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Author Topic: [CYA v.1] The Lost Girl (Martee & James Moriarty)  (Read 1746 times)

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Offline James MoriartyTopic starter

[CYA v.1] The Lost Girl (Martee & James Moriarty)
« on: October 19, 2013, 11:20:14 AM »
JM's Ad Hoc, Custom, Seat-of-the-pants Choose Your Own Adventure system, Version One.  The rules will be enhanced on the fly.

Rules:

  • Godmoding: Will happen all the time
  • GM: Speaks in 2nd person
  • Player: Speaks in 1st person
  • Turns: Each turn, the GM will move the main story line along by describing the consequences of anything that happened before and presenting a new circumstance.  At the end of his post, he will present two or more options.  Each turn, the Player will respond to the options by choosing one and describing how and in what fashion she will explore that option.  It is expected that the Player will make reasonable guesses as to the outcomes of basic actions, but will not make overall consequence-deciding contributions.

~~

You wake to the familiar bleating of the alarm at your bedside.  Tapping sleepily at the "dismiss" button that shows on the OLED screen of your gorgeous new Windows 8.1 phone, you roll over onto your stomach, groaning.  You take a deep breath and look around.

You worked hard for the one bedroom flat on the Upper West Side, delighted both by its proximity to the American Museum of Natural History and the Park, as well as by the unusually large space for the price.  When you landed the position as VP of Engineering at Virtual Reality Systems, Inc., you were on Cloud Nine.  A start-up that had taken the world by storm with its new Virtual Reality Simulation System, Embedded (tm), you had been eager not just to join as an early member of a rising star tech hit, but also because you were intrigued by what such a technology would mean for the world.  At 6am on a Monday morning, the thought certainly crosses your mind that you wish you could just virtually get out of bed.

The warm sun streams in early morning oranges through half-open windows and translucent drapes facing East towards the Park from the top floor of your five story brownstone.  The air is surprisingly warm already -- a perfect start to an early Fall day.  You can hear the sounds of distant traffic and the occasional raised human voice from a nearby apartment.  The walls are reasonably thick, but early morning during school season can definitely be a little loud sometimes.

You're a little surprised, now that it occurs to you, that you haven't seen your cat this morning.  In fact, it's more than that -- everything feels a little bit strange this morning, though you can't put your finger on exactly why.  You are dressed in your night shirt, a large cotton thing that falls all the way to your knees, and your undergarments as you rise, and the large, Persian rug that covers most of the dark, hardwood floor feels soft under your feet as you swing yourself out of bed.  Creaking floorboards protest in a familiar way under this new disturbance as you make your way to greet the day.

~~

You can:

A.  Turn on the TV in the bedroom and begin preparing yourself to get out and head towards mid-town to the office.

B.  Turn on the TV in the bedroom and begin looking for your cat.

C.  Skip TV and make yourself a more homey breakfast and read the paper at the table.
« Last Edit: January 12, 2014, 09:40:52 AM by James Moriarty »

Offline Martee

Re: [CYA v.1] The Lost Girl (Martee & James Moriarty)
« Reply #1 on: October 19, 2013, 06:16:32 PM »
I wish I hadn't stayed up so late last night working. Setting the alarm for 6am didn't seem like such a bad idea at the time, but right now I could use another few hours of sleep. Actually, I really shouldn't complain.  Nine times out of ten, Axel would've had me up half an hour earlier, curling his nails into my shoulder in his own special feline way of greeting - before yowling his way to the food bowl. Cats... so demanding.

I should feed him.  God only knows what shoes or furniture he'll destroy while I'm at work if I don't.

Still, I can't shake the feeling that I'm missing something.  Did I have an early meeting I'm forgetting?  Is it someone's birthday? I shake my head to clear it a bit and try to ignore the unsettled sensation gnawing at the back of my brain.  If there's something important I'm forgetting, my planner app will chirp and let me know.

I cross in front of the dresser and without thinking, pick up the remote and aim it more or less in the direction of the TV, turning it on.  I don't know why I do that - force of habit, I guess.  It's not like I have time to sit and watch the morning news while having a leisurely breakfast - VRS doesn't exactly keep banker's hours, after all.  That's all right.  The long hours will be worth it in the end, and I can always grab a bagel from Sal's coffee cart on my way to the office.

For now, I need to find that damn cat and feed him.



Choice:

B.  Turn on the TV in the bedroom and begin looking for your cat.

Offline James MoriartyTopic starter

Re: [CYA v.1] The Lost Girl (Martee & James Moriarty)
« Reply #2 on: October 20, 2013, 11:32:01 PM »
You can hear the droning of an early morning talk show as you move around the apartment.  The studio audience cued laughs and animated voices of the talking heads are interspersed with short news segments and op ed pieces.  Thinking to look for your cat where you normally feed him, you enter your dimly lit kitchen and turn on the overhead fluorescent light.

It's not a small kitchen by Manhattan standards -- large enough for a small table and two chairs.  You haven't had very much time to spend in the kitchen in so long with everything that has been happening in your life.  These musings are interrupted by a troubling discovery -- not only is your cat not here, his food bowl and water are also simply missing.  You frown and rub your sleepy morning eyes, wondering if you had perhaps forgotten to take the bowls out of the sink where you might have washed them.  Idly calling quietly for Axel, you leave the kitchen and head back into the bedroom where you can get dressed while trying to remember what on Earth you did with his food bowls.

Something from the television catches your ear and you sit on the end of the bed watching as you pull on your clothes for the day.  The talking heads are discussing some news about Rift Oculon, Inc, the competitor to VRS, and so you listen intently.  Though the details are predictably vague, they seem to be hinting that RO has leaked a demo of an early prototype of their own VRS and that by all accounts, they seem to have stumbled on something utterly revolutionary.

