4926/Germination: Social time, Fungus Style

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Germination: Social time, Fungus Style
Date of Scene: 15 July 2018
Location: Avengers Mansion, New York City
Synopsis: Wanda attempts to communicate with the fungus, but things rarely go to plan.
Cast of Characters: Shadow King, Scarlet Witch
Tinyplot: Germination

Shadow King has posed:
    There are multiple samples available in the Avengers Mansion laboratories. There is one remaining stalk. There were two, but one just was a casualty of some extensive fungicide testing (a gift from Batman), and didn't survive the experimentation. The other one, a smaller one, is in careful containment, heavily monitored. It is a small one, perhaps four feet tall, and doesn't have any 'critters' with it: none of the white eerie tentacle bundles.

    There are some of the squidling, small ones, held in containment as well, three of them, simply held in strong physical containers well away from the stalk sample. There's a note on them: 'keep away from stalk', which everyone has fortunately heeded: so they seem pretty docile.

    In and around them, Tony's robots are hard at work, with tests, data, and interpretations of patterns. They stay out from being underfoot -- mostly. One of them will ask Wanda if she wants a beverage, though, upon arrival. Priorities: they ARE Tony's.

Scarlet Witch has posed:
Wanda has found herself wandering the mansion of late. Many deep thoughts running through her mind. Not the least of which was concern about Vision. Her burgeoning relationship with Nolan had reminded her of her guilt over the revelations she'd shown her fellow Avenger, and Wanda was acutely aware that she needed to find Vision and perhaps apologize for what she had done. Or at least see how he was doing.

Lost in thought, she wanders into the laboratories - not a place she's usually found herself. However, things like this happen, and in Wanda's life, coincidences of such kind happen a lot.

"Oh? A drink?" The woman blinks, startled out of her reverie. She's about to say that she didn't mean to intrude, that she'll just leave, when her eyes fall upon the squidlings, and there's a pull at her heartstrings. "Oh, do look at them. And the stalk?" Wanda looks about for it, now forgetting she'd intended to leave, allowing herself to be distracted from her thoughts of guilt.

Shadow King has posed:
The robot is extremely patient. And prompts again. "Would you care for a drink?" it asks, in the exact same manner a second time. It isn't annoyed in tone: it isn't anything. It does adapt, though, to the shift in conversation. The robot orients to check the squidling creatures, as if to be sure they had not changed state. They haven't.

    The physical containments seem to be holding the 'squidlings' fine. They are masses of writhing off-white squishy spore material, with no apparent faces. They're more like 'face huggers' than anything else, with their tentacle-like legs. "Stalk sample is located in laboratory three," the robot decides is the best way to answer her.

Scarlet Witch has posed:
Wanda takes a moment to blink at the robot in confusion. She'd thought she'd adequately answered its query, and yet, there it was, asking her again if she wanted it drink. "No, I do not care for a drink," she ennunciates clearly. "I am not thirsty."

Hospitality she understands. Hospitality robots? Not so much.

Of course, the thing is also a font of useful answers given its directing her to laboratory three.

"Oh, now see? That is much better. I will not be in your hair. I would just like to see a thing."

And by see a thing, she means she's curious about the stalk that they've got here, and how it might relate to the chaos that is going on in the greater outside world. And vaguely remembers seeing something about could we communicate with them? She could swear there was an update pondering the need for a telepath.

She might not be a 'telepath' in the strictest of senses, but telepathy was within her means. Which sounds more confusing than it actually is. Wanda is what she is, though, and right this moment, she has a desire to check the stalk out. The docile squidlings a last resort to reach out to, not wishing to disturb the babies. Her own recent brushes with the maternal making her protective of the wee things.

Shadow King has posed:
    "If a drink is desired in the future, it is available," The robot answers. The thing is persistant. It also does know exactly where the stalk is, so that was silver lining. It makes no comment about whether or not it has hair: but such things are normal to it, so it simply goes back to work and leaves Wanda to whatever she may desire to do.

