Para/dox

By Blythe
blythely@livejournal.com
For kitsune1527
Who requested Brainiac 5

txt2html Section 16.2, Amendment 2 of the Legion Code of Conduct states the following:

NO GATHERING of Legion members, official, unofficial, or social, shall bring about

(a) the confluence of all the four fundamental forces of the universe, nor (b) any more than seven critical fermion/boson/lepton OR hadron interactions, nor (c) any other such physical properties of existence that may be embodied or expressed by Legion members and may in conjunction with other properties cause significant and unauthorised alteration of CSST (Current Standard Space-Time).

Exceptions are granted for the following:

(i) Procedural requirements of standard Legion Operating Procedures, incorporating all due risk-assessment and notification of authorities as determined necessary by current Legion leadership or steering committee, or (ii) Complete idiocy on the part of newbies who neglected to read and/or understand their induction manual.

Exceptions under clause (ii) will be followed with disciplinary action befitting the extent and severity of the alteration of CSST. Torture in the vacuum of space is not unthinkable in this context.

...

Cos ran his finger under the last phrase. "Brainy. You have to take that part out."

"It implies merely possibility, not an inevitable action." Querl filed the amendment on the QBTnet-L and sent out a notification before Cos could alter it. "Direct blame at me for any perceived insensitivity, if you wish."

Cos blinked, which Querl was beginning to translate as Braalian suspicion. "You're being... accommodating."

"I was amused that you threatened Thom with the forced application of his own powers to his genitalia."

"No idea what you're referring to," Cos studied the backs of his hands intently. "I'm merely happy everyone has the facility of free will once more."

"Indeed."

...

The amendment of the Legion Code of Conduct was precipitated by the events of the ten-day period known colloquially to Legion members as the Great Dai Gh'arvu [1]. More specifically, the co-existence in space (the "rec room") and time ("Welcome, New Legionnaires, it's Happy Hour!") of mathematically intractable amounts of gravity, electromagnetism, charm quarks and what call-me-Jan-not-Element-Lad referred to as his party trick (but was more accurately a brief flash of both the nuclear and weak forces in his chumpafruit daiquiri) caused a closed timelike curve to throw all persons within a five hundred metre radius into the middle of last fortnight.

Querl, alone in both his new lab and combinatorial thought about genomic signatures for the ring prototype, was unamused [2].

[1] A curious case of convergent linguistic evolution. An ancient dialect of Winath, Earth-standard French and the Barito language of Rimbor all convey the sensation that one has experienced a situation previously in a phonologically similar expression, although the Barito is the only form containing a glottal stop so pronounced that one has to spit afterwards.

[2] To the extent that the subsequent lack of free will allowed for being really narked off.

...

After the vertiginous nausea passed and the walls resolved themselves back into solidity, the middle of last fortnight didn't look too different from five minutes ago. In the future. Querl started a diagnostic routine on the systems that were blinking the incorrect date.

Diagnostics were internally consistent and secure. The Legion systems sent an encrypted packet to the Phobos Universal Time Clock and pinged back accurate [3]. Querl shifted in his seat and prodded at the bruise that wasn't yet there--

[[Val grinned. "So you're a plant."

Earth-natives, Querl thought, all lacked a crucial filter between the temporal cortex for the production of language and the brain stem that enables stupidity.

"No," he gritted out, a function of both irritation and concentration, as Val attempted to find the vulnerable areas in the latest version of Querl's force-field. "The integration of chlorophyll into a biological system is only a necessary, not a sufficient, condition for botanical life."

"You'd look kinda fancy with blossoms, is all I'm saying." Karate Kid's ability to apply approximately seventeen kilonewtons of force with his fingertips was impressive. Querl twitched and noted the weak spot.

"That's more Jan's--ugh. Computer, sector 25-8." Querl rubbed at the impending bruise where the field strength glitched. "Continue."

"You--" Val raised his eyebrows. "Brainy, your ass has a number?"

"In the interests of precision, the force-field coordinates map to specific areas of my anatomy." Querl waited. "Well?"

Val shook his head. "I'll teach you Lethawae. Then you and your ass coordinates won't get handed to you by a bunch of Talokians next time."]]

--and sighed.

A timequirk.

It had been odd enough the first time around.

[3] The PhUTC, a ybttrium-based atomic measurement system established by the Intergalactic Meridian Conference of 2722, provides a single standard time reference for all worlds within the UP environs. It is guarded by the elite Sibs of the Blessed Chronoforce, who draw their numbers from the disgruntled wyves[4] of the UP who are fed up with the excuse "my watch was running late" from their interplanetary-commuting partners.

[4] Wyves [n] pl. (sing., wyfe) Interlac. Generic and gender-nonspecific term for a spouse, co-habitor, civilsexual partner, etc. Usage in the common era often denotes dissatisfaction with the state of the speaker's/referrent's union, but it does serve them right for getting into that mess in the first place.

...

The timestream, of course, does not let any sentient being behave in such a way as to create a paradox.

"I notice that had no bearing on Jo's multiple attempts at propositioning Tasmia," Querl smirked. "No, Salu, right occipital cortex."

"You said that the first time." She shifted from atomic back to tenth-size to stomp on Querl's ear.

"You nearly made an error the first time, also, and that would be my brain that you're rewiring."

Salu shrunk again, muttering "Braaains."

Querl closed his eyes against the random firing in his left visual field as Salu wove the carbon-peptide seedlings amongst his cortical neurons. Each heartbeat delivered erythrocytes, oxygenating the cortex and triggering the seedlings to sprout and connect with his own tissue. It had been exhilarating the first time, the overload of new input, the base thrill of capability.

Now he knew it would work, knew it above intellect and beneath limbic anxiety, the sensation made him gasp.

More than once.

"This is like sex for you, isn't it?" Salu sat on the end of the bed and grinned, shaking out her hands. She'd not said that originally, but she'd been able to say it now. It clearly wasn't important in the future.

Querl still felt warm and dizzy. "Yes." He gestured between them. "Want to assist further?"

She laughed and tugged lightly on the new wire set, his circuitry now complete. "Brainy, even if I fancied your appendages, I doubt the basic Imsk model would be exactly what you're after right now."

Last time he'd delayed for ten minutes before plugging into the mainframe. "Out, then. Go play in your bubble."

The door closed behind her and Querl's hand fumbled slightly with the port connectors, but the. Oh. It was just as good:

and terrifying:

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