Batten Tower - Penthouse Level
He stood in the middle of the living room, an array of holographic data displayed around him. Not work, not even his own current impending issue that would for a certainty lead do the end of his life. Today, he was just...tinkering.
It felt good to be just playing around with ideas again, toying with theoretical designs and implements. Boys and their toys, his sister would no doubt say, with that little smile of hers, before chastising him that he should be spending time in the real world, among other human beings.
But he was most comfortable, most free, here, letting his mind wander amongst equations and inventions and improvements to already existing designs. People were complicated and difficult. Math and science were pure, easy and straightforward. For the most part, anyway. To anyone else, the equations and theories and designs would be the next best thing to being incomprehensible.
He was in the midst of working on an improvement to his suit thrusters when he heard the cool, clipped voice of DIANA interrupt his concentration. "A moment of your time, sir, if I may?"
He sighed, not taking his eyes off of the blown-up schematic floating in front of him. "Can it wait, Di? Kinda in de middle o'somet'in' here."
The feminine curves of his AI appeared before him, just beyond the visual of the schematic hovering before him. "I suppose it can, but I really think you should not delay in hearing this. I was collating audio files gathered by your monitoring network when I encountered one conversation I believe you may want to hear. The exchange took place between your sister and the entity called 'One', whom you identify as Renna."
He was in the midst of manipulating a particular portion of the design when she said that last part, and he froze in mid-motion, his eyes refocusing on the AI. He had no idea what the conversation could possibly entail, but if DIANA thought it worth his time...
He swept a hand sideways, a sweeping motion in front of him, and abruptly the floating holograms vanished, all but the AI's. "Show me."
Abruptly DIANA's figure vanished, to be replaced by a full three-dimensional hologram of the Red Dragon Inn's common area, the only two people present in it his sister and One. Renna, not One. She may not be the same person, but she's still Renna, at least in part.
And he listened.
As the conversation played out, his features grew darker, puzzlement, then anger setting in. By the time it was over, he was fuming.
Turning away, he stormed across the penthouse's living room, heading for the doorway to the balcony. "Dat goddamn, arrogant, insensitive..." He stopped as he reached the door, glaring across the room at DIANA, whom had reappeared when the conversation finished playing, his voice rising near a yell. "How'n de hell did she find out about dis?"
DIANA's cool voice came back to him from the hidden speakers implanted in the walls. "From the data I have on the subject: One, given that she was able to absorb your previous ancillary and all its data into herself, provided she could acquire the same readings I was able to collect, she would have had little trouble reaching the same conclusion."
He swore under his breath vehemently. He ought to have known. "An' dat stupid b*tch jus' couldn' keep it to her damn self." He had the sudden urge to throw something. One, for instance. Off of the top of the Tower, preferably. Chased by a high-intensity ionic pulse blast. "Ah can't b'lieve dis sh*t."
He turned to face the glass door, looking out on the city spread out below, laid open to his gaze. After a moment, he heard DIANA clear her throat softly behind him before she spoke. "You had planned to tell her eventually, sir. Does this significantly change that, simply because she will know sooner than you had accounted for?"
He sighed, his head bowing slightly. "Di, ya ain't human. Ya wouldn' understand. My sis...she worries too much as it is. Hones'ly, de reality of t'ings is Ah was gonna die someday. No idea when, where, how, or why, but Ah knew, an' so did she. Diff'rence now is dat Ah know two outta de four conditions. An' Ah know she's always been worried about it...if Ah was okay, if Ah was alive, if Ah would go off an' get m'self killed doin' somet'in' as de Ranger. Ah didn' want her t'know b'cause Ah couldn' stand de t'ought of it weighin' on her mind. She's gonna get married, fer Christ's sake, to a guy Ah know she's happy wit'. She d'serves t'be happy, not worryin' dat today or tomorrow might be de day Ah'm not 'round anymore."
He turned back towards the hologram again. "Dat, an'...Ah may be dyin', Di, but Ah ain't dead yet. Hell, Ah don' even feel like Ah'm dyin'. Ah feel fine. An' Ah don't want anyone - least of all my sister - treatin' me like Ah'm gonna buy de farm any second, like Ah'm fragile or somet'in', 'cause Ah ain't." He shook his head and turned away again. "Ah don' expect dat t'make any sense t'you."
She was silent for a long time, and in that silence he found himself trying to find the words to say to his sister, to explain to her why he had kept it from her. She would argue, no matter what he said, that he should have told her as soon as he found out, but the truth of it was, he couldn't. He couldn't stand the thought of the worry and sadness and hurt in her eyes when he said those words to her. It hurt him to his core just to contemplate it.
Finally the cool voice spoke behind him, softer this time. "What do you intend to do about this, sir?"
He lifted his gaze to stare out the door, sighing deeply as he shook his head. "Guess Ah'll hafta talk to her. Ah can't just...pretend like not'in's wrong. Katt's a lotta t'ings, but stupid ain't one of 'em. An' she ain't shy 'bout speakin' her mind, eit'er."
He turned from the view, finally, heading to the master bedroom. "Di, get de Hammer-E 16 ready fer me. Gonna go out for a little bit, blow off some steam."
"As you wish, sir."