Jump to content

Recommended Posts

GM

 

May 11th, 2019

1 PM

ArcheTech West, Bridgepoint

 

Nicole had been given a special opportunity, as part of her internship at ArcheTech. Come to ArcheTech West in Emerald City, shadow Doctor Rita Lang for the weekend. It was not so much a work weekend as a research weekend. The notes about the actual research had been kind of sparse. It had something to do with nanomachines, and a revolutionary use for them, but aside from that, the notes were rather short. They did note that Doctor Lang had specificially asked to have Nicole shadow her, so that was a plus, at least. Something about wanting an outsider's view of the project, which meant Nicole would have to write a report on it once it was done.

 

Doctor Lang was standing outside the building as Nicole arrived. She was a Caucassian woman in the late 40'es. Slightly overweight, which she would attest was because of staying in laboratory all day. Her dark red hair seemed to have been dyed to hide beginning grey hair. She wore a white labcoat, which was open, revealing her jeans and a black t-shirt with the Nine Inch Nails logo. A pair of glasses was hidden in the pocket of the white labcoat. She patiently waited, looking up from her phone as Nicole arrived.

 

"Hey, you must be Nicole. I'm Rita, nice to finally meet you. Been hearing great things about you, kid."

Share this post


Link to post
Posted (edited)

Salvo

 

It had been a couple of days since Nicole's flight had touched down on the tarmac in one of Emerald City's airports. She hadn't slept a wink the whole flight, instead, with only the soft humming of the plane's engines to keep her company, she refreshed herself on the latest findings on nanotech. She had some limited access to ArcheTech's files and read through that, notes and latest breakthroughs that a journalist could have picked up on. And on her breaks she scrolled through the professional social media sites to see just who this Doctor Lang was about.

 

She had landed, said hello to the Leons, freshened up and set to driving through familiar streets. Emerald City had an old world charm about it, quite unlike the breakneck speed of Freedom City. It was merely one Nicole Whitfield-Hall who sat down to continue her work in a quaint coffee shop in Bridgepoint, coffee beside her laptop. For all intents, Salvo was all the way across the US.

 

That was yesterday.

 

"Hi Rita," Nicole said, reaching up to shake the Doctor's hand today. Nicole wore a nice blouse and comfortable leggings that reached to her midcalves, baby blue on black, and a open lace shirt of leaves over that.

 

She looked up at the pyramid that was ArcheTech West, blinking back the glare from the sun. " I can imagine all the things they say. Maybe because I've already heard all of them."

 

Then, smiling, she glanced back at Rita. "What I haven't heard of is this nanomachine project of yours. It's like Pandora's box locked behind an invisible firewall where I can only read the cliffnotes of the cliffnotes. Is it that classified?"

Edited by Zeitgeist Blue

Share this post


Link to post

GM

 

"You bet! We're building the future here, kid! Can't have just anyone snooping around and try to steal it, right?" Rita was beaming, gesturing with her hand for Nicole to follow towards the building. "You'll get to see most of it, gotta keep some secrets, but you'll have to sign a NDA first, of course." The large pyramid structure loomed over them. As they approached, it started to block out the sun, leaving them in shadow. "From everything I heard, you're trustworthy of course, but lawyers and money men and all that."

 

They got to the entry, which quickly opened into the main room with the reception. Rita quickly strolled up to it, picked up a tablet and handed it over to Nicole. "Alright, that's the NDA. I'll need you to read everything there, then sign at the bottom." She was all business now, the jovial tone from before all but gone. The receptionist, a dark haired man in his early twenties with a small moustache and short hair, flashed Nicole a quick smile and held up a visitor's pass for her to see.

 

Reading the NDA over, it seemed like pretty standard stuff. It was mostly stating how Nicole were sworn to secrecy, and any and all sharing of information that she learned during the visit would be strictly controlled by ArcheTech. Any unauthorized sharing would learn to termination, with the possibility of lawsuits to come. Rather standard stuff, really.

