Raytech Project Meeting - July 2019


alia_icon.gif barney_icon.gif bella_icon.gif ff_chel_icon.gif dana_icon.gif devi_icon.gif richard3_icon.gif sera_icon.gif seren_icon.gif warren_icon.gif zachery_icon.gif

Scene Title Raytech Project Meeting - July 19
Synopsis The greatest minds of Raytech come together to cause chaos plan out their next projects.
Date July 25, 2019

Raytech Branch Office: Conference Room

An inverted glass pyramid framed in steel bars descends from the ceiling to the floor in the middle of this room, surrounded by a long black tables and matching chairs; small consoles are set along the sides of the table, allowing interaction with the ‘holographic’ display system, allowing images to be displayed in apparent three-dimensions within the room’s centerpiece. There’s also a flat television on one wall, mostly used for teleconferencing.

The windows can be polarized to opaque with a simple touch control, providing natural light or privacy as desired, and a cabinet beneath the television holds a variety of supplies - clipboards, paper, notebooks, pens and the like.


The spinning hologram of the corporation’s logo glows a dull red in the middle of the room, slowly turning about in a three hundred and sixty degree spin. It isn’t as technically advanced as the ‘holographic air’ feature in Yamagato, but it’s impressive enough given the way the city looks outside.


Those gathered are here today to discuss the next steps in building that future.

“Good afternoon, everyone,” Richard greets them as they arrive, standing at the far end of the square set-up of tables in his usual black suit with its red tie, the windows darkened opaque behind him, “Thank you for taking time out of your day to come discuss our current progress, and brainstorm on what projects to open.”

His fingers touch a console as people settle in, and the hologram flickers before changing to a list.







A smile plays over Seren Evans' face as they look over the image of the project names, one leg pulled bent to themselves with arms wrapped around it while they sit. A vee-necked black tee is worn under a formal grey buttoned vest, the back of it whispering against the material of the conference chair as they adjust their seat, turning to look at the other people gathered.

Their foot on the ground is covered over with what looks like shadow from the table, save for its viscosity. Seren seems wholly unconcerned that there is a webby black blob clinging to their calf, faceless goo braced tensely against both floor and the underside of the table as it holds onto them.

They're just very careful not to move their leg from the floor whatsoever as they adjust their seated position, releasing their knee and sliding their other foot under their thigh to be more comfortably seated.

“Sorry.” Michelle Cardinal, legally known as Michelle Cranston around the office, moves through the door with a hustling pace after her curt apology. The tablet she has clutched in one hand is quickly set down on the table as she takes a seat beside the younger auburn-haired SESA agent sitting at the seat closest to the door.

It just started,” Agent Dana Carrington says to Michelle in a whisper with a fond smile, motioning over to the list displayed at the front of the room. Michelle glances at that direction for only a moment, then turns her attention down to her pad and shuts off the screen. Dana only gets the briefest glimpse of what looks like a massive octopus of water pipes before the screen goes dark.

Notably absent, though perhaps unsurprisingly, is Raytech’s little secret: Thomas Nowak.

Long black tresses almost entirely shroud the figure sitting beside Seren. Behind Seren, given the way the attendees are turned just so to face Richard. Elbow on the table, tattooed knuckles up to support her resting forehead, loose dark locks falls like a curtain around the individual's face. But it does nothing to disguise bared shoulders artisticly scarred in a rainbow of inks that could only belong to one Devi Ezell.


Michelle's voice prompts a fidget. Devi looks up, only to sink backward into her chair with a lowered, husky mutter "Oh, fuck me." Hopefully Seren is the only one to pick up on this, and whatever other poor soul as opted to sit on the Biker Bitch's opposite side. Devi pulls both her hands down her face, the gesture stopping stuck somewhere by her chin, and stares blankly at the holograph image in the room's center.

Notably not sitting adjacent to Devi is Zachery, sitting quite comfortably in his chair with a cup of coffee in one hand while the other rests on the table in front of him. His eye scans the other faces present, one by one, offering those who happen to look back a thin, habitual smile. So attentive, so patient. He must've come straight from an important thing, too - didn't even have the time to take off his very necessary lab coat.

Nevermind the way he still manages to look slightly out of place, or how his fingertips occasionally dig into his sleeve for a moment, or how it looks like he may not have slept very well last night. Good Employee Zachery Miller, reporting in, offering a friendly return of, "Afternoon."

Barney looks up from studying something on his clipboard, flipping through pages on it. "Oh." It's begun. He knew that. He puts the clipboard down and leans back in his seat a little bit, fingers lacing together and his hands settling over his stomach as he listens to Richard speak. He looks around the room as the boss man talks, eyes wandering over those in attendance, those getting settled and those that were already here. "We've had a very productive year." He comments in a rumbling tone, a happy smile splitting the big ginger's features. "Congratulations everyone. You've all done amazing work."

