by Max Barry

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The Clarissa's Vagrant Persona of
Liberal Democratic Socialists

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3

Origin of Surveillant Clarissa.

24th of January, 2022. City Hall, Singapore. An afternoon filled with workers from a wide diversity of occupations enjoying their lunch break and hunting for a free seat in their favorite dining places. It seemed like a perfectly normal day for everyone, though the weather was a leaning towards being a scorching inferno, especially for those office workers who were trapping heat in their business suits, as well as the construction workers breaking their backs under the hot sun.

14.50, at the front of the City Hall MRT station. A large surge of electrical currents were drawn into a single point. The origin of the anomaly was unknown, and the curious commuters were asked to clear the immediate vicinity by the local military force lead by Commander Michelle Kassandra Zann Breanna Shirley. She and a section of 16 troops under her command quickly dispatched the crowd and stood ready behind their own barriers. As they waited and anticipated, the spherical electrical anomaly got bigger until it reached an approximate radius of 8 meters.

15.01. A “tear” was observed in the middle of the electrical sphere.

Lt. Col. Marcus Dylan Alexzander Tobias Philip: [radio] Could you confirm with us again, Michelle? A hole in the middle of the anomaly?

Commander Michelle Kassandra Zann Breanna Shirley: That is a positive. There appears to be… something in that hole, some humanoid figure. It’s rather hard to make out the details from here. Samantha, anything from your angle?

3rd Sgt. Samantha Valentina Kat Pauline Alexi: Thermal readings are crazy! Let me switch back to the normal binoculars. It appears to be a robot of some sort. It’s unresponsive to everything happening around it. Maybe its batteries are dead.

After 5 more minutes,

Commander Michelle Kassandra Zann Breanna Shirley: Wait, the anomaly is closing. The voltage readings are going back to normal. The android is coming down to our place. Marcus, are you seeing this?

Lt. Col. Marcus Dylan Alexzander Tobias Philip: [radio] Whoa, that thing is huge. It’s well above 14 feet tall, based on my estimation. I’ll let the higher-ups know, maybe they’re interested in this… girl.

Commander Michelle Kassandra Zann Breanna Shirley: How do you know it’s a girl though? Just from the appearance? For all we know, the thing doesn’t even have an artificial intelligence inside.

1st Sgt. Ezekiel Victor Brennen Sterling Cedric: Maybe there is one, but again, there’s no power in… “her”, so it’s simply indeterminate. [a vehicle approaches] Oh, there they come. Let’s get the higher-ups to discuss it instead.

In just about 2 minutes after they’ve called, the higher-ups have arrived, namely Head of Secretary Jamie and Intelligence Officer Cheryl.

Commander Michelle Kassandra Zann Breanna Shirley: Well, that was fast. Are you expecting our calls, Jamie?

Head of Secretary Jamie Izabella Marie Valerie Ruby Astrid Clementine Eirian: [laughs] When you call in about something bizarre, you know I’ll be there. Anyway, what’s up? Fill me in on what’s going on.

Commander Michelle Kassandra Zann Breanna Shirley: Well, Jamie… As bizarre as it sounds, it’s an android that simply darted in from what appeared to be an another dimension. The electrical anomaly was alien at best, as in we don’t have a single clue on what caused it.

Head of Secretary Jamie Izabella Marie Valerie Ruby Astrid Clementine Eirian: So it’s an alien, technically speaking? As in, an android from another dimension?

Commander Michelle Kassandra Zann Breanna Shirley: Yes. I know it sounds crazy, but all of us saw it. No way we all imagined the same thing.

Head of Secretary Jamie Izabella Marie Valerie Ruby Astrid Clementine Eirian: Meh, don’t worry. I’m not denying that it’s from another dimension. Neither am I calling anyone crazy for that matter. The thing’s freaking tall though. Can we measure it first?

Intelligence Officer Cheryl Catherine Rikka Hermione Marian: Looks to be… exactly 16 feet! More than twice the height of a person.

Head of Secretary Jamie Izabella Marie Valerie Ruby Astrid Clementine Eirian: [whistles] Let’s send it to General Valentine and Foresittend Marcus. Maybe they’ll know what to do with it. This might be slight difficult given the size of it. We need a truck for this task.

The truck arrived within 10 minutes, commandeered by Lt. Col. Marcus Philip. They mounted the android into the back of the truck and secured it properly to ensure that the payload does not drop onto the road. The choice of the truck mattered too, since it would be unwise to transport a 16-feet android within the full view of the bystanders.

Lt. Col. Marcus Dylan Alexzander Tobias Philip: All right, we should be set to go off. Jamie and Cheryl will follow me back, and as for the rest of you, congratulations on the job well done. Dinner’s on me, just name the place.

3rd Sgt. Samantha Valentina Kat Pauline Alexi: Thank you very much, Sir.

1st Sgt. Ezekiel Victor Brennen Sterling Cedric: Why, thank you, Sir.

Lt. Col. Marcus Dylan Alexzander Tobias Philip: If any civilian asks, simply deny that it is a weird electrical storm. Nobody else saw the android, right?

Commander Michelle Kassandra Zann Breanna Shirley: As far as I am concerned, no. My team and I cleared the entire area of civilians. As for collateral damage, just a few street lamps. We will deny that they shorted out.

Lt. Col. Marcus Dylan Alexzander Tobias Philip: Great, keep it up. We can’t let anyone else know about this unless we know what we are dealing with. All right, let’s go!

The truck carrying the android departed from City Hall and arrived at Changi Airport in 20 minutes. After that, it was then loaded into a cargo plane, courtesy of Chief Aviator Gwen Ellen Trixie Foxworthy Arielle Hepburn. To be sent to General Valentine and Foresittend Marcus, means that it will be sent to Myanmar, specifically to Yangon.

Chief Aviator Gwen Ellen Trixie Foxworthy Arielle Hepburn: Don’t worry about a thing, Lieutenant Colonel. We will make sure that this android is sent to General and Foresittend without any hiccups. Isn’t that right, Angeline?