Just then you hear a familiar meow and Axel jumps onto your lap and begins kneading your thigh with his sharp claws.  You turn to scold him but still rub him behind his ears.  When you turn back to the television, they are now discussing Robin Thicke's new album.  Curious about what RO might be up to, you file away the thought that you'll have to follow up on this at work today.

~~

You can:

A.  Hurriedly feed Axel and rush out the door to work.

B.  Turn on your laptop and see if there is anything on Engadget about RO's leaks.

C.  Watch some more TV and pet your cat before you try to do anything else.

Offline Martee

Re: [CYA v.1] The Lost Girl (Martee & James Moriarty)
« Reply #3 on: October 21, 2013, 10:52:00 AM »
Well, now I know why I didn't want to get out of bed this morning.  I can't believe we didn't see this coming. The office is going to be a madhouse, and everything is going to roll on up to my door.  I have to hand it to Rift Oculon - they're either really good at keeping their tech under wraps, or they've got a hell of a PR department.  It's probably a little of both, but either way, they've managed to catch the morning news circuit and that's a real coup.  VRS is a hot commodity in tech circles, but most of that doesn't trickle down to the proles. Average Joe will buy just about anything shilled in a puff-piece by pretty bobble-heads, even if the technology is vastly inferior to anything a competitor puts out.

I need to get a handle on this, and pronto.  As much as I'd love to sit down and see what the online buzz is, the fast is that ship has already sailed.  In fact, I'm kind of surprised my cell phone isn't already blowing up.  Maybe I'll have time to do a little recon when I get in to work before the questions start.  So of course, now that I'm in a hurry, His Royal Highness shows up.

Cats are really the most self-centered creatures. I think Axel does this on purpose - he's testing me, making sure his human is still fully devoted to his care and well-being.  I imagine it's kind of like a child running away to the backyard to see if mommy cares enough to look for them.  And then the cat thanks me with puncture wounds.

Unfortunately for kitty, if he hopes to remain in the high-end litter and chow to which he's grown accustomed, I need to get to work.  It's probably going to be a long day, so missing food bowls or not, I have to feed him now.



Choice:

A.  Hurriedly feed Axel and rush out the door to work.

Offline James MoriartyTopic starter

Re: [CYA v.1] The Lost Girl (Martee & James Moriarty)
« Reply #4 on: October 23, 2013, 01:53:16 PM »
Axel stares at you woefully and offers a heart-wrenching meow as you slide out the door, laptop bag over one shoulder.  On your way out the door, you casually wave hello to the doorman as you have for months now.  He must be particularly distracted today, you muse as he looks at you almost quizzically and raises a hand in faint-hearted greeting. 

It is a brisk walk to the Columbus Circle station, the warming morning air fresh and crisp with an unusually high ratio of wholesome, natural smells to usual, city smells.  You are distracted with thoughts of work as you make your way South along the park.  You idly slip one hand into your coat pocket to make sure that your MetroCard is there.  Finding the flimsy rectangle, you extract it to absent-mindedly look at it, verifying that it is indeed your current, active card.  A small symbol in bright red catches your eye -- a triangle with an arrow pointing in from the top and another arrow pointing out from the right side -- near the top left of the card.  You hadn't ever noticed this symbol before and you curl your lips quizzically.  You shake your head, wondering at the things we don't even notice about the world around us.

The people around you are in a typical Manhattan rush to where ever it is they are going.  In the normalcy of that frenetic activity, something nags at the edge of your consciousness.  Something that your brain is telling you isn't quite right.  A sensation of familiarity with that strangeness arises, and you realize you felt that way when you were watching the morning talk show on television in your apartment.

~~

You can:

A.  Hurry onward to work, ignoring the strangeness you're feeling for the moment in your eagerness to get to work.

B.  Stop and sit on a bench near the Circle and just watch the world around you for a few minutes while drinking a cup of coffee from the nearby Starbucks.

C.  Pull your phone out of your pocket and read the front page of your news feed to see if any more news has surfaced about RO.

Offline Martee

Re: [CYA v.1] The Lost Girl (Martee & James Moriarty)
« Reply #5 on: October 23, 2013, 03:14:58 PM »
It just doesn't seem right to feel so strange on such a gorgeous day.  I should really try to just enjoy it - this sort of weather doesn't last long here, and something tells me I'm going to be putting in a lot of long hours in the days and weeks ahead.  The news about Rift Oculon has me completely out of sorts.  I can't help but wonder how we could have missed our biggest competitor blowing past us in the virtual reality technology race.  But then, considering I can't even recall clearly what my MetroCard looks like - and I use it every day - I guess I shouldn't be too surprised.  After all, it's not like VRS crows to the press every time we make a little progress on our top-secret projects.

The smell of fresh-brewed java hits me like a ton of delicious, caffeinated bricks; it's a struggle to keep from turning around and getting in the queue for a steaming grande drip with room for cream. Unlike most people, I don't ever specify that they leave room 'at the top.'  I mean, where else are they going to leave room in a cup?  The liquid is always going to fall to the bottom, amirite?  Anyway - if the line had been a little shorter, I might have gone for a much-needed caffeine fix, but I really shouldn't make any unnecessary stops. I should also probably get a better idea of what I'm going to be dealing with once I'm actually at work.  The ride downtown isn't long, but I might as well make use of the time.  It would probably be a good idea to save a few key webpages for offline reading before I completely lose my cell signal underground.  



Choice:

C.  Pull your phone out of your pocket and read the front page of your news feed to see if any more news has surfaced about RO.

Offline James MoriartyTopic starter

Re: [CYA v.1] The Lost Girl (Martee & James Moriarty)
« Reply #6 on: October 24, 2013, 10:53:59 PM »
The smell of coffee so close by yet just out of reach is like a Siren's song, but like Ulysses you resist.  You opt instead to get more information on what is happening and hurry to the office.

