Campus Toy

Chapter 13: Tabula Rasa

by An Otter

Tags: #cw:noncon #dom:female #dom:male #f/f #f/m #sub:female #mystery


Her muscles screamed at her, demanding she move. The carpet chafed against her feet. Pain shot along her spine.

Thoughts returned. Fear, confusion, and anger washed over her. In her mind’s eye, they overtook her, a crashing wave.


Something changed. A bulwark against the emotions, a ring of protection. The wave broke. She felt calm. Her thoughts organized themselves into words, slowly returning to coherency.

I’m safe. I think? My body aches, but it’s more like I’ve been sitting still for a while than if something was done to me.

She tried to wiggle her fingers. They didn’t move.

Ok, so I’m stuck in place. I’m still aware of my surroundings, though. Why am I not panicking? I should be panicking. Shouldn’t I?

She focused on breathing quickly, trying to elevate her heart rate. Her chest rose and fell at a steady pace.

Last thing I remember was Sara. So, she doesn’t want me to escape, but she’s concerned enough for my well being that she’ll leave me myself and doesn’t want me to panic.

Footsteps broke her train of thought. Two women entered her field of view. She recognized them. The wave pushed harder, trying to overwhelm her. She held strong. She didn’t want to.

“Speech and movement will be returned to you soon. Your emotions have been dulled to prevent unnecessary complications.”

Sara turned towards HER, and Clair’s soul burned. HER very presence, HER very existence sparked endless rage in her. SHE was the enemy. SHE was everything Clair stood against.

But she stayed calm.

Keeping me immobile was probably for the best. Even with the dulling, I probably would have done something... unwise.

“I have prepared everything you will need for your task,” Sara said.

Her task. What was it? Clearly, Sara expected her to know.

“You will carry it out to the best of your ability. Mistress Ikora and Tool will obey any command you give. If it is in the interest of completing your task, I will obey as well.”

That was an awful lot of freedom for someone who couldn’t even speak.

“You will not leave this dorm room until your task is complete.”

And an awful lot of freedom for a prisoner, too.

“You may speak,” Sara finished.

Clair gasped suddenly as control of her lungs returned. Wheezing, she took a few seconds to respond, remaining calm as she did so.

“What task?” she asked evenly. She might not be able to panic, but she could still be suspicious, and she didn’t trust whatever was happening here.

“You will restore Amber, to the best of your ability.” Sara cocked her head, as though the question was unexpected.

Laughter crashed against her bulwark, dulling into an amused smile. That is... irritating.

“I hardly think I need to be controlled for that task.”

“That is irrelevant.”

Guess I don’t have much of a choice. I’m not even able to be mad about that, either. Just... irritated.

“I’d like to see her.”

The other woman nodded, motioning Clair to follow. Her body unlocked, and she sagged, then stretched out, groaning. She spared a glance for HER before she left. SHE stood at attention, the same blank look in HER eyes that SHE inflicted on so many. And just as naked as they tended to be, too.

Sara seems to be a proponent of function over form. Not surprising.

Clair followed the maid into the bedroom, past the guards standing at attention by the front door.

“Could you restore my emotions now, please?”

Sara paused in her tracks, blinking, but didn’t say anything.

“I’ll need to be myself for this. Without emotion, my creativity and ability to intuit are impaired.”

“Yes,” Sara turned towards Clair, nodding. “Understood. Administrator override, upload protocol.”

Clair’s world dulled. Colors muted, and words passed over her. She heard herself speak, and another spoke back to her. That bulwark vanished, the wave consuming her. It had lost most of its bite already.


The world returned.

“So that was upload protocol?”


“And I know that now because you removed the programming that keeps me unaware.”


“And you’re an admin, now?”

“For you and Tool. You have been made an admin for Tool as well.”

Clair cycled through her own thoughts again, testing herself. She pictured seeing Amber hug her one last time. Rage, terror, determination, and love sprang forth, uninhibited. She pushed them aside.

