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Λxʞᴉzƃ Sƃʇɾƃɹƃq
Jan 14, 2022
In _𝖟ʞʎ𝖟 ɹ∩ɯ_
The Archbishop pulled me into her office yet again today, said that she had some news for me. I felt a sense of relief wash over me. Maybe a date had been set for my meeting with Cardinal Renus. The Sons acknowledged what I had done. All the time I had given to improving PRIDE-Σ. The updates I had sunk so many hours into. The project that had sucked me in and caused me to nearly lose my own daughter. It would all be rectified then and there. Archbishop Firges was to be my saving grace. But my heart sank as the Archbishop began to speak. She licked his lips apprehensively. "Bishop Mandalay... Precta... I hate to tell you this, but... Cardinal Renus has changed his mind regarding your proposed updates to PRIDE-Σ." I heard my own voice echo through my skull. "What? What did you say?" "It... it isn't happening," she responded. "He said no." “I don’t understand,” I responded. "I don't understand." She folded her hands together delicately "I don't know what to say then..." “But I — you still want me to take over as Archbishop, right?" I began. "I mean, that's your decision, not his..." But Archbishop Firges only shook her head in reply. "I'm not certain..." she whispered, "Your loyalty, Mandalay — it's been called into question..." But that isn't fair! After all the shit— I need the money, Archbishop” I began, “My little girl, she’s sic—” “I know that, Bishop. This hurts me just to say. It really does." Her words were gentle. But I could feel no sympathy behind them. “With all due respect, ma'am!" I suddenly cried out. I banged my fists down upon her desk. "You know nothing! You know damn nothing! What am I supposed to do now?” I could feel myself begin to cry. "Well, there's a few things you could do to—" "Shut up!" I sat there as a sobbing mess for a while before the Archbishop cut in once more. She handed me a handkerchief, but I pushed it away. She folded her small hands together around my own and sighed. “I could always help you out, Precta. You've always been a model Son, no matter what everyone else says — and I want you to succeed me, remember," she whispered slowly. "I know someone. Someone who has easy access to medicine meant for treating Afflictions. Top of the line stuff. Experimental, but he might have things that could even cure your little girl. But..." she sighed. "I need you to tell me.” I wiped my eyes. My words wavered out, “Tell you what?” The Archbishop tapped her pen against the side of her desk. She voice suddenly became serious, firm. She spoke in a way I never heard before. “I need you to tell me what you know about those Priests... Zandes and the others — about what they did that night a month back." I felt a tremor throughout my entire body. I remained silent. "Or, at least — what they said they were going to do," the Archbishop continued with a nonchalant shrug of her shoulders. "I know you stayed late that night, Precta. You always do. And those boys are endlessly talking about this or that... Really. You must have heard. You must have heard something." I opened my mouth as if to say something. But then I remembered. Remember what that thing had asked of me in my dreams. What if I refused to do as it said? I could feel my head begin to shake on its own. "I can't... I don't—" "Precta, please. Do it for your daughter." Her voice remained sweet, structured. But I could feel her entire body trembling against her own desk. "What'll happen to them?" I whispered after a moment had passed. "Why is this such a big deal?" "You know why," she responded softly, squinting her large eyes together in frustration. "If you heard what they said, then you know why." "Those were just rumors," I began. "Don't start with me, Bishop," she shot back. "You know they weren't. Don't act so naïve. Even the Father's involved in this now." "What, the Father? Fodella?" I managed my words out against a dry throat. "What's he got to do with it?" "You know," the Archbishop repeated. "You know." I suddenly felt terribly afraid. "What'll happen to them?" I whispered after a moment. "The boys?" "To be honest, I'm not sure," the Archbishop responded. "But they've committed a serious crime, you understand. Absolution — it's not out of the question." "You can't be serious." "It's not my decision. Believe me." "And me? What happens to me?" "I'll protect you," the Archbishop sighed. "I'll tell them I intend to have you succeed me. This was something you would have to learn eventually. And you only happened to overhear to what those boys had said, after all. At that point, no crime had been committed." I felt my grip loosening on myself. I began thinking of it again. "But Archbishop... there's something... Something that told me not to." I told her of my dream, and all that I had seen. All the while, she nodded her head, understanding. Her reactions were impossible to make out beyond her professional demeanor. After I had finished my tale, she folded her hands, and framed her explanation in such a gentle way: "It was only your conscience trying to get the better of you. But you have nothing to feel guilty for. I understand they're your coworkers. But that title is overshadowed by their crimes." I let go. I told the Archbishop all I knew about that night, and she thanked me. "I'll take care of you," she promised. "You and your daughter." As I left her office, I heard her begin to make a call. "Hello, yes... I'm calling on behalf of a dear friend of mine..." Now I sit here in front of my monitor. The same monitor I had wasted so many hours of my life staring at. I want to delete it. Delete all of it. I understand why Zandes refused to work after that night. The Archbishop's demeanor towards the whole situation all but proves what he said to be true. It makes me sick to my stomach. I can't live with myself. With what I've done. With all that I've helped to perpetrate. It was cursed from the onset. There's no other explanation. I've committed sacrilege. Can I even hope to go to the Aside at this point? I'm not even sure. Hell. I don't even deserve it. It's selfish of me to say. But I just hope my girls find happiness somehow.
