2020-01-03 - Dinner and Purpose


Roni and Toni go to lunch together, and discuss some of their thoughts and plans about RESCUE.

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Fri Jan 3 20:43:06 2020
Location: RESCUE Campus

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If not for the hiss of the secure clean-room capable doors, Veronica might actually be able to stealth her way up on someone; she keeps that chair of hers well insulated and cared for, with no extra squeaks or gear-grinding sounds. It is as quiet as, say, a Tesla is compared to a Hyundai. But the doors give her away.

"Hey, Toni." Roni murmurs as the doors seal behind her, rolling into the other woman's lab. "How are you doing today?" she asks. No lab coat on today, Roni had to go to a business meeting; it sometimes sucks being the 'older, responsible one' in the partnership.

There's a distracted "Hmm?" from Toni, as she pauses in gnawing a pen intently as she scrolls through coding, two side monitors holding other code bits she's apparently messing with as she compares the three. "Just a sec…" She pauses to make a few quick types, changing two lines, before she sets the pen down, rotating her chair to face Roni. "Hey Roni. Wait, did I forget we had lunch today again?" the purple-haired engineer says with a frown, glancing at the prominent clock next to her computer. A tongue-in-cheek 'gift' from one of her past and exasperated personal assistants. She never was good at keeping them for long.

"I am going to have to hire an even more brilliant coder to build a VI, just to keep you on-schedule." Veronica offers with a little smirk for her partner. "I'm guessing when the alarm on your phone went off, you told it to shut up and kept programming, instead of saving your work?" Her tone is playful, friendly and understanding, rather than angry, frustrated or upset. Roni is mostly just amused that Toni can be even more zone-out obsessive than she is. If it were a real problem, she'd have hired another assistant for Toni already. "How goes the code?" she inquires.

Toni mmms, rubbing her neck. Did she? The phone is off, so obviously either the alarm didn't go off, which she remembers setting it, or she must have shut it off without thinking about it because she was in the middle of working. "….yeeeeah…probably." she mutters, sighing. "Sorry. I just almost have this bug tracked down with the gyro system for the thrusters so it stops pulling to the right from the weight of the concussion beam. One, maybe two bugs on it, though I'm not sure how much I can do eith the aerodynamics involved, the barrel isn't exactly streamlined…" she admits.

Veronica just shrugs and offers a wry twist of a smile. "It happens." She's not terribly upset. "I'm glad you're narrowing it down. Do you need any help? I can't program as well as you can, but I could possibly help as a second set of eyes." Or she can just be moral support.

Toni shakes her head a bit, rubbing her eyes a bit as she pushes up her glasses, yawning. "Mm, thanks, but I think I got it, I'm sure you've got projects you want to work on too." Her stomach rumbles at that, as she frowns a bit. "…maybe lunch would be good though." she says grudgingly. "Did you eat without me? I can have something set up if so." She doesn't sound put out at all by that idea; it's hardly the first time Roni has had to grab a meal withotu waiting for Toni to catch up after she missed a lunch date, after all.

Roni just smirks and shakes her head. "No. When I tried to call you and wsa shunted immediately to voicemail, I guessed you'd turned your phone off. So I came looking for you." Yes. Once the phone is turned on Toni can see three text messages, followed by a voicemail. "Come on. Let's get you away from the code, refresh your brain, and your eyes, and give your body some healthy biomass to work on for fuel." Cue the doctor taking care of her 'patient', as Veronica pivots her chair neatly around and looks back over her shoulder at the purple-haired asian partner. "C'mon."

Toni slides off her chair, yawning and stretching, arms above her head, before she slips off her lab coat and sets it on the chair, snagging her id tag and clipping it on her t-shirt. "Sure, sure..what are we having today?" she says, following after Roni.

"Well, my reservations at Tavern on the Green are over." Veronica answers, and rolls ahead, initiating the doors to slide open and then continues forward and down the hallway. "So, I thought maybe Mirello's. Unless you wanted to visit Dragon Palace?"

"Over? Didn't care for it, then? I've eaten there, it was pretty good." Toni admits. "Mirellos is Italian? I can go for Italian." She grins. "Mmm, is the Dragon Palace Chinese or Japanese or fusion, out of curiosity?"

"Over, because I only had a one hour reservation, Toni." Veronica answers and then she starts rolling along down the hallway, going first. "Yes. Mirello's is Italian. Dragon Palace is a combo Chinese and sushi place. But no tappanyakki."