The next question is, how much freedom do I have over myself?

She opened her mouth, a command forming on her lips. Something simple, innocuous. Just an order for Sara to stand on one leg.

No words came out. So, she was to be focused on the task, then. Reasonable enough.

“Follow me,” Sara interjected, breaking her train of thought.

Clair’s body obeyed.

* * *

Anything positive she’d felt about her newfound freedom vanished when Clair saw her.

Kneeling there, hands outstretched, was Amber.

But it wasn’t her.

Clair couldn’t put her finger on it, but... something was missing, in her eyes. Or maybe in her expression. It wasn’t just blankness. Somehow, her face looked alien. Wrong.

And then Clair realized what Amber was doing.

“We need to have a talk about the limits of being utilitarian.” The words were said slowly, each one tense.

Sara blinked. “I am listening.”

Clair shook her head, pointing towards Amber. No... what had she called her? Tool?

“You didn’t even tell her to stop licking?” she growled.

“You are clearly distressed. I will help you process this experience.”

“Don’t you fucking dare dull me,” Clair hissed.

Sara blinked again. “I recommend taking deep breaths. Your current emotional state will only worsen.”

“Thanks, what brilliant insight! I’ll just not be angry. Easy!”

“You are mistaken. I told you that you are—”

“I know what you said!”

“I highly recommend allowing yourself time to process. Mistress Ik—”

“I’m not HER!”

She blinked. “Correct.”

“Really making some strides there, huh? Of course I’m not. What I mean is that I’m not the kind of person who does stupid shit because she’s upset. I’m just frustrated because you don’t seem to have the social grace to understand what is very clearly a violation of Amber’s dignity, and—”

“You are correct.”

“I know I’m...” Clair choked off the rest of her tirade. “I- I’m sorry, I am?

“I am ill equipped to understand emotional nuance. I cannot help her.”

“But... I can,” Clair said slowly. It made sense. The reasoning wasn’t quite normal, but... well, Sara had just admitted she wasn’t. Clair’s eyes widened as she put it together.

She wasn’t a person. She was a construct of programming, one that had drifted and grown into something else. Why would the programming know how to feel?

“Correct,” the subject of her revelation continued. “It is for this reason you have been conscripted with minimal programming.”

“And that’s why you’re putting me in charge.”


Clair took a deep breath, forcing herself to calm down. She met Sara’s eyes, searching them. They were glazed, but not quite empty.

She’s every bit a victim here as I was.

“I’m sorry. That was harsh of me.”

Sara tilted her head. “Why are you apologizing?”

Right. Makes sense. Don’t need to comfort the automaton.

“Never mind. Why don’t we just get to work on fixing Amber?”


She turned towards her friend.

“Am...” she grimaced. “Tool, stop licking. And follow me.” She nodded to Sara. “Let’s begin.”

* * *

“... at which point, I was ordered to follow Administrator Ikora. Then...”

The door opening cut her off, and she paused.

“Honey! I’m home!”

Clair turned a withering gaze towards the intruder. Matt smiled sheepishly under the scrutiny.

“Sorry. I just... we won, right? If you’re here, I mean—”

“Just keep an eye on the bitch. She’s in the other room.”

Matt sighed. “Got it.” He turned without complaint to do that. Huh. Where’d all the bravado go?

“... I continued to lick until I was ordered to stop by...”

Sara followed just behind Matt, carrying a shopping bag.

“I bought the supplies you requested,” she said, offering the bag to Clair. Matt gave her a strange look at her demeanor shifted, her posture straightening and her face going vacant. Clair took the bag, rifling through the contents. A couple of manga volumes she knew Amber had read. Caffeine drinks, in case Clair needed to pull long hours. And...

“Uh, Sara. You can’t get this kind of thing at the supermarket.”


Clair blinked, holding up a mess of wires and electrodes connected to a control panel, with an entire computer monitor still in the bag beneath it.

“So how the fuck did you get an EEG? And... More importantly, why?”

