Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Soulless

[Probably in my universe with super people.]

Alex Amelia Miller made a sound.  It wasn't the first time, but it was the first time that hearing one of the sounds Alex Amelia Miller made caused Umheylik Kĭnd to think new and different thoughts.  The novel chain of thoughts set off by the noise eventually terminated at a solution to the problem Umheylik Kĭnd had failed to solve for the previous six hours.

Umheylik Kĭnd walked to the broken door separating nir from Alex Amelia Miller, forced it open, ignored the sound it made as it fell from its hinges and clattered on the ground, evaluated the status of Alex Amelia Miller, determined that the collapsed remains of what had once been a ceiling, which were covering her, did not in fact represent an impediment to movement, took hold of Alex Amelia Miller's arm, and pulled her to her feet.

While previous sounds from Alex Amelia Miller had been incoherent expressions of generalized pain and suffering, the sound now produced was quite coherent:

"Ow, ow, ow!  My shoulder!"

"I have need of you," Umheylik Kĭnd told Alex Amelia Miller.

"Ok, that's nice," Alex Amelia Miller said, "but couldn't you have been more gentle?"

"I don't see how that is necessary."

"Um, ok," Alex Amelia Miller said. "Umhey, you're being weird."

"That is not my name, Alex Amelia Miller," Umheylik Kĭnd said in response.

"You're being very weird."

"We have dallied long enough," Umheylik Kĭnd announced.  "We should go now."  Ne took hold of Alex Amelia Miller's arm again, and pulled her into motion.  Once they were both walking in the direction of the most likely possible exit, Ne released Alex Amelia Miller's arm.

"Kĭndy," Alex Amelia Miller said, "what's going on?"

"That is also not my name."

"Which is part of the weirdness," Alex Ameila Miller said.

"That has never been my name."

"That has never been a problem."

"We are in no great hurry, and even if we were, using correct nomenclature does not impede us," Umheylik Kĭnd explained.  "I fail to see the point in using abbreviated forms."

"Did you take any particularly bad blows to the head?"

"None that were particularly bad, no."

"Then what's going on?"

"I have need of you, Alex Amelia Miller.  As I said."

Alex Amelia Miller rolled her eyes.

Umheylik Kĭnd simply kept walking.  No response seemed necessary.

"Fine!" Alex Amelia Miller said loudly.  "What do you need me to do?"

"I require you to tell me what to do."

Alex Amelia Miller stopped walking.  That seemed unnecessary and sub-optimal, but perhaps there was a reason that Umheylik Kĭnd simply failed to grasp.  This was why Alex Amelia Miller was here, after all.

Umheylik Kĭnd stopped walking as well, turned to face Alex Amelia Miller, and asked, "Why have you stopped?"

"Why aren't you making sense?" Alex Amelia Miller asked in response.  That did not make sense.  Umheylik Kĭnd had said nothing but sensible things.

"What do you mean, Alex Amelia Miller?"

"I could bring up how you're talking in monotone--"

Was that true?  Umheylik Kĭnd did not know.

"--or focus on the fact that the way you structure your speech has also changed--"

That was true.

"--or your sudden fixation with using only full proper names--"

It was not a fixation, it merely happened to be simpler if each thing had only one designation, and the most obvious designation was it's full and proper name.

"--but I think I'll go with why the fuck you think that I should be telling you what to do in this situation."

Umheylik Kĭnd blinked.

"Did our adversary tell you what was to become of me?" Umheylik Kĭnd asked Alex Amelia Miller.

"Something about your soul being ripped out."

"That is an accurate description of what transpired."

"What‽" Alex Amelia Miller shouted for no obvious reason.

"In the absence of a soul," Umheylik Kĭnd explained, "I find myself unable to determine a course of action."

Alex Amelia Miller stared at Umheylik Kĭnd.

"My brain still contains my memories and knowledge," Umheylik Kĭnd continued, "but it would appear that, in the absence of a soul to guide me, they are of little use."

"I . . ." Alex Ameila Miller said.  "Um . . . come again?"

Umheylik Kĭnd had thought nir words were quite clear.  Apparently they had not been.  That suggested that a different approach was necessary.  Fortunately, memories of Alex Ameila Miller suggested that one approach was to be favored over others.  As a default was readily available, no true determination would need to be made.

"For example," Umheylik Kĭnd said, "after we were left to our own devices six hours ago, I attempted to continue to act independently, but I could not decide how to go about that."

"It's been six hours?" Alex Amelia Miller asked.

