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Author Topic: [CYA v.1] The Lost Girl (Martee & James Moriarty)  (Read 1705 times)

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Offline Martee

Re: [CYA v.1] The Lost Girl (Martee & James Moriarty)
« Reply #25 on: February 14, 2014, 10:25:32 AM »
While my word choice hadn't been intentional, the irony of Henry Case chirping 'bright' back at me like some dim, lobotomized mental patient does not escape me. I have to fight to keep from smiling too widely, but it's not from amusement.  He is just not the only person on the edge of hysteria in the room presently.

What the hell is wrong with him? I've never seen the man look more anxious and discombobulated. Was the situation with Rift Oculon worse than even I'd anticipated?  Maybe the investors were screaming - that wouldn't be too terribly surprising.  Henry looked as if he hadn't slept all night, and was running on manic energy.

The shift in his demeanor - from friendly over-the-hedge neighborly banter to cagey co-conspirator - did nothing to make me feel any better.  However, it did help me process some of the earlier confusion I'd felt, particularly after my encounter with the woman in the red dress. I would have brushed off Henry's war-like scenarios as nothing more than inspirational hyperbole, except that Henry Case was not that kind of leader.  I'd never head that 'Us-vs-Them' mentality from him before, but 'them' was precisely the word used by the Red Woman. I'd like to think that at any other time, I wouldn't be so easily swayed by the mad whispers of some anonymous passer-by, but there were too many things that weren't adding up quite right. But the clincher is Henry asking about NerveBridge(tm).

I can't answer him right away, because the sheer lunacy of what he is saying takes me a few seconds longer than usual to process.  Is this a test?  Is he checking to see if I understand the tech?  Surely he's not looking for a refresher or confirmation of his own knowledge - he's pitched the tech to laymen investors dozens, if not hundreds of times.  He has a much better chance of building a message with mass-market appeal than I ever could, and that doesn't even take into consideration the small but mighty marketing department located just a couple dozen feet down the hall.

Again, I glance around the room. Come to think of it, shouldn't the Marketing director be here if we're brainstorming a brand message? Especially considering that VRS really is pushing the bleeding edge of technology. Implantables... It's not an easy sell, even if it provides a far superior experience to... whatever it is RO is shilling. Looking back at Henry, however, tells me that he's not particularly interested in the marketing message, no matter what he says - and I am really starting to feel uncomfortable with the way his eyes seem so animated.

Something is not right - the refrain of the day.  This time, however, I'm going to go with my gut feeling.  I don't think I'll be able to put him off for very long.  The way his fingers are tap-tapping tells me he's coiled tighter than a spring and is probably running low on patience.  I also don't want to risk my position by trying to play dumb - I'm the VP of Technology, for chrissakes.  If I can't understand how NerveBridge(tm) works, I have no business here at VRS at all.  But right now, the very last thing I want to do is tell him about it.

Maybe I can maneuver the conversation down another path and buy myself some time.

I smile widely at Henry and mirror his stance, leaning forward to rest my wrists on the edge of his desk. "It's fascinating, isn't it?" I reply, squinting slightly to emphasize just how much I love what we're doing. "But the technology itself... it's a bit beyond the average consumer, don't you think? People don't want to know how their gadgets work - they just want them to work."

I leaned further forward, clutching the edge of the desk, dropping my voice to match Henry's. "And ours does, Henry. You know it.  I know it. Rift Oculon knows it - why else would they have gone to the media now?"

Leaning back, I spread my arms wide.  "We don't need to explain how the tech works, Henry - we just need to show them how incredible the experience is.  The mystery is part of the magic!"

Yeah, I was rambling. There was a reason I went Engineering instead of Marketing.


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.