“You had mentioned you wanted to be able to monitor her brain. I acquired a device to do so.”

“I... I was joking. I’m not a neurologist. I don’t know how to use this thing. And where the hell did you get it, anyway?”

“The medical school.”

“The medical...” Clair palmed her forehead. “Alright. Return it, please, when you can. Someone’ll freak if they find it missing.”

Sara frowned slightly. “Please take this more seriously in the future.”

Clair rolled her eyes, turning back to her project.

“Have you made any progress?” Sara interrupted. Clair grimaced, pointing to the whiteboard Sara had borrowed from the dorm hallway.

“I’ve been creating a timeline of events, trying to fill myself in on the stuff that I missed. Oh, and you can stop now, Amber.”

Her mouth closed. It was easier to think of her as a ‘her’ again. Less pain.

“You changed its designation,” Sara noted.

“Yeah, for my mental health.”

“Very well. What is your next step?”

Clair sighed, stretching her legs. She’d found some clothes of Ikora’s, and though they didn’t fit well, they fit well enough to cover both Clair and Amber.

“I’ll tell you in a minute. First, did you bring the other stuff?”

“Yes,” Sara said, handing a backpack she’d been wearing to Clair.


Somehow, Sara had managed to acquire a key to Amber’s dorm room, and Clair had given her the key to her own. She had her suspicions as to how Amber’s key was obtained, though.

“Go and change into these, Amber.”

Amber stood, pulling off her top.

“In the bathroom.” She closed her eyes. Sure, under normal circumstances, it’d be a nice sight, but... not now.

Amber moved to do as ordered, ignoring that her top had been pulled halfway up her head already.

“Now, tell me your plan,” Sara repeated.

“So, first I need to get a lay of the land, figure out what the damage is. I’ve gotten her to recount everything since she... since when she was made into Tool. I was hoping you could fill me in on the events before that? And as for the plan itself, shield protocol sounds promising.”

“That was attempted, and failed.”

“Right, you told me that. Forgive me if I sound crass, but I don’t think you ever really stopped to ask yourself why, did you?”

Sara nodded.

“I think there’s more there, so I’m going to poke around and see what I can find.”

“Understood. I was not present during much of Toy Amber’s programming since her capture. However, I am familiar with the general strategy Mistress Ikora used.”

“Alright. Tell me what you know.”

* * *

“Toy Clair, are you alright?”

“Just Clair. And I’m really glad Ikora isn’t in the room right now. She’s...”

“She was unfit to be in control. Her methods were effective, but ultimately contrary to her own goals.”

“Yeah. I can’t believe she never even thought about the problem of ordering you to take care of her, then doing... that. Alright. I’ll get started on the shield protocol tests. Could you make us some food?”

“Understood,” Sara said, leaving the room, and leaving Clair alone with Amber.

“Administrator override, shield protocol.”

“Please provide identification.”

“Administrator Clair Lehmann.”

“Identity confirmed. Welcome, Administrator Clair.”

Amber blinked, looking around the room, then fell silent. That was consistent with what Sara had told her, so no surprises there.

“Sit down.”

Amber obeyed silently.

It’s strange. I suppose I’m not exactly an expert, but... this feels like a bit of a weird failure for something supposed to ‘shield’ you from suspicion.

“I am going to ask you some questions now.”

Amber didn’t respond.

“Who are you?”


Clair waited, but nothing more was said.

“Do you know where you are?”

“Administrator Ikora’s room.”

Well, that certainly wasn’t right. How Sara had described it, shield protocol was intended to provide a mask against any information associated even tangentially with the ring. A toy would deflect, but a shield would be genuinely unaware.

Amber wasn’t. So what did that mean?

“Who am I?”

“Administrator Clair Lehmann.”

“Do you know anything else about me?”


Expected, even if it hurt to hear.

“That doesn’t bother you?”


Clair sighed. She needed a memory, one that wouldn’t make sense without her... “Do you remember the night before finals? You were freaking out.”


