Liam is working a bit late. Kami has, to the best of his knowledge gone home but the admin support he’d been assigned is still around. At the moment he has a half disassembled drone on his desk and he’s comparing it to other casefiles and notes from other things they’ve caught from the Tinker. This is the first reasonably intact specimen of his work they’ve had and he knows there’s things they can learn from it.
But the process of doing so is sloooooowwwww.
“Oy. I could use some coffee…” He murmurs to himself as he stands and cracks his back slightly. The office is, at least, quiet at the moment. So quiet you could hear a pin drop.
Kami had been intending on going home, had headed out of the office an hour or so ago. But RIAN had had other ideas, hadn’t she. Kami hasn’t left the building but Liam won’t know that. She is in fact, very close to him at the moment.
Irene is the name of the admin that Liam has been assigned. A sweet young woman with an Irish lilt. Eager to please, she’s always quick to do things that makes Liams life easier. It might also be a touch of infatuation.
Liam probably hasn’t noticed the similiarities in Irenes looks to the one the RIAN AI projects sometimes.
“I’ll get ya a cup o’ coffee, Mista Whelan.” the woman is sitting //just over there// – and he missed her. Story of her life.
“Oh! Thanks Irene.” It doesn’t help, or maybe it does depending on your point of view, that Liam gets a bit absent minded when he’s focused which leads to him missing her probably just enough to trip that need to be useful and prove herself that much more.
When Irene comes back Liam is looking at an exploded view hologram and streightens up again. He’s been at this a while. “I don’t know Irene. What do you think of this. There’s got to be some clue in here about how the Tinker sources his parts and builds his drones. But I’m not seeing it yet. A lot of this stuff is as clean as if it were manufcatured in the factory…”
Which it may have been. He wonders if the Tinker can subvert factories to build back doors into the drones.
It doesn’t take much to trip Irenes insecurity. It really doesn’t. She hurries off and hurries back, accidently spilling the coffee a bit and having to mop the mug with tissue before handing it to Liam. “Sorry I took so long … the jug wasna boiled.”
“You stretch, Mista Whelan, you’re tying yourself up like a pretzel with all this worry.” she says softly, leaning over his chair and his shoulder to look at the diagram. “Can ya zoom in the parts? The microprocessors all have serial numbers. We might be able to trace those … ” she stops, glancing to Liam, worried she’s overstepped.
This persona of Kami’s has her buried deep. It would take a very gifted telepath to rat her out.
Liam does get up and stretches a little bit. She’s not wrong. When she asks him to help manipulate the image thoug hhe comes back and zooms. He doesn’t look like he thinks she’s overstepped. In fact he looks grateful.
“Mmmm. It’s good coffee too. What are you looking at though? What do you think we can trace? The… subprocessor serial numbers?”
“Uh, I don’t know for sure, Mista Whelan but when paperwork is submitted in the company, they’re sticklers about recording such things. It’s not just warranties, you see, it’s also to track the effectiveness of some releases, what needs upgrading and the like. You understand?”
Taking a pen and paper, she starts to jot down numbers as they appear and points to the screen with the tip of her pen.
“See here, this symbol? It’s a … makers mark. It goes back to the beginning when creating these things was difficult. It denotes the factory and batch of a particular run.” Which means, using that symbol alone they might be able to trace it.
