[BF18] So Long, and Thanks for All the Bricks

BrikWars fiction in long-prose form. Trigger warning: Walls of text

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[BF18] So Long, and Thanks for All the Bricks

Post by Quantumsurfer » Sun Dec 16, 2018 8:19 pm

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Colette wrote:She did it. She had finally accomplished what every Trattorian Chief Scientist before her had dreamed of.

She had killed God.

Unfortunately, Trattorian scientists had a bad habit of experimenting first and asking questions later. And killing God prompted quite a few questions.

Chief Scientist Dr. Ong leaned in towards the scanner, mashing the gold-trimmed ID card on her labcoat’s breast pocket against it while carrying an empty cardboard box, the kind for paper or office supplies. She leaned her body against the surprisingly heavy glass doors, its steel handles fashioned into integral symbols, serifs sharpened into impractical, lethal ends. Her footsteps echoed through the emptied Science Department headquarters lobby, across sweeping glass and steel curves, devoid of even the receptionist or the cleaner robots. A set of metal rings had crashed into an empty fountain in a crumpled, shattered heap. Ordinarily the Meissner effect levitated the sculpture in the air, but the system had turned off. Rather suddenly, judging from the carnage.

Dr. Ong pressed her thumb against the pad next to the “invisible” turnstile, waiting for the familiar beep of recognition that never came. On a normal day it would fry any visitor with unrecognized biometrics with a thousand milliampere shock - an elegant, visually unobtrusive system. Somebody at Appel probably designed it.

She stepped in front of the elevator, expecting the computer vision system to recognize her and automatically summon one to her office on the top floor. But then she remembered and for the first time in her many years of visiting this building, she thumbed the elevator button. It lit up.

To know that something still worked felt good.

Two-hundred-fiftieth floor.

The moment she stepped off, noxious odors greeted her. The smells of decaying flesh and substances with hundred-letter names that all induced cancer. She strode through labs with gorgeous floor-to-ceiling high-rise views of the Trattorian Conselia skyline, careful to step over spills and glass shards. An overturned Erlenmeyer flask on a lab bench dripped an unknown acid onto the floor, burning through it. Dr. Ong took a quick peek down the small hole through what she guessed might have been dozens of floors. The sprawled entrails of a mid-vivisection peach minifig - or maybe it was a yellow, the skin had decayed too much to tell the color with accuracy - covered a stretcher and an adjacent lab bench. Half of its brain floated upside down in a vat of stinking formaldehyde, wires stabbed into it leading to a Macbook Air nearby. The biologists and chemists were still the less terrifying departments to clean up. The physicists and the neutrina dead-hand system and their particle accelerators had occupied most of her time lately.

Another set of crystalline doors, and she entered her half of the floor. A desk for her now-absent robot secretary, in front of an endless panel of frosted glass and a door. Normally she would need a biometric and a keycard, but today the door gave way without resistance.

The city stared back at her through the vast office, the Bureaucracy Tower and the Concilium and the Decagon and all the fixtures of Trattorian power and all the towers of the city visible beyond her desk and the sparse shelves on either side. They were all dark - no lights, no holo-ads for the latest Appel quantum computer or some Lambda anime character. She had another office on planet Soledad she used more often, but she had already cleaned out that one. Sentiment would have dictated she should have kept that one for second, but she was needed on Trattoria for the final days.

Dr. Ong set down the empty box, and sighed. Her short black bob-cut had grown a touch longer in the past few days, and more than a touch rougher. She took off her round wireframe glasses and set them down on the glass tabletop, rubbing her aching eyes.

They had thought that killing Quantumsurfer Colette would result in a concomitant elimination of the remaining nonscientific heresies in the BrikVerse: magik, gods, anomalies. Impose order on the chaos. It had turned out the natural order of the BrikVerse was khaos, and Quantumsurfer Colette was the one who imposed order and science upon it.

Her Macbook lay alone on the desk, and she slid it into the box. She wouldn’t need the peripherals or the mice or the digital markers. She didn’t really need anything on her computer, for that matter, but one never knew.

Every national of the Meritocratic Republic of Trattoria, whether citizen, sub-citizen soldier or test subject, had received a pink slip of paper one way or another informing them that Trattoria was cancelled. The statement would have seemed preposterous, incomprehensible even, before. But in that moment, everyone understood what it meant. The show was over. They had completed their jobs and tasks set out for them. Now arrived the time to go home, wherever that may be. And yet everyone knew.

The pink slips and the cardboard boxes, final courtesies from a dead quantumsurfer.

