Blank Slate
Hideki walked slowly, but despite this he was starting to catch up with the ones before him. Before he could look up to see what they were doing, a pattern below his feet caught his attention. At first, he seemed to be walking on what looked like solid ground, but then he realised it was but a pattern of lines, similar to a chessboard. There was no colour to distinguish the squares as far as he could see; it was more like each square was transparent, but still darker than the white mist the party had walked through earlier. The lines themselves marked the squares, forming a large grid.

It struck Hideki then, what such a pattern might represent. They must be in a computer system. The grid was a two-dimensional field, but the people walked on the z-axis in relation to this field, therefore the world was three-dimensional, just like one would experience the physical world. Hideki was no programmer, but he imagined this must be the skeleton of a world programmed in a computer. He remembered having seen them on screens before.

When he looked up again, he could see that the people ahead of him had stopped along with their guide. Then everyone waited, but for what, Hideki had no idea. The man at the head of the party asked Iris a question, whereupon she told them they awaited their departure. With no knowledge of this world, Hideki could only use his imagination. The computer system - if it indeed was a computer system - must have some sort of transportation. Each person here must be treated as a collection of data that could be moved through the system. Likely, they were all waiting for a data bus to take them somewhere. Were they still subjects of an experiment? he wondered. Were their physical bodies sleeping somewhere, whilst their minds were trapped in a complex electronic system?

Iris had already answered a few of their questions, so he could just ask her. Hideki needed only step a little closer and ask her if this was a computer. If it was, that would make him feel a little safer, for it was something he was familiar with. Still, he found he could not move, for he was still in shock. For each minute that passed, this world seemed more and more real to him.
Substance was slowly poured into the world around Max, like syrup going through a funnel. The white expanse that had stretched out before him before slowly gained depth. Little lines ran all around him, forming a grid-like form of space. It resembled a video game or movie in its earliest stages of development, as though all the details had been stripped away and only the black guidelines remained. However, it was a step up from what had come before; at least now Max knew that when he placed his foot on the ground, it really was the ground, and so forth.

It seemed to Maxwell as though they were waiting to be picked up by... something, somehow. This was like a great cosmic busstop, he was sure, and the bus was to arrive any minute.

"You read a book similar to this, once," the Voice observed. "It was called The Great Divorce, and if I recall, you thoroughly enjoyed it."

Maxwell was overwhelmed by a lust for knowledge. How he wished to know where he had come from, where he was, who he was, but there was nothing. The idea of being hopelessly insolent bothered Max; he could do nothing about his lack of information.

Someone approached Iris; Max stopped waiting for something to happen. He noticed dimples in Iris' cloak, and even that the bottom of it moved slightly-- as though pushed by the wind. Wind? There should not be wind in a vacuum, in a void. Max had a feeling they were getting somewhat close to their destination. He was bursting with questions, but too afraid to ask them to anyone, not even the Voice in his head that was aware of the questions. Hopefully the man who approached Iris now had a question that Max also pondered.
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When a grid of unending, perpendicular lines slowly darkened into being under Echo's feet, Echo's first thought was that he was walking on an enormous map, where the lines were lines of latitude and longitude. His second thought was that that was ridiculous. Even ignoring the inherent impossibility of the notion, the space between lines was still completely empty. What kind of map had nothing drawn on it? A map of an endless, empty nothing, perhaps. For some reason, that thought sent a shiver down Echo's spine.

And then Iris had stopped, and Echo had stopped, and the group was waiting for their "departure." Echo found out then that he hated waiting. No, actually that wasn't true. It wasn't the standing motionless that tensed Echo's muscles and sent his eyes sliding around the... departure area, it was not knowing what he was waiting for. Echo hated uncertainty. He couldn't stand not knowing what was around him, where he was going... or who he was traveling with. He had to get some straight answers, but the only one who seemed to have any was Iris, and she was not giving them out freely. So the question was, how to get Iris to talk.

An idea began to form in Echo's head, a plan of sorts to get information out of Iris. The concept was simple; Iris wasn't giving straight answers, so Echo wouldn't ask straight questions. He would attempt to catch her off guard with strange, even senseless questions, and then read between the lines of the answers she gave while off balance. Echo didn't know what he hoped to learn from this strategy, or if Iris even could be surprised in any capacity, but he did know that remaining inactive in the face of this great unknown was beyond him. If nothing else, the more Iris talked, the more she would tell him. Even riddles would be better than complete ignorance.