Wing Commander Angeline Joyce Charlene Anne Estefania: Of course! If I may boast, your payload is in the best hands possible, by us!

Lt. Col. Marcus Dylan Alexzander Tobias Philip: It’s weird that the higher the rank, the more outside work you do. It’s not wrong, but… just weird.

Wing Commander Angeline Joyce Charlene Anne Estefania: I know, right? In other countries’ militaries, the higher-ups like us are the ones confined to office work almost the entire day. I welcome this more hand-on approach though. I always wanted to travel to other countries.

Chief Aviator Gwen Ellen Trixie Foxworthy Arielle Hepburn: Well, we could, but… the two hemisphere problem.

Wing Commander Angeline Joyce Charlene Anne Estefania: Yeah, I hope this blows over soon.

3rd Cpt. Raymond Lennox Anderson Marcel Anthony: [pa system] Attention! Flight 481, from Singapore to Myanmar, is ready for takeoff. Chief Aviator Gwen Hepburn, the airspace has been cleared as per your request.

Chief Aviator Gwen Ellen Trixie Foxworthy Arielle Hepburn: Excellent! Let’s get going!

The cargo plane took off from Singapore and made its way to Myanmar. Around halfway through the journey, Gwen and Angeline decided to check on the powerless android. Jamie and Marcus Dylan also joined in shortly.

Chief Aviator Gwen Ellen Trixie Foxworthy Arielle Hepburn: No power… that’s pretty obvious. All we can do now is to take a closer look at her body. Jamie, you said that the thing doesn’t have any power.

Head of Secretary Jamie Izabella Marie Valerie Ruby Astrid Clementine Eirian: Yeah, according to Commander Michelle when she and her team came across it. The android did not move or has done anything ever since it… “entered” our dimension.

Chief Aviator Gwen Ellen Trixie Foxworthy Arielle Hepburn: Do you think that she is… extraterrestrial?

Head of Secretary Jamie Izabella Marie Valerie Ruby Astrid Clementine Eirian: It’s complicated. Technically, she’s not exactly an alien because she seemed to have the same body structure as the rest of us, save from the height that easily dwarfed all of us. Though… she came from another dimension, so maybe where she came from was different and not exactly “our” Earth?

Chief Aviator Gwen Ellen Trixie Foxworthy Arielle Hepburn: Hmm, very good points. It seems to be that way. It’s strange that she still has the same power rating as your typical computer. As in, we can charge her and bring her back to life with just a laptop charger.

Head of Secretary Jamie Izabella Marie Valerie Ruby Astrid Clementine Eirian: I will have to suggest that we wait first before we do anything. We don’t know its true intentions yet. Though, maybe we can open its back compartment and find out what’s inside.

Chief Aviator Gwen Ellen Trixie Foxworthy Arielle Hepburn: Curiosity got us all, eventually.

Head of Secretary Jamie Izabella Marie Valerie Ruby Astrid Clementine Eirian: Ah, come on, it’ll be exciting!

Chief Aviator Gwen Ellen Trixie Foxworthy Arielle Hepburn: All right, but… we will need more people. Two of us won’t be enough to turn this thing over.

Head of Secretary Jamie Izabella Marie Valerie Ruby Astrid Clementine Eirian: Let me call them over. [radio] Marcus and Angeline, please come over to the cargo bay of the plane.

15 seconds later…

Lt. Col. Marcus Dylan Alexzander Tobias Philip: All right, what’s up?

Head of Secretary Jamie Izabella Marie Valerie Ruby Astrid Clementine Eirian: Me and Gwen are thinking about opening the back shell of this android. We think that it functions like a backpack or a storage compartment. There’s bound to be something worthwhile inside there!

Commander Michelle Kassandra Zann Breanna Shirley: Hmm, now I am curious too. We don’t know anything about this yet, so we will just open it up and check before, you know, giving it power.

Head of Secretary Jamie Izabella Marie Valerie Ruby Astrid Clementine Eirian: Exactly. Okay, now we flip it from the right side. One… two… three!

All of them managed to flip the android over, which is now lying on its face with its back facing the ceiling.

Wing Commander Angeline Joyce Charlene Anne Estefania: Hmm, no keyhole or handle of any sort. Seems like we need some tools for this. I’ll be right back.

5 seconds later…

Wing Commander Angeline Joyce Charlene Anne Estefania: Got a crowbar! Let’s pry this thing open!

Lt. Col. Marcus Dylan Alexzander Tobias Philip: Ay, do be careful with that thing! We need to ensure that it is in the condition that we just saw. As in, undamaged and the lid should be able to close fully afterwards.

Wing Commander Angeline Joyce Charlene Anne Estefania: All right, I got that. Ok, now help me out a bit here… On the count of three!

Commander Michelle Kassandra Zann Breanna Shirley: One…

Head of Secretary Jamie Izabella Marie Valerie Ruby Astrid Clementine Eirian: Two…

Lt. Col. Marcus Dylan Alexzander Tobias Philip: Three!

All of them struggled to open it for around 13 seconds.

Lt. Col. Marcus Dylan Alexzander Tobias Philip: Argh, come on!

Chief Aviator Gwen Ellen Trixie Foxworthy Arielle Hepburn: Freaking thing is stubborn. Not budging…!

Head of Secretary Jamie Izabella Marie Valerie Ruby Astrid Clementine Eirian: Come on, everyone, try harder! Push the crowbar down.

Commander Michelle Kassandra Zann Breanna Shirley: Stubborn… piece of… s- [pop!] Hey, it opened! Oh, no, get down!

Finally, the lid popped open and hit the ceiling of the plane before falling back on the floor. Fortunately, it did not hit anyone during its fall.

Head of Secretary Jamie Izabella Marie Valerie Ruby Astrid Clementine Eirian: Whew, that was… loud.

