Not An Attractive Hire


richard3_icon.gif zachery_icon.gif

Scene Title Not An Attractive Hire
Synopsis At the advice of a strange girl met in passing, Zachery makes an appointment at Raytech.
Date May 1, 2019


No sooner has Zachery stepped through the glass security doors of the lobby that there’s a mechanical roar as some sort of motorcycle goes tearing past him and down a hallway. Did it have four wheels and was lacking any sort of external covering? It just might have.

NO TESTING PROTOTYPES IN THE HALLS,” Richard is bellowing after it in exasperation, giving up on chasing it down after a few more steps and spreading his hands to either side, “Honestly. Jesus Christ.” He’s dressed in a nice suit, though the jacket’s undone at the moment.

One hand comes up to rub at his face, and then he starts to turn, calling over towards the secretary’s desk dryly, “You can stop hiding, Sera, she’s gone, and— ah, hello.” A brow lifts as he catches sight of Zachery, raising over the edge of a pair of silver-edged darkened glasses that conceal his eyes, “Can I help you?”

"Kkkhhh-" This will forever be the first sound that leaves Zachery upon entering the building. Forever. Not 'hello', not 'thank you for receiving me', just a breath leaving him through gritted teeth while his every muscle underneath his black peacoat seems to lock up.


Having barely even caught sight of the blur that may have just nearly ended his life, he steps further forward. A little cautiously at first, but managing to regain some composure a handful of steps in. His eyes scan left, then right, then settle on the the man currently addressing him — or eye, singular, perhaps, his left an unhelpful all-white.

"Yes, I, ah- perhaps." He pauses, flashing the beginnings of an all too pleasant, practiced smile while his attention darts briefly toward the secretary's desk. "I was looking for a Richard Ray. I called ahead."

“Did you? I…” Richard’s brow knits a bit as he looks to the desk, “Sera, do I have an appointment?”

A female voice drifts from behind it, accompanied by the sound of… someone eating crackers between words? “Yes. Doctor Zachery Miller,” she reports, “Undisclosed business.”

The executive pinches between his eyes for a moment, draws in a breath, exhales it. “Alright,” he murmurs to himself, clearly having one of those days, and then he’s flashing a bright corporate smile back to the man, “Well, you’ve found him. Right this way, Doctor Miller.”

He turns and starts walking — not, it must be noted, after the mechanical conveyance that just roared by — down one of the hallways, “So what’s this about?”

There's an air of unpreparedness, as Zachery waits. His fingers twitch idly at his sides, like he'd prefer to have a suitcase or… something, anything, while he waits and watches things unfold.

The smile offered in return serves to raise the visitor's eyebrows, as if in relief. Only for them to come right down again when he's confronted with the fact that he probably should have remembered what Richard looks like. But it's been a hell of a few weeks.

He'll have to worry about this later. Right now, he plays the part of someone who knows how to look somewhere near professional, leaning forward into a steady gait as he follows. "I… this may sound strange," he starts, crisply, long dulled British accent pulling at his words perhaps ever so slightly more than usual, "but I'm just going to open with it in the interest of everyone's time."

As he walks, his gaze flits from the side of Richard's face to any and all parts of the hallway that isn't floor, door or walls. "Do you know anyone by the name of Lisa Bradbury?"

“I guarantee, Doctor, whatever you have to say…” A hint of dry humor in Richard’s voice, his own accent distinctly New York but softened by travel elsewhere, “…I’ve heard stranger.”

He stops briefly at a station near the desk in passing, offering out a lanyard and pass. “Take this, it’ll keep security from going off,” he cautions, and then continues down the hallway, musing, “Bradbury… mnm. Not off the top of my head, but I know a lot of people. Why?”

As he glances over, a quadrupedal robot about knee-height stalks along past down the hallway, a manipulator arm carrying a satchel of files.

The pass is taken without question, lanyard gripped in a hand all too familiar with these things. Zachery is less familiar, however, with the view of the actual fucking robot that enters his peripheral vision.

It gives him enough pause to completely miss that Richard's moved on, leaving him standing there to follow the path of the files and their carrier as well as his eye allows him. A hard swallow later, and he… turns back to see Richard has gone. Oh.

"Ah- yes! Sorry, I'm-…" His smile has gone, though he does collect himself quickly enough to catch up without much of a delay. "That's… interesting. She called herself a good friend of yours. Her words. A young woman, about 30, no older, blonde, glasses that wouldn't quite stay up." Again, his attention is fixed on what he can catch of Richard's expression. Anything?

