dana_icon.gif dowe_icon.gif gates_icon.gif gatter_icon.gif hall_icon.gif bf_kravid_icon.gif marlowe_icon.gif odessa4_icon.gif otomo_icon.gif placard_icon.gif seren_icon.gif valerie2_icon.gif

Scene Title Contingency
Synopsis With the end of the world looming, the United States government turns to Raytech and Yamagato to come up with a plan for the worst-case scenario.
Date June 20, 2021

Every square foot of the Raytech office vibrates with intense energy today. Not that of some sort of super-sonic weapon, or a quantum fence, but the feeling of a calm before the storm, the anticipation of tensed muscles before a punch, the sinking of a stomach before a great fall. Richard has only been gone a little over a week, and things have escalated so quickly.

There are only a handful of people in attendance at this meeting, sitting in the front rows of auditorium-style lecture hall seating. Albert Gatter, Odessa Callahan (née Price), Seren Evans, and their SESA technical liaison Dana Carrington are accompanied by one of Raytech’s founders, their Chief Design Officer Valerie Ray. Raytech’s employees are joined by representatives from Yamagato Industries, familiar faces: Marlowe Terrell and Hachiro Otomo.

It’s the government suits that are the ciphers here. Agent Hall and Agent Gates stand at the front of the lecture hall, setting up a secure laptop to the projector system. This wasn’t a meeting on anyone’s agenda, but it turns out that the end of the world doesn’t schedule appointments…

…it just shows up one day.

Raytech Industries NYCSZ Campus
Research Sciences Auditorium

June 20th
10:20 am

Agent Hall gives a thumbs-up to Gates, looking up from the laptop. A moment later an aerial map of pre-war Seattle displays on the large screen at his back. Gates glances around at the small group in attendance, then scrubs his hands down across his face.

There were so many hurdles to get through to even start this meeting. Nondisclosure agreements with National Security Agency letterhead signed by the President that demanded a signature from every attendee, security sweeps for weapons, the campus had to be put on temporary lockdown. It all seemed so extreme, so sudden, and without much in the way of explanation.

But when Vice President Christine Dowe walks into the room, it suddenly feels like the precautions were for a good reason, and that the stakes couldn’t be any higher.

Doctor Albert Gatter is not in his happy place at the moment; an unscheduled meeting is bad enough, but a round of NSA NDAs followed by seven times through a metal detector because he'd forgotten where he'd put all of his multitools (you can never have too many multitools! unless you're going through metal detectors) is enough to put anyone on edge.

"If this is about the ad — I just needed another player for our Wizards in the Wastelands campaign," Gatter protests, before subsiding back into silence, fingers twitching restlessly on the arm of his chair. "Seemed a good idea to get it finished sooner rather than later," he murmurs nervously, eyes straying to the Seattle map projection when Gates activates it. Gatter frowns, distracted from his case of nerves; Seattle? What's in Seattle?

The special guest lecturer's arrival is met with a similarly puzzled look. Whoever this is looks important. A professor of something or other? But… why Seattle?

Odessa has yet to perfect her new signature — either of them — but she commits the letters to paper as directed, frustrated by the process while understanding its necessity. The presence of the Exterior and Agent Gates in specific makes her uneasy. There’s still a blank space where a complete person should be. Moreover, the entire front of the house is one big mess of anxiety. Different flavors of it, but all the same culmination. It twists her stomach in knots just as much as if it were her own.

Slowly, it is becoming her own.

Albert,” ‘Ourania’ murmurs to the colleague at her side, his name coming out French accented and sans the T on the end, “I don’t believe they are here for our tabletop experience.” She smirks faintly, trying to inject some sort of good humor into her veins and his to help ease the tension.

Then in walks Catherine the Great herself. “Madame Vice President,” the blonde scientist offers more acknowledgement than greeting, while still sufficing as both. “Lovely to see you again.” Odessa casts a glance around the room, suddenly understanding more the gravity of what’s been asked from them by signing a few papers and turning out their pockets.

Valerie Ray sits in her chair, looking quietly over the paperwork that she’d signed, even if she knows a bit about what’s going on even before Christine Dowe walks in. She doesn’t stand, but that’s probably not an expected response, and certainly not from the acting CEO of Raytech in her brother’s absence.

“If you need another player for your tabletop game, Doctor Gatter, I’m available, but today we have an important meeting, I’m afraid.” The youngest Ray is usually a literal Ray of sunshine, and she still is, offering a beaming smile to the doctor, before she looks back at the Vice President and nods her head. “Thank you for joining us, Madam Vice President. Let us know if you need anything to make this meeting more comfortable.”

She intends to let the scientists control most of the conversation today, but she will pipe in when she needs to, as acting CEO and the Chief Design Officer both.

"Vice President?" Seren mouths the words from where they sit, a befuddled expression on their face. Baird on their shoulder has taken the form of a pale ermine sitting off the back of their shoulder, nose prickling in the air. The folded tawny wings on his back would be unnoticed if they weren't in the process of unfurling. When they realize he's about to take off, they reach out to snatch his body between both hands, silvered eyes shimmering as they exert their will over him. "Sorry, bud," they murmur apologetically. "I think we're going to have to keep our hellos polite with this one."

