bright_icon.gif reeves_icon.gif richard3_icon.gif

Also Featuring:


Scene Title Oversight
Synopsis …is a funny word, isn't it? The DOE offers some, and Richard makes offers of his own.
Date November 9, 2020


In a reversal of stereotypes, it’s the older gentleman sitting in the waiting room who seems stuck to his mobile device. Agent Davis Bright swipes and taps the screen of a high-end tablet, chuckling once in a while to himself at whatever is happening on the screen. Meanwhile his counterpart, Agent Beatrix Reeves, sits calmly and quietly, now and then glancing over at the game on Bright’s device before her brown eyes find somewhere else to look.

She looks more the part of the “secret agent” than he does, in a black blazer and black trousers, though she lacks the black necktie some might expect when comparing them to tropes of old. Bright, however, lives up to his name with a grass-green bowtie that matches his pocket square.

Apparently the game has come to an end, because Bright sighs dejectedly and swipes the screen to its black reflective surface. “I was this close to beating my high score,” he laments to the other agent.

“A sadder story was never told,” Reeves replies in her crisp British accent. “You’d have to put it away soon anyway.”


It’s fucking alarming, when someone asks something right over your shoulder and you didn’t know they were there a moment earlier. But that’s Bright’s experience with Raytech’s receptionist Sera Lang.

“They’re curiously strong,” Sera adds, opening up a small tin or round, white mints that look like powdery discs of chalk.

Bright jumps visibly, the tablet tosses a foot or so upward before Reeves reaches over to pluck it from thin air and to safety, tucking it into her briefcase.

“You need a bloody bell,” she tells Sera, glancing over at Bright who has his hand over his heart. “I advise you not to quit this job and work in retirement communities any time soon,” she adds dryly.

Bright, however, reaches with a slightly shaky hand to take one of the mints, lifting it in a little show of gratitude. “Thank you. I usually carry, well, these.” He reaches into his inner jacket pocket to pull out a couple of butterscotch discs, offering them to her on a flat palm as if he’s feeding a giraffe.

“Candy?” Sera asks, plucking the butterscotch from Bright’s palm. “From strangers?” She unwraps it and pops it into her mouth, turning back to her desk. “You’re definitely here to see Mr. Ray!” It’s unclear what that means, but it is entirely clear that Sera has no intention of explaining herself as she returns to her desk with a bounce in her step and the click of her wedge heels that somehow didn’t make that sound on the way over.

“Agents. Sorry to keep you waiting…” Richard strides into the main lobby with a slight, businesslike smile, the dark glasses that hide his eyes a slight eccentricity when compared to the suit that he’s wearing, “…I’m sure that Sera took good care of you while you were, though.”

“I’m sure you know who I am, but to satisfy propriety…” He chuckles, offering out one hand, “Richard Ray. A pleasure to meet you both - hopefully we can help one another.”

Beatrix makes a slight face at the thought of butterscotch chasing a curiously strong Altoid, her mouth somehow primmer yet, before she turns to look at Richard as he approaches. She stands, taking the proffered hand in her own.

“Pleasure to meet you, Mr. Ray. I’m Agent Beatrix Reeves, and this is Agent Davis Bright. Thank you for inviting us to meet with you,” she says, prim look exchanged for a much more cheerful and professional expression.

“Pleased to meet you, Mr. Ray,” Bright echoes, his own handshake an earnest shake rather than the quick clasp of his younger partner. “Butterscotch disc?” he asks, offering the remaining disc in his palm to the CEO.

Reeves’ expression shifts to one of both apology and commiseration.

“Ah— thank you, but no, my apologies,” Richard allows, the expression of the less-informal agent making his smile even more wry, “The last time I ingested something from someone I was meeting with, I was kidnapped to the Middle East and stabbed, so now it’s just sort of a…” He motions vaguely, “Blanket policy.”

