THE AURORA CHAIR
If I've learned one hard lesson since getting my mail forwarded to a galaxy far, far away, it's that folks in the Uncharted Territories have no qualms about frelling with your mind. Maldis poked through my head like it was a sack of Christmas toys. Next, a whole boatload of psycho Delvians came along to make me think I had lost my hard-won bachelor status. Then there was the high-IQ virus that turned Moya into a John Carpenter movie. And how can I forget that mystical bunch called The Ancients — they not only dumped out the contents of my head and built a whole world out of it, they even put back extra stuff that wasn't there in the first place. Gee, thanks. Just what I always never wanted.
Still, when it comes to pain and suffering you've got to give props to Scorpius and his Aurora Chair. Compared to that, all those other Jedi Mind Tricks are for kids.
When Scorpy strapped me into his memory peeler and started ripping things outta my head, the process felt like a mental mauling. Despite the unbelievable pain, I somehow managed to hold back one piece long enough to keep Scorpy guessing and to give Gilina time to figure out how to spring me. And what she came up with sure got Crais' attention!
But how did she do it? She's a tech, so the chair must be science,
not magic. My best guess is those contacts strapped to my head
activated every last neural pathway, one by one, sparking each memory
I've ever formed — a process that's got a real kick to it. Kind of like having every heavy-metal band playing in your head at once, with the amps cranked up way past eleven.
The Human brain is full of memories, and they're not very well
organized; it takes a lot of filtering to find the good stuff. So the
chair has to have a sort of mental search engine,
crawling its way through every hyperlinked corner of my screaming mind,
even to hidden "directories" I didn't know I had. To get to the good
stuff, Scorpy must have the meme equivalent of keywords built in. "Wormhole" is there for sure, probably "secret," too. Clearly, "tanning salon" and "breath mint" didn't make Scorpy's top-ten list.
Now, I figure the bulk of the machine is devoted to assembling those
patterns into pictures. There's a theory that says our memories aren't
like little self-contained movies but instead are made up of object clusters, heuristic scripts
and other stray bits, like words and smells and tastes. So, in my head
I've got a little cluster that stands for "Crais" and another one that
stands for me, and scripts that represent walking, talking and the
like. The Aurora Chair takes those pieces and reassembles them into
movies on that round screen it's got. Which, come to think of it, is
probably why I was able to see myself in 'em. I had no idea how cute
Aeryn and I looked together. ... Where was I?
Gilina, bless her heart, definitely monkeyed with the hardware so that
when I recalled the time I kissed her — she told me to focus on that
memory specifically — it triggered a predetermined scene she hard-coded
into the chair. That script bypassed
my memories and played a scene designed to force Crais to take his turn
in the hot seat. I wonder how he enjoyed his spin in the This is Your Life pain cycle....?
JOURNEY LOG REFERENCES
The Hidden Memory
Into the Lion's Den, Part 2: Wolf in Sheep's Clothing
STARBURST TO ANY NOTE