As you head towards the subway, you pull out your phone and pull up your news feed app of choice -- feed.ly -- and take a look at what's going on.  You are a little unnerved -- but not surprised -- to see that there is a substantial amount of buzz around Rift and the so-far-vague teaser they have leaked about some new software they are calling a "revolution" in virtual reality.  You're a little surprised to see only one article about their main competitor and market leader so far, your company, VRS.  Pulling up the article, you frown.  Someone has made the relatively common but annoying mistake of referring to the former VP of Engineering whom you replaced -- Todd Buckner -- as the current one, quoting him liberally.  This would be much less irritating to you if he ever said anything that was really helpful, or even made any sense, really.  It's no wonder that he's now a "consultant on special products" for VRS, essentially the politically correct way in tech of putting a guy out to pasture.

You arrive at the subway station entrance and have time to pull down one article to read offline while you are on the train.

~~

You can choose to read:

A.  VRS:  One step forward, two steps back? -- Engadget

B.  Rift's CTO, Geanie Sandwood, teases a new kind of gaming -- Gizmodo

C.  Is Rift ahead of its time?  -- Ars Technica
« Last Edit: October 25, 2013, 09:46:09 PM by James Moriarty »

Offline Martee

Re: [CYA v.1] The Lost Girl (Martee & James Moriarty)
« Reply #7 on: October 26, 2013, 10:41:52 AM »
Well, this is just getting better and better. RO is everywhere online.  My stomach clenches and now I'm glad I skipped the coffee.  I don't think I'm going to need any caffeine after all - adrenaline is currently doing a good job of keeping my brain sharp.  A small part of my brain is beginning to wonder why no one has bothered calling me yet this morning - I mean, this sort of my thing at VRS - and so seeing Todd's name pop up in the only article I can find about our company sets me right on edge.  I start to scan the article but stop myself; it's only going to piss me off, and I still have intel to gather.

If I hurry I can make the express, which means I'm only going to have time to grab one article.  The search results show a dismaying number of new articles about RO, although I know most of them are just relays from other sites.  I can tell from Engadget's headline that they're still firmly on the Rift Oculon bandwagon.  There's really nothing worse than fanboi bloggers masquerading as unbiased, serious pundits.  Next.  Gizmodo isn't quite as bad about it, but if I ever wanted to hear what that windbag Geanie Sandwood had to say, I'd stick my wet finger in an electric outlet to shock myself back into sanity first.

Ars Technica would probably have exactly the information I was looking for.  Their articles tended to be well-researched and informative, rather than just poorly-disguised advertorials.  I clicked the link and waited for the download.



Choice:

C.  Is Rift ahead of its time?  -- Ars Technica

Offline James MoriartyTopic starter

Re: [CYA v.1] The Lost Girl (Martee & James Moriarty)
« Reply #8 on: October 27, 2013, 09:39:33 AM »
Quote from: John Sicarusa, Staff Writer, Ars Technica
Is Rift ahead of its time?

"VirtUal reality" companies have come and gonR since the web boom of the laTe 1990s.  Anyone who has followed the industRy knows thaAt such companies have faced an intense uphill battle, with the pPromise of such technologP -- and the even greater dreams of what levEls it could reach as representeD in seminal cyberpunk fiction -- far outstripping the capabilities of current hardware and software.  ThIs disconnect between the visioN and the reality has led To company after company reacHing the market with inferior product and quicklE failing, running out of capital long before anything remotely consumer-friendly could be produced.

But in the last few yearS, several advYnces in display technology, haptic feedback Systems, parallel programming and even wireless network speeds have combined to produce an overall synergy thaT can seem to be greater than its parts.  It is in this new environment that we find Rift Oculon and Virtual Reality Systems, Inc, two hardwarE and software powerhouses with entirely different takes on what "virtual reality" Means and how it is supposed to work.

VRS has taken a novel approach with embeddables -- small, biologically neutral objects that can "hack into" the human nervous system at the nerve level and create a novel, programmed experience in the host.  Rift Oculon has taken a very dIfferent approach, with a wireless, remote projection transmitter that interferes with the brain at the neurotransmitter level and targets sensory regions to project the experience into the mind of a target person.  Both approaches have shown amazing early results, but both of them face hurdles that seCm nearly insurmountable with current technology.  Some have offered the hypothesis that eAch company seems to be using some very proprietary tech that would actually help its competitor with its problems.  This has caused rampaNt speculation that a merger may be the future of these giants, though botH companies today fiercely disavow such a possibility.

Rift Oculon today has lEaked a date and made some vague but aggressive claims.  "October 31st."  "A Revolution of the Mind."  "Enter a New World."  "Join Millions in the Game."  The ads have appeared everywhere with no additional details except for a Link to the RO website, which is silent on any changes.  Such hyperbole has not been seen since the Segway, and we all know how that went.P

Some have offered the guess that RO has finally solved the neural barrier problEM, a problem that VRS seems somehow to have solved with its embeddable technology.  The basic idea is that there is a certain, difficult to calculate "neural imPedance" -- a gross, braIn-level pattern that has long seemed computationally impossible to cRack.  A simple way to think of this is like a chEcksum -- somehow, the brain as a whole Seems to reject new sensory inpuTs unless the state of the whole brain is in a globally consistent state.  Somehow, VRS seems to hAve overcome this barrier while RO continues to sTruggle, even though expErts say that the problem is no different at the nerve level than at the neurotransmitter leveB.

So the qUestion at hand is: has RO really made some kInd of breakthrough and even if they have, can it really finalLy put Virtual Reality on the map of legitimate, useful, entertaininD tech?  We won't really know untIl we see what happens in almost a moNth on the 31st.  But come join us in the comments for a discussion that's sure to be verGy lively.  02-06-2012

~~

A.  Ponder this message while heading to work, taking the subway over and then hurrying through the brisk walk to your 55th Street building.