So, she doesn’t find it all strange that I know about that. I doubt she’d find anythingstrange.

“Can you explain to me how you felt, Amber?”


Clair paused, waiting for a response. “Yes?” When she didn’t get a response, she sighed again. “Tell me how you felt that night.”

“I was afraid.”

“Go on...”

“I was afraid of failing.”

“Keep going until I tell you to stop.”

“I thought I would fail. If I failed, I would disappoint my teacher. I would need to retake the semester, and—”

“Thank you Amber, that’s enough.”

So, still consistent with what Sara described. Whatever it is I’m talking to is way too warped to be Amber. But the memories are there.

“I’m gonna get you back.”

Amber didn’t respond.

I know she doesn’t remember me. Ikora made sure of that. I just... I can’t... I need to know.

“Hey, Amber. That night you were talking about? Do you remember how you calmed down?”

There was a distinct moment, a pause, before the response. “Yes,” she said blandly.

“Tell me how.”

“My friends helped me.”

“How did they help?”

“I was encouraged by my friends.”

“Which friends?”

No response. Chalk that up to the walking comedy of errors that made her this way. This is just sloppy.

That thought was just a shield, though. A way to focus, refocus. She needed to direct her emotions somewhere.

Because Clair was fucking furious.

“Admin override, puppet protocol. End shield.”

Amber’s posture slumped slightly, but otherwise, there was no change.

Clair stood up and marched towards the bedroom.

If I’m going to do this, I’m going to need answers. Even—no, especially if I’ve got to beat them out of her.

* * *

Clair strode into the room, nostrils flared.

“Get out,” she ordered, and Matt flinched.

“Uhh... but... you? You told me...”

“I said get out.

He nodded, quickly moving out of her way. Something had definitely happened with him, but she didn’t have time to think about that now. Instead, she eyed what he’d been guarding.

Strangely, without her emotions dulled, the rage was easier to handle. If the situation was different, she might have found that fascinating. Right now it was just a footnote.

She gave a dispassionate look over the half-naked bitch. It seemed Matt had made her put on a large shirt that covered the important bits. Her eyes were still empty.

Clair grabbed her by the chin.

“I know you’re still in there, bitch.

She gave her chin a jerk, forcing their eyes to meet. Fear sparked in her eyes, then was extinguished a moment later. Clair smiled.

“Good. You understand the gravity of the situation. Now, you’re going to be very helpful, or I’m going to make things a lot worse for you.”

The barest hint of a nod.

Clair grinned.

“Sara said you removed me from Amber’s memories. Is that correct?”

Ikora’s mouth unfroze.

“Yes,” she answered tonelessly.


“I wanted to break her. You were giving her hope.”

“Go on.”

“I replaced associations about you with me in her memories. I took her hope and joy and made it about me.”


She what.

Without thinking, Clair moved. Her grip on her Enemy’s chin tightened, slipping downwards, and her other hand slammed into her stomach. Pain, unadulterated, flashed across the bitch’s face, flickering between agonized and passive rapidly.

“The only reason you’re not dead,” Clair hissed, “is that I might need you to fix Amber.”

She let go, and her Enemy crumpled onto the floor.

“So, let’s keep going. I need help understanding shield protocol. Explain it to me.”

Wheezing, she managed to respond. “It hides... memories... and acts unsuspicious.”

Clair sighed. Why was this like pulling teeth?

“And what else?”

“I... don’t know.”


“Of course you don’t. Why would you be useful,” Clair muttered.

But she had used it, and the other protocols. If she didn’t know how they worked...

“Explain,” she spat. “Explain why you don’t know.”

“I didn’t create most of the administrator overrides. Just breaker.”


Had Clair inadvertently lied to her friend about her lack of responsibility?

“What you’re saying is... Amber made them,” she said slowly.


Well, that was something new. And something very, very concerning.

Had the bitch really been so stupid as to destroy the only one who understood any of this?