"Yes, Alex Amelia Miller," Umheylik Kĭnd said. "In that time, I could not decide what to do.  I had no preferences or direction.  I was able to winnow the field of possibility somewhat by narrowing the question to what my previous, soul-having, self would want, but it led to a dead end.

"I know that I would have wanted my current, souless, self to do the right thing, morally and ethically speaking, but I was unable to determine what that would be."

"You've lost none of your knowledge and none of your memories, and you can't tell right from wrong?" Alex Amelia Miller asked.

"It is surprisingly difficult to derive an ethical framework from first principles, Alex Amelia Miller."

"You didn't consider, maybe, going into the next room over, checking on your friend," Alex Amelia Miller pointed to herself, "and . . . I don't know, waking her up?"

"It was one of many things I considered," Umheylik Kĭnd said.  "I was unable to find an obvious way to choose between those possibilities."

"So you just left me unconscious on the floor for six hours?"

"That is exactly what I did, Alex Amelia Miller."

"I just . . . I don't . . ." Alex Amelia Miller turned to face away from Umheylik Kĭnd, " I don't even."

"It was trival to determine that inaction was not the best course of action, but with no means of determining which action I should take, I could not choose one."

Alex Amelia Miller turned back to face Umheylik Kĭnd and asked, "You spent six hours navel gazing?  Couldn't you flip a coin or something?"

"I have twenty seven coins on my person.  I could not determine which coin, or combination of coins, it would be appropriate to flip.  Even if I had, it seems highly unlikely that I would have been able to determine which possibilities to assign to which outcomes."

Alex Amelia Miller held her head in her hand.

"So why aren't you navel gazing still?" she asked.

"It was not difficult to conclude that my current indecision stems from my lack of soul," Umheylik Kĭnd said.  "It was, however, quite some time before I realized that there was a readily available soul in close proximity.  The possibilities for just action that include the two of us relatively uninjured and working together all involve us leaving this place, so I collected you and headed for the exit."

"Uh huh," Alex Amelia Miller said.  "Your 'collection' of me involved nearly pulling my arm out of it's socket."

"That is clear exaggeration, Alex Amelia Miller."

"If you want me making decisions for you--" Alex Amelia Miller said.

"I do."

"The absolute first thing is that that we go back to calling each other what we have before."

Umheylik Kĭnd thought this over.  Ne would be 'Umhey' and 'Kĭndy', Alex Amelia Miller would be 'A.A.' and, possibly, 'Mills' on occasion.

"I can do that, A.A." Umhey said.

"Much better," A.A. said.  "Do you know how to get your soul back?"

"I do not, A.A."

"Is it possible to get your soul back?"

"I know of no reason why it would not be."

"Do you know how to go about learning how to get your soul back?"

"I know of several possible avenues for research into that topic."

A.A. started walking in their original direction.  Umhey fell into step beside her.

"Will the apocalypse become irreversible if we put it on the back burner while we focus on your soul?" A.A. asked.

Umhey attempted to find an answer to the question.  It was very complicated.  Ne was well into the process of assigning variables to likely probability distributions when A.A. sighed.

"Never mind," she said.  "Do you know of any obvious reason why the apocalypse would probably --probabilities guesstimated to be greater than four in five count as probable-- become irreversible if it were not our first priority."

Umhey attempted to find an answer to the question.  It was still quite complicated.

"Only addressing situations where it's not irreversible right now," A.A. added.

The question became less complicated.

"And 'guesstimated' here translates to 'the best, no matter how bad, you can come up with if you're only allowed approximately 20 minutes to answer the question'."

The margin of error shot through the roof, but the problem became less complicated.

Umhey thought about it, and they both continued toward the exit.


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When I go looking for a demonic name, I generally hit the ancient Hebrew (because that's where Christianity grabbed its principal mythology from.)  It occurred to me that I fall back on that too much.  That's especially true given that Yiddish is hanging out in the same alphabet and positively begs to be spoken.

So I looked some stuff up.  If I bashed things together right, "umheylik kĭnd" (אומהייליק קינד) means "unholy child".  Transliteration from Yiddish doesn't actually use "ĭ", but when I look at "kind" I can't see it as anything but the English word of the same spelling, and that's not how "קינד" is pronounced.

This was written quickly today after reading a fanfic where a character lost her soul but didn't stop fighting.  I've played with that sort of thing for a long time, and reading that fic made me again think about what it might mean to lose one's essential them-ness while still retaining, you know, their brain.

I think this could be better, but right now I'm just grabbing onto whatever ideas I'm actually able to have and write.

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