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Machines Don't Have Feelings

Improbable Central

A heavily armoured van drives up to the gates of Improbable Central. Just a routine delivery of med-supplies, for the hospital tent. But when the driver opens the door. . .

Subdued calliaphone clambers out, hopping unsteadily on crutches. Gone is the decorated plaster-cast from her foot. In its place, she wears a removable boot-cast. The other foot is bare, and her regular boots are slung around her neck.

Subdued calliaphone is clean. Very clean. Her clothes have been freshly laundered. She herself appears to have been scrubbed, and a smell of soap lingers in the air around her.

Subdued calliaphone is, in fact, the very picture of woebegone misery. More so, even, than can be be explained by an involuntarily laundering.

Subdued calliaphone is also still without a hat. She is also without . . . couch or cart, tin-opener or accordion, penguin, canary or entourage of youths.

Subdued calliaphone is without sweets and alcohol, without yesterday's sandwiches stolen from the tea-trolley (and later emptied of sliced cucumber into Uncle Bernard's slippers). Without tools (except one screwdriver and a rivet gun) or toys (except a pack of cards).

Subdued calliaphone is not cheered up by the rivet gun. Which is in itself strange. Normally, she enjoys riveting. She finds it . . . really quite fascinating, actually. But she's far too gloomy for that just now. Sitting down on an empty crate, she broods.

At the gate, a small commotion breaks out. It appears that a whiny emotional robot is trying to get into town. There are tinny cries of "DANGER, DANGER", and the guards are not unduly worried.

Subdued calliaphone looks up from her brooding. She looks over to the gate, and stares dully at the robot. She does not leap to her feet (well, c'mon, crutches - they're not good for leaping). But

Subdued calliaphone does not even reach for her screwdriver. She just sits, and stares. Dully.

At length, the robot overcomes the guards on the gate by means of its superior combat skills (it kicks them on the shins). While they're doubled up cussing, it dashes into the square, headed straight for

Subdued calliaphone. She, however, does not move. She simply goes on staring. The robot skids to a halt in front of her, its read-out showing the words WARNING: whine feedback overheat - self-regulation mode inactivated. The robot pauses, then says "DANGER DANGER!"

Subdued calliaphone sighs, and looks down at her feet. The robot tries again. "DANGER, DANGER!" And then, after a brief silence, it peers at her uncertainly. ". . .beep?" Its cooling fan whines softly in the background.

Subdued calliaphone looks up. "It's not good coming to me." She says, bleakly. "I can't help you."

The robot's speakers tremble slightly. It makes one more attempt. "beepbeep? DANGER DANGER!"

Subdued calliaphone says. "Really. I can't. You're a pigment, y'see."

The robot shutters its optical sensors for a moment, then opens them again. It looks itself up and down, looks back at calliaphone, and emphatically shakes its head.

Subdued calliaphone says "Yepyep, y'are. A pigment of my imagination. . ." she pauses for a moment, a distant look in her eyes. A look that might almost be a wish. A flicker of hope-not-quite-extinguished. Then it's gone. The robot whines in protest. But

Subdued calliaphone shakes her head. "You don'have to protect me or nuffing. I can handle the truth, i'm not a knav- knif- native. I dunno why it took me so long to figure out, really. But s'obvious."

Subdued calliaphone digs in her pocket and retrieves a pack of cards. Shuffling them inexpertly, she starts laying them face-up on the empty crate in front of her. The robot hesitates a moment. Then, with a quiet, disappointed sort of "Beep", it trundles dejectedly away.

Subdued calliaphone doesn't watch it go. She carries on looking at her cards, turning each one over and examining the pictures. Spitfire, Silver Ghost, McNaught Compound Beam Engine. . .a tear lands on the Bugatti Royale, and she hastily smears it dry.

Subdued calliaphone mutters, still not looking up. "..s'obvious. Machines don't have feelings. Thassjust crazy talk, that is."

80s Punk-Totally unlike g_rock trundles into town, drops off a fiver at the bank and heads back for the gate before being brought to a halt by Callia "Morning, love. You. . .y'arright?"

Subdued calliaphone looks up at the familiar voice, but her eyes are a bit too blurry to focus. She scrubs at them with the back of her hand and says, tonelessly "G" sniff. "h'llo. yeh." sniff.

