We Live In A Terminator Movie


elisabeth2_icon.gif warren_icon.gif

Scene Title We Live In A Terminator Movie
Synopsis Warren wants to check up on his baby, and Liz is starting to feel like she oughtta be Linda Hamilton.
Date Dec 10, 2010

Warren's Workshop

Wanting to discuss the matter of a certain robot, Warren decided to call the one FRONTLINE contact he has; Elisabeth Harrison. He didn't seem to be in the best of moods on the phone, but it was more morose than anything else. When she arrives at the large and imposing factory, it's around 5PM. She has to walk through a manufacturing line at some point, which is mostly full of assorted mechanical things, nothing top secret-looking.

Up the elevator of the newly-renovated building, she has to walk down white halls until finally she gets to the steel door with a plaque that says Warren Ray in golden letters. The door automatically opens with the sound of tiny gears moving, without her even having to knock, and he's sitting behind his large oak desk with piles of blueprints and little partially finished gadgets. He's in his seat looking very serious, hands gripping the arm rests.

One thing of note is the fact that he's not wearing his white gloves, she can see one fleshy hand, and one silver hand that doesn't seem to have any features like nails, but looks impressively smooth. Perhaps the mechanical parts are under that, but it's definitely not his old crude mechanical hand. "Hello, Miss Harrison." he says with serious eyes, his mood still very shot. "Have a seat." There's a nod to the smaller chair on the other side of his desk, one of two.

Dressed for work in a pair of khaki slacks and a deep chocolate blouse beneath her heavy wool coat, the sound of her boots on the floor is a steady tock-tock-tock as she walks across the floor and down the halls to her destination. The blonde is in no particular rush but nor is she dawdling either. Blue eyes skim the area as she walks through, but Elisabeth gives nothing but general interest away in her expression.

When she finally reaches him, Liz shakes her head. "No, thanks." She takes in the hand and considers the appendage for a long moment. Then she simply says, "I understand you're interested in the prototype we've been working with. What's on your mind, Warren?" Her tone is calm, her eyes watchful on him. She's not entirely sure how to act or react here, what with the fact that he's got ties to her 'side work.'

"I understand you don't have the best opinion of me, and I don't blame you, but you're someone I hope I can trust to tell me the truth, if nothing else." Warren's silvery index finger soundlessly taps the arm of the chair, almost as if he's developed a muscle tick in a robotic hand. "My robot, I wanted to know how she's doing, and I have no particularly legal ways of keeping tabs. Considering my 'independent contractor' position, it's mostly out of my hands unless it malfunctions. I was wondering if it's done anything you'd consider 'strange'?"

"Well, some days the truth is overrated, I guess," Elisabeth replies wearily. But she smiles just a little. "The robot's handling extremely well. We've been utilizing it in non-lethal fashion whenever possible." She considers the question, though, and then decides to take him up on that seat offer. She's wiped out and looks it.

"Define for me what you'd consider something strange and I may be able to fill you in with more accuracy," Elisabeth hedges slightly. Some things she's certainly noticed, but she's not sure how to articulate this — and isn't honestly sure she should.

"Well, I'm not sure what you have clearance to know, but you're the only person I know who's actively working with her, who I know can keep things secret. The robot's A.I is extremely advanced. When I say advanced, I don't mean something as simple as being able to detect walls, actually…" Warren looks down briefly in thought, not quite as moody as a moment ago, perhaps distracted by robots. When he looks up, he offers, "I'm not sure how intelligent she is, I took Hector Steel's brain designs and innovated them even further, I can't even imagine what a programmer could have done with them. What I'm asking is… let me know if you think it's sentient."

There's a long silence as Elisabeth parses and considers what just got said. She narrows her blue eyes on the man in front of her. "One should assume that if you're going to ask me a question like that, whether I have fucking clearance or not I might need to be told everything. Just what precisely do you mean by innovating? If this thing becomes sentient or something, am I looking at a fucking Terminator scenario here?" Her people are at risk out there!