    Laboratory 3 is not covered in robots, there is only one there, and it looks like it is monitoring only. It is a quiet sentinel. The odd field set up around the stalk has a hazy dark brown sense to it: some special tech in order that's keeping it well contained and restricted from doing more than just minimal feeding on ambiant light.

    The stalk itself stands four feet tall from the soil zone it is sitting in. The soil, underneath the mushroom-like canopy area next to the stalk, softly bubbles with some kind of churning off-white material, like a slowly rolling boil of the dirt and the odd white spore-fluff. It does not react to Wanda's arrival at first.

Scarlet Witch has posed:
Wanda is already past thinking about the robot, and truth be known, poor thing, if Wanda wants a drink, drinks usually are right where she'd go to reach for one. She doesn't really think about it; it just happens.

However, out of mind, out of sight, so to speak, and the woman finds her way to laboratory three, closing the door behind her and considering the room and the specimen.

"Now, see? You do not look so scary. Not so much when you are sitting alone in such a big room." Her head canting at the bubble and roil of the soil it is sitting in. "I do not understand. It is that you are able to be controlled. And you control your little ones. So why is it you have not found a way to communicate with us? Maybe it is that you do not have the brains.."

Wanda does a slow circle about the room, taking in the specimen from all the angles that she can while she ponders the matter.

Shadow King has posed:
    The mushroom stalk does not seem very scary at all. It is just pale -- not pure white, but a muddy sort of toasted marshmellow color. It doesn't seem to have any opinion or feedback about if it does or doesn't have the brains at all. Or perhaps just lacks the ability to understand what she is saying. Or lacks the ability or interest to give any response about it. There are neural feeds set up to watch it: nearby is a visual of neural activity. There was some when she walked in. Her just being present seems to have caused something, but there isn't anything other than that perhaps it's aware she's there.

Scarlet Witch has posed:
Wanda's slow circle about the thing stops at precisely the spot it started, down to the merest fraction of an inch, the young woman standing there and contemplating the stalk. That it is.. resonating?.. has her pondering next steps. Uncertain of exactly what it is the plant is doing, but realizing that the thing is aware of her.

"Now, see? That is interesting. Vibrations maybe. Hrm. I should have read more, I think, about you. But I have been all the busy with other things. Though, I do not know. Perhaps brain waves.. only hrm."

Wanda frowns at the thing, and at her thoughts. If it had a brain as they understood brains, perhaps brainwaves were how. Vibrations made more sense than that. But if she recalls, Wanda remembers something about energy. The thing seeing to absorb the stuff and use it. That is a thing Wanda understands - that's all magic is: acknowledging the energy of the world around, and the things within it, and manipulating that energy. It's how she knows to speak mind to mind; to be a telepath, when it isn't rightly how she sees herself.

On that line of though, though, Wanda reaches out tentatively to the thing, both sending feelers from herself to make contact with the stalk, and feeling out what the stalk may be sending. Aware that they may not be on the same wavelength and seeking what wavelength might be the bridge between them - somewhat the same way she can feel the nexus energies that criss-cross worlds.

~It is okay, I mean no harm.~ And, indeed, Wanda suffuses herself with exactly that feel: the feeling of peace and safety and of do no harm. ~I have come to help you.~

Shadow King has posed:
    It seems to be aware of energy. Intensely and deeply aware of energy. 'Brain waves' and vibrations? That's a dry, feeble way to try to explain the strange and unusual way the thing is processing energy. So many little varations on the energy around it, the signals there. It /is/ communicating, but at such a bizarre level that no one has made notice. The little subtle energy patterns that flutter along the stalk itself, and under the canopy of the mushroom top, all of it has some meaning to it. It is as if a lonely person were sitting there, humming some refrain gently, along to the beat of a heart. Yet it lacks a heart: it has the system of the roiling movement in the soil, and that is more of what its very being is composed of. The energy signatures of that soil shift.

    Does it hear her? The machines react a little bit. But the sensation carries a 'feeling' more than words. It is a feeling as if a normally insignificant creature did something mildly of notice to it. It put a bit of attention there. Curiosity would be a strong way of putting it, though.