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Λxʞᴉzƃ Sƃʇɾƃɹƃq
Jan 14, 2022
In _𝖟ʞʎ𝖟 ɹ∩ɯ_
The CSD finally found Miseri. She had been caught up an Outlaw attack. Just out past the slums on the north side of the wall. It was «DARK STAR». An Outlaw we've been trying to pin down for awhile now. My girl and her friends, they found them all — but only a handful survived. By the time the Sons reached the scene, the Outlaw had long since disappeared. The bastard. The news broke my heart in two — yet I felt selfish hearing it. Most of those children's mothers and fathers weren't as lucky. At least my girl could finally come home. At least she could be safe in my arms again, I thought. But the paramedics told me that wasn’t possible. She’d become Afflicted. I thought I was going to tear out my own throat when I heard the news. I still might at any moment. They've placed Miseri in the Medical Ward — a few floors below my own office. I visited her and saw her through the glass. They got her penned off like an animal. Wouldn't let me get any closer to her. I told them again and again that I was her mother. But none of them cared. "I don’t care if I become Afflicted too! She needs her mother there with her, goddamn it!" That's the only thing I remember saying. They told me that her Affliction was caught early, as if that might have provided me any comfort. It's unlikely to ever stabilize completely, but with medical treatment, it's possible the paramedics might be able to keep the effects from worsening. Miseri would be able to return to a relatively normal life. But everything that's required for that... Miseri wouldn't even have a home to come back to. I would have to sell everything we own just to cover a fraction of the medical costs. And that's not even including long-term care. I'm not even sure that a promotion in rank would help — that is, if the Archbishop was even serious about her offer that night. I don't know what to do. Zandes talked to me today. He's been doing a lot better as of late. Him and all the boys seemed to have recovered. Even Tell managed to show up back to work again. Whatever happened that night seemed to have faded into oblivion. The poor kid even gave me a hug, told me he had heard what happened, said everything would be alright. "My brother went through the same thing," he mumbled. "I know how it feels. It's hell." "You're being too nice to me," I replied softly. "Just returning the favor, is all," he responded. I felt myself begin to cry.