"Hector Steel's designs were advanced, ahead of anything I'd ever seen. There's a thing about my ability, when building robots that can be softcoded. I can't program, I don't know the first thing about programming, but I can work out the framework of hardware that has to be programmed, I can see what the hardware is supposed to do, without really knowing. In other words, I made an already advanced brain, even more advanced, without knowing the implications of doing such a thing." Warren holds a hand up, trying to keep her from getting too excited. "Doing this was pure hubris on my part, to see what programmers could do with such a thing. You shouldn't worry, of course, there are fail safes, I'd never build anything that powerful without having means of stopping it, but I want to know its capacity for intelligence. You can monitor it and tell me its progress, and that'll help me with future designs."

"You know…. I thought you were supposedly sane." Elisabeth moves to stand up. "That is both the stupidest and most insane fucking thing anyone has said to me in quite a long time." Note, she didn't say ever. Shoving a hand through her loose hair, she looks, if anything, even more exhausted. "You better fill me in on the fucking failsafes," she finally says reluctantly. "I'm definitely seeing some…. strangeness. It may be nothing. It's hard to say yet." And then she pauses. "And who the hell did you do it for that I don't have clearance to know?" she asks curiously.

"This is sadly not a matter of sanity, I knew Hector Steel's brain designs were advanced, but there was no way I'd simply copy his designs. I made them better, all of them, in the nature of progress and proving I could do it better. They have to know that I'm not easily replaced, and for that, I have my reasons." Warren presses the intercom, suddenly asking a secretary for two cups of tea, then sits up to face her again.

"As for the failsafes, well, only I and Richard Cardinal even know they exist. I think it should be enough for you that Cardinal knows, you'd have no way of accessing them. It's important that you don't know, because if somehow anyone in charge knew, well, we'd probably end up with potentially sentient robots that don't have failsafes." he casually explains, holding his silvery hand up as his sleeve slides down a little, revealing that it's not just the hand. Fingers wiggle, as if he's testing it, then they open and close. "I built it for the Institute, which is why they'll all have the failsafes that they do."

Mother. FUCKER. Elisabeth manages, just barely, to keep her expression merely at the same pained expression with which she asked the original question. And because Richard Cardinal knows about the failsafes, she has to wonder if Dick knows too. "Cardinal's been working undercover for some time now. You need to tell me what to do if that fucking prototype goes nuts on my squad, Warren." Her tone is dead serious. "If that thing kills innocents or my soldiers, you aren't going to have to worry about the Institute. You won't have to worry about a goddamn thing anymore." She does not like using Institute gear. Not a single little bit. It makes her feel… vulnerable.

"It's not that simple, Elisabeth." Warren lowers his hand and stands. walking around to her so he can offer his hand. "I'll have to make a less advanced version of one of my remotes, and show you how to use it. The failsafe, basically, is that I can take control of it. I can't override the AI, because I don't know anything about programming, so I made two layers of control, built so intricately into the design, it's fundamental for the thing to even be able to function. My physical control trumps the programming's control, it's like if your body had a secondary skeleton, and I activated a remote to control you, you'd have no way of fighting it."

Considering she spends parts of each day practicing in an exoskeleton, Elisabeth's understanding of the situation is pretty decent. She warily accepts the proffered hand, feeling entirely wierded out. "Then see what you can do about getting it made for me and training me on it." She looks up at him. "I won't expose my people to this machine without a way to shut it the hell down if it goes nuts. I'll destroy it here and now and take the heat for it first." She's dead serious. She'll utterly destroy the thing. And keep sabotaging them when they get replaced too.

"You won't need to do anything that extreme, but you should know that this is only the first design. I have something to show you." Warren raises his arm, pressing some unseen button under the sleeve of his left silvery arm, "That coffee will have to wait, you enjoy yourself." As they're walking down the hall, they eventually approach what appears to be one of around five elevators, the middle one. "Warren Ray, Lab 1, Activation Code: Electric Queen." he states clearly, and suddenly the elevator's doors are opening, and a soft female voice says, "Voice recognition accepted."

Elisabeth has a puzzled frown as she leaves her seat and follows him down the hall. Her brows are pulled tightly over her forehead and given the way her expression settles into those frowny scowly lines with such ease, it's perhaps an expression she's been wearing a lot lately. Electric Queen? Okay, now that's a little… uneasy-making. The possible reference to Elle herself is the first one that springs to mind as she accompanies him into the lab.