Scarlet Witch has posed:
That's the in Wanda needs. She might not be quite *there* with regards to communicating with it, but once it's a matter of deciphering the energy patterns... that she knows intimately. It's merely a matter of adjusting her awareness and her sight to follow the patterns, and to allow them to speak to her. To become, so to speak, one with the plant.

It might be a crazy move, and were she to suggest to another that was what she intended, they might have tried to stop her, but alas, the robot can't read minds, and likely isn't a good judge of character or intentions, and Wanda does as she pleases and opens herself up to the being.

Shadow King has posed:
    The mushroom is aware of her in terms of that she is a biological thing that is nearby that could be eaten. There is no real recognition of her being intelligent in any form it recognizes. That is the root of this, so to speak: it doesn't think her capable, though it is aware she could be dangerous in the same way quicksand might be dangerous. Rare but possible.

    In this manner it doesn't TRY to connect. It also doesn't stop her from coming into some vibe with it, either. It is 'thinking' about the strange area it is stuck in. The lack of food is a problem. But it is patient, and another one of its kind will grow stronger and appear. This is a temporary confinement, to it.

Scarlet Witch has posed:
It's a bit of a conundrum for the woman. She can feel the thing pondering. Understands on some level that it is pondering, and aspects of.. it's awareness?.. only it isn't quite communication. More like understanding how the dimming down of a battery powered light indicates that the battery is low. Or how a growl from a cornered creature is a reaction to threat. Those sorts of things. Only more so. On a deeper level.

While she continues to try to attune to it, to understand the thing, she's aware that there is a component lacking. Or perhaps a component lacking. She's uncertain. ~"Now, see, this is where it becomes a thing. I know you feel me. I can feel you."~ Wanda both speaks and thinks at the thing. ~"But we do need to do more than that if we are to solve this problem, yes?"~

While she does this, Wanda moves closer. Not quite within striking distance, but closer. A gesture, she thinks, of trust. Still always with that vibe of not being a threat. And when Wanda is as close as she dares for the moment, she sits cross-legged upon the floor. ~"Now, see? You and I. We will try this thing. We will try to communicate. Here is a question for you, those babies? Are they something you feel for? Or are you like the trees, only to communicate with the earth and populate, but not so much with the maternal."~

Shadow King has posed:
    The major tone is still that she is a food thing. Speaking to food doesn't make sense to it. It would be like speaking to your grilled cheese and expecting an answer. Then again, this Wanda-shaped grilled cheese is apparently suggesting it might be alive or aware. It is a very superpowered cheese. Wanda will sense it is finally giving her enough attention. It needed to LOOK, first. Getting it to look at all was the biggest feat.

    The thing seems to process. As if deciding how to talk down to her, perhaps. The 'feelings' are more there than any kind of word structure. It has a mild arrogance expected of one talking to their sandwich. <Food tries to communicate?> the mushroom ends up with, in an aloof manner.

Scarlet Witch has posed:
There's a sense to the woman of amusement. It's not lost upon her that it views her much the way humanity views it.. sans the food business. She's pretty sure nobody is suggesting they grill the stalks up for dinner and eat them. It does, however, explain a lot. The things don't actually differentiate humans from other organic material.

In some ways it's akin to how godlings viewed humans: Beneath notice, and incapable of thinking for themselves. It was necessary to direct and guide them. To make choices for them.

Only this was further and deeper from that. The same attitude with the viewpoint that humans were nothing more than a.. well, to put it into similar terms.. a plant. Nothing more than a potted plant to be picked and plucked and eaten for sustenance.

~"So, if that is the case.. how do we impress upon you otherwise?"~ Which, really, was the crux of the matter.

A thought strikes. Perhaps impulsive. Perhaps unwise. But the thing has noticed her, and the thing regards her as less than intelligent. She's not quite sussed out how to impress otherwise, but she does know the thing is aware of energy, and she is also aware that she is capable of directing such. Magic. That's really all it is. Directed energy, contained within the bounds of a person's will, by the parameters of the school of thought they employed. And Wanda had ever so many schools of thought to employ..

