A Different Kind Of Seer


marlowe_icon.gif richard3_icon.gif

Scene Title A Different Kind of Seer
Synopsis One of the dragons of Yamagato is sleeping. Raytech is asked to help awaken them.
Date July 11, 2018

Raytech NYCSZ Branch Office

The first email that Marlowe fired off to Richard Ray was answered with a business-formal yet quite friendly tone and an invitation to set up a meeting with his receptionist.

Who was, as a note, a very, very strange woman.

That seems to fit the overall feel of the place, though, as when she's let into the lobby past the security guards decked out in AEGIS gear and armed with Banshees she's confronted with a scintillating cloud of butterflies over her head. A second glance, though, notes the conformity, the logo painted on one wing - not butterflies, but a swarm of robotic lepidopterans swirling about in the vaulting ceiling of the Raytech Industries lobby.

"Don't mind them, they're new," is offered by one Richard Ray, standing near the reception desk in a black suit with a smile crooked up at one corner, "And they're not actually as impressive as they seem, but, they do get looks, and sometimes that's what you need to impress a client. Of course…"

Then he grins, "…they don't quite match your holographic air, but our budget's not nearly as impressive as yours."

After eager receipt, the meeting was set up straightaway. As straightaway as Marlowe could make it with the receptionist, after a long talk about the nature of it and the world around them, that is. Her next appearance at Raytech is this time in professional appearance of black suit jacket over a striped blouse whose material shines a light silver contrasting with the dark stripes, and black pencil skirt and heels. There’s still a number of accessories to accompany her though, with rings adorning fingers and this time a wraparound ear cuff with dotted white spheres curved along her upper earlobe that can be seen peeking through the natural waves of brown colored hair. Makeup today is simple and keeping in tribute to the Raytech scheme, a pop of bright red lipstick.

She greets the security guards warmly, and although they’re not the ones she’s here to see, the sight of their full AEGIS gear and armory garner her curious interest. Like she has questions about the materials, and the designs, but doesn’t ask because she expects there to be a “that’s proprietary” answer. Likewise, questions about the not-butterflies are kept to a minimum but she can’t help but admire them. He’s right. They do get looks. “They’re beautiful, Richard,” she says, eyes watching the steady robotic flapping of membranous material in the robobutterfly wings. “And a great idea for something less, mm, unnatural aesthetically would have been obtrusive.”

The man’s comment about Yamagato’s photoreactive atmosphere draws a more coy smile and look from the engineer. “It’s not about the size, but what you do with it,” she replies as attentions return to the man. “Shall we?” He can tell, once her focus is upon him again, there is a serious eagerness lurking behind the playful tease of her words and expression.

“I’ve never had a problem with either,” Richard casually replies without missing a beat, his grin tugging a bit wider. He scoops up a guest lanyard from the reception desk and offers it over, before with a sweep of his hand to direct he turns to head for one of the side hallways.

“It could be much worse, honestly,” he admits in good humor, “The butterflies are a beautiful display, but we have a crate in storage that’s just labeled ‘robotic velociraptor receptionist’ and frankly I’m terrified to open it. Worst case scenario… it’s actually what’s listed.”

A sidelong look, a wry admission, “My brother’s a mechanical genius, but he can be a bit eccentric at times.”

Marlowe’s laugh rings out, though she schools it down to a more polite chuckle and reserved mirth in her eyes. She plucks the lanyard out of his hand with a neat thanks and slips it over her head. Guest badge secured, she follows dutifully to the side hallway after him, a half step behind. “I agree it could be far worse. Raptor receptionist absolutely must be something to pull out during Halloween,” she adds, a crooked, mischievous smirk twisting a corner of her bright red lips.

She lifts a brow as he mentions his brother as a “mechanical genius”, a sidelong glance sent his way in reply. “This is Warren, if I recall?” The roster of Raytech’s directors and executives are public knowledge by now, so she’s done some homework. “Can’t blame him for staying out in Detroit. Smart move not to move nearer to the competition.” Her smile turns toothy, her posture proud.

Then she’s peering down the hallway towards the end of it, sending an occasional glance up to the mounted cameras. “Where are their cameras feeding in to? The ones on the butterflies. What’s the intended purpose?” Her inquiry stems from curiosity and study.

“The cameras track the butterflies, and then they’re wirelessly directed - they’re more of a proof of concept, really,” admits Richard as he walks, “Scaled up, it’d be a good technology for aerial factory drones, that sort of thing. They aren’t autonomous, admittedly, but there are benefits and drawbacks to completely autonomous technology. The butterflies can’t chase you out of a building if you piss off Wireless.”

He chuckles at the idea, adding, “Also they spruce up the lobby a bit.”

The card on his lanyard’s pulled outwards on a cord to touch to a black surface beside a door, and the door clicks open. He draws it open and waves her in, “And yes, Warren. He prefers to stay somewhere he can work without all the business crowding him.”

