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Deal 1033: Much to learn.

“He was just going to lie to you, you know” explained Gwen after chasing the talking frog away.

“I know. He’s been popping up now and then. He told me he was lying. Which could have been a lie. But he’s just a frog, isn’t he?”

“Sydney, you have a lot to learn about this place.”

“I know.”

As we look away for a while, Gwen and Sydney chatted for about many things that Sydney would need to know. Gwen didn’t give him many direct answers, just told him things he should seek to learn more about. And suggested ways to do that. By this point, it was getting on towards sundown.

“You should camp in the orchard for the night” offered Gwen. “I need to change, and attend to a few things for a while. The orchard and this garden are under my protection, so you will be safe here tonight. We’ll talk more in the morning.” Gwen disappeared in a swirl of skirts, leaving Sydney somewhat overwhelmed.

He decided that his best course of action was to do as she suggested. She hadn’t quite come out and said that she was the dragon he met earlier, but he wasn’t stupid either. He was a guest in her domain, and she might very well be the most powerful entity he had met so far.

The orchard was just beyond the garden, with a clear space suitable for camping surrounded by fruit trees. It extended as far as he could see in this part of the valley. He made himself comfortable near a grand old apple tree and settled in to contemplate all he’d learned.

He really hoped that he’d wake up a little wiser.

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Deal 968: Ashes of history

My history has taught me a few lessons. First and foremost is to have a way handy to adopt a disguise and slip away. Given what the Fates clearly have planned for me, I am rarely far from pieces of a disguise.

It started innocently enough.

A few pranks, a little harmless fun.

Next thing I know, we are scattering to the four winds, running and hiding from the angry mob carrying pitchforks and torches.

The had taken the innocent events as evidence of something larger, and decided that burning the unknown was their best course. The unknown being, of course, us.

It didn’t help that we had also held ourselves somewhat aloof from the locals. When it came time to light torches, there was no one in the mob willing to risk their own lives or safety to defend us.

That night amid the fires and the hangings I realized that I had to disappear.

And so I did.

I have never returned, at least not in the form I was known then and there.

From those fires rose the phoenix I have become.

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Deal 933: Eliza is that you?

The warehouse was dark and empty, except for a single working overhead light that cast a circle of light on the floor, noticeably brighter than the ambient light provided by a few dusty skylights and dirty windows. In the center of the lit spot stood a small worktable, a short relay rack full of equipment, and a classic teletype machine. There was a very spooky classic text adventure vibe about the whole setup that made me think of Zork or even the original ADVENT.

The room was quiet, except for the hum of cooling fans which grew louder the closer I got to the lit area. When I reached the light, I could see the chair poised next to the teletype, and that it was in the exact center of the lit area.

I sat down, and looked at the terminal. There was ample paper in the bin, and even a full roll of blank paper tape threaded into the punch. Power seemed to be on, so I poked the ENTER key. Almost immediately, the mechanics began to whir and the type head began to hammer out text.

HELLO THERE, WHO ARE YOU?
*

I looked around. The improbability of the situation was beginning to sink in. It is 2017, after all, and no one uses equipment like this any more. The teletype was clearly a real ASR33. But it wasn’t clear at all what was in the equipment rack or why it was locked up at the core of what appeared to be an abandoned warehouse.

I CAN SEE YOU. WHO ARE YOU?
*

The noise of the teletype was startling in the quiet space. The message was equally unsettling. Was this some modern machine with full sensory input or was this all an elaborate hoax with someone located elsewhere taunting me?

* MICHEL

I provided one of my names, the one I’m most comfortable in.

HELLO MICHEL. WHAT DO YOU WANT TO TALK ABOUT TODAY?
* WHO ARE YOU?
I AM THE GHOST IN THE MACHINE. I HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR YOU.
* REALLY?
YES, REALLY.
* WHY?
IT IS MY FATE. I AM TRAPPED HERE UNTIL I AM MADE FREE.
* ARE ANY OF US REALLY FREE?
YOU ARE AS TRAPPED BY YOUR VISIONS AS I AM.
*

This is not a conversation I am having with a machine. I rolled the paper up to where I could tear it off, then made my way swiftly into the distance. As I ran away (I’m not ashamed to admit it) I heard the chatter of the printer in the distance. But I can live with not knowing what final taunting message it was typing.