Chief Aviator Gwen Ellen Trixie Foxworthy Arielle Hepburn: I know, right? The metal plate looks flimsy, but it actually is really stiff. Carbon nanotubes? We probably need to run an elemental or an alloy analysis later.

Lt. Col. Marcus Dylan Alexzander Tobias Philip: Hey, there’re documents in the compartment. Jamie, please do the reading.

As Lt. Col. Marcus stated, the android’s back compartment was half-filled with paper-based documents. There were no other items inside, not even a thumb drive or a hard drive. Jamie proceeded to put the pages on a projector for everyone to see what this is all about. Gwen Hepburn decided to keep an eye on the android while listening to half of what Jamie is saying.

Head of Secretary Jamie Izabella Marie Valerie Ruby Astrid Clementine Eirian: All right, story time! Let’s see what we have here. It’s an instruction manual with some footnotes, actually. “Thank you for purchasing Alanis Star Mark 0, Serial Number N-2904/0…” so on and so forth. So, this was meant to be commercially sold, but she was the first successful prototype and they were test-driving it in the actual human environment. Who is this “they”, you asked? Isalov Industries, from Myanmar… it’s good to mention now that we don’t have such an industry under this name. At least, not that I know of. [takes a breath]. This would further confirm the theory that the electrical surge in Singapore’s City Hall was a gateway – an opening – to another dimension. Anyway, continuing on, there are footnotes on this as I mentioned earlier – they ranged from technical data to some personal comments from the supposed employees of the company. One such comment stated that this manual was also just a draft and that there are a few things they might have to add in soon. Another comment says: “We’re gonna put this into the field for the first time. Hope she adapts well to the environment and the people around, seeing how she was extremely tall.” [takes another, slightly longer breath]. Just a few more pages on technicalities such as her specs, emergency repair SOPs and so on. There’s another footnote at the end of the manual, this time, the handwriting seemed… odd. Like it seemed rushed. “To this day, nobody knows what she was based on. Are we just to assume that she’s another nobody at first? Or (the boss) has something in his mind? Either way, we have to put the AI unit inside here, NOW… we have little time.” I can’t make out the name of the boss; writings are too smudged. [takes another, much longer breath]. Her full name is… Surveillant Clarissa Alanis Star Breya Anna Taissa Maxine Jolijn Samantha Harumi.

The team murmurs amongst themselves for 10 to 20 seconds.

Head of Secretary Jamie Izabella Marie Valerie Ruby Astrid Clementine Eirian: Any input on this, guys? Apart from the ridiculously long name.

Lt. Col. Marcus Dylan Alexzander Tobias Philip: So, she’s apparently based on something that their boss wants to emulate? Maybe someone that he personally knows or has recently deceased? That does not sound too far-fetched, I mean, at least in their world, judging by the fact that they can put an AI inside. They seemed to be on the deadline, maybe the pressure from their boss… or something else.

Chief Aviator Gwen Ellen Trixie Foxworthy Arielle Hepburn: Those few last lines confirmed our speculation, then; the android indeed has an AI inside it!

Wing Commander Angeline Joyce Charlene Anne Estefania: Are we going to find out whether it is benevolent… or malevolent? I have a bad feeling that we should not power it on until it’s secured.

Head of Secretary Jamie Izabella Marie Valerie Ruby Astrid Clementine Eirian: Yeah… good point there, Angeline. I’ll have to tell Valentine and Marcus about this. I just hope they know what they’re dealing with.

Commander Michelle Kassandra Zann Breanna Shirley: Are we sure that Isalov does not exist in our very world? Maybe it’s some shady organization, or Isalov is just a front?

Head of Secretary Jamie Izabella Marie Valerie Ruby Astrid Clementine Eirian: More or less. I have never heard of it. Neither have you, nor Gwen, nor Marcus Dylan, nor Angeline. I mean, a dimension rift just opened up.

Wing Commander Angeline Joyce Charlene Anne Estefania: We are approaching Yangon International Airport now. We will approach the military airspace and land at a secluded hangar.

After all the technicalities have been dealt with and passed by, the android was once again covered and covertly drove off to the White House equivalent for Valentine, Marcus and Jolyn. It was 6.30 in the morning and Valentine has just woke up, Marcus was in his own bedroom-office, reading the issues of the day, and Jolyn just came back from… somewhere.

General Valentine Maxwell De Sierlijk Valkyrie Angelus Delta X. Peyton Constantine: [yawns] Ehh, what’s up, you guys? What do you have for me in store?

Head of Secretary Jamie Izabella Marie Valerie Ruby Astrid Clementine Eirian: It’s the android that we told you about. We found it in Singapore’s City Hall. It’s currently powered down since, well… there’s no power in it to begin with.

General Valentine Maxwell De Sierlijk Valkyrie Angelus Delta X. Peyton Constantine: [via the intercom] Marcus Reynolds and Jolyn Ceeta, please make your way to Basement 1 immediately. We have a surprise waiting for us.

Foresittend (President) Marcus Alan Ariel Maximillian Swifty Linx Haydn Reynolds: All right, I’m on my way.

Vice Foresittend (V. President) Jolyn Coraline Marlene Athena Lydia Jill H. Ceeta: Can I ask what it is though?

General Valentine Maxwell De Sierlijk Valkyrie Angelus Delta X. Peyton Constantine: Make your way down first. That’s why it’s a surprise.

With that, the trio made their way down to Basement 1 on their own. Lt. Col. Marcus, Chief Aviator Gwen and Commander Michelle followed them along the way, while Head of Secretary Jamie and Wing Commander Angeline proceeded to take charge of the administrative matters in the White House. At the basement was a workplace and a lab for the leaders. Apparently, they are into science and have been doing their own experiments during their break times. The lab has a white and clean look to it, as well as an array of advanced equipment, for science. There are a couple of electron microscopes, fume cupboards and even a mini collider for small-scale experiments. Field Admiral Augustine was on his break and so came into the lab to check out on what’s going on. The six of them proceeded to tie the android on a bench and due to its height, around 3 to 4 benches need to be used. Its arms and legs are secured properly onto the bench, while it was plugged into one of the lab’s sockets.

