Compiling Complications

July 24, 2017:

Caitlin and Bart work at tweaking the Titan's holo-training room to set up for some hi-tech DnD nights! Never let an impatient Speedster help with programming.

Titans Tower


NPCs: None.

Mentions: Red Robin


Mood Music: None.

Fade In…

"Okay, I think… that'll do it," Caitlin remarks, looking up from the control console. "I've gotta say, Robin's software is pretty impressive; I just had to upload some artwork, talk to some friends for 3D render models, and it's doing an awesome job."

The black and white grid of the large holo-training room glows a muted color, powered but hungry for information. "I've uploaded the Monster Manual, Player's Handbook, the DM's guide, and every spare source book I could find," Caitlin tells Bart.

"So let's see if this sucker works." Wearing capri jeans and a comfortable pink hoodie, she taps a few buttons on the command console, and the air in front of Bart warbles and snaps into a holographic display of a Beholder. Ten eyestalks glare in ten directions, and it roars at Bart with a mouthful of sharp teeth made of nothing but hard light.

To say that Bart was waiting with baited breath would be a lie. Rather, he's standing there expectantly, wearing a t-shirt and jeans, munching noisily on his second bag of chips. He's gotten the concept of what Caitlin's proposed to do, so really, all that's left is to wait and see if it boots up. But waiting's always the hardest part.

At least he's not disappointed. As the holographic Beholder appear in front of him to let out its monstrous roar, the young speedster stands unflinching, licking salt off of his fingers.


He reaches out to wave a hand through the light-created beastie.

"Sheesh, right?" Caitlin marvels. "That smart rendering software is working really well. Okay, I turned up the pattern density," she tells Bart, adjusting some sliders on the control board. "Try and touch it now. It should be a bit more realistic, if I read this right at all," she mutters, eyeing the machine— Robin's notes were perfectly precise, but the shorthand he used also assumed that it was Robin reading the comments back to himself.

"Okay, so Beholders are working… we need to add in some other stuff. Fortunately, most of this is loaded up online; thank god for the online community and Steam mods," she giggles. "I'm just pulling down monster skins off the workshop."

Bart obliges, moving to smack the virtual creature again, brows arching in pleasant surprise as his hand doesn't break through the model's exterior. "Whoa." He grins. "Now we're talking!"

He proceeds to poke at the thing, his chips- or what remains of them- forgotten for the moment as he starts to wander around it, taking in the Beholder from all sides. Caitlin's enthusiasm is once again, infectious.

"How long will that take?" he asks as he looks around the monster towards the console where the redhead works.

"I don't know," Caitlin admits. "A few days? We're not pulling down tons of data, but the fuzzy heuristics are working overtime— we're taking five hundred megabyte models and turning them into petabyte level images," she confesses. "I mean, this program is insane. It's anticipating bone structures, muscular density… I don't know where Robin got it, but.. sheesh," she says, shaking her head.

"This is way beyond any rendering software I've ever seen. Maybe got it from Batman," she hazards. "But yeah— I think we'll have all the big monsters loaded up fairly soon, then it'll need a few weeks to extrapolate all the movement patterns and stuff like that. They've all gotta learn to move properly, so I've basically got it silently rendering test models."

She brings up a majestic horse, which flickers to life; it takes two steps and then starts doing the worm. "It has to 'learn' how they run. That's gonna take some time."


One can practically see the Speedster deflate at that news. Minutes, he can handle. Hours? A little tougher, but somehow he can manage. But days???? Bart sinks down onto the floor and actually lies there, and would have only looked a little more convincing if he'd been at the front of the Beholder to be considered its first victim.

As the image of the horse comes up and starts doing some awkward motions, he stares. "…that looks really weird. Why's it gotta learn? It's not programmed in already or something?"

"Wh— no!" Caitlin tells Bart, as if it should be completely obvious. "We're talking about taking a bunch of artwork and crappy three-D models, and extrapolating all kinds of— physics, and motion, and mass, and everything else!" she tells him.

"What, you think someone out there has been painfully rendering monsters for the last ten years in ultra-high definition three-D?" she asks. "Gosh, it'll take a few weeks at least. I'm plugging the heuristic models into every fantasy movie I can find," she mutters, flicking fingers across the screen. "I mean, Godzilla moves like a beached turtle, but it'll be good for some kind of mocap…"

This is why Bart's not a programmer. He's lived in a virtual reality for a majority of his life but when it comes to knowing how it all works, that's something he's only started to learn for his time here, in bits and pieces, as interest and patience dictates.

"….yes?" he replies, before realizing that maybe that question had been meant to be rhetorical. He shoves himself to sit up, glancing down at the bag of chips beside him before dumping the last bit into his mouth. In between Caitlin's explanation of researching fantasy movie CG models he zips back and forth to toss the empty bag away, standing beside her in the next second as she swipes through screens.

"Mo…cap- oh! Hey, oh, hey- what if… What if I got like. A camera and went and recorded a bunch of animal references or whatever. Could you use that?"

"I…" Caitlin blinks. "I guess that's not really a bad idea," she contemplates, fretting her lower lip. "With a good mocap camera, one of the new imaging ones…"

She eyes the computer; Caitlin is a bit of a people pleaser, and Bart's upset is clearly niggling at her better judgement.

"…I mean… I could blow open the uptake to the master fuzzy logic circuits instead of running it in a remote shell, and borrowing power," she says, reluctantly. "I don't wanna use up all the computer's CPU cycles— at least not for too long. I don't know what other projects Robin has going," she tells Bart.

