiting area, an octopus is coiled up in the fish tank, perched on a coralline-covered rock, it's skin speckled and ridged in a manner that camouflages it impressively, save for the pulse of water in and out of its siphon.

* * *

Aseneth enters into the front office, looking about once more - still hestitant as the chime jingles, despite having been here once before to make an appointment. A glance is given towards the octopus, in particular, and the coralline-covered rock, as well as the bookshelf. The synthetic figure makes no attempt to go to the back room, but instead drifts about akwardly, looking out of place and somewhat hesitant.

* * *

It's only a few moments before the doctor appears, stepping out from the back room in a fitted lavender top with an asymmetric hem and loose black pants that look like a skirt until they move. Blonde hair has been styled in one of those 'intentionally tousled' style, and they offer the synth a warm smile. "Welcome back, Ms. Li. Would you like to sit and talk a bit, or shall we head into the office proper?"

* * *

Moving to sit down, Aseneth leans back into one of the chairs and sighs. "I'm fine with staying here." the synth replies. "I like the pants, by the way. Wish I could get away with something like that at work, but it wouldn't fly. Hair too. Much more my style. I think thats…" A pause. "Well, actually - I know thats part of my problems. But probably a lesser one." A pause. "My apologies if I ramble on. I have to practice being formal so much in my job, that I feel stiff sometimes, in my mannerisms."

* * *

"Hmm," Winter murmurs, scratching at their chin, "Then I think we should go to VR. Get you out of that skin for a little while and let you be a little more yourself. We can get comfortable, and you can tell me what it is you'd like to work on during our sessions."

* * *

"Complete confidentiality?" Aseneth repeats, again - no longer akward, but suddenly nervous once more.

* * *

"Yes," Winter assures with a small nod.

* * *

"Very well then." Aseneth says, standing up. "Please, lead on."

* * *

They give a small nod of approval and lead Aseneth into the back room with its console and recliner Chairs. "Please take a seat, and I'll load an environment. Are there any locations you prefer? Places or environs you find peaceful or soothing?"

* * *

"I always enjoyed natural environments, near historical sites." Aseneth replies. "The colony I grew up on had a number of such, dreary though it was." The synth moves to sit down. "Something the exact opposite of a House, basically. Or this city, even. It has the same dreariness, but none of the wide open spaces, the bleak, beautiful desolation of nature, and even its old spots seem…hollow, rather then venerable, to me."

* * *

"Hmm," Winter hums, "bleak and beautiful. Let me see what I have…" They fall silent for a minute, tapping quietly on the keyboard. There's a small nod and they go settle in the other chair. "Program is running. Go ahead and jack in. I'll be there in a moment." Winter settles back to plug the jack into the base of their neck.

In VR, they've chosen an environment reminiscent of the Scottish moors of old. A wide, sweeping expanse of green and heather with gently rolling hills under a grey sky with the clouds breaking just enough to let down shafts of pale light in certain spots. Amid this lonely sweep of green, a picnic has been laid out, complete with checkered blanket.

* * *

Aseneth leans back into the chair and jacks in. In the VR environment, the synth does not appear. Instead, a twenty-something man with vaugely east-central asian features appears; he's short - even shorter then Aseneth - but has taught, lean muscles, and slightly wild, shoulder-length dark hair. He wears relatively boring, average clothing - the sort any normal poverty-stricken person might get from a secondhand store or clearance bin. Perhaps a bit old-fashioned- styles being different on the colonies. He glances around, looking at the grey sky. "Now this reminds me of home." he says, looking much more confident and relaxed. He glances over the picnic blanket, and plops right down on it. If Winter has seen Aseneth outside of the office (this player isn't sure, but thinks it has happened at least once) - the body language is entirely different. Gone is anything resembling the poised movements of the Synth in public. Gone even is the hesitency, and uncertainty it displayed in private. Mostly, it just shows relief.

"So, I imagine you get this sort of thing a lot."