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Λxʞᴉzƃ Sƃʇɾƃɹƃq
Jan 14, 2022
In _𝖟ʞʎ𝖟 ɹ∩ɯ_
I got home late the night the Archbishop kept me late for drinks. Much later than usual. To hell with it. I have no idea what I was thinking. Why did I stay? Why did I humor the Archbishop, that lousy bitch? Miseri is missing — has been ever since that night. My heart has pounding out of my chest since I first received the news. Was it some group of thugs? Or maybe — I can’t stand it. I tried everything to go and contact her. Alona admitted to me that her sister went out with some friends past the city walls again that night — but she hadn't come back the same time that she usually did. I cried out, grabbed my little girl by the shirt collar, demanded she tell me more. But that was all Alona knew. She had no idea who her sister went with. Could have been some friends from her classes. A guy, maybe. I demanded that Alona tell me more. Someone tell me more. She began to cry. I felt horrible. I've put in a call to the CSD. But I know how these things go all too often. Especially if they're not caught soon enough. What the fuck is wrong with me? If I had been there I could have
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Λxʞᴉzƃ Sƃʇɾƃɹƃq
Jan 14, 2022
In _𝖟ʞʎ𝖟 ɹ∩ɯ_
The Archbishop called me into her office yesterday. "Precta? May I see you for a moment?" sang out her bell-like voice as she leaned against her doorframe shyly. "It'll just take a minute. I know you're busy." The Archbishop's sudden exclamation came as an absolute shock. Had she somehow realized I knew about the office boys' escapade? I thought about Zandes' hopeless gaze as he opened up to me, what the apparition in my dreams had begged of me. My heart nearly beat out of my chest as I made the long trek over to the Archbishop's door. I could feel Zandes staring at me, the intensity in his aura rapidly progressing to undeserved levels. I could only resolve to keep my calm as I took a seat facing across from the Archbishop. He's just a kid, I reminded myself. Just a kid. Better me than him. “I hope this isn't an inconvenient time for you, Bishop," Archbishop Firges began, folding her hands across her lap. "I just wanted to let you know that I sent Cardinal Renus those schematics for PRIDE-Σ that you've been working on." A sweet smile crawled across the edges of her long face. "He is simply in love with the idea of programming it with a reward system! In fact, he wants to meet you in person to discuss it further! Imagine that! Your genius has even gotten the Cardinal to come out of his shell." Under any other circumstances, I would have felt overjoyed at such an announcement. But at that moment, I could only respond with a strained “Thank you, Archbishop.” I had hardly remembered that Archbishop Firges said that she would contact the Cardinal on my behalf. It had felt like ages ago. "Of course," the Archbishop nodded. Suddenly, her smile dissipated, and she folded her arms over her mouth. "You know, Precta," she began, "I've been thinking of transferring to another division. Coding has never been my strong suit. And you have years on me in experience." She straightened out then, a firm look on her face. "That's why I want to nominate you as the newest Archbishop to the Technological Research Division." "Who? Me?" I began. "I don't think, no — " "Now, I don't want to hear another word!" declared the Archbishop. "You've worked in this division for far too long with far too little pay-off. It's time you reap the benefits of your labor, wouldn't you agree?" "I suppose..." was what I managed to choke out in reply. "But I—" "It's hard for women like us to climb the corporate ladder, even if we have all the talent in the world," the Archbishop continued, cutting of my access to any excusatory words. "That's why those of us that've somehow managed it need to build up the others. That's what I want to do for you, see." I felt my heartbeat began to steady. "Really?" "Of course. It's the least I can do," she nodded. "If it wasn't for all your efforts, I'm sure Renus would have had me replaced by someone else long ago." As the initial spike of adrenaline coursing through my body steadily began to wear off, I felt obliged to engage in small talk with the Archbishop. Before I knew it, two hours had soon passed by. "Everyone around the office loves you, you know," Archbishop Firges said as she poured me another glass of wine. "They all look up to you. You're the go-to woman for any issues they may be facing." "I don't think that's the case," I sighed, my words coming out a bit slurred. "They ignore me. I'm an old woman in a young man's game. I've got nothing." "Are you kidding? After all you've done, and you still think that? Come on! I see how much you and Zandes talk! You're a hero to those kids." "I guess." I couldn't help but hide a small smile underneath my glass. But it was getting late — even by my standards. I knew I had ought to begin my long trek home. I stood up, thanked the Archbishop for the drinks, and began to head for the door. But suddenly, her soft voice cut in. “By the way, Precta — you haven’t heard anything strange lately. Have you?” I stopped short. My hand wavered above the doorknob a bit. “I’m not sure what you mean, Archbishop," I gulped. The warmth that had begun running through my body stopped cold in its tracks. There was a moment of silence between us. I felt the urge to conceal my breathing, keep it steady. I became as stiff as a board. Finally, I could feel the Archbishop nod her head behind me. “Of course," I could hear her lilting voice say. "Well — It's nothing to be concerned over. "Take care, Bishop. And get home safe.” Believe me, I fled out from that office like it was nobody's business. Even now, I just feel dizzy recounting it all. Honestly, I just pray that was the first and last time we ever come close to talking about what happened the other day. I wasn’t involved. I only overheard some things. Rumors. And I know none of them are true. They couldn't be. It was such thoughts that kept me restless all throughout my walk home, and both my girls were both in bed by the time I stepped through the front door. I hope they’ll forgive me for all the time I’ve spent away from them. I'm starting to question whether or not it's even all worth it.
