Excellent Proposal


barney_icon.gif des3_icon.gif richard_icon.gif

Scene Title Excellent Proposal
Synopsis In the face of food shortages in the Safe Zone, a new project for RayTech Industries is proposed.
Date February 28, 2018

RayTech Industries: Laboratories

The lower levels of the Raytech building are dedicated to experimental and research labs; where was the more 'industrial' work and production gets done in Detroit, much of the more delicate work and research, particularly in biotech, happens here. The walls and floors are white, with bands of color on the floor directing one to various sections via color-coding. Security checkpoints are at all entrances to the lower floors, and there's always at least a few security personnel patrolling the hallways decked out in the finest security equipment that Raytech has to offer.

In a stark difference from most CEOs, Richard Ray isn't actually that unusual a face around the parts of the building where the work actually gets done; he's frequently a visitor to the labs and project planning rooms, and even if many of the technical details fly over his head he's always kept one hand on the proverbial wheel of the ship.

So it's not too surprising when he ducks his head into one of the labs, brows lifted upwards on his face. "Barney," he calls out, "You said you wanted to see me?"

Barney is standing with a clipboard in hand. But one of those fancy ones, that's got two clip points, one with a notepad, and over that one for loose papers, and it's also a small case, opens up to allow one to put sheets of paper inside. Fancy clipboard. He'll log everything electronically once he gets back to his office, but he prefers to hardcopy things first, so he's down there looking over someone's project and progress on said project, looking over their research and making notes. He's rather quite intent on his current work, so when Ray comes in he doesn't appear to notice, still making notations, peering at rather messy desk strewn with notes, and a computer screen with some rather complex math. It's not until Richard speaks up that Barney notices someone is in the lab with him.

There's a startled kerfluffle when Richard speaks. His clipboard goes up in the air, and his big hands fumble for it, bouncing it back into the air a couple of times before he retrieves it. His pen hihts the floor and goes skidding though. He turns wild eyed, beard mussed from the sudden flash of activity. He stares at Richard for a second or two before regathering his wits. "Mister Ray!" He greets in his deep timbered tone. "Yes umm sorry. Yes I wanted to talk to you about a project I had in mind. Sorry one second." The beard walks himself over to where his pen fell and stoops down to pick it up, replacing it on the clipboard.

Footsteps sound in the hall behind the RayTech CEO. Desdemona Desjardins is returning from lunch, a vanilla milkshake in hand. She approaches the door to the lab - the lab she's been working in lately - and lifts her brows curiously. "You're still not finished?" she asks of Barney. "I have to get back to work, you know. I can't have you hogging my notes all day."

Large red glasses are pushed up the bridge of the woman's nose with one finger and she smiles to the man at her shoulder. "Good afternoon, Mister Ray. Hope I'm not interrupting."

As everything goes nearly flying, Richard winces - though there's a smile tugging at his lips as he steps inside. "Sorry, didn't mean to startle you," he says in good humor, glancing around the lab casually, "And of course - everything going well down here?"

The sound behind him has him glancing back over his shoulder, chin tilting up in a bit of a nod. "Des," he greets affably, "Not at all. Unless Barney has some sort of super-secret illegal project in mind, which, honestly, would shock me beyond the capacity of all rational thought."

"Well yes. I mean no. I mean no I'm not done yet. Yes I know you need to get back to work. I may have gotten caught up in your research a little bit." It's an advantage for Barney. He typically has a good idea of what the scientists are working on so he can monitor what they're doing better than other managers and administrators. But it also means he might just get caught up in the research himself because he does understand it. Most of it. "Uhm yes. Yes. It's going well." He's been keeping a close eye on the scientists as instructed. Of course as far as he knows it's just to make sure time and resources aren't wasted. He finishes gathering himself, one hand smoothing down the bright red floof that is his beard.