An inverted glass pyramid framed in steel bars descends from the ceiling to the floor in the middle of this room, surrounded by a long black tables and matching chairs; small consoles are set along the sides of the table, allowing interaction with the ‘holographic’ display system, allowing images to be displayed in apparent three-dimensions within the room’s centerpiece. There’s also a flat television on one wall, mostly used for teleconferencing.

The windows can be polarized to opaque with a simple touch control, providing natural light or privacy as desired, and a cabinet beneath the television holds a variety of supplies - clipboards, paper, notebooks, pens and the like.

“A swarm of robotic butterflies, each the size of a large bird,” murmurs Marlowe with a thoughtful gaze out to a distant, invisible point. Then she blinks once, chuckling for his comment about pissing off Wireless. That would certainly be a dooming thing. Once they step into the conference room, Marlowe runs a hand along the smooth surface of one of the long black tables. She doesn’t seat herself, but leans against one, propped by a palm upon the cool surface. Her eyes turn to the Raytech CEO in anticipation of the actual topic she’s here for, thought there is a moment where anxiousness intrudes. “Moni- I mean, Monica, has been a real good friend,” she leads off with, looking up at the glass pyramid for a place to briefly focus herself. To calm the minute sensation of nerves. Her fingers drum upon the table top, and she sends her gaze back to the man. “I hope you don’t have the wrong impression about her when she’s told me about things that you might have wanted to stay within your company. Such as this machine of yours.”

“Marlowe…” Richard chuckles under his breath as he eases himself down into one of the chairs, leaning forward and folding his hands on the black glass, forearms resting on it as he gives her an almost amused look, “I didn’t suggest the possibility to Monica because I didn’t want her to tell anyone. She actually mentioned she was going to tell you, specifically, regarding taking the project proposal up the ladder.”

His hands spread slightly, “We worked together a long time. She… knows how I operate, and I know how she does. She used to be one of the most valuable members of my team, before you headhunted her.”

“I hope you realize how valuable she is,” he says with a crooked smile, “But, regardless— on to the matter at hand. Otomo.” The smile fades, “How is he?”

A sly, humored smile accents the one that plays across Marlowe’s expression at first, the woman pushing back and moving to a seat a couple of chairs down from him. “You know how she operates, do you? Because Monica’s quite good at a lot of things, which I’ve heard makes her really, really good at the international relations part. Keeping all those diplomats and people on their toes.” It’s a point of pride that Marlowe keeps, ready to praise her friend’s skills. “And besides how could you say no to that charming face and personality, right?” Her nod to him is telling; she’s invaluable in ways other than a mere coworker would represent.

And speaking of invaluable coworkers. “He’s … stable,” comes the initial assessment as Marlowe drops her gaze down to her hands. “The doctors are all doing their best with what they have and what they know. After that? It’s all up to—” She catches the thought before it leaves, brows drawing together as she finds herself in a brief churn of inner conflict. In the end, one point wins out over the others. “He’ll pull out of it eventually. And maybe by then, we’ll be ready to show him all the work we’ve done.” Attention returns to Richard, a more determined set to her mouth as well. “But if what your brother’s design is a possibility… the progress we could achieve…” That is also invaluable.

“Is that what she does nowadays? We don’t talk about work much,” Richard lies blatantly, a wry smile threatening to fully emerge for a moment, “She’s a woman of many talents, I know that much.”

Then he’s back to serious, chin dipping in a bit of a nod. He draws in a breath, “Okay. So there was… one prototype built, and it was before the war. It was Institute tech, but it was one of their above-the-board projects, not the black budget atrocities they hid deeper in the Ark and on the west coast. It was intended to allow contact with a comatose mind, to communicate with someone in such a state— I couldn’t begin to explain how it works, I don’t have the technical background.”

“But it’s a possibility,” he admits, “I can’t promise one hundred percent chance of it working, but— given a budget and materials, I’m confident that we could build a SEER system for Yamagato.”

Richard’s description of Monica’s activities and skills threaten to renew an earlier laugh from Marlowe, but she manages to keep it to a knowing, and agreeing glimmer. Once topics return to the main, she’s sitting up and then leaning in, not intending to miss anything. “How did you get your hands on it?” The question accompanies a tilt of her head, a raise of an arched brow. But then she waves it off in favor of, “You have it here? I admit I’m a more hands-on type myself. And as they say, ‘Seeing is believing’. But I’m extremely interested in what sort of technology could even allow this to happen. And why wasn’t it able to be finished, introduced to the medical community even…”

Her hands wring a bit, the itch of an engineer begging for a scratch. “I don’t need a hundred percent. I don’t even need fifty.” That near-begging turns into a look of intensity as Marlowe stares at him. “Please, Richard.”