80s Punk-Totally unlike g_rock sits down across the crate from her "Arright. You wanna play a round, then?"

80s Punk-Totally unlike g_rock, it should be noted is facially expressing disbelief that she's okay.

Rotting Reverb pops out of the Curious Looking Rock. No, realy, that's the sound it makes nowadays. -Pop!- Oooh! It's Public Enemy Number G and. . . a clean Callia? She shudders at the mere sight. . . Apparently, the world is coming to an end today. Again.

Subdued calliaphone looks blank. She does not appear to notice G's expression. She says, "a round? of- oh. them." she eyes the cards, poking a finger listlessly at the harrier jumpjet.

Subdued calliaphone shrugs. "i s'ppose. if you really wanna." she shoves her hands into her pockets, and slumps a little.

80s Punk-Totally unlike g_rock reaches across and puts a hand on Callia's shoulder gently. He spares a quit nod at Ms Verb, before asking"Really. What's wrong, Callia?"

Rotting Reverb occupies herself with feeding bits of fresh meat to Audrey's kittens. Of course, the litte fiends don't wait for her to get it out of her pockets, and the air locally becomes fraught with mewing, splattering blood, and flying bits of clothing.

Subdued calliaphone looks up again, slowly. Eyes unblurred now, she sees G clearly. And Reverb as well. "hey Reverb. long time." but her voice still has that curiously flat quality. To G she says . . . nothing at first. And then, a sigh. "everythin'."

Rotting Reverb, now thoroughly ransacked, looks at the sad, sad remains of her Invisisuit. Oh well, back to overalls it is..

Subdued calliaphone says, more quietly still. "i had everythin' wrong. i gottit straight now." but there's no joy in the discovery, it would seem.

80s Punk-Totally unlike g_rock tries not to stare at the way the kittens managed to leave the tatters of Reverb's clothes so. . .strategically placed. . .improbable, that. . .his attention turns back to Callia "What, you realized that fertilizer isn't a bevvie?"

Subdued calliaphone stares at G. "what? it isn't?" and she slumps a little more. sheesh, this really isn't her day.

80s Punk-Totally unlike g_rock sighs. Way to make it worse. "What did you think that turned out to be wrong, love?"

Subdued calliaphone frowns, and chews a lip. then, with a weary gesture, she waves at her cards. Gleaming machine upon gleaming machine, one pictured on each. Engines, chassis, bodywork. Horsepower and kerb weight, wingspan and tractive effort. Marvels of mechanics.

Subdued calliaphone says, "them. an' all their sort. machines. they's not alive." her voice is full of scorn for anyone who might ever have believed such a thing.

Subdued calliaphone add, softly, "them's not people."

80s Punk-Totally unlike g_rock thinks about this, lips pursed tight, brow furrowed. "How. . .when. . .what makes you say that?"

Rotting Reverb can think of, say, a whole outpost full of people who'd argue against that.

Fait Accompi(ce) Teh Dave enters the outpost. That is to say, Wallace ambles into the outpost, covered in callia's stuff, an accordion, a tin-opener, a pile of crumbs, and a pile of blankets containing a Dave, still sleeping off the effects of Failcake, and an Ari.

Subdued calliaphone says, a little impatiently. "well, it's obvious in't it.'cause, y'know. they don't dance, they don't sing, they don't do nothing 'xcept open tins, they most specially don't talk, most specially specially not about their feelings."

Subdued calliaphone finishes up, "and when they do, they blast y'into next week with bolts of improbability. stands to reason, don't it. they ain't got no feelings."

Abundantly Ari stares wide eyed and pokes the snoozy Dave in the side "psst"

80s Punk-Totally unlike g_rock remains silent for a moment, allowing a subtle ticking sound to drift into the silence. He then pipes up"I'm not sure that's accurate, petal. Not entirely, anyhow."

Rotting Reverb agrees. "I'm fairly sure the 'Robot-dance' was invented in '404, for instance."

Subdued calliaphone looks up. She knows that sound. She should do, considering whose workmanship still keeps that timer ticking. Her scornful expression slips a little, becoming a Study in Confusion. "just machines" she repeats, scowling a little.