Offline James MoriartyTopic starter

Re: [CYA v.1] The Lost Girl (Martee & James Moriarty)
« Reply #26 on: February 22, 2014, 08:58:31 AM »
Case looks at you thoughtfully -- appraisingly, you think.  Then he begins to nod and swivels his chair slightly, leaning forward, putting one elbow on the table and gesturing with each word.  "You raise an excellent point, Calliope -- I wholeheartedly agree.  We have to keep the customer feeling that same wonder that we ourselves felt when we invented NerveBridge(tm) and embarked upon our journey.  That excitement and feeling that there truly is magic in the world -- that's what changes a whole society and ushers us into a world full of new possibilities."  He's in full swing now, his voice echoing with emotion.  In fact, something tickles at your memory -- it's more than just his voice.  You feel as though you have heard these very same words before -- were they part of a press speech he gave during the NerveBridge(tm) announcement?

You hear a noise outside of the quiet confines of the roomy office -- voices raised in stressful tones.  Surprisingly, Case seems to stiffen at the sound and you see his eyes dart to the door.  "You can't..." says an indistinct voice descending back into tones too quiet to hear.  Then the placating voice of the receptionist, louder than usual.  While Case is looking towards the door, you notice something flashing behind him.  It's his computer screen.  It was off when you entered the office, but now a scrolling line of text in a large font drifts across the screen.  "Empire State Building, 1PM."  There's a loud sound from outside, like the slamming of a fist against a desk, and you jump.  When your eyes find the computer screen again, it appears to be completely off.

After a moment, when all has been quiet outside for a span of time, Case relaxes and looks at you again with a tired smile.  "This has already been quite a day, and it's still not even lunchtime."  He shakes his head and relaxes back into his chair.  Sitting like that, he seems more himself than he had previously.  "You're absolutely right about the consumer -- we have to stick to our message.  I have a meeting at 11 with the senior tech writer of Wired -- he's going to want to needle me about some details about NerveBridge(tm) -- and we want him to have them so we can attack RO's new campaign to make them seem like they're out in front."

He leans forward again and carefully puts his hands on the desk.  "I know, I know -- I have to be careful about what we say since this is all trade secret stuff.  I've been on this tightrope walk before.  But I want to have all the information at the front of my mind and give them the juiciest thing we can afford to give.  And the way we counter biological rejection and defeat neural impedance are perfect things to be able to discuss.  So let's go over those."  Case smiles.

A.  Attempt to continue deflecting Case from this line of questioning: ask him about the Wired interview and return focus to questions of how to address the RO ad campaign.

B.  Describe the biological rejection and neural impedance problems, but don't mention the VRS solutions.

C.  B, but also explain the solutions.

D.  Tell Case that you're surprised he's asking about technical details regarding a system that was his brainchild -- you think something else is going on he's not telling you about and you want to know what it is.

Offline Martee

Re: [CYA v.1] The Lost Girl (Martee & James Moriarty)
« Reply #27 on: March 03, 2014, 10:34:26 AM »
I really just want to be done with this meeting and head off to my own office. Henry is being decidedly strange - testing me, I think, and then feeding me marketing lines.  I can feel the tension in my shoulders and jaw, which is probably making me look as oddly as Henry.  I feel like we're two wary alley cats, feeling each other out before deciding to pounce or run away.

The sudden noise from outside the office actually makes me jump, sending my nervous heart back into palpitations.  I'm probably going to need some kind of anxiety medication after this day is over.  Maybe I'm just not cut out for the start-up scene after all.  And that's when I see it, as I glance to Henry to see how he's responding to the commotion outside: a message on the computer monitor.  For a moment I think it's just a reminder for Henry - maybe he has a meeting?  But no.. there's a tickle in the back of my brain, some niggling thought that the message is meant for me.

I have no way to confirm this, of course.  In fact, the message disappears almost as quickly as it appeared, which leaves me with the disconcerting idea that maybe I simply hallucinated it. I don't have much time to consider that as Henry switches gears. Is he insane? I can't help but wonder.  There's no way anyone would have approved sharing details about NerveBridge(tm) to a technical writer for Wired! Not even to attack RO - that's just crazy talk.

I'm not sure how much longer I can stay composed with Henry.  He seems determined to ruin VRS under the guise of promoting our technology. How am I supposed to make him see reason? Our techniques for overcoming neural impedance and countering biological rejection are the basis for our product. If we share too much of that, what would stop others from copying the technology?  I have to try to get him off this line of conversation.