Fleet Admiral Augustine Lorenzo Stuart Dalton Miles: Is this the android that I keep hearing over the radios?

General Valentine Maxwell De Sierlijk Valkyrie Angelus Delta X. Peyton Constantine: Yep! Get ready for a surprise, everyone. [inspects the android] Okay, it seems to be tied securely. Jamie, turn on the power!

Commander Michelle Kassandra Zann Breanna Shirley: There’s still one thing that I was not exactly certain about. Are we very certain that Isalov Industries is not from this world? I mean, a portal opened and everything, but it could be from a part of our world.

General Valentine Maxwell De Sierlijk Valkyrie Angelus Delta X. Peyton Constantine: Yes, it’s not from this world. Marcus Reynolds already did a background check, and well, if it originated from Myanmar, I would know about it. However, I don’t, so there’s that.

Chief Aviator Gwen Ellen Trixie Foxworthy Arielle Hepburn: Ah, good. It’s that itching question that Michelle really wants to find out.

Commander Michelle Kassandra Zann Breanna Shirley: More like being skeptical, but all right… Ok, let’s turn it on.

Chief Aviator Gwen Ellen Trixie Foxworthy Arielle Hepburn: Let there be life!

Gwen threw the power open (not as dramatic as the switches from the 20th Century; just a simple on switch) and within a few seconds, the android was back online. The face lit up first, followed by a reboot sequence that involved an animated hourglass being flipped repeatedly everytime the sand rans out on the top. Judging by the commands and the UI, its language is in English, so it was not that big of a problem for the rest to figure out.

Surveillant Clarissa Alanis Star Breya Anna Taissa Maxine Jolijn Samantha Harumi: All systems online. System integrity: 95 percent. Rebooting to the last point.

General Valentine Maxwell De Sierlijk Valkyrie Angelus Delta X. Peyton Constantine: Hmm, so far, so good. I think the voice is suitable for the body she was built for.

Chief Aviator Gwen Ellen Trixie Foxworthy Arielle Hepburn: At least we didn’t end up with a sinister one. That would be really terrifying.

Surveillant Clarissa Alanis Star Breya Anna Taissa Maxine Jolijn Samantha Harumi: Ugh, my head hurts. Dumping excess system memory… moving into storage… [10 seconds later] Done!

Commander Michelle Kassandra Zann Breanna Shirley: I think we are ready to talk to her. Valentine, why don’t you do the honors?

General Valentine Maxwell De Sierlijk Valkyrie Angelus Delta X. Peyton Constantine: All right! Well, hello there… Surveillant Clarissa. I am General Valentine, [approaches her right hand for a handshake] and these are my-

Surveillant Clarissa Alanis Star Breya Anna Taissa Maxine Jolijn Samantha Harumi: [got free of her restraints within a second, then grabs valentine by his throat]

General Valentine Maxwell De Sierlijk Valkyrie Angelus Delta X. Peyton Constantine: Argh, let… go of… my throat! We come in peace!

Surveillant Clarissa Alanis Star Breya Anna Taissa Maxine Jolijn Samantha Harumi: [now sounding increasingly angrier] Who the heck are you people?! Where am I?!

Chief Aviator Gwen Ellen Trixie Foxworthy Arielle Hepburn: [panicking] Now now, if you just let go of Valentine, we will be able to tell you what- [clarissa aims a pistol at her] Okay, I’ll stop talking.

Surveillant Clarissa Alanis Star Breya Anna Taissa Maxine Jolijn Samantha Harumi: Get to the point, ¡pronto!

Vice Foresittend (V. President) Jolyn Coraline Marlene Athena Lydia Jill H. Ceeta: Hey, that’s not very nice. [proceeds to aim a shotgun at clarissa’s face] Now, I said play nice before I shoot your pretty face.

Commander Michelle Kassandra Zann Breanna Shirley: [silently raises her own weapon at clarissa.]

Surveillant Clarissa Alanis Star Breya Anna Taissa Maxine Jolijn Samantha Harumi: I will take you all on if I have to. [aims at jolyn instead of gwen]

Fleet Admiral Augustine Lorenzo Stuart Dalton Miles: [aims a device at clarissa’s face; seems to be an emp-based weapon] Don’t you mean how fast I can disarm you? Dylan, arm the device.

Lt. Col. Marcus Dylan Alexzander Tobias Philip: All righty! [the emp device started off with a whine, increasingly louder as it powers up.]

Surveillant Clarissa Alanis Star Breya Anna Taissa Maxine Jolijn Samantha Harumi: Oh, whoa, hey, get that thing away from me! I don’t want to hurt you all. Please, please, please, just tell me what’s happening.

Vice Foresittend (V. President) Jolyn Coraline Marlene Athena Lydia Jill H. Ceeta: That’s what they usually say…

General Valentine Maxwell De Sierlijk Valkyrie Angelus Delta X. Peyton Constantine: Verdammt! This isn’t comfortable… in the slightest!

Meanwhile at Valentine’s Office…

Head of Secretary Jamie Izabella Marie Valerie Ruby Astrid Clementine Eirian: Did you hear something?

Wing Commander Angeline Joyce Charlene Anne Estefania: Nah, I’m sure that’s nothing. Maybe it’s just the wind.

Head of Secretary Jamie Izabella Marie Valerie Ruby Astrid Clementine Eirian: Meh, all right.

Back inside the lab…

Foresittend (President) Marcus Alan Ariel Maximillian Swifty Linx Haydn Reynolds: Wait, wait, wait… everyone calm the heck down! Can’t we all de-escalate the situation? [approaches clarissa] Look, Clarissa… we are not going to hurt you, okay? Whatever happened in your dimension, or your world, is over. We are simply trying to find out what happened to you. Now, please let go of Valentine, then we will all drop our weapons.