One hand sweeps in invitation, and he turns to lead the way down the hallway, past the RAYTECH logo lit from behind upon the wall, “I appreciate the two of you stopping by. I’m sure your department is… very busy right now.”

Bright pockets the candy and exchanges a glance at Beatrix, then back to Richard. “Probably wise and understandable. I promise you I had no such nefarious purposes in mind, but you’ll have to take me at my word on that, I suppose,” he says in his baritone, as he falls in step with the younger man.

“They’re rubbish candy anyway,” Reeves quips. “Two bags for a dollar at Rite-Aid with the other candy no one eats, like circus peanuts, sesame crunches, and Bit-O-Honeys. Or is it Bits-O-Honey in the plural?” She might be talking more to herself than to either of the men as she looks around.

“We do have plenty of work at the moment and for the foreseeable future,” she says, more on topic. “It seems your scientists are busy with quite a few side projects these days that aren’t probably in their normal job descriptions, but we appreciate their help.”

“Ah, this is Raytech, Agent Reeves…” Richard’s hands spread to either side as he walks ahead of the pair down the hallway, “…there’s no such thing as a normal job description here. Everyone work on whatever they need to in order to bring about a brighter future for us all.”

It’s said in the light tone of a corporate motto, but the words that follow are more serious.

“…because all the other futures we’ve seen aren’t acceptable.”

A pass at his waist is pulled up on a retractable wire to the panel on the side of a door, and it unlocks with a click. He leads the way into the conference room, motioning a bit with a hand, “Make yourselves comfortable, please.”

“That doesn’t sound like the setting for a dystopian novel at all,” says Reeves brightly, but it’s clearly meant jokingly, and that she knows he won’t take offense. After all, a man making robots just opens himself up to that sort of heckling.

“But more seriously,” the Englishwoman continues, “if everyone works on what they think is important, how are you sure you’re not funding something that will make the future worse? I’m not asking this to indicate you are making it worse; it’s more of a philosophical question on my part, separate from whatever we’re doing here today.”

Bright waits until Beatrix sits before taking the seat next to her, then looking expectantly at Richard. “You asked for the meeting, Mr. Ray. What would you like to discuss with us?”

“That’s not to say that there’s no oversight,” Richard shakes his head, easing himself down into a seat opposite the pair and leaning forward, hands clasped on the table, “We simply don’t… limit ourselves to what you might consider a ‘normal job description’ at any other company. We’re flexible. We need to be. The present - and therefore the future - is always changing.”

A slight, bitter smile, “And I can’t do worse than the last time, at least.”

Clearing his throat, he offers, “I’ve long had a— relationship with SESA, for a variety of reasons, but obviously not your agency, which I’m worried may have caused a breakdown in communications. I assume it was your agency that took possession of Kadath?” He pauses, “Ah— sorry, internal codename. The Antarctica site.”

Bright tips his head, blinking behind his dark-framed glasses. “Oversight’s a funny word, isn’t it? It means both to watch over something and also, you know, to miss something entirely. English is weird.” He turns to Beatrix as if it’s her fault, because she hails from the motherland.

But Richard’s reason for the meeting now brought up, the elder of the two agents returns his gaze to their host and nods. “I believe you’re speaking of Colobanth, yes? Possession is a strong word. That area is in Norwegian territory, but yes, it is something we are investigating.”

Reeves’ eyes sparkle, and she chimes in, “A clever name. Did you see any nightgaunts while you were there? I myself haven’t had the pleasure.” She looks quite pleased with herself for having caught and known the allusion, but she asks more professionally, “We are aware of SESA’s presence there last year, as well as yours. Was there something you wanted to communicate with us? I wouldn’t say we’ve had a breakdown in communication just yet, but perhaps with some time.” The last is said in the manner of dry British humor.

There’s the hint of a smile as the origin of the name is recognized, but it doesn’t last long. The affable demeanor of Richard’s cracks slightly to reveal itself as the facade it is, the executive just looking tired by the time Reeves is finished.