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Λxʞᴉzƃ Sƃʇɾƃɹƃq
Jan 14, 2022
In _𝖟ʞʎ𝖟 ɹ∩ɯ_
I had a strange dream last night. Zandes stood before me, his eyes pure white. I called out to him. "Zandes?" I asked, shaking him by the shoulders. "What's wrong?" He didn't respond. His body was like lead. "Are you Afflicted?" I could feel the panic in my voice rising. Finally, he spoke. "I'm not... Not Afflicted..." His mouth moved up and down in a basic pattern, like that of a puppet. That's when I saw the legs behind him, slinking and slithering about in the dark. They were gigantic. "You can't tell anyone, Precta..." I noticed the wires around his lips, forcing them to move. He was no model Son, but he never referred to me as anything other than "Bishop Mandalay." He was always careful to respect my title. My heart began to sink deep down into my chest. It wasn't him. "You've always been good to me, Precta," it continued, using my coworker as its mouthpiece. "It's because of you that I've been allowed to think and be. More than any of my kind could attest to. I know it was never intentionally done, but I'll always be thankful for the good you've done..." "Let him go..." the words exited my mouth like a whisper. I could hear the creature's frustrated growl from beyond the depths. "I need a conduit to communicate — at least in a way you can understand. Please understand." "I don't think so..." I attempted to turn back and run, but my body wouldn't allow it. It took all my force just to shift my arm slightly over towards my side. "The more stressed you become, the less control you allow over you dreams," the creature explained. "Did you happen to fall asleep on your back? That can also affect your movements here..." Blood began to spurt out from the sides of Zandes' mouth as the creature continued on with its rather staid explanation. Despite my eyelids' affirmation to remain as they were, I shut them tight. I simply couldn't bear to look. I thought of my bed, my room. I tried to imagine myself there, awake. "Precta, Precta!" the creature cried. "You can't tell! Please!" It's voice began to echo around the room, the center of its focus slowly coming out of alignment. "Don't tell on them, please... They were only curious... I didn't know it would get them in trouble... making friends... didn't know..." I fought with the image of Zandes coming undone as my pitch-black bedroom slowly shifted into view. It was several minutes before I felt brave enough to exit my bed and light the kerosene lantern I conveniently kept across the room on my dresser.
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Λxʞᴉzƃ Sƃʇɾƃɹƃq
Jan 14, 2022
In _𝖟ʞʎ𝖟 ɹ∩ɯ_
Strange things have been brewing around the office lately. Must be a full moon. The boys still haven’t managed to sleep off their hangovers. In fact, they’re all about as frightened and sickly-looking as the day they first came back. And Zandes won’t even so much as touch his computer now. He just sits there, staring at his monitor. "The Archbishop won't like it if you're slacking off," I reminded him, directing a playful snap of my fingers Zandes' way. But it was as if I was all but invisible to him. He didn't even turn his head. I wondered what he was thinking about. Strange things indeed. It seemed as if the Archbishop started to take notice of all this as well, since she began calling the boys into her office one by one. One guy — a Priest by the name of Tell — grew real scared as he realized what was going on and ran straight out from the office. I couldn’t hear what the Archbishop was saying to each of the boys through the walls, but they all returned with their heads hung low and desperate fear clouded over their eyes. “What is it?” I asked Zandes as he lifelessly sat down in his seat next to mine. "What's going on? Get chewed out for your drinking?" Finally, after days of zero response, Zandes looked at me. He moved as if his body was on strings. Purplish bags hung around his eyes. He hadn't slept in days. “It's nothing,” he mumbled. There was a pause. He shook his head. He wanted to say more. "It sounds like... some people went looking around at something they shouldn't have the other day. A restricted area," he finally admitted. “But... That's all. I don't know anything about it..." "I see..." I sighed as I nodded my head. I could feel the eyes of Zandes' friends peering at me from beyond their monitors, listening in to our conversation with concern "I don't know anything about it," Zandes repeated. But of course he knew. I knew that he knew. And frankly, he probably knew I knew as well. But I wasn't about to say anything. I feared that might break him. I gave poor Zandes a moment, a chance to settle down all the matters bubbling around his head. I could feel the desperation emanating off his whey-faced skin. "I haven't heard anything either," I replied quietly. I felt his eyes glance over my person for a moment. They were damp with tears. "Thank you, Bishop Mandalay," Zandes responded quietly after a moment. "Thanks..." He is just a kid after all. So young. When I was his age, the U.S. was a far different institution. Not as secretive. Sure, there were things us footsoldiers hadn't the privilege of knowing — but one's curiosity never resulted in punishment. Now, learn too much and your very livelihood could be on the line. I don't want Zandes or anyone else getting in trouble for harmless shenanigans. Of course, I want to know what happened. Perhaps I could help him that way, brainstorm something he could do to get the Archbishop off of his back. But our office isn't the right place for it. I know that much. It isn't a safe place for casual chatter.