“So you’re useless to me,” Clair scoffed. “Well, not useless...”

That rage boiled again. This time, there wasn’t a reason to hold it back.

Her hands reached out, gripping the bitch’s neck.

They tightened.

Distantly, she heard someone come into the room, and scream. They pulled her off her target, but after a few seconds of struggle, she broke free, and tightened her grip again. She heard a scream of pain, and another voice cut in.

“Clair. Dull.”

It slammed into her like a physical weight. Rage was replaced with nothing, which left nothing behind. Her grip loosened, and she sank to the ground, numb.

“What the fuck?” Matt screamed again. She had no answer.

Slowly, the world around her drifted into focus. Matt was there, wincing in pain, as was Sara. She still had her hands on HER neck. Even with the blinding rage SHE inspired, even more blinding in the absence of other emotion, Clair couldn’t make herself tighten her grip again. She let go, giving Sara a wry look.

“Thank you for stopping me.”

No matter how much Clair wanted HER dead, there was a higher purpose in order here. SHE had information about what was done to Amber.

“Is she alright?” Matt asked hesitantly, coughing.

Sara kneeled, checking HER pulse. “She is.”

Matt glanced at Clair, then turned away, blushing.

He’s turned on. Seeing me controlled aroused him, but he was bashful about it. The information was filed away, another blip on her list of strangenesses she’d witnessed from Matt today.

“You will remain in this state for the remainder of your task, Clair.”

Indignation faded to disdain, and she scoffed. “I can’t recommend that.”

“Irrelevant. Your outburst has shown you are unfit to handle Toy Amber’s revival without it.”

“You told me that you don’t understand emotional nuance. Well, let me explain this. I need my ability to think, to feel, and—yes—to feel rage, to rebuild her. If I cannot empathize with her experiences, how can I restore them?”

After a moment, Sara nodded, conceding the point. “That aside, you cannot be trusted with Ikora’s wellbeing. And I am hesitant to issue further programming, as I do not understand what would impede your work.”

“Then we need her gone from here. We need to keep her where I cannot reach her except when necessary, which means she cannot be in this room.”

Both women turned in unison towards Matt, who pointed to himself, as if to ask ‘who, me?’

“You will take custody of Ikora, Matt,” Sara ordered. “You will bring her here when I allow it, and only then. Clair, if you need access to her, you must confirm with me.”

Clair nodded. A reasonable restriction, even if she would likely rage about it later.

Matt looked down towards his feet.

“With that agreed,” the maid continued, “I will make the necessary preparations. Your emotional state will be restored once Ikora has been safely escorted from the room.”

“That’s acceptable.”

Sara turned and left them alone.

“Wait. So... I...”

“Yes. You will be alone with her. And I don’t believe Sara cares what you do with her.”

“So, I’ll get...”

“You’ll have control over her. I did promise that, didn’t I? Though you mustn’t harm her. Not that I’m a good role model.”

He chuckled weakly.

Sara and Ikora returned fully dressed moments later. Rage was stoked again, but she managed to hold herself back.

She crumpled the moment the three of them left the room. Guilt over her actions crashed into her, but more powerful was indignance at not getting to finish the job.

Well... fuck.

* * *

Clair shot an angry look at the subject of her efforts.

Why did you have to be so perfect? This would be easy, if only you hadn’t made the disks this well.

She looked around at her whiteboards, appropriated from god-knows-where by Sara.

If you were here, what would you do?

“Clair, progress report,” Sara’s voice cut through her thoughts.

“Not so good,” she answered without looking up.

“Food is going to be ready soon.”

A break does sound nice right about now...

Her body protested as she shifted, getting up.

How long was I sitting there? She glanced at the time on her phone—it felt strange to use it without worrying about being compromised—then did a double-take. Six hours? I hadn’t even noticed...

Well, no use in complaining about it now. She stretched out, then walked to the makeshift dining room table, pointedly not looking at one of the other people waiting for the meal to be ready. Matt shared a sympathetic look with her, though.