Alia in a business suit is not a common sight. The fact she bothered for the meeting is perhaps something. A few drifting thoughts about the fact the boss is using holographic computers. Things change some perhaps.

Richard waits patiently as everyone files in, craning his neck a bit to look at the door - as if, perhaps, hoping to see someone in particular appearing. Nowak, maybe, but more likely the currently-absent Warren Ray. When they fail to appear he leans back with a shake of his head, “Well, thank you for coming, everyone.”

“As Barney said, we’ve had a very productive year,” he agrees, “Congratulations are absolutely in order. We completed Project Gericke with the help of Yamagato, and the facility is now operating at full efficiency and producing foodstuffs already. As well, we managed to save ourselves a great deal of money by leveraging one of our inventions in return for the assistance, turning what otherwise would’ve been a precarious financial position into one that’s going to pay off quite well.”

His fingers touch the panel before him, turning to a picture of the completed hydroponics and aeroponics production center elsewhere in the district. In turn he calls up pictures of the Mantis bike and the Spot robot, adding, “And of course, we showed off the completed Mantis and Fido Projects at the World’s Fair to acclaim, especially the Mantis. Which I suppose makes sense, it’s probably the sexiest thing we have on the market right now.”

He leans back to his heels, “Community outreach should continue, and I’m always happy to hear ideas; we need the Safe Zone to think of us as the local, friendly company in comparison to the foreign giants. Because we are, honestly, but people are distrustful by nature. Project Connor is on hold until Warren returns from whatever— he’s doing, or someone else has the time and skills to take it over. Sheridan hasn’t completed Thackray yet, so I may be assigning someone to assist.” His gaze drifts briefly to Zachery, then back across the room, “So. Does anyone have any questions about what we’ve accomplished this year before we move on towards the future?”

Michelle isn't the only one who's late, but there's much less of a hustle in Aislinn Graves' step as she slides in through the door. "Well, of course Gericke was a success," she notes with a self satisfied nod as she makes her way to a seat of her own. She hadn't meant to be late, but that's how these things go sometimes.

With that thought added, though, she settles down into a seat not too far from Devi. Pad and pen in hand, she looks up towards the holograms with a keen interest, before letting her gze move to Richard. "For those of us who don't know," sher inquires as she puts pen to paper, "just what th' hell are Conner an' Thackery?"

With the subject of the past year on the proverbial table, Zachery's head dips. Mentally checking out just a little, no doubt, at least until he catches a glance in his direction, and meets it with visible intrigue. Oh? What? A thing? Where? A cant of his head later and he's ready to ask a question, mouth opening — only to have Aislinn beat him to the punch. It's okay, he'll just sip some coffee instead, glancing briefly in her direction.

Picking up her tablet to check something, Michelle asks a question that follows up from what Aislin tossed out there. “Precisely why are all of our projects named opaque and weird things?” She looks up from the tablet to Richard, then around the room. “This isn't exactly the CIA.”

Dana’s brows shoot up past her hairline at Michelle’s question and she very discretely tries to restrain a smile as she reeeeaches across the table to pick up her coffee and hide her crooked smile behind the brim of the cup.

"More fun that way, isn't it?" asks Seren, whose named project was named … the moniker that actually stuck to the final product. With a smile, they lean forward onto folded arms on the table, looking down toward Michelle, and past her to new faces both previously present and recently arrived.

The mention of Thackeray and Sheridan brings a lapse to their smile, turning back with interest at hearing about the doctor's work. They're curious, but likely unsuited to whatever the work is.

Seren reaches over to pat Devi on the knee under the table, a sign of encouragement. Courage, Devi! Big crowds and big meetings weren't their thing either, but here they both were. They've obviously misread the reasons behind Devi's slump. In either case, the dark blob under the table clings to their leg still keeping them grounded, the webby tar to it silent as it tensely accommodates the twist of Seren's leg.

Alia smirks slightly, but says nothing. Far be it from her to explain reasoning for project names. Corporate world espionage might be worse then the CIA. At least one set of cover made sense! Instead she sips at some water and watches the group with amusement.

“Corporate espionage exists,” Richard replies with a wry look over to Michelle, a single brow raising, “As do classified government contracts, as Agent Carrington’s presence here demonstrates.” She gets a more pointed look, since she doesn’t have parental privilege here to snicker about their project naming schema!

