It's A Sabotage


corbin_icon.gif zelda_icon.gif

Scene Title It's A Sabotage
Synopsis Corbin and Zelda meet up and discuss their investigation into the recent power outages.
Date September 19, 2018

Yamagato Building - Zelda's Office

It’s only Wednesday, and it’s already been a long week. A large amount of Zelda’s job involves going over documents, reading the boring documentation that would make most people rip their hair out. Not Zelda — while it can be boring at times, she loves her job. It’s rather different than the law she used to practice — though this is certainly not a bad thing. In some ways, it’s much easier, mostly when she doesn’t have to perform in front of a court any longer.

It’s also much more secluded, which the quiet woman somewhat prefers to the chaos of her old law office.

Quietly, Zelda scrolls through one such document, leaning back in her chair and crossing her legs at the ankle. She’s dressed smart today, sporting a neatly tailored pantsuit in a deep mauve color, and her unruly ringlets are pulled up into a neat bun, the occasional curl escaping to hang down one side of her face or another.

On her desk is a tea set, complete with an electric hot water kettle, because she doesn’t like going anywhere without her tea; the freshest mug is still steaming, and she occasionally lifts it to sip carefully at the hot contents as she reads.

The sudden knock on the door is not really a surprise. The secretary downstairs had buzzed him up. A SESA Agent, they had said. Corbin Ayers. He’s not one of the well known SESA agents, and one might imagine his manner of dress could be one of the reasons why. Unlike the woman he’s meeting as he pokes his head in, he’s not dressed super smart. The clothes themselves are fine, a suit, jacket and a tie, but the shirt isn’t tucked in as tight as most, his tie isn’t quite as well put together (in fact it might be a clip on after a second glance) and the brown curls with some gray on his head aren’t very well contained. They kinda go whatever way they want, only the short length giving them a semblance of control.

“Wilhelmina Falkenrath?” He asks, even though the door doesn’t exactly say that. “I’m Corbin Ayers from SESA. I was sent to help with the current investigation into the power disruptions.” He has a case with him, hanging from his shoulder. It seems more a carrier case than a briefcase, but it functions just the same, carrying essential paperwork, a small tablet and other such things that one needs when carrying out an investigation.

Large brown eyes flip up to the door as the expected guest makes his appearance; Zelda can’t really help but give him an appraising look, evaluating his outfit and general appearance. He gets points for trying, at least — most people hardly do that much.

“Mister Ayers,” she replies in that sharp British clip, putting on a large smile and gesturing to the seat across the desk. “Call me Zelda. Please do come in. Care for a bit of tea? I have Black, White, Oolong and Green, whichever you might prefer.” She gestures to the tea set, a charming smile upon her features.

“I must say that investigations are a bit of a new realm for me, but I do hope that we can figure all of this out together,” she continues, tapping the screen of her tablet a few times to bring up the files pertinent to the investigation in question.

“Then please call me Corbin. I’ll keep looking over my shoulder for my father if you call me Mister Ayers.” Agent Ayers felt less strange to his ears, but Mister. That would always be his father, even though the man had passed on. At her offer, he moves closer to sit on the chair of the opposite side of her desk, nodding. “Oolong, please,” he accepts that offer. All the teas sounded good, and of the four, Oolong was less likely to come upon in good quality.

“We don’t know a lot about what is happening yet, obviously, or if abilities are even involved,” because SESA, in the end, had been supposed to focus on incidents involving SLC-Es, either discrimination against or crimes caused by. They didn’t know for sure yet what had caused these incidents, but that is what they needed to find out.

“I have been doing investigations for quite a long time, but to start the most important thing we need is information. Can you bring me up to speed, from yours and Yamagato’s view, of what happened?”

A warm smile is offered to Corbin’s insistence that she not call him Mister Ayers, accompanied by a bob of her head in a small nod. “Corbin, then,” she replies, and sets about making him a cup of tea. She has a whole ritual around it, as well — a button is pressed on the water kettle, which begins to heat itself, while Zelda empties a few scoops of tea into a tea ball shaped like a little sloth. This is hung on the side of a tea mug, and once the water is ready, she pours the water into the mug.

Leaving the tea to steep with a glance to the clock on her desk, the British woman turns, smiling to Corbin. “Well, those extended blackouts in August were solved by fixing a bug in our software,” Zelda starts as if she understands any of what she’s saying about bugs in software — she’s just parroting the reports from the more tech-savvy employees.

“So far, we haven’t found out what may have caused the blackout at Red Hook on the sixth, but it certainly isn’t the bug that we fixed.” Apparently, enough time has passed, because the woman lifts the sloth out of the mug. “With that in mind, sabotage should at least be considered. Sugar?” She doesn’t offer cream, because one does not sully an Oolong with cream.

“If you want my own view, the tech savvy folks fixed the problem, whatever it was, but the most recent outage happened despite their work — and they do good work.” Zelda gestures to her tablet, as if to illustrate her point. “I don’t understand technology very well, but the fact that this has happened despite our best minds doing their best work screams foul play to me. But then, I know little about technology, so my opinion should only be accounted for as an uneducated opinion.”