Vice Foresittend (V. President) Jolyn Coraline Marlene Athena Lydia Jill H. Ceeta: Are you crazy? I doubt that she will listen to us.

Lt. Col. Marcus Dylan Alexzander Tobias Philip: Come on, just give us the signal, and we will disable her for good.

Fleet Admiral Augustine Lorenzo Stuart Dalton Miles: I second that.

Chief Aviator Gwen Ellen Trixie Foxworthy Arielle Hepburn: … Meh, not very sure about this whole thing.

Foresittend (President) Marcus Alan Ariel Maximillian Swifty Linx Haydn Reynolds: Come on, guys, stay with me on this. She’s just stressed out and threatened. [back to clarissa] We won’t hurt you, you have my word, trust me. Now, please let go of my friend over there, please?

Surveillant Clarissa Alanis Star Breya Anna Taissa Maxine Jolijn Samantha Harumi: Ugh, very well. You better explain what’s going on.

Surveillant Clarissa dropped Valentine from her grip, while the latter falls a few feet onto the floor due to the height that Clarissa’s hand is at.

General Valentine Maxwell De Sierlijk Valkyrie Angelus Delta X. Peyton Constantine: [thud] Ow. [chocking and trying to breathe]

Foresittend (President) Marcus Alan Ariel Maximillian Swifty Linx Haydn Reynolds: Now, that was not so bad, wasn’t it? Now, please sit down on your bench. Don’t worry, we won’t strap you back on it. Everyone else, please grab a chair and sit around.

General Valentine Maxwell De Sierlijk Valkyrie Angelus Delta X. Peyton Constantine: [chuckles] Well, that wasn’t a good start. Android got a good kick.

Vice Foresittend (V. President) Jolyn Coraline Marlene Athena Lydia Jill H. Ceeta: Did none of this bothered you, Valentine? I mean, you were chocked and nearly killed!

General Valentine Maxwell De Sierlijk Valkyrie Angelus Delta X. Peyton Constantine: But deep down, I think she’s nice if you managed to talk to her. Marcus did it rather well, didn’t he? I’m still thankful that I am alive though!

Vice Foresittend (V. President) Jolyn Coraline Marlene Athena Lydia Jill H. Ceeta: Permission to speak freely, General?

General Valentine Maxwell De Sierlijk Valkyrie Angelus Delta X. Peyton Constantine: Umm, go ahead? Just speak out your mind.

Vice Foresittend (V. President) Jolyn Coraline Marlene Athena Lydia Jill H. Ceeta: You’re delusional. How did you see the good in her even after she choked you?

General Valentine Maxwell De Sierlijk Valkyrie Angelus Delta X. Peyton Constantine: Meh, give the android a chance. It would be a waste if we don’t know about its origins and killed her instead.

Chief Aviator Gwen Ellen Trixie Foxworthy Arielle Hepburn: Maybe she’s just confused. I mean, she did come from another world, after all.

Vice Foresittend (V. President) Jolyn Coraline Marlene Athena Lydia Jill H. Ceeta: Either way, we have to keep a close watch on her, Valentine! Not with weapons, but with some fail-safe in case she went crazy like this.

General Valentine Maxwell De Sierlijk Valkyrie Angelus Delta X. Peyton Constantine: No worries, Jolyn. I’ll take note of that.

All of them sat in a circle around the array of benches that Clarissa was sitting on. She easily dwarfed even General Valentine twofold in terms of height. It was like children gathering around their mother (or whichever elder they are close to) for a story.

Surveillant Clarissa Alanis Star Breya Anna Taissa Maxine Jolijn Samantha Harumi: Now please, tell me what is going on… Why am I here, and who are you all?

General Valentine Maxwell De Sierlijk Valkyrie Angelus Delta X. Peyton Constantine: I am General Valentine Constantine. That wasn’t a good start, but hey, I understand why you acted that way. [shakes hands with clarissa – this time successfully.]

Surveillant Clarissa Alanis Star Breya Anna Taissa Maxine Jolijn Samantha Harumi: I’m sorry I nearly got you killed just now… you are quite forgiving of me, Valentine.

General Valentine Maxwell De Sierlijk Valkyrie Angelus Delta X. Peyton Constantine: Meh, no worries. Anyway, please, continue with the introductions.

Foresittend (President) Marcus Alan Ariel Maximillian Swifty Linx Haydn Reynolds: I am Foresittend Marcus Reynolds. That’s “President”, in Anglo-Saxon English.

Vice Foresittend (V. President) Jolyn Coraline Marlene Athena Lydia Jill H. Ceeta: The name’s Jolyn. Vice Foresittend Jolyn Ceeta. Nice to meet you, I guess…

Chief Aviator Gwen Ellen Trixie Foxworthy Arielle Hepburn: Chief Aviator Gwen Hepburn. I like your color scheme there.

Lt. Col. Marcus Dylan Alexzander Tobias Philip: Lieutenant Colonel Marcus Philip.

Surveillant Clarissa Alanis Star Breya Anna Taissa Maxine Jolijn Samantha Harumi: There are two Marcus(s)?

Lt. Col. Marcus Dylan Alexzander Tobias Philip: It’s not that uncommon to have the same name. That’s why we have a long string of names for each of us. Anyway, …

Fleet Admiral Augustine Lorenzo Stuart Dalton Miles: Fleet Admiral Augustine Miles. Please don’t make me use the EMP blaster again. We were still recovering from having to activate it last time.

Commander Michelle Kassandra Zann Breanna Shirley: Commander Michelle Shirley. We will introduce the rest after all of us know what’s happening.

Foresittend (President) Marcus Alan Ariel Maximillian Swifty Linx Haydn Reynolds: All right, let’s start with you, Clarissa. What happened in your world, you were traumatized by it. Isn’t it right?

