From Beyond


dana_icon.gif richard4_icon.gif warren_icon.gif

Scene Title From Beyond
Synopsis In the weeks following the Battle of Detroit, SESA comes to Raytech with an unusual discovery.
Date March 16, 2020

The engineering laboratories of Raytech Industries New York office are usually busy spaces. Prototype fabrication of robotics technology happens here in the labs, where 3D printers and machine fabrication units can make limited production runs for testing purposes. It is a noisy space, full of machinery and engineers, technicians, and designers working together to build a brighter future through innovation. It’s become even busier since Warren Ray decided to settle in the Safe Zone after so many years heading up the Detroit office.

It is Warren and Richard that are waiting in a conference room off of the engineering floor with a pair of technical analysts with specializations in hard materials and geology on hand. George Farmer and Asma Abidi are experts in their field, respectively, and had blocked out a few hours from their schedule for an important and rather confidential meeting to discuss analysis of something Raytech recovered from the site of the incident in Detroit.

When the conference room door opens for the last guest, it’s SESA scientist Dana Carrington who makes her way in, cradling a tablet to her chest while carrying a small black box with the other. “Sorry about the wait, traffic is actually crazy up here now what with things being open.”

Dana smiles apologetically, then comes over to an empty seat at the conference table, setting down her tablet. “I finished material spectral analysis of the artifact last week and did my best to conduct a thorough historic review of what we might know about it. I’ve gotta say… I wasn’t expecting the results we got. But it… might help explain some of what happened in Detroit.”

Dana sets down the box and slowly opens it. “This?” She says with a lift of her brows.

Inside the box rests a broken piece of a sword.

“This isn’t steel.

The Kensei sword.

Raytech NYCSZ Branch Office
Research & Development

March 16th
9:44 am

“Well, that’s some great news, because frankly I don’t understand half of what happened in Detroit,” Richard admits shamelessly, gloved hands pressing against the table to help him half-stand in a peer down into the box. Oh, good, at least they took Squeaks’ blood off the blade, that would have been grim. He supposes it would’ve interfered with material investigation.

Then she says what she says, and he looks up with a bemused expression, “Well, it’s sure as hell not iron, or gold. It’s too old to be titanium. What is it?”

"Is it the materialized essence of space and time?" Warren asks in a perfectly serious tone, sitting back in his chair and sipping tea. "I'm trying this new tea, they say it'll make me miss Eve less. It's not working. That YouTube channel, StarGatePizzaTruth666 isn't as legit as it sounds." he decides, sighing in disappointment.

But he leans in, his eyes mirroring over while trying to get a closer look at the blade and its possible innerworkings.

Though perhaps it's just a blade, who knows.

It takes a good, long moment for Dana to peel her attention away from Warren. Her last face-to-face encounter with him ended with Richard nearly getting shot in the leg, so there’s a hint of prey-animal trepidation that she has to tamp down.

“It’s not gold,” Dana says, slowly pivoting her focus to Richard, “not titanium,” she adds while pulling out rubber gloves from her jacket, tugging them on, “or— materialized spacetime,” comes with a deep breath and a close of her eyes.

Dana picks up the shattered piece of the weapon from its case, bringing it over to stand between Richard and Warren, retrieving a hand-held magnifying lens as she does. “This grain,” she says with a gesture to a diagonal pattern in the blade, “is what I think confused most historians. On the surface, it looks like the type of grain you would see in a carbonate steel.”

Dana walks the fragment back to where the box is and sets it back inside. “The blade of the Kensei sword is actually composed of a ferrochromium chromite of cobalt-chromium.” Picking up her tablet, Dana looks over to Richard and Warren. “Cobalt-chromium is used in… dental and orthopedic implants. It’s highly corrosion-resistant and extremely strong.”

Dana looks down at the tablet, then up to Richard and Warren again. “Chromium as a mineral wasn’t even isolated until the late 1790’s, roughly 100 years after this sword was forged. But that wouldn’t make this composition.” She says with a gesture to the fragment. “Ferrochromium can only be produced in an electric arc furnace using a leaching process that introduces silica and aluminum to the cobalt-chromium material.”