Richard brings a hand up, palm forward, as if to forestall her eagerness. "We don't have it here, or anywhere," he tells her with a tight shake of his head, "The prototype went down with the Ark."

His hand drops after giving her the bad news, and he leans back in his chair with a grimace. "The authorities are— extremely suspicious of anything that had the Commonwealth Institute stamp on it," he admits, "They keep an especially close eye on us because our most talented workers here are former Institute employees that were cleared - or cleared enough - at the trials to not end up in prison or at the end of a noose."

His tone rueful, "I say this purely in confidence, of course. We need to… step carefully because of this, especially when we're walking close to those old footsteps."

Her face falls at the admission that the prototype was destroyed, looking much like the Ark was just dropped on her head full of dreams. But as Richard goes on, she lifts her gaze back up and her head angles a few degrees from center. “So… not the prototype, but the conceptual design is in your keeping,” ventures the woman this time, noting it with a cautious step verbally as he’d advised.

“What do you want for it?” The question comes far more bluntly, straight and raw from the engineer as if she were working with her own ore, still pulling it around and deciding on its shape.

At the question, the executive considers her for a long moment… and then he makes his offer. “I’ll provide the engineer and schematics gratis, your company pays for the materials and provides the workspace to build it. If it doesn’t work, I won’t ask for anything more. If it does, and you make meaningful contact with Otomo…”

Richard’s hands spread a bit, and he states, “Yamagato provides the aid we’d discussed for the hydroponics gardens without any debt from Raytech. You don’t really need any controlling influence or income from it anyway, you’ve just picked up all of Roosevelt Island.”

The first half of his offer gets a jump up of Marlowe’s brows, surprise the result of that bit. The dovetailed second half doesn’t lessen the surprise, but she works up a smile. She can appreciate the hard bargain. “So you heard that news,” she notes, leaning back in the admittedly comfortable conference room chair. “You know I’m not the one in position to draw contracts or agree to terms.” The woman resumes tapping fingers along the table top, her gaze averted to the reflective surface. “But if I have any say about it, your offer’s worth every penny.” Or lack thereof, but the sentiment is there. As is the gratitude, which comes through in her quieter tone.

“Meaningful contact,” echoes Marlowe when she looks back to the man, her eyebrows slanting as she’s suddenly washed over with the impact of that possibility again. After a pause, she recomposes herself with a soft clear of her throat and a deeper breath. “So how is the garden project coming? Do you need anything at the moment for resources, or working materials? I could take a look, be a little more present.” She blinks again, sitting up some. “Unless, you want your people to take the lead first, which, I’m totally okay with. I should probably keep myself focused on the other project, then…” Marlowe trails off in a murmured thought, reminiscent in manner of a certain other Detroit-based mechanical engineer of a Ray sibling.

“I know,” Richard admits, his hands coming back down to the desk’s surface again, “You can carry the offer and make recommendations, however, and I suspect your word carries some weight at least.” A smile crooks his lips, “I’m confident that your superiors will see the value in the arrangement, though. They still get the PR from assisting, and it strengthens Raytech — which, as an allied company, could be invaluable in the future. I understand you have some… aggressive competition out there.”

“The project’s going along well, we just don’t have the— material resources that Yamagato has access to,” he admits, “Steel, plastics, concrete, all of that. We have the technology, and with the help of the surrounding neighborhoods we have the manpower… the main expense is in materials and manufacturing.” He wrinkles his nose a bit, “To date we’ve been more— prototypes and new technologies, not mass manufacturers, so this is a bit straining for us. We’re determined to make it work, though.”

Noticing her trailing off, then, he grins, “You remind me of Warren. I thought it was his ability, but maybe it’s just an engineer thing.”

Marlowe huffs a short laugh at the mention of her word having weight, amused by the notion yet not dismissive of it. Her chin tilts up, a proud twist of her lip corners complimenting the shine of her eyes. “We understand the concept of face, yes. Presentation means a lot… but also hard work. And, as you said. The competition is aggressive. I do think Raytech and Yamagato coming together will keep both supported against what said competition likes to pull.” Even unnamed, their rival company clearly gets a distasteful reaction out of Marlowe.

Turning back to Richard, she nods once, focused and renewed. The woman is obviously pleased to hear that there’s work to be done, even if it means further loading up of projects to do. “I’ll get something arranged,” she promises, perhaps even with the implication that she’ll oversee the delivery herself. But no such added conditions are spoken aloud, merely thought and expressed by a warmer smile.

The man’s note about her resemblance to Warren earns him an arched brow and another once more proud angle of her head at the man. “But I’ll bet your brother doesn’t look an eighth as good when he’s working,” she replies as she pushes off and up back on to her feet. A hand gestures for him to get up too, because she notes, “Come on Richard. Let’s go see the progress you’ve got on your hands so far.” A turn, a few steps away, and she pauses to glance back over her shoulder expectantly.

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