Wanda sets wards. Magical ones to isolate herself and the creature. The laboratory will contain the physical. She is containing the rest. And once the wards are in place, and she knows that she can control what is and is not within those, Wanda reaches down, feeling for leylines. She isn't quite sure what she wishes to do with that yet beyond get its full attention. Make it consider her worth the attempt to communicate.

Shadow King has posed:
    The magical energy is used, and some of it washes near the creature. The tech zone stands up to containing and keeping energy away from the fungus, however: it filters well enough, stopping errant energy from going in and powering the mushroom up. It looks like Tony put up a safety field, in case, say, something else exploded. Things do explode a lot around there, after all, and having a huge mushroom on top of them wasn't something fancied. If her attempt was noticed isn't immediately apparent, but it is likely that a message did go out about a change in the dampening field to Banner or Tony.

    The mushroom reacts, though. It is a mixed reaction. It isn't so much surprised as finally truly curious, and distrustful. She might be a poisonous food. The magical use, the wards, it /sees/. There is absolutely zero fear in it, though. < Bring proper food. > This is the first time it actually directed something at her. It is a command. It isn't JUST at her, either. It sent this order in a sort of broad away. And seems a bit irritated that the order is not being followed. Where are the small ones? They are stuck somewhere.

Scarlet Witch has posed:
~"Ah, see, you can do it if you wish."~ Though Wanda forgets herself, and that she may only be speaking on its wavelength and not the other way around. Which is to say neither here nor there for the moment. What matters at this moment is that it is communicating. ~"Proper food, yes? So you wish to eat. The organics."~ Which draws her thoughts back to the hospitality robot. "Excuse me, you did say I could have a drink, yes? I would like a drink, but also, if there is such a thing close, perhaps a sandwich? Or a salad? Maybe some fruit?"

Somewhere in there Wanda is sure there will be a foodstuff the thing will respond to. She hopes.

That the little ones, not so unlike children, only without the maternal. Things not fully formed or fledged, but able to do bidding.

Wanda considers the dampening field. If left alone with the creature, her thoughts go to dropping the thing, or lowering it to half, say, that she might get a better chance to interact with the thing.

Shadow King has posed:
    "Immediately," The robot agrees, and heads off briskly to get the requests Wanda put to it. It will provide iced tea, a turkey club on rye (wrapped in plastic from a fridge, it appears), a caesar salad, and some mixed fruit: grapes, mango, pineapple. It is fearless about leaving her along with the fungus and the dampener field, of course, while it fetches things.
    The mushroom seems to ignore her, and pulses out the directive over and over like a strange siren. It probably can sense them nearby but the signals are so weak that it is just yelling at them, to cover whatever the distance or problem is. In some manner it reads like it prefers to talk to its own minions rather than deal with the food. Which makes sense: it likes its own over strange alien food-animal!

    < Eat. > That was at her. It dumbed things WAY down for her. It is feeling kind.

Scarlet Witch has posed:
Wanda isn't perturbed by being spoken down to. In some ways it's exactly the progress she hoped for. She's gone from being a rock in its estimation to being a stupid child. A very stupid child. Progress indeed.

Unfolding herself from the ground, the woman considers the dampening field. Such an innocuous thing. ~"Now, see, I know you want the energies. Maybe the foods more than that. But they are worried that you might have access to these things."~

~"This is not so simple, is it? I wonder. Do you understand higher order thoughts?"~ By which she means things like pure mathetmatics. Or the perception of probability on a cosmic level. Things she understands intimately and intuitively when she allows herself to brush along them. Steams of mathematical formula, after all, are nothing more than the same thing magic is at the very base; they're merely another way of understanding the universe. And if Wanda can understand one, she can understand the other.

On a whim she tries that. Pure math and logic sent its way. A definition of energy. A representation of herself as a being. Not merely Wanda Maximoff, but her place in the universe. A thing she rarely allows to surface.