“You’re lucky I’m not just giving them random numeric designations,” he adds, tongue fully in cheek, and motions to the holographic display, “Thackery is an attempt to reconstruct the Sure— sur-rep… the SOD process that Bella Sheridan had pioneered with the Institute. It’s a therapy process meant to restore burnt-out or otherwise damaged Evolved abilities. Zachery, if you’re willing I would like you to take on this project and see what can be done with it. Medical procedures specific to the Evolved are under-investigated at the moment— at least publicly— and we could be at the forefront there if we get a good foothold. The hospital might be willing to partner with us on this.”

“Connor is a project for the development of anti-robotic and anti-drone weaponry, but Warren’s been off doing— whatever Warren’s been off doing,” he admits, a bit pained.

There are a lot of things within the company that Zachery is completely oblivious to — this has been clear to anyone who's had at least half a conversation with him while at work. But mention of 'the SOD process' has him sit up immediately, coffee pulled close, eyebrows raising over mismatched eyes.

"The Sureceptigene Optimadenoplasmid Drug regimen," he offers Richard, crisply and with all the enthusiasm of someone reciting the name of their favourite obscure ice cream flavour. This, this, he has done his homework on. And thoroughly, if the twinkle in his eye is anything to go by. "I can get started on that — tomorrow," the last word leaves him somewhat less keenly, as thoughts of a different sort flood to the forefront of his mind. Still confidently, he tacks on, "I may need to assess some… schedule-related issues, but I will make time."

There’s no aura of chagrin around Dr. Sheridan as she enters the room, nothing about her mien that suggest she’s showing up late and next to unexpected. It’s a gambit, of course; she is the furthest thing from blasé about her reappearance. Her navy dress and beige blazer were chosen for their indistinct acceptability, a kind of office camo. Her hair is even made as inconspicuous as possible, gathered in a tidy bun at the back of her head. Her smile is innocuous, an invitation to acknowledge and then ignore. She’s trying to fit in.

Seamless infiltration would be easier to achieve were they not discussing her project. Her timing may not be socially perfect, but it is professionally advantageous. Her lips purse and her brow furrows as Zachary makes his play. Then her face smooths save for a tiny crease above the bridge of her nose as she considers: how to respond to a possible impingement on her territory?

“Thackery could use a broader talent portfolio.” Don’t fight. Incorporate. “When I developed the procedure, it was a shot in the dark. I’m not a trained bioengineer. It’s critical that the regimen have a serious element of psychological management, both before and after administration, and those protocols needed to be in place before we start putting people through the process.” Which is to say, she has been working on absolutely vital aspects of project, but… “without a safe, replicable gene therapy at its core, it’s just shadow boxing.”

A measured look at Zachary, and a measured smile to go with it. “I’d be happy to show you the workspace, Dr. Miller. Today, even.” Why wait ‘til tomorrow?

“That's going to need SESA oversight once you reach trials,” Dana notes after a long and awkward pause when Bella arrives. She pushes down the complicated feelings and squares her attention on Richard. “There's a provision in the Chesterfield Act mandating that any medical research directly involving SLC-Expressive individuals requires SESA review and oversight which— might require a few more qualified people than me.”

Leaning back in her chair and folding her hands in her lap, Dana motions to Richard. “It's just to make sure, uh, there's no abuse and that everything is above-board. Outside of the US there's no protections like that with language specific to Expressives. So, we’re leading the charge here in the states.”

Michelle casts a side-long look at Dana, making a few notes in her tablet as she does. There's a subtle smile that hasn't quite left her lips since she goaded Richard into justifying his code words. “Conner?” She says with a shake of her head. “Is that a Terminator reference?” Her smile grows some. “I love a good Stallone movie but— ” her brows rise and she threads a lock of hair behind one ear. “Isn't that almost tempting fate?”

Alia smiles, just a little. "Have some ideas on anti drone project." The fact she does is of little surprise likely to those who know her. "Few specifics, few generalized."

“Ah, Doctor Sheridan, perfect timing,” says Richard with a slight smile, tipping his head in acknowledgement towards the newest arrival, “Doctor Miller doesn’t quite have the— expert background of Doctor… Desjardins, but he has his own talents that might help fill the void enough to get the procedure perfected. And yes, Agent Carrington, I am fully aware. We’re not being all black ops here despite the project names— we’re staying above board with all of this.” Unlike the part of the meeting that she’s here for, of course.

“As far as Conner, well— “ A wry smile as he looks over to Michelle, “Given that I literally have reports of alternate timeline autonomous combat drone encounters sitting around somewhere, I’d say it’s less tempting fate and more being realistic.” That might count as ‘black ops’ too.

“Which brings us to the first new project that we need to focus on, as requested by the generous Director Voss,” he says, hands spreading slightly, “Alia, I need you and Devi to extract the advanced Compass from the Kaa System downstairs and work with Michelle to determine a method of detecting non-native string objects and entities.” His gaze settles longest on his mother, expecting a protest at any moment. “We don’t have the budget to put satellites into space as Cardinal from the W2 string suggested, but we do have the fractional notes. Together with the data from Sunspot, we should have more than enough to work with in completing this project.”

