Theory into Practice


elisabeth_icon.gif evan_icon.gif

Scene Title Theory into Practice
Synopsis Elisabeth invites Evan to apply his studies to something a lot bigger than leaky bridges.
Date December 12, 2010

Evan's office, Columbia University

The first round of classes at Columbia will be going into session soon. It's the last few days of finals, so many of the professors are stuck in their offices doing either prep work for the upcoming tests or grading (if they're not using ScanTron). It's been a number of years since Elisabeth Harrison was a student — and the way she carries herself across campus and into the building shows that she's not one now. She's dressed too nicely. A black pair of slacks and jacket with a soft violet pullover beneath it, a pair of heeled black boots that click-click-click on the floor of the hall. Her knuckles rap at Langford's office door in one of those 'official business' kinds of knocks. It invariably gives away that she was a cop or something. And she waits for him to open the door before offering a faint smile. "Professor Langford? My name is Elisabeth Harrison. Do you have a moment?"

Out of stubbornness, Evan is not using ScanTron, opting instead for a small handful of written-out (or, increasingly, typed-out) assignments. He's gotten to where he can grade them pretty quickly… until someone knocks that sort of knock on his door. What the hell is that about? "Yes, can I help you?" he replies to Elisabeth, blinking as he opens the door further and takes a step back.

Taking it as an invitation to enter, Elisabeth smiles a little bit ruefully. "Sorry about that… I can't seem to break that habit." The knock does tend to startle people. She waits until he closes his door again before she tilts her head and says quietly, "You spoke with an …. associate of mine some time ago. About a certain set of theoretical questions regarding…. oh… changing events enough to change lives." There's a minute pause there — it's not really a question. "And I think the time has come to put your research to some better use, if you're still willing to talk about it."

It's only when Elisabeth starts explaining about the associate that Evan moves from a polite pretense of relaxing to the genuine article. Okay, so she's not here to bust him, at any rate. "I did, yes. I was actually expecting to hear something before the riots last month…" As he walks back over to his desk and settles in, a frown seeps back into his expression once again. "Which would imply that either you've lost some people recently, or you're predicting something even worse in the near future. Or both."

"A little from column A, a little from column B," Elisabeth admits quietly. "We were able to mitigate the conditions of the riot well enough, but … we're in a position now where I think perhaps your theories may make or break what we do next." She moves to sit in the chair across from him. "Dr. Langford….. do believe that time travel is possible?"

Evan scratches his head. "With all the other Evolved abilities running around? I believe it may be possible. May even be possible without them, physics isn't exactly a closed subject. Of course, if it is possible, then the state of the world probably speaks volumes about who's gotten their hands on it."

"Yeah… I'd think that would be a good grasp on the problems inherent in the very idea," Elisabeth agrees quietly. "Now… if I told you that people from the future have already come back and changed some things, changing our future for the worse, and that we need to find a way to get ourselves back on the path we were supposed to be on…. do you think you could still work with me? Because I'm not exactly blind to the idea that I might sound a little insane."

"No, not at all. I suppose someone might have some reason to plant evidence for you— but no, you don't sound crazy at all." Evan reaches for a notepad, turns it to a fresh page. "What can you tell me about these people, so far? I can do a better job if I can see the evidence first-hand."

Elisabeth considers and says, "I can make that happen. I'm sure you'll understand that I don't want to simply hand over all the information I have, but … I can bring you some of it and see what you can come up with. My associate seemed to think that you would be able to pinpoint some of the things that could be effecting things that we can't really see. Is that how this game theory of yours works?"

With a shrug, he sets the notepad aside, leaning forward and considering carefully. "In general, it's a mathematical approach to modeling what strategies different 'players' will follow as they compete and/or cooperate with each other, assuming rational self-interest. It's been applied to things like economics, biology… It's not a magic bullet or anything, but I may be able to apply it to your situation, come up with some things that wouldn't otherwise have been obvious."

Elisabeth nods very slowly and says, "And that, professor, is exactly what I could use." She smiles slightly. From her pocket, she retrieves a thumb drive that she leans forward and places on his desk. "For now… there are no names attached to the information on this. Persons have been given letter designations, organizations numerical ones. But other than that, it's an information-heavy data set to start with. It includes every operation that I know the organization I'm investigating has been part of, as well as every operation that I know about and its outcome. If there's not enough information, contact me. No details in email or text, just text me a time and date and I'll come here to your office to meet you."

Evan inclines his head, reaching a hand forward, fingers closing around the drive once it's set down. "All right, I'll take a look. I should be calling you back within a few days, one way or another— worst case scenario, it'll be to say 'sorry, looks like it'll take months to get anywhere', and neither of us will have lost anything significant. Best case… well. We'll have to see."

Elisabeth nods easily. "I appreciate your time, professor," she says as she moves to stand up, leaving a card with a phone number on it on his desk for him as well. "If you have any questions or you want to talk about the information you're working on, feel free to contact me as well. I'm around." She wants to let him read to his heart's content, but she warns quietly, "A lot of what you see in there may well be … disturbing to you. And I'm sorry for it."

"I was here last winter," Evan replies, "I saw more than my share of people dead or dying well before their time. It may be something worse than that, but I figure I at least have a chance of handling it all right." Pocketing the thumb drive, he rises to his feet as well to see her out.

"Let's hope so," Elisabeth tells the man quietly. "And here's hoping that your math theories will show us an avenue of attack that we haven't really thought of." She doesn't want to admit that in some ways she's entirely at the end of her ideas. She's got some things in motion, but …. "I'll look forward to hearing from you soon."

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