"Illegal? Oh no hardly. I would nev…" It's about then that Barney realizes he's the butt of a small joke and he smiles, a soft rumbling chortle from the tiny giant. "No it's… well I'm sure you've seen the news, about the food storages being raided and such. Criminals no doubt, who will be trading the food for exorbitant prices and the like. Despicable if you ask me, truly… ummm yes." Barney tucks his clipboard under one arm. "I was thinking. With all the resources and incredible minds here… could RayTech not create some sort of advanced hydroponics project to help feed New York? It would be excellent PR for the company, and I'm sure such advances would make a tidy profit as well. And…" And Barney is someone that wants to help people.

Des looks confused for a moment. Aren't all the best science projects super-secret and highly illegal? That's how the science gets done! All the ones she's worked on previously have been anyway, save for the H5-N10 vaccine all those years ago. That one was government sanctioned.

Hydroponics? That gets Des' brows disappearing beneath her fringe again. "Well now, that's a thought." Not her area of expertise, but intriguing all the same. "Could do a lot of good with that," she agrees thoughtfully.

Ray brings one hand up, fingers rubbing against his chin thoughtfully. "A hydroponics project… that would be one solution," he admits, "And God knows real estate is cheap, so we could probably snatch up some property to build it on. If we keep having these food shortages in the Zone, it'd definitely be a boon." They don't have that issue, really - the company can just ship in food for the relatively small number of employees - but if they only cared about their own employees, what good would they be doing?

"I can run it past the co-op," he admits, "See what they think. If we can get their approval we could look into it, maybe even with an eye towards making the Zone self-sufficient."

Barney looks over to the scientist and tips his head in a couple of slow nods. "Could do a great deal of good. I was doing some aid and relief work here in the city before I started working here. The people are surviving but barely. They scrounge and scavenge for things to trade for food. It's quite horrible. And now what food stores there are are being raided… it's going to get bad. I realize a hydroponics facility is not a short term answer, much more a long term one, but if people know it's being worked on it… well. Hope." There's a couple more nods of affirmation to what he's said. "I also heard that you like to garden Mister Ray, so thought the project might appeal to you even more than it might to some others. I know we have the kind of minds here that we'd need for such a project."

"I'm sure that would go a long way towards making RayTech a forward moving force in the area." Barney opens up his clipboard and takes a few copied sheets of paper out, handing one over to Richard. "I did some preliminary research into real estate that would suit, as well as personnel that would be well fitted to the project. I did some basic cost analysis and while it would not be cheap by any means I do not think it is beyond the company's reach. I also think advances like this could be quite profitable in the near future given the state of things across the country."

While it's still something of an alient concept - helping a community she isn't a part of, not really - Des nods her head along with the notion of making the Safe Zone self-sufficient. She's not entirely unaffected by the plight of the people beyond RayTech's walls and protections. She can see it every time she goes to the corner store, she reads the news. She's well looked after, but others are not. The part of her heart that stayed with the Ferrymen understands the need to ease human suffering for reasons other than her own self-interests.

In spite of all the human suffering she's caused in the name of her own or her previous employers' interests.

Des slants a look in Richard's direction, corners of her mouth tugging in an expression that shows she's impressed with Barney's research. Not that she didn't think he had the brains for it - he can more or less keep up with her explanations about her work, which she appreciates - but she's never seen him in this sort of action before. "You've really thought of everything, haven't you?"

Ray's chin dips a few times in a nod as he listens to the man's proposal, reaching out then to accept the page that he's handed. "I'll need to crunch the numbers, of course," he murmurs, "And run it past the Co-Op, but I'm confident that we can make this work out. It's a good idea, it'll bring in a profit, and it'll make things easier for the Safe Zone in general."

A sidelong glance to Des at her words, his lips twitching in a smile of his own. "Not everything," he admits, before asking them both, "Have either of you been to Park Slope?"

"I mean well. It… it is my job to be prepared and organized and…" Barney ahems, a deep resonating kind of cough and nods his head. "Thank you." He's not terribly good at taking complements. Good at giving them, happy to give them. Just not so great at taking them. "I didn't want to throw some half brained idea at Mister Ray. I wanted a well thought out and researched proposal. I fully believe that this would work. I was actually working on it before the food was stolen, but kicked myself into gear after seeing that news report. I hate to see people suffer." Barney offers the copies as well. "Should you need anyone else to look it over…" He closes up his clipboard and curls his right hand, tucking the clipboard between his forarm and hip.