Fait Accompi(ce) Teh Dave's couch ambles slowly over to calliaphone, and nudges her questioningly. Dave's eyes slooowly (glaciers have been known to move faster) open, and take in his surroundings. A hand gropes in his pocket for a fortifying cookie, and shoves it mouthward.

80s Punk-Totally unlike g_rock shakes his head "Still not true. Not around here, anyhow." off-island, it's probably better that it is true, or else his amps would've long gone on strike from all the abuse. . .

Subdued calliaphone wobbles a bit on the crate, as Wallace gives her a nudge. She pets his armrest absently, eyes narrowing at G."whaddyamean? are you being crazy at me? don'tellme you believe they's people!"

Rotting Reverb nod-nod-nods vigorously. "If you think about it,'not-just-a-machine' is how this whole thing started in the first place."

80s Punk-Totally unlike g_rock stands, an idea brightening his countenance "Here. I'll show you. Be right back." he dashes off wothout waiting for a response.

Fait Accompi(ce) Teh Dave's couch settles next to callia, and Dave finally wakes up, peering after G. "Where'd he go?" He scritches an ear, then stretches, then peers at the stuff on Wallace. "Hey calli, why'd you leave all this stuff on the couch?"

Abundantly Ari pats Wallace, it took him awhile but he found the missing Callia!

Subdued calliaphone looks at Dave, then back to the departing G. "i dunno." clearly, she thinks he's gone a bit nuts, and she's sorta giving Reverb the same kind of look. She frowns at Wallace in some puzzlement. "i. . .uhh. . .ohh. Wallace!"

Lost Lamb Marly has wandered and wandered and wandered quite far, and now her hooves don't know quite where they are. In their confusion, they lead her straight into a calliaphone. "Ooof!"

Subdued calliaphone is bumped. "Yowch" it's obligatory, but more for effect than actually from pain. She blinks and drops her crutches on the floor. "Marly." then, belatedly. "Dave, Ari. hey." Still lacking the usual levels of bounce, that voice.

Fait Accompi(ce) Teh Dave nods. "Oh, ok." He blinks, then tilts his head as information finally filters in. "Reverb's buying?" He sits up, stretching again and scratching at an ear. "Man. . .Cakey did a number on me, didn't he?"

Lost Lamb Marly instinctively hugs that-which-she's-bumped. It sounds sad when it shouldn't be. "Whassnotright."

Abundantly Ari nodnods, "You were seeing stuff and everything, colours at least anyway, or maybe I just wasn't seeing them? But he did indeed"

Subdued calliaphone hugs back tightly, brightening a little at the sight of alcohol. But only a little. She says, "everything. nothing. it's not right but it's how things is." she looks as confused as she sounds.

Fait Accompi(ce) Teh Dave blinks at calli. "What's how things is? Are?" He holds out a highball to Reverb with a "thanks" grin.

Lost Lamb Marly phahs at this answer, disdain quite clear. "Callia things are what they are and I refuse to believe that everything is not right. Only most of it."

Abundantly Ari listens

Rotting Reverb puts pitcher and assorted tankards on the table, and pours Dave a good'un. "Help yourselves kids, i'm not on bar duty."

Subdued calliaphone tries to explain. it's just a bit tricky when you were certain a few minutes ago and now you're more . . . confused. She says, "machines. being not people. that's the way it is. isn't it." her voice denies the question, but her eyes have it.

Subdued calliaphone looks to where G was standing, before he exited in haste. To where she last heard that ticking. And tries scowling again. Because that's good. Scowling. It . . . helps.

Lost Lamb Marly blinks. "Well, of course. People are people and machines are machines." And robots are something else entirely."Doesn't mean it don't got a personality to it. I had this one phone, see, that always acted up when Auntie Suzanne called."

Subdued calliaphone looks at Marly, baffled. "phones with personality? ain't you making it up?" she glares at her accordion and tin-opener, still sat on Wallace where she dumped them, in her fit of pique. And grabs a pint from the table. Doesn't matter what.

Abundantly Ari thinks about the brve little toaster they fixed together, wondering if he counts. He isn't people to be sure

Lost Lamb Marly grumbles and tugs at Callia's arm. "Cmon, come show me some machiney things so I can prove you wrong."

Subdued calliaphone says, "huhh?" but lets herself be tugged. She doesn't know what Ari's thinking, but her mind turns the same way. Toasters. . .that play symphonies? Confusion reigns. She says, "alright. come up to my workshop. s'at the hall."