Baird protests, as a stoat scoundrel does, with chitters and baring of teeth. Whatever they hear in it, they raise their upper lip in a flash of fanged smile in return, something amused twinkling in their eye. "Maybe later," they concede, pulling him to their lap as his wings flap once haughtily before settling smoothly down to his back again.

Absent from Marlowe's hands are her typical devices, phone turned off and put away for the time being. What they say about idle hands, takes on the work of fiddling with the very end of a long, dark strand of the goddess braids she's wearing. It's not a useful distraction. Even quiet eavesdropping on the conversation from Raytech's people doesn't dismiss the underlying threads of concern within the Yamagato tech director. The topic of tabletop, as amusing as it is out of place, reminds her of a similar energy amongst colleagues from another time, another company meeting. One that ended abruptly with smoke, fire, blood. Lightly painted lips press together, her faint smile to Otomo sat by her side obviously a touch forced.

Upon the projection of pre-war Seattle appearing, she stops fidgeting altogether, attention drawn away by recognition of the layout. Her focus comes last to the entrance of the Vice President, and her surprise, immediate. Marlowe sits straighter in her auditorium chair.

“What you are going to be told here is a matter of national security,” Vice-President Dowe says with a gravity to her voice that feels at once heavy and unwanted. “Some of you may already be aware of this information, but consider this an update with the best-known information presently available.”

Gripping the podium at the front of the lecture hall, Dowe looks out at the small group gathered. “In October of last year the United States government became aware of an impending space-weather event, a powerful solar flare of a classification that—in the best of circumstances—would destroy unshielded global telecommunications infrastructure across the entire planet.” She searches the faces of each and every person she is relaying this information to.

“Since October we have come to understand the situation is far more dire. Our planet’s magnetosphere, the outer layer of protection Earth has against these kinds of storms, is weakening. By all estimates the current diminishing of Earth’s magnetosphere will leave the planet unprotected when the flare erupts. This timing will result in… what is known as a HELE.” Dowe says with a tightness in her voice. “A Human Extinction-Level Event.”

Hachiro’s eyes grow wide and he looks at Marlowe in shocked disbelief, then back to Dowe with the same expression. Dana Carrington wraps her arms around herself, staring at her lap as she processes the information, eyes tracking from side to side.

“The Department of the Exterior is currently working on a plan to deploy a temporary countermeasure into Earth orbit that may be able to shield the planet from this flare. However, we do not know if the shield will be ready in time before the flare erupts.” Dowe explains, glancing down briefly to notes on the podium, then back up to the crowd. “I am here today to inform you that the United States government has been in contact with the leadership of both Raytech and Yamagato Industries to requisition your assistance in the construction of an underground shelter for the… continuity of the human race.”

Hachiro slowly raises a hand to his mouth, the other trembling in his lap as he listens to unbelievable news.

“In turn, we are reaching out to governments across the world to share our findings so that similar shelters may be able to be constructed elsewhere in the world. Unfortunately,” Dowe says with a glance to her side, then back to the room, “we have less than a year, in our estimate. Potentially as little as six months.”

“If the shield is not successful,” Dowe says, swallowing down the tightness in her throat between thoughts, “this project will be the last hope for the survival of the human race. Given the particular nature of this request and the short time-table we are working with, we’re looking to use the already-existing infrastructure created by Yamagato Industries on Vashon Island in Washington State for the Seatac Safe Zone as the starting-point for this shelter. At present, we have commitment from the Canadian and Mexican governments on collaboration, but we are uncertain if the other world nations will agree to participate or… proceed with plans of their own at this time.”

Rubbing her hands together, Dowe looks around the room at the team gathered. “You are among some of the best and brightest engineers and scientists in the world. You will not be working alone on this, but you will be leading this project.”

Dowe takes in a deep breath, then exhales a sigh through her nose. “I’d like to give you all a moment to process this information, and then we can open the floor for discussion.”

Gatter's expression smooths as their guest-lecturer — the Vice President — delivers her lecture, his mind, too, settling into that smooth groove of focus that he can only find when grappling with the most devious enigmas.

There are pieces of this he hadn't already known — how long the government had known, their plans why Seattle. But the crux of it, the important part, the impending deadly threat against humanity's future… that, he'd already known. Some of the others, though, obviously had not… and so, as Gatter sits silently, waiting for the floor to open, his gaze, too, wanders around the chamber, observing.

Seren sits, too, in silence. The predominant white in Baird's coating swirls with grey— like someone's taken a drip of black ink and it's soaking into the color of him as though he were wet paint. Their eyes lose the shimmer of silver around their greys almost entirely.

But not entirely.

"Just…" Their eyes close before they reiterate "Please." as they open them to look at her again.

And for a long moment, that's all they can do. Look. Finally they murmur, "How long before the world goes to shit?"

When Seren lapses into silence, she lets them. For once, Rue doesn’t try to fill the silence for fear of it. What it represents or how it leaves her feeling her own thoughts are too loud and overwhelming. But when they speak again, she lifts her head, blinking and reaching absently again to ruffle Baird for comfort. “A couple of years at best. Less than that, probably, if this op doesn’t succeed.”