Shadow King has posed:
    It does want to eat. But processes the conversation oddly. She, and the servants, did not respond 'properly': therefore they did not understand it. She is a stupid child that does not yet know how to follow a directive. It isn't as interested. Her value and estimation is exactly related to how useful she is to it directly. It's very clear.
    The response the higher thought? It isn't probably what she expected. It takes in the logic and puzzles, and seems to look forward. Towards the future. The representation of advanced thought isn't something now. It is something later. It doesn't even try to deeply consider any of it. It is part of its becoming. It occupies directly now in this space of energy, but later, the complicated understanding will come. For now, the mushroom stalk's role is to grow. And to 'become.' And that is exactly RIGHT and proper for it.

Scarlet Witch has posed:
...All of which leaves Wanda back at something just past square one. It views itself as superior, but it is not yet evolved to the other. It communicates, but only in hte most basic of senses. Somewhere in there is a gap she's not quite grasping how to cross.

A fleeting thought occurs to her to just become one of the damned things. And even as she thinks it, she has an awareness of exactly how to go about it. Or, better still, to project herself to the things as one of it's own.

The robot will be back with the food shortly, which doesn't leave her a lot of time to consider how to proceed. Drop the dampener? And then what? Feed it energy? It's a thought. Be it, and see if that gives insights? She could just gloss upon the surface of it's thoughts and approach it less organically. Look at it as purely alien and from outside.

~"What am I missing."~

Then it hits her. It doesn't communicate. It.. directs. Or more to the point, it runs. Like a program. A very loose analogy, but it's a thought. The thing isn't *thinking*, it's making series of yes and no decisions in a loose way. Food or not food. Do or not do. Like an artificial intelligence, it's evolving, or will evolve. And she knows it thinks itself superior. Her 'talking' to it only reinforces that she is inferior. Superior beings *are*, they do not waffle between yes and no.

Shadow King has posed:
    What is she missing? The mushroom does not offer any answers. It does not seem to question in the same way she feels about questions. Curiosity, in the basic form the stalk is using, is in a form of listening for information. There is no creature present directing IT. It is directing, at present. At creatures that are not answering.

    The mushroom stalk seems to have gone relatively dormant, the demands made not answered. The robot is returning now, with the food selection. "Where would you like your items placed?" the robot questions mechanically but politely. "On this table?" it suggests.

Scarlet Witch has posed:
"Yes, yes," Wanda says distractedly. "On the table."

And now that she has food and drink, if she's right, the thing will demand that she bring it the food. Only she has no intentions of it. In fact, while she isn't hungry, she's going to eat and force it to watch. More. If she's right, giving it an order and expecting compliance will tell her a lot. If it listens - if she can impress that upon the thing - then she has information to pass along.

Her thought patterns shift. <Go. Move away.>

The thought command is terse, and suggests the thing is too close to her while she is eating. That the food is hers and it does not yet have the right to eat it. Slowly, and deliberately, Wanda plucks grapes from the bunch and begins to munch them, making a deliberate show for the stalk. She, Wanda, is now in charge, and it is no longer the superior.

Shadow King has posed:
    Wanda will feel the thing looking at her in the most direct way that it has so far. It is aware of the movement of biological material. She is still food. Entirely.

She also is not the source of the demand. It has NO connection to that she is the one that directed it.

    It gets the direction, though. And weighs the validity and force of will only briefly before complying. It loosely processes the directive into terms of what it can do, and adjusts the zone of digestion below it, to swirl and churn more towards the further end of the containment zone. The stalk also lowers, as it starts to ease the mass towards the ground. She is witnessing the start of how the things move. They drop lower, melting into their soil area. It can only go a little way.

Scarlet Witch has posed:
Wanda patiently waits for it to make it to the other side of the containment zone, dropping all pretense of eating grapes while she does so. That it does not even recognize the source of the directive is a surprise, but perhaps valuable. That it took the directive leaves her with a small gut clench of concern, given the news that others have found a way to control the little ones at least. It leaves her in strange moral territory. And with more questions than answers.

It also convinces her that she needs more than herself to ponder this.

<Stay. Wait.> The order given with the implication that it should remain waiting until told otherwise. Wanda has no clue if it /will/ remain waiting, but for now it's an approach and a stasis until she can talk to the others about what she's found out and her thoughts on it.

Wanda and her handful of grapes depart the laboratory.