Share this post


Link to post

Salvo

 

The NDA wasn't something new for Nicole. She's been through the procedure before, witnessed experiments and discussed results that still weren't ready to be opened to the public yet. Less juicy conspiracies of advanced alien blasters or mind-controlling pandemics, more likely than not they were kept secret because ArcheTech did not want to embarrass themselves. Not that exciting.

 

But she had a feeling whatever Doctor Lang was working on actually met the hype that the project had garnered. So Nicole read the NDA from top to bottom, signed where she had to, then handed the tablet back to the receptionist. Just like that she was bound to secrecy. She's kept her mouth shut on many things. One needed to learn to do so as a hero, and even in her civilian life working in such a sensitive field. There was more than just ArcheTech's reputation at stake, which she never cared much for anyway. There were people too - the subjects, the scientists. Their names put on the line all in the name of advancing knowledge.

 

So what stays inside ArcheTech never leaves ArcheTech.

 

"Standard stuff. Same clauses and provisions like lawyers have a format for binding agreements." Nicole said off-handedly as she turned to the Doctor. "I'm actually a bit flattered I'm getting this one girl tour treatment. Makes it all seem so special, like it's all building up to something."

 

She clipped the visitor's pass on her shirt. "Are you going to tell me it's going to literally set my jaw dropping? What was it? Months? Years in the making?"

Share this post


Link to post

GM

 

"Yep, pretty standard stuff. Gotta keep the lawyers happy." Rita was rocking a bit back and forth, from her heel to her toes, while Nicole read the NDA. Once she had finished signing and clipped on the visitor's pass, Rita started gesticulating towards the nearest elevator. She barely even seemed to acknowledge that the receptionist was there.

 

She let out a quick laugh at Nicole's question. "No, no. Its great, and its grand, but I'll let you decide for yourself. Some people just doesn't seem to understand why what I'm doing here matters, and some seem to do, so, I'll let you decide whether its worth dropping your jaw or not. But yeah, I've been working on this for years, and I think it'll be ready soon." Rita winked at Nicole while she pressed the button, then paused, before asking her own question. "So, tell me, what do you know about nanomachines?"

Share this post


Link to post
Posted (edited)

Salvo

 

To ask someone, especially an intern or a student, what they knew of a subject would have sent shivers down any but the most prepared's spine. Nicole had a different response though, even if the subject of nanomachines was way out of her field of expertise. Sure, she could look at the applications towards energy generation and storage but that was just one aspect to it.

 

As the doors to the elevator closed, she began with the physics of semiconductors. And afterward she let her mouth run on automatic, telling Doctor Lang all that she knew. The Doctor had asked and so she obliged, making an impromptu lecture on the subject. It wasn't something she knew comprehensively but there was a certain passion infused in her voice as she incorporated other disciplines of science, physics and chemistry and engineering and mathematics. No field was cut-off completely, isolated as if an island, and it could be said that one of her strengths was that she had a grasp of many of these scientific fields.

 

Biochemists and nuclear physicists worked hand-in-hand together with material engineers or mechanochemists. She could understand why, even go so far as to be a one woman team if given the right projects (as her work in Bellios would attest, discounting all the magic). Her multiple years in ArcheTech gave her the opportunity to soak like a sponge everything that came from the best in science and engineering. She could replay perfectly what she learned in her head months later, tinker with the concepts and put them to the test.

 

So she weaved a story that were only for a scientist's ears, returning into the folds of nanotechnology just before she ventured too far afield. Then when she was done with the theoretical, she moved into current research and recent breakthroughs, as well as the direction the field seemed to be heading into. In these she had prepared the past few days since getting on the air to fly across the United States.

 

When she was done, she realized her throat was parched and so she took a drink from her thermos of coffee, waiting for Doctor Lang to speak.

 

"So where in all of that do you fit into, Rita? What aspect did ArcheTech hire you for your expertise on?"