Elliot's gone and hasn't come back. And Rue… does this mean they failed? Or just that things were worse than they'd been led to believe?

Seren's head turns back in Gatter's direction, their brow beginning to knit. Why the sun had been on his focus as they discussed Rusalka was now eminently understood. Their mouth feels dry, but they look a moment later to the woman presenting this world-ending information to ask, "Is this because of what happened in Detroit? Is what we saw happening there with the sky— was it a hole being punched straight into outer space?"

They come to their feet, the grey and beige winged stoat of Baird clinging to their shoulders to rise with them. Sitting still doesn't feel right. They've just been called to action. "But more than that— digging, wiring, curing concrete, any of the dozens of other things that need done— on that short a timeline— it…"

"We need more than just Seattle. If we're going to save any appreciable amount of people—" The light in Seren's eyes shifts, realizing their optimism for what it is. The question is re-evaluated. "How many people can we save?" they ask more slowly. "Have you already run any numbers?"

Between Hachiro's shocked expression and Marlowe's, it's easy enough to see neither party was truly aware of the news. For what seems too long, she's left speechless, breathless. Color drains away from her face, pressed out by the weight of the vice president's explanations and replaced by chilling fear upon the withdrawal of Dowe's crushing news to let them process.

Marlowe does not. She grabs her handbag and stands abruptly to her feet, turning to the nearest glow of an exit sign spotted at the back of the auditorium through blurring tears, and starts to head towards it at a stiff clip. As if putting physical distance between the podium and her person would help the sudden existential crisis and blind panic directing her footsteps.

None of this is exactly news to Valerie Ray, except perhaps the location of the venture. That explains some of the others present at this meeting. While others have a very reasonable reaction to the news, she doesn’t seem to be bothered. Perhaps because she’s not actually physically present? But it’s not just a projection. There’s a great sense of hope coming off of her, to those capable of feeling it. She believes in Richard. She believes that this contingency will not be necessary.

But that doesn’t mean she won’t do everything she can to support this. There’s a moment where she looks off into the distance, then says, “The island supported ten thousand people in the last successful census before the wars. I don’t know how big a complex has been built at this point, but assuming Yamagato has built something of size, it should be able to support the same amount underground. We’d just need to get systems in place to maintain them over time.”

She doesn’t have the specs of the building as it is, but she could look up the island itself. Where she physically was.

A clock is ticking.

Odessa takes in everything, breathing in deeply through her nose, out through her mouth. This isn’t news, precisely, but that doesn’t make the impact of it any lessened when it hits her square in the chest. Or maybe that’s just…

Everyone else?

Her breath starts coming in quicker and quicker, at odds with the steady ticking of the clock. Panic crushes in on one side. Horrified realization on another. Odessa reaches through it all, tries to find something to latch onto, eyes rapidly moving left and right as though there could be some visual representation of what she’s sifting through. All the while, tears stream down her face and she lets out a soft series of hiccuping sobs.

At her side, a clock is ticking. Tick, tock, tick, tock, tick…



Perfect three part percussive harmony. Odessa reaches out and grasps Gatter’s arm just above his wrist, holding tightly to his stability. She closes her eyes and lets it serve as her steady foundation so she can pick through the rest of the minefield of emotions. Marlowe Terrell rising from her seat and fleeing for the door feels like a too-near explosion. Following the wake of it leaves her to find something in the dissipating smoke.


The hope, the optimism that Valerie weaves becomes something that feels nearly tangible to Odessa. She wraps herself in it, this belief that they can and will succeed, drying her tears with the edges of it while she regains her ability to breathe without wanting to scream.

The only thing she wants to hear right now, she finds, is her husband’s voice. Or her brother’s.

“The magnetic field is created by the cooling of the earth’s liquid core, and by all knowledge this process is still ongoing,” a new voice breaks in, from the door, standing in the way of Marlowe fleeing. The woman there is tall, unfamiliar to most of those in the room, with a simple undecorated eyepatch covering her left eye. Agent Placard is has a quiet emotional air, trained and controlled, but not a void. The badge of her suit labels her as part of the DOE group, even if she doesn’t stand to join them, as she continues to answer Seren’s question about whether the incident in Detroit was responsible for their predicament.

“We do believe that the magnetosphere is being depleted by the actions— or interactions— of one or more SLC-Expressive abilities actively in use somewhere in the world. It could be intentional, or it could be an unintentional side effect of normal activities, we are not sure yet. And this is still only an educated theory, we do not have any concrete proof to back it up and the cause and prevention is not what we are investigating today.”

She offers a comforting hand to Marlowe, as if that will help calm her. “We need all hands on deck for these proceedings to save as many people as possible in case the worst happens— though we are all working very hard to make sure it is never needed at all.”

Dowe’s attention is momentarily drawn to Marlowe’s back, but when Hachiro slowly eases up from his seat with an apologetic dip of his head and a look to the Vice-President, she returns her focus to the room.