* * *

Winter is sitting on the other side of the blanket, looking much the same as they did in the real, save they have on a scarf and light jacket. They consider the young man across from them with something more like interest and fascination than surprise. "It's… not uncommon," they allow as they nudge a plate of sandwiches closer to their patient. "What should I call you now?"

* * *

The man glances towards the sandwiches, and picks one up. "I was born Amets Tenzin." he replies. "I'm under an identity mask. It was supposed to be a day or two, but I became stuck." he says simply, before looking at the sandwhich again, and taking several deep mouthfuls of it. "You have no idea how awful the sense of taste in that body is."

* * *

Winter considers this information. "Malfunction?" they ask, "or betrayal?" They pour tea from a thermos, lifting it to have a small sip.

* * *

"I was an activist for colonial freedom." Amets says, greedily finishing the sandwich and moving to pour himself some tea. "Or so I told myself. It was never really true. I was just…a corporate spy. It was all mixed up in my head with this sense of patriotism, for our corporate government. The more profitable it was, the more independent and free we were - garbage like that." He sips at the tea, slowing down somewhat. "They sent me as different people, infiltrating their lives for a day or two. Stealing information, sabotaging them in someway, or setting them up for blackmail. Whatever the cause needed. Eventually…well, I'm not sure. I suspect I became a liability after a point. Too risky after the three-moons stuff."

* * *

Winter nods, listening with quiet interest, quietly sipping their tea and leaving the majority of the food for Amets to enjoy. Then they blink slowly. "…After the Three-Moon stuff?"

* * *

"I was told that Aseneth - my current identity - she was from Three Moons, and had a brother there, highly placed in the government. They wanted information on him." Amets explains. "I was supposed to be in this body long enough to needlecast back. But the day after I was…provided…this identity, the three-moons rebellion happened. And I found out the brother didn't even exist. My handler broke off contact." Another bite of the sandwhich. "I thought it would be for a few days, then a few weeks…then a month or two. Each time…" He shakes his head. "I thought to myself, I just have to keep cover, because its not my body, or my life. None of the things I did were awful or terrible, because they were not me. I could survive anything, pretend to be anything; and none of it would touch me here, inside. I was not my body. And by the time I realized I was stuck in the body, I'd been pretending to be Aseneth for…some time." A pause. "And that was years ago. And…I still don't really feel human. I don't know who I am. I can barely taste anything, or smell anything. I distance myself from my body, put on an act - but I wonder, all the time, why I havn't gone insane. I obsess over it. I don't know how I do it. But I do. And…honestly, it doesn't even bother me. I just feel numb."

* * *

"You're surviving," Winter offers gently, "and protecting yourself. Still a spy and an activist, still carrying out the mission. Sometimes our minds do things we don't expect or understand. Sometimes, we're stronger than we realize, but even that strength can hurt. Tell me, if the opportunity was presented to you, tomorrow, to become Amets Tenzin again, would you take it?"

* * *

Aseneth is silent. "I never asked that, even once." he admits. "I don't know. I don't believe in the government I…he…" A pause. "We? Nouns are so hard. I don't believe in it anymore. My entire identity was based around it, around trying to fight for the freedom of others. I was fine with dying. It never occured to me how many forms death could take. But…" He shakes his head. "I don't know. Part of me despises how naive I was. Part of me wants to cling to it, because its all I am. I don't know if I've ever done a single thing in my life to benefit others, and…yet I always told myself that was what moved me. And it was a lie."

* * *

"I think… it was an illusion," Winter offers after a thoughtful moment. "The desire to help others was true. Is true. But, perhaps you found ways to fit that truth into a network of lies told by your colony's government. Perhaps it was easier to believe than to question. Because questioning might reveal another truth: that your desire to help turned into actions that caused harm. That who you wanted to be and the things you did were divergent."

* * *

"I hope so." Amets replies. "Because the alternative is that I wanted to do good, and knew better, and chose to be blind anways. Because being blind was more satisfying then choosing to see, as long as I was right." A pause. "I did steal people's lives, after all. Not alone - and I didn't stay. But those I left behind had to suffer the consequences of what I did as them."

