01.24.3013: Empirical
Summary: Nitrim returns to Rozlyn's lab with an idea, a proposition, and leaves with a warning.
Date: November 14, 2013
Related: A New Conspiracy
Nitrim Rozlyn 

Rozlyn's Lab - The Ring
This is not one of the larger, sprawling labs within The Ring. There's no requirement for decontamination, but there is an additional level of security one must pass. Tucked into the curve of the station, the lab is largely dominated by a large, domed screen. This screen often displays numerous feeds and reports in a collage across the surface, but it can also render in a three-dimensional hologram to the broad floor before it anything required (most often models of space).

There are a number of work stations; some are merely terminals, while others hold specialized equipment. Tucked to the side near the raised dais of the display, is an office partially enclosed for the lead scientist. Said office, in this case, is very neatly appointed with very few personal belongings on display. The only prominent ones, in fact, are an Orelle family photo and a painting of a large, jungle tree with an orange-pink sky behind it.

January 24, 3013

The lack of sleep is catching up with Rozlyn. She’s finding it difficult, at times, to keep the lines from becoming blurred. Friends. Family. Acquaintances. Associates. Instruments. She keeps so much within her mind, but sometimes…

Sometimes, you just have to step back and look at the forest for the trees. Or the galaxy for the stars.

When Nitrim is allowed entry at the agreed upon time, the lab is dark, save for the domed stage that dominates it. This is in full light as a galaxy moves about a central point. Solar systems work their way in concert with neighboring ones. It’s a swirl of glimmers of light. Of planets of blue, red, and other colors that blend and meld into one another. At the center of it all stands Rozlyn Orelle, gazing directly at one of the systems.

Waiting until the door closes behind him, Nitrim pulls his cowl back over the top of his head, which does little to disturb the well-styled, neatly-trimmed blonde haircut he carries with him everywhere. Bright-eyed by way of the steaming to-go cup of coffee in one hand, his long legs make the distance between his body and Rozlyn's an easy task.

"So do I get forty-five seconds this time too?" Are they acquainted enough for teasing? Nitrim, completely unaware of the wall he is about to hit, comes to a stop at the foot of her platform to watch her work. "And do you have any qualms about me sharing something with you, mind-to-mind?"

While she’s well aware that he’s entered — or should have, if he’s punctual — Rozlyn does not turn yet. The holograms will continue to move in their slow rotations. A small blue ball of light rotates past Nitrim, with a single red planet orbiting it. As the Orelle turns, a small cluster of stars passes by her features, casting faint light on them. It only serves to highlight the dark circles beneath her eyes. One of the stars, however, winks out of existence as it passes directly through her.

“You specifically requested a minute on our first meeting, Lord Nitrim.”

She takes easy strides across the stage, more of the holographic projections winking in and out of existence as she does so. The woman steps down, past the Khournas, heading towards her own office.

“System, halt simulation. Exterior lights at fifteen-percent; office at thirty-two.”

The dome goes dark, while floor-level lighting offers a soft glow that precedes them to the office she occupies. The noblewoman gestures towards the chairs across from the desk as she settles into her own seat.

“I am guessing, by that, you are an Awakened and wish to share with me through your telepathic means? For what reason can you not simply tell me?”

Nitrim's eyes follow Rozlyn, his head turning to watch the stars rotating the planetarium. "I asked for a minute and you have me forty-five. I'm wounded." Nitrim murmurs into the spill-proof cap of his mug. The coffee warms the back of his throat, off-setting the minor chill in Rozlyn's less-than-balmy laboratories.

As the mug lowers from his lip, Nitrim's eyes stop at the last point where Rozlyn stood, where the star disappeared. He turns and moves to stand behind the chair, opting to stay tall, rather than to sit and slouch.

"Because say, for example, that the Cantosans are frantic because their very survival is on the line and their local star is turning Cantos into a less-than-Nivean wasteland, would you want to see your simulation from the ten foot level, rather than the three-hundred-million foot level?" Nitrim asks, taking an educated guess with what he's just seen and mixing it with his dreams. "And if I had a dream from the surface of Cantos, would our mutual kind-of friend possibly appreciate it in the form of a painting that would be worthless for me to describe when I could help you see it for yourself?"