The distraction’s noticed with a hint of amusement, Richard’s lips tugging up at one corner of his mouth. “Spot series domestic and business robots,” he notes, “They’re due to hit the commecial market this year. Inoffensive enough to get past the understandable worry about drones and robots these days…”

What with the prowling kill-bots that were used during the war, and all.
Then there’s the description, and he scratches his chin thoughtfully. “Interesting,” he murmurs. There’s no open sign of recognition, but it’s hard to read with his eyes hidden like that. “And why did she send you my way, Doctor?”

He stops at an elevator door, both brows lifting.

"That's what I'd like to know, actually," comes an all too ready answer from Zachery, pleasantness slowly ebbing out of his voice as something more pressing creeps into it. Something skeptical. Surely, he's not going mad. From his spot next to Richard, he blinks.

"I wasn't sure what to make of it. She just sort of… appeared, a few weeks ago, which has, in turn, lead me here. But I'm starting to think taking career advice from a stranger on a bus is not…"

His thoughts seem to stall, confidence wavering. Suddenly, a chuckle leaves him, unintended and slightly too drawn out for comfort, on his next exhale. The vestiges of errant amusement stay in the form of a lopsided grin. More certain of himself, now, he straightens, takes a step back and announces, "This was a mistake. I'm sorry to waste your time."

That smile tugs a bit at Richard’s lips again. “Relax, Doctor,” he motions with a hand dismissively, “If Ms. Bradbury were trying to get my attention, she has it, but that doesn’t mean your visit has to be wasted.”

His head tilts slightly, considering the other man through his shades, “Career advice, you said. Looking for a job, are you?”

Zachery has missed something, and he knows it. What that something is, however, doesn't quite seem clear. The cogs can almost be heard turning, as the lower eyelid over paler of his eyes gives a twitch.

The grin stays, somewhat nervously, but skepticism turns to intrigue, brow knitting. There is something impatient behind his movements now, behind the forced stillness of office facade. "… All right." He'll play along. "I will admit, this place is more than intriguing. But at the same time, I knew that if I simply called in for a job interview, grounds to hire would be… shaky."

The visitor's attention snaps to the elevator door. "A man like you, place like this, can afford to forget your appointments? That means you're either stupid enough to get taken advantage of as just a face for the company, or a lot more than just intelligent enough to do your research." Which one his bet is on, does not seem to warrant an addendum.

"So one may wonder," And Doctor Zachery Miller does, in fact, do this, "… why ask."

Richard’s smile widens just a little. “Just so,” he replies, tapping the panel beside the elevator, doors sliding open. There’s nearly no gap at all between elevator and floor, a subtle detail that may be noticed - just like the lack of stairs, all ramps where it can be helped, with rails where such is necessary. The architecture was designed with accessibility in mind.

“You’ve done your time, Doctor Miller,” he observes, arching a brow at the man as if seeing if he’d be following, one finger hovering over a button, “Unlike some organizations we don’t have policies against hiring those with— certain backgrounds.”

Zachery does follow, albeit after a second or three of scrutiny. His exact level of appreciation for the architecture of this place may not be clear, but his consideration for its details is noticeable even amidst his inner restlessness.

Once he moves in, he idly collects his hands together, fingers pressing hard into knuckles and palm, as if to keep from fidgeting. "I expect most would meet that attitude with gratitude."

“Really?” The doors slide closed behind Zachery, and Richard gives him a bemused look, “I find it more often met with suspicion and paranoia.”

As the elevator begins to slide upwards, he breathes out a chuckle, “We have a few of the Institute’s ex-employees on the payroll, as it happens, who served out their sentences and then walked free.”

"I think I'm full up on suspicion and paranoia," says Zachery flatly, shifting his weight as his eye stays on the door. "Though what that leaves me with in regards to how I'd feel about this whole… thing, I don't know."

Again, his gaze is cast askance, to Richard's face, his eyebrows crumpling in what might be concern. "I'm not sure I'd find allies in those once… Institute-associated. Though the question remains why I'd find allies here at all."

“You aren’t the only one who turned evidence, you know,” Richard points out with a slight shrug of one shoulder, “That said, I can’t guarantee that you would— I don’t know exactly who your past associations were with, or what rivalries you may have had.”

He brings one hand up to scratch at his chin, admitting, “The Institute recruited many… brilliant minds, and many of them didn’t know the depths to which they were sinking. Some were convinced that those depths were necessary. I believe in second chances, instead of simply wasting those minds.”