* * *

Winter tips their head in a small nod of agreement. "But, you're not dead. Adrift, perhaps. Your story hasn't ended, yet."

* * *

"No." Amets agrees. "No. But…it doesn't tell me who I am. I honestly don't know. I've…the things I've done, I think should have driven me mad. And…I just…I don't know. Everything about me is fake and synthetic. A synthetic identity in a synthetic person. Synthetic goals, hopes dreams. I'm not sure what that makes me, or who to be."

* * *

"That is the question," Winter replies, "but you are real. Your soul is real, even if your skin is synthetic. Even if your life is fabricated. Ultimately, all of that is transient, if you let it be. Not knowing who you are doesn't mean you can't discover who you are. Your past shapes your future but doesn't dictate it."

* * *

"I guess." Amets says, noncomittently. "I know what you say is true, intellectually. I do. But…I don't feel it. How do I feel it? When I look in the mirror, I see an elaborate toy. I put on a smile, and thats what I feel like; something hollow, without a soul. I can fake it. But thats not the same as feeling it."

* * *

"Okay," Winter replies, "then that's our goal. We're going to work towards your being able to feel again."

* * *

Aseneth nods. "Alright. Where do I start?"

* * *

"With homework," Winter replies with a faint smile. "Do you have regular, private access to VR?"

* * *

"I do now." Amets replies. "It took some doing, but I paid a hacker to…clear out some of the spyware that apparently came with this body."

* * *

"Okay, good," Winter approves, setting down their now empty teacup. "Then, number one, I'd like you to try to spend an hour a day in VR, as Amets Tenzin. Eat something, sit by a fire, experience the things that your synth body can't. Remind yourself what that was like."

* * *

Amets nods. "Alright. I'll make sure to do that. I've been neglecting it. Probably for good reason, but I don't have that excuse anymore. It will…be a relief, I think."

* * *

"Second," Winter continues, though they have a faint, approving smile for Aseneth's agreement on point one, "I want you to do at least one good deed twice a week. Doesn't matter what, doesn't have to be big or loud or even very important. It just has to be kind and right and something you actively choose to do, then carry out."

* * *

Amets takes another sip of the tea. "I think that would be good for me." he says, after a long, long moment of silent consideration. "Perhaps I could spend some time volunteering. There is a lot of suffering in this city."

* * *

"However works best for you," Winter agrees, "and certainly you don't have to stop at two. Third and last, when you look in that mirror in the morning, before you put on that smile, I want you to think about something in your past. Something you did when you believed one thing, and consider it now, in this new context, since you've come to believe something else. And then you may become Aseneth Li and do what you must."

* * *

Aseneth looks down at the picnic basket, and considers. "Something in my past, or do you mean something I thought or believed?"

* * *

"Either," Winter answers, "so long as it's something you've more or less not let yourself think about before."

* * *

"Face myself in the mirror." the figure whispers. "Very well, I can do that. Thank you for the help, doctor."

* * *

"It's what I'm here for," Winter assures. "I'd like to meet with you once a week, and we can talk through how each week went, as well as discuss your homework and what those experiences were like. But, I think all of this is enough for a first session. Are there any questions you have for me, before we jack out?"

* * *

Aseneth shakes their head. "No. But thank you, this was very helpful. That would be fine. I'll work on the homework and see what I can learn about myself."

* * *

"Good. Then I look forward to hearing what you learn. You did good work, today. It takes courage to face difficult truths about ourselves." Winter offers another smile before their form shimmers and vanishes as they log themselves out of VR.

* * *

Without fanfare, Aseneth/Amets leaves cyberspace. His old body vanishes - and he reappears in the chair, synthetic once more. Looking down at themselves, the synthetic figure gives a sigh, before slowly standing up. "Thank you again, doctor. Perhaps I do have a future."