B.  Choose another destination and means of getting there.  Fill in the blanks.

C.  Get that coffee after all, this is getting way too weird.


« Last Edit: July 14, 2014, 12:54:34 PM by James Moriarty »

Offline Martee

Re: [CYA v.1] The Lost Girl (Martee & James Moriarty)
« Reply #9 on: November 18, 2013, 04:56:41 PM »
I manage to get the article downloaded and hurry down into the crowded subway, unconsciously weaving through the correct turnstiles and tunnels to get to my train. Queueing up on the platform, I bring up the Ars Technica piece and frown.  The file must have gotten corrupted. Some of the text is garbled - not enough to make the article impossible to read, but annoying nonetheless.

It's heartening to see that there's almost as much visual real estate given to VRS as there is to Rift Oculon, especially considering the title of the piece.  Less heartening is the fact that there's little in the way of new reporting.  There's nothing in the article I don't already know, and I involuntarily smirk at the conjecture about a possible merger between the two companies.  Not likely.  Of course, stranger things have happened - but the divide between our technology and... whatever it is RO has allegedly come up with is just too great.  It's not unlike the great VHS/Betamax rivalry of yore - in the end, there can be only one.

Hopefully, that one will be VRS.

I guess I should be glad there's not anything earth-shattering being reported.  That means this really could all just be a publicity stunt, and while it may help RO with some market visibility in the short term, in the long run all the hype will amount to nothing more than vaporware. 

I hate walking into a situation not knowing what to expect.  I'm antsy as the subway stutters cross-town, finally disgorging me along with what feels like the entire rest of the subway car on the grungy underground platform. In typical city fashion, I duck my head and fight through the surging crowd up the various staircases and through turnstiles until I'm back up at street level.  The walk to the office isn't long, and so I slip into mass of humanity moving along Manhattan's extra-wide sidewalks and head over to my building.

Despite my urgency to get to the office, I can't explain why, as I pass the entrance to the N-Q-R, I have the wildest inclination to head down a grab the train to 34th street. Silly.  This was no time for sight-seeing at the Empire State Building. Why would I even think that?



Choice:

A.  Ponder this message while heading to work, taking the subway over and then hurrying through the brisk walk to your 55th Street building.

Offline James MoriartyTopic starter

Re: [CYA v.1] The Lost Girl (Martee & James Moriarty)
« Reply #10 on: November 24, 2013, 09:45:58 AM »
The subway ride itself is relatively uneventful.  You notice advertisements of events taking place at the Empire State Building plastered on every backlit surface of the ads area of the subway car.  Had you never noticed before how so many meetups and art events and health services were located there?  Of all the things on your mind this morning, this one is probably the least concerning.

The building whose 12th through 16th floors houses VRS is a tall, grey affair, typical of the Fortune 1000 sorts of businesses who tend to make their homes here.  Attractive and imposing, it is an impressive place to find oneself entering even having been there for a while.  There is a constant flow of people swinging through the revolving door, and you get yourself inserted into the flow and find yourself in the large, open lobby.  The floor and walls are marble, and before you to your left is a wide security desk with several people sitting, watching screens, and to the right of that are the security paths -- six rows of metal turnstile stands with card scanners on the right and bright green and red lights to signal permission to enter.

As usual, you snag your badge from your purse and head straight for the first empty lane -- surprisingly, your card scans and the light glows bright red and beeps at you.  Frowning, you try again and again it burns red.  Now you have attracted the attention of a security guy who waves you over.

"Card," he says, and scans your card.  A puzzled look.  "That's strange.  This card has an ID we don't have in our system."  He taps his chin then shrugs.  "Happens all the time.  I can give you a guest card and you can head up to...  VRS and get this all squared away."



A.  Nod and go through the process of getting a guest badge and head straight up to VRS.

B.  Ask the man what exactly his computer is telling him about your badge and whether they have your name on file.

C.  Make a snarky remark about computer systems and act genially exasperated, agreeing reluctantly to the process of being demoted to a guest of VRS.

Offline Martee

Re: [CYA v.1] The Lost Girl (Martee & James Moriarty)
« Reply #11 on: January 04, 2014, 08:47:09 PM »
A strange mix of relief and apprehension fight for dominance in my gut as I approach the building that houses VRS.  Everything appears normal, although I don't really know what I was expecting - a crowd of VRS employees standing at the revolving doors pulling at their hair anxiously awaiting my arrival?  That would be silly. No, the faceless legion swarming around me is much the same as any other day, heedless of the potential turmoil that is no doubt percolating a dozen floors above their heads.  The realization is suddenly. strangely comforting.

That is, until I attempt to gain entry into the building.  I'm barely paying any attention to the card-swipe procedure, and why would I?  I've never had a problem before.  In retrospect, I'm glad I didn't stop for breakfast, given how hard I walk into the immobile turnstile.  Had I been holding a cup of coffee, it most certainly would have gone flying.

I have half a mind to just scooch on over the offending metal bar, but security is already hot on the case.  I don't recognize the guard who takes my card, but then, I don't really pay them a whole of attention typically. The thought elicits a tiny pang of guilt considering I pass them at least twice a day, every day.  I make a mental note to pay more attention to the security people from here on out.  Thankfully, my aloofness and ignorance isn't held against me - despite a fairly significant glitch in the security system, he offers me a guest pass to get up to my floor.

"Hang on a sec," I tell him. "I already know it's going to be a bad day at the office.  Think maybe this is a sign I should just go back home to bed?  I mean, if somebody upstairs is revoking my access..."

Unfortunately, the guard just shakes his head, smiling, as he hands over the badge and offers a sympathetic, "Good luck, ma'am."

I give him my best 'woe-is-me' face and sigh as I turn back towards the turnstiles. This time it offers no resistance, clanking around smoothly and disgorging me in front of the gleaming, bustling elevator foyer.  Back into my routine, I slip into the queue for the sub-20 floors and wait for an elevator to arrive.


Choice:

C.  Make a snarky remark about computer systems and act genially exasperated, agreeing reluctantly to the process of being demoted to a guest of VRS.