“Look, I…” He draws in a breath, then leans slowly back in his chair, one hand coming up to rub over his face, fingers sliding under his glasses to rub at his eyes as well, “I normally enjoy this dance, but— must we? It’s been one shitty year, and my sister and two of my closest friends had a stroke last night, and going to sleep every night trying to figure out how to kill God before it turns all the local superstrings into a movie night Twizzler is starting to wear on me. Can we just, I don’t know, pretend that we danced around each other to figure out what each other know and go from there?”

Reeves’ expression turns to one of sympathy, and she dips her head. “Of course. I’m sorry. What we can tell you is that the Norwegian government is staving off requests from scientific agencies worldwide to keep whatever happened there contained and under the radar, so to speak.” Her lips twitch just slightly at the turn of phrase, but it’s accidental this time — since the satellites had discovered the anomaly in January. The rest…”

Her dark eyes seek Bright’s blue, and he nods once.

“The plant life has all died, within a few months, as did our samples — and yours, I presume. The oxygen was too low to sustain it at the site, and it’s all just buried under snow now,” she says, looking back to Bright who has busied himself with unwrapping the cellophane from the butterscotch he’s retrieved from his pocket.

He looks up at the lull in the conversation. “The plants were from the past. Not, you know, genetically-engineered from ancient resin like Jurassic Park dinosaurs were, but literally from the past. Really, really far-back past,” he says, popping the disc into his mouth. “Insects, too. Like something from the Land of the Lost.”

“We only brought back one sample, we didn’t want to risk bringing some sort of ancient supervirus back from Antarctica so we minimized our actual contact with the anomaly. We came to the same conclusion…” Richard’s hands spread slightly, “Which we believe gives us a general time period of where the Entity originated, or at least where it considers its home.”

He waves vaguely, “Look, I don’t know— who the hell you people are, or where the hell you came from, but to be honest, I don’t know if that matters. I don’t want our entire reality to be destroyed, or given over to the dinosaurs, or whatever the damn thing is going to do once its grand plan is complete, and I’m assuming you aren’t Mazdak religious fanatics that want that to happen.”

Reeves dips her head in a nod. “We appreciate the caution in that regard. And no, we are not Mazdak fanatics. We’re basically here, as a department, because of anomalies like what happened in Antarctica, to investigate such matters and to try to find solutions for the problems facing us.”

Meanwhile, Davis Bright types into his cell phone, his fingers quick despite his age, and then slips it back into his pocket.

“We’re not the enemy. What’s that saying — the enemy of the enemy is my friend?” His brows lift and he nods, affirming his own question. “We can be friends, then, because obviously you know more about this problem than most civilians, and hell, most government agencies in our country, let alone the rest of the world. It’s possible — I have to get clearance from the brass, you know — we can allow you a supervised visit back to Colobanth, where our teams might be able to do some research together, or at least provide — what was it — oversight as your team does its work. But,” Bright says, lifting his index finger, “any samples and copies of data would need to stay with us, except with our authorization. I’m not the science guy, so I wouldn’t be the one signing off on that.”

Reeves nods. “I’m not the science guy either.”

“If the overlay’s already collapsed, I don’t think there’s much we can do there, unless your team managed to fire up the solar array and get readings,” Richard admits, rubbing two fingers against his forehead, “The point— the point is, Agents, that yes, you’re not the science guys.”

He leans back in his chair, hands spreading as if to indicate the room, “We are. We’re probably the only friendly group on this planet that has a dimensional science division, even if we haven’t been doing much in that regard for fear of making things worse. We have people with abilities, we have knowledge, we have expertise, and we have some idea of what’s going on.”

Let us help. Fuck, we have a sample of the only material known to hurt the damn thing and SESA’s been sitting on our authorization to research the auroral ferrochromium. We’re trying to cooperate with the government and obey all the damn laws here, but we’re basically sitting here in handcuffs having to watch someone preparing to put the entire planet in a goddamn blender.”