Hands coming to rest at his sides again, Zachery's observing now seems entirely centered on Richard himself. Something about this conversation has disarmed him somewhat, shoulders dipping, though his grin has weakened to near nothing in favour of a more thoughtful expression.

His mouth opens at the mention of 'brilliant minds', but it is not the thing he chooses to address. Instead, what leaves him in a slightly unsure tone is, "What constitutes wasting a mind, then?"

“Being forced into working outside one’s areas of expertise because people don’t like to hire war criminals,” Richard observes dryly, and as the elevator doors slide open he walks out into the hall, “Or worse, ending up working for criminal elements because you can’t find work anywhere else. If they aren’t going to lock someone up or kill them, they should at least let them try and build a new life.”

He lifts one hand in a casual motion, leading the way down the hall, “Otherwise you’re just encouraging recidivism. Trust me, I know, I did a stint in Riker’s myself.”

There is an alertness to Zachery, showing in the occasional narrowing of his eyes and the way his head angles just so on specific words.

When the elevator permits exit, and Richard leads the way… Zachery exits it in a lazy semi-circle behind him - left foot crossing unhurriedly over right - before continuing in a straight path again and summoning a pleasant smile back on his face. Like someone emerging from the pool to shake the water out of their face only to immediately dive back under again.

Curiosity is keeping him mostly focused, though, and his tone remains level as he moves along, and asks, "All right. So now, we know what you could do for me, Mr. Ray…" It's so very nearly a question, that name. "But what I'm struggling with, is what you think I could offer you."

There's a beat's pause, before he adds with something pulling his tone upward as if against its will, "Also, where are we going?"

“That very much depends on what you think you have to offer, Doctor Miller,” Richard observes, pausing at those last words just outside a door. One brow arches as he replies mildly, “Well, I was going to my office, so we could actually sit down and talk rather than meandering around the halls like we didn’t know where we were going.”

A twitch of his lips, “I assumed you were as well, because otherwise it’ll be a really one-sided conversation.”

"An office," Zachery echoes in a lighter tone than he had previously adopted, now coming to stand beside Richard, apprehension showing in the way he runs his tongue across molars and narrows both eyes as though the aforementioned paranoia would sooner like to carry him back from where he came. "To talk. Like normal people do." A chuckle leaves him in what sounds like it may be relief, but his eyebrows crumple together over mismatched eyes.

But his expression clears a moment later. The forced smile does not return, though he does straighten up, shoulders rolling back as his attention shifts from Richard to the door, then back to Richard again. "All right. Let's sit and talk."

A card on Richard’s belt is pulled away from it on a cord, and he touches it to a panel just outside the door. There’s a soft beep and it unlocks, after which he pushes it open and leads the way inside.

The office is fairly spacious, with one wall being mostly glass - overlooking one of the lower buildings’ rooftops, where solar panels and greenery spreads out across it in a display of the company’s eco-friendly leaning. A broad desk is against a perpendicular wall, all black glass with faux-leather seats in front of and a higher-backed one behind it. A plastic in-box and a few knick-knacks are on it - a photograph of Elisabeth, a worn old chess King. Some potted trees are along the walls to offer some feeling of life in the room, and there’s a single other door out, marked ‘Executive Storage’.

A box lined in soft fleece and scattered with cat toys may suggest there’s an office cat, although it’s not in evidence.

Zachery enters the office with confidence, but the sort that seems to slip quickly away when he makes his way properly inside and gets a good look. He peers out the window first, swallowing back an expression that never quite manages to make it onto his face, and then lets his eye settle on various objects in the rest of the room. The white eye seems to want to participate, twitching along in its socket despite the angle of his head giving away his blind spot all too easily.

He looked out of place before, with his light stubble, fingers curling restlessly at his sides, his peacoat that's just slightly too old for the newness that surrounds them. Now, he looks like he wouldn't even recognise 'place' if it hit him in the face.

"You realise I haven't prepared anything?" Zachery finally speaks, stepping slowly closer to the seats near the desk to place his hand down on one of their backs. He sounds nor looks proud, though shame seems equally absent from his tone.

“Adaptability is key in this post-war world,” Richard observes as he crosses the room with a shake of his head, moving along behind the desk and dropping back into the leather chair there with the casual sprawl of someone who clearly doesn’t take ‘corporate etiquette’ to heart.

Somehow, it just gives him an aura of more confidence.

A faint smile tugs up at the corner of his lips, one brow raising over his shades, “So tell me about yourself, Doctor Miller. Background checks are terribly dull.”

Zachery stands, hand still on the chair for a moment longer. Considering. Watching Richard with his head tilted ever so slightly to the left to center the man in his vision, attention unwavering. Observing.