Assuming he's gotten her attention, Nitrim turns and slides into a chair. Now he slouches.

“Your request for a minute of my time took up approximately fifteen seconds,” Rozlyn explains, in a bland tone. As if she’s displeased that she even has to explain it at all.

Leaning back slightly in her chair, the Orelle scientist crosses one leg over the other. Today, she’s dressed in a simple black dress, with grey leggings that disappear into sensible, black ankle boots. Rozlyn folds her hands atop the raised knee, watching Nitrim with something of a sharp intensity.

“How certain are you that this dream of yours was the surface of Cantos? I have heard somewhat on the dreaming the Awakened have, but I do not know how you differ between the usual ramblings of sleep and these… special dreams.” Rozlyn tilts her head slightly, eyes narrowing. “That is not even going into how you could be certain that what you saw is Cantos.”

"Would the view of the star at Cantos be about one fourth to a fifth of the size of our view of our Imperius star?" Nitrim returns, pausing for another sip from his coffee. His green eyes lock onto Rozlyn's as he proceeds with his educated fishing. "It's just a feeling, but I've got to say, Doctor, it really did look like you were running simulations on a planetary event and after seeing that…I've got a feeling my gut feeling might have some weight."

“You would be correct. Cantos, being the distance it is from our shared star, would have a view of it at such a smaller angle. That is why the colonization efforts took as long as they did. The planet is a deal colder than Imperius.”

Rozlyn watches the Khournas for a moment, not moving from her position. It’s the angle of her eyebrows, or the shift of eyes that show movement. “My simulations were less a single planetary event and more a culmination of our entire solar system.”

She will not comment on “gut feelings.”

As a peace laurel, at least in his mind, Nitrim's smirk fades and the man tries to not look as if he is begging for adorable-and-clever points from the woman. One knee propping over the other, he sets his cup down and runs his hands over his face, and then motions to her.

"These dreams, there's weight to them. There is nothing empirical about them in the least, but without much logical wiggle-room I have seen some of them come true." Nitrim explains, his head shaking gently from side to side as his eyes begin to wash over in a cloud of white. "Unlike your science, they have been the focus of my independent research since the first attacks. The mere fact that I saw what your simulation suggests in my dreams, without any knowledge of the Cantosan elliptical orbit…makes this conversation very interesting to me in terms of third party verification."

Nitrim pauses, folding his hands in his lap with a gentle sigh.

"Would you like to see?"

There is a slight shift in Rozlyn. Perhaps a mild curiousity, but also a wariness. The woman’s fingers unwind and relace from a different angle over her knee. She draws in a deep breath, eyes closing for a few long seconds as she centers herself.

When they open again, there is a slight nod. “Certainly.”

She opens her eyes to Nitrim's white, unmoving eyes. The careless, rich-man's-son swagger has been wiped off of his face and replaced with a severity that comes from deep concentration. She has invited him into her lab, and now he is about to show her into his.

"This is precisely why I want to get Sarah to let me in. There is little hiding here, on both fronts. When you want me out, simply push, but be wary it can be…intense." Nitrim whispers, his eyes closing as he reaches out to her mind with his…

She sees a dream from his perspective, and all of the awe and wariness that it brings from the man; feelings of power, inadequacy, desire to explore. He stands with the tattoo of a Hermetic pentagram on his naked back on a plane of ice. The wind shears at his skin, drawing a very physical shiver up Nitrim's spine that travels to the real world. The dream rolls in to center on his vision, first-person, as his eyes raise to see the distant star, lonely in the sky, and a turn of his head reveals a large, heavy moon. Sublime and at peace despite the cold, his eyes then turn to the stars above, his frozen breath casting a fog over the starry skies and colorful auroras. His eyes close to the feeling of comfort, of a brief rest, as the connection slowly severs and the memory ends…

"My fear is that if the Cantosans know we dream these things…we will become a target, Doctor." Nitrim murmurs quietly. "This is a risk."