Offline James MoriartyTopic starter

Re: [CYA v.1] The Lost Girl (Martee & James Moriarty)
« Reply #12 on: January 12, 2014, 08:12:23 AM »
The lobby of VRS is chic and well-appointed -- the couches and end tables are done in VRS logo colors, and where soft fabrics and plush pillows don't cover, everything is in gleaming chrome and carbon fiber veneer.  Everything is familiar -- even the receptionist, a young, attractive woman with a sharp, efficient look to her.  You realize that you'll need to go through her to get into the office since the guest pass is for the building and not for any particular company.  Not remembering her name, you approach her with a smile and show your guest pass with a guilty, "whoops," look, hoping she'll recognize you and the situation and help you.  Instead, though, she looks at you blankly and with some amount of confusion and says simply, "How can I help you?"

You're relatively new to VRS, sure, but you are certain that there have been plenty of company meetings already where everyone must have seen you -- hell, you spoke at the last two.  Recovering quickly, you explain that you're Calliope Techne, VP of Engineering, and that security told you that the system downstairs had lost your record.  Now you seem to have triggered an entirely new reaction in the woman watching you, as her face is now shifting between a look of "oh, I see, this is some kind of a joke," and, "why do I always get the crazy ones?"

"Todd Buckner is the VP of Engineering of VRS, ma'am," she says in a carefully neutral tone.  You look at her in shock.  Is she just daft, or maybe back from a very long leave of absence?  Did someone put her up to playing some kind of elaborate practical joke?  Today wasn't a good day for jokes, and you don't really have time for open-ended delays.  So you take a deep breath and



A.  Calmly ask her to look in the system for your name and position and wait for her to realize her mistake.

B.  Launch into a detailed exposition of how Buckner was moved to special projects, how the board did a search, found you, hired you, list your hire date, so that she realizes she must be wrong and finds what she needs to know and fixes your badge.

C.  Ask to speak to someone who knows what he or she is talking about -- such as Henry Case, the CEO of VRS.

Offline Martee

Re: [CYA v.1] The Lost Girl (Martee & James Moriarty)
« Reply #13 on: January 16, 2014, 08:53:34 PM »
If there is any upside at all to having my building access accidentally revoked, it's that I am granted a temporary, if fleeting, reprieve from worrying about the looming RO debacle.  Unfortunately those thoughts all come roaring back as I speed up to the floors housing VRS, so that it doesn't even occur to me that I'll face yet another obstacle once I reach reception.  By now I'm so anxious to get to my office that I don't even have time to register any guilt over not knowing the receptionist's name, either. The feeling is clearly mutual; much like the erroneous newsfeed earlier, she is under the mistaken notion that Buckner is still the VP of Engineering.

My patience is nearing an end, and I haven't even technically gotten into work yet.  Fighting the urge to raise my voice, I force a smile onto my face and suggest she check my credentials with Henry - Mr. Case, to her.  Hopefully invoking the CEO's name will help get this corporate guard dog off my back.



Choice:

C.  Ask to speak to someone who knows what he or she is talking about -- such as Henry Case, the CEO of VRS.

Offline James MoriartyTopic starter

Re: [CYA v.1] The Lost Girl (Martee & James Moriarty)
« Reply #14 on: January 20, 2014, 06:34:07 PM »
The internal tug-of-war going on inside the receptionist is now perfectly plain.

On the one hand, the lady in front of her is clearly not in the mood to have to deal with a problem of mistaken identity.  Also, she clearly knows something about the company if she is asking for Case.  None of the obvious signs of lunacy have yet raised their ugly heads, and as a New Yorker, she has excellent radar for obvious insanity.

On the other hand, if she calls the CEO from his desk to handle a crackpot, she could be risking her job, or at the very least a lot of extra time collating tax forms.  Her mouth slightly open as she bats the tennis ball of indecision from one side of the court to another, she looks almost like an android about to suffer a system crash.

Then she recovers, smiling as she lifts the receiver and after a pause, "Mr. Case.  A woman is here to see you.  Calliope Techne.  No, sir.  Alright.  Yes.  Thank you."  She sets down the phone and raises her eyes to you with an inscrutable look.  "Please have a seat.  Mr. Case will be out momentarily."  Though you're frustrated at being put through a wait, at least it seems as though he is about to come fix things up.  It's a little bit puzzling that you're being asked to cool your heels in the lobby, but still, the entire morning has been a little odd, and you have other things to worry about.

It doesn't take long before Henry Case enters the lobby and walks up to you with a smile.  He extends his hand and says, "Hello, I'm Henry Case.  It's nice...  Oh, sorry.  I mean, could you come with me?  I'd like to... ah, sit down and... let's talk."  There's something hesitant about his demeanor and he seems surprisingly flustered.  Of considerably greater concern, his greeting doesn't make any sense given that he just hired you a few months ago, and the look in his eyes is not one of recognition, but of... avarice?  Something isn't right.



A.  Take Case up on his offer to talk to try and figure out just what is going on.

B.  Push Case on the spot by confronting him about your problem with security and ask him point blank to fix it, now.

C.  Make an excuse to get five minutes to yourself before deciding what to do next.

Offline Martee

Re: [CYA v.1] The Lost Girl (Martee & James Moriarty)
« Reply #15 on: January 20, 2014, 08:27:33 PM »
I only barely manage to withhold a look of pure 'I told you so' from the receptionist when she announces Henry will be right out. There's just something in the way she is looking at me that overrides the inclination. I make a mental note to bring her some flowers for her desk once everything settles down, and step back a respectful distance.  The last thing I want to do is be caught sitting when Henry comes out.  It's bad enough I am now late, today of all days - I don't want to look like I'm casually lounging about as well when our competitor is making major waves.

Henry doesn't keep me waiting long,  but before he even says a word I can tell something is very wrong.  He's smiling, which seems innocent enough, but the introduction and offered handshake is completely off considering how closely we've been working for the last few months. Even worse, he seems even more off kilter than I am.  I can't imagine why he'd react that way unless there was something really troubling going on...