A.  Attempt to continue deflecting Case from this line of questioning: ask him about the Wired interview and return focus to questions of how to address the RO ad campaign.

Offline James MoriartyTopic starter

Re: [CYA v.1] The Lost Girl (Martee & James Moriarty)
« Reply #28 on: July 10, 2014, 03:34:16 AM »
As you attempt to move the conversation away from what Case just asked you to talk about, you see a dark, brooding frustration cross his face for just longer than an instant.  But then it's gone, replaced by agreeable nonchalance and absent-minded nodding.  While you're talking, he pushes his large, leather chair back from his desk and stands up, coming around the front of his desk and motioning for you to rise.  Confused, you continue talking and stand up.

"Thank you so much for this meeting, Calliope.  It was wonderful to catch up.  Ah, you know, I think that it might be a good idea for you to head down to the lab."  He looks at his watch -- it is almost 10am.  "I think it would be a good idea for Steve Sluth to get a look at y... I think I would like you to meet with Steve and work with him on the, ah, Rift issue."  As you are ushered out of his office, Case motions to his receptionist and talks quietly into her ear for a moment.  With a brief smile, Case disappears back into his office and shuts the door firmly.

"Right this way," the young woman offers, motioning you forward towards an interior set of double-doors of frosted glass.  The hallway beyond is fairly long, and you walk silently with the woman for several minutes, turning at the corner of the building and stopping at another pair of doors that has a different security scanner from the previous ones: this one is biometric, with a hand and eye scanner.  The receptionist waves a card in front of a plain black panel and it responds with several beeps.  Smiling as if she had just done something rather clever, she turns to you and gestures for you to put your hand on the hand-shaped plastic mold of a handprint and lean forward to look into what appears to be an oddly-shaped webcam.

A picture of you comes up on a nearby LCD screen, though you note with surprise that the name field is blank.  The door clicks loudly and you step inside a large, clean and mostly white and steel grey laboratory.  People are bustling around carrying circuit boards and coiled lengths of wire and laptops -- no one even looks up to see you standing there.  You had never been in the lab before, and so you stop for a moment to take in the crisp, warm, vaguely electrical smell and bright, full-spectrum fluorescent lights.

A tall man with dark hair and a rather grim look steps up to you and tries unsuccessfully for a smile.  "Steve Sluth," he says, holding out a hand.  "Let's head into my office to chat."

A.  Follow the man to his office.

B.  Ask Sluth to give you a tour of the lab.

C.  Make any excuse you can to get out of the lab.

Offline Martee

Re: [CYA v.1] The Lost Girl (Martee & James Moriarty)
« Reply #29 on: July 13, 2014, 05:47:52 PM »
Now it's official - I am seriously creeped out by Henry Case's strange behavior.  I can't tell if he's anxious and upset with me, or just the general situation - but it's clear enough that he's not looking for me to be a scapegoat in the Rift Oculon media debacle.  I should feel more at ease with that realization, but frankly all I really want is to be far, far away from this whole place. 

Thankfully, it appears I will be receiving a small concession as Henry stands to lead me out of his office.  I don't know why, exactly, I'm being sent down to the lab, considering I've never really been asked to consult with that group before... but if it gets me away from Case I'm game.  I can vaguely remember taking a tour immediately after being hired at VRS, but those first few days were such a whirlwind very little stuck in my memory.  This area, however, is completely new to me.

Any another time, I might have been insulted that the receptionist has higher security clearance than I do, but it doesn't seem worth questioning at the moment.  It's clear the security system is still glitching, though, since my name doesn't pop up after I'm scanned. At some point today I'm going to have to get that taken care of.

At the moment I'm more concerned with what I'm supposed to discuss with Steve Sluth.  I don't know him at all, and considering the situation with our competitor, I don't know if now is really the right time to start bridging that gap.  I'd really much rather get to my office and start brainstorming with my team.  An awful lot of time has already slipped away this morning.