Compass research is super illegal, it should probably be noted.

Surely Devi’s gaze isn’t the only in the room that focuses upon Zachery and Dr. Sheridan throughout the exchange on Project Thackery. Those dark eyes, though, do provide a certain piercing intensity that is perhaps lacking from the others in attendance. So much so, that Devi fails to volunteer for Project Conner as some might have suspected. It’s not until her name falls from Richard’s lips that she blinks and slowly look across the room until her attention settles on the CEO.

Alia manages to nearly choke on her ice water. “Kaa is -back?-” She finally sputters. The fact that it’s openly being admitted to AND the fact it has a capital-C Compass on board at a mostly open meeting has Alia’s head spinning. Someone just threw a monkey wrench in Alia’s whole understanding of how -that- was going to play out.

“On it.” she finally concludes. Even as she winces as she tries to figure out how the hell they are going to pull off -that- little miracle of electronics salvage. (Given she’s already mapped out the wiring other than the chips… wellllll that’s a start!)

Sorry, is there something else being discussed in the room? Zachery is unaware of it. He is temporarily stunned when he realises Bella is in the room. Her offering him a smile is what seems to snap him out of it. It is met, almost instantaneously, with a smile of his own - clean, crisp and… a little more sincere than he would like for it to be, honestly. He'll blame that on the surprise of it all later.

"Yes, hello, Dr. Sheridan." He takes a deliberate sip of his coffee, "Today sounds perfect. I'd suggest we leave right now, but I suspect that might reflect poorly on my interest in lesser projects." Probably a joke.

Michelle sits back a little, brows subtly furrowed, puzzling together some pieces of information. In her silence, Dana scoots her chair forward and crosses her ankles beneath the table, then drums her palms on the tabletop. “So, that’s— the Compass— where I come in. Aside from SESA wanting eyes-on for that project, I’ve also had the most hours examining our Compass materials. We have a collection of Institute-era Compasses from their Retriever teams, as well as the onboard Compass materials from the Generation 1 hunters, but — to the best of my knowledge — no Gen 2 Compasses ever survived the Ark.”

Adjusting her glasses, Dana looks up and down the table, then back to Richard. “I have all of that data in my office on my laptop, so it should give us a leg up. There’s also the original Compasses fashioned in Coyote Sands, which— I think if you could get your hands on one it would help us understand the prototypal designs and give us an idea of where to start with fabrication. Start small, build large.” She says with a broadening gesture of her hands.

“Third point,” Dana adds, “or maybe that’s— I lost track. Next point, anyway. According to intelligence retrieved by Wolfhound last year that I was given access to for this, uh, project… The Renautas Corporation based out of the Netherlands sold their original schematic designs of the Compass to Yamagato Industries following the death of their company founders and the disappearance of their heirs. The Renautas Company has since disavowed the Renautas family due to their ties to the Institute, but the company remains solvent and is still active, though all manufacturing patents remain the sole property of Yamagato Industries. Which— to the best of my knowledge — they’ve never leveraged. Which means they’re probably sitting on it so no one else has access.”

Clearing her throat, Dana glances over at Michelle and notices the calculating look she’s making, then looks back to Richard. “Long story short, I’m confident we can use the design of the Compass to detect the low-energy molecular vibration differentials between this superstring and others. With time, and if the prototype pans out, we could potentially scale it up to a satellite system. We even have a materials sample to work with. The uh, machine that came through in Manhattan? SESA’s been holding on to it. Agent Mustang — our temporal specialist — says that its “harmonic frequency” has normalized to this superstring. Which means… functionally… if something maintains a presence here long enough, it might not be possible to detect. Or, maybe it’s just harder?” Dana shrugs and exhales a sigh as she does. “Anyway that’s— more for the research end of things. I figured I’d just— ramble. Excitedly. About science.”

There's a world of interest Seren takes in everything going on, the banter and cross-chatter allaying some their nerves. They reach under the table to bat at their leg and the goopmonster clinging to it. "Baird, you should come on out," they mutter under the table at it. The tarlike substance wobbles, graying out and changing texture. Satisfied, Seren comes back up top, hands clasping on the conference table as they get back into what's going on.

Naturally, the first thing they hook into is the mention of a Jungle Book character. Which has them sticking their head back under the desk. "You can even be a snake if you want," they stage-whisper. "So you don't stick out too much." A small pause. "Yes, of course you can still have wings."

Pop. Seren's back from under the desk again. Hands reclasp.

They lean to one side, murmuring to Devi, "Hey, what do those Compasses point to?" Because that seems to be common knowledge, sort of, not worth raising their hand over.