Subdued calliaphone slips her arms into her crutches, and gets to her feet, to show Marly the way.

Abundantly Ari continues to puzzle, perhaps she should go chat with the toaster and see what he thinks?

Lost Lamb Marly follows, leads, something of the sort. She is a lamb on a mission.

Fait Accompi(ce) Teh Dave could use some breakfast, himself. And Bruce is cooking. He points Wallace towards the Bingo Hall. "Onward! To breakfast!" He drops a few req tokens and a remote into Wallace's cushions, and the couch gets up to amble northwards.

Abundantly Ari, on Wallace, rides along for now

Bingo Hall (Stableyard)

Subdued calliaphone arrives here and flops down onto her nest, exhausted.

Subdued calliaphone has had a trying day.

Lost Lamb Marly is already flopped next to callia, trying to find her way out from a pile of blankets. She is hopelesslly lost.

Subdued calliaphone helps Marly untangle. (Using 'helps' in the broadest sense of the word, here.)

Fait Accompi(ce) Teh Dave laughs at the Sheep-and-Trypsie tangle of blankets. "Need another hand there?"

Lost Lamb Marly has tangled her way onto callia's back. "Machines," she reminds her softly, almost sulkily, in her ear.

Subdued calliaphone accepts the help out of the nest, and glares at Marly. just, y'know, for practise. She says,"that's right. machines. see?" and she gestures towards the open door of the coach-house. through which can be seen the traction engine.

Subdued calliaphone says, "there's a machine, see?" and transfers her glare to the rusted hulk of metal (with its surprisingly well-conditioned boiler). "a machine, what don't walk, talk, it don't do nothing. no feelings, see?"

Lost Lamb Marly blows a raspberry. "Does it like water?"

Subdued calliaphone blinks. "eh?" she looks at Marly. "it's a steam engine, course it-wait a minute. you're messing with me. you're . . ." she stops, confused. she's really not sure what she thinks. "yeh. it . . . has to have water."

Lost Lamb Marly asks, "An. . . how does it feel about cold weather?"

Subdued calliaphone scratches her head. "cold weather?" she thinks. thinks back. dreamy-eyed, suddenly. to cold nights on the fairground trail. cold november nights, and the smell of coke-smoke and hot steam and working engine oil. "it . . . they . . . uhh. . ."

Subdued calliaphone says, simply, "cold weather. it's . . . home."

80s Punk-Totally unlike g_rock arrives almost in-step with Bruce, carrying a small bundle in a clean(ish) rag.

Subdued calliaphone looks up at G, and her confused look deepens. There he goes again, all tickticktick, like that, and eating sandwiches."hey G" she says.

Wallace ambles in from the back gate, still covered in crumbs, blankets, toys, a tin-opener, and an accordion. It settles next to G and nudges him, sniffing for loose change and remotes.

80s Punk-Totally unlike g_rock tosses a pair of req coins into Wallace, and smiles at Callia reassuringly.

Subdued calliaphone says, "yeh, i s'ppose it does like cold." then she scowls. "but whaddoiknow? it's just an engine. it ain't told me that. it don't speak do it. like them." she points, to her tin-opener and accordion, on the couch.

Fait Accompi(ce) Teh Dave tilts his head at Calli. "Well, if it's running wrong, doesn't it sound different? Like. . .gears squealing and grinding instead of the normal chugchug it's supposed to sound like?"

Wallace has gotten treats! It likes this punk guy. It announces this to the world by. . .is it licking his cheek with a cushion?

Abundantly Ari adds, "Sometimes animals don't talk like we do and they are still alive and everything"

80s Punk-Totally unlike g_rock makes a conscious decision to not be horridly disturbed by the sofa's affection. Instead he smiles at calliaphone "Sometimes it doesn;t need to be words."

80s Punk-Totally unlike g_rock unwraps the bundle he's carrying, revealing a small (8 inches high) Ballerina made from delicately, meticolously cut and shaped metal

Subdued calliaphone looks at G and heaves a sigh. "not words. . .i don'know. i just . . . i always thought, y'see? i always thought they was alive. i mean, had feelings, see? they were . . . family. but then . . . then . . . Cordy. an' Egbert. an' the Drive. . ."