Edited by Zeitgeist Blue

Share this post


Link to post

GM

 

"Impressive. And its not even your field, right?" Rita was positively beaming, as she held her keycard up to open a door. While Nicole had been talking, the elevator had reached their destination, they had exited it and Rita had led Nicole down a hallway, past a number of labs. All had been filled with various equipment and researchers hard at work, completely visible through the glass walls. Now, they had reached what appeared to be Lang's own lab, the door quickly sliding open. "I knew I made the right choice with you."

 

"My research is primarily in the medical field." Rita switched to all business now. "Attacking diseases directly, mending things that are broken. Quick, painless, efficient. No more being sick, no more not remembering your own children." She paused a bit, before entering. "We're close. Really close."

Share this post


Link to post

Salvo

 

"Those are really noble goals," Nicole said, slowly as if she were still digesting what Doctor Lang had said.

 

Though she feared it was too big, too fast of a development for one breakthrough to affect, no matter how bleeding-edge. There would be a catch, either the applications would prove humbler or the cost would be prohibitively expensive.

 

But unlike many situations where she would have easily expressed her doubt, she kept her thoughts to herself here. Science was the study of miracles, with the capacity to uplift the human condition, and if she did not believe that then she had nothing. A world without disease or lasting pain. If the Doctor's nanomachines could bring them one step closer to that state then, revolution or not, her and her research would be lauded.

 

Doctor Lang would surprise her, as ArcheTech does everyday she worked inside its halls. She believed in that too.

 

"And I hope I could give you a hand in any way. The life sciences isn't my strong suit but I guess that's why I'm here, to take notes and learn."

Share this post


Link to post

GM

 

"Perfect! Just the answer I was hoping for!" Rita replied, before entering, letting Nicole into the laboratory. Whether it was what Nicole expected or not, the laboratory was certainly huge. At least fifteen scientists were scattered in groups around the room, huddled around screens, tables with plans. Three men were walking around a group of large containers, seemingly made from some kind of see through plastic, placed at one end of the room. They were at least ten feet tall and six feet wide each, but Nicole couldn't see what was in them from her current position at the entrance to the laboratory.

 

Placing a hand over her mouth, Rita coughed loudly, getting the attention of most, but not quite all, of the men and women in the room. "Everyone, this is Nicole. Nicole, everyone. C'mon kid, introduce yourself."

 

The laboratory was certainly impressive, that much was sure. Screens, 3D printers, what appeared to be very very tiny tools placed neatly on a table, the large containers that Nicole would quickly have noticed, and, now that she was fully in the room, ten cages with red-eyed white mice. 

Share this post


Link to post

"Hi, I'm Nicole, the intern from ArcheTech HQ and I'll be something like an observer for the weekend."

 

She gave a wave and a smile to the scientists before she and Rita moved across the room. She noticed the equipment but her eyes were largely focused on the large containers at the far end. It was instinct to think the largest objects would hold the most importance inside the room and moreover they the containers were the most distinctive things here too. Still, she made sure to look over the equipment scattered around. They could tell a story about what and how Rita's team was doing, if one knew what to look for. Screens and 3D printers for simulations, turned off for now but she was sure to see them running soon.

 

She stopped by the mice cage and peered at the lab mice. It seemed like they were around the animal testing phase.

 

"Have you started testing the nanomachines on these little guys?" She asked Rita, tapping on the cage and that cause some of the mice to turn their heads at her. "What were the results like?"

Share this post


Link to post

GM

 

Rita let Nicole roam a bit around the room first, obviously interested in seeing where the intern would be going. She did not seem disappointed when Nicole reached the mice and started asking about them. A small smile played over her mouth and tapped the glass on one of the cages. The mouse in the particular cage came closer, sniffing towards her finger, before returning to its wheel and starting to run around in it. "Good. This one was suffering from brain damage when it was brought in. It could feed itself, that was about it. Now look at him go?" Rita turned to another cage, placing a finger on the glass. The mouse inside immediately looked up from its food and ran over, gently placing its paw on the other side, at Rita's finger. "This one? Missing most of its paw. Now look." Standing up straight, she gestured around the laboratory mice. "Each one had been hurt in some way. Brain damage. Dementia. Broken bones. Missing limbs. Two of them with severed spines, unable to walk or move on their own. And now, just look at them." All ten mice seemed as happy as one could expect, moving about in their rooms. Running, eating, sleeping, whatever they wished to do. None showing any damage, or being worse for the wear. "I think the results speak for themselves, right? I'd love to get to move further up the food chain, but the higher ups want some more trials first."