“We estimate that a facility that we can build within the time-table allotted to us could hold fifteen to twenty thousand people in a sustainable fashion.” Dowe looks down at the podium, not to read her notes, but to take a moment away from the faces in the crowd. “We… estimate less than 1% of all human life on Earth, and even less than that in any appreciable living biodiversity.”

Dowe swallows audibly and references her notes. “The intended facility would have a storage for seeds, embryos, and genetic information necessary to… potentially repopulate the surface of the Earth should the magnetic field return and surface life once again be hospitable. As to the, ah, potential for more facilities we—simply lack the resources and the time. Much of the information we have on the dates and intensity of the flare is obtained through Expressive-related data inferences, which means that other nations will be inherently suspicious of the accuracy. Solar observations have yet to detect the magnitude of flare we are anticipating, and space weather satellites are not showing the extreme decay we have projected.”

Science has been outpaced by the supernatural, and the world still struggles with that sense of credulity.

Hachiro has quietly crossed the room to close in on Marlowe, boxed in as she is, and lays a gentle hand on her shoulder to turn her around to face him. At the same time, gingerly tugging at her with his fingers to pull her into an embrace.

Gatter observes the hand on his wrist with a certain distant, dispassionate surprise; a moment's attention is dedicated to Ourania, the signs of visible distress noted, and a decision made. His free hand moves to rest gently on hers. "Steady," he murmurs, applying a moment's light pressure to her hand before moving away.

Gatter's gaze follows Marlowe for a moment as she beelines towards the exit, and there is a momentary sense of dispassionate disappointment. But it's the newcomer's words that grab his attention. The magnetosphere's depletion isn't news… but the fact that the core processes generating the magnetosphere still appear to be operating normally is a key point.


Less than 1% of all human life on Earth, and even less than that in any appreciable living biodiversity. Gatter had known that the losses would be horrendous, that the impending solar cataclysm would be a disaster unparalleled in the history of humanity, but hearing that the sum total of what can be saved is this… for a moment, Gatter falters.

Then he closes his eyes and breathes. Steady, he tells himself.

"We don't have a choice as far as what will be lost, if it's as bad as they're predicting," Gatter says; he's looking to Seren, but the words are as much for his own benefit as theirs. To admit to being powerless, or nearly so, in the face of this coming disaster is a bitter pill indeed… but in this case, the difference between 99.5% and 100% is literally the gap between hope and extinction, and Gatter will take what he can get. "The only choice we have is in what we act to save."

"This is insane," Seren gets off their chest to Gatter, because they have to in order to move on. "This isn't even 99.5, it's… 99.99. Like 999 beyond that even. Jehovah Witnesses thought there'd be more people surviving the end of the world, even, didn't they?" Never mind that the number they're thinking of is the number of people who get into heaven in that ideology. "It's just…"

A faint laugh escapes them, and Baird's darkly-colored head turns in Dowe's direction, chattering in some distinct attempt at communication. It brings Seren's head back in that direction. "We'll agree to help and do everything we can for this, so long as we're permitted to bring the persons close to us into this shelter when it's complete. That's all I have to say." Internally, they've rapidly cycled through stages of grief, ending up at bargaining. Seren looks for just a moment to the new Agent in the room before slowly sitting back down. They hope that if all hands on deck are needed, they'll be granted this small boon.

Well, comparatively small.

Steady” Odessa whispers to Gatter about the moment he tells it to himself, like maybe she influenced it. (If anything, it’d be quite the opposite.) With a pat to show her gratitude, she takes her hand from his arm and instead rests it in her lap.

While she listens to her counterparts, Odessa’s chin lifts, her focus coming up to settle on the vice president, her senses narrowing down on her if only to help ease up on the different flavors of dissonant horror and anger. In her chest, she carries both compassion and outrage that are her own.

What a terrible burden to bear.

How dare she turn her face away from the anguish her message causes?

Maybe it’s the compassion that wins out in the end. Who would choose to be the one to deliver this news? Someone had to. How awful.

It isn’t the science that she focuses on — this flavor of it is not her stage — but Seren’s terms and conditions laid out. The beautiful cynic in Odessa brings the corner of her mouth to quirk up. Promises were made to be broken. What are the gathered scientists going to do if they find themselves betrayed in this deal? Vow revenge?

“Are any of us even guaranteed a place in your Ark?” Odessa asks, her voice strong and unwavering. “I’m not a fool. I know my chances of being allowed inside are slim.” There’s a beat that follows; she knows she needs to provide a reason for the others in the room that don’t know who and what she really is. “I can’t provide the… I can’t help repopulate.” She’s surprised to find her stomach doesn’t churn at the thought of being left behind. Maybe it’s something about death associated with arcologies that inspires a sort of acceptance in her. The thought causes her to suppress a mirthless chuckle.

With a sigh, the blonde tips her head to the left slightly. “It doesn’t matter if I get a place or not,” she continues, a conviction in her voice. “This is the right thing to do. I’m all in. Wherever it leaves me when it’s done.”