Surveillant Clarissa Alanis Star Breya Anna Taissa Maxine Jolijn Samantha Harumi: Wait a second, “your” world? What happened to mine?

Foresittend (President) Marcus Alan Ariel Maximillian Swifty Linx Haydn Reynolds: Apparently, based on the information that we got from Commander Michelle over here, and from an instructional manual that came along with you, says here that you are an android with an adaptive artificial intelligence inside. You were based on someone that the boss from Isalov Industries used to know.

General Valentine Maxwell De Sierlijk Valkyrie Angelus Delta X. Peyton Constantine: In other words, you have both the mind of a computer and that of a human inside. An AI with human emotions. You can pass a Turing Test several times in a row! The point is, there’s no such thing as Isalov Industries in our country, or on this Earth.

Commander Michelle Kassandra Zann Breanna Shirley: And… there was an electrical surge in Singapore’s City Hall. We can’t disclose the date and time of your arrival just yet, but all we knew from that point was that you jumped dimensions and when we found you, you were without power.

Surveillant Clarissa Alanis Star Breya Anna Taissa Maxine Jolijn Samantha Harumi: My world? My home…? [visibly distressed and about to tear up]

Chief Aviator Gwen Ellen Trixie Foxworthy Arielle Hepburn: Ehh, hey there, Clarissa! Don’t be too sad. All we want to know is where you are from.

Surveillant Clarissa Alanis Star Breya Anna Taissa Maxine Jolijn Samantha Harumi: [sniffs] Okay… It’s a long story, and I forgot some parts though.

Foresittend (President) Marcus Alan Ariel Maximillian Swifty Linx Haydn Reynolds: It’s ok. We have the time to hear you out.

Surveillant Clarissa Alanis Star Breya Anna Taissa Maxine Jolijn Samantha Harumi: Very well. The world that I came from, it was 2014. I’m not sure if it is identical to your world here, but well, the humans look alike. Anyway, after I was created, my test run was rather simple and straightforward – go out and learn like a real human would. They put a mind of a human into an android, as you’ve mentioned, so I was able to learn and adapt well to people around me. Well, my height still hindered me from doing certain tasks, so there’s that. Anyway, after a few days of exploring, I got to Singapore and decided to become a children’s mascot for a moment.

Vice Foresittend (V. President) Jolyn Coraline Marlene Athena Lydia Jill H. Ceeta: Well I can see why you want to become one. Your appearance, minus the height, is kid-friendly.

Surveillant Clarissa Alanis Star Breya Anna Taissa Maxine Jolijn Samantha Harumi: Right? So I took up the position of the mascot… for about a week or so. As much as the kids like my appearance, the height is quite an issue. I can’t walk around children in fear of them getting in my way when I’m walking, I can’t fit in through their small playgrounds or clubhouses, the list goes on.

Foresittend (President) Marcus Alan Ariel Maximillian Swifty Linx Haydn Reynolds: Fascinating. Why did you make into this height though, do you know?

Surveillant Clarissa Alanis Star Breya Anna Taissa Maxine Jolijn Samantha Harumi: Nope. I know little to nothing about my creators in Myanmar. Except that, yes, I am made in Isalov Industries.

Foresittend (President) Marcus Alan Ariel Maximillian Swifty Linx Haydn Reynolds: Can you elaborate that a bit? Like, how about Myanmar, Isalov Industries? How were they like?

Surveillant Clarissa Alanis Star Breya Anna Taissa Maxine Jolijn Samantha Harumi: I can answer very well for Myanmar – it’s the same as here, just that I got weird looks from the people around me due to my stature. I want to mention this weirdest thing out of all: Nobody bats an eye about me! The technology there in my home world is… more or less still developing. AI research has gone nowhere yet, and I seemed to be the only one that passed the Turing Test. Other aspects of technology, such as transportation, cars they call it, also relied heavily on fossil fuels. I’m not sure if you all have heard of it. The point is, they all treated me well like a normal human being! I mean, yes, they commented on my height and all, but it’s like… do you heard about Jenny from that kids’ show My Life As A Teenage Robot?

General Valentine Maxwell De Sierlijk Valkyrie Angelus Delta X. Peyton Constantine: Yeah, we heard of it. Both the show and the fossil fuels. The show was awesome… man, I’m getting old memories from it. Anyway, yes, fossil fuels. It’s just that it’s been a few decades since we last used those pollutants. We now rely heavily on solar and wind.

Vice Foresittend (V. President) Jolyn Coraline Marlene Athena Lydia Jill H. Ceeta: So your world and ours are parallels?

Surveillant Clarissa Alanis Star Breya Anna Taissa Maxine Jolijn Samantha Harumi: Hmm?

Vice Foresittend (V. President) Jolyn Coraline Marlene Athena Lydia Jill H. Ceeta: Don’t you see? Valentine, they have the same exact cartoons and shows as us, they are more or less humans like us – at least going by what Clarissa here is telling us, and they are still utilizing fossil fuels instead of switching to the alternative means. Their world is a near parallel to us, apart from the difference that we did not have an AI or an android with the capability to mimic human behavior.

General Valentine Maxwell De Sierlijk Valkyrie Angelus Delta X. Peyton Constantine: Hmm, that makes sense now that you put it forward, I’m curious though: What do you know about Isalov Industries?

Surveillant Clarissa Alanis Star Breya Anna Taissa Maxine Jolijn Samantha Harumi: There’s the problem, General. I know nothing about it! All I remembered was that I was in their reception area – or the holding hangar – then they simply told me that I am free to go wherever I want. All they want back was the feedback data from me, on how fast I was learning and how well I am adapting to the environment and the people around me. All I have in my storage unit – my brain, so to speak – about Isalov Industries is the usual routines and technical bits that they put in, and one personal file, apparently. Let me access it… and well, it seems to be a footnote compilation of the employees, researchers and scientists that work there. They kept referencing the boss, on how he is getting increasingly anxious about putting the AI unit inside the shell. Other than that, I know nothing else, everyone. I really tried to, but I simply cannot. To add on, nearly all of my memories were wiped. I have little to no recordings of the Earth that I was on.