Share this post


Link to post

The tour had just gotten exponentially more exciting for Nicole and her excitement showed.

 

"Amazing." One word but her face lit up then and there. She mimicked Rita and pressed a finger to the glass, a mouse running up to sniff at it before going on its merry way.

 

"Really, amazing. I never knew. I mean, I knew what about, had my suspicions but I never knew you were this close to it."

 

There was a pause as she considered the news. Animal testing was a whole different ballgame than theoretical research, and from mice it was several steps until the doctor's nanomachines could be tested on human subjects.

 

"I can imagine what could happen once you pass the hurdle of this phase, how much work still needs to be done even then."

 

She turned to look at Rita but her eyes flitted to the tiny tools on the table and she gestured to them. "The implements of the trade? No, too big for the nano-scales we would be talking about. The tools to create the tools to create the tools? What are they for?"

 

She drove her wheelchair forward, leaving the mice behind.

Share this post


Link to post

GM

 

Rita was clearly enjoying this, a huge smile plastered over her lips. "You're damn right it is. See why we gotta be careful about people getting wind of all this before we're ready?"

 

She gave a small wave to the mouse as Nicole moved on. Others in the room were watching them, while still doing their best to keep their eyes on their own work, too. Still, it seemed Nicole's presence brought some interest. 

 

"Well, we use a very expensive and precise 3D printer for creating the nanomachines, but these tools are something else. A test, I guess you could call it." Rita moved back towards the mice, opened a cage and took one out, cooing over it and gently stroking it while sitting it down, then nodded to one of the other researchers, who turned to his computer and entered some commands. "C'mon, Jerry. Show the kid what you can do."

 

The mouse looked around, sniffing at the air. Slowly, it moved forward, then reach for one of the tools, a small screwdriver, with its paws and took it up. Using both paws, it moved the screwdriver towards a tiny nearby screw, then slowly started screwing it into the hole it was sitting in. Rita grinned, waiting for Nicole's reaction.

Share this post


Link to post

Nicole

 

"Awww. He's so cute! And smart!"

 

Nicole couldn't help but coo as the mouse handled the screwdriver and when it was done, she reached out and stroked its fur. The mouse warmed up to her and she gently took it in one hand while the other continued to stroke it.

 

"Increased cognitive functions." Nicole shook her head as if trying to take process the further implications. Her eyes were wide as she looked up to Rita. "A side-effect of your treatment or was it intended from the start? This is starting to sound more and more like the holy grail of medicine."

 

Jerry still snuggled between her hands, Nicole raised the mouse to eye level. "You'd be a super mouse if this was just a fluke but this isn't, is it? Maybe one day this treatment would be found from the Saharan to Freedom City."

Share this post


Link to post

GM

 

The mouse was at first stiff and almost paralyzed to when Nicole reached out for it and took it in her hand, before sudddenly warming up and starting to accept her. It was just a small delay, but enough to be noticeable. Then it practically started to lean into her touch, obviously enjoying the affection. 

 

"Repair and improve," Rita stated, her arms crossed as she looked briefly over her shoulder at one of the researchers, before turning her full attention back to Nicole and Jerry. "Since we're already putting the nanos in there, we can just as well use them for improvements. So yeah, I think you're spot on. Unfortunately, its not quite stable yet. These guys," she gestured to the mice, " are the lucky ones.We're still ways away from moving up to anything bigger than mice. Plus, the bigger the patient, the more nanos we'll need."

Share this post


Link to post

Nicole

 

"The lucky ones." Nicole mimicked, putting Jerry back in its cage where the mouse scurried away to munch on its food. She stared hard at Rita. "You make it sound so ominous for the ones who weren't lucky."