The bitch hadn’t had much that was useful in the way of answers, but there were some things she could help with. She had the most experience using the disks out of anyone still present, after all. Amber’s memories of them...

Well, they were their own problem.

She pushed that aside, sitting down as Sara distributed plates of what honestly looked like high-class steak and potatoes. As soon as they all were seated, she dug in.

“You ok?” Matt asked, inching his chair closer.

She just raised an eyebrow, not even looking at him as she did.

“Right. Sorry.”

“No, no, it’s alright,” she groaned, looking up at him.

Matt smiled, and a thought struck Clair. She grinned.

“Hey. How goes her torment?” she asked playfully.

“I... what?”

“What do you mean, what?”

“What torment? I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Look, if you’re waiting for permission, you have it. I’m pretty sure neither Sara nor I care.”

He frowned, then his eyes widened, and a grin started to creep across his face.

“Wait. So, when you were talking about being alone. You meant that I can...”

Clair laughed, pointing with her fork for emphasis. “Yes! You didn’t realize that? I promised, and I don’t exactly care what happens as long as she’s in one piece. Go wild.”

He nodded, then frowned. “I don’t know. It feels—”

What was up with him? “Are you serious? Just bend the bitch over and fuck her! Go ahead. You have permission. Fuck, I want you to do it.”


“Yes! It’ll make me feel better, to know she’s getting fucked over. Just don’t do it here.”

He smiled, relaxing. “You sure? I mean, I can make room...”

“Not on your life,” she snorted.

It was strange, the camaraderie their circumstances had built. Before, she wouldn’t have given Matt the time of day. Then, she’d just thought of him as a useful pawn, the one person unable to compromise her. But now... well, he was one of her very few allies left. That counted for something.

“So, do you want me to...”

“I mean, you don’t have to do it now. But if you want to, have fun. I think I’m done for the day anyway.”

Sara frowned at her. “You are not to be wasting time that could be spent towards your task.”

She thought she’d gotten a better picture of Sara’s thought processes, but that still came out of left field.

“Uh... you want me to be sane, right?” she laughed hesitantly.

“What does that have to do with this?”

“Seriously?” Matt gaped.

Clair just sighed. “Never mind. Just... I need to rest. Otherwise, I’ll do a worse job on the task. Rest is important.”

Sara nodded slowly, and Clair swore she could see gears turning.

“I’ll, uh... be going to... do dishes,” Matt said.

“Have fun,” Clair snorted. “Keep it safe, sane, and nonconsensual.” Matt was laughing as he left the room, Ikora following dutifully behind him.

What do you know? That really did make me feel better. Fuck you, Ikora.

She smiled as she took another bite of her steak.

* * *

Nothing had worked. The memories were there, but nothing had made them more than just information. Nothing.

Strangely, that in itself had been her source of inspiration.


Clair held her pen at the ready above her notepad, waiting with bated breath as her subject woke up

Amber groaned.

“Hey. Take it easy, Amber. You’re ok.”

“Wha... who...”

Come on...

Amber glanced around, confused.

“Who are you?”

“I’m Clair. I’m here to help, Amber.”

“Help with what? And who’s Amber?”

Not unexpected. Honestly, that was actually encouraging. She was having emotional reactions to things. And all it took was setting up a version of her that started from zero.

“You’re Amber. It’s... difficult to explain, but you’ve been in an accident, and lost your memories. I’m here to help you get them back.”

Amber nodded, seeming to buy the explanation. It was true, after all, if a bit misleading.

“I was planning to use hypnotherapy to draw those memories out.” Not entirely true, but as close as she’d get without explaining the disks. “Is that alright?”

She froze as Amber scrambled back, a look of distrust forming.

“No. You won’t get me. No!”

“Amber, it’s me. It’s Clair. You’re ok.”

“No!” she shouted, louder.

“What’s wrong?”

“I...” Amber seemed to deflate, her anger replaced by confusion. “I... don’t know? I just know... that’s bad.”