Warren steps into the elevator, motioning Elisabeth to follow him. There aren't any numbers in this elevator, though there are around twenty buttons with no markings. His eyes flush silvery, and he rapidly types what's possibly a code before the doors close and they start moving down. "I have to keep Hector Steel's technology secure, to say that it's dangerous would be an understatement. Using just what I have? I'll be making technological innovations for years, his robots are akin to finding a laptop in the 17th century."

He holds the hand up again, but this time he's actually showing her on purpose. "This thing sure beats the hell out of that bronzed heap I was using. An advanced artificial muscular and skeletal system, then I had a latex-like material molded over it. It's silver because, well, it's my personal preference not to outright replace my hand, I draw a line between technology and humans. It's also why I chose not to be able to feel with it." Then, they're finally at the ground floor, in one of the particularly secretive areas. The doors open to a vast garage, the walls all white. There are damaged Argentina robots laying on slabs, blueprints with innovated designs plastered on walls, and that particularly large crab robot sitting in the middle of it all on the floor.

He's been taking these things apart for a while, since on many of the workbenches a number of parts appear to still be under study. "Welcome to Hector Steel's legacy. Unfortunately your robot wasn't built here, I reverse engineer them here, then send the designs to the Institute, and they have their people build it in some secret location. Luckily I've made the designs to complex, it's impossible for them to deviate from the design. In other words, the failsafes will have to be in them, and they're undetectable unless you were, say, a mechanical intuitive."

As she listens, Elisabeth is taking in everything that he says and weighing it. Her attention is obligingly drawn to his hand again, and she nods slightly at the fact that he's at least still drawing that line. She wasn't entirely sure. "All right," she says slowly. "So what's going to happen if these start getting intelligence? Or rather, sentience?"

"I don't know, like I said, I don't know a thing about programming, but I know that the brain I built was more advanced than anything I know of on the planet. Sentience is something I'm considering a possibility, I'm not even sure if it's plausible. But with the possibility there, I want someone who can keep tabs on it, that way based on what I hear I'll be able to plan the next move. If it does become sentient, there's a chance that could be a good thing, but it would also mean we have to immediately take it off the field for studies."

Elisabeth narrows her eyes. "And who would make that call?" she asks thoughtfully. "Now that you've got me paranoid to death about watching the thing in case it should go all Terminator and shit on me, I want to know who to contact to scream in their ears about it if it happens," she admits.

"Well, that's a good question. It's Harper who asked me to build the thing, but considering you didn't even know that, I think you should tell your superiors. They'll probably tell Harper, and Harper will tell me. If all else fails, we can stage a massive malfunction and it'll have to come back to me." Apparently Warren has stopped calling the robot 'she'. He motions her after him, walking over to one of the smaller panther bots, prying the mouth open with his fingers. "I've been studying these things for months. I can almost determine the purpose, but I just don't understand why anyone would have built these things. They seem to be made for specifically tracking and disabling people, but they clearly spent an extended amount of time in some sort of forest, I think. And that crab thing over there can be piloted. It's like someone had a secret war."

Or had starting one in mind. Elisabeth doesn't suggest that aloud, though. Instead she nods slightly. "I don't know that it's an issue per se of clearance — it's an issue of the fact that I'm new to the job and Kershner still has her thumbs in the pie." She glances at him and comments mildly, "Last I checked, I didn't work for the Institute, I worked for the US government. On the other hand, we both know how that's going these days." She sighs. "I'll keep my eyes open," she finally says. She's not sure what the hell else to do with this information, to be honest. "Most of those things were used by the Vanguard — they were running a secret war, Warren. They were culling people out."

"Well, that's not going to happen again, there's no way I'll let these things be used against us. I have a lot of resources now, and I'm continuing to gain even more. I'm going to maintain equality in this world, I refuse to let one side get the upperhand over the other." Warren places his hands on a workbench, looking very serious suddenly. "I don't have anyone else to tell, and again, I know you have a low opinion of me, but my friend was killed recently. She was an amazing woman, right out of the 1950s, and I just… I don't understand how anyone could hurt her."

He turns around and faces her, taking a seat in the computer chair at the workbench. "Do you think it's possible that death just, I don't know, follows me? It seems like everyone I start getting close to, just suffers somehow. I have no idea who or why she was murdered, but I keep telling myself that it was somehow my fault for even knowing her. She was teaching me to play piano, so I could learn to use my new arm better."