 

Then she chuckled, dispelling the fake tension, and turned on her seat to look at the group of large containers at the end of the room. The wheels of her wheelchair started as she pushed the joystick forward.

 

She was intent in her goal, in learning where each piece of equipment or mouse fell into the puzzle, that her mind discarded many things that were unimportant to her goal. The world might as well have been just her, Rita, and where she put her mind into now.

 

"And this looks like the pièce de résistance." She peered closer, trying to get a good look inside. "Big and demanding attention like the centerpiece of an art gallery. Are the nanomachines stored in here?"

Share this post


Link to post

GM

 

Rita froze up for a moment at Nicole's statement about what happened to the ones that weren't lucky, even after the chuckle. She wasn't completely back to normal by the time Nicole rolled on, but she followed her anyway, waiting behind the chair as she let Nicole take everything in.

 

Nicole's close look did not reveal much. There seemed to be something in there, but it was so impossibly small that the naked eye could not see them. There was just the sense that there were something in there. 

 

"Right. Give them plenty of space. We're trying to work on making them self replicate, so that seemed like a good idea." She paused for a moment, before continuing, her tone shifting, growing a bit more somber. "Listen, about the unlucky test mice... I'm not gonna lie to you here, Nicole. This is important work. It is the cure, but it is also insanely dangerous. The unlucky ones... I'm not even sure you could recognize them as mice anymore. Its been a long while since we last had something like that happen, but we can't be too careful." She shuddered. From the look on her face it was obviously not a happy memory.

Share this post


Link to post

Nicole

 

The implied fate of the unlucky mice was enough to blow the wind from Nicole's sails. She winced, imagining all that could happen when a brainful of nanomachines didn't just quite mesh with your brain right.

 

She'd seen a few disturbing things as Salvo, mostly here in Emerald City, and she could have spiraled down from there if it wasn't for the breathing techniques she had learned from her therapist.

 

She turned her head away from Rita to hide the look on her face, and after a while she looked back at the doctor.

 

"Then I can understand the need for all this testing. We've got to identify and fix whatever caused the procedure to go wrong."

 

She rubbed the nape of her neck in thought, brows furrowed. "I'm not going to like this but I should look at what happened to the... unlucky mice. Records or-- or the samples, whatever's left."

Share this post


Link to post

GM

 

"Ah, kid... You really don't. It's a mess when it happens, and we've learned what we can. I'm sure you've seen horrible stuff in movies and whatever, but this is real. Its really not something you need to..." Rita was obviously about to continue, when another of the researchers in the room raised his voice, having approached them while Nicole had looked away.

 

"Would you stop that! Honestly! Its been months since we last had any of the test subjects reject any of the nanomachines! We've fixed it! Move on, and get us the approval for some real animal testing already!" The man was tall, and rather imposing. Caucasian, bald, with a small black moustache. He was probably in the mid thirties or so, and his tone and stance made it clear that he thought he knew better than Rita or anyone else in the room. He had a pair of black rimmed rectangular glasses in his lab coat pocket, which he wore over a black t-shirt with the logo for some heavy metal band that was named something along the lines of "The Fyreslayers", though the font made it hard to read, and a pair of jeans. 

 

Rita's demeanor changed almost instantly when the man spoke up. "Ah. Nicole, this is Doctor Guy Richards. As you can imagine, he does not quite agree with my assessment of the potential dangers of the nanomachines."

Share this post


Link to post

Nicole

 

Nicole's brows furrowed through Rita's explanation of why it was a bad idea to look at the unlucky mice, and her brows continued to furrow as Rita was interrupted by Guy. Tall and imposing, Nicole could only scowl as the two scientists opened up about their disagreement. Rita would not know about Nicole's work as Salvo and while Freedom City did not harbor the worst of humanity there were still images and events that she wished she could scrub off her mind and forget the exact, messed-up details of.

 

Neither of them were right, she knew, but while she could not tell just why Rita was wrong Guy's grievance was easier to address.

 

"Then maybe he'd be change his mind if I were to back up your assessment," Nicole said to Rita at first but she raised her voice so that Guy could hear. "Let me see them, Rita. I can take it and maybe my report would be taken into consideration. Maybe a third-party observer is what's needed here."