The level of control Rozlyn has upon her own thoughts and emotions proves a boon in this… though perhaps it’s largely because the Khournas intends to just share. She is a silent observer in the matter, even if her physical form does bear a stiffer quality. Where there is usually a casual, yet precise grace… there is only a ramrod straightness when the dream ends and she opts to remove herself.

There is a frown upon her features as she processes what she has been shown.

“What do you believe the Cantosans know of your abilities? They do seem to know how to reject an Awakened’s approach into their mind and from what I witnessed with Penelope, they are very against sharing themselves in that fashion.”

Shifting, she turns slightly to gaze out over the darkened lab, not moving from her chair.

“What do you intend, by showing me this?”

"You paint." Nitrim replies simply, his eyes opening to reveal their dusky green to her, his powers peeled back. Swallowing, he reaches for his cup of coffee and returns to his casual slouch in her chair, nursing at the drink as he considers. "The one thing we cannot give Sarah is her home, and there's a chance being reminded might enrage her, but what better way to prove compassion and that yes, we understand."

Shifting in the chair, Nitrim downs a large sip of the hot liquid, his teeth flashing as he swallows; perhaps too hot, too much for so heavy a gulp.

"I know they know that we can kill, burn, do various effects, but as of current I do not believe they know we have a capacity for prophecy, or do not believe that these dreams can be followed up on." Nitrim adds, his voice scratchy and hollow from the burn, speaking from the back of his throat. "If they believed we could prophecize their movements, the Awakened would become a viable target for assassin-scouts. I assure you, though, I have followed dreams and found prophecy, and I say this with humility. There were bodies there. It's why I have so many secrets."

“I do paint, yes,” Rozlyn says, frowning somewhat as she considers the matter. Leaning back, she adjusts to let her legs uncross, foot landing lightly… yet solid. Arms fold across her chest.

“You are taking a great risk in this, Lord Nitrim. The first being that if you are incorrect in your assumptions that it was Cantos you saw in your dream, she is like as not to feel insulted. The second being that you are reminding her of the home she has no contact with.”

The woman reaches to the display on her desk and the painting behind her fades. Here, now, she does bring up simulations. And they do show a surface similar to what he showed her- less detailed, yes, but certainly similar.

“I believe the Cantosans have the ability to communicate with one another, regardless of special coms or armor. I am assuming that is part of the reason for the brain enhancements they receive at a young age. My belief was further confirmed by the fact that when I requested a secure channel between myself and Sarah for communications, it was denied due to her being kept within a faraday cage…”

"Delivery is the key." Nitrim replies, rubbing gently at his throat. The chair behind him creaks gently as he leans back, closes his eyes, and begins to visualize the conversation. "Not everything that I walk into that cell with needs to be given to her, and I am careful enough to avoid causing an issue. If it is negatively accepted, your name doesn't have to come up. Still, she strikes me as the sentimental sort. She has love within her, and having seen her perspective, I believe, will show her that we have a capability for compassion she didn't once assume. If it's on view of home from her cell…it could change the world."

Nitrim leans forward, his elbows crossing atop her desk as he presses his weight into it. Just a little closer to Rozlyn than before, he lowers his voice, his face growing serious.

"And if we understand that they cannot go home…that people like you and I are on the outside getting results for this truth we are trying to unveil, then we bridge that gap." Nitrim pauses, lips flattening. "But you and I should not openly say in front of those cameras that we are working together. Publicly treat me like a fool. Tell them I commissioned the artwork without explanation. I will let Sarah know, in an untraceable way, that she has more than one friend. The secrecy isn't to fuck with her or outplay her, but to protect ourselves while doing what is right. Bodies have been silenced."

Nitrim points back and forth between their faces. Them. He's speaking about Rozlyn and Nitrim. "We run the risk of getting stabbed by shadowy players."