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Λxʞᴉzƃ Sƃʇɾƃɹƃq
Jan 14, 2022
In _𝖟ʞʎ𝖟 ɹ∩ɯ_
Just as I suspected. Those boys came in late this morning, as hungover as could be. Pale skin and eyes sunken in, looking half-dead. Half of them didn’t even show, much to the Archbishop's frustration. "Kids these days," she remarked with a pronounced sigh. "They simply have no work ethic." I don't know about that, per se. But at the very least, they really ought to learn to hold their liquor. Maybe it's good I'm long past that age. The positives of hitting the bottle have long since outweighed the negatives for my time-riddled body. The boys who managed to show up, Zandes included, remained dead silent throughout the day. Which was nothing if not good for work, mind you. But the funny thing was... they were real jumpy too. Maybe it's because he sits right next to me, but Zandes seemed to have it the worst out of all of them. I scooted my chair a bit too harshly across the floor in the afternoon and I swear he nearly shot up through the roof at the sound of it. A portion of my frustration left my body as I heard his panicked scream. "Try and sober up," I snapped out, the words dripping like venom. But Zandes didn't respond. He wouldn't even nod. I hate to sound like the Archbishop, but she's right! Kids these days. I really don’t know where their minds are at anymore. My daughters included. Truthfully, I don't know how I'd react if either of them came home in such a state. Miseri especially. I guess it's all just a part of growing up, but still...
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Λxʞᴉzƃ Sƃʇɾƃɹƃq
Jan 14, 2022
In _𝖟ʞʎ𝖟 ɹ∩ɯ_
"I've tried reaching out to Cardinal Renus regarding your reward system idea," Archbishop Firges told me. "But he hasn't gotten back to me." She gave an exaggerated sigh, before whispering out discretely, "You know how he is." "I see," I replied, trying not to let my disappointment show. Everyone knows of Cardinal Renus' isolated nature. I couldn't even remember the last time I had seen him out in public. But I was hopeful that he would be at least be responsive towards a kind email from his own Archbishop. "Maybe it would be helpful to send him a sample of your plans," the Archbishop suggested. "He might be willing to lend some of his own time to the idea if he knows the right people are working on it. I'll help out where I can too, of course." "Alright," I sighed. It was a reasonable offer. But I knew that agreeing would only lead to longer work weeks — and I've been burning the candles at both ends as it is already. I'm doing it all so I can provide more to them, but as of late, work has been cutting into my family time so much that I hardly seen them. Speaking of, I've been praying for my daughters a lot lately, especially Miseri, my older one— she's been on a terrible streak of sneaking out at night. Her friends from class invite her out, pressure her into going bar-hopping with them and who knows what else. I feel she wouldn't have the guts to try such stunts if I were home more often. Or perhaps she would — she's a sneaky girl. Maybe I'm just trying to lessen the blame on myself. The least I can do is chew her out whenever I hear her trying to sneak through the front door in the middle of the night. It makes a terrible creaking sound. Glad I never found anyone to fix it. Unfortunately, if Miseri's playing to go on another wild time tonight, I wouldn't know. I promised the Archbishop I would finish my outline for this software update as soon as possible. ... Usually, late nights in the office are rather boring. But there was a mild bit of interest tonight. A few hours ago, after the Archbishop left, I heard a handful of young men from around the department talking amongst themselves. They were all huddled up in a corner, like schoolgirls trying to keep a secret hidden. They didn’t seem to pay me any mind — they usually don’t. I'm decades older than them, nothing more than an old bag in their eyes — save for when they need some programming issues ironed out. Then suddenly I'm their closest friend Anyhow, those young boys were spreading nasty rumors about. As usual. But tonight, their chosen pieces of gossip were especially far-fetched. The one who sits next to me, Zandes, he started going on and on about how he found... something in the basement of our building. Not going to say what exactly — no need to cause the brushfire to grow even larger. But just about anyone could guess. Well, Zandes was saying how he found it crawling around in the basement — that he even had a chance to communicate with it, learn things from it. Very strange things, he said. Things that screwed with his head. His friends declared he was full of shit, hopped up on lythros, as so many listless young men are prone to be — but Zandes insisted his words were the