"I haven't been to Park Slope no. Only heard people talk about it. Aren't there escaped zoo animals there? I heard it's quite lawless. But that was just talk amongst the people in the city. And gossip does as gossip does." Barney looks around a little bit, then ohs and signs off on the sheet of paper on his clipboard, lifting it again. "Sorry for intruding on your lab." This to Des naturally. "Is there anything you need down here that I can see to?" It's his standard, making sure the scientists are well taken care of and supplied.

It may be his job, but Barney's concern earns a shy smile from Doctor Desjardins. Her chin dips toward her chest a little and she shakes her head. "No. I'm fine for now, but thank you."

Richard's question gets her lifting her head again. "I don't really go walkabout," Des says in a soft voice. Her freedom is a tenuous thing, and she's not the untouchable thing she once was, able to come and go as she pleases without detection. Now she has to be careful. "That's the overgrown part of the city, right?"

"Yes. There are vines, plants everywhere, the place is basically a jungle… there're some people still settling there, though, in the middle of it all," Richard says, the half-folded paper in his hand used as a prop to gesture with between the pair, "The entire district has been overgrown with plants. In just a matter of a couple of years."

He gives them a meaningful look, waiting to see if they understand what he's getting at.

Barney dips his head, smiling happily, a big goofy sort of smile, perhaps a bit out of place on the big viking descendant. "Good. I am glad to hear it." Barney responds back to Des before he listens to Richard, his brows furrowing at the information that's relayed to him. "Overgrown with plants?" Barney looks a bit confused. "In the middle of New York? But… oh. I see. Yes. Maybe. Actually no I don't. Are you saying there's some sort of chemical or environmental thing going on there we need to look into? Or is there perhaps an Evolved with an ability overgrowing the area? I guess with either one I could see the relevance yes." He nods his head a couple of times, fingers of one hand stroking against his chin thoughtfully.

Yes, she sees. "Ah…" The corner of her mouth ticks up. Impressed for the second time today and it's not even 1 o'clock. "It's highly probable there's an agrokinetic Evolved making their home in Park Slope," she concludes. "Adding someone like that to a project like this could speed up the timetable considerably. Or at least provide a stopgap between the food shortages and when we can get production up and running."

Ray snaps his fingers once, and then points at Des. "Exactly. I'll have to send off an investigatory team to see if they can locate the agrokinetic… they'd be an invaluable resource for this project," he agrees, a smile crooking to his lips, "Glad we're all working on the same level here. Even if we can't, though, we can certainly go ahead with the hydroponics project itself. It's a good idea, Barney."

"I see. Well then yes. That would be an incredible asset to the project if we could find and convince them to help us. They could help us a great deal. Increase the timetable immensely and help feed the safe zone. That would be incredible." He nod shis head in agreement, fingers falling away from his chin to clasp his clipboard once more. "I… would not mind going to help find them and convince them to help us. If you wanted. A friendly face never hurts. I wonder if we could benefit from the aura regardless? IF the whole area is like a jungle now perhaps we could build there or neaby and smiply benefit from their presence?" Barney looks between them both with a big hopeful grin on his face, happy that there's actual support for his little project idea.

"I suspect current residents of Park Slope will be resistant to industrialization of their neighborhood, regardless of the agricultural benefit and intent," Des posits without going on the offense. "But… Humanity is full of surprises, so there's only one real way to find out." She, however, will not be volunteering to join this expedition. Hers is not considered a friendly face by many when recognized. While she doesn't expect to be, the chance is there. "You'll let me know if there anything I can do from here to assist, won't you?"

"I suspect that she's right, but if we could at least locate the agrokinetic… well," Richard shrugs one shoulder, "It's possible they'll want to turn their area into an orchard but if that was the case they probably would've already. They're there so they won't be bothered, I suspect, and I can't entirely blame them." An easy nod, a smile to Barney's words, "Kaylee's in charge of personnel recruitment for the most part, but I'll let her know you want to be involved - I'm sure she won't have any problem with it."

