Compass Woes


alia_icon.gif elisabeth2_icon.gif richard3_icon.gif

Scene Title Compass Woes
Synopsis We're not really happy that we've cracked this!
Date October 15, 2019

Raytech, Alia's Office

Alia's office has had the desks cleared off again. She's apparently expecting people, given the cooler full of sodas, ice, a wine bottle, and some beers, as well as juice bottles and boxes off to one side, and a plate of small crackers and meat and cheese slices. And on the table is a few copies of a diagram, and a write up in very terse, no nonsense Alia-speak for what the diagram is of.

Alia meanwhile is dressed in her normal stuff, a hoodie and jeans. The hood is pushed back, and she looks a bit tired. Or perhaps worried.

“I’m beginning to think nobody gets any sleep in this company,” Richard casually observes as he steps into the office, knuckles rapping on the frame in a belated request for entry, a single eyebrow raised upwards. “You need a vacation, Alia?”

He steps along over to the table, dressed in his usual business suit, and sprawls himself into one of the chairs, “What’s the sitrep?”

Elisabeth is only about a minute and a half behind him, speaking quietly into her Bluetooth. "No, I'll be back in a bit. If it's an emergency, just text me and I'll see it." The technopath will make sure of that, she's certain. Shoving her phone in the pocket of her slacks, Liz is sans jacket so her service weapon is clipped in plain sight on the waist and with her badge. She reaches back and starts twisting her hair up to pin it, even as she glances between the two and asks, "what's up?"

"Compass workable starting point." Alia's no nonsense and to the point on why she's not been sleeping well. "More scary…Institute version scalable. Bigger version, better range, more accurate up close." She pauses. "Could have made satellite version, no isotope needed." She looks a bit haunted by all this. "Paper has diagram. And how to program chips needed. This…" She shakes her head and sighs. "Worried about what this means. For us. For the kids. For everyone."

Alia must be worried, that's likely the most words she's said to anyone in a full month. But to Richard's implications of needing a vacation. "I take my vacation time, you take yours." she quips and shakes her head.

“It’s inevitable that someone will develop it, too, one day. I’m sure that Europe is working on cracking it as we speak, although…” Richard shakes his head, “They don’t have some of the advantages we did.”

He reaches over, fingers brushing over the paper to draw it closer, “So we can start a project to detect other-dimensional natives. Okay. Can we block that same detection, do you think?”

Never make a weapon without a countermeasure. And he knows this is a weapon.

It brings Liz up short and she drops her hands, leaving her hair loose around her shoulders. She knew what we were working on, but she pales just a little when Alia says she's cracked it. "It doesn't need the isotope. Like the ones in the Wasteland," she murmurs. Too many months running and hiding from those fuckers. Richard's question about blocking the detection has Alia under intent scrutiny as Elisabeth drops her hand to Richard's shoulder, squeezing lightly. The subtle hum only communicates itself with that touch.

"In theory. Make device that gives same frequency radiation." She frowns. "Then scatter them. Chaff. Other than that?" She laughs hollowly. "Good. But can't beat physics." She rubs her forehead, and looks again at the paper.

"Pandora felt like this." she finally concludes as she slumps onto the desk. "Or maybe… nuke guy. We're all bastards now." She laughs, bitterly, at herself.

“Talk to my— talk to Michelle,” Richard suggests, “If anyone can come up with something there, it’d be her. What we need is a proof of concept, though, because— yeah, maybe this is nasty, but we need to get a grasp on it before anyone else.”

A glance between the two women, serious, “Because if we don’t, we’ll never know how to stop whoever does. Not to mention the danger of invasion forces.”

"I'd hoped we were over the hurdle with the possibility of invasion forces," Elisabeth admits quietly. "It's been … a while since things started turning up." Not that she believes they're in the clear. But she's earned the right to a little bit of hope, yeah?

With a heavy sigh, she drags her right hand through her hair. "Does it sounds selfish to say that I only trust us to keep the research quiet and use it for defense?" She's come a long way toward semi-trusting The Establishment since arriving home, but the admission seems to her to give away just how deep her mistrust really goes. "And really… I only trust us cuz I promised Richard I'd chase him around throwing shoes at his head if he turns into a megalomaniac." Total deadpan.

"… Trust us. Note who I didn't invite." Alia makes it clear she's trusting those in the room, and perhaps not much past that. "This terrifies me. Invaders bad, home grown uses for this also bad. Damned if we do…" She sighs.

"… Will try to corner Michelle Cranston to ask discreetly." She pauses and stares down at the diagram she herself drew up with help from others. "… Also, Richard, something you consider? Likelihood we're being set up for Company Crash."