"… I can tell you that I'm not a particularly attractive hire. On the surface." He steps forward, rounding the chair slowly to sit himself down. At first, it looks like he's going to play the part of a good interviewee - straight back, head held high, hands smoothing out a crease in his slacks - but then… he leans sideways to hook an elbow over the back of the chair, fingers curling inward by his shoulder as he continues his hard stare.

"But you knew that already. What you might not be aware of, however, is that I know the human body better than anyone I've ever met. And I've met a lot of people who would agree with me on that. So when Ms. Bradbury's spoke of plans which you may or may not actually have of improving on what I know…? Well. How could I not show? Even on a gamble, a newly discovered path is intriguing."

“We tend to work on the very edge of current advancements here at Raytech,” Richard admits, his hands spreading slightly before clasping together in a tent atop his chest, “We don’t do a lot of production ourselves— we generally innovate, and then sell the patents to a company that’s invested more in those areas. It means that we get to continually innovate, always keep one step ahead.”

Wryly, he admits, “In theory, anyway. In practice, we don’t necessarily have the budget of Yamagato or Praxis or Crito, but we do have access to evolved - and baseline - minds beyond most of theirs, and a great deal of freedom. Even if the government does keep a close eye on us to make sure we aren’t trying to rebuild Hunters in our basement.”

One shoulder lifts in a slight shrug, “We’ve been somewhat lacking in the biotech department to date, despite Dr Sheridan and Dr Price’s superb work in that area, but given certain…” He pauses, tongue running over his teeth as he considers how to phrase something, “…recent events, I’ve been considering some reorientation to working in that direction.”

The more Richard explains, the more restless Zachery seems to become, though in little movements alone— thumbs running over each of his other fingers in turn, a shift of his weight, the idle tensing of his jaw.

"So," he says with excitement painting his tone, after patiently waiting for a spot of silence deemed long enough, "given that you're looking to shift focus, and I'm looking to learn to expand on my somewhat lacklustre experience when it comes to marrying anatomy and technology together… what would you say to a new intern, then?"

A beat passes, before his grin widens with a chuckle that sounds like it lands squarely between tired and giddy simultaneously, somehow. "Also, I don't actually have a job right now, so really, you may be catching me on my best behaviour."

“We could, most likely, find a place for you— at least as you said as an intern temporarily to see what you have to offer,” Richard admits with an easy tip of his head towards the man, “Your skills aren’t really in question, of course, and as I said… we are in need of experts in the area of biotech.”

Which may lead one to wonder how the mysterious woman knew to suggest it?

“We can see if you’re a good fit for the team and all that, and you can get a taste of what we have to offer,” he allows wryly, “Which is more than the shitty FEMA trailers that they give Safe Zone residents, at least.”

There is something about the way Zachery tilts his head upward, like he's… simultaneously pleased with what he's hearing, but hesitant to believe it. The grin stays regardless.

"Speaking of offering…" There is another shift in his weight as he eyes Richard, eyebrows giving a twitch downward. "I do… feel like before I shake your hand, and we sling the corporate champagne at this boat launch of a test run, if you will, I should be upfront something. And this is sort of a new thing, for me — but let's say I want to start off on the right foot."

And… with that, he just goes quiet. Idly tapping a finger on his leg. Maybe he's trying to figure out how to phrase something. Maybe he'd like a guess!

“Oh?” Richard’s brows lift over the edge of his shades, “Are you secretly one of Adam Monroe’s spies?”

Hey, it’s a guess.

The tapping stops.

Zachery's breathing does as well, for a moment, as he sits frozen, staring across the desk to the much more relaxed man in front of him. The grin, still, stays. Fixed.

Finally, after an absent minded click of his tongue and a roll of his shoulders, he answers with exaggerated cheer, "Wouldn't that be nice. I bet he throws a stellar party."

“I’m sure he does,” Richard observes casually, smile tugging up at the corner of his lips, “I’m sure he does. He’s certainly an excellent conversationalist over coffee, at least he was a decade ago.”

“But, do go ahead, what were you about to say?”

"Your hands," Zachery answers all too readily and, notably, without looking directly at said hands. He continues in a tone of voice that implies some amount of necessary concentration. And … a little bit of fascination in the way his eyes narrow. "It's intriguing. They're mismatched. In the same way that parts of you are… less damaged than they should be."