“Looking for sabotage would be important. The blackouts are only increasing the food shortage the area is already dealing with, and things will get worse if it continues into the winter.” Corbin remembered the freak Blizzard almost a decade ago and the city had had far more infrastructure then, most people would weather that storm. If they had a bad winter and the power kept going out, people would freeze, people would accidentally kill themselves trying to stay warm by using space heaters without proper ventilation or burning things they should not.

It could lead to even more disaster than this already is becoming. This was something they needed to make sure did not happen again. “Is there anyone you can think of who would have a motive for sabotage? That would gain something from it?” Cause usually people only did things for gain.

He does nod at the sugar, though.

Apparently, one lump is all Corbin gets — mostly so he can still taste the expensive Oolong. There are still rules here. After stirring the tea, she slides the cup of steaming tea in front of the man with a small smile. She appreciates someone who chooses Oolong.

“I’ve not been with Yamagato for very long,” she replies, a thoughtful expression appearing on her face. “In my own personal observations, I would be remiss to not mention the potential of corporate sabotage — Praxis Heavy Industries is one of our largest competitors, and it could be an attempt to undermine our good name, in an attempt to gain a foothold in the market of rebuilding America.”

She lifts her own teacup, taking a sip and closing her eyes for a moment, before opening them and peering across the desk at Corbin. “On the other hand, it could easily be a disgruntled employee or former employee — perhaps a thorough examination of current and former tech employees would be in order.”

Praxis. Corbin didn’t know much about them, as he’s often had his hands in other investigations, but he has heard of them, of course. “It wouldn’t be a bad idea to run background checks on current and former employees, at least ones who have been working here within the last year or two. With you being a newcomer it might give you a perspective that someone who has been with the company a long time might have.” With the lump of sugar added, he gently stirs in it, the sharp clank of the spoon against the cup, though not too often or too loud. He taps the spoon on the rim, twice, before setting it back on the spoon holder in the set.

As he thinks, he takes a moment to inhale, before he takes his first sip. He doesn’t wrinkle his nose, or look surprised by the taste, so he must have been used it to at one point, even if he doesn’t get much access to it lately. And it was expensive. He could tell that much.

“Yamagato Park does not seem to be having nearly as much problems as the rest of the Safe Zone, so I can see how certain folks might take amiss to these outages.” The food shortages, the outages, all the rest, while those within the Park didn’t seem to be having any of the same problems. “Do you have any other sources we could look through?”

“I will get together our employee lists for you, then,” Zelda replies; that’s one of the few things she can offer up to Corbin without express permission from Taiki. “Perhaps looking over access logs might also be an ideal solution — if you like, I can get those for you, as well. It could provide at least a few leads into this investigation.”

She appraises his reaction to the Oolong — it’s a very earthy tea, and not always one for the inexperienced palate, so his lack of a reaction prompts a slight smile to touch the corners of her eyes. She also appreciates someone who can handle a good monkey-picked oolong.

“I feel that the people of the Safe Zone may start becoming angry at Yamagato Park and its employees — possibly even blaming us, despite investigation efforts.” She lifts her own tea, taking a sip and closing her eyes. Luxuries like these are one reason people may be upset with Yamagato.

“Honestly, I will be surprised if it isn’t some form of sabotage. This has potential to cause a loss of trust between the United States and this company, and give other companies a stronger foothold on the market of rebuilding this country.” She has her odds placed on some form of sabotage from Praxis. They stand to profit the most from a PR nightmare like this. “I may also look into any upcoming projects that may have open bids — perhaps find a list of any competitors, if only to rule them out.”

Yes, sabotage does seem like a possibility.

And with Yamagato shining bright while half of the Safe Zone might be black would certainly cause many eyes to turn that direction with anger. Especially now that he sees the District is definitely not lacking in supplies. Corbin ponders over the tea, frowning a little even as he nods at the promise of information. “I’ll go through it. I assume you have glanced over it yourself, was there anyone who stood out who you might want to mention?” And if not, well…

He would do what he could. The access logs would also be good to go through. How could someone have done what they did, cause a system bug and then this. It will require a looking into.

As an aside, after a sip of the tea, he adds a suggestion. “Perhaps you could suggest to your shareholders that an outreach would be a good idea, beyond the investigation. Maybe share some of your food supplies, or work on getting better shipments with your assets. Or perhaps a festival open to the public, with food and other things, sold at a discount to boost morale.”

It’s just a suggestion. He’s not really a member of Yamagato, so he couldn’t be the one to bring it to the shareholders or those in charge, but he knows that people tend to forget their problems when there’s a skeptical of some kind to gain their attention. And Japanese Festivals are famous the world over.

“I have, but not really in as much detail as I’d like. I’ll be reviewing them much more thoroughly tonight,” the woman replies, pulling a tablet stylus from the case housing her tablet and writing out a few notes on the screen. “I’ll be sure to flag any potentially interesting employees and access logs for you when I send them over.”

She sips her own tea, which is nearing the empty point, peering down at the loose leaves contained within with a thoughtful look on her face. This new job of hers is kind of exciting, now that the dull work of actually catching up with events is behind her.

