Conspiracy of the Willing


devi_icon.gif gatter_icon.gif marlowe_icon.gif seren_icon.gif

Scene Title Conspiracy of the Willing
Synopsis Yamagato and RayTech minds meet to challenge a building of the impossible.
Date July 7, 2021

As far as the legend of the Tanabata Star Festival goes, the beautiful Princess Orihime, Weaver of the Gods, worked so hard to weave her beautiful clothes alone by the starry river that she grew despondent and lonely. Her father, the God of Heaven, took pity at her despair of ever finding love, and arranged for her to meet Hikoboshi, the cow herder, who lived across the river. And when the princess and the cow-herder met for the first time, they fell in love instantly and married. Their love and devotion to each other grew so deep that Orihime stopped weaving and Hikoboshi abandoned his duties while his herd wandered the heavens.

The God of Heaven became angry at their neglect, and he forbade the lovers to be together. But Orihime cried and pleaded with her father to let her see Hikoboshi. Because of his great love for her, the God of Heaven allowed Orihime one consolation if she returned to her weaving and her lover returned to the tending of his herd. The lovers could meet once a year, on the 7th day of the 7th month. But, on the first day they were to be united, the river of stars became too difficult to cross. Orihime wept piteously, her tears falling like rain, until a flock of magpies heard her cries and flew to her aid. They made a bridge for her, and thus Orihime was able to reunite with her lover Hikoboshi, and cherish each other for one more time. It is said that if it rained on this day, the magpies would not fly, the lovers would not be able to meet, and would be forced to wait yet another sad year apart.

The star-crossed lovers, symbolized in the stars of Vega and Altair, are twinkling tonight in a miraculous night of clear skies. Below them, the grounds of Yamagato Park are festooned in celebration. Brightly colored handmade decorations hang from nearly every available post, tanzaku wishing papers stream from bamboo in a rainbow of hope-filled writings, and the people living within this portion of New York walk to and fro wearing vivid yukata and patterns in the summer season. For them, there is reason to celebrate. The Ohio River fires have finally, seemingly, been beaten back far enough to allow the meeting of legend and love. A lucky sign, one would hope.

But unlike the happy festival grounds in the campus outside, where families and children partake of scrumptious food stalls and fun fare, readying themselves to take in the customary fireworks displays of the evening, inside the Yamagato Building and deep in a sub-level workshop with no view of the world outside, there is a council taking place. A meeting of minds for Raytech and Yamagato, called together to cross a most challenging river of churning circumstances. To forge a bridge in their efforts and ideas, to build a seemingly impossible sanctuary on a likewise seemingly impossible timeline.

Sub-Level Engineering Workshop, Yamagato Building, Yamagato Park

7:47 PM July 7th, 2021

POP. LIMIT: 20000
Project Completion: 06%

A three-dimensional projection floats in the photovoltaic air of a miles-long island set off the west coast of Washington State. Vashon Island, chosen site of Project Agartha, is shown in multiple layered sections of an architectural dream and civil engineering marvel made manifest. Color coded, the cross sections can be moved, manipulated, added to and subtracted from the holograph with but a gesture of the hand. The capability is a marvel on its own. But for Marlowe Terrell, Director of Technology at Yamagato Industries, the task that it represents feels like it would take a literal miracle to finish.

The director walks around the projection as if it were solid, the glow of the model causing small pinpoints of light to shimmer off of the silvery embroidered detail of a flock of magpies swirling in flight up the left side and back of her dark navy suit jacket. The woman has since taken her hair down after hours, unafraid of breaking some unspoken dress code if there is one amidst the conservative Japanese company’s daytime guidelines. But with each step of her heels, the overall feeling around Marlowe is not one that matches the happenings outside of the building. She tries not to let the worry show, but the rundown she’s given the gathered group is a burden that weighs heavily. “So you see,” she says with a slow gesture to the projection’s status, “There is a lot to be done still. Materials are being shipped on the daily, fully expedited where possible. Our commitment to reach our goal, unwavering. It’s our intent to make sure that all of RayTech and our partners understand there is a quickly closing window for any revisions of the current layout, or… addressing of concerns.” She puts on a brave face, certainly, sounding as confident as she can manage.

Someone must have told the Raytech Director of Automative Research Robotics that vests were appropriate business attire. The same person also likely failed to inform her that leather vests are not. The sleeves of her button-up are rolled up, making the dark diaphanous material reminiscent of oil catch the light when she moves. Which is often. The ergonomic chair has long-since lost all ergonomic benefits by way of Devi’s restlessness throughout the meeting until she’s become hunched forward gargoyle, elbows upon her thighs and hands collapsed together as if into one solid fist. To her credit, the biker has not only managed to stay for the length of Marlowe’s assessment, but also stay attentive and silent.

