Digital Breadcrumbs


alia_icon.gif asi_icon.gif

Scene Title Digital Breadcrumbs
Synopsis After receiving a request to review a mysterious, unexplained file for 'anything unusual' and finding the whole thing to be unusual, Asi requests a face-to-face with Alia. She realizes quickly she should have reached out to the fellow technopath much sooner.
Date November 10, 2018

A tech-savvy Safe Zone café

New York is still a city of business people. Even in these tough times, there’s people who start new businesses from scratch. Or reopen old ones. Alia is sitting, her red bishop piece ended scarf sitting on the edge of the table at the coffee shop, sipping at the results of mixing good dark coffee with melted dark chocolate, but skip that milk. A brown bomber-style jacket over a white shirt, and jeans, along with skating shoes completes her outfit, along with the skateboard propped against her chair. Alia’s phone is on the table… but it and a currently unpowered flash drive are the only electronics she has with today. Which is an oddity for Alia. Still, here she is, waiting.

"Warui," Asi remarks as she pulls aside the chair on the opposite side of the table. "Took a while to find parking." Suitable parking, anyway. She wouldn't want to ruin the Yamagato vehicle she has on loan by leaving it somewhere it's more likely to be vandalised.

Once sat, ever in her black leather jacket with muted-gold studs, she crosses her legs underneath the table and lifts her chin slightly in a more usual type of greeting. "Good to see you again, Ms. Chavez."

“Pleasure’s mine.” Alia offers, as she smiles and sips her drink. “Raised a lot of questions?” Alia it seems is a woman of few, directly picked words. She pauses to look about, both physically and digitally. After all, why take chances on being picked up by a bug when one doesn’t have to?

“You. specialized in robotics, yes?” Alia’s word choice is as usual, clipped, but there’s a leading edge to that question, as if hopeful this isn’t going to blow up. And perhaps a bit worried that it is.

Asi’s gaze shifts down to the thumbdrive on the table briefly before she turns to flag down a waitress for an order. She might be sorely mistaken to find that’s not how it works here, or she might get lucky. “Certainly wasn’t something I was willing to talk about over a Yamagato-monitored network,” she agrees before turning back to Alia, studying her appraisingly.

It’s clear she hears and understands the question about her qualifications, but she doesn’t immediately respond.

“The sample you sent me — it wasn’t the whole picture, but it was enough to make me question what exactly you’re dabbling in.” Her brow arches slightly. “Did you write it all yourself?” There’s something about the way it’s asked that begs honesty. Like she knows something, or near enough to it.

Alia smirks a little. “What you want, my treat.” She offers for the drink. .. after all, they are used to her using their web ordering face that is just getting back on its feet to put in her orders in advance anyway. “And… “ Alia makes a face. “Oversimplified but honest: No. Parts I definitely wrote myself not in package you saw. For reasons.” She pauses, thoughtfully. “More like, chunks of what sent you, were wrote to mimic me, I think.” Oh, now there’s a rabbit hole of worries, old and new. And WhiteRabbit hasn’t been seen in ages. Make due with what you can, Alia. “Not my specialty area, At all.” Alia notes, with a grimace. “That… portions of code from a preWar thing. And during War thing.” Alia leaves off that the device actually still exists. Or is functional. That’s a whole nother can of worms she’s not sure about opening. Not just yet.

Asi settles back in her chair as she considers Alia. She starts to ask something off-handed before one of the shop's employees asks her if she needed anything. Her order for a large coffee with a shot of hazelnut flavoring isn't shot down, so she nods and the barista goes on their way. Her train of thought slowly coming back on track, Asi's question is more soft-spoken than she means for it to be.

"Did you know the person who wrote it?"

“Officially? Colin Verse. Also known as V.Iris.” Alia’s tone shows… distaste for the name, or the owner of it. It’s risky to admit even that in a sense. Alia digs out some actual pen and paper, and writes down just two words: “Project ALIA”. There’s a frown on her face as she does it though.