Calmed by Agent Placard's offered hand, Marlowe is most definitely not. Her breath hitches in a ragged, shallow grasp of air as she stares from the offered hand up to the agent's far more placid face. But, Marlowe is beyond words at the moment, giving no reply save a baleful stare at Agent Placard as she stands shivering before the DOE agent and looking ready to flip from flight to fight at any moment. Her hold on her handbag tenses. Her weight starts to shift forward from her heels.

And then, she stops at Hachiro's hand on her shoulder. Marlowe's head whips around and she takes one wild-eyed glimpse of the man before recognition overrides any hostile epithets set to blast from her parted lips. Surface anger subsides, cooling but leaving a weakened state of blank depression as the realizations of the numbers start to settle in and she finds refuge in Hachiro's hug. "どうしよう?皆、全部を救済するは出来ない…それより、ジバはどうするの?1" She voices her worries as they come first in a bubbling stuttered whisper that grows into a torrent threatening to overwhelm again.

Valerie raises an eyebrow as the group discusses whether or not they will have a place on the Ark, but then she nods slowly, looking off into the distance as she stays silent, perhaps making notes where her body is during these moments of mostly inattention. She’s still there, still present, but her focus is just elsewhere for the moment, before she’s back again, sympathetically at Marlowe.

The Agent lets her hand drop and allows the scientist to help Marlowe instead, but she does seem to understand what it is that Marlowe says, and while she can’t answer anything about who is promised a place— she can say, “You’re right that we can’t save everything, but we can save more than would be saved if we do nothing. We’ve been archiving records, books, music, art, digitally to save space, but we want to preserve as much of humanity as we can. There will need to be systems to keep those running, as well as keep the people alive.”

Because the future of humanity and the earth would depend on the repopulation of the earth, eventually. And that would need fertilized embryos— both human and otherwise.

The commotion of questions and emotions filling the room rises and falls. Vice President Dowe lets them fall back to silence without a call to order. All the while, Gates offers nothing but a reproachful and apologetic expression to the attendees of this meeting, hands folded behind his back. None of it was easy news to bear.

“私たちは座るべきです.2” Is what Hachiro thinks they should do, echoing Marlowe’s sentiments in the deep lines of his face. “We can worry about everything else in time. One step, one fear.” He says softly, as he might have to his daughter once upon a time.

“All of you in participation with this project will have a place in the shelter,” Dowe finally explains in a clear voice. “You and your immediate families. We do not yet have a plan in place for how residence will be selected, there are other departments determining the most ethical and responsible means to achieve this end.”

Exhaling a steady sigh, Dowe looks around the room. “According to the latest reports from NOAA, the first coronal mass ejections associated with the sunspot activity that will generate the HELE will begin as soon as the end of this month. These will be survivable flares, but they will impact telecommunications infrastructure and make our work harder. We can accurately predict that up through July we’ll be dealing with these flares, but the precise data of the HELE is too far out to accurately estimate. To talk more on the specifics of this science, we have a researcher from our science division.”

As Vice President Dowe steps aside from the podium, the sound of high heels click from one of the two entrances to the conference room. A brunette woman in her late forties sweeps into the room, carrying a tablet under one arm. When she arrives at the podium, she sets her chin against the weight of what is to be discussed and offers no smile to those gathered.

“Good morning, my name is Erica Kravid.” She introduces herself without titles or fanfare, tapping her tablet to bring up images of the sun on the screen behind her. “Vice President Dowe was correct that we lack the predictive modeling to determine precisely when the HELE will take place, but with the assistance of solar observation satellites launched before the Civil War, we can make observations that will help us have as much advance notice as possible.”


“A feature that has been found to be common to many eruptions is an "S" shaped structure of the CME-producing solar active region before the eruption takes place.” Kravid explains, turning to motion to the images on the screen behind her. “The "S" shape—or sigmoid—can be seen in the above image of the January 16th, 1993 solar eruption. Two sigmoids are in the upper panel; a distinctively bright one is in the lower left panel. The sigmoid structure can often be observed for several days before the occurrence of an eruption.”

An S. The connection to Adam—the Symbol. It’s enough to turn Odessa’s stomach.

Kravid turns back to the audience. “With the assistance of a remote office science team, we have been able to accelerate our understanding of solar phenomena. These external partners have provided us with enhanced satellite imaging and more reliable long-term predictive capabilities from SLC-Expressive sources. As such, we believe we will have a 90-day early warning before the sigmoid appears on the surface of the sun, and then anywhere between five to seven days following the sigmoid’s appearance before the HELE erupts, then another 16 to 18 hours before it reaches the Earth.”

“This means that the shelter we are designing will be raised into operation with three thresholds.” Kravid explains, scanning the crowd. “A minimum of 75% of the structure must be completed by November of this year, which is the longest estimate we have of solar inactivity. After this point every month we must endeavor to complete at least ten percent in the hopes of having the facility fully operational at the earliest possible time.”

Kravid sighs, her jaw set tight. “This will still be a Herculean task, and any measure of publicity could disrupt the site’s completion. We will be using Expressive labor in construction, and I do not need remind you what happened to the Itinerant Dawn at its launch. We cannot rule out suicidal extremism and I will not let a group of small-minded militant bigots end the human race.” Kravid’s brows come together. “As such we will not be making disclosure of the HELE public until the facility is at least 85% complete.”

