Contract Work


asi3_icon.gif richard3_icon.gif

Scene Title Contract Work
Synopsis Asi takes the initiative to find an extra source of work.
Date December 8, 2019

Safe Zone

With a thoughtful sigh, Asi Testuyama drops to a crouch, cigarette pursed between her lips. The ember at its tip bounces while she runs her hand along the smoothed-over dents on the machine before her, satisfied that they're no longer dangerously jagged. She rests her palm on the top of it, watching as the machine's arm stretches up, then down under her command.

A set of pincer appendages snap on the end of its arm, and she looks satisfied with the results.

Pushing herself back up to her feet, Asi pinches the cigarette between two fingers, breathing out a cloud of smoke and offering it out to the robot. "Hold this for me, would you?" she asks it while the headset hooked around her ear rings pleasantly. The red, black-striped SPOT bot delicately reaches out, pincer adjusting to take the cigarette by the filter with just enough pressure to grasp it, but not crush it.

Asi smiles at the result, waiting patiently through another ring which is cut short by the line picking up.

"Hello. Richard Ray?"

“That’s the name on my identification, so I should hope so,” says Richard casually, “Which is impressive since most people don’t have my personal number.”

It’s been awhile since he’s heard her voice, it seems.

“So who’s this, and what can I do for you?”

In the background, there’s some giggling and laughter - children.

A number of descriptors come to mind, some more humorous than others, but if he doesn't recognize her voice, perhaps he also won't pick up on her dry sense of humor.

"I'm a disgraced criminal looking for work, you see," is delivered with deadpan gravity, after all. "And I hear you hire those in need of second, third, and even fourth chances. I don't suppose you have any contract work available for an innovator willing to take on unique challenges? Background in mechanical engineering, particularly in smart prosthetics."

Brow furrowed, Asi looks down thoughtfully at the SPOT before her in its suspended animation of holding her cigarette. Her voice lightens a touch. "I suppose you could also call me a fan of your recent proprietary releases, as well. Almost all of them, in fact. Nothing like form, function, and fun to get one's blood going."

There’s a long pause, and then a chuckle stirs past Richard’s lips. “ON1,” he murmurs, “And here you were fairly well-employed, still. Something have you back on the job market?”

He admits, “I can always use someone of your capabilities, of course.”

It's Asi's turn to laugh now, looking up with a ghost of a smile. It's progress, to be able to laugh about what's happened. "For a few months now, yes," she admits as she begins an easy pace across the room. "It's an unfortunate side effect of being turned on by the government you serve as a part of a murder cover-up."

Tongue pressed to cheek, Asi presses on a moment later with a cavalier, "So my schedule is wide open recently, you see. Several personal projects to keep me entertained, along with contract work, but I am looking for something a touch more …" She tsks, considering the SPOT. "stable."

“I have a few projects that you might be excellent on,” Richard admits, his chair audibly creaking as he leans back in it, “Does it have to be under-the-table, or is the government ignoring your current status overseas? I don’t keep track of extradition processes and all that…”

Well, at least he's asking. Asi thinks to herself, sock scuffing carpet. She shakes her head anyway, leaning forward to take the burning cigarette back from its glorified holder. "I don't think you want any more negative government attention on your company, Mr. Ray," she points out. "Just as much as I'd hate to be the one that caused it."

And that wasn't even considering who else might take an interest in seeing her resurface. Asi narrows her eyes at that.

She flicks the bundle of ash that's slowly been growing onto a tray balanced on the edge of a worktable. "We can work on creating a false identity in due time, but there's still the matter of confirming I'm the right person for the job you'd have in mind." Lifting the cigarette, she asks, "So, tell me about it."

“Are you familiar,” asks Richard, his tone contemplative, “With the SEER technology? It’s something that my brother came up with back in the Institute days — it allows communication with people in comas, or with other issues that prevent them from communicating.”

“Your… specialty may be of use in an extrapolation from that technology I’ve been considering.”

Asi furrows her brow while she breathes in deep, holding her thoughts until she expels smoke away in a narrow stream. "I became familiar, when we worked on pulling Otomo Hachiro from his coma. It was an interesting device, even without pushing it to the limits of what could or should be done with it." She looks down at her hand, admiring the red end of the cigarette as it graciously decides to not spill ash over her knuckles.

"Consider me interested. What path are you pursuing?" she asks thoughtfully.

“Currently— no, Ricky, put that down— currently, the machine requires technopathic interfacing for perfect communication,” Richard explains, “What I’d like to do is see if two SEER units could be networked together for real-time communication and cooperation. Essentially an artificial technopathic interface, a mind-to-mind connection.”

“I know the technology has that potential,” he admits, “It’s just a matter of finding an expert that can make that potential a reality. Do you think you might be up to the job?”

Asi arches an eyebrow, turning away from the SPOT bot entirely to ponder the ask. "Possibly," she admits. It's not a lack of ability that might hold her back, which can be heard in the hesitation in her tone while she mulls the topic. She exhales away the last of the smoke in her lungs, shaking her head.

"I don't see an immediate solution that wouldn't require at least technopathic initialization, but I've never had my hand on two at once," she admits. "It might be possible. But…"

A hissing tsk comes from her as her mind gets ahead of what she's saying. "You have my interest," she repeats. "We can find out if it's possible, at least. The device will require fine-tuning before we proceed to that point. I can deliver SEER updates in phases. Packages."

Asi lets out a dry chuckle. "Just your average contract work."

“Of course,” Richard agrees, “It isn’t anything that will be accomplished overnight, after all, this is— potentially a light-year jump in technology in this area. I’d like to at least get a start on the development, though, before anyone else gets any ideas.”

Silence for a moment, “And yes, I’m fully aware of the potential misuses. Which is why I also want to make sure it has built-in safeties to prevent that sort of abuse. Better we develop it than someone with fewer— ethical concerns.”

Asi lets out a noncommittal tone of acknowledgement. "The path to hell, Mr. Ray," she muses aloud, but goes no further. "There's a long way to go before we start worrying about that, though. Getting the machine to first function safely without constant technopathic intervention is one already fraught with its own potential complications when it comes to testing phases."

"Challenges I look forward to overcoming," she reassures him.

“Good. And maybe it is, but if we let that rule us… all our good intentions would never go anywhere,” Richard observes ruefully, “Maybe I’m an optimist. Maybe that’s why I hired Odessa Price, and Bella Sheridan, but… I believe we can make a better future for the world.”

“So hopefully we can do just that.”

A quiet voice from the background, and a chuckle as he lifts the phone a bit, “No, honey, we can go visit Aunt Des soon, though.”

Back to the phone, “Just email me what resources you’ll need, and we’ll work from there.”

The second time the child's voice comes through, Asi lets out a soft hm, her gaze wandering. She waits for Richard to circle back to the conversation before politely inputting, "Of course. I'll endeavor to be less invasive in the future as well. Enjoy your evening."

She breaks the connection immediately after, turning back to the SPOT bot in silence. So that was that, then. Asi continues to contemplate something, the ash on the end of her cigarette burning long again. The extended stare she ends up leveraging triggers a response from the bot, a tilt of the pincer on the end of its arm as though it were a head. It breaks her reverie, eliciting a soft sigh of amusement.

"I think we'll keep that trick," Asi confides to the SPOT.

"And I think we'll keep you. For now."

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