A shake of his head, "Damn. What I wouldn't give for the old Pinehearst files right about now…"

"Oh. Yes well. That's very much true. My apologies Doctor." Barney huffs softly and clears his throat again. "I could not presume on what projects Miss Ray-Sumter wants your talents applied to, but if she is okay with it I will happily keep you in the loop on the progress and needs of the project." There's a slow glance over to Richard after that, a hopeful look on the giant ginger's features, lips pulled into a wide and happy smile. He's quite excited about the project, that much is very clear, more so now that the CEO is on board with it.

"Pinehearst? As in … Pinehearst? Weren't they involved in some very very illegal research? I mean, I guess knowledge is knowledge and coming armed with it is good but I imagine much of what they researched should not see the light of day again. And… I'm going to be quiet now." Yeah, middle management probably shouldn't be giving morality lectures to CEO's. There's a slight flush to his cheeks, embarassed at his actions. "My apologies Mister Ray."

"Pinehearst had some good ideas," Des counters gently. "They were just a little lacking in the ethics department." An affliction of which she is quite intimately aware. "Many of their projects shouldn't see the light of day, I expect, in the applications that were intended, but the research itself…" Research is neutral, in Desdemona's eyes. Intent comes with application.

"Exactly." The paper's used to gesture towards Des, even as Richard shakes his head, "There's no need to apologize, though, trust me - as I know all too well, much of what Pinehearst was working on was fairly horrific in application. One of the projects, though, was entitled the Garden of Eden Project. It was a plan to revitalize and green-ify Midtown after the explosion. It was research that would be invaluable right now."

Barney doesn't know Pinehearst like the two of them, that much is quite plain and clear to him. He looks between them for a few moments, silent before inclining his head in a gradual nod of acquiescense. "I suppose that is true. Research is no different from anything else. In the wrong hands it can be used to create devestation. In the right hands it could save the world. It is the way it's used. But I still think it would be best to leave sleeping beasts lie. Perhaps if either of you knows anything about the project we could conduct our own research into the field? Safer and more controlled research than I'm sure went on there?" Barney looks between both again, his hands holding his clipboard in front of him like it's a tiny shield.

Des fixes her boss with a look over the top of the frames of her glases as if to ask this is what you're paying him for, isn't it? This idea that they need to be kept in check to ensure they don't take things too far and lose sight of their ultimate mission. Knowledge, as she is well aware, is an addictive substance.

"It seems a shame to start from scratch when we could merely build upon years of previous research, but…" At any rate, they haven't got access to Pinehearst's files. Not that Des is aware at anyway.

Ray catches that look, his lips twitching slightly in response - his head tipping just a bit to her in wordless confirmation. He rubs a hand at the nape of his neck, admitting, "The original plan required a certain combination of Evolved abilities, although I admit I don't know the details - I was never really clear on what Delphine even did. I know that the Commonwealth Institute had picked up on the research, the Garden of Eden Project for after a nuclear war, but… again, we don't have those files."

A pause, "I'll ask around certain circles, see if anyone's got any back ups or have anything dredged up."

Barney of course doesn't catch that look between them. He's not a devious person. He doesn't think to look for secret looks between a scientist and a CEO. Of course he also has ZERO clue about either of their REAL histories. Otherwise he'd probably be on them like a hawk. Watching their every which move. "But perhaps that research was flawed. Perhaps it was approaching things from a different perspective and our research would be tainted by that perspective. And by our I of course mean the brilliant minds here. Like in life, when you find a difficult task and put it down for a little while, and come back to it with a fresh perspective later on and then wonder how it was that you couldn't figure it out to begin with."

"Ahh. Well right there. It relies upon elements that we may not have and may not be able to acquire. Pinehearst as I understand it was not at all worried about how they acquired what they wanted. So we may not have the same access to abilities that they do. And would it not be best for our research not to rely upon the whims of people? And would it not benefit from being based on hard science? People and their abilities come and go. But science? Won't leave us." He smiles at them both again, his hands still holding that clipboard, shifting it from hand to hand, holding it in front of him, fidgeting with it really. He does look a little nervous at the idea of digging up Institute files and research, but the frowny face of beardy disapproval is quite clear. He doesn't however say anything about Richard asking around. He already feels like he's overstepped himself after all.