Wallace settles into Dave's armrest-scritches happily and watches everyone talk about whether or not machines are sentient. If it could talk, it might throw its opinion into the mix, but alas, it's merely a couch.

Subdued calliaphone stares. yup, that's all she does. she just stares at that little ballerina. mouth open.

Fait Accompi(ce) Teh Dave blinks at the Ballerina and oooooohs. "You make that?"

Abundantly Ari admires it with eyes peeled open wide

Kestrel sits with knees hugged into chest, content mostly to observe and listen - breaking that to return Dave's grin with sheepishness - up until the ballerina is revealed. At this point she feels compelled to greet with a gentle "hello, Coppelia."

Lost Lamb Marly leaaaans forward on callia's back to look at it.

Subdued calliaphone puts a hand to her jaw, and gently closes it. but her eyes just get wider. "who. . .whossis?"

80s Punk-Totally unlike g_rock sets the little Lady on her feet (or toe-tips, as it were) where she balances, en pointe, for a moment.

Fait Accompi(ce) Teh Dave watches, intrigued.

Subdued calliaphone catches her breath. Then, holds it. "h-h'llo" she whispers to the lady. Machine? Not-machine? She's damned if she's a clue which is which anymore, but manners are manners.

80s Punk-Totally unlike g_rock sits back to watch as the ballerina smoths her fine-mesh tutu, inclines her faceless head to Kes in greeting, and does a little twirl. "Yep. Dave, Callia, Ari, Marly, this is Coppelia."

Fait Accompi(ce) Teh Dave grins at the little ballerina. "Hallo Coppelia. Nice to meet you." He extends a pinky to shake.

Abundantly Ari boggles and in a hushed voice murmers, "Whoah"

80s Punk-Totally unlike g_rock's friend places her hand atop Dave's pinky demurely, then leaps over to Callia, to gaze eyelessly up at her. She curtsies low.

Kestrel returns the gesture with a little incline-of-the-head of her own, not once looking away from the delicate little figure. "You did a great job with the skirt," she whispers.

Fait Accompi(ce) Teh Dave pulls Ari close so he can have a chinrest - her shoulder. He watches the ballerina with hushed interest.

Subdued calliaphone reaches for her cap, to sweep it off in greeting. of course, it's not there. suddenly flummoxed, callia blushes.

Abundantly Ari reaches behind her to hug Dave's waist, she is quietly awed herself

80s Punk-Totally unlike g_rock winks at Kes, with a proud grin. Coppelia raises a hand to where her mouth would be, miming hiding a titter at Callia. "Callia, I built her. From scrap metal. All machine, through and through."

Subdued calliaphone says, "you . . . you built . . ." and tentatively, she puts out her hands, cupped into a little platform, to the dancer. "she's a machine?" then, to Coppelia, "can i . . . look at you?"

80s Punk-Totally unlike g_rock is favoured with a hands-on-hips mock exasperated look at the reduction of her existence to a weekend project. She nods to Callia, though.

Subdued calliaphone lowers her hands a little further so that Coppelia can step daintily up onto the platform. Then she lifts the dancer up, and examines her. Coppelia submits to being studied, with good grace.

Subdued calliaphone examines the little figure from all sides (Coppelia pirouetting at intervals, to assist the process). And then, gentlygently, puts her ear to the metalwork, and listens. She looks to G in awe. "i can't hear hardly nothin'!"

80s Punk-Totally unlike g_rock nods "It's nearly silent. I was careful to give the cogs smooth action. Almost a heartbeat, isn't it?"Coppelia blushes, a faint rose shading the copper of her cheeks. G grins apologetically "Sorry, not polite to discuss."

Subdued calliaphone says, "sorrysorrydin'tmean. . ." and hastily lowers Coppelia to the floor, so that she might step off unaided. "but. . .the blushing . . . i don'understand . . . a machine can't. . ." she screws up her face trying to find words, "be embarrassed. can it?

Fait Accompi(ce) Teh Dave tilts his head, and offers his words of wisdom. "Well, if they're programmed to. . .designed to show emotions, then why not?"