Steve seems to be at least as concerned about the RO situation as I am.  That's what I'm assuming, anyway, considering the grave looks he gives me.  As comforting as that is, I really don't want to be stuck in someone else's office while they grill me on things that are largely irrelevant to our current predicament. Still, I offer my hand and introduce myself, before taking a step back and folding my arms.  Hopefully, my body language will convey that I simply don't have time for all this chit chat.

"Actually, Steve, I don't know what I'm doing down here.  I'm sure by now everyone has heard about RO's big announcement, and I should probably head over to my office and check in with everyone to determine how we're going to respond."

In an attempt to build some instant rapport, I give him my most exasperated smile and shake my head. "You know what a mess it'll be if the Media group starts issuing press releases and statements with no guidance.  Those guys will say anything if they think it'll get us a mention."


C.  Make any excuse you can to get out of the lab.

Offline James MoriartyTopic starter

Re: [CYA v.1] The Lost Girl (Martee & James Moriarty)
« Reply #30 on: July 14, 2014, 12:49:10 PM »
As you make your attempt to excuse yourself from the lab, you notice that the lights dim slightly and then return to normal brightness, almost as though there had been a brief power interruption.  It startles you, but that's nothing next to the effect it seems to have on people in the lab.  Faces turn towards you and Sluth with various looks of surprise and curiosity that look somehow fake.  Steve's own expression borders on menacing but then quickly goes oddly blank.  He smiles an exasperated smile that mirrors your own.

"It is shaping up to be a difficult day, isn't it?"  His voice conveys a vague sense of empathy.  You're suddenly not entirely sure that he knows what you're talking about.  You can feel a gentle pricking up and down your arms and shoulders, the hairs standing on the ends of little goosebumps that are not from any chill in the air.  "But I promise I won't keep you long -- I just want to go over some details of our neural impedance technology before you race off to fight fires."  You turn briefly to look at the door to leave the lab and notice for the first time that there is a security panel on the inside too.  Next to it is a small 10-digit numeric keypad, well-worn by years of finger presses.

Something is nagging at your memory -- a numeric sequence that you seem to recall from the news article you read earlier.  Or was it from a dream?

Sluth gestures forward, inviting you to follow him.  "I promise, just a few minutes."  His smile does not make you feel comfortable.

A.  Make a break for the exit door and type numbers into the numeric keypad -- if so, which numbers?

B.  Follow Sluth.

Offline Martee

Re: [CYA v.1] The Lost Girl (Martee & James Moriarty)
« Reply #31 on: July 16, 2014, 07:40:58 PM »
Out of the frying pan and into the fire.  That's how it feels as I'm led deeper into the lab.  Apparently it's not just me having the bad day, however.  The weird power surge that darkens the room has everyone on edge.  Not surprising, given the type of work they're doing - but I don't know why everyone suddenly turns and looks at me.  I certainly didn't do it - I can't even manage to make it to my own office!

If anything, Steve is even more disquieting than Henry was, although at least with Case it had more to do with his odd behavior than anything else.  Steve Sluth is just... I can't put my finger on it, but then, isn't that the stereotype?  The weird, unsettling genius creator?  It must come from somewhere. If I had to guess, that genesis is the VRS research lab.

Once again, I am having to field questions about our proprietary technology - questions coming from people who should know better, and who should be addressing people other than myself.  At first it was unusual, but now it's flat out alarming.  One thing is certain - I really, really don't want to be locked in an office discussing the neural impedance technology with Steven Sluth.

So of course, it turns out I am locked in.  I don't know why we have a lock on the inside of the lab door - isn't that some kind of fire code violation? - but I know I'm on the wrong side of it.  I very nearly say something to Steve when the craziest recollection pops up in my head.  I know the code.  It makes no sense, especially considering where I think saw it... but then, very little has made sense so far today.

One thing is certain - I'm not going to be herded around anymore.

I'm sure the weak smile I flash at Steve is just as uncomfortable-looking as the one he's wearing, just before I spin and lurch down the aisle back towards the lab door. The numbers 02-06-2012 are burning bright in my mind.

I sure hope this works.