Bright steeples his fingers, leaning them against his mouth as Richard talks. “Not the only friendly group, unless you consider us enemies, Mr. Ray,” he says softly, one hand’s fingers flapping up and then back down as if to say bygones.

“We appreciate the frustration that comes with helplessness, and also the restraint. For fear of making things worse, I believe you said? Because, well.”

He leans back in his chair, glances over to Reeves, then back to Richard and smiles benevolently. “You have done that, haven’t you, in the past? Made things worse?”

Leaning forward, the agent crosses his arms on the table. “We’re not trying to keep it all to ourselves. We’re trying to make sure things don’t get made worse while we try to find the solutions, you know, and it’s true that more heads on a problem are better than one. We can authorize you to do some research on the auroral ferrochromium — there’s a mouthful — under the oversight of one of our science team members. We have a few that have been doing some work on our samples, as well, so we’ll see if one of them is available.”

Reeves pulls her phone out of her pocket along with the stylus to swipe across the screen. “I’ll begin the process of cutting through the SESA red tape on that,” she chirps helpfully, before looking up at Richard. “We do have science guys. They’re just not us. Per se. Bright here does his own manner of tests you might say.”

Richard’s gaze settles on Bright through his dark glasses for a long moment, and then he asks softly in return, “Haven’t you?”

His hands rest on the table’s edge, head shaking, “I entirely understand that, but there’s also the issue of figuring out a solution before we all *blink* out of existence, or get eaten by a T-Rex, or blended into all our other selves like a milkshake or whatever the hell Uluru’s end goal is. If you want to send someone over to perform oversight - a funny word, isn’t it? - by all means. SESA already has people here. Lean over our shoulders and look at what we’re doing, just let us do it. I’ll give you an office. A building, whatever.”

“Because if we’re all working on this bullshit alone in our little corners, we’re all gonna be dead before long.”

Bright clears his throat. “Son,” he says, with all the gravitas his age lends him, “for someone trying to help, you could be a little nicer. And you may think we’re giving in because of this little display, but if you had just asked to begin with, we most likely would have said yes. As far as SESA’s folks, well,” he spreads his hands in a shrug, “you know what they say. You can’t be too careful, and we want to make sure you folks don’t stick that sample in a laser or something and end up causing more anomalies.”

Rising, he nods to Reeves to indicate they’re ready to go. “Oh, and,” he says reaching across the table to shake Richard’s hand if he’ll allow it, “Please keep it out of your brother’s hands unless he’s under heavy supervision? I don’t want to imagine what a robot with that thing in its CPU might do.”

Reeves raises her brows and moves ahead of Bright toward the door. “I’ll email over the documents as soon as we’ve got it, Mr. Ray. I’ve got the door, no need to see us out.”

When she opens it, it isn’t to the Raytech hallway but another office entirely — one night in Richard Ray’s building.

"And you could— " Richard cuts himself off, takes a deep breath, exhales it and reaches out to clasp Bright's hand, the other drawing his glasses off to meet the other man's eyes, "I'm not here to sign off on niceties, or to impress you with displays, Agent Bright. I just want to make sure that my children have a world to grow up in."

As he releases the hand, he actually chuckles a little, "God, can you imagine? No, trust me, I keep my brother on a short leash for everyone's own good, especially his own."

Easing back into his chair, he arches a brow as the door opens to somewhere else.

"Now who's making displays?" A hint of lightness there, not meant as a barbed remark. "Thank you both for coming, Agents."

Reeves flashes a bright smile. “Commutes are for suckers, Mr. Ray,” she says in her chipper English accent. “It was nice to meet you.” There might be an expression of apology on her face, on behalf of, well, Bright.

“Well, at least we agree on that,” Bright says, about the younger Ray brother. “We look forward to working with you. Believe it or not.”

Reeves steps through first, then swings the door closed behind them after Bright crosses the threshold. When it is opened again, by Richard’s hand or someone coming to check on him, it’s once again Raytech’s hallway.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License