"…but we could use the master heuristic processors and probably blow through this whole thing in a day or two. And it'd have a better end product." She dials up the subroutine, but her finger hovers the 'Compile' key instead of pressing it right away, doubt on her features.

Anyone that really knows Bart knows that he's the epitome of the exact opposite of 'better judgment.' If Max knew how easily he was inadvertently persuading his new teammates, he might certainly have second thoughts in letting the younger Speedster join up with the Titans. They're supposed to be influencing him, not the other way around!

"But if it's going to take days at this speed then it'll tie up things longer, won't it?" Bart asks, brushing his overly long bangs back as he leans towards one of the screens with fingers hovering in that undeniable stance of 'I need to push all the things.'

As Caitlin hesitates, he looks anxiously between her and the button just beneath her finger. "One day, max two- better product versus several days and something crappy- seems like a no-brainer to me!" Bart proclaims, moving to 'help' Caitlin depress that button.


Caitlin's eyes widen. "BART!" she yelps, swatting at him— she's not Flash-fast, but she's still pretty fricking quick. At least she's not putting any muscle behind it.

"God! You— urgh!" She clutches the hair at the nape of her neck, tugging it forward in rough pigtails and staring at the computer in horror for a moment.

"Oh… okay… I can fix this," she says, fingers frantically moving. "We'll need to divert some power from the lights and rec room, and… ooh, gosh, I hope he wasn't running something in that mudroom project of his," she mumbles.

There's a tense few moments, then a heat exchanger somewhere in the building goes *phwwsh* and the lights come back up.

"So the reason I was thinking, Bart," she tells the other Titan, "is because we're pulling ALL the CPU cycles now. And I needed to make sure we could cool the machine off," she tells him, wryly.

"I… think it's stable, though. I guess I got those numbers right," she says, blinking at her own innovative reflex.

He'd been too engrossed in seeing things get moving to expect Caitlin taking a swipe at him. "-ow!" he yelps, hopping back a step to keep out of range from any follow-ups. For a moment he watches her go through a rather familiar routine as he's seen that sort of reaction before. Multiple times. In his head he imagines himself sitting in a pot of water set to boil over a burner.

Caitlin doesn't have super-speed but even Bart's kind of impressed at the rate of which her fingers move across the console. Transfixed by her desperate maneuvering to reroute power, he only lifts his head to glance up as the lights flicker. Okay. Maaaaybe he'll take a quick look around the complex to see- yup okay, everything's fine. Nothing's blown up. Right?

Standing back where he'd been just as the older Titan begins to explain, Bart once again makes an attempt to brush back his hair that's fallen over his face with his abrupt dart and dash. He winces just a little at the emphasis on words, now imagining his head beneath Max's heel. Okay. Hopefully nothing bad happens otherwise he's sure Max won't be the only one chewing him out.

"…oh." Foot shuffle. "Sorry." At least he looks like he's sincere about it.

Caitlin keeps pulling at her hair, absently; it starts to resemble a haystack as she tugs and twists at it, fretting at the computer readouts until they all start to finally calm down.

"We're in th' nominal, Cap'n," she says, in a bad Scottish brogue.

"It's okay, Bart," she tells the young man, looking a little guilty at having barked at him. She gives his hair a sisterly tousle. "I know you think really fast, but I'm a bit slower than you are," she tells him. "I would really hate to tell Robin that we broke something important because I forgot to open a cooling vent somewhere," she says, shaking her head at the thought.

"But… I think it's working," She says. She brings up the holoemitters, and a horse gallops smoothly into and then out of view, disappearing into a flickering of photons. "See? It's extrapolating mocap from nature videos and running permutations through the monster manual. I'll need to do some tweaking, but I bet we'll at least have.. goblins, orcs, and zombies up and running before too long," she says, ribbing Bart. "Enough for a low level adventure, right?"

Ahaha…hah. Oh Caitlin. If only someone explained to you about that Single Synapse Theory.

"Cap'n?" Oh. And that Bart tends to take things literally now and then, and quotes like that just go right over his head. He only mildly protests to his hair being ruffled, feeling guilty himself in that Caitlin's shouldering the responsibility. "…'m sorry too," he mumbles. "I just got excited and…actually I really didn't think about what all else could happen," he admits.

Lifting his head, Bart looks at the horse as it's once again pulled up, running the way it's supposed to rather than swiveling about. "Awesome." This time maybe things have worked out. But he'll have to try harder in the future so the Tower and Robin don't have a meltdown. Blinking, he soaks in that sentence before smirking at Caitlin. "Sounds about right to me!"

"Right?" Caitlin says, dimpling a grin at Bart. "Well, there's not much to do now. Let's leave it running overnight, and I'll keep an eye on it to make sure there aren't any rendering problems," she tells him, gesturing at the door. "C'mon, I need some food. D'you want Chinese or pizza for dinner?" she inquires. "I think I can make stir fry."

She closes the door to the holosuite, behind her, the machines humming and running…

…and in the bowels of the machine spirit, the ghost in the shell flickers and hums. Because the fuzzy logic circuits were never intended to be joined to the semi-sapient AI that administers the building's automated circuits.

Any local pattern of sufficient density might, after all, develop intelligence…

In the heart of the machine, something wakes up, nestled in thousands of lines of sword-swinging high fantasy fiction.

And it starts reading.

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