When Dana makes a comment about rambling, Seren beams broadly at her. "You sound very knowledgeable!" is said finally at a normal conversational level. "I'm sure no one minds." At contrast to this is the slow track after to Michelle, accompanied by a lethargic blink. Stallone?

… Maybe the reclusive woman was just bad with faces. "You mean Schwarzenegger?" they ply gently, trying to hand her the right answer without making a deal of it.

Barney had to step out quick to deal with something. Well maybe not quite so quickly it took a few minutes. And might even have involved a short elevator ride with him on the phone before it got resolved and he was able to come back up to the meeting. Not that he's annoyed or grumpy. Barney is never grumpy. He's always happy to help people. He gets to walk in just in time for all the Stallone and Schwarzenegger comments and talk of the Compass and what not. He tries to walk back to his seat subtly. Surreptitiously. He quite fails at that. Today's suit is the bright blue one from the Raytech ads after all.

So Barney retakes his seat, settling into it, one hand smoothing his beard, the other resting at his side on the arm rest as he looks around the room, trying to catch up with what exactly is being discussed. A slow red brow rises as Seren tries to help with the whole Stallone thing. Really just drawing more attention to the slip in the process. He clears his throat softly as he realizes that they are very much talking about research on the Compasses. Cheeks puff out momentarily, but he withholds from publicly questioning the head of the company, though concern is rather clearly and almost comically written across his features. Barney never wins at poker.

“The Compass technology is a method of detecting the Evolved— “ Richard almost never uses Expressive unless reminded it’s more ‘PC’ these days, “— that was originally developed a… very long time ago, and has gone through various iterations since. It can detect minute changes in our electromagnetic aura, to a degree of sensitivity that leads us to believe the technology can be adapted for this purpose.”

“We should be able to test enough examples of alternate-string presences in our timeline to get an idea of how to best do so,” he adds, “And also how to hide from such detectors if necessary.”

The CEO, who only a few people in the room know didn’t originate in this timeline at all, gives Dana a wry look, “Not that we don’t trust the government, but administrations change.”

He clears his throat, “Before I go on with other things, does anyone have any questions - or project proposals of their own?”

"Bella!" Warren suddenly calls out, his voice muffled by something as metallic sounds clank through the hallway.

When he enters the office, he's wearing a full suit of shiny medieval armor. "Sorry for the noise, I built this suit of armor until I'm sure that me and Michelle can co-exist. But hey, does Bella work for us now? She once used experimental science to give me my ability back! It was pretty painful but she did let me sleep with her assistant. Wait, that happened to me right? I forget."

He starts to clank his way over until he finds a suit, very carefully sitting down in it before he raises the viser of his helmet. "I would have made my armor more formal, but capes are too dangerous." Then he starts to look around, tilting his head as best as he can manage. "I have no idea who most of these people are! Hello, I'm Warren Ray, the second most intelligent person in the world I guess! Well, I'm sure there are other people, but really who is measuring the intelligence of people who don't build machines??? Geology? Hah! Who cares about rocks?"

Then he pauses, considering, "Wait a minute, I need a geologist I just got an idea for a lava robot!"

As if there wasn't already enough going on in this room to make Zachery's attention flit here and there too quick to really catch anything properly, just as he's about to speak up in answer to Richard's question - hand raised to shoulder-height and all - there is the clanking or armor and a familiar voice.

Slowly, that hand comes back down. Then, so does the rest of Zachery, at least a little, as he sinks back in his chair, and looks pointedly ahead of him. If he doesn't address a thing, it goes away, right? Eventually.

Michelle slowly


S l o w l y

sinks down into her chair and covers her face with one hand. There's a low, steady, groaning noise that rumbles at the back of her throat as she peers between two splayed fingers at Warren. That one eye flicks to look over at Richard, then back to Warren as she continues her downward descent in the chair. Maybe she's trying to just slide under the table?

Dana is exactly the opposite. She leans forward, pops up out of her seat, and offers a hand across the table to Warren. “Mr. Ray! Dana Carrington! We met on the rooftop of the Deveaux Building briefly before uh, you had a gun and I hid and then the robot— It— its a pleasure to meet you more formally! I read your paper on bioelectrostatic dynamos in 2016!”

Behind Warren, Sera Lang quietly slips into the meeting carrying a paper bag in one hand and a leash in the other that extends out the door. “Mr. Warren,” Sera stage whispers as she is pulled between whatever is on the other end of the leash and trying to give the bag to Warren. “Your sandwich!” She stretches, one arm fully extended as she offers the sandwich bag out, then tugs on the leash a little more.

There's a whining of mechanical servos in the hall.

Then the whining of

a dog.