Till now.

“And this…” Devi’s hands break rigidly apart to point an accusatory finger at the business room floor between her boots. “…is why jack shit hasn’t gotten done. How many meetings did it take to arrange this meeting to tell us about what has not gotten accomplished?” She takes a deep breath and immediately holds her hands up by way of apology. “Sorry.” She pulls a small satchel into her lap and begins to pull out folders and rolled schematics, building a small arsenal of paperwork - on actual paper, as she continues, “Right. Commitment to success. Teamwork. Huzzah. But, yeah… we have concerns.” She casts a slow turn of her gaze to her Raytech cohorts and gives an encouraging nod.

"We do," Albert Gatter says quietly, his voice slow and even. His hair is neatly combed, his suit impeccable, but there are bags beneath his eyes now that were not so pronounced the last time he'd been in a meeting with Marlowe. Neither was the small bandage on the side of his face — the sole physical injury he had sustained in the disastrous fire on the Hudson River.

"And we thank you, Terrell-san, for meeting with us to discuss them," he says. He reaches out with an almost ponderous slowness to pick up the bottle of water in front of him, take a measured sip, and then set it back down with equal care… but for all the ponderous care of his movements, his eyes are clear and his gaze focused. For the moment, he seems content to leave it at that — he has his own contributions, but he'll leave it to someone else to serve as the spearhead.

Seren Evans is dressed in unintentional contrast to Devi, their white button-up worn with a slim black tie, their slacks grey. Baird, tiny today in the form of an orange kitten with gossamer white fairy wings, sits perched on their shoulder.

"For– well, for my part, I'm interested in knowing where we can expedite the communication loop on challenges and changes needing made," they interject diplomatically with an apologetic glance to Devi before looking to Marlowe earnestly. "We have such a short window, and whatever needs done to maximize use of that time…"

Seren fidgets their hands together before them for a moment, adjusting the cuff of a thick, LED-screened bracelet before their arms fall back down to their side.

Marlowe bears the brunt of the swearing and negative vibe with the steadiness of a woman who has faced plenty of setbacks in just such situations. She waits, patiently peering at each speaker as they give voice to their initial feelings of the project's progress - or worrying lack thereof. She nods once, putting her attentions fully to the Raytech personnel. "The fires here in the Safe Zone have taken a considerable amount of attention of our civil engineering department's resources," Marlowe replies evenly to Devi's opening salvo. "But obviously it's nothing quite like what your company has experienced with being directly affected on the front lines. I'm sorry that we couldn't devote more to help." Within that apology, an empathy and sincerity in the Yamagato tech director's tone. She nods again, turning to Gatter, having already noted but not commented on his injury.

"That said, it's not an excuse for the delay of this status update. I thank you all for coming with your concerns, and bringing any ideas to speed up and enhance the project to suit the needs of all." All the participants… yet maybe not all the occupants of Project Agartha. "I'd like you to be honest. Brutally, even. In this room, now, we can be. I'm an engineer first," she says with a short breath, "and no stranger to knowing we have to look for and solve the problems others might not see. So please. Marlowe's fine." Her hand touches over her heart as she dips a half-bow in Gatter's direction.

When Seren speaks up, Marlowe turns back to the projection and swings a hand to turn the island, angling it so the trio has a view of the dig site from a 90 degree perspective straight down. The central ring resolves into a triple spiral shape, surrounded by eight paths out in the cardinal and ordinal directions spike out into a larger outer ring, looking much like a wheel with knobbed treads.


"At present, the majority of the work is being done with Tetsujin Heavy automatons and the largest cargo loaders we can utilize to clear the earth for the foundational sections, which are to go in deep enough that we will be able to utilize geothermal energy and hydrokinetic power surrounding the island. All communications are relayed by the GhostNet and satellite, which allows us near instant comms and live footage through the AHUN drones throughout the construction process. But, I will also be there on-site to oversee the progress. I can give you my schedule," Marlowe offers with little qualm to the others.

“That’s a start.” Devi acquiesces slightly, tone taking on its more level, husky quality. She pushes to her feet and holds up a small storage drive, shaped curiously phallic in design. “Can someone load this little do-hickey? Or, eh, nevermind…” She hands her fellow Raytechians each a small packet. For her part, Marlowe is given a larger stack.