Dana swipes on the tablet, sending information on the metal to Richard and Warren’s devices. “It gets more interesting. The cobalt content in the sword is higher than what you might find in traditional ferrochromium construction, especially lab-made. Depending on how much of a mineral nerd you are, you might know cobalt has some specific magnetic properties.”

Dana then swipes over spectrum analysis of cobalt magnetic field properties. “Normally it’s nothing special except, here? In this fragment?” Dana then swipes over an MRI scan of an SLC-Expressive person, showing a visualization of the very subtle EM field emitted by all Expressives.

Then she swipes a projection of the sword in overlay, and they line up.

“This thing gives off EM radiation like an SLC-Expressive human.”

A lot of the metallurgy parts of this conversation fly over Richard’s head; while he’s not quite as science-adverse as he pretends sometimes, this is a field he’s never had any reason to even think about. Which is to say, he knows some of those words, but not in that order.

That last part, though? He understands that.

His eyes widen as he looks between the two projections. “Holy… no wonder it affected the Entity like that, it wasn’t the metal striking it at all…”

"So it's alive! Someone's possessing it, like an ancient living sword. The evil of the Necronomicon, or the Soul Edge. Muramasa!" Warren considers then immediately stands, slamming his hands against the table. "We have to build a machine! Something that can allow it to communicate… no, no, too far ahead! We have to see if we can read signs of life, like brain waves!"

He suddenly points at Richard. "I need to use you in some experiments, I have ideas for a prototype." Leaning in toward Richard, he yells, "Bird Demon, I need your help. If you comply, I will supply you with a living sacrifice. But no humans!"

Hands clasped like she’s praying, Dana takes in a slow breath, closes her eyes, and exhales another. “It’s not alive,” she says as plainly as she can. “It’s the cobalt. When we analyzed the metal of the sword, we determined that the cobalt in the blade must have been magnetized by some sort of event, and it retained that magnetism over time. Though the amount of energy we’re seeing now may be depreciated from its original state.”

Breezing right past further notions that the sword is alive, Dana swipes some data from Yamagato Industries onto Richard and Warren’s devices. “The Yamagato Fellowship was kind enough to furnish us with historic data on the Kensei Sword. According to historic record confirmed by the Japanese Society of Cultural Anthropology, the sword was forged by an exiled blacksmith named Kado sometime in the mid 1600s on the island of Hokkaido.”

Dana sets down her tablet. “Based on the material composition of the blade and the quasi-historic record of the sword’s forging, we believe the metal may have been meteoric in nature. The chromium-cobalt composition is comparable to previously discovered meteorites, which means the ferrochromium smelting was done on atmospheric entry.” Data notes with a little wag of her finger in the air.

“Delving into the entirely hypothetical, it’s possible the meteoric iron that came through the Earth’s atmosphere may have collided with some sort of atmospheric electromagnetic phenomenon,” Dana suggests, thoughtfully, “not entirely unlike what happened when the Looking Glass was opened, or what happened in Providence or Detroit.” She glances back down at the table. “A one-in-a-billion chance.”

Richard just looks at his brother with a flat expression as he’s shouted at, and then he brings one hand up to massage his temple. “No,” he tells him, without going into further detail on what he’s saying ‘no’ to.

Probably all of it.

“The auroral effect… so what we’re seeing here is metal that was affected during forging by the atmospheric effect created when superstrings come into alignment,” he muses, his lips pursing slightly as he looks down at it, “That’s why it had such an effect on Uluru. Since she seems to exist primarily as an energy form - not unlike, ah— “ He almost says Eve then catches himself, glancing to Warren and then moving on, “Instead of only damaging the host, it damaged her.”

Fingertips drum on the table as he leans back, “A one in a billion chance, maybe, but— in the hypothetical case that we could simulate the auroral effect, do you think we could re-create this metal, in a fully charged state?” He asks both of them. Focus, Warren.