80s Punk-Totally unlike g_rock holds his hand down to elevate the Dancer up to his shoulder level. She steps off and sits on his shoulder, legs delicately sidesaddle. "Well, something happened after I finished her. May I?" this last to Coppelia, who nods and pats his ear

Subdued calliaphone is processing all of this. it's a lot. she looks to Dave. "programmed? like, punchcards?" to G "something happened?"

80s Punk-Totally unlike g_rock continues "Well, I was working on something for Dex, and I had a vial of Joker Special from the Crypitc Joker, and it got superheated, and the steam. . .affected her. Improbably."

Abundantly Ari has an idea, she quietly sneaks back out the way she came

Subdued calliaphone knows about steam, but not a lot about steam. Just like she knows a lot about punchcards and piano-rolls, but not alot about artificial intelligence. She says, "imp-improbably?" and shudders a bit, remembering something.

Fait Accompi(ce) Teh Dave watches Ari go with a raised eyebrow, then shrugs. She'll be back. He turns to callia. "Sort of like punchcards. . . but more complicated. . ."

Wallace, with all this talk of improbability around, decides that everyone's going to be too busy to feed or pet him, so it ambles off to explore the Coach House.

Subdued calliaphone nodnods, she fixed a jacquard loom once, and you should see those Wurlitzers. She thinks she knows all there is to know about complexity! She may be mistaken. . .

80s Punk-Totally unlike g_rock shakes his head "Not quite the same. She's not programmed to do more than a pirouette. This ballerina is actually alive. No winding required." The dancer in question looks away and waves them off, as if to say 'It's no big deal'

Abundantly Ari returns just as sneakily as she left but with more of a smile

Fait Accompi(ce) Teh Dave wraps an arm around Ari as she returns, and peers at the ballerina. "A living machine. . .your daughter, then, G?" He grins cheekily at the Jokerbot.

Subdued calliaphone peers at G. "you sure, big guy? only . . . y'know . . . i used to think those things too." oh, she's all the grown-up now, all exaggerated concern. "i had whole conversashuns with toilets you know. b'fore i realised."

Abundantly Ari smiles up at Dave a moment before turning her attention to Callia again

80s Punk-Totally unlike g_rock cocks an eyebrow at Dave. "I don't even wanna consider the implications of that." he nods at Callia, though. "I'm sure. You can ask her, if you like."

Subdued calliaphone gulps. "A-ask her. Right." She clears her throat, finds her mouth suddenly dry. Turning wide eyes on the little dancing machine, she searches for words.

Subdued calliaphone has not had a lot of luck, putting this question to machines, of late. The last attempt ended in a hospital bed. Again. But nothing venture, nothing gain. And she is surrounded by her friends.

Subdued calliaphone says, to Coppelia. "issit true? you're . . . living? got, y'know . . . feelings?" her face suddenly fills with colour. "if y'll pardon the question."

80s Punk-Totally unlike g_rock places a hand on Callia's shoulder and shrugs his own bot-laden shoulder. She prances gracefully across the arm-bridge to Callia's side. G drops his arm, and Coppelia studies the girl for a moment, hands on hips

80s Punk-Totally unlike g_rock looks on as Coppelia places her hand to her lips, and transplants a small smooch to Callia's cheek, complete with tiny lipstick marks. The Dancer's face remains smooth and featureless.

Subdued calliaphone takes her turn at being studied. She is more fidgety than Coppelia, but she does her best.

Subdued calliaphone's aplomb, such as it was, is entirely demolished by the kiss. It's hard to describe the look in her eyes, it's such a mix. But delight, hope, disbelief . . . they're all in there.

Fait Accompi(ce) Teh Dave grins and says, lowly so as not to disturb the moment. "Y'see. . .there's machines can talk without saying a word."

80s Punk-Totally unlike g_rock nods at Dave. G's been one of those.

Subdued calliaphone looks up, eyes shining, cheeks aflame. "i guess." she hangs her head. "have i bin stupid? i think i've bin stupid. i jus' . . . whasswithEgbert? Cordy? why don'theydo. . .y'know. not smooching. i don'havetosmoocheveryone. but. . ."

80s Punk-Totally unlike g_rock's Ballerina pats the tip of Callia's ear gently, then steps-dances-slides to the ground in front of her. She indicates herself and does a slow pirouette en pointe, then gestures at the coach-house and shakes her head.