“I’ve spent more time than I care to admit behind a friggin’ desk lately. Lil Bir- … Seren, Gatter - what you have there is every brainchild that has seen a keystroke in Raytech that may have an even remotely viable use in Agartha.” Dark eyes meet Seren. “Your bio-rebuilding project is at the forefront.”

“And for you,” Devi gestures haphazardly to Marlowe’s collection. “A proposal.” The biker considers the Agartha projection on display. “Enough of this ‘near-instant’ shit. The time for re-inventing the wheel was months ago. It’s time to use what we’ve got - every little seed. I’m proposing Raytech relocate all our personnel, along with necessary tech and mech resources, for hands-on construction.” Show time.

“Our Barnacle air and water filtration system will be invaluable.” Always throw your weight around first. At least, that’s how it played out in the biker’s previous, albeit less legal, line of work. Then hit them with your demands. “But, we’ll need full control over one level of the site to get a foundational setup and start implementing our more experimental tech. Full control.” Finally, sandwich it with something for the sweet spot. “The outline there shows with enough of our staff relocating and signing onto our ICI experiment, we can double down on lost time and exponentially increase construction rates.” The ex-biker, for now it seems she’s laid the last nail in her gangster coffin with all the big words at the big commercial table, stuffs her hands into her pockets and turns back to Marlowe with a lofted brow.

Gatter reviews the offered list briefly as Devi gives her speech; he's seen a not-insignificant number of things on this list, though some of them surprise him — Devi has done her due diligence. After a few moments, he looks back up to Marlowe, trying to gauge her reaction; once Devi's finished speaking, he leans forward.

"I've seen your Tetsujins," Gatter begins somberly… and then, abruptly, there's a flicker of a grin as his more usual enthusiasm resurfaces. "They're remarkable pieces of machinery," Gatter says.

His expression quickly sobers, though, as he returns to the matter at hand. "However. As Ms. Ezell says — our ICI Operators working alongside your Tetsujin drones have the potential to significantly accelerate project completion time." He's extremely wary of the word exponential, but he's not going to call Devi out on it here and risk undermining her. "The Operators boast exceptional response time, making them ideal for more precision-oriented tasks and work in tighter spaces — both types of work that there are going to be increasing amounts of as this project advances."

"And I'm of the belief that any measurable gain should be seized here, Marlowe," Gatter says somberly, meeting Marlowe's gaze. "We all know the stakes here, and given those stakes, every bit helps," he says, leaning forward. "The better we have the matter of survival covered, the more time and energy we can devote to what comes after. To the future — to rebuilding a viable ecosystem, to restoring biological diversity."

Gatter sighs and leans back, his momentary surge of animation passed, and then glances to Seren, yielding the floor to them.

"If you agree to the ICI participants helping with the processes especially needing a fine hand, I recognize it will take a bit of turnaround time to implement them in the process. NDAs to sign, lives to uproot…" Seren doesn't sound particularly keen on any of it, but they do their best to be honest if nothing else. Their voice lifts as they add, "With that in mind, I'm happy to join staff onsite until then to assist with smoothing over any challenges we might face once ground is broken."

They look momentarily to the projection. "Everything I have goes into making sure the bones of this thing are strong. If there's a time I'll be most useful, it's now."

Though she was about to offer to take the storage drive, Marlowe drops her attention to the packet proposal pushed her way. She takes a moment to undo the cover, flipping through what was written but her eyes clearly scanning the diagrams and charts more than the potential legalese involved. There isn't much she gets through before turning her attention back mainly to Devi, remaining silent but focused. Her face tailors to an almost indecipherable neutral. When Devi's done, Marlowe turns her gaze back down to the packet, but this time flips back to the front for the outlined, tabled contents.

It's more for a moment to think than it is to read what's on the page.

"Thank you for your inputs," Marlowe begins anew once they've weighed in. From lowered lashes, her gaze remains pointed down and not meeting of any eyes. "You are correct that the Barnacle systems will be fully integrated within Agartha. We'll need as many filtration systems that can fit as much overlap to ensure our environmental safety and energy controls are also tenable. We've seen what we can do together with one mere greenhouse." Finally, Marlowe looks up and to each face in turn, where her brow pinches slightly in a moment of difficult decision.

"Full control," repeats the Yamagato engineer, turning to Devi and meeting the woman's gaze steadily like two lionesses meeting on the savannah, "is within my power to grant." Marlowe's fingers lift from the packet, her hand forming a flat knife at first, pointing to the trio before slowly turning to face palm up, an invitation. "And you - RayTech - will have it." Her features soften, a faint, wry smile coming to the fore. "I guess the only real question is: how much of an ocean view do you want?" Alongside that question, she straightens from the forward lean over the info packet and follows with, “And you’ll pick up the costs of habitation and board for those operators, I presume.”