Warren stares at the screen, listening as he takes everything in. His eyes are very normal, trying to focus, which is difficult with his ability on. At least, average normal human focus is difficult with his ability on. Then he looks over at Richard when he asks the question. "In theory we could probably easily recreate the effect. All we'd have to do is risk the destabilization of the entire universe, maybe possibly accidentally burning down an entire city. We have options. But…"

He shakes his head. "I'm not interested in messing with the universe. Someone get Zachery in here, maybe he has a good idea that'll inspire me." But then he rubs his chin, and holds up a finger. "Or… we simply go to the North Pole and send a sword into a natural aurora on a rocket and recreate the smelting event without destroying reality."

Right now,” Dana says with a motion of her hands out to each Ray brother, “we don’t have any concrete information on what the atmospheric conditions were like that created this meteorite. But it does raise questions about cobalt applications in Expressive-related technology. I cross-referenced SESA’s database of hardware and noticed that the Institute utilized cobalt in their construction of the Compass technology their retrievers were outfitted with.”

Dana sits back down in her seat, looking at her tablet. “There’s currently twenty-seven companies, worldwide, experimenting with different ferromagnetic metals with SLC-Expressive applications. Many of them are UK-based, and some are in technologies like restraints and containment. Nothing I could find was on the level of what we’ve discovered, though.”

“I do caution that anything we might discover from continuing research could open a Pandora’s box that we can’t close,” Dana warns, looking up from her tablet.

Richard draws in a slow breath, then exhales it heavily, one hand coming up to rub against his forehead. “You said it yourself, Dana,” he says quietly, “There are already twenty-seven other companies working on this. If we can crack it before them, that means that we can also work out countermeasures more quickly.”

His brother gets a frustrated look, “Please focus on reality for five seconds, Warren…” Back to Dana, he shakes his head, “This at least gives us somewhere to start— we can cross-reference other records we have to see if cobalt’s mentioned. Nowak’s work, the parts of Amaterasu we’ve discovered… hrn. Maybe we can use this in the superstring detector somehow?”

“In the meantime, there’s a lot of experimenting we can do, but you’re right. We need to do this very, very carefully, and with a high level of security.”

"The reality is that I may not present all ideas because my mind is full of Pandora's Boxes!" Warren admits, but raises a finger. "However… I want the inconsistencies in the sword to be studied, in a way that my ability would not allow! Do you know how people study rocks, old rocks, and trees, counting the rings?" he asks, wondering.

"I want you to unravel the sword fragment. Not literally, but scientifically. We do not know the atmospheric conditions of how the sword was created, however, scientists are able to determine very specific atmospheric conditions of the past by simply studying rocks! Therefore, I want the fragment to be studied, as closely as possible, despite how refined it is!" He taps his finger hard on the table. "I want any imperfection, no matter how insignificant, within the sword fragment to be found, identified, and catalogued. Any mineral, any inconsistencies in heat, anything at all. And then I want those imperfections cross referenced with historical atmospheric data, which I will analyze with my sister, Lisa Frank 420. I mean, Lisa, just Lisa. However, you cannot tell her that this is historical data, I want the information to be presented in lay terms, in an apparently orderly timeline, or at least as orderly as possible."

"And then…" He points to Dana. "I want everything that we write to be presented to any specialists who analyzed the sword data. We'll figure out what to do next from there. I have a hunch, about a potential new kind of power armor. However, we need to do this step first. And while this is happening, I want as much data as possible collected on the energy given off by expressives! I want the focus of this sword research to be seeing if this energy can be stored, and returned, and what happens when you return it."

“Okay, okay, woah, before we go straight to Master Chief here…” Dana says with a swiping motion of her hands, “any further analysis of this thing with SESA’s assistance is going to need to get approved. That’s not a knock on you all, it’s just procedure.”

“The companies that are performing cobalt-related Expressive research all exist outside of the US,” Dana continues, pulling up a map on her tablet. Some in Canada, most in the EU and Russia. “For good reason, too. The US banned that kind of research along with combat robotics because of what the Institute was doing. It was intended as a preventative measure to stop companies from developing Compass tech here in the US, which we also have an import ban on.”

Dana makes a noise in the back of her throat. “I’m not disagreeing with the why, but we need to proceed carefully. I can put together a presentation for Secretary Nazan-Gutierrez, once she’s official. Things are kind of snarled right now with— with everything that happened.” News of Claudia’s death had only just been made public. So many strings, severed.