Soon there's the sound of dog claws on tile and the mechanical whirring of electric motors. As the leash goes slack, Sera is joined by an adult German Shepherd with a decent amount of gray on his muzzle. His two back legs are entirely mechanical and have small rubber pads to quiet the noise they'd make on the floor. The dog looks up, making a little whine noise at Warren.

The tag around its neck reads Howie.

Devi leans in towards Seren, but stops with ruby-red lips parted. Her dark gaze holds Richard as he answers the question about the Compass’s original design function. Slowly, her lips seal back into place amidst a stoic, blank expression. “It worked out so well the first fucking time… Yeah! Let’s do that again. Sounds like a great plan.” She leans back sharply into her seat.


“What the hell, man. Why do we even have this chair?!” Devi’s up and prowling around the chair like a predator circles pray. Then she’s gone! With a sweep of dark locks, she’s down behind the seat. There’s more banging than is probably necessary as she attacks the affronting inanimate object. Grumble grumble, “…tech company my…”, grunt, “…broken piece of…”, mutter.

Finally, from the floor behind the chair, her husky voice drifts up. “You really wanna do this, Cardinal? This Compass thing? You sure?”

Most people who don’t know Alia would expect her to get along well with Warren Ray. I mean, what could be better than a mechanical adept and a technopath right? Yeah, reality doesn’t exactly work that way… And due to that, Alia is looking to Michelle with more than a little sympathy. She’ll make a note to talk to Devi later about some other interesting uses for the same tech, or at least similar enough tech that most people would never know they weren’t the same…

Having re-established her sphere of influence, Bella is entirely content to lay back in the cut, letting business proceed without further attention. This ambition is quickly flummoxed by Warren’s cacophonous entrance. She cannot help but lift a hand to shade her face, however useless the move is; at least it clearly communicates her chagrin. But it’s not a long term solution. So she drops her hands, lifts her eyes, and gives Warren a thin smile. “In this room, Mr. Ray- Doctor Sheridan. If you don’t mind. And yes, the assembled are aware. Thank you.”

Devi’s objection arrives in time for Bella try once more try and blend in. Rather than taking point, she lines up, rhetorically at least, behind the tattoo’d woman. A uniting issue, it seems, between bad and basic. “Not being Expressive myself,” she preambles, “I am left having to imagine. But- I have immediate concerns about any device designed to specifically seek out members of a protected class of persons. At this stage in social integration in particular, but just in general.” And this from a former Company employee.

“Wh— what— “

Richard just stares across the room at his brother, and then slowly raises a hand up to rub over his face, his fingertips pinching the bridge of his nose and eyes closing.

Just breathe in. Hold. Exhale. Deal with it.

“Warren. Thank you for coming, if you can sit down please do, Michelle is not going to attack you with a sword. Doctor Sheridan has been working for us for a number of years now. Assuming you’re back working, I’m going to need you to start working on Project Connor — the anti-robotic weaponry? Time’s starting to tick, and I want to be ready when Praxis makes it… it…”

His hand goes back up, and he closes his eyes again before asking in soft, level tones. “Why is there a cyborg dog in my meeting room.”

He’ll address the ethical worries brought up in a moment.

"I don't remember you, but that sounds like something I would do and write!" Warren reaches out with his armored hand, then quickly takes it back to remove the gauntlet, only to reveal a silvery retro-futuristic robotic hand under it, which he shakes hers with. "Ah, my sandwich!" He turns around in his chair to take the sandwich, looking down into the bag with one gauntleted hand and one cybernetic hand. "I hope this is a good sandwich, without pickles, like I ordered." he wonders rather vaguely.

Then he reaches down to gently pet the dog with his smooth metallic hand, smiling as he gently scratches him behind the ear. "Don't worry, his collar passively collects stray fur using ambient harmless static electricity that's naturally in the air or something like that. I forgot how it works."

Finally turning back to face the table itself, he rubs his chin. "If we create something that can detect Evolved people, then we can also make the opposite, an Evolved detection blocker of some sort! Everything works with waves moving all through the air, after all!" He raises his armored arms into the air, briefly wiggling them around. "If there are waves in the air, waves can be blocked, you just need different waves, or waves that wiggle in a certain way! My brother's mother probably knows what I mean." he says to Michelle as he squints at her with suspicion like that one dog from the Simpsons.

"Anti-robot weaponry, I'm on top of it, even though I think it would be easier if the anti-robot weaponry was just better bombs." Then, continuing to look around, he suddenly stares at Zachery. "Hey! It's one of my old gang members. Good for you, getting a cool job like this!"

The sound of waving wobbly armored arms doing their jitter draws Seren back from under the table. (Hey, it seemed like half the meeting room was trying to slide under there, they just went for it, okay?) Their head peeks out first, and they awkwardly come to their feet after.