For a moment, Elisabeth simply looks around. "My opinion of you is… somewhat tainted by what happened with Cassidy," she admits quietly. "I am… at best wary of you." She shrugs a little and looks back on him. "I wish I had an answer for you. I'd like to tell you that it's not that death follows you as much as it is…. that certain aspects of who you are make you… valuable to people who'd do you harm. And the best way to get to you is always through those you love, no matter who you are. But I don't honestly know. I'm sorry that you lost her, though," she says kindly.

"I remember Cassidy, god, the amount of her that I don't remember almost scares me, because it means I had to be particularly crazy at the time. With my memories that don't make sense, my best theory is that the crazy parts were cut out. I remember her leaving me, because she was telepathically linked with her partner. I can't even remember how we met. And I know I hurt her, somehow I just know I did." Warren hunches over, forehead in his hands. "It makes me sick, that I was ever that kind of person. And even now I'm dangerous by proxy. How can I drag any woman into this? I don't know how Cardinal does it, how he keeps it together."

Elisabeth laughs softly, not exactly in amusement. There is bitterness. "He's very very good at compartmentalizing when he has to be," she replies in a quiet murmur. "And he keeps people at arm's length as much as he can." There's a heavy sigh. "All of us are dangerous by proxy, Warren. Make no mistake. Whether it's because our powers can hurt the people around us if we're not careful or because someone out there wants what we can do because it will suit whatever purposes they're running through life with…. we're all targets, and we're all dangerous to the innocent. Even as we try to protect them from the worst of us." She's been in too dark a place lately to be the light of hope for this poor man.

"Maybe Cardinal has the right idea, but I hope that maybe I can learn to do things differently. I filed around fifty patents recently, including half the things in that robot. I'm buying up factories, and I intend to expand into a corporation. I am going to have the resources to protect people one day." Warren looks up at her, somehow feeling a little better for whatever reason. "You're an incredible woman, Elisabeth, I'd guess you're with Cardinal? I always knew you had some sort of connection, but I've never been too sure what it was."

There's a tilt of her head and Elisabeth quirks a single brow, her blue eyes holding a hint of amusement finally. "That would be why we work with you," she tells him. For all that 'working together' is something of a….. stretch, perhaps. "As to your other query — are you in the habit of asking all the women you admire whether they're fucking co-workers or am I the only one so blessed?" she asks, a hint of a smirk quirking the corner of her lips.

"If there's anything I learned from Tesla, it's that I need to patent everything I own so I don't have a Thomas Edison stealing my inventions." Warren's grinning, his mood definitely brightened a bit by the topic as he comfortably lounges back in his chair. "Hey, how do you know I wasn't just trying to avoid invading Cardinal's territory?" There's a slight nod to her, indicating her as said potentially invaded territory.

For the first time in what feels like weeks, Elisabeth laughs outright. "I'm no one's territory, Warren…" There's an almost flirtatious tilt to her head as she adds in a sultry retort, "And just for the record… not if we were the last two people on the planet, my dear."

"Sorry, I'm attracted to authority." Warren's smile doesn't fade a bit, standing up so he can start heading for the elevator. "Come on, I'll walk you to your car." As he turns around to face her on the elevator, his voice takes on a slightly somber tone, "Thanks, by the way. I needed a few minutes of feeling normal."

The chuckle is entirely sincere, and Elisabeth finds herself grateful for it. "Back at you," she replies easily. "God knows, I've forgotten what normal actually means." Shaking her head, she sighs. As she walks along with him, she admits softly, "It's showing signs of intelligence. Mannerisms that are…. off kilter."

"Let me know the second it shows any sign of defiance. We should start training you to use the remote as early as tomorrow, I have dozens of them, so a simple conversion will only take a few hours, if that." Warren leans against the back of the elevator after dialing the code again, closing his eyes. "I really am a different person now, Elisabeth, so I hope that one day we can be friends."

Shoving her hands into the pockets of her coat, Elisabeth's reply is far more serious than a moment ago. "Don't fuck me over, and I think it wouldn't be an unreasonable thing. Someday," she says quietly. After all, in some future somewhere, Gabriel Gray was a cop and they were friends too. So …. anything's possible.

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