The invitation to talk cements it all in my mind.  The weird premonition this morning, my building access revoked, and now a 'talk' with the CEO? That's it.  I'm going to be fired.  I just know it.  Immediately I feel my heart rate spike and the palm of my hand go clammy in Henry's.  I can't believe this is happening.  There's a very good chance I might faint, actually.

As much as a part of me wants to just get in there and face my fate, I need a few minutes to compose myself.  The last impression I want to leave is one of teary-eyed defeat.

I'm sure I can excuse myself to pop into the ladies room for a minute (or ten) before meeting the CEO in his office.



Choice:

C.  Make an excuse to get five minutes to yourself before deciding what to do next.

Offline James MoriartyTopic starter

Re: [CYA v.1] The Lost Girl (Martee & James Moriarty)
« Reply #16 on: January 25, 2014, 10:21:00 AM »
The bright, warm light and cool, clean marble of the restroom calms you.  Looking at yourself steadily in the silver-ornamented mirror, you pull yourself together.  Something is definitely wrong, and your mind races.  If you were going to be fired, why would Henry pretend to not even know you?  Was that some kind of act for the receptionist?  Did something happen with Rift that has caused him to have to put some kind of distance between you?  Perhaps he thinks that you are working for the competition -- some kind of corporate spy.  But still, that would have been handled by a courier with termination papers and a lawsuit.  You realize you're shaking and lean over to splash a little water on your face and try to clear your head.

When you stand up again, another woman has entered the room and comes to stand beside you, placing a small, ruby-red handbag on the vanity top and begins washing her hands.  She is striking -- pale white skin and jet black eyebrows and hair, dressed in a red dress perfectly matching her handbag -- and with matching lipstick, too, on her full, almost pouty lips.  If you didn't know better, you'd think she stepped right off the set of The Matrix.

You busy yourself with your own reflection, pulling back your hair and pretending to fuss with your makeup.  The woman next to you finishes washing her hands and turns to face you fully.  Suddenly a little uncomfortable, you risk a glance over your shoulder.  She has a difficult to read look -- somewhere between concern and amusement.  "Don't tell him anything," she says in a flat but commanding tone.  She gives you an entirely too significant look and begins to head out of the room.



A.  Let the woman go and finish calming yourself, considering her words while you head back in to meet with Case.

B.  Try to stop the woman -- who is she?  What does she mean?  How does she know you?  Does she know what is going on?

C.  Decide that this is getting much too strange and head out of the building to find a seat at the Starbucks around the corner and get a bit more time to think.

Offline Martee

Re: [CYA v.1] The Lost Girl (Martee & James Moriarty)
« Reply #17 on: January 28, 2014, 09:29:46 PM »
I'm starting to lose count of all the unexpected and unnerving things that have happened already today - and it's not even 9:00 a.m. Still, this lady takes the cake.  Ironic that the only person who seems to know me is someone I have never seen before in my life. I might have even been willing to overlook that if I had any idea at all what she was talking about. 'Don't tell him anything?'  What kind of advice is that? Don't tell who what?

And I had just managed to talk myself myself down from the edge of panic too. I mean, just look at me, freaking out over a washbasin in the ladies room for no good reason.  Sure, Henry was behaving oddly, but hadn't the news about Rift Oculus rattled me too?

Well, I'm tired of being rattled and confused.  I know I should just go meet with Henry, and start figuring out how VRS is going to answer RO's announcement, but I can't. I need to talk to someone, and that woman clearly has no issues with stating exactly what's on her mind.

I have to talk to her.



Choice:

B.  Try to stop the woman -- who is she?  What does she mean?  How does she know you?  Does she know what is going on?

Offline James MoriartyTopic starter

Re: [CYA v.1] The Lost Girl (Martee & James Moriarty)
« Reply #18 on: February 01, 2014, 12:27:09 PM »
"Stop... please," you say, a hint of pleading sneaking into your voice.  It's very unlike you to feel helpless -- unlike you to be put in the position of reacting rather than managing the situation.  But by now you're reaching the point where you need to find a foothold -- some stability, a leverage point, a fulcrum you can pivot on to bring your life back under control.  You reach a hand out, touching her shoulder, not tentative but not completely confident, either.

For a brief moment you think that she is simply going to slip away, tugging from your fingers with one last confident step, disappearing forever on the other side of the bathroom door, which you now notice is also painted a strangely garish shade of red.  But though the fabric of her blouse does slide against your fingers as she takes a step, and though she doesn't yet turn to face you, she pauses, seemingly in thought.

Suddenly, the strangest faint sounds begin to echo in the brightly lit bathroom.  You hear what sounds like... is that a modem?  The odd, high-low-high-low-hiss sound that you remember from your first days with your 8086 computer in the basement of the house you grew up in makes your heart skip a beat -- confusion, recognition and waves of memories as vivid as day flitting through your head.  Then, so quiet and indistinct that in just moments you'll be sure it was just a dream, "I need you to close that port, Waverly, now -- the whole mission is in jeopardy.  Do it, or there..."

You didn't even notice that the woman has turned to face you.  She seems even paler than before -- in fact, all of the color seemed to have washed out of her.  Even her dark, thin eyebrows now seem dull.  She seems to struggle to talk.  "There's no time.  String Case along.  But don't tell him anything you wouldn't tell them."  She emphasizes that last word and widens her eyes in a way she clearly hopes will be significant to you.  She seems to stumble slightly and then hurries out of the door without another word.