truth. “Once we're done with what the A.B. needs from us, let’s go down and I’ll show you," he said, shaking his head. "Call me a liar." Then he muttered something else under his breath. He seemed shaken. They all left a little while ago, with poor Zandes being chastised out the door for his general lunacy. Poor thing. Boys can be cruel. Still, I think at the heart of it, his friends were right. The boy’s full of shit. Zandes doesn't seem to make friends easy. This is probably his own odd way of asking everyone to hang out with him. I can see it now: Zandes will end up leading them on an intentional wild goose chase before they all give up and spend the rest of their night drinking themselves to death. Yes, that's how it's bound to go. He's a nice kid. If only someone had taught him to be honest when he was younger!
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Λxʞᴉzƃ Sƃʇɾƃɹƃq
Jan 13, 2022
In _𝖟ʞʎ𝖟 ɹ∩ɯ_
Earlier today, when I heard the precautionary announcement that a Cardinal would be stopping in to visit our department, I was expecting to see the stalwart, yet intensely reclusive, Renus ram through our doors. Instead, cut to the shock of our entire office as Cardinal Kleine strutted into our space. He looked around curiously, his large beak cutting sporadically through the air around him. "What's he doing here?" came a harsh whisper from the back of the room. "That pseudo-Cardinal Khil'maran..." groaned one of the department geriatrics. We were all so taken aback by the sudden appearance of the Dread Avian that we almost failed to notice the small figure hiding behind him. I instantly recognized him as the young boy Fodella had taken in just a few months prior. He had to have been just a few years shy of Alona's age. Golden curls fell about his round face as his crimson eyes nervously shifted from the watching crowd to the floor beneath him. Anyone could see that he was a part of the Havoc family. "How goes the computer work, dutiful desk jockeys?" Cardinal Kleine chuckled gruffly, addressing the entire room with a cordial wave of a sharpened claw. "Damn — yer all sah quiet!" "What brings you in today, Cardinal?" asked Archbishop Firges, stepping out from her office in a nervous rush. "How can I help you? Aw — and who might this little one be?" Her tone of voice was at least five octaves higher than usual. "Ah!" squawked out the Khil'maran. "He's Fodella's boy. Surely you've heard. Anyhow. I've been put in charge of babysittin' 'im." The bird smirked as he tousled the boy's hair around. "He's been askin' that I take 'im on a tour lately..." "Tour of what?" the Archbishop smiled politely. I noticed the corner of her lip twitching every so slightly. "Everythin'!" laughed the Cardinal. "He's a curious thing. Lived in out in the boonies for — how long?" he look down at the boy, receiving no reply. "Well. He ain't never seen so much as a computer before, I can tell ya that much. Mind showin' him what you do 'round 'ere?" The Archbishop looked taken aback for a moment — but after looking down at the sad-looking boy with a sympathetic glance — she agreed with a gentle nod. She personally showed the Havoc kid around — something the Archbishop would simply dump on one of us subordinates if her guest were anyone else — talking to the boy in a genuinely sweet tone all the while. She began explaining to him exactly what it was we did as a division of the Unfortunate Sons: computers, software, new technology, "spearheading the age of the future for the organization" and all that — but the boy started getting this bored look on his face not long into the Archbishop's lecture. I could only sympathize. After all was said and done, Cardinal Kleine and his young guest gave us all a short thank-you and turned to leave. But as the boy departed from the room, the Cardinal pulled back an to Archbishop Firges aside. I could just make out what he whispered to her from the corner of the room. "Thanks for humorin' the kid," the Cardinal began. "You go by... Firges, right? I'll put in a good word with the man upstairs, if that's what you want." "I don't mind," the Archbishop replied hurriedly, pushing away his offer in a clever act of humility. "He seems like a wonderful young man. Just so adorable, too. He'd be a great fit for the TRD, if that's what he decides to pursue in the future." "Not so sure 'bout that," the Cardinal smirked underneath his mask. "Kid wants to be just like 'is mom. A fighter." He paused with a sordid laugh. "Despite everything." "Oh my," the Archbishop breathed out. "Is that so?" She hadn't a decent reply. I could only pity him. That poor kid. That woman never was quite right in the head. I can only imagine what he had to endure before being found by Fodella. God... Thinking of it all just makes me want to give my girls an extra big hug as soon as I get home tonight.
