Game Theory Can Work For You


elisabeth2_icon.gif evan_icon.gif

Scene Title Game Theory Can Work For You
Synopsis Evan has come up with the connections they expected… now, can he come up with the ones that will break it all?
Date Mar 17, 2011


How long does it take to eat an elephant? In this case, about as long as the turn of a season.

It's been just over three months since Evan started working on his latest project. Slow going, but then it was borne of strange visions nearly a year earlier, and he's had a number of other things to worry about in the meantime. Finally, just as it was seeming to be too much for him, some connections began to emerge from the chaos… then some more, and then some more after that, like a stone finally gathering momentum as it hits a downhill slope. A few days to double-check things, and to clear a block of time on his schedule, before he finally called Elisabeth back. "Hello, it's Professor Langford. If you have some time later this afternoon—?"

"I'll make the time, Professor," Elisabeth replied immediately.

And now she's walking through the halls to Evan Langford's office, wearing a pair of jeans and a white button-down shirt and chocolate blazer. Her blonde hair is loose and swishes around the middle of her back as she knocks on his door, looking …. well… as casual as Elisabeth can get these days. She waits for him to allow her entry and steps inside. "Professor?"

He looks much the same as she saw him before. A green shirt - not because he cares about the tradition, but because it saves him getting the same earful about it twenty times - and the one tie he owns that (a) matches it and (b) hasn't picked up any stains yet.

"There are some significant patterns here," he offers, settling back down behind his desk after showing her in. A tap-tap of fingers against laptop brings up a series of graphs, tersely annotated here and there. "It looks like someone laid hands on a Grays Sports Almanac, only instead of following it, they're steering toward it."

Elisabeth closes the door behind her and says with a faint grin, "You're going to have to pretend that I'm one of the dumb freshmen who wandered in. But that would be an accurate summation of what we expected to see, at least. So talk to me about the particulars."

Tap tap. "Everything on the left here is from the potential timeline described in your notes— let's call that P. On the right is the actual timeline, up through the present, call that A. A number of things roughly match up— enough to just count as background noise, unless something else more specific comes up that ties them back in. Some things don't match at all, at least so far. The more interesting cases are the ones that match, but at different times, different circumstances…" As he explains, some different sections zoom in, the comments expanding in detail as well. "This still happened, but later in A than in P." The fall of the Company. "So did this." The public exposure of Moab; the dispersal of its former inmates. "And this has already happened in A— same person, same place, same number of casualties. In P, it didn't happen for another couple of months. Some of it may be coincidence, but I seriously doubt all of it."

"Okay……" Elisabeth looks at his results and frowns a little bit. "Well, we're pretty certain it's not coincidence. The people we're working on thwarting seem to be of the opinion that the timeline needs to remain the same in order for … well, they claim they're trying to save a bunch of people." She glances at him. "So … we already sort of know that they're using the original timeline as a template to push certain things along. The question we need of this data is… are there places where we can entirely derail it all?"

She adds softly, "And whether the things that are likely to occur as a result are worse."

Evan frowns, scratching his head as he scrolls further down. As the view switches from present to future, Timeline A drops out entirely, the other expanding and dividing into sections to take over the full screen. A few events flash in red and green: a hostile corporate acquisition here, a new stretch of parkland there. A shakedown of the Registration system. "Here are some events that haven't happened yet, but still could, all with major ramifications if they do. Derailing any one of these might be enough to break the chain. The problem is, I still don't know what type of specific event they're trying to steer toward, or away from. If I knew that, then I might be able to tell you whether they're right, or whether they're just a cargo cult with the dumb luck to have access to time travel. Without it— sorry, no idea."

Elisabeth studies his screen, leaning on the desk with a thoughtful expression. "I…. can only tell you what I know or suspect, honestly. I know that a war is going to break out. I don't know… precisely how it'll play out, except that according to some precogs it's already begun. Things like…. machines that track Evos on the streets. The DoEA is already running those tests, the machines already function." She tilts her head. "With what you've already put together from this, though, it's at least a place to start." She runs a hand through her hair. "Can I have a copy of what you've got so far?" she asks. "And if I come up with additional information, would it be all right to contact you with it?"

"I— can get you a copy tomorrow?" Evan replies, leaning back and considering. "It's not at all space-optimized, but I can expense an external hard drive and throw it onto that. And yes, the more information, the better… I suppose there's a risk of counterattack, but if they're going to jump to that without trying to talk first, then they'll probably go after you before they do me." After all, she's the one with access to all the field operatives, right?

The blonde offers him a faint half smile. "I'd say that's an accurate assessment as well," Elisabeth says quietly. "Send me the receipt and I'll make sure you're reimbursed for the drive." It'll come out of her pocket. "Don't expense it, though. I don't want anyone asking what you're working on." She pushes upright to sigh heavily. "I'll update your information and have anything that's not in your records currently couriered up to you," she tells him softly. "We may only have one shot at this… assuming it can be swerved at all. But I don't believe in letting other people assume that just because they lived a timeline that it's the best one for everyone else."

Evan shakes his head. "Neither do I. And if they're not interested in discussing the matter, then it's that much more likely that they are fanatics going off half-assed. At least things should go a lot faster from this point onward— hopefully we'll be able to come up with some answers in less than a decade." Locking the screen again, he stands up as well, looking toward the door. It's a whole world out there.

"We don't have that long, I promise you," Elisabeth says quietly. She pauses. And then she says, "We're having a meeting tomorrow night. You should join. We'll be talking about the information we do have and brainstorming options. I think your information would be extremely valuable." She smiles a little. "And one of the things that we know for sure about the person we're working against? He plays his little games in secret. So the more people in the know on our side, we figure the better off we are. Bring the drive with you, and we'll have a computer set up to show what you've already accomplished?"

Evan arches a brow, turning back. A person? More evidence of a cult. He tries not to read too much into it, though; it could be a figure of speech. "I can do that. Actually, I'll bring the laptop just in case, but a projector would be helpful."

Elisabeth nods. "Good. We'll see you tomorrow night, then. I'll text you a location and pick you up there." There's a pause. "Back up the data on the external hard drive, though, okay? And put it somewhere safe. Just in case." It's not paranoia when they're really out to get you.

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