“Unlikely,” Richard frowns, “But possible,”

He offers a wry look to Elisabeth, “We’re the only ones that I trust with this research too. Which is why we need to make sure it’s possible to hide from it, if it comes to that… even if just a counter-signal. Who knows, maybe we’ll learn how to hide Evolved auras in general.”

Leaning back in his chair, he folds his hands over his chest, “Keep working on it; bring in anyone you need to and trust. Let me know if you need any resources, and…” He pauses, “There’s someone whose work I need you to look at. It’s on our isolated systems so you should be able to access it.”

“Thomas Nowak.”

That's not a name Elisabeth can place immediately, and a subtle frown knits her brows together. But this is RayTech business and although she married the CEO, she has no idea the true extent of the work here (even though she has read up!) much less try to remember people's names (unless they're related to projects she's mentally got tabs on). "What is his work?" she asks curiously.

Alia raises an eyebrow. "Me, look at…" She pauses. "Space-time bend work, me?" the technopath sounds amused and maybe a bit confused.

"Vacation is sounding better." She teases, ever so slightly even as she waits to hear what, exactly, her boss wants looked into.

“Nowak is…” Richard’s lips purse slightly, “…not to put too fine a point on it, a complete lunatic. But he’s also brilliant.” A bit of a nod towards Elisabeth, “Latimer asked us to let him work here so the racists in Europe don’t lynch him — so I gave him a lab to finish his work.”

He draws in a breath, “So what he’s building is a machine that should augment his spatial bending ability to allow him to jump an entire spaceship for lightyears of distance. I want you both to think about that for a second.”

Elisabeth is thinking…. and thinking…. and still can't come up with a damn good reason why he'd even want to encourage such nonsense. "Why would you fund a spaceship for a man — or a group of people — who're literally gonna teleport out into space where…. What? They're gonna build a space habitat?" She looks skeptical.

"… Spreading out. Harder to wipe out if we're not all in one place." Alia offers with a sigh. "Will look it over, can't promise I make -sense- of it." She pauses. But whatever it was she was considering, she lets it be.

"Do what I can. Promise." Alia smiles, thinly.

“No, no, my— “ Richard brings up a hand, rubbing over his face, “— my interest isn’t in the spaceship. He’s going to jump out there into the galaxy and never come back, I’m pretty sure the man has no intention of actually coming back. Like I said, he’s batshit insane. Forget about the spaceship.”

He sweeps his hand out, “Focus on the part where he’s building a machine that augments his ability.”

Oh. Elisabeth grimaces slightly. "That… doesn't exactly sound like the best toy to have in anyone's arsenal either," she points out with a sigh. "We're going to need a bigger basement."

"augm… " Alia mutters then rubs her forehead. And perhaps tellingly, she pulls out the bottle of wine and pours herself a good sized glass before offering the bottle around. "Please say someone has good news tonight?"

“Yeah, exactly,” Richard nods a bit, “I need his work backed up regularly, and I want the trustworthy eggheads to look over it. If it can be adapted to abilities besides his…? Well, if that’s going to be in anyone’s basement, it’s going to be ours.” A faint smile, “And that one we don’t need to tell the government about just yet.”

Elisabeth smirks. "I'm armed. Not drinking, much as I'd like to." She too rubs her forehead, then toys absently with her wedding ring. It's becoming a habit to turn it around and around on her finger when she's worrying at something. Is there any good news? Before she can think better of it, she comments lazily, "sure… lots of good news. I managed not to get my ass shot off when an old friend showed up to defend my good name from me, I'm pregnant again, and my birthday's this month."

And mid wine sip, Alia lowers the glass and nearly sputters it all over a wall instead of getting her computer or desk. "Huh?!?!" Well, that's very verbal. Apparently Alia is out of words at -that- shock set. And the glass gets set down.

It takes her a few moments before she finally manages "So, baby showers huh?"

“Oh? Who was it that showed— “ Richard’s eyes widen slightly behind his glasses, head tilting a bit to one side. Wait a second. He clears his throat, holding up a hand, “That— uh— that is a joke, right? You would’ve told me, I mean, beforehand— “

He’s pretty sure it was a joke. But he’s not entirely sure.

Letting the silence draw out a bit, Elisabeth them quirks a grin. "Well… I was hoping the adrenaline rush of relief when I said I was kidding would make the fact that Norton showed up less traumatic. You know — have a heart attack about that and you might not even bat an eye at the other." Or something. "Yes, lover, I'm joking." She's definitely a little amused at his reaction.