Share this post


Link to post

GM

 

Guy had been moving around, circling Rita and Nicole as she spoke. He stopped completely when Nicole spoke up, glaring at her. "You? You're here as a charity. Let the intern see things, get the funding we need to push through for some real breakthroughs instead of just working on vermin." He almost spat out some of the words. "What kind of knowledge could you possibly have that would make you qualified?"

 

Rita, for her part, stood back and crossed her arms. Her brows furrowed, and if looks could kill, Guy would most likely had dropped to the ground long ago, but she seemed to wait with her response.

Share this post


Link to post
Posted (edited)

Nicole

 

The pressure mounted and her eyes narrowed.

 

"I don't need to justify myself to you." Her teeth grit together as she looked up at Guy. He was a bully but she's had her fair share of experience with bullies and he was not capable of a fraction of the things they could do. "If you have a problem call Freedom City. Maybe they'd even go along with your request but in the meantime I'm here to write my report and my recommendations so I can do my job instead of ranting like a lunatic."

 

With a sigh, her voice softened and she turned to Rita. "And that means letting me see everything you have, even if you think it's not a sight for the faint-hearted."

Edited by Zeitgeist Blue

Share this post


Link to post

GM

 

Guy glared at Nicole, but backed off, turning and throwing his hands in the air. "Fine! Scare the kid! Maybe she'll change your damn mind and we can start making some actual progress here!" He stomped off, returning to whatever he had been doing and sitting down heavily in his chair. 

 

Rita shook her head, turning her back to Guy. "He is right about us not making much progress, at least. We do need to move up the food chain, but it gotta be safe first, right?" She thought about it for a moment, before coming to a decision. "Alright. I'll show you, but remember, I'd rather not. Come along." Turning, she started moving out of the room and down the hallway, leaving Guy and the other scientists behind.

 

"We're keeping the remains in a secure location. I wouldn't even keep them around if not for needing to find out what went wrong in the first place." She paused when they got to an elevator. "You handled Guy well, by the way. He's a tool, but one of the best in his field, and he's been instrumental in our research, so gotta keep him around."

Share this post


Link to post

Nicole

 

"Thanks. Those are exactly my thoughts. Don't think he'd understand or even try to but whatever, that's his problem."

 

Nicole took one last glance back at Guy as she followed Rita out the room. She tried to push the problem scientist from her mind but his points and Rita's quiet acknowledgement captured a string of thought, unraveling it.

 

"And the rest of your team," she asked, careful in breaching the subject. "Do they feel the same way too? That you aren't making progress, dragging your heels because of some dead test animals?"

 

That would have been a problem, instead of just a lone opinion. She'd have to ask the rest of Rita's team what they thought when she got the chance. As odd as it would sound for some, she understood that science without scientists was not possible. The people on the ground were any endeavor's greatest resource but if they weren't motivated, bitter and angsty...

Share this post


Link to post

GM

 

"Some do, some don't. Honestly, we're all just people, even if we are creating the future." Rita was impatiently tapping her foot as the elevator took its sweet time arriving. "Guy's the most outspoken, of course." She failed at suppressing a small grin. "He probably jumped at the chance. To be honest, he's been angling for my position for years." The elevator arrived, and Rita entered, flashing her keycard and entering a code. Once Nicole was inside, she would press a button leading to one of the subfloors. 

 

"Still, even if Guy is an obnoxious jerk, what he wants is progress. Can't really blame him for that." The elevator seemed to take forever to progress get to their location. Rita stayed silent, but would reply to any questions Nicole asked, before they reached the floor. The elevator door opened, revealing a long hallway. It led at least 100 meters in one direction, where it split to the left and right. Each side of the hallway had heavy, armored doors, though with windows at eye height for anyone to look in. 

 

Rita started walking down the hallway, clearly starting to seem uncomfortable. "Are you completely sure about this? We can always just tell Guy that you saw it."

Share this post


Link to post

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...