Right between line of sight between Warren and Zachery.

Their eyes are limned with an excitable silver, a mood exercised by their whole being. "Wait, you're the guy everyone's always talking about!" Seren exclaims, trying to keep their voice down, but they're entirely off-track now anyway. Their head drops afterward to the dog, enamored instantly with him. "Baird, come see the puppy," they stage-whisper. Seren bends at the knee and extends a hand out to the very good boy to let him sniff.

Their imaginary friend does not appear to join them, and no longer appears to be under the table at all.

Zachery doesn't need to look at Warren. He's good. He's good staring straight ahead of him, halfway slipped out of his chair like he's lost control of his legs. "Hello, bossman number two," he offers, before his head angles, expression a panicked attempt at neutral. "Number one, I suppose. Sorry, Richard, you've been demoted. Despite you being the one whose actions didn't lead to me being swaddled up and delivered to the Institute."

Two sets of tattooed fingers grip the back of the assaulted office chair. Devi’s fiery-shadowed eyes come into view following. She looks around for the source of the fancy words. The interpreter, as it were, that took her garbled, biting concerns and made them into something semi eloquent and distinguishable. When her gaze lands on Dr. Sheridan, a dark penciled brow pops up. There’s an ambiguous squint that tightens around her tattoo-framed eyes and…

“Wait.” Devi pushes to her full, lanky height. She gives Seren’s elbow a quick tap-tap. “Pst. Where’s Baird?” Ever since that incident in the alley with the flying shuriken-gears, the Biker Bitch has been a tad protective of the favorite figment.

There’s a quick flicker of her attention to Richard to suggest he’s not quite off the hook for all those pesky ‘ethical dilemmas’, but her dark gaze promptly reverts to the underside of the desk.

The tap to their arm and the question of their missing Baird makes Seren swivel their head back instantly. An answer is half-voiced, when they see something isn't how they expect it to be. Brows twinge downward in a moment of confusion, and then they look back to the conversation at large, re-noticing it, remembering all too late what it was they'd been planning to say before the distractions.

Patches of the conference table begin to sprout tiny growths of plantlife, clovers and stems of flowers yet to bloom.

Right, right, that's what they'd wanted to bring up.

"Mister Ray," Seren says abruptly, hand coming back from the definitely-not-a-puppy's head as they stand. "I think there's an opportunity to partner with companies working locally and nationally on reconstruction efforts. There's room to pioneer new ideas for green building and have it applied in everyday living." Hand gesturing forward, they explain with a touch of nervous jitter, "The Yamagato project on Roosevelt Island is a great example — it'll be self-sufficient when it's built, they say."

Seren's brow lifts, doing their best to keep a straight face despite a current lack of control on their ability. They try not to stare at the trio of red poppies that spontaneously bloom on Richard's lapel. "But surely they don't have every building planned out yet?" they ask, serious as can be. "There's room to capitalize on the partnership between Raytech and Yamagato had for the greenhouse and apply it to new projects, too. Yamagato and its subsidiaries are inextricable from the Safe Zone rebuilding effort, and if we want to have a positive impact locally, it's going to come from continuing to maintain a strong relationship with that company."

They'd sit back down now, but they have a distinct feeling they're going to have to excuse themselves shortly. "If Raytech would consider heading in that direction, I have some concepts I'd like to submit. The potential for cheap, sustainable living is out there— and new buildings don't have to look like FEMA boxes to achieve it."

Michelle’s attention moves away from Howie the dog and up to Seren as they outline something that actually sounds like a plan, and not Warren bursting in like the Kool Aid man. One of her brows rise and as she slouches to the side in her chair, she asks a quiet question of Dana beside her. “Who is that?” She motions with the tip of her tablet stylus to Seren.

“Uhhh,” Dana’s brows furrow, her voice down as she leans in toward Michelle, “Seren Evans? I think? We haven’t been formally introduced. Class-C mental, though.” Dana says with a motion to the floral bloom on the walls. Michelle’s attention slowly pulls away from Dana and over to Seren, and she nods once and begins chewing on the end of her stylus idly.

By the door, Sera just flashes a smile to the room and gently tugs on Howie’s leash. “Come on Howie, nice boy, good boy, c’mon fella…” Eventually the old dog turns, ears perked up toward Sera, and slowly follows her out of the room, but not before stealing a glance back at Seren. That’s a good human.

"That girl, give that girl more money!" Warren exclaims as he points at Seren. Then he stands up, beginning to take his armor off piece by piece as his eyes shift to their reflective chromium state, revealing a wrinkled copper brown suit under it, though he goes entirely barefoot when he removes the boots of the armor.