“I do not care for this form of politics you speak of, Lord Nitrim.” Rozlyn taps at the display once more and the simulation fades back to the digital facsimile of a painting that lives within her own quarters.

“My life’s work is the pursuit of truth. In such a pursuit, one must be willing to seek out honesty themselves. That is not to say I am not beyond the lie of omission, but I will not purposefully lie or swindle to gain the results I desire. Especially not with Sarah. She already finds us to be incapable of compassion, yes. I also feel she believes us to be working against her at all turns… How might we appear if she sees us to be working against our own kind? I do not think it will have the result you expect.”

The Orelle scientist draws in a long breath, leaning back in her chair and lifting a hand to pinch at the bridge of her nose. Eyes close as she considers. “I will work on this painting for you. I need not go into detail or explanation, regardless. Many of my works have been alternate visions of what we already see. I doubt any will be suspicious.”

"We aren't working against our own kind." Nitrim intones, his voice lowering to a quiet monotone that falls well short of disrespect, but emphasizes far more of a conspirator's disagreement. "What we're doing, you and I, are working on behalf of all…" Nitrim blinks, as if a lightbulb has sprung to life inside of his head. His eyes unfocus to a far-off place, met with a hrmm, and he begins to rise. "…all humanity."

Turning his side to the desk, Nitrim takes up his cup and lets the dull claw-point of his ring slides over the wood as he begins to walk away.

"Doctor, I'm younger and more brash than you are so I won't insult your intelligence or what you know is right for you, but let me leave you with this thought." Nitrim pauses, looking sidelong to her as his finger finishes its soft scrape across her desk. "The reason why I was able to come across that dead Chantry member was because he didn't tell lies, and the reason I am likely still alive or not ruined after finding him is because I did. It makes me look dishonest, but it keeps the good guys from being silenced. Just…be very careful, and understand I work very hard to keep my sources from being implicated. You should do the same. Thomas Sextus did not."

"And when people are silenced…" Nitrim tilts his head. "…the work stops."

There’s a glance towards where the ring scrapes across the desk and Rozlyn’s jaw tenses. Like as not, the Khourni had best hope the surface comes out unmarred from his need for the theatrics. The woman gives a slight shake of her head. She shifts to her feet as well, gesturing somewhat at the room about her.

“I am not a member of the Chantry. I am the eldest daughter of a Paramount. That holds with it a certain level of understanding, which you should understand yourself. We are oft expected to put our noses, as it were, where they do not belong. If I hit a wall, I step back and search from another direction. It is why I share information with ‘Ric.”

Why yes, she does use diminutives… for some.

“When he was unable to get further in the naval records for the original scout ships we sent, I began looking in the senate records. I have not yet found the details I seek, but no doors have yet been closed. I will not speak of you, as you have requested, even to my brother, but I will not go and begin muddying matters with lies on top of lies.”

"There is a very fine line between telling lies and showing your hand. In some cases, putting your name and your reputation forward does a lot of things but it also paints a target: You, your allies, the people you love, your ambitions." Tugging his cowl back over his head, Nitrim starts for the door. "But having seen a body personally I am operating on a strict shadow policy until I know who the players are. As much as I enjoy visiting Sarah, I'm not interested in sharing a cell block with her."

Stopping near the door, a smile comes to Nitrim's voice, his lips and expression hidden from view.

"But one way or another, Doctor, one of us is going to be right about our approach. I hope it's you, I really do. You're far more of a resource than I am. All of my paranoid bullshit could just…" His fingers flutter, rings clacking against each other. "…be for shit and forgotten."

“Tell me, Lord Nitrim, for all of your dreams, intrigue, and secrets… who are my allies and those I love?”

Perhaps there is a deeper reason for how Rozlyn Orelle keeps to herself. She follows a few strides after the young Khournas. She may only have eight years on him, but there is a world of difference in their upbringing and views.

“There is a reason I continue to work with you. You are a resource in and of yourself. If you require direction and a means, so be it. I can provide as much and I prefer to do so. I am already doing the work of more than one person. I need not add working in the shadows to that.”

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