While Barney's sentiment would be shared - is shared in some respects - by Des, today it causes her to quirk one eyebrow. "You know, you remind me of somebody I used to know during the war," she muses. It sounds like it's meant to be a positive association. And because she is devious, she expects Ray will know exactly what she means by it.

"You're right, of course, but we can't simply ignore the advantages that having the right ability to assist science along can give us," Richard says with a tip of his head in agreement with Barney, a wry smile answering his concerns, "We aren't going to be delving into anything unethical or easily abusable, Barney, don't worry — but if there is any research or blueprints to re-invigorating agriculture in an area, it's worth looking into." Hands spread, one holding the man's paper, "All above board."

Then there's Des's words, and without looking over he casually swats her shoulder with the paper he's holding.

"Well, I hope that's in a good respect. It sounds like it is. I've been called naive more than a time or two, but I understand the realities of the world around us. I just prefer to look ahead, and how to make things better rather than dwell on what has happened. I didn't fight in the war. I'm not much of a fighter. But I was still there. Help and aid. I worked with red cross and other volunteer groups. Bringing food and bandages to refugees and victims." Barney offers a small and maybe somewhat sad smile to Des. "That's a big part of why I wanted to work here. I wanted to help make a difference."

Barney is a big softy. "I… well yes. I suppose that is what I was worried about Mister Ray. I wasn't trying to be so obvious with my concerns, but I have a terrible poker face. I learned that when I always got invited to company poker games. I've never been much good at hiding my feelings. So I do apoligize if I've been out of line."

Des yelps in surprise when the paper catches her shoulder, caught off guard. "The people I knew during the war were definitely not naive." Again, she makes it sound like a positive, but she is backing away a step from Richard now, out of arm's reach. She moves along quickly.

"That makes two of us, Barn'. I only accepted the offer because I was promised we're going to do a lot of good here." Des flashes a grateful smile in Ray's direction. "It feels good to be making strides in my field again." Even if she'll never be able to take credit for it properly.

"And that's what we're here to do," says Richard rather firmly to the words of both of them, "To do good for the world. I have no intentions of making the mistakes my… our predecessors have made." The paper's used to gesture towards Barney purposefully, "We need that sort of attitude, to make sure we don't make those mistakes. So stop apologizing for things, since that's what I want you here to do."

A wry smile's offered Des's way, "And it's good to see you making those strides, honestly."

Barney chuckles quietly at the paper swatting from Richard, Barney seeing with the interplay between them now that they know eachother beyond CEO and employee. But that actually makes him smile again. "Well I appreciate the compliment then Miss Desjardin. I'm sure I'd enjoy meeting your friend. And I'm glad you're finding satisfaction in your work. Having a rewarding job that makes you feel accomplished is important." Go team!

"So… I'm the morality police?" Barney asks with raised brows, a laugh leaving him, a deep chesty booming sort of laugh that echoes in the lab a little bit. "I can be that. Well, thank you for taking the time to listen to and consider my proposal Mister Ray. If you need any further work done by me on it just let me know."

"Yes. It does," Des agrees regarding rewarding work. Though she doubts very much that anyone at RayTech wants to meet any of her old friends from the war. She certainly hopes not to see them again. The only one she'd like to reunite with, well… Desdemona never has believed in the afterlife.

Then there's a sudden vulnerability in Des' posture at Ray's praise. It's especially evident in her blue eyes when she looks at him. Lips press together slightly, like she's attempting to stem the tide of emotion, and she nods her head once in gratitude.

"I'll let you know what they say at the Co-Op," Richard assures Barney, "It really is an excellent proposal, and I'm sure the people of the Zone would greatly benefit from it." The public relations boost would just be a bonus — and unlike many corporate executives, he actually cares more about the former than the latter. "And I'll let my sister know you want to come along to see if the agrokinetic can be located."

He catches the look from Des, and notes to both of them, "Nobody would be here if I didn't believe they could make our work here a success, and make the world better in that success."

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