A.  Take a deep breath.  Straighten your clothes.  March back into VRS and meet with Case.

B.  Follow a morbid hunch and try to place a phone call to someone you know.

C.  Decide that enough is enough and get the hell out of there; attempt to follow another lead of your choosing.

Offline Martee

Re: [CYA v.1] The Lost Girl (Martee & James Moriarty)
« Reply #19 on: February 05, 2014, 06:27:07 PM »
I don't really know how long I continued to stare after Paranoid Emo Lady left - long enough to sear a neon-bright afterimage of the door onto my retinas, at least. To say that things were getting weird was a vast understatement.  I was ready to question my very sanity, but then, hadn't I felt her shirt under my fingers?  Then again, I'd also heard the ghostly echo of an old-school modem handshake, and I know I heard other voices...

Did I?  Maybe I just thought I heard them.  Them.  That's what she'd said to me - warned me about them. But who were they?

Jesus christ.  I'm really losing it.  Next thing you know I'll be muttering about tinfoil hats and Area 51, and I won't have to worry about Mr. Case firing me because the nice men in scrubs will show up and fit me for my very own huggy jacket and make me feel all better. People will read about my breakdown online, the more opportunistic of them wondering when VRS will move to replace me. My alma mater will quietly remove the short bio and airbrushed portrait of me from the 'Notable Alumni' page...

That's it.  I need to call my old Faculty advisor and mentor.  Actually, that's selling Pegge - Dr. Pegge Larmett - a bit short.  While she did serve as a mentor and advisor for a while, she had since become a very supportive and wise friend.  In fact, I owe my current position with VRS to her.  She opened a lot of doors for me and gave me the encouragement I  needed to go for the VP position in the first place.  I suspect, rather strongly, she might have even pulled a string or two to land my CV in the right hands.  I couldn't afford to blow things now.  Maybe Pegge could offer a bit of sage advice on how to deal with my current predicament.

I fished my phone out of my pocket to call her.



Choice:

B.  Follow a morbid hunch and try to place a phone call to someone you know.

Offline James MoriartyTopic starter

Re: [CYA v.1] The Lost Girl (Martee & James Moriarty)
« Reply #20 on: February 08, 2014, 10:13:24 AM »
"Hello?"  The familiar voice, kind and rich with experience, a gentle but always somehow amused alto.  At least this anchor to reality had not become unmoored.

"Pegge," you say, relief in your voice.  "I'm having the strangest day."

A pause on the other end.  "Who is this?" she asks, the smile still in her voice.

"Pegge, it's me, Calliope."  Your voice falters slightly and your heart starts to thump harder in your chest.  A long pause and the crackle of a wireless connection.  Though the pause is short in seconds, it feels like it lasts forever, stretching in time and space as you experience a kind of vertigo, feelings tightening in your chest and throat.  The tension is like the shell of a balloon inflated just a little bit too far, now teetering on the edge of complete and utter structural failure, a loud, destructive 'pop' just on the other side of that crisp threshold of time.

"Calliope Techne," she says, her voice lilting in recognition.  "How are you?  What is going on that is so strange?"

It doesn't take you long to recount the oddities of your day -- they are dramatic, but actually few in number.  Your voice is shaky by the end of your story, the several minutes seeming to drag on and your throat raw with the combination of narrative and the confusion you're choking on.  It's also an incredible relief to be talking to someone so important -- a relief, in fact, to just be talking to someone you know who seems to know you back.  Her next words throw you for another loop.

"Calliope," she begins, clearly choosing her words carefully.  "I have always been a firm believer in following the hypothesis with an unfettered mind.  Like Professor Data in 'All Good Things...'  Now, I can clearly see that things are strange for you right now -- and from my vantage point, I can't explain them.  I even appear to be in a unique position to see a few things that you do not -- which is itself a strange coincidence, considering your call."  A thoughtful pause.  "This is an investigation now, Calliope, one that you're in the driver's seat for.  You have the resources you need to figure this all out -- this I am certain of.  Center yourself and follow each lead as it appears to you.  The nearest one is Case, so you must seize that opportunity.  I strongly suspect that the next one will show itself rather quickly after that."  The smile returns to her voice.  "You have always had a sharp mind, dear, the sharpest I've had the delight to teach.  You're going to figure this out.  Funny -- this is like one of those moments from 'Jacob's Ladder' where Robbins is with Danny Aiello, isn't it?  Well, one can only hope."  A beautiful laugh.

Though you're not entirely sure you followed everything she said, her advice was clear.  After a few brief pleasantries, the call is over and you're left with a choice.



A.  Take a deep breath.  Straighten your clothes.  March back into VRS and meet with Case.

B.  Decide that enough is enough and get the hell out of there; attempt to follow another lead of your choosing.

C.  Opt out of deciding immediately and leave the building to find the nearest Starbucks for a rejuvenating cup of coffee.

Offline Martee

Re: [CYA v.1] The Lost Girl (Martee & James Moriarty)
« Reply #21 on: February 08, 2014, 10:08:12 PM »
I know it's crazy, but I'm half expecting Pegge to hang up when she hears it's me - or worse, act as if she doesn't know who I am.  The relief that floods through me when it's clear she does remember me is overwhelming - and ridiculous. Of course Pegge knows who I am.  And even better than that - she confirms how very odd things seem, once I explain the situation.

I'm not quite sure what she means by being in a unique position to see a few things I do not - but I really don't have time to question it.  Anyway, she's helped get me back on track. I do need to speak with Henry Case, and I've put it off too long already. I make a mental note to call her again, and soon - maybe a nice lunch to catch up once all this business with Rift Oculon was cleared up.

A quick splash of water on my face and I'm ready to face the music.  I try to put thoughts of them - whoever they are - out of my mind, and compose myself for what is likely to be a very difficult conversation with the CEO.



Choice:

A.  Take a deep breath.  Straighten your clothes.  March back into VRS and meet with Case.

Offline James MoriartyTopic starter

Re: [CYA v.1] The Lost Girl (Martee & James Moriarty)
« Reply #22 on: February 10, 2014, 09:16:24 PM »
Girded for the strangeness you feel must be right around the corner, you march back into the lobby of VRS and are startled to see that Henry Case is still there, still standing near the reception desk and watching as you enter -- as though he hadn't moved at all while you were gone.  Though this catches you off-guard -- and makes your stomach wobble a little bit -- you don't show it one bit, smiling now with renewed purpose.  The conversation with your old friend, however odd it may have been in parts, has reoriented you and given you new determination.