Devi's dark eyes follow the knife-like gesture with a keen gaze, but as it turns over to an open invitation they close. She lets Marlowe's words wash over her, an easy kind of smile growing on painted lips. A slow, measured breath and her attentions are returned to the room, her comrades, and their hostess. "Indubitably," she agrees with a theatrical level of approval.

Her smile is directed at Gatter and Seren. "Thank you both." An extra second adds the weight of sincerity that seems somehow inappropriate in the professional setting, but befitting all the same for what hangs in the balance of the work in question. Devi holds out a hand toward Marlowe, "Apparently the hero-complex is contagious. Who knew. We won't let you down." … "Probably not, at least." She winks.

The talk of an ocean view sees Gatter's lips curve up into a smile despite himself, a faint chuckle slipping out. "We'll not be letting anyone down," Gatter agrees with Devi, nodding somberly. "And thank you for meeting with us and hearing our concerns, Marlowe. I look forward to working with you in the future." He offers a nod to Marlowe, then one to Devi and Seren as well — acknowledgements all around for steps taken forward on a critical task.

Seren dips their head gratefully for Marlowe's concessions. "I know this is a lot, but we're looking forward to working together on this. As far as the, ah, ocean view goes, though… I think we can see what makes best sense after getting an idea of how construction is coming along?" They flash a quick smile. "And as far as the costs go, I can absolutely work with Miss Valerie on our side to make sure all of that is taken care of."

"I'm– looking forward to working with you more on this," Seren tags on, and on their shoulder, Baird stirs– his fairy wings glimmering in the light as they flicker in his enthusiasm and he kneads his paws against Seren's shirt. "I'm relieved we're partnering with someone who's focused on what we're all facing with just as much intensity as we are."

"Mine is a heart of iron," Marlowe responds to Devi's remark about a hero complex, amusement dancing across a crooked smile. "And the thanks is mine to give again," she says to Gatter with a tapping of her finger on the thick packet on the table before her, "as I'm sure I've got my work cut out for me as it is. Without your willingness to help and to share knowledge, it wouldn't be possible." She finds Seren's smile contagious, further pleased by Baird's presence offering some fantastical lightness to the night's heaviest topic. Marlowe nods in full agreement to their words.

Turning back to the floating projection, Marlowe tempers her expression with thought and reflection of what hopefully all see as well: a path, a bridge formed of their united efforts. "So I think that pretty much concludes this meeting," she addresses the three. Her hand reaches up to 'shrink' and 'file' the projected hologram away with a silent pop of the reactive air. Agartha disappears. Marlowe turns to them, gesturing towards the workshop's exit. "But, if you'll also allow me a little more of your time, I'd love to walk you out and show you around the festival. If we're lucky, we should be in time to see the fireworks… And I'm feeling pretty lucky."

Sub-Level Engineering Workshop, Yamagato Building, Yamagato Park

3:53 AM July 8th, 2021

Papers bearing RayTech letterhead lay neatly stacked atop a work desk. Pile by pile, the project names reported in bold font spread in a line according to the table of contents on the cover page.

A multi-colored glow of the eight-spoked wheel, a 3D structure that drills down into the earth in spires like an upside down crown, casts the only light in the darkened room. Small pinpoints of light catch against silvery threads of magpie wings frozen in flight against the night sky of a navy blue blazer.

POP. LIMIT: 20000
Project Completion: 06%

Marlowe walks around the projection slowly as if it were solid, and brings a hand up to gesture in the air of a key panel as if she were drawing a runic sign of a magic spell. The model of the hollow crown shifts, morphs, reforming to a human-shaped upper torso that ends abruptly without any lower half, suspended in a circular ring. The text blazes brightly, changes, and refreshes to read anew:

Project Completion: 37%

Her slow sigh at the sight of the new image is a long, drawn out exhale. Her posture threatens to sag against the worn feeling deep in her own bones, her mind wanting so badly to wander. A short shake of her head clears the mental fog. Her hand lifts again with intent to tap the panel, but hesitates, changes course and instead picks up the short paper stack that is labeled: RayTech Immersive Control Interface (ICI). In the glow of the projected gloom, she flips to the first page and skims the beginning lines before pausing to look back up to the face of the would-be human machine amalgam. Marlowe breathes out, again meditative in the quiet.


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