Richard clears his throat, reminding his brother gently, “Dana doesn’t actually work for us, Warren.”

That said, he motions with a hand towards Dana, “If we don’t start with this research, we’re going to fall behind. At the current rate of scientific advancement, we’re heading to a new arms race — I don’t think that we’re going to want to fall behind.”

Then his eyes narrow slightly, “And given that our government’s official scientific studies have been wandering into areas that would get international sanctions levied against us if they were made public, I think it might be in everyone’s interest if the government was willing to lessen those anti-Expressive research limitations in our case. We’ll be happy to have SESA along for the ride, of course.”

"Well, first, you're hired." Warren points at Dana. "And second, I want clauses about the uses of my research and inventions when it comes to war and weaponry. I want to know exactly what I can patent and control among these things so that they aren't misused. There will always be spies and thieves and people from the future, but I have a plan for those."

Then, pointing at Dana again. "Are you morally concerned for the destruction of human civilization? This is an important question, because your interest in the preservation of reality could get you a much higher salary than you have now."

“I— I’m not…” Dana looks between Warren and Richard. “I’m quite happy with SESA, but I— appreciate— the— offer?” There’s a halting amount of uptalk in the tail end of Dana’s sentence, followed by a visible grimace. “But I— I do like Earth. I keep my favorite things here.”

“Look I understand your concerns, both of you.” Dana says with a gesture to the box with one hand. “But so long as we do this legally, we won’t run into roadblocks of our own creation. Right now we’re already a few years behind the curve with cobalt-related research, but no one is in any stage of prototyping or development that I know of.”

Exhaling a slow sigh, Dana slides the box with the shards of the Kensei sword back over to her side of the table. “That said, outside of broad applications, there is a distinct desire within SESA to investigate the properties of this metal specifically in regards to how it interacts with the Entity.”

Dana threads an auburn lock of hair behind one ear. “After what happened in Detroit and Sunspot, people way above my pay grade have started to pay attention. Which is why I’m saying that we need to play this safe for the moment. If Raytech can stay on the government’s good side long enough, you might be able to land a discretionary research budget to further investigate this.” She says with a tap to the box.

I believe in you all,” Dana says with a sheepish smile. “Plus, you two are the only people who’ve been able to successfully open a doorway between realities that I know of. So… let’s just say I have a bit of professional curiosity as to where this could all go.”

“Warren…” Richard sighs, taking his shades off and setting them down before rubbing a hand over his face, “…just… leave her choice of career alone, alright?”

His hand falls, and he nods a little, “I’m sure there is. We’re the best suited to discover how we can use this to deal with the Entity when it re-emerges again, and I’m happy to work with the government on that, especially if they’re willing to give us a budget. We’re basically the only player in the dimensional technologies game right now, after all. If we can figure out how to use this alloy to create a stable energy field that can directly interact with it, we might have a way to permanently imprison or destroy it.”

“And I’ll try to stay on their good side, Dana, but right now I’m a little upset at some of the bullshit they pulled at PISEC, and I’m not going to pretend I’m not.”

"I am a man of business, it's my responsibility to make business bigger." Warren moves to grab suspenders with his thumbs, but there are none, so he looks mildly annoyed. "I need a suspender man so I can snap his suspenders when I need to."

But, back to the topic at hand… "If we're going to do these experiments, we're going to need a more remote lab, specially for these experiments. I predict unpredictable energy interactions, possibly dangerous things that might endanger people who live around our building."

He starts doodling something on his tablet screen. "The biggest issue isn't, however, explosions, but the potential to create power surges if we discover new kinds of uncontrollable energy. You may think that it's unlikely, but if we're dealing with something that can potentially affect the Entity, then we're thinking with unpredictable quantum weirdness! And even if I don't know the specific technology that we'll be creating, I estimate… is estimate a good word?"

He flips his screen around to show a bunch of concept scribbles and schematics. "Well, I estimate that most of the things we'll come up with will involve the discovery of new energy and the applications of new energy. And while I do not suspect we will be opening a bridge, as I will shoot anyone who tries, I do believe that we will be interacting with the concept of higher dimensions, beyond simply alternate realities. So the most safe thing to do is have these experiments outside of a populated area. And everyone who works there has to sign a waiver."