"Hmm, pity, haven't had good tappanyakki in a while." Toni admits as she follows the wheelchair along, yawning a bit. "Oh. Sorry, didn't think of the reservation." she admits. "I owe you a reservation lunch there sometime…" She mmms. "So…how's the New Year treating you so far?

"Busy, so far." Roni answers, as they make it to the elevator and badge-in for the ride down up to the ground floor. "We can make another reservation at the Tavern another time. So, which do you want? Palace, or Mirello's?" She pushes the button and waits. "The rollover to the new calendar year is always a huge wad of paperwork. And some of the changes in tax code became effective Wednesday. So I've had to review all of that with the accountants and lawyers to make sure we're covered." Part of why the doctor was so looking forward to lunch with her partner away from the office that she came hunting.

Toni shrugs. "Italian sounds good, haven't had that in a while. Probably should eat something solid anyway, so a little lasagna sounds good." she admits. She wrinkles her nose at the mention of tax code. "Bleah. Thanks for dealing with that….I swear my brain tries to crawl out of my skull in those tax code meetings." She perks. "Oh, I think I might have a lead on a transport for Overwatch, by the way."

"Mirello's it is." Veronica acknowledges. When the elevator doors open she again leads the way down the hall, around the corner and through the security gates to the front of the Foundry, then starts along the concrete to cross to the parking garage where her van is waiting. "I don't like those meetings anymore than you do. But I never want the accountants or the lawyers to run things without one of us being in it and aware of what they're doing, how, and why." Too many horror stories of mismanagement, intentional or otherwise. "What's your lead?" she asks curiously.

"Old Soviet-era VTOL that was originally built for dropping off special ops squad on intercontinental distances…in North America, I'm guessing, or the like. Was too expensive to mass produce easily and then the USSR collapsed, so it's sitting in a silo somewhere in Ukraine gathering dust right now. If I can convince the right people, can probably buy the frame." She shrugs. "I mean, it's like an SR-71…still superior frame, but badly in need of some upgrades, but the frame is the interesting part. Really powerful engines, no real weapons."

"So we can plan and install our own, less- and non-lethal solutions as we build out the improvements and upgrades. Not a bad idea." Veronica answers as she rolls up to her van, the vehicle giving a chirp as she presses the key fob, then the back unfolding to left her chair so she can roll into the driver's position and lock down. "Sounds like we need some State Department finesse on this one. Should I call our DARPA rep and ask them to put a finger on the scale?"

"I don't have the full blueprints; that'll be part of the deal to buy it too…then I'll have to translate them from Russian." Toni admits, wrinkling her nose as she heads over to take the shotgun seat. "A little wouldn't hurt. It's sort of in a legal grey area in that it's not armed, but it's considered military hardware. Same thing if we bought a ballistic missile without a warhead….still a ballistic missile." she admits.

"And thus an intercontinental payload delivery system." Veronica answers, watching as Toni gets strapped in, before she starts the van and heads out towards the causeway and then into the city to the restaurant. "Makes sense. I'll call when we get back to the office. I'll need whatever information you have on this, so that I can supply it to our rep to keep them informed." She hrms. "I'm guessing that your repulsor technology will be vastly superior to its existing vectored thrust systems. That's likely to make a big difference right there."

"Sure, I can forward it to you, and the contact I've been talking to in the Ukrainian military about it." She hmms. "Yessss…if we go that route. I'm not sure if it'll be more efficient than what's already there, not without completely rebuilding the frame. I can probably tweak it so the thrust isn't damaging to its landing point, or as damaging at least." she says thoughfully.

"Well, it's a thought at least. If we go for it, we want it as fast as we can reasonably make it, given the rapid response requirements of our op tempos." Veronica offers, as she drives them to the restaurant. Soon enough they can park, lock up, and then she can lift down, button up once more, and roll into the nice, moderately upscale Italian restaurant for a late lunch. Is Linner a thing?

"The latest update patch for the humblebees is ready for field testing. Ava is setting up a series of scenarios for them in the Proving Grounds first. Then we'll take two swarms on the next op: one with the new software, one with the old, just in case something goes wrong. The shared processing machine learning algorithms are almost twice as efficient in testing so far." This is why they hire professional programmers for some tasks.