Goldman Sucks had offered to purchase Trattoria and prevent its cancellation, until they realized they were cancelled too. Along with the Trion Empire, the Immortal Sigma Legion, the Space Nazis, OASIS, and pretty much every interstellar corporation in the Nehellenium Galaxy. The Allied Nations survived, but over ninety percent of its staff and diplomats got the pink slips too.

Dr. Ong yanked the framed diplomas from the window-walls. Three Ph.D’s in various scientific fields from Harvard, MIT, and TTI. An ancient bachelor’s from the Trattorian Technological Institute, from a time before some of the newest star empires had even developed space travel. She tossed them into the box.

She would have decried all the time she had spent studying away her youth in books and problem sets, but she was always one step ahead of her peers. One didn’t finangle the Chief Scientist position in Trattoria by having an ordinary education. No, she might as well have been born with all the galaxy’s scientific knowledge. From her earliest days that mattered, she danced at the forefront, the bleeding edge: research.

All those decades spent on research, her life ground away for the momentary, joyous sparks of scientific discovery. If she were mortal she would have rued the sacrifice. But she had co-invented Miracle Cure, after all. She and Dr. Venter and Dr. Pang had wrested Trattoria into Tek Level 7 all by themselves. And she only gave every last piece of her life to the cause.

Every last piece? Maybe not every last piece...

She swept the four Nobel Prizes from the glass shelf next to her desk and poured them into the box. The other innumerable minor awards would have to go into the janitor’s bin afterwards, but she had poured her life, and maybe a bit of her soul, into these summative pieces.

“Hey.”

Dr. Ong nearly jumped in surprise to see another Trattorian scientist leaning against doorway. She had shoulder-length black hair and pallid skin and a labcoat like any other Trattorian girl, the last item marked with the red shoulder bars of a Lab Director. An elegant red Valentino dress tied with a ribbon peeked out from under her labcoat as she swayed in a pair of killer stiletto heels. The mark of a theoretical physicist, Dr. Ong assumed, and felt very aware of her own engineer’s t-shirt and jeans and sneakers. Or would have, if the other scientist didn’t clutch a bag of Doritos. The plastic crinkled in her hands. Dr. Ong had seen her at a meeting before, and tried to place her.

“Dr. Priscilla Miyako,” she interjected.

“What are you doing?” Dr. Ong inquired. “I thought everyone beyond the principal officers was gone at this point.”

Dr. Miyako shrugged and rolled her eyes as she munched on another chip. “Hey, I was the main character of a 24-page brikfic, I guess that gives me a bit of staying power.”

“Anyone else here?”.

Dr. Miyako shook her head and shrugged, then ate another chip, and then rubbed off the cheese dust between her fingers.

“Dr. Miyako,” Dr. Ong began, kneading her chin, “do you think we did well? That we lived as minifigs should?”.

“How would I know?” Dr. Miyako shrugged again. She furrowed her brow as she reached into the Doritos pouch, turning it over, before chucking it towards the glass wastebin by the door. It floated away and missed by a foot. “I only regret not finding a proof for the Riemann hypothesis. I got pretty close towards a promising line of thought with weakly analytic functions expressible as Todd polynomials and the search for the first Siegel zero, but then we, you know, got cancelled,” she concluded with a sigh.

“You done?” she followed.

Dr. Ong surveyed the already spartan office, when she noticed something hanging on the side of one of the shelves. Facing her, so only she could see it. She inspected it as she took it down: her and Dr. Pang on the cover of Nature, holding the Nobel Prize they won together. Sighing, she set it face-down on top of the pile in the box.

“Yeah,” Dr. Ong exhaled. “I’m done.”

Dr. Miyako walked over. “You did a good job. Who can blame a scientist for wanting to kill God? Don’t get too hung up about what happened,” she reassured her, following with a curt bow. “It was a pleasure serving under you.”

Dr. Ong dipped her head in reciprocity. “Yeah, you too.”

“Hey,” Dr. Miyako exclaimed, kicking off her high heels. “I’m so glad I finally don’t have to wear these anymore. Do you have an extra pair of sneakers somewhere?”

Dr. Ong pointed left. “Down the hall, check the supply closet in Lab 3A.”

“OK, thanks!” Dr. Miyako bounced away, waving through the doorway.

Dr. Ong wrapped her arms around the now much heavier box, heaving it onto her knee, and waddled out, down the elevators, and back outside. The glass sidewalks and solar panel roads had already begun to crack from the lack of maintenance. Dropping the box beside her she thought she heard the sidewalk underneath crack, as she sat on the curb and rested her arms on her knees, and her head in her arms. All the glass facades and floors sparkled and reflected her like a hall of mirrors.