A.  Make a break for the exit door and type numbers into the numeric keypad -- if so, which numbers?

Offline James MoriartyTopic starter

Re: [CYA v.1] The Lost Girl (Martee & James Moriarty)
« Reply #32 on: July 20, 2014, 07:49:45 PM »
Your actions catch everyone by surprise -- that much is clear from the strange sense that the world is on pause as you fumble with the controls.  It seems to take long minutes to enter the code, confirmation beeps emanating happily from the pad with each button press.  Having entered the code, you find the indicator light near the door flips from red to green and you're out, running down the hall you had just come down, the rush of air disturbing a few loose TPS reports in various plastic in- and out- boxes on people's desks, a few curious faces turning as you go.

It doesn't take long before you're outside -- the late morning sun is now partially obscured by a surprising concentration of dark storm clouds that you don't remember from the forecast.  But you don't care -- you're out of the office and can take a moment to think about what just happened.  Part of you is kicking yourself -- you might have (at minimum) just made yourself look a little bit looney to coworkers who have to take you seriously as a VP.  But another part of you is beginning to realize that you're not sure what's going on.  Why is everyone acting so strangely?  Why are there so many glitches concerning your identity today?  One thing is certain: you weren't getting any answers inside that office.

The chirp of tires against the curb catch your attention.  It's a yellow cab and it has come to a stop right next to you, its light indicating that it is available.  You begin to turn away, thinking to take a walk to clear your head, when you catch a glimpse of pale skin and black hair through the back window of the cab.  Could it be the woman you encountered in the ladies room?  And if it were, would it be wise to speak to her again, given how strange that first meeting was?

A.  Begin to walk down the street back towards the subway stop, considering your options for what you want to do next.

B.  Step over to the cab and get in -- partly to see whether the person you think might be inside, is, and partly because you might want to go somewhere.  If so, where?

C.  Go back inside the building and ask the man at the security booth more questions.

Offline Martee

Re: [CYA v.1] The Lost Girl (Martee & James Moriarty)
« Reply #33 on: July 21, 2014, 07:13:33 PM »
The code works.  I don't know why, I don't know how - but now that I've made a scene, and almost certainly a fool of myself - I realize I have to leave.  It's extraordinarily easy getting out of the VRS offices - certainly a lot easier than getting in.  Maybe it's a sign.  God knows I've gotten enough of them today. I've never really been one given over to paranoid tendencies... At least, I don't think I am - but I've had enough bizarre experiences this morning to last me a lifetime.  The only shame of it all is that I don't also have a bank account to last me a lifetime, because I'm probably going to be joining the ranks of the unemployed very soon.

That's a bummer.  Enough of a bummer that I don't even consider taking a cab when I get outside.  At least, I don't until I see that flash of skin and hair.  What are the chances it's the woman from the bathroom?  Infinitesimally small, in a place as densely populated as Manhattan. But then, she'd shown up randomly in the office and just happened to appear when I was in there, and in retrospect, maybe her advice hadn't been so bad.  It's a little strange that Henry Case and Steve Sluth were both badgering me over technology they should've known inside and out.

Ok, maybe I am sounding a little bit paranoid.

Still, she did seem to be the only person who appeared to know me, in some form or fashion.  She certainly appeared to know what she was talking about - a hell of a lot more than Case or Sluth.  Maybe this is just another sign, and right now I could use a little direction.

Available cabs don't stay that way for very long, not in this part of the city and definitely not just before lunch.  I grab the handle and slip inside, giving the cabbie my destination before turning to face the current occupant of the backseat. I hadn't really thought about where I wanted to go when I opened the door, but I wasn't especially surprised when the name slipped out.


B.  Step over to the cab and get in -- partly to see whether the person you think might be inside, is, and partly because you might want to go somewhere.  If so, where?

The Empire State Building

Offline James MoriartyTopic starter

Re: [CYA v.1] The Lost Girl (Martee & James Moriarty)
« Reply #34 on: September 22, 2014, 10:48:12 AM »
A faint smile plays on the woman's lips as you issue your destination to the driver.  Long, slender fingers pull down over-sized sunglasses as she turns to face you, big grey eyes finding yours.  "Clever girl," she murmurs and takes a deep breath, apparently considering what to say.  But instead of continuing, she releases the breath in a long sigh and turns to look out the window again.