"Hmm…you know, there will probably be some space, after we upgrade the electronics to something less bulky, for some Humblebee remote drone bays." Toni says thoughfully, tilting her head back, her eyes unfocused as she considers. "For recon and utility, if nothing else. Maybe sonics for crowd control to keep animals or such away from it when it's grounded." She smiles, eyes focusing as the glances over at Roni. "That's great, you're making a lot of progress there…"

"Like I said before we did it, hiring a couple of full-time top-flight programmers is paying off. I'm nowhere near ready to let them loose on the control systems for the limbs. But it will happen eventually. Likely first for the sensor processing and synchronization systems." Veronica offers as they find a table and start looking through menus. "I like the idea of a bay that can launch the humblebees while in-flight, especially if the onboard systems can then process the sensor feeds from the swarm."

Toni take sa seat, picking up a menu…mostly to find the previously mentioned lasagna to order, along with some minestrone to start. "It'd be fairly easy to do, just would need to pick a nonessential part of the hull and cut out a piece to install the bay doors and such. Wouldn't want water or something to get in and degrade any drones in storage. And a way to keep them charged without damaging the batteries over time. " she says, considering.

Veronica knows the place, so it doesn't take her long to find her intentions on the menu either: roasted vegetable antipasta and a chicken and shrimp alfredo over linguine. "Good points to consider. Better to mount them up high on the fuselage, rather than down low, then. I'm sure we can figure out the seals and recharge controls. The charging connectors can just have a sensor and shut-off when the batteries are full. And I like that idea of the sonic projection system. We can probably configure that adjustable enough to double-duty as a public address system as well."

"That's what I'm thinking…" she says, tacking on an Italian soda to her order as the waitress shows up to take orders, before she lets Veronica order before continuing. "It's the most adaptable of the squad scale deterents we have available." She frowns. "Probably a chaff system would be good, or decoys or something, but I'd hope we wouldn't have to be dodging missiles!"

Veronica offers her order, asking for water to drink, and then resumes their conversation once their menus are taken away. "I would rather install them and never need them, than to need them and not have them. Our personnel are a Hell of a lot more valuable than any of our gear, and on that thing they'll be trapped until we can deploy." Naturally, the doctor worries first about the human cost. She'll face any challenge to keep people safe. "I hope we never have to dodge missiles. But twice last year we had a seeming natural disaster that turned out to have been set off by criminals or villains. We were able to contain those threats. But we should improve our planning, not rest on our laurels."

Toni gets a slightly stubborn look. "It feels like we're looking for a fight, installing defenses like that. But I guess you're right." she grouses. "They're not missiles or something, at least." She sighs out, then mms. "Planning helps, yes. I'd rather deal with criminals and thugs than be helpless and have to use rougher methods to discourage them."

Veronica chuckles wryly and squeezes Toni's hand. "We're not looking for a fight. We're looking to be prepared, just in case. For us, and for everyone else." She shrugs. "But I get it. You know I do." They really work well as partners.

Toni mmphs, then squeezes back with a sigh. "Yeah. I just…sometimes I feel like I almost get…Stark, you know?" she says, with a frown. "…just this…need to constantly be creating new defenses, new effective ways to stop different threats. This fear that I'm going to be up against something I didn't think of and that I can't counter."

Roni winces and nods, again giving Toni's hand a squeeze. "Yeah. I … I get that. Haunts me, too." She looks down for a bit, staring into the middle distance, haunted by something. "It's hard, you know? It's been a force for me, since I was a kid." She doesn't say 'it's why I created CUE.' But Toni, of all people, knows that has to be true.

Toni mms. "Yeah. I know." she says simply, smiling. "It's why we built RESCUE out of both our companies. And I don't think it's not like we're doing good. Just I feel like it's making us more and more of a target."

"Sadly, it is." Veronica answers. "Unfortunately, there's not a lot we can do about human nature. It is what it is. Some are going to see what we've done, and want it. Want to take it. That has been true of anyone who has anything, for most of human history. Think of the parable of Joseph and his Coat of Many Colors. I have no idea if it relates an actual historical event. But the seed of that story is still a higher truth in the world and human nature. Much as it sucks."

Toni mmphs, then sighs, rubbing her face. "In our case, I think it's because the Avengers are off dealing with space invasions and galactic threats, it feels like, and we keep ending being the ones on Earth dealing with all the stuff they can't focus on. Which is where most of the superpowered criminal types are involved."

"That part doesn't help, no." Veronica answers. Once their meal arrives, she starts nibbling at her vegetables, and shares with Toni while they continue to chat. "But all we can ever do is just the best we can."

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