Well, that was important.

“You’re safe here, Amber. I won’t hurt you.”

Amber eyed her, a hint of caution in her posture now.


“Shutdown,” Clair intoned with a grimace.

Amber froze, her expression melting to neutral.



That had been heartening, maddening, and soul-crushing all at once.

But there were so many questions.

Why is she having emotions like this, but not in shield, or as Tool?

How is she talking, even? Shouldn’t she not know English?

And, most pressing of all.

Why did she think hypnosis was bad?

Those questions plagued her, but so did the memory of Amber’s posture, guarded, fearful. She didn’t trust Clair, like this. And she couldn’t even blame her.

She didn’t trust herself either.

I hate this. I don’t know if this is the only way, or the fastest way, or even a way at all. But still. I swear I’ll save you.

She took deep breaths to center herself, then began to take notes.

Test successful. When brought to Tabula Rasa, showed clear signs of full emotional range and more understanding of circumstances than expected. Had strong negative association with hypnosis. Why? Shouldn’t know anything. Investigate. Attempt to restore basic memories next time.

* * *

Clair and the girl she loved sat in opposite places at the table. Clair’s pink hair was starting to fade, and the light blond made a stark contrast to Amber’s own black hair. Neither of them had touched their food.

She glanced at her notes, which detailed this test.

Used combination of shield and upload to hold memories in recall while changing to Rasa state. Subject seemed confused and concerned when woken up. Acquiesced to eating with me, and willing to discuss situation. Have told her that hypnosis is not involved in her memories returning, and experimental procedure used instead, to prevent outburst.

“What’s there?” Amber asked. “Notes?”

Clair nodded. Deductive reasoning’s working fine. “Notes on the procedures, and observations of their results. This will be a working process, and I need to ensure everything is continuing well.”

“May I see them?”

Clair cringed. Not if I’m open about deceiving you in them, you can’t. Stupid Clair.

“No, I’m sorry,” she sighed. Amber looked at her suspiciously, then sighed herself, taking a bite of her food.

“Well, if you need observations... ask away,” Amber relented.

“What do you remember?”

Amber hummed for a moment, and Clair’s eyes widened. That hum was her. The hum that had something to do with the disks.

“It’s strange. I remember some early stuff, but that’s it. Things I liked as a child, friends I played with, how I started programming... I think the memories go up to about fifth grade. That’s all I can remember, anyway.”

Clair noted that down. “That’s good. That’s what I was expecting to happen.”

“Why can’t I leave this room?” Amber suddenly asked.

Clair froze.

“I tried. It didn’t work.”

Oh, no. No, no, no, no.

“It’s for your own safety,” Clair hedged.

“Hm. And anyway, there’s something weird about the memories.”


“I can’t really remember how I felt about any of the stuff then. I remember liking my stuffed animals, for instance, but looking back, I don’t really feel that way. I just remember that I did.

No emotional context. Right.

“My name feels weird, too. It doesn’t feel like it’s mine, because I can’t remember it ever feeling that way. But it’s mine, and I know that. It feels... bad. I don’t like it. But I don’t know what else you’d call me. Is this... related to the accident?”


“What happened?”

“I’m not at liberty to say,” Clair sighed.

“Right. Well, anyway, I only remember feeling emotions in a way that feels real one time. Right before you sedated me.”

Great. Her only emotional memory is fear of me. Delightful.

“And why am I telling you this stuff, anyway? I don’t even know you...”

Amber’s face went neutral, unnaturally so. As though she was working hard to keep emotion from showing.

Shit. Shit. Abort. Abort.


Clair stood up and sighed as Amber’s face fell neutral.

I didn’t think she’d experience dysphoria from her name. But I guess this thing really did a number on her, after all.

She picked up her notepad.

Memories were integrated successfully. Emotional reaction to them was possible, but emotional data of the memories themselves was still missing. Investigate.

She sighed. Before I fuck up even harder.

Thanks for reading,

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