His suggestion prompts her to raise her eyebrows slightly, and a pleasant smile migrates across her features. “That, Corbin, is a spectacular idea. I’ll certainly bring it up with our higher ups — it could be an excellent way to soothe some of the ill will towards Yamagato that I’ve been seeing pop up here and there.” Her curls bob up and down along with her head as she nods in agreement, before draining her tea.

She swirls the leaves in the cup a few times, before setting the cup down on its saucer.

With a nod, Corbin keeps his eyes on the cup of tea, swishing it around so he can enjoy the color as well as the smell, the way the hints of sugar change the texture of the surface just slightly. After another generous sip, he puts the cup down, holding it in a way that’s actually pretty proper for Japanese tea drinking. He may not be Japanese, but he knew a thing or five about the culture. He knew to cover the bottom of the cup from sight with his hand, that sort of thing.

“I’ll pay attention to your flags and share any I might notice as well,” he adds, with a nod. Luckily the internet is actually one of the more reliable things in his office at Fort Jay, just as it is here in Yamagato. They would be able to email back and forth and share information much more quickly than most of his investigations with outside sources. He won’t need to print things out and deliver them in person.

Though he had wanted to meet her, in person, at least. He grins as she seems to approve of his thought, nodding. He really did think it would do wonders for boosting morale between the citizens and Yamagato, especially if it included food, games and other such things that Japanese festivals are known for.

“Is there anyone else I should get in touch with on this investigation?” he asks, a hint of finality to the question. Cause there’s not much more they can talk about, it seems, until they both review the various logs.

The woman glances to her tablet, skimming through a few things, then blinks a few times. “Another possibility that I forgot to mention,” she murmurs, glancing up to Corbin, “is that group, The Horsemen. They’ve attacked our Pacific Northwest assets, and I believe we briefly had one…” She squints at her tablet, tapping the screen a few times. “…Eileen Ruskin on premises. I believe she was posing as a staff member until she was revealed to be a member of the Horsemen.” Another lead.

“I have both Marlowe Takada and Leroy Jackson on the technical aspects of this investigation — I will put them in touch with you in case they come across anything that raises the alarm bells.” She turns brown eyes up to Corbin, a smile on her face.

“Other than those topics, I’m fairly sure that’s about all I have.” She dips her head toward Corbin in an informal bow — nearly five months at Yamagato has influenced her a bit more toward Japanese mannerisms than she used to be, despite having little exposure to the culture beforehand. “It’s certainly been a pleasure meeting you, and I look forward to working with you to resolve these issues — and if we end up hosting a festival, I do hope to see you there.”

The Horsemen. That’s a different name than Praxis, and as far as he knew unconnected, but he does nod slowly as Corbin considers it. “We’ll look into that, as well.” Eileen Ruskin. That’s a name for the ages, in many ways. Maybe he should contact an old friend about that, but he shakes his head. It is something to look into. He pulls out his phone and types out the names that she gave, knowing that he can find their offices before he leaves, or at least get their extensions from the front desk. If not their mobile phone numbers.

“Thank you very much for the tea, Zelda,” he adds, returning her bow and not seeming to be too awkward about it. Or at least he doesn’t seem to look at her odd for having done it. Before he leaves, though, he does pick up the teacup and finish it off, still covering the bottom of the cup with his hand, cause really, no one wastes good tea. When he puts it back down gently at the tea set, he looks at her curiously.

“I will certainly be there.” He wouldn’t miss it, he can already imagine how much Hokuto will enjoy it, but he doesn’t say that outloud. Instead he has to ask, “Forgive me, if this is rude, but were a big Legend of Zelda fan growing up? Cause I can’t see how you went from Wilhelmina to Zelda, unless your middle name is Grizelda or something.”

The woman smiles warmly, watching Corbin finish the tea with a small nod of approval. “Happy to oblige,” she replies with a soft chuckle. “I do like seeing a person who enjoys a good Monkey-Picked Oolong as much as I do.”

The question prompts a snort and an amused eye roll. “Zelda Scott Fitzgerald was a favorite of my mother’s. I was born and given that as a middle name a year before the game came out, I believe.” She laughs, shaking her head. “I did like that I had the same name as the princess in the game, however, so that was a bit of a factor in my early adoption of my middle name as my main moniker.”

She chuckles softly, setting her tablet down and offering a demure handshake to Corbin. “Again, it was a pleasure to meet you.”

“Zelda Fitzgerald. Interesting, but she was certainly an interesting woman. I could see why a mother might have used it as a middle name.” And Corbin definitely won’t blame a young girl for using the name of a princess that happened to be her middle name rather than a shortened version of her first. “Sorry, you probably get a lot of people making that jibe at you,” he admits. “I get a ton of Korben Dallas jokes, and I had been born a long time before that movie.”

Thankfully they had mostly been after he had finished with school.

“We’ll definitely be exchanging emails soon, and I’ll stop by in person if I have any other questions or concerns I feel should be handled in person.” With a final nod, he leaves, to go see if he can find the offices of those previously mentioned.

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