Carefully positioning himself a few yards to Iris's right and a little behind her, Echo spoke up. "So... uh... Iris, if you don't have a name, then where does the name "Iris" come from?"
कालो ऽस्मि लोकक्षयकृत् प्रवृद्धो लोकान्समाहर्तुमिह प्रवृत्त
“Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”
-Bhagavad Gita (XI, 32), as quoted by J. Robert Oppenheimer

Wanderer above the Sea of Fog, Caspar David Friedrich.

OOC: I wonder if I can revive this... It's only been, like, 5 months or something... *rolls up sleeves*

(knock yourself out eli)

Alpha looked back and forth between the changing surroundings and Iris. He wasn't paying attention to what she was saying though - it was probably nonsense anyway. He was more interested in the grid-like pattern that was forming on the ground.

This was clearly a canvas. Clearly. Any other interpretation would be dismissed as stupid, in Alpha's mind. Each square isolated by the grid lines was a pixel, and could be filled with a single color. Close up, they would look silly, but from afar, there would be a meaningful picture. Furthermore, each square was still white - an untouched canvas. What would be drawn here? Who would be drawing? And why? Al could only wonder.

He sighed, and closed his eyes. There was nothing he could do to escape this world, both physically and mentally. He was still nervous about the events to follow, but panicking without knowing the circumstances would only lead to severe consequence at worst, and do nothing at best.

The right thing to do was gather info. More info would certainly translate into higher survival odds. Despite not knowing anything about his past or himself, Alpha could tell that he appreciated his own existence, and did not want to lose it. He wanted to experience as much as he possibly could, the good and the bad. And he wanted to live long enough to make it to the top. In order to do this, he would have to overcome this ordeal. So, he would gather info,

But Echo was several steps ahead of him, throwing what seemed like a curve-ball question to Iris. Alpha was confident that Echo wasn't genuinely curious, and that this was an attempt to get Iris to talk. A futile effort, Alpha thought to himself, not that there was any harm in trying. But Alpha wanted to try a different approach.

Question 1... What are the physical properties of this void?

He could feel gravity pulling him down to the barely-existent floor, and there was a horizon of sorts visible thanks to the development of the grid floor. It was probably safe to assume that this was a planet. Without thinking much of it, he pulled out a key and his ID card and dropped them at the same time. As expected, the key hit first, but by the smallest of margins. There was clearly air, and thus air resistance... but maybe it was less than that of Earth. The air did feel a bit light to him. Perhaps, these were the absolute bare-minimum requirements for human life to exist. If only he had a way to measure EM fields, then he'd be all set.... but... Wait... how the hell do I know all of this? I am a music student, right?

Anyway, he was starting to get strange looks from the others, who undoubtedly assumed he had finally reached full insanity. He didn't care too much for this unwarranted attention. Shit.. okay I just need to act natural... natural... wait, what does natural even mean here?!

Al sighed once more and put his objects away. He would have to wait a tad bit longer for the information he desired...
~ Taav
Taavministrator // Senior Bracer
[Image: GziDAAU.png]
[Image: YfzdtMe.png]
Avatar/Signature theme: Estelle Bright of the Trails in the Sky series.

The waiting made Hideki nervous. There wasn't much he could do, except interacting with other people. They were all strangers to him, though, and looked strange too. He guessed that everyone must come from different parts of the world, yet they all spoke the same language. Hideki found himself unable to tell what language that was.

The sound of the dropped key made him turn toward one of the people. He had barely heard the metal meet the floor, and there was no echo. It had sounded distant. Hideki remembered when he had walked slowly after the others, how he had quickly covered a certain distance before reaching them. What if room and time were different here? Different from what? he asked himself. Did he know about anything else?

Hideki did not want to be part of an experiment with physical laws. Yet, he could not stop himself from moving his arms through the air, feeling how empty the air actually was. His movements were a bit easier, were made a little faster, than he was used to. Yet gravity appeared to be how he had always known it; he did not feel any lighter. But he could not escape how empty this place felt.

"Who created this dream-world . . ." he thought out loud, ". . . in a computational system? It is incomplete."

Could it be true, that this was an unfinished world, planned by the person in control of the System? Or was it just an abstract structure to organise data, as he had first thought?

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