Subdued calliaphone puts a hand up to her ear. She still hasn't wiped the lipstick from her cheek. Might be there a while, given how frequently she washes.

Subdued calliaphone blinks, and stares. At Coppelia. She blinks again. "Y'mean . . . you. You're alive. And . . . " she follows the gesture, towards the coach-house.

Fait Accompi(ce) Teh Dave tilts his head as he peers at the traction engine in the coach-house. "Well, it's not sentient but that doesn't mean it doesn't have feelings. . .get hurt. It just can't express it the same way."

Subdued calliaphone takes this in. "not . . ." she looks at Coppelia again, who shakes her head, and mimes little waves in the air, as of some kind . . . "steam? no! special!" Coppelia nods and claps her hands together.

Fait Accompi(ce) Teh Dave pauses as he hears the tone of that word. "Ah, right. . .yeah, there's that too. . ."

Abundantly Ari watches on with puzzlement

Subdued calliaphone turns to Dave, also still puzzling this one out. "it's to do with the special? but . . . the traction engine ain't been anywhere near the. . ." she stops. jaw dropping. This time, it's Coppelia who closes it for her.

Fait Accompi(ce) Teh Dave nods. "And so, it remains a humble traction engine. It's not just the Drive though. . .the whole Island is covered in the Improbability field, and some places it's stronger than others. And there's some thinks leak similar effects."

Abundantly Ari nods, atill not sure she is following "Lots of stuff is smarter here"

Subdued calliaphone says, "it's . . . the special stuff what does it . . . but some places it's stronger than others. . ." the gears grind, slowly but surely. Coppelia is too well-mannered to comment on the sound. "so some machines . . . get it. and some don't?"

Fait Accompi(ce) Teh Dave nods. "And One in particular is the source of it all."

Abundantly Ari tilts her head "The other stuff might get it someday, its always changing you know, but it doesn't all have it now, that is for sure"

Subdued calliaphone is quiet, soaking up these thoughts. It's not just gears that are shifting, it's her whole paradigm. She flops back into the haybale nest, boggle eyed. Coppelia puts her head on one side, then settles herself daintily in Callia's lap.

Subdued calliaphone turns to Ari. She looks suddenly very very tired. But also . . . hopeful. "oh, you think?" Coppelia looks up, and points to herself, then offers an elegant shrug.

Fait Accompi(ce) Teh Dave nods, then peers at Wallace. "You want your blankets and toys and whatnot back?"

Abundantly Ari nodnods, and holds out the book she has been clutching to her chest, "I got you something too"

Subdued calliaphone says, "pleeease?" and peers at the book. "whatsit?"

Abundantly Ari beams, "Its a story, its called The Brave Little Toaster, and see? The subtitle says it is a bedtime story for little appliances, I liked it a lot when I read it"

Fait Accompi(ce) Teh Dave nods and gets to his feet to divest Wallace of Cordy, Egbert, blankets, and piles-o-toys, heading into the coach house to put the latter two in there, and leaving Cordy and Egbert with Callia.

Subdued calliaphone slips an arm round Coppelia, who rests metal chin in cupped metal palm and leans forward to see the book as Callia takes it. "ohhh, a toaster, just like ours! and . . . pictures!" she looks at Ari through heavy-lidded eyes. "thankyou."

Abundantly Ari nodnods "Yep, like that, with adventures"

Subdued calliaphone adds, "i'm gonna read it, to Coppelia." Make it up, presumably, she means. From the pictures. Coppelia tilts her head up, and pats Callia on the arm, humouring her. Even as Callia's eyes slip shut.

The little metal dancer looks up at the sleeping engineer. And, with an expressive gesture of hand to face, she likewise mimes sleep.

Fait Accompi(ce) Teh Dave chuckles and bends down to give Calli a quick hug before wrapping an arm around Ari's waist. "Sounds like a plan. We'll see you around, Calli. And if you ever want to stop by, feel free."

Fait Accompi(ce) Teh Dave realizes he's talking to an already-asleep callia, and chuckles quietly. He nudges Ari and gestures back towards the Hall. "Think I need a nap myself for a little bit."

Abundantly Ari says "sounds nice"

Fait Accompi(ce) Teh Dave pulls a blanket up around Calli and Coppelia's shoulders, then tugs Ari back to the hall, to their clotheshorse.

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