Hearing Ourania echo Gatter's own thoughts draws a glance and a nod. Her reassurance is noted and appreciated… but ah, their enemy remains at large. The End still comes, and this meeting is an important step in meeting it; Gatter's full attention falls once more on the Vice President.

The announcement that they and their families will have places in the shelter draws a nod, though Dr. Stoltz's statement also draws a glance and a nod.

When Dowe cedes the stage to another guest lecturer, Gatter's attention returns. Kravid's primer on solar prediction earns nods from Gatter — astrophysics isn't his particular expertise, but he's been (metaphorically) looking into the Sun since the last meeting covering this.

Her construction estimates see Gatter's expression grow more troubled, though, and his gaze drifts towards Seren; architecture and construction is their area of expertise, not Gatter's, but to him the notion of building three quarters of a self-contained city in four months seems…

…well. Herculean is exactly the right word. Ten points to House Kravid.

The reminder of Itinerant Dawn's fate sees Gatter's gaze drawn swiftly back to Kravid, though, his jaw tightening with subdued anger; that feeling only intensifies at the notion of such idiocy striking again, this time ending not just humanity's hopes of reaching for the stars, but humanity's last hope of survival.

Seren Evans stated what they needed, and they feel comfortable with that choice, some relief felt over knowing they'll have those needs met. Now they need to make sure such a place will exist. They focus on the presentation at hand, silvered edges returning to their grey irises even if they're accompanied by red eyelids. They'll cry later, though. Now… Now they need to…

They reach for the notepad set on the seat beside them and pull it into their lap, rapidly taking notes that make sense only with context, regarding how much time they have to bring this all to bear. It's so very little. "We'll do what we can in our initial designs to have as much of the critical infrastructure available in the first seventy-five percent in case time is against us," they offer up with a glance to Valerie. Seren doesn't think they're speaking out of turn, but they'll defer to her ultimately. "To make sure all the necessary systems for— for what you described are ready as soon as possible."

"At— at first thought, the additional months could buy us… the extra beds in the facilities." But Seren frowns critically at their own suggestion, adding quickly, "But that's something to be worked through in the coming days."

Were Gatter not as transfixed as he is with the display — and rightfully so — he might notice the way the blonde at his side is beginning to tremble. A wave of illness hits her the moment July is mentioned as the timetable for the first flare. Removing her thick black-framed glasses, Odessa scrubs her face while tears well up and slide down her cheeks. So many variables to consider. Not the least of which weighing on her mind the fact of who her immediate family consists of.

And who it doesn't.

Between all that, the appearance of the Ghost of Institute Past, and the image of the fucking Symbol on the goddamn sun, Odessa is overwhelmed. Wisely, she bites down on the words that nearly fly out of her mouth. Really? Erica fucking Kravid? That’d be a little too rich coming from Odessa fucking Price.

“Excuse me?” Odessa lifts her voice, using her glasses as an aid to point at the screen. “I’m not the only one who sees that, right?” Blue eyes fall on Gates. She doesn’t know what any of the others know, but she knows he does. They’ve talked.

Gates looks at the projection, then Odessa. His brows furrow. He doesn’t see it the way she does. Sometimes, an S is just an S. Kravid simply ignores it, though it’s clear she heard Odessa. Vice President Dowe doesn’t even seem to get the reference as she glances over her shoulder at the screen for a moment, then back to her notes.

Panic fills Odessa. Fear. Sadness. Worry. Confusion. Reproach. An ice pick is trying to crack through her skull.

"Digitization won't mean a thing unless we can protect it. Learned that one from the war," Marlowe's depressed reply to Agent Placard's attempts to assuage the woman's worries. But it does plant a seed in the muddied thoughts of Marlowe's mind, one which she nurses, clings to on the way as she's lead back to her seat beside Hachiro.

The engineer stares up at the next speaker and the sun and sigmoid images with barely a blink through the blurring tears. The ominous reds, oranges, and blackness of space around the solar images serve her little as far as understanding what can be done about them. Instead, the focus on the time table and literal deadline feel like an extra rib-crushing punch to the guts. Marlowe's head shakes slowly, hand drawn up to her mouth, barely able to take in a few shuddering, shallow breaths at the impossibility of it all. "十分。一日十分だけ…出来るか出来ないか。3" she whispers to herself.

With a nod and a smile, Valerie supports Seren’s words, agreeing with them and then looking off into the distance for a moment again. “We can redistribute as many of our resources as possible toward this, most people won’t even need to know what they are working on.” Building a Better Future was what Raytech was supposed to do, after all, so they could disguise a lot of the plans behind such a thing. “We can also see if drones can help with the construction.”

SLC-E abilities were one thing, and yes, while robots tended to scare many, they had their uses. At Odessa’s words— because despite the many name changes, the youngest Ray still thinks of her as Odessa, she tilts her head to the side and looks back at the pictures again, trying to figure out exactly what she sees.

