COUNTER/Weight 29: Three Conversations

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Episode description[edit | edit source]

A Lion and a Man chanced to travel in company through the forest. They soon began to quarrel, for each of them boasted that he and his kind were far superior to the other both in strength and mind.

Now they reached a clearing in the forest and there stood a statue. It was a representation of Heracles in the act of tearing the jaws of the Nemean Lion.

"See," said the man, "that's how strong we are! The King of Beasts is like wax in our hands!"

"Ho!" laughed the Lion, "a Man made that statue."

--The Man & The Lion, from “The Aesop for Children: with Pictures by Milo Winter

Opening[edit | edit source]

An excerpt from the final letter to Attar Rose, five years before the creation of Weight.

When you say that what I’ve built so far is an achievement, I’ll shut up and take the compliment. But it isn’t enough that the program is just up and running. People need to understand what we’ve found here, what the strati really are.

I hate that they call it fogging; it’s a misnomer. Yes, the machines that they touch grow confused, but for the strati, things become much more clear. When they connect consciousness to mesh, they reach beyond the gauche facade of that realm, the neon links of chain-gate ice, the glowing levlines of information, the aviary of chirping data… all of these give way to a vision of the mesh that is more personal, more fundamental to the general human experience.

It is a mistake to think the graduate of the new stratus program is merely a weapons platform or some sort of fantasy pulled from the neurovids. They are the embodiment of a new mode of being. In time, they’ll reveal not only the secrets of corporate labs, not only the workings of your holy divines, but the interiority of interiority itself.

I can dress it up as much as I want, though. I know it falls on deaf ears, and I’m sure that you know me well enough to know that what I really want to say isn’t just “my research is very exciting.” You know that what I want to say is:

Don’t go. When we left, we were young and stupid, but we came here and we learned so much and we made a life of our own on this rock. You don’t have to give yourself to that thing just to help people. We can do so much good from right here, from home. Please. Don’t go.

But I know you as well as you know me, and you always were a little self-righteous, so… I love you, Attar. That will always be who you are to me; no candidacy can change that.

Yours always, Maryland September.

Plot[edit | edit source]

AuDy answers Ibex’s call. They talk about the death of Jerboa, Ibex’s brother, before Ibex suggests he simply open a portal and come aboard. AuDy calls everyone to the cockpit and informs them they’re Liberty and Discovery. Now is their chance to parley with Ibex. Cass and Mako just want to clobber him instead. After some discussion, Cass reluctantly agrees and retreats to their quarters.

Ibex’s arrival is extremely awkward. They convene in the lounge; Cass slinks back in. Ibex assures the Chime he is way too busy to be personally invested in killing them. The threat Cass recieved was just an automated message. To establish an equilibrium, he just needs them to do something for him: find Maryland on September, where communications have suddenly gone down, and convince her to leave. Mako and Ibex start arguing, and Mako punches him in the face. He throws Mako against Cass (who is unhurt because when they went back to their room they put on body armor). The Ibex they’re talking to is a robot, and states his intent to use Righteousness to the last. At this point, AuDy wants to know they can trust him; Ibex removes Righteousness from Mako’s brain, which means Mako can now use his fogging abilities against Ibex.

The Kingdom Come can see September in the distance now, and Liberty and Discovery hear an ominous sound. They warn everyone to get off the mesh — Rigour is down there. Ibex is furious at the potential impact to his plans, and launches into an elaborate animal metaphor to explain what Rigour is. AuDy tells him now’s the time to make nice with Grace. Ibex agrees, and asks Cass to tell Sokrates about Rigour as well. He tells the Chime not to let Rigour get control of the September Institute.

Ibex leaves. The ship lands in a hidden hangar of a familiar design.

Cast[edit | edit source]

Other Characters[edit | edit source]