He doesn't give much room to comment, adding with a nervous chuckle and a small, apologetic shrug of his shoulders, "I realise, in retrospect, that this may sound like a threat. So let's be less abstract about it and just say — I read bodies a little too well, and I would even if I hadn't spent tens of thousands of hours in the books. I feel as though this needs to be mentioned in an environment where such a thing might become an issue of… privacy invasion."

It's a roundabout way of going about an explanation, but. That seems to be a theme for this meeting.

At the mention of his hands, Richard raises his— revealing a detail perhaps missed the first time, black markings along one hand that seem to match the grasp of someone else upon them. Tattoo-like, rather than scarring.

“That they are,” he admits, looking back to the other man, “That’s an interesting ability… and it could come quite in handy.”

"'Handy'. I get it." The four words leave Zachery as flatly as they possibly can, even with the remnants of mirth (faked or not) are still on his face as his attention drifts to - and then away from - the hands.

Then, he rises from his seat. Clearly, he's got places to be. Or it might be the nervous energy that's been fighting its way to the top this entire time. Still, he keeps his head high. He is, somehow, still quite enjoying himself. "All right, that's settled, then. I have to say, I wasn't quite expecting this to turn out."

As he rises, so does Richard, breathing out a low chuckle. “I’ll walk you downstairs to give Sera your contact information, we’ll have all the paperwork sent over to whatever hovel they have you in,” he allows, offering a hand out with a brow’s raise, “We’ll see if things turn out for the best. Hopefully they will.”

"In any case, they'll be interesting." Zachery replies, both with a brow raise of his own, and while reaching to resolutely shake the hand with the practised motion of someone having done so a thousand times before. "And in the end, isn't that all that matters?"

That hand is clasped firmly and shaken, released a moment later. “I’m more results oriented,” Richard admits with a chuckle, “I’ve lived far too long with that particular Chinese curse over my head.” He starts for the door, then, shaking his head, “But it’s not always bad.”

Finally with the handshake behind him, Zachery seems a little more at ease. This really did go a lot better than planned, however barebones the plans might have been. "I'm sorry to rush off. For what it's worth," he says, at the door already, making his way out with his shoulders rolled back, "I have a good feeling about this. Life's on the up and up."

And so it seems, when Zachery looks up and out down the length of the hall. Look at this place. It’s amazing, after all. The very walls seems to thrum with progress and hope and… What the fuck is that?

One hall intersection down and a strange, skittery sort of contraption spiders across Zachery’s (limited) field of vision. “Hey you little shit…” Quickly behind it comes running a dark-haired, lanky figure. She bends down in a flurry of black locks and snatches up the barely discerned piece of tech, popping upright to reveal a grinning visage framed with spattering of star tattoos.


Hands clasped around the item like someone holds onto a bug, Devi’s dark eyes catch onto Zachery and her expression drops into an uncharacteristic, icy deadpan. As if unbenounced to her she starts moving, long and prowling strides drawing her closer and closer and -

“Mother fu-!”

A Spot BotTM comes marching out of the nearest doorway, it’s joints whirring and its pincher-arm-head-thing swiveling about with a bag of someone’s projects parts. Devi leaps back and glares at the quadruped bot. With a huff her gaze comes back up and finds Zach anew. She holds two fingers up to her eyes and very deliberately turns the gesture around to point at the new Raytech intern with just one. With a huff and a sneer for both Zach and Spot, she turns back and disappears around a corner.

Life on the up and up …. Which fucking way is up again?

“Is that one of Warren’s old spider-bots? Hey, Devi, I want you to meet…”

Oh. Richard’s brow knits in bemusement as he watches the intuitive disappear around a corner after that gesture, glancing back to Zachery and considering the man thoughtfully through his shades.

“I take it you’ve met one of our head engineers already, then, Doctor Miller?”

Doctor Miller… has frozen again. This makes for the second time he seems to have had to do a quick reboot of his system. He stands there with his lips just barely parted, staring blankly off in the direction of where a Devi once stood.

He doesn't look entirely sure what to make of the situation, until suddenly, he does: He's fine! This is fine. Look at this smile, bright and fine and good and fine. Happy to be here. Happy to see a familiar face. Don't mind the idle twitch of fingers curling into fists at his sides, before they unfurl again. "Devi." He stores away for later. His words leave him deliberately calmly, "Oh, yes, we've met. Quite a handful, isn't she."

Without waiting for an answer, he turns to Richard again, that one eye staring a little too hard into the other man's glasses, expression unchanged as he motions down the hallway and starts walking. "Shall we?"

He's got a bus to catch.

And possibly to get kicked off of when he ends up yelling at the top of his lungs at absolutely nothing in particular.

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