"The human mind is truly amazing.  And the brilliant thing about it is that it doesn't recall all of this detail -- not really.  If you look closely enough, into a memory, into a perception, you'll immediately find that though you have the impression of incredible fidelity and precision, all your mind will reveal to you are the outlines."  She turns back to you and smiles again, this time a sympathetic curve to her lips.

"I wish I could be more direct -- I do.  But they have a keyword search running, and so we'll just have to stick to metaphors.  You can't just waltz into their systems and expect smooth sailing.  Not like you were given the choice."  Her face falls a bit, her eyes now serious.

"Your instincts are correct, and you should continue to... ah, you should continue to expect to be a destination for information, rather than a source.  Just keep your eyes open and your mouth shut.  You're not hallucinating or dreaming -- something has happened, and there is a lot at stake, a lot resting on you... finding your way out of this mess.  Going with your gut has so far seemed a good guide, and that's probably because they can't scramble your baseline global neural patterning -- not yet anyway.  But to give you a little help, too, you want to be looking for this."  She doesn't seem to move, but then you notice that the index finger of the hand draped on her thigh is pointing to a green button in her blouse, different from the rest of the opalescent ones above and below.  Etched in the face in silver is what looks to be several thin oval shapes that look vaguely like a dragonfly.

"We're almost there.  Time for one question -- just... just try to keep it as generic as possible.  I'll do my best to answer."

A.  Ask the woman a question of your choosing.

Offline Martee

Re: [CYA v.1] The Lost Girl (Martee & James Moriarty)
« Reply #35 on: May 09, 2015, 05:58:10 PM »
It is her - and despite the fact that any reasonable person would be completely unnerved at finding a stranger stalking them in the bathroom of a secure office suite and then showing up at the precise right moment at the curb in midtown Manhattan just before lunch, I am unquestionably relieved.  This only serves as another small mental confirmation that I have probably gone completely off the deep end. And you know what?  I think I'm ok with that.  I feel a hell of a lot more comfortable in the back of this cab listening to a strange woman's crazy talk than I did upstairs discussing the technology that was supposed to make me very rich with my boss.

Maybe make that former boss, as it's really not clear to me if I'm still employed. Or, given the state of things in VRS, if I was ever employed there in the first place...?

I can only nod distractedly as I try to make sense of what Mystery Woman (as she will now be referred to ever after in mind. I did briefly consider dubbing her 'Carmen Sandiego', but then it occurred to me that Mystery Woman is really the antithesis of Carmen Sandiego, in that she seems to show up in the unlikeliest places, and, hopefully, is not the villain. Ironic Carmen Sandiego seems a bit verbose. I may be going crazy, but standards must be maintained) is saying.  I am almost ashamed to admit that what it seems she might be trying to explain, in the most paranoia-inducing way possible, is starting to sound not only the likeliest explanation but also the easiest to swallow.  This goes against everything I have ever believed in as a rational, logical human being.

I don't know whether to be relieved or not when she assures me I am not hallucinating or dreaming.  I decide I am going to remain neutral on the subject, and just making a decision of some kind that doesn't involve ducking executives or escaping fire-regulation-violating lab security systems does make me feel a bit better.  I settle back in the cracked green vinyl seat, searing the image of a stylized dragonfly into my mind. 

If I am going to go full-on crack pot, I intend to do so with purpose.

I'll admit - the option to ask a question catches me off guard.  Not because I don't have any questions... I have a million of them.  It's simply that I can't possibly, in the span of just a few moments, determine which question is the best one to ask.

At that moment the decision is made for me, as some part of my primitive brain asserts itself while the higher functions are still whirring through massive amounts of conflicting and confusing information.  I feel like I'm 6 years old again, caught up in events that far outstrip my naive and immature ability to comprehend what is going on.  I sound like it, too:


"Who are the good guys here?"