"… Who's Norton?" Alia manages to ask finally. Even as she's recovering herself as, yeah, that was a fast one. She gives Liz a bit of a glare, but it's a forgiving one. Still, she leans back and rubs at the bridge of her own nose.

A heavy sigh of relief, and then Richard reaches over to playfully punch his wife’s arm. “Don’t do that,” he chuckles, head shaking a little, “And— Norton?” Eyebrows go up higher, “Trask? Really? Well, that’s a bit of good timing, him showing up…”

"Good timing?" Elisabeth asks curiously, although she does chuckle at the swat she just got. "Hey, made you look, yeah?" As an aside to Alia, she explains, "He was one of my best friends aside from Felix. The first person who knew I was Ev— SLC-positive." Among a host of other things. "He was in and out of most of the groups Richard and I were running in back before." Before the war, before the Institute, before she died. But she waits for him to explain the 'good timing' part.

Alia opts to stay quiet, listening and learning, as she is wont to do. A keen eye might note she's doodling on the margins of the report copy she left infront of her own seat as she listens. Doodling a cat to be exact.

“If things with the… ah, the entity?… continue to get worse,” notes Richard with a brow’s slight raise, “His ability might be invaluable. He and Veronica may be some of the few people who could stand up to it, since it wouldn’t be able to just…” He waves a hand vaguely, “Kill them by thinking about it.”

He makes a solid point. Elisabeth hadn't looked at it from that angle. "I wonder," she murmurs thoughtfully. "If he were to get close enough, …would negating the entity altogether kill it?" There's a thought.

"I don't know what his plans are… but I'll bring him up to speed if you like, so that he can… keep in contact even if he goes back out in the Bush." She smiles faintly. "He came because he thought someone was fucking around and using 'me' for nefarious purpose. Alessandro's a tattletale, so if you do read the damn report Mike files every week, don't shit a brick. I didn't ditch him." There's a roll of blue eyes.

Alia simply considers the conversation as she continues to doodle, then makes a hmmm sound. She grabs some scratch paper and starts jotting down some math… Michelle might make more sense of it then even Alia, but it looks like something to do with amplitude vs frequency response…a way to fry a detector maybe.

"Like anyone uses you." Alia sharks, finally. "That's what I got. Other than coffee on someone's birthday."

“I have no idea what you mean about reports,” Richard replies ever so innocently, motioning vaguely through the air before letting his hand fall back down to his side, “And— given its memetic nature probably not, but it’d definitely be a problem for the thing. Still, it’s a good weapon to have in our back pocket.”

He looks over to Elisabeth then, “What’re his plans? Does he need a job, or have you already stolen him for the police? God knows his resume gives him plenty of room to go anywhere he wants, career-wise."

Riiiight. "I'm not sure even he knows what his plans are. I have to admit that we talked more about what happened in the intervening years than what his specific plans are. I think he's going to stay, but… truly, I can't be sure. He said before he spotted my name in the papers and figured some Institute remnant was fucking around out here, he had no intention of ever setting foot in New York again. Now that he's assured it's actually me? I don't know." Elisabeth seems a little uncomfortable. "I'll tell him you're interested in recruiting him, if you'd like. I haven't snaked him for the PD… but I have to admit that I already feel a little awkward bossing around people I know and family." She grins a bit sheepishly. "It's kinda like running a family business over there right now."

Alia for her part stares a moment at the far wall, seemingly lost in thought. SHe makes a few other notes on the paper margins, in her usual method of doing so: pictograph. Which likely means it's complete nonsense without a lot of context. This particular one has something to do with cats, dogs, gears, and a pair of eyes. It's only a half fleshed out thought, something to consider later. Much much later.

“At least he was looking out for you,” Richard allows with approval, before grinning over to Elisabeth, “Kinda? Hell, look at me, I am running a family business. Admittedly it’s probably easier when you don’t have to deal with oversight or IA or anything like that.”

"Uh Huh… And you did that on purpose," Elisabeth points out to her husband. "I did not. It's all Marcus's fault." That's her story and she's sticking to it. She grins, though, and then pays attention to what Alia's doodling. Her expression gets a little more serious as she picks up the scribblings of amplitude and frequencies. "Alia… are you thinking about modifying the banshees to fry the detectors?" She's just wondering, honestly. She has a tendency to see waveforms in terms of her own ability these days, thanks to working with sound engineers in Bright.