“I am certain Yamagato Industries will be loaning its Tetsujin construction drones,” Hachiro says with as confident a voice as he can. Knowing that Hayate must be aware of all of this twists the pit of his stomach. Is that serpent getting a seat to survive the end of the world? It sits ill-well with him.

“Ms. Terrell has an excellent point on the security of our digital records. The planned depth of this facility will protect it not only from the electromagnetic energy of the coronal mass ejection, but also other external EMP sources. The main bunker will need to be at minimum a quarter mile underground, but given the terrain of Vashon Island and the water table necessitates the main structure existing below the bedrock level.” Kravid explains with a look to her notes. “But these are details we can and will go over in the coming weeks and months.”

“Unless there was anything further,” Kravid says with a glance to the Vice President, then back to the audience, “I’ll return the floor to Vice President Dowe.”

“Just one more question!” Odessa calls over the droning noise in her skull, if no actual din in the room. This time, she climbs to her feet. She will not be so easy to ignore. “Look beyond the—” She lets out a little breath that could sound like wry laughter if she'd let it. “Look past the science. We know what that is, but we thought we knew a lot of what we were looking at before 2006.” This time, it is a breathy little laugh. “Well, some of us saw it before then, but the entire scientific community was viewing the world with fresh eyes after the revelation of the Evolved. The Expressives.”

Odessa shakes her head, ignoring the growing sense of embarrassment that she isn’t sure is hers or coming at her secondhand. The annoyance rippling toward her from the front of the room. She has plenty to send rippling back to them. “Pretend you have never seen that shape before in relation to the sun.” She jabs her glasses in the direction of the screen one more time and asks of Erica Kravid: “What do you see when you look at that?

W̸͓͔͒̿̕h̵̻̹̰̅͗ả̵͕͓ť̷̻͍ ̵̙̳̱̑̿̓d̸͍̥͆́ȍ̵̥̕ ̶̞̀̓y̵͉͉͊̉̉o̶̩̘̾̓̄ư̷̧̡̗͝ ̴̩̪͘s̵̝̻͛̈́e̴͓̔͊̀ë̵͚͓̞̈́͝ ̴͎͓̀w̶̛̺̠̑̔h̵̨̩̯̋e̷͎̎̓n̵͈̘̔ ̴̟̞̿y̷̭̟̼̔͗̈o̷̡̟̔̈́ú̶̡͓̹ ̶̲̝̓l̷̝̉͐̽ȍ̸̜͙o̸͍͈͐͠k̷̺͓͗̒ ̵͍́̓ä̸̗́̂̓t̸͇̾͛ ̵̙̔̍͆ẗ̷̳̬́͜h̷̞̠̫͠a̶̗͑̾͜t̴̰͇̊̚?̷͉̪̀̎̉

Her voice carries.

Her voices carry, even if she’s the only one that hears the other that overlaps her own and promises power behind her words. Promises obedience. Odessa doesn’t even feel the need to tack on the threat of her own knowledge of Kravid’s past affiliations.

Erica Kravid’s eyes lid halfway as she blinks a look over her shoulder, then back to Odessa. “It looks. Like. An S.” She says with a dryness to her voice. Whatever one Erica Kravid may have known about Adam and the Entity to draw the same parallels Destiny has seen, this Kravid has no such connections.

Seren wasn't asked, but for them it's an easy answer anyway. They tilt their head and peer at the shape again. "It's gradually looking more person-like," they opine quietly. "Apart from the swish."

Beyond that, they drop their head back to their notes, continuing to write.

Gatter's expression when Ourania demands they look past the science is an expression compounded of an ever-shifting mix of shock, confusion, bafflement, bewilderment, and various and sundry other hues of disbelief.

There are things that science does not understand yet; that there are yet mysteries in the world that science does not yet have even the framework to explore is a statement Gatter would not contest. But science's reach is ever growing as mankind continues to add to their collective knowledge; for science is the method by which man fights back ignorance and, through hard work and relentless perseverance, unveils the marvelous truths of the universe itself. Given time enough and resolve enough, there is nothing beyond science; this is Albert Gatter's most treasured belief.

But he also has a great deal of respect for Dr. Stoltz… and so he sits, still and silent, his undivided attention on Ourania as he waits to see where, exactly, she is planning to take this.

Marlowe doesn't look anywhere else but the photograph of the sigmoid and mapped out diagrams of Seattle, even as the conversations continue around her. The water table and bedrock comments penetrate through her quiet concerns. Then Odessa's question, the latter of the inquiry, pokes a hole in the engineer's focus. Her gaze turns upon the woman, then to Kravid for whom the question seems most directed. "This isn't the time for open-ended puzzles, is it?" she finally remarks stiffly, pushing herself to sit straighter. "What are you talking about?"

“You’re from Yamagato,” Odessa states without turning to look at Marlowe. Her attention is riveted to Kravid. “Surely you’ve seen something similar in your Fellowship Center. You don’t even really have to squint to see it.”