Dana just sort of stares at Warren, then slowly pivots a look over to Richard. “Just…” she glances at Warren again, then back to Richard, “try to remember the government isn’t a monolith, just like cultures, and races. Different branches do different things, and it sounds like your beef is with the Department of Justice and…” she makes a face, “Ms. Zimmerman, I suppose.”

Breathing in deeply, Dana sighs away any crestfallen expression that comes with bringing up the late Secretary of SESA. Instead, she closes the box with the shards and drums her finger on the top.

“It’ll take a while for things to be drafted. If you want to use this facility for our research, you’ll definitely need to expand, otherwise we’ll try and look for an independent lab that can handle the level of investigation we’ll need to perform.” Dana explains thoughtfully, pushing out her chair with her legs as she lifts the box up into her arms with her tablet.

“Science isn’t quick, though.” Dana emphasizes. “Whatever information we’re going to glean from these fragments, it’s going to take a while. In the interim, we’ll share data between one-another and once we have a lab in place, we can start digging into what this actually means and if we can replicate anything related to its effects on the Entity.”

Dana’s brows furrow. “Was there anything else?” She asks the two heads of Raytech. “Because if not, I’ll head back to Fort Jay and get the ball rolling on this.”

“That sounds reasonable,” Richard says with a slight nod to Dana’s suggestion, while entirely ignoring Warren’s current rant. He’s gotten a lot of practice at that, and his brother appears to have gone around the bend again with his discussion of hazardous testing areas away from civilization. Or whatever he’s talking about. “Of course, if the government would be willing to pass along some money for this work we’d be able to establish a better lab to investigate this - and while they might find an independent lab that already has the facilities, I’ll point out that any other source of dimensional science expertise would be potentially a threat to the country and possibly the world.”

He adds dryly, “The government may not be a monolith, but I’m not my duplicate. I’m happy to play ball if they give me the resources to.”

"That's all from me, as long as you remember that I'll entirely shut everything down if everyone gets out of hand and puts reality in danger if I start giving unheeded warnings. Otherwise, I'm good to go!" Warren reclines back in his chair, pulling out an ink pen to flip in between his chromium fingers, staring at the ceiling. "For all that I've been accused of being reckless over the years, I find that the most reckless people are those with ambition beyond the betterment of mankind."

He removes the cap of the ink pen, examining the very tip closely. He doesn't use his ability, he stares at it with relatively normal eyes. "I indulge my brother's desire for defending the world, rescuing people, and occasionally abstract paranoia. But just remember that my primary goals are the progress and recovery of humanity, and the preservation of our reality. And if anything is a detriment to either of those goals, if anyone gets too ambitious beyond the scope of what I believe is safe…"

The pen is entirely crushed in his chromium hand, ink spilling down his arm as he stares between Dana and Richard, his eyes now reflecting the room back at them. "I, the second most intelligent human being on the planet, will shut things down in a manner that no one will really have much of a say in, before you even realize that it's happening. So what I'm extending to you both is trust."

He points to Dana. "Trust in your sincere desire to do what you believe is right, and maintain the ability to accept a no if presented with one." Then, he points at Richard, with an inky finger. "And trust in your ability to control yourself if you're presented with a monkey's paw, because I will rip it from your hands and destroy it if it happens again."

Then he suddenly stands, stretching. "Warm glazed pretzels! I ordered some, no disgusting salt. We should go have lunch. I'll wait for you to get done here!" he says to Richard as his eyes return to normal, his mood flipping on a dime. He starts heading out of the room, wiping the ink from his hand with a napkin.

For all that Dana treats Warren like a domesticated tiger — a mixture of deference and nervousness — there’s a hint of something else toward the end of his rant. Something tucked away behind thick glasses and a wry smile. But she turns to Richard, one brow raised. “I mean… if you draft a request for finances I can kick it up the chain to the new Director when she’s all official.”

And just like that, things can change.

“But uh,” Dana slides a look back to Warren, “all things being equal in the protection of universal stability…” she purses her lips and slides a look back and forth between Richard and Warren.

“I’m absolutely up for some takeout and pretzels.”

After all, you can’t save the world on an empty stomach.

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