"No. Make emitter for frequency they detect. One gives off -way- more signal then sane. Downside: works -once- before someone figures out you did it, and puts cap on signal, if lucky." Alia grins, just a little. "One time 'fry it' better then nothing, and might give Michelle ideas to work from?" Alia shrugs and leaves the family business thing totally aside, though she's got a little grin on her face.

“It’s easy to blame things on Marcus, so sure, let’s go with that,” Richard allows easily, scratching under his chin, “Mm. Might work, but we need something more long-term… yeah, mom’s probably the best bet there. Talk to her and see what she can come up with. We can bring in Noa if we need some wavelength help too.”

"Hmmmm," Elisabeth murmurs thoughtfully. "I haven't really … paid as much attention to this as I should, but one of the things I keep wondering is how long it takes people to resonate in sync with the universe around them. Objects… the detectors that they had in Bright couldn't detect the alternate frequency for all that long. Weeks, if I remember correctly. But if you use me as an example… I wasn't born here. Lived here most of my life, though. Somewhere in there I started resonating with this universe. I was gone for seven years." She looks between them. "Five of those years were in one place. You would think that I'd begin to shift my resonance. But I didn't. Michelle told me when we were syncing that last time… I'd know when Magnes hit the right frequency. It felt like home. To my very bones. So… how long does a human body resonate with its own universe? When does it make the shift? Because the detectors… that knowledge could be really important. Plus, if we figure out what makes the body make that shift, we might just be able to hide all our own people from the detectors… but everything we come up with? Someone else could use against us just as well."

It's something she's raised as a question before, something she was working on testing a bit in the summertime, but they didn't follow up.

Alia adds that to the list of things to ask someone who is certifably smarter than she is on this topic. The counter she has should work against both what they are trying to make and the actual original digital compasses… the analogue ones are likely going to not notice the overload too much though, a thought she hasn't forgotten. Still, she nods in understanding, at least. And on the margin, a clock, and another set of wave table drawn as her note to herself.

She then stares at the notes she herself wrote up, and shrugs."other ideas? Other than maybe shredding all this like didn't find it?" It's said in half exasperated jest.

“I wish we could, Alia, I honestly do, but…” Richard shakes his head slowly, regarding the papers in front of the technopath with a grimace before straightening, “We need to crack this before anyone else can. Like Liz said, and like I said earlier— if we can crack it, we can figure out how to block it too. We have plenty of dimensional refugees who’d be happy to let us point science at them, so we’ll use that.”

Hands spread, “I think we’ve got as much as we can without doing some hardcore experimentation and research, though, and getting Warren or Michelle involved.”

"I was going to ask Michelle about getting involved, but…" Elisabeth grimaces. "She's so overwhelmed." It's why she's been careful about how much she asks his mother. "I think we can certainly tell her what's being worked on and let her know if she wants to, her input is always welcome. But…" She drags a hand through her hair. "Let me see what I can sort out too. Maybe with Warren. Some of what I learned in Bright might be of use here."

Alia nods her agreement, even if she's… not fond of overwhelming The Shadow's Mom… and even less fond of Warren, though that has calmed to a pretty good professional working relationship for the most part… mostly founded on not getting in eachother's way more than absolutely necessary. "Fair. anything else I can do?" She offers as she takes a sip of her wine.

"… and, Richard, stupid off topic question after nightmares: What is our plan if Monroe decides to visit personally?"

“Then,” Richard spreads his hands, “We can actually talk to the sonuvabitch and try to sort out all this bullshit. I want him to visit - or at least send a clone - so we can fucking talk about this. He’s being an idiot and trying to martyr himself on this one, I think.”

"It rarely works as a strategy," Elisabeth observes drily. She's done it! It's a shitty tactic. "And if he does show up and you do get to talk to him, when you're all done, punch him in the face." The blonde is still really pissed off about Devon.

"Talk to…" Alia sounds more just speechless then usual. Then again, she's the one who's got a taser sword specifically for the occasion so… "please, at least punch him on principle." Alia grumbles.

“I know,” Richard holds a hand up towards Alia, exhaling a sigh, “I know. Literally saving the world is more important than tossing his Nazi ass in a woodchipper, unfortunately, as much as I’d like to.”

Elisabeth rolls her eyes dramatically. "It's the same old story with a different name," she sings softly, tone mildly sarcastic.

"Woodchipper, starfish regeneration possible. Bad idea. Incinerator." Alia offers helpfully. "The more things change… at least don't have to hide everything now. Just most."

Richard grimaces. “And on that note…” He pushes himself up straight, “I think we’re done here for now. We all know what we’re doing, and I need to go get drunk before I have nightmares about a thousand inch-tall Adam Monroes running around.”

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