The only sign of Asi's surprise is a lift to her brow that's quickly brought under control. Suspicion confirmed, she watches Alia's expression carefully, saying nothing as she roots for writing tools. Her legs uncross under the table, boots sliding flat on the ground as she leans forward slightly to see the lettering. As usual, the lack of context with discussion with Alia isn't something she's quite used to yet.

"… Something personally named after you, and you seem displeased." she voices out loud, trying to walk the younger woman through her thought process since it seems Alia struggles with communicating descriptively. Who knows how accurate she'll be in linking all the pieces together.

Alia closes her eyes, and nods. She takes a sip of her drink. “… I did stupid pre-War. Got caught poking into a AETOS drone.” She sighs, just a bit. “Spent couple months locked out of my own body. Don’t recommend it.” Alia pauses a moment. “Project ALIA: an attempt at a cybersecurity AI based around a… poor copy of me.” Alia pauses again. “… also spent lot of time in some drones. Programmed them some.” This is said in a near hush. Alia sketches… well, if one is a student of robots, the image of the feline-esque hunter drones isn’t likely unfamiliar. Alia looks … both ashamed and still visibly upset. “Got used. Played. Got out. Survived. But what costs?"

Not entirely unfamiliar, no.

Asi sits in silence as her flavored coffee is brought, leaving it untouched as she processes what Alia's sharing. It's every technopath's nightmare — being trapped. Being forced to submit, for the 'greater good', even if the good wasn't actually that great.

"You survived. And got out." Something not everyone did.

She starts to shake her head, the tone of her voice demonstrating she believes it's a long shot to even be asking, but tries anyway. "Verse — 'virus' — was he also in your position? And have you heard from him recently?"

“No. And no.” Alia twitches. “trust me, you'd know if I had.” The tone conveys more than the words ever would: betrayal, anger, something more. “Him. Georgia Mayes. Two people I will lose no sleep over the passing.” Wordy, for Alia. She points to the cat drawing. “Original design, not for an AI.” She says softly. “Shove, conscript, like us.” She pauses again. “..the second versions though. Different.”

The answer is listened to solemnly. Sitting across from the younger technopath how she is, listening to the hatred in her voice, Asi's forced to wonder how many 'Alia's of her own she has.

Just as much as looking at the sketches on the table make her wonder just what else her fellow machinist technopath has been up to. Back then, as well as now.

Well, Alia didn't have answers for the present, and that was the period of time that most concerned Asi.

Worry about this later, Tetsuyama. The girl asked you here for a reason.

"I see. So, what version is the one you want to reprogram?"

She looks Alia in the eye as she asks it, zero sense of judgement. At least for now. It rides a lot on the assumption she wants to subvert the original programming, not enhance it.

“…generation two. Want to make sure there isn't Trojan inside.” Alia says quietly. “Only surviving one. Given third of people behind it are no longer able to work on it….” Alia pauses, “know my back door ‘protector’ mode made it in so…”

"So it should be fun." Asi provides, seeing as Alia still sounds worried about the whole thing. Her lips firm into a brief, but genuine smile even if it doesn't touch her eyes entirely. She reaches forward for her coffee, lifting it to waft it under her nose. It doesn't smell as strong as she'd anticipate, so she holds off on taking a sip just yet.

Her chin juts toward the drive on the table. "Is that a more complete sample, or what else have you brought with you?" Then she arches her brow, considering something. "Is the model damaged?" she asks lightly, like they weren't talking about a sophisticated weapon of suppression.

“Complete Sample.” She states dryly. “Minus one subsystem that is…sensitive.” Because like hell is Alia handing over schematics or data related to the bloody Compass onboard of Shere Khan. “Damaged? That’s… a good way to put it. Loss of original armor plates. Still working on sourcing replacement hydraulic lines that match original specs instead of the … makeshift replacements. Projectile systems are just plain gone.” Alia doesn’t sound too bummed about that last one. She isn’t out to make a weapon. But she wants to know what she has… and perhaps, make something good out of something horrible. “… needless to say, not supposed to have him.”

Alia shrugs, and sips at her cup, then sighs. “But, like throwing away a right arm?”