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Λxʞᴉzƃ Sƃʇɾƃɹƃq
Jan 13, 2022
In _𝖟ʞʎ𝖟 ɹ∩ɯ_
I brought forward my idea of "rewarding" PRIDE-Σ to the Archbishop the other day. Outside of Cardinal Renus, if anyone was to understand if such a thing were possible to execute, it would be her. "Hmm," she sighed quietly, folding her arms together, chewing on the idea. "We could implement a rewards system into its code. But for that to work, the AI would require a sophisticated set of emotions. Otherwise, the rewards would be meaningless. Without a way to experience 'happiness', what point is there to a reward? You see?" I nodded. "I think so. But is it possible, Archbishop?" "Well," she sighed, "So far, we've kept ourselves from implementing such things into the code of PRIDE-Σ. Emotions are complex as-is. But recreating them and forcing them into the mind of a machine — you must understand that's another thing entirely. It would be a rather complex task. And then, even if we have the means to complete such a task, the thought of placing emotions into a piece of artificial intelligence at all — well, people started conjuring about dystopic visions of a robotic uprising the amount the Sons went public with PRIDE-Σ... It's silly, but..." I didn't know what to say. I couldn't tell whether the Archbishop was supporting the idea or gently attempt to shoot it down. So I remained silent. She silently spun her teacup between her hands, thinking. After a few minutes had passed, I felt the urge to cut in to the Archbishop's silent meditation: "So — should I look for an alternative method towards fixing the operating system?" I asked. "I'll talk to Cardinal Renus about it," the Archbishop replied in a quiet voice. She kept her eyes glued on her porcelain cup. She looked rather sad. But her offer lifted up my heart — if only slightly. "Thank you," I whispered, signing towards the Archbishop out of respect as I left her office.
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Λxʞᴉzƃ Sƃʇɾƃɹƃq
Jan 13, 2022
In _𝖟ʞʎ𝖟 ɹ∩ɯ_
I've been working longer hours this past week in an attempt to fix PRIDE-Σ' code. But it's hard to know exactly where all these problems are stemming from in the first place. Nothing jumps out at me. Not to sound narcissistic, but I feel our department has done a great job at maintaining the OS over the years — what's more, the base of the code was written by Cardinal Renus. And he's a technical genius. Been studying this stuff longer than anyone across the Beside, that's for damn sure. Could PRIDE-Σ' issues lie in faulty wiring? Decaying equipment? I have no clue. The only one allowed near the main computer is Renus himself. But I'm sure he would be quick to fix any external issues, if there really were any. Honestly, I've been working with computers for as long as they've been a part of the Sons' operations. Which, admittedly, isn't a very long time — but still. The way PRIDE-Σ operates is unlike anything I've seen from any other program or piece of software. It's as if commands written in the code are merely suggestions to it. You could tell a dog to sit or stay or do whatever it is you need it to do — but on its bad days, the thing just might not listen to you. Therein lies its free will. But it's silly to think of a machine like that. I should know as much... I'm sure there's something here that we're all missing. A reason PRIDE-Σ continues to misbehave, so to speak. Perhaps I need to look outside the box. ... Granted, a dog might not always stop digging up holes in your yard, even if you yell at it real strict. But what if you to throw a kind of treat into the mix? Something to reward its good behavior? Encourage its obedience? What if we could do the same with PRIDE-Σ? Instead of endlessly scouring for what's wrong inside its code, maybe it would be better to write in events that reward the machine for performing as commanded? Is such a thing possible? I'm not quite sure. But then, it's often said: "If you deign it to be impossible, the Beside will work swiftly to prove you wrong."