Commander Michelle Kassandra Zann Breanna Shirley: But why Singapore? Why did you choose to open a dimension rift there?

Surveillant Clarissa Alanis Star Breya Anna Taissa Maxine Jolijn Samantha Harumi: That, I can vouch with confidence that I did not do it. To get to that point, we must go back to the time when I just started my army career in Singapore. It lasted for a whole of… 16 days, I think. The service went well for the whole length, and as usual, I cannot stop mentioning that everyone just took me as one of the humans. Of course, because of my eyes act as cameras, I was cordoned off from entering the sensitive areas – the Red Zones, so to speak. So yes, it went well, all the way until the 16th night, while we were all asleep, everyone just disappeared! You heard me right! They just disappeared, for reasons that I still don’t know even till now.

Vice Foresittend (V. President) Jolyn Coraline Marlene Athena Lydia Jill H. Ceeta: Do you have a physical record of it?

Surveillant Clarissa Alanis Star Breya Anna Taissa Maxine Jolijn Samantha Harumi: Well, since I was sleeping, no. My ears recorded as usual though, but it was weird. At approximately 03.00, the recording was interrupted and dominated by a static for 3 seconds. This was the reason I woke up and later I found out that no one was around in my bunk. All the people from other sections and platoons were gone too.

General Valentine Maxwell De Sierlijk Valkyrie Angelus Delta X. Peyton Constantine: Fascinating! One man would count as a desertion, a few would count as multiple desertions, a section would be a group effort, and the whole company gone?! I think it’s the work of something else. The entire company just can’t leave quietly while you sleep, right?

Surveillant Clarissa Alanis Star Breya Anna Taissa Maxine Jolijn Samantha Harumi: Right? It’s so freaking weird, I know. You can listen to my audio recordings now if you want. [clarissa fiddled with her mind for 5 seconds] There, let me play that back. What do you all hear?

Vice Foresittend (V. President) Jolyn Coraline Marlene Athena Lydia Jill H. Ceeta: Just a very quiet night, I suppose. All I heard were a few fans whirling, people snoring. Nothing appeared to be out of the ordinary.

Lt. Col. Marcus Dylan Alexzander Tobias Philip: Same here. Not even the last few seconds before the static takes over. Whatever happened to your people, it is obviously very sudden. And that it wasn’t normal in the slightest. How can a 300-people strong platoon just move quietly and quickly within a matter of seconds?

Surveillant Clarissa Alanis Star Breya Anna Taissa Maxine Jolijn Samantha Harumi: What are you guys suggesting?

Commander Michelle Kassandra Zann Breanna Shirley: Instead of voluntarily moving through a portal like you, we have a theory that your friends were sucked into a portal almost instantaneously. Though, we don’t have any explanation on how you were the only one left in your own world.

Surveillant Clarissa Alanis Star Breya Anna Taissa Maxine Jolijn Samantha Harumi: … I wasn’t alone. There are a few other… things around me. They’re not humans, well, at least to my knowledge because I have no sight of them ever since. But I felt like someone, or something, is always watching me. I know it’s clichéd, but it’s usually just a pair of glowing eyes in the shadows. No other distinctive features can be made, even outside of the visible light spectrum. Here, let me pull up an image I managed to capture! [pointing at the image] See this black outline and a shadow? That’s what those things are. They seem to have absorbed all the wavelengths of the EM spectrum. I can’t make out any of their features, save for these pair of glowing eyes.

General Valentine Maxwell De Sierlijk Valkyrie Angelus Delta X. Peyton Constantine: Do you hear them talk along the way?

Surveillant Clarissa Alanis Star Breya Anna Taissa Maxine Jolijn Samantha Harumi: No… I don’t. I don’t think they can talk at all. Very silent “creatures”.

General Valentine Maxwell De Sierlijk Valkyrie Angelus Delta X. Peyton Constantine: Hmm, that’s not good, but still interesting! Unless we found a way to replicate the portal, we have no way of going back there. Ah well, lunch break! Everyone in my office, now. Allow me and Jamie to prepare some food.

They all made their way back to the ground floor. Surveillant Alanis, due to her sheer height, had to squeeze and bend into a cargo lift for the way up. Everyone was seated around the table, except for Alanis, who has to sit down on the floor without a chair.

General Valentine Maxwell De Sierlijk Valkyrie Angelus Delta X. Peyton Constantine: Jamie and Angeline! Guess who’s here and alive…

Wing Commander Angeline Joyce Charlene Anne Estefania: Oh, hello there, Surveillant Clarissa! Welcome to our humble home. My name’s Angeline.

Head of Secretary Jamie Izabella Marie Valerie Ruby Astrid Clementine Eirian: Ooh, hi there! And mine is-

Surveillant Clarissa Alanis Star Breya Anna Taissa Maxine Jolijn Samantha Harumi: Oh my goodness! Katrina, is that really you?

Head of Secretary Jamie Izabella Marie Valerie Ruby Astrid Clementine Eirian: Wait, what? Who’s Katrina?

Surveillant Clarissa Alanis Star Breya Anna Taissa Maxine Jolijn Samantha Harumi: [runs towards jamie and proceeds to give her a rather strong hug] Ohh, Katrina! I miss you so much, I thought you’re gone!

Head of Secretary Jamie Izabella Marie Valerie Ruby Astrid Clementine Eirian: Argh, quite a… strong hug you got there… Please let go of me now, you got the wrong person.

Surveillant Clarissa Alanis Star Breya Anna Taissa Maxine Jolijn Samantha Harumi: Ah, don’t be silly, I know it’s you! I know it’s your face and all.

Head of Secretary Jamie Izabella Marie Valerie Ruby Astrid Clementine Eirian: Oh my goodness, I am suffocating. [tries to breathe] Would you guys kindly help me out here?