Case smiles at you warily, in an odd contrast with his natural charm -- which you can also sense -- and invites you in through the door that you know leads out into the main interior hall that runs the length of this side of the building.  You realize in seconds that he is leading you straight into his office, and after you enter, he closes the door softly behind you and moves to sit behind his desk, clasping his hands serenely before him on his polished cherry wood desk.

For a moment, the silence begins to stretch uncomfortably.  Case is smiling somewhat stiffly and looking at you, the pads of his fingers softly tapping together, as though he is waiting for you to say something.  Then suddenly, his face animates into a more comfortable grin and he whistles softly.  "What a day this is shaping up to be, hm?"



A.  Play it cool -- match his small talk with small talk, let him guide the conversation for now.

B.  Go straight for an important question of your choosing.
 

Offline Martee

Re: [CYA v.1] The Lost Girl (Martee & James Moriarty)
« Reply #23 on: February 12, 2014, 11:20:27 AM »
I practically trip over my own feet when the sight of Henry standing there, waiting for me, stops me in my tracks.  I guess it's a good thing I didn't try to sneak on out after all - that would have been awkward... 

I'm feeling a lot better after talking with Pegge, but she's always been good at redirecting my energy into more productive tasks.  I'm almost eager to sit down with Henry and get to the bottom of things now. Thankfully, he doesn't waste any time leading the way, although I can't shake the feeling that something is really off about him.  He's not usually a weird kind of guy, at least not in my interactions with him, and today just doesn't strike me as the kind of day for goofing off.  Stress does weird things to people, though.

Thankfully, there's no one else in his office.  I had half-expected someone from HR or Legal to be sitting there, waiting, with the requisite manila folder and red-and-white striped 'Confidential' envelope in hand.  But no, it's just Henry and myself... weird, anxious Henry Case.  I offer him my own smile, but it doesn't seem to get through.

I can't help myself - I give the office a quick look around, to see if someone is hiding in the corner with a gun trained on him or something. Why is he smiling like that?  It's super creepy.  And the way he's just expecting me to speak up - am I supposed to apologize or something for forgetting my badge?  I didn't lose it at a Tech conference or anything, I just left it at home.  Maybe I should look back through the employee policy guide and see what sort of corporate felony-level infraction I've committed.

The whistling nearly startles me from the chair. I can feel my eyes widen even as I fight to keep a more neutral look on my face. At least it's not the Twilight Zone theme. He makes some innocuous comment about the type of day it is, and it suddenly strikes me that maybe I'm not the only person having an off morning. Still - he's my boss, and we're at the edge of a possible PR crisis.  It's probably not going to do me any favors if I start asking nutty questions of my boss.  I definitely need to feel out the situation a bit more first. 

This time when I smile back, I make sure to nod my head a little, giving Henry some serious, 'I know what you mean,' eyes. "Yes," I respond, in precisely the tone necessary to convey my deep understanding and solidarity with... whatever it is he's dealing with, while subtly coaxing him to go on. "It is shaping up to be some day."  

"And bright!" I tack on, squinting at the shafts of sunlight reflecting off windows across the avenue.  It probably wouldn't hurt to lend a positive spin to things right from the outset.



Choice:

A.  Play it cool -- match his small talk with small talk, let him guide the conversation for now

Offline James MoriartyTopic starter

Re: [CYA v.1] The Lost Girl (Martee & James Moriarty)
« Reply #24 on: February 12, 2014, 08:38:57 PM »
Your comment that it's a bright day appears to catch Case slightly off-guard, a blank look greeting it for just the briefest of moments -- almost as though you were talking to someone who didn't speak English as a first language, and who was translating in his head before reacting.  Almost as though you were typing into a laggy computer console whose network connection was just not 100% right.

"Bright!" he agrees with enthusiasm and leans forward in his chair.  There's an expectant look in his eyes and he taps his fingers together again.  The gesture suddenly strikes you as more than odd -- you realize thinking back that you have never seen him do that before.  Case was always confident, poised, never fidgeting -- much more likely to busy himself with calisthenics if he couldn't find something else to do than he was to twiddle his thumbs or tap on a desk.  Before, nothing about him seemed nervous or ill at ease -- today, everything did.

"Calliope," he begins, his voice lowering to a level that signals that this is all going to be in confidence.  "Calliope, you know that we're on the brink of all out corporate war with RO.  We knew it was coming, we planned for it, and now it's here.  But," and here his voice seems grave, "we can't just win this exchange.  Not on the marketing side, and not on the technical side.  We have to make this an all out rout -- no one can doubt after this back and forth that VRS is the name in virtual reality.  In order to do this, we need answers.  The kind of answers that depend on us knowing ourselves.  The kind of answers that mean that we can explain our technology and our message more clearly and more convincingly than they can."  The smile is there on his face, his grave eyes looking at you pointedly.  The corner of his mouth twitches slightly.

"Tell me about our NerveBridge(tm) technology.  Remind me exactly how it works -- we're going to work with marketing and fix this, Calliope.  We're going to chase RO right out of the market!"



A.  Stalling.  You stall in some way, exploring your memories from the last hour and your mounting suspicions.

B.  Deflection.  You act as though you're continuing the conversation on-point, but avoid his line of questioning and reasoning, opting to attempt to steer him onto another line of thought.

C.  Bluffing.  You act startled, reminding him that even though you have been here a while, you couldn't really go into as much detail about the technology as he would probably like, and suggest you should stick to the marketing message.

D.  Collaboration.  Explain how the technology works, starting from the architectural level and diving deep on NerveBridge(tm) technology.
« Last Edit: February 13, 2014, 07:49:36 AM by James Moriarty »