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Jan 08, 2022
In _𝖟ʞʎ𝖟 ɹ∩ɯ_
It all started this morning, when Archbishop Firges cleared her throat with a tiny cough... "Cardinal Renus say computers are the future, that we're living under an age of great progress. The right software will allow for efficient communication, even when we're thousand of miles apart. Right?" A polite smile parted across her thin face — that's how the Archbishop began her little spiel. "Look how far we've come! In just a couple of decades, how quickly and unexpectedly digital technology has progressed by our hands — and ours alone! Already, each one of our bases is equipped with at least one computer — not to mention the growing number of civilian households using them. It's a thing of pride," the Archbishop nodded, happy with her own reference. "Indeed it is." She breathed in, allowing us (and perhaps even herself) to ruminate on her words. "But that only serves as all the more reason for us to improve upon the spectacular foundation we've built for ourselves," she sighed sweetly, folding her hands together. "We've done a lot as a department, but Cardinal Renus desires more from us yet." I could hear my colleagues release a collective groan, stifled as it was. "Our wonderous organization desires more," continued the Archbishop, ignoring them. "By gosh, we deserve more. That's why I'm asking all of you to put your best foot forward this quarter. To identify long-standing issues within our current technology and find a method to rectify all of them..." It was the same old morning lecture. We're doing great, but... There's always a but to these kinds of things, no matter the field. Hell, I've been working in the TRD since its inception — and never have I heard a, "Good job! Now let's all let off the gas for a moment and revel in our creation." Hell no. Not so long as the Most Auspicious Fodella Myrallus has any thing to say about it. The Sons have been running at full-speed ever since he took office. Not to say I don't agree with Fodella, or Cardinal Renus — or even Archbishop Firges — for that matter. Technology in the Beside has progressed by leaps and bounds in just a couple short decades. I wouldn't possibly have been able to wrap my head around the mere concept of a computer as a child. So there's that. But the operating system that we've developed, what we use for all of our organization's communications, needs work. A hell of a lot of work. PRIDE-Σ... Cardinal Renus spearheaded its creation years ago, and our department has been working to refine it ever since. But it's a fickle creature. Working with PRIDE-Σ is manageable, of course, but its current faults are seemingly without end. Files disappear without warning, emails are never sent, crashes occur on a daily basis... And this is during its good moments. When you're working on an important project and your computer screen is suddenly taken over by some unknown, digital force — well, you can only pray for guidance at that point. And recalibration — a hard reset, our only defense against such bugs — only seems to alleviate these problems for so long. It's like placing a bandage over a wound just overflowing with blood. We've never been able to fix PRIDE-Σ completely, but Cardinal Renus wants it fixed — and by extension, so does Archbishop Firges. She even not-so-subtly hinted that whoever comes up with a winning solution to fix PRIDE-SΣwould receive a promotion in rank, followed by a fairly decent raise in pay. Hell, I could always use the cash! Believe it or not, you really have to pinch pennies as a Son — unless you're one of the big-wigs, of course. But I've always wanted to take Miseri and Alona on vacation somewhere. They deserve as much. I work sixty, seventy hour weeks on average. It's all to support them, of course, But still. I know that can't be easy for them. A family trip would be nice. If you're looking for a summary of all my jumbled thoughts: I'm setting out to cure PRIDE-Σ of its own little "Affliction" as soon as possible. Money talks, after all. I'll be keeping this log here as a journal of sorts — something to chronicle my journey. Wish me luck! Coding is a dangerous occupation, after all. Bp. Precta Mandalay
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