Valerie had expected nothing less from Yamagato than to supply labor robots, but she had wanted to offer their own as well, because she trusted theirs a little more given certain situations she has heard about recently. The drones would at least offer a bit of transparency to the situation and keep them in the know on what the robots were doing, if they offered their own as well. She didn’t expect to get a look at their software or anything like that, but at least she could make sure they were doing the tas
ks they were supposed to be doing.

She just knew her brother didn’t trust many at Yamagato these days— and what her brother didn’t trust, neither did she. And with what happened to her sister…

With the sudden change in Odessa — or Ourania — she blinks and turns her attention first to Kravid in surprise, as if wondering why her and then to the pictures of the sun.

Her eyes aren’t the only ones that turn toward the pictures. Agent Placard’s one uncovered eye does as well, as she tilts her head to the side like a bird examining something with curiosity, then she looks back at the woman who questioned, then instead of the woman questioned she looks toward Gates with a raised eyebrow. Possibly both eyebrows raised, but it’s hard to tell with the eyepatch.

“I believe,” Agent Gates says with a raise to his voice of a parent trying to cut short an awkward conversation at the dinner table, “that we’ve exhausted the question-and-answer session of this informative lecture. Thanks you, Erica.”

Kravid’s eyes linger on Odessa for a moment, then blink over to Gates as she steps away from the podium. The OEI Agent replaces Kravid at the center of attention, allowing both Kravid and the Vice President to move to the periphery of the room.

“Obviously there’s a lot to cover here,” Gates says with a glance to Odessa. Then there is a soft throbbing behind her eyes as his voice rumbles in the back of her mind

Not here. Not now. One world-shattering revelation at a time for these people.

while he carries on a conversation at the same time. “But we can’t possibly cover each and every concern right now. We will be sending information to you to review regarding the Washington site and further secure correspondence pertaining to the operation as we know more.”

Odessa stares back until the throbbing in her skull becomes so bad that she can’t help but close her eyes against it.

And the voice.

Pushing a hard breath out of her lungs, her chest visibly pulling inward, she nods her head shakily, one hand coming up to cover the lower half of her face, letting them all see from her re-opened eyes that she’s overwhelmed. “I’m sorry.” The apology is directed to the room at large. “I’m jumping at shadows. I just— I just want something to fight. I’m sorry.” A quiet sob punctuates her penance as she retakes her seat and fishes out a handkerchief. Oddly, it’s black with lace edges and what appears to be a stylized V embroidered in yellow thread in one corner.

It hides the blood that she feels warm in her nose and on her lip. The tears will hide the duration she needs to hold it there.

Gatter frowns, eyes moving back and forth between Gates — who, notably, had not actually dismissed Ourania's claims — and Ourania herself, whose retraction and descent into tears seems… odd, given Gates's distinct lack of censure. Something to fight?

There's something off here.

But… whatever it is, the work takes precedence. This work takes precedence over everything, as far as Gatter is concerned.

"Thank you," Seren is sure to direct clearly to Agent Gates for what he's promising to provide in terms of information. They give him a small nod, turning afterward to look at Baird on their shoulder. Ourania's upset, though, draws them back and they lean forward to rest a hand on her shoulder.

Marlowe hushes to think on Odessa's enigmatic response, still confused as she turns to look upon the images of the sun and sigmoid. At least the puzzling out has distracted her from the mental distress and breakdown wrought from the knowledge of imminent world-ending apocalyptic demise. She doesn't come up with anything, though, aside from the side glance to Hachiro, hoping the older man has guidance in solving that cryptic remark. When Agent Gates takes front and center, her attention turns to him. "So, that's it, then? Twenty thousand." If even that, implies her tone.

Agent Placard nods at Gates’ words, but also moves away from his side once he has finished, getting behind Odessa’s chair and touching it with her hand, rather than actually touching the woman herself. “I know everyone wants to be able to save more, you all wish for someone or something to fight. But this is your fight right now. Your work here could be essential to the future survival of the human race, should everything else that we have in motion fail. We are not giving up on this planet or our people— but we need to save what we can, if the worst comes to pass. And those of you here will help pave the path that we will follow.”

With that said, Valerie speaks up again, with a promise she had already made before, “Raytech will divert everything we can to this. I want all Raytech teams to send spec ideas to me before the end of the week on any ideas you and your respective teams might have. My door is always open,” Then she’s just suddenly not even there anymore. She had been projecting the entire time, and now she needed to physically get to work, because she has enough information to get a start on the physical work that she couldn’t start immediately.

With that, Vice President Dowe returns to the podium. “We’ll keep you all up to date as we have more information. For now, please understand this is a critical national secret, and divulging anything you heard here today could result in severe consequences, up to and including denial of entry to the shelter.” It’s a bleak thing to have to threaten, but Dowe means it with every fiber of her being. “Let’s work together to keep this project safe.”

And that, in no uncertain terms, is that. Dowe packs up her presentation, the front screen is turned off, and a small gathering of Raytech employees are free to leave the conference room. Dana Carrington is in no rush to leave, sitting in her chair and staring at the blank screen ahead of her. She’s been silent for much of the second half of the meeting, and when all is said and done she has a plainly human response. As soon as she leaves the conference room she finds a quiet side corridor

to sit down

and cry.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License