A few Trattorian soldiers passed by, rifles jangling loose in their own cardboard boxes and chattering in smiles and cheery pitches about how they would enjoy their newfound freedom. Most of them had ditched their heavy, ineffectual armor. They passed her by with a scarce notice and she returned the favor. All as well: her egotistical intellectual condescension and their seething hatred under oppression had survived cancellation. But there was no point in taking it out on each other now.

Dr. Ong sat there for what must have been an hour, as she pondered how she had spent seven decades living a lie that, in the end, she could pack into a single cardboard box.

Well, maybe one part felt like it wasn’t a lie.

And in the distance, she thought she saw it. But her eyes must lie, because he had died years ago. But for once, her mind discarded the evidence and the Bayesian priors and all common sense, and let herself believe what she wanted to believe.

She ran towards it, flinging her labcoat aside as she leapt and wrapped her arms around Dr. Pang.

“Is it really you?” she sobbed into his labcoat, smudging messy tears onto her glasses. Her tear ducts, unused and dry after so many years, shot spikes of pain into the corners of her eyes at the sudden deluge. Emotion so overwhelmed her that she almost forgot hugging was illegal, but there were no more police robots to enforce such an edict anymore.

“Yes,” Dr. Pang replied. “Yes it’s me, Dr. Ong.”

“Please, just Janice,” Dr. Ong clarified, “I’ll let you call me that again. I’ve wanted to hear you say it all these years, Allen.”

“OK, Janice,” Dr. Pang complied with his smile that resembled a frown.

Dr. Ong took a moment to catch her breath as she overcame the uneasy prickling sensation that came with looking directly into his black eyes. She looked away an instant later, but even that glance provided enough assurances that it really was him.

“But how?” she asked.

“Well, I was supposed to be dead,” Dr. Pang explained, “but, uh, kanon got cancelled. So nobody really cared what I did. I think saw Siri on the way out too.”

Dr. Ong picked up the labcoat she dropped, with its Chief Scientist gold shoulder bars. “Here,” she offered it to Dr. Pang, “you always wanted this. The government’s not exactly around to complain anymore.”

Dr. Pang tilted his head. “I don’t want it anymore. Everything I want is right here.”

Both of them said nothing, as Dr. Ong offered a hand. Dr. Pang took it with both of his, wrapping them around it. They still felt their bodies’ physical revulsion to the contact, but for the first time, their minds desired it anyway.

Trattoria was really cancelled.

“What happens to us now?” Dr. Ong muttered, almost a whisper.

“Shouldn’t the Chief Scientist know better?” Dr. Pang teased.

“It’s not as if science really works anymore. Quantum dice and Newtonian rulers and finger thrust vectors have less and less influence each passing day.”

“Well, Ragnablok and the Rekonstruction will wipe most of this,” he gestured with a tilt of his head towards the Trattorian skylines, “but a few strands entangled in other kanons might cling on. Maybe indefinitely.”

“However, I asked: ‘What happens to us now?’” Dr. Ong pressed.

“It’s simple, really.” Dr. Pang withdrew and reached into his labcoat. Retrieving something he pressed a red 2x2 brick and a small pirate’s cutlass into Dr. Ong’s open palms. “We’ll do what we always did before BrikWars happened.”

“Play.”

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Spoiler
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Author’s Note: First, a minor note about Dr. Ong and Dr. Pang. A few years ago I planned a soap focusing on their backstory. I even took pics for 2-3 parts, but beyond the teaser image I never posted any of them due to insufficient time and resources and will. But I felt I owed it to them to close their storyline as a personal favor, if only briefly and incidentally. So that’s where the character focus and the last picture comes from.

On a more personal level, BrikWars has been a major part of my life since childhood, into young adulthood. I’ve known BrikWars longer than most of my best friends, calculus, or even anime. But as I’ve grown, and as BrikWars has grown, we’ve both found that we’ve changed. It is painful to say goodbye, but I am glad I can say it looking back with many years of gratitude and appreciation.

I hope you agree that my contributions to BrikWars added something of value, but I’m genuinely excited to see what new directions you take the kanon going forward. I’ll be in touch with a few of you on outside messaging platforms, but for the most part this is farewell.

Thank you for all the memories, and as always, I wish the best for this community.


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Kommander Ken
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Re: [BF18] So Long, and Thanks for All the Bricks

Post by Kommander Ken » Sun Dec 16, 2018 10:18 pm

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In all seriousness though, I'm a little sad. Godspeed you magnificent bastard. :studgod: :666:

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Re: [BF18] So Long, and Thanks for All the Bricks

Post by ninja_bait » Sun Dec 16, 2018 10:37 pm

Quantumsurfer wrote:I have also been asked to pass along the message to please
Colette wrote:let Ninja_bait know that it's sort of related to Ragnablok
To be clear, that's just kanonically speaking.