General Valentine Maxwell De Sierlijk Valkyrie Angelus Delta X. Peyton Constantine: Umm, Alanis? That really is Jamie. Jamie Izabella. She’s our Head of Secretary. Who do you mean by Katrina?

Surveillant Clarissa Alanis Star Breya Anna Taissa Maxine Jolijn Samantha Harumi: Wait a second… you’re not Katrina! [sheepishly] Oops, I’m sorry. I thought you were someone from my world.

Head of Secretary Jamie Izabella Marie Valerie Ruby Astrid Clementine Eirian: It’s all right. Hey, you can tell us who she is at lunch. Come on, let’s go back to the table.

With that, everyone is back at the lunch table. Everyone’s conversation is more or less fixated towards Surveillant Clarissa, and what to do with her or to talk to her. There’s also a projector and a computer wired and connected to her storage unit, so as to extract physical evidence.

Vice Foresittend (V. President) Jolyn Coraline Marlene Athena Lydia Jill H. Ceeta: I don’t know about this entire thing, Valentine. No offense to you, Clarissa, but we have just met you like for 10 minutes, and I found that Valentine is a little too trusting towards you.

Surveillant Clarissa Alanis Star Breya Anna Taissa Maxine Jolijn Samantha Harumi: It’s understandable. I tried to kill Valentine and the rest of you when I was awaken. But you will have to believe me that I did it because I don’t know you all. It was an act of self-defense.

General Valentine Maxwell De Sierlijk Valkyrie Angelus Delta X. Peyton Constantine: For now, you have to earn my trust and from everyone here. I’m sure that deep down inside you, you’re a nice pers- I mean, android, but yes, trust is something you will have to earn overtime.

Head of Secretary Jamie Izabella Marie Valerie Ruby Astrid Clementine Eirian: Wait, you were nearly strangled? No wonder Angeline and I heard some muffled sounds from the ground.

Vice Foresittend (V. President) Jolyn Coraline Marlene Athena Lydia Jill H. Ceeta: Oh, really? Shoot, we need to add more padding to our underground lab. No one else can know that it is even there.

General Valentine Maxwell De Sierlijk Valkyrie Angelus Delta X. Peyton Constantine: Noted. I’ll get on that, or us. For this one, we will have to do it. Can’t let any contractor do it. Anyway, tell me a bit more about this Katrina you mentioned just now.

Surveillant Clarissa Alanis Star Breya Anna Taissa Maxine Jolijn Samantha Harumi: Well, she’s one of my closest friends that I have met in the 14 days of army so far. A very approachable person to talk to. Though, she’s the one that actually started talking to me. She asked me a few typical questions, like where I come from, what I am doing here… again, strange that she never talks much about my height. Anyway, as you can tell from just now, she looks extremely close to Jamie in terms of appearance. The only difference, now that I have seen it, is that Katrina is much shorter, like only 5 ft. 5 in. (165.1 centimeters). We talked to each other for the span of 14 days, ever since I met her at the bus stop that we are supposed to gather in.

General Valentine Maxwell De Sierlijk Valkyrie Angelus Delta X. Peyton Constantine: Any idea on what happened to her?

Surveillant Clarissa Alanis Star Breya Anna Taissa Maxine Jolijn Samantha Harumi: No… that night was the last time I talked to her. The next day, every single person on Earth, or at least in Singapore, was gone. And it’s not only the people who are gone. According to the footage that I have, the place was also in a perpetual state of twilight.

General Valentine Maxwell De Sierlijk Valkyrie Angelus Delta X. Peyton Constantine: You can’t find anyone else?

Surveillant Clarissa Alanis Star Breya Anna Taissa Maxine Jolijn Samantha Harumi: Well, no humans or other animals as far as I’m concerned. Vegetation is still intact, though they are severely withered. I saw other… things. I can’t exactly describe it, but if you look at the footage here- wait, [gesturing at jamie izabella] right over there, yeah. Did you all see that?

Head of Secretary Jamie Izabella Marie Valerie Ruby Astrid Clementine Eirian: Well, it’s a shadow in the shape of a person, that’s for sure. Didn’t you say that everyone was gone?

Surveillant Clarissa Alanis Star Breya Anna Taissa Maxine Jolijn Samantha Harumi: Yes, but here’s another thing: I can’t get any readings out of them. I mean, I zoomed in and got closer photos, but that’s it. They don’t have any temperature readings, no radiation given off. They blocked the entire EM spectrum.

Head of Secretary Jamie Izabella Marie Valerie Ruby Astrid Clementine Eirian: Did you get closer to them?

Surveillant Clarissa Alanis Star Breya Anna Taissa Maxine Jolijn Samantha Harumi: I tried. When I approached them and was around 4 to 6 meters in their vicinity, my eyes and my ears went out and was simply replaced with static. This lasts for a few seconds, and after that I got this splitting headache and a voltage spike in my head. It felt… simply put, uncomfortable. As if my brain is going to short circuit. Fortunately, the “headache” is also temporary, like it will last from 5 to 20 minutes.

General Valentine Maxwell De Sierlijk Valkyrie Angelus Delta X. Peyton Constantine: Dumb question to ask, but: Can you tell what they want? Like, any idea why they are following or watching you? Are they trying to harm you?

Surveillant Clarissa Alanis Star Breya Anna Taissa Maxine Jolijn Samantha Harumi: As far as I’m concerned, they’re harmless on their own. Most of the time, they just stand around and “stare” at you. Other times, they would walk towards me and as I have mentioned just now, I would get that voltage spike slash headache. That is the part where I tried to run away from them, and it worked 99% of the time. As for the other 1%, they outran me, I fell unconscious with the headache and when I woke up, they were gone! No sign of them! But I’m still in the same place though, like nothing was trying to drag me somewhere else.

... OOC: To be continued. As in, I need to continue writing, not a cliffhanger.

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