While he leaves an entire mess, he pulls out a piece of black chalk and begins rapidly drawing and writing on the wall. "Do we have plantkinetics? We could use a plantkinetic. But if not, there are other ways we could do this! There are many ways we could approach green building from a fresh Raytech perspective! In numerous places across the planet, wooden buildings are starting to be experimented with. We could take this concept to the next level, by implementing controlled plant growth on the -sides- of buildings, rather than on top. The top of the building can be reserved for solar energy instead of boring sky gardens! No, we'll do side gardens!"

He dramatically turns around and points at Seren, as if he expects her to just suddenly applaud and understand, then he goes back to what is an increasingly insanely complicated and wall-spanning drawing. "Side gardens could be upkept by people who do the same general work as a window washer, but now they're gardening too. This job could technically be done by robots, but we're encouraging job growth!"

"However, there will be robots!" he assures with great enthusiasm. "We'll need robots to monitor the internal integrity of the wooden structure to ensure that there's no subtle Evolved manipulation happening, and some robots to serve as security to prevent vandalism. We'll use robots that don't quite look like robots at first glance, like robots disguised as normal antenna, or robots that look like birds from a distance!"

Scribble scribble scribble. Multiple quick robot designs have already appeared on the wall. "If we had plantkinetics to follow my design, we could get these done at an incredibly rapid pace, if the strategy is followed exactly, probably! However, we could also do green buildings underground, for security, though it wouldn't be quite as cool and interesting, and it wouldn't contribute as much to the environment! And if we don't use plantkinetics at all, well, I'm sure I can think up a functional strategy!"

He steps back, crossing his arms. "I ran out of wall space. It seems rude to use the other wall. Do I own this building?"

Oh thank God, is Richard’s expression as Seren starts to speak and comes up with an actual proposal, looking relieved at a brief escape from the madness that was starting to spread across the meeting. Thus go Raytech project meetings, he knows, but he tries to get actual work done before the urge to shoot everyone involved gets too strong.

Then his brother speaks up.

“The word you’re looking for is agrokinetic, and yes, we do,” he says, largely ignoring the scribbling as he points at Seren, “That’s an excellent idea, honestly, and if successful we could spread the results to here in the Heights as well. Production is always cheaper than prototype. Congratulations, Ms— “ He stumbles, “Mr— “ Pause. He’s not used to non-binary yet. “Evans.” There. “You’re now in charge of this project. Coordinate with Ms. Graves and with my brother if he ever stops writing on the wall. At least the janitorial budge isn’t at risk.”

A dry look at Warren, “Share your ideas with Evans, but they are in charge, okay? Also, this is our wall, please stop, we have computers. And your lab has a chalkboard. Use that. Evans, come up with a workable proposal that we can send over to Yamagato for collaboration.”

There are flowers on his lapel. He looks at them for a moment, then looks up, clearing his throat pointedly.

Michelle slowly turns her attention from Warren to Seren and back again. There's an incline of her head in Seren’s direction with a raise of one hand. “Given that I'm developing our aeroponics project, I'll lend a hand to this. I have some experience with this.”

Dana offers a quick look to Michelle but otherwise remains quiet. The one project she's here to assist with is more than enough for her plate, especially considering how chaotic Raytech appears to be beneath the surface.

The dark biker reaches out. Gentle and slow. She rests a tattooed hand on Seren’s forearm and gives her friend a single, supportive nod. You got this. Her hand falls away and she considers the attendees as a whole. “I’ll help however you need, Little Bird.” Pause. “Assuming I’m not too busy creating a new hunting scope.” Compass 2.0. Her brows bob once, showing that despite the barb to her words, she’s on Team Raytech regardless. She trusts Richard’s judgement. End of story.

Oh wow. They were heard. Seren’s shoulders lift as they take in a little intake of air, hold it, keeping themself together in front of the large group. Warren’s excitement is a little — erm — but it’s the thought that counts, right? They smile anyway, a little sheepish, enthusiasm returning when Richard Ray himself steps up to the plate on their behalf. Devi throws in her support. The elusive Ms. Cranston, bad with actor’s names and faces, throws in her support, too!!

Wow. This day got a lot better.

Thank you,” Seren says with a burst of warmth. The stems growing from the table, now covered in moss, too, flower into a half-dozen colors, the yellow ones emitting a soft glow and sparkling. It’s only then that they look down, realizing just how out of hand things have gotten. “Ah—”

With that startled note, Seren wipes their hand on the table, an eraser on the whiteboard of reality. Where they swipe, the face of the table resurfaces again. “Um,” They’re really not sure what to do with that. “—let me go find Baird, and we’ll get started, then!"

Four projects actually discussed. And Richard never had to answer the ethical concerns of one of them!

As far as Raytech meetings go, this was a success.

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