Asi reaches for the drive finally while she takes a sip of the coffee, expression deadpan to both the taste of the drink and the content of the USB stick as she spins it slowly, gaze distant. She waits to put down the mug until she's blinked away a thought, letting out a quiet note of interest.

Loss of the projectile system on the thing didn't seem like a real loss, and Asi shakes the lack of disappointment for it. She considers Alia carefully at her reasoning for keeping the machine, trying to decide how she feels about it. The drive is pinched between her thumb and forefinger as she asks, "What are your intentions, Ms. Chavez? What do you want to do with it?"

Alia considers that a moment… then she idly pulls something up on her phone. The image is from an older security camera. The footage is, surprisingly, pre war. Looks like a fencing club. Except those aren’t foils, those are real blades being used. The footage freezes with a younger Alia, missing a scar or two, having her rapier driven through Adam Monroe’s ribcage… and him having a blade at her throat. “A way. To protect friends. Even when I’m not strong enough myself.” She gently touches her neck… there’s a small scar where that saber dug in. “… One possible threat of Looking Glass, is a second Georgia Mayes, trying to build her own, with army of later generations.” Alia isn’t one to sugar coat even for friends. And this isn’t a situation where keeping the cards up her sleeve does any good.

“I seek a path to prevent disasters. Sometimes, that puts me in questionable position.” Alia finishes her coffee.

The image, like most things Alia does, being presented without context takes a moment to process and trace for relevance. Male, blonde, fatally wounded. The fact she's being shown it as a reason implies they're not. Asi normally is able to keep a certain external, even internal calm. But as her gut races ahead of her mind, her eyes widen and she leans forward to snatch the phone and study it as though it were paydirt in a gold rush.

Adam Monroe.

The death drone, the dangerous alternate future, is entirely forgotten.

"Do you have the rest of this footage?" Asi asks with no lack of intensity to the request. "Alia, what else do you have on him?"

Before, she'd not have felt in a position to make such a request— demand, really. But now? Well, with what Asi was going to help her with…

“Nothing new. 2009 stuff.” She gestures at the phone and the video just plays. “Some records that were wiped, medical research. Maybe what Cat had on him.” Funny, Alia never really considered digging into the Catabase to look up Adam before. “Encrypted USB, contents of that one as the key?” Is Alia offering to send that kind of data over without even a promise first? Yes, it seems she is.

Asi's other hand slides into her jacket pocket while she watches the video, the file beginning to transfer even as she pulls her phone free and visible. She's polite — she doesn't go digging through the rest of the device for other nuggets of discovery, just copies what's relevant to her. She looks up several seconds in to the leisurely slow transfer, at least by Alia's rate, to shake her head in disbelief. She waits for the file to finish transferring before stating more than asking, "You have a paper trail. And more."

Whoever 'Cat' is might too, apparently.

Asi's brow starts to furrow as she looks Alia over, her expression patient. She feels anything but that. D.crypt was more than likely the force behind Asi's months of failed attempts on locating Monroe, after all. Should have dug harder, sooner. She even said she'd quit by the sword. Should have trusted her instead of keeping her at arm's length. Asi's never had use before for the phrase 'I could kick myself', but it feels appropriate here. Alia was a resource she'd greatly underutilized.

"We've stumbled across what you can give me to pay for my assistance and silence, then."

Alia grins, slightly. “Fair, I'll pack up to send tonight. And in fair, I have some. More crumbs then trail. But likely better than nothing”

Asi inclines her head in a gesture of thanks. "Much better than nothing." She settles her phone down on the table, looking thoughtful. "When you send it, also give me a more detailed idea of what you want to rewrite on the machine, and I'll take a first stab." Iterations would inevitably be necessary, and when Alia was ready, Asi would need to see what they were working on to help run tests against it.

Coffee now in hand, she gestures lightly across the table with it. "Can you still fight like that?" she asks with unmasked interest.

As if to answer, Alia pokes her backpack to one side, so that the hilt of the rapier is visible, just barely. “Spar with foils later?”

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