Let me be clear: when someone you thought was dead turns out not to be, it’s wonderful news. I had mostly left the cavern after Sydney Austin’s apparently-fatal accident in May of 2007, but before her reappearance the following July. As a result, I have spent the last three years believing that Sydney was dead.
You can imagine my disquiet, then, when I first heard of the Ranting Thespian.
I knew immediately that he was more than a rumor. I learned about the incident through Cactus Wren, a new explorer who joined the restoration through the MYSTcommunity sponsorship program. She saw it with her own two eyes. He was hysterical, it seems, and claimed to have seen Sydney. Recently.
(05/08 16:06:25) Kaelri: Hrm. What was his name again? RT something?
(05/08 16:06:46) Cactus Wren: Ranting Thespian? Something like that. “Thespian”, anyway.
(05/08 16:09:10) Cactus Wren: Some in this conversation last night were advocating a complete re-abandonment of exploration… if the D’ni had abandoned the City, we had no right to occupy or explore it.
(05/08 16:14:33) Kaelri: I’d like to meet this man.
I immediately contacted Chloe Rhodes. If anyone could confirm a Sydney sighting, it was her. Unfortunately, I received no response; she must have been on her way out of the cavern. So, I proceeded to Ae’gura on foot.
It was a surprisingly cold afternoon in the cavern today. I immediately found myself wishing I’d brought my good coat, but my wardrobe hasn’t been much of a priority on this trip. Nonetheless, I pressed on, all along the Tokotah, asking everyone I met about the bizarre reports of the Thespian. Not a single one of them – neither fchall, whom I was pleased to see, nor the German marker runners on the Great Stair – could tell me anything.
Feeling discouraged, I found my way back to a Nexus book; after linking, I sat in the terminal for a while, thinking. (In retrospect, my careful strategizing is a little embarrassing.) I didn’t want to stray from the cavern, but the idea of a warmer district was appealing, and on the terminal console, I noticed that a decent crowd was forming in the Guild of Robots’ Bevin. Where there are people, there is information. So, deciding to play the moth to their flame, I linked.
And there she was.
She was standing at the top of the auditorium, where the gathered were gawking at OHB’s robotic marvel. The Thespian was there, as well, and – still unaware that her “death” had been debunked years before – I was momentarily thrown by her neighbors’ relative indifference. Intensely curious, I decided to hang back and observe. I even took a photograph, just to prove to myself that I wasn’t mistaking another woman’s face for hers. But then she spotted me, and I learned that I wasn’t the only one who had shown my interest:
(05/08 19:50:27) *Sydney Austin*: oh. Hey Kaelri
(05/08 19:50:36) Kaelri: Shorah.
(05/08 19:50:50) Kaelri: I must admit, I’m rather startled to see you here.
(05/08 19:51:04) *Sydney Austin*: Why is that?
(05/08 19:51:17) Kaelri: Well. Reports of your death were greatly exaggerated, eh?
(05/08 19:51:47) *Sydney Austin*: haha. yes, let’s all laugh.
(05/08 19:53:10) *Sydney Austin*: kaelri, in answer to your question yes. And to make something more clear to everyone this night is about OhBot, I’m just here to listen and ask questions just like everyone else.
(05/08 19:53:59) Kaelri: I assure you, I have no desire to make a scene. It’s good to see you alive; I’ll leave it at that for now.
(05/08 19:55:05) *Sydney Austin*: hehe.
The event began a few minutes later. And that – up to now – is that.
My history with Sydney is a contentious one.
While she was founding the Anti-DRC Movement, I was taking over diplomatic duties in the Unbound Hearts. After their inaugural event – a loud, riotous, partisan town hall meeting, a black mark on the cavern’s record – I invited the ADM leadership back to my ‘hood in the hopes of a smaller, more productive dialog. They came. All except for Sydney. That was when my friendship with Chloe Rhodes began. It’s also the moment that made it clear to me how much the cavern needs stable institutions like The Meeting Place, the Guild of Greeters, and the Unbound Hearts to keep the river flowing where it must flow. The relationships I formed that night – with Chloe, and to a lesser extent with Ethan and Professor Ovesen – would later play a role, if a small one, in the collapse and dispersion of the ADM.
Not long after that night, my friend and predecessor, Vormaen, became embroiled in a public war of words with Sydney. Vormaen is a man of peace, not war; the bad blood and ill will which seeped into the community during those days was deeply upsetting to him. The result, as you already know, was Vormaen’s departure from the cavern, and the beginning of my leadership of the Unbound Hearts. The delicate trials we faced in the following months, not least of which was the ultimate defeat of the ADM, are what have prepared us for the role we play now.
Sydney Austin has now returned to D’ni. I wish her well, and I’m sure that we have both grown a great deal in the last three years. However, I am prepared for a future as adversarial as the past. Past, as always, is prologue. So I can assure you that I will be keeping a close eye on Sidney, and what she may yet have to say – and do.