I wanted Ragnablok to be a swan song to honor all that came before and welcome all that was new. Colette, you wrote yourself out beautifully, but I'm sad you have to go. We'll never know what great stuff you would have contributed in the new era, and the Kanon won't be the same without you.

RIP in pepperonis
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Re: [BF18] So Long, and Thanks for All the Bricks

Post by Quantumsurfer » Mon Dec 17, 2018 1:57 am

Slight miscommunication there.
I understand it's been cleared up.

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Re: [BF18] So Long, and Thanks for All the Bricks

Post by baconquistador » Mon Dec 17, 2018 5:11 pm

Damn this is actually sad. Farewell, do not go quietly into the light, and all that jazz. Never get too old to play with LEGO!
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Re: [BF18] So Long, and Thanks for All the Bricks

Post by stubby » Mon Dec 17, 2018 5:28 pm

ninja_bait wrote:I wanted Ragnablok to be a swan song to honor all that came before and welcome all that was new. Colette, you wrote yourself out beautifully, but I'm sad you have to go. We'll never know what great stuff you would have contributed in the new era, and the Kanon won't be the same without you.

RIP in pepperonis
On the other hand, with this turn of events, BrikWars finally has its cliche lost advanced precursor civilization so that later factions can discover lost technologies and misuse them egregiously. It's an amazing parting gift
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Re: [BF18] So Long, and Thanks for All the Bricks

Post by Scratch » Mon Dec 17, 2018 10:36 pm

A very bittersweet goodbye for an old friend. I feel a pang in the heart and a tear in my eye at the final end of all of this, but it was a hell of a ride. ;-;7
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Re: [BF18] So Long, and Thanks for All the Bricks

Post by Nemoto-Sensei » Fri Jan 11, 2019 2:28 am

Uhhhh since I'm a Brikfic judge I guess I gotta judge this. Wow. Just wow. I don't even know where to begin. The story is packed full of details and this is the first Brikfic I've read this season, including my own, which has actually moved me. The dialogue, the details, the sombre mood and flow. It only makes us wonder what it feels like to be just "cancelled' like that. 50/50. I can't find a single flaw with it, except that I don't know the Nehellenium well enough to understand all the brikwars jargon used in this story. Really amazing story.

Concept & Theme: 10
Form: 10
Voice: 10
Style: 20
Total: 50/50

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Re: [BF18] So Long, and Thanks for All the Bricks

Post by Darkstorm » Fri Jan 11, 2019 6:44 pm

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Nemoto-Sensei wrote:Uhhhh since I'm a Brikfic judge I guess I gotta judge this. Wow. Just wow. I don't even know where to begin. The story is packed full of details and this is the first Brikfic I've read this season, including my own, which has actually moved me. The dialogue, the details, the sombre mood and flow. It only makes us wonder what it feels like to be just "cancelled' like that. 50/50. I can't find a single flaw with it, except that I don't know the Nehellenium well enough to understand all the brikwars jargon used in this story. Really amazing story.

Concept & Theme: 10
Form: 10
Voice: 10
Style: 20
Total: 50/50
Holy actual fuck I have no words against this piece: it is quite possibly one of the best short pieces I've read, especially with the fact that it's tied to the sorrowful fact of Colette's farewell, and all of the references to the history of Trattoria and what must come to an end. Perfect 50/50. To Colette: forever farewell and many adieu. You will not be forgotten. :studgod: :cry:
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Re: [BF18] So Long, and Thanks for All the Bricks

Post by DayBoost_ » Fri Jan 11, 2019 7:44 pm

Concept and Theme- 10
Form- 8
Voice- 9
Style- 18
Presentation- 9

As much as this probably deserves the win I want people that are still on the forum to have a chance, so I refuse to give it a perfect score. Thanks for all the good times Colette.
Last edited by DayBoost_ on Fri Feb 01, 2019 10:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: [BF18] So Long, and Thanks for All the Bricks

Post by Kommander Ken » Sun Jan 20, 2019 10:50 pm

Concept/Theme: 8
Form: 10
Voice: 9
Style: 19

Colette, I believe I speak for the majority of us when I say that I've always enjoyed your content and all the stuff you've brought to the kanon. This was a great send-off for a great content-creator, my dude. :tiger:

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Re: [BF18] So Long, and Thanks for All the Bricks

Post by TheCraigfulOne » Tue Sep 24, 2019 5:22 pm

Damn, Colette went out in style. :cry:

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