Batteries Not Included


alia_icon.gif richard_icon.gif

Scene Title Batteries Not Included
Synopsis Alia and Richard unpack one of Alia's 'old friends.'
Date August 16 - 17, 2018

Rain showers haven’t been too common this summer, though August seems to be doing its level best to change that trend. A torrential rain hammers down on the Safe Zone from a darkly clouded sky. Though it’s only mid-afternoon, the storm clouds rolling in from the west blot out the sky and make the photoreactive exterior lights of the Raytech Industries campus spring on one-by-one. From the receiving dock of the warehouse, the rain feels like it’s happening on another world. With the bay doors open, the rain comes down in sheets, splashing in just a few feet from the entrance.

The warehouse i mostly empty today, metal shelves bare of supplies. The forklift sits by the open bay doors, though, waiting like the woman standing silhouette against the rain. Alia Chavez is expecting a package today, and the headlights slowly moving down the street toward the security checkpoint indicate that it may just be arriving. There’s rarely other vehicle traffic this far north into Jackson Heights, and the threat of lightning has kept the Yamagato construction crews away today. There’s only a few things it could be.

Odds are, it’s a long-overdue friend.

Raytech Industries


August 16, 2018

3:09 pm

Tail lights shine red capped with white through the rain, and slowly a white box truck backs up toward the open loading dock with a soft and repetitive beeping. Once it clears the overhang and its tailgate nears the concrete dock, the truck comes to a steady stop and its hydraulic brakes hiss loudly. From the cab, a man in a rapidly rain soaked jumpsuit justles through the downpour and climbs up onto the loading dock under the cover of the metal awning. “Alia Chavez?” He calls out over the roar of the rain, checking the notes on a small clipboard.

A paper shipping receipt, a clipboard; these anachronisms aren’t for irony’s sake. In the post-war world, many of the electronic conveniences that Alia once used as points of entry into a larger world have disappeared. It’s made her world, in turn, seem smaller by comparison. “I just need you to sign here,” he says as he offers the clipboard and its attached pen out to her.

Alia takes the clipboard, and signs for it, her name badge for work clipped to her blouse. “Yes.” She smiles, just a bit. The world was smaller. And yet, bigger. So much to do, and she couldn’t just instantly zap about the world so to speak, or at least, not as easily. All in all, a good thing. She looks about the warehouse again, and notes the best free spot near the bay is another giant box. This one is labeled ‘Velociraptor receptionist’.

“Over there?” She motions to the open spot. She doesn’t comment on the oddly labeled box next to the empty.

The truck driver laughs and sweeps his wet hair back from his face, checking the clipboard and then moving to the rear door of the truck. Bending down, he unlatches the door and hauls it up and open, revealing a single wooden crate marked FRAGILE sitting on a wooden palette and held in place by bungee cords. “It’s a few hundred pounds, I figure you’ve got a lift in there somewhere?” The truck driver raises a brow, unhooking the bungies and glancing back over his shoulder at Alia. Fortunately, she does have one, within both mental and physical reach.

Electric forklifts aren’t as fun to drive with the mind as pre-war robots, but for the purposes this one will suffice.

Alia actually drives it physically. She knows how and it’s easier… and she rather not freak the poor guy out with her half-passing out. And the fork truck has only a -little- trouble lifting the big package on a pallet up off the bed… she lowers the forks, before parking the package next to the other box. She grins the whole while though.

“Thank you.” And from her pockets, she pulls her wallet, and… is that a fifty she’s handing over as a tip? Yes it is.

Folding the bills up the driver flashes Alia a smile and offers a hasty, “Thanks!” Then he quickly drags the door shut on the back of the truck and darts out into the rain to climb inside of his truck. As the delivery vehicle pulls away and back into the storm, there's a peal of thunder that rumbles through the sky. The crate sits motionless on the warehouse floor, and it's contents hidden in plain sight.

Alia first checks the seals on the crate. Then she finds a crowbar. She isn’t going to turn it on. Not here. People would panic. No. She is just checking for damage, and then going to reseal things, and let Richard know she’s got something that needs… handling. Preferably upstate. VERY upstate.

And to not jump when he sees what’s inside.

Richard doesn’t ask. He doesn’t ask what’s in the crate, he doesn’t ask why she needs it shipped upstate. If she’s not saying what it is, there’s probably a reason for it. He makes a few phone calls instead, sends out a few emails.

Hopefully, whatever it is won’t destroy the Harrison cabin, because that’s where he arranges for this box to be delivered. Jared would kill him. Raytech Industries moves heavy equipment all the time, so it shouldn’t raise too many eyebrows, he’s pretty sure.

It’s some time after the deliveries — the next day, probably — that a black sedan rolls up outside the cabin, parks, and then the CEO steps out of the vehicle dressed in business casual. Slacks, button up shirt, light jacket.

This better be good, whatever it is.

Upstate New York

Jason Harrison's Cabin

August 17, 2018

11:19 am

Alia is likely already there. Hell, if she had her way she likely rode with the delivery truck. Which is why there’s -something- hiding under a tarp as Richard arrives. And why Alia has already put away the crowbars and instead fiddling with a laptop, and a small set of tools, including a multimeter set to measure some voltages. Though she does nod to Richard as he approaches. “… so, need you to _not_ panic.” She clarifies. Then the technopath grabs the tarp… and pulls.

Yup. That’s a Hunter alright. A hunter painted in a tiger stripe pattern. It’s seen far better days though. Blue eyes look at both Alia and Richard. Its tail wags, just a little.


“I can’t promise not to panic,” Richard replies deadpan, arms folding over his chest as he considers the tarp, eyebrows raising a little in suspicion. There’s electronic equipment, and a laptop.

The tarp’s swept away, then, and he drops back a step on instinct. “That— “ A pause, “That’s a Gen Two, Alia. Where the fuck did you get a Gen Two?”

After a moment, he adds, “WHY do you have a Gen Two?”

The machine comes alive at the sound of Alia’s voice, waking up from what amounts to a sleep mode, lurching out of the crate with a mostly even gait. The Hunter turns glowing blue eyes up to Richard, and the CEO of Raytech and Alia both can see the dings and scratches in its titanium armor from civil war damage. The machine is missing its shoulder-mounted gun, the armor plating there is shorn and twisted, looking like it was torn completely off.

The old coat of paint is looking less vibrant these days too, like an old tractor left out in a field. There’s large areas where friction has worn the orange and black spraypaint down, where the stencil that reads SHERE KHAN on its right flank is pockmarked by scuffs and abrasions. Worse is where the high-grade titanium the Institute built its body with has been patched over by steel and aluminum, hoses replaced by cheaper and more readily available material. It’s been through hell, but it’s still operational.

The robot comes to heel at Alia’s side, sitting down like it were a particularly obedient 700-lb dog that comes up to her shoulder when sitting upright. It’s luminous blue eyes square on Richard, and he recalls the last time he saw one of these on the way to confront his time-spanned self. That one still had its gun.

“Arcology, seven years. Shared with replicator” Alia perhaps amusingly, pets the oversized furless feline. “Seen better days. Might need to redo panels. And hose work. Lost grid tappers too, looks like…” she shakes her head. “But… has something I mapped circuits out of yesterday.”

She points to the laptop screen. The thing, interestingly, has no Wi-Fi built in. Given it had a start to a reverse engineered compass, type digital, on screen, that might just be wise paranoia.

There’s a moment’s tension as the hunter lurches to life, and Richard drops back another step. He’s not panicking, no. He’s just wary of the damnable thing. He looks over the damaged hulk of a machine, forcing himself to relax inch by inch when it heels by the technopath’s side.

“…Brian? That explains the paint job,” he observes with his typical dry wit, “You realize it’s illegal to possess these. I think, anyway.”

Highly illegal.

The Hunter’s physical condition, though deteriorated with time, is still in better operational status than most of the Generation 1 models seen during the tail end of the war. The machine, sitting here in Raytech’s warehouse, represents that last known Generation 2 model that survived the fall of the Institute, a bleeding edge piece of technology designed by no less than three geniuses. The animal designs of Hector Steel, the adaptive mechanisms of Warren Ray, and the AI programming of Colin Verse. It is, in a way, art.

Deadly, mechanized art.

“Thus asking for place NOT in the city.” She noted dryly. “Needed working compass for compare?” She adds… then pauses. “… also, last bit of… other me.” To be fair, Colin Verse’s AI programming HEAVILY cribbed on her own works and knowledge of this beast. “…Backdoored protective mode got in. Would have love to known that during the war.” She grumbles, lightly. “Hana would flip.” She admits… “No AETOS, but…” She shrugs. What more can she say to why she’s not exactly fessed up to still having this. “This. Why our Mayes doesn’t scare me. Other Mayes? Scares me.”

“Yes,” Richard observes deadpan, regarding her for a moment, “Hana would flip.”

Then he’s looking back at Shere Khan, stepping tentatively closer, moving to circle it thoughtfully. “Do you have its schematics…? We can’t build them, but maybe it’ll reveal a weakness if Mayes’ robots come through the Glass,” he muses aloud, “You say it has one of the Institute Compasses still installed?”

“We could definitely use that.” Also highly illegal. “I believe you had a theory.”

Regretfully for them both, all of the knowledge of how to rebuild these machines went down with the arcology. Even a study of Shere Khan itself wouldn't allow a mundane engineer to replicate it. This beast was made of a three-part harmony that may not ever be reproduced, a one-of-a-kind and irreplaceable artifact. The last known vestige of Project Eden.

“… no. Warren maybe?” She theorizes. Then shakes her head. She points again. “Got, think, most of what makes compass work mapped out. And theory. Yes. It… reads a wave. The strings give a wave too. Tune it to that, should detect that.” Alia does hesitate. “Doing to original, -dumb-.” She finally fills in.

And she pets Shere Khan. Much the way Richard might pet Cardnial Rich back home… then she sighs, and looks at the cat. “One other reason couldn’t just trash him.” Alia admits. “… remember Project ALIA? Last bit of it.”

Maybe not replicate, but weaknesses… those could prove useful in the future. “It makes sense,” says Richard with a slight shake of his head, “We know that they read electromagnetics, and the solar flares… seem to affect that electromagnetic aura in some way. As do eclipses.”

He looks at Shere Khan for a long moment, nodding slightly at her admission. Then he asks quietly, “Can it detect me at all?”

He’s not sure if he still counts.

Alia and the hunter look towards Richard at the same time. Both cock their heads as if considering the question. Or how to put the result into words. Particularly as Alia isn't out to upset Richard. Which is the only thing preventing him from getting snarked at as yes, Shere Khan can detect him right now: visually, that is…

The continued silence is, it seems, the only answer that Richard needs. His chin dips in a slight nod, and he looks to the side for a moment— then back, a smile flashing to his lips as if that moment hadn’t even happened. “So. We’re going to need to get a read on someone else who isn’t from this super-string in order to see if there’s a discernable difference,” he observes, “There’s… nineteen possibilities off the top of my head, although fuck if I know who fifteen of them are. Then— wait.”

A hand smacks against his face, “I’m an idiot. The Wasteland kids.” Surely a Generation Two Hunter won’t give any of them a PTSD episode!

“Richard…. Haven’t adjusted it yet.” She notes, softly. “Currently, only tells me you… well…” She pauses and looks up at the cat. “Your SLC expression turned off by something.” Alia pauses again. “… And you… still amazing, even without being The Shadow.” Though now she has thoughts spinning in her head. That’s a whole nother path to travel down later. She’ll need to talk to someone from the medical sciences wing, and get some very weird permissions for that one.

She sighs, and puts a hand on Richard’s shoulder, a reassurance.

“It’s alright, it’s alright…” Richard holds up his other hand, a faint smile crooking to his lips that doesn’t entirely reach his eyes, “None of us Rays came out of all that unscathed, in the end. We all knew the risks, and if hadn’t been for that… he would’ve won, in the end.”

He chuckles, admitting ruefully, “Someone once told me that my ability wasn’t my real ability, and she— was right. I’ve lived longer without it than I had it, honestly, Alia. I’ll be fine. I’m just— annoyed that it’ll make our work here that much harder.”

“Nahh. Not working on this compass. Wrecking only known working model? Madness.” She grins. “Thus, schematic. Chip list.” she puts the hand not on his shoulder to her chin. “… maybe retrofit Khan with new solar panels and better hydraulic hoses while at it?”

… Oh dear, oh dear, she might try to get the cat back into somewhat better shape. “String frequency. Need to program new compass to that. Then we trial and error.”

She leaves off noting that odds are, she’s gonna have to order those chips from overseas, at best. That said, she smirks, lightly. “So, am I in trouble for bringing stray cat home?”

“No, you’re not in trouble, so long as we don’t get caught. And— so long as we can replicate it,” Richard admits, nose wrinkling, “Even then, we need to be… very quiet about this. Even though we’re not using it for its old purpose, Compass is a proscribed technology, and given history I doubt anyone would listen to ‘wait, we’re trying to detect other-dimensional invaders’.

He gestures with his hands as he speaks, as if warding off an attack, and then he chuckles, “Still, it needs to be done, if we’re to have any chance of getting the satellite off the ground. I may know where some more… information regarding the Looking Glass technology can be found too.”

“Much to do…next Saturday, day off, you?” Alia is up to something, that much is obvious. The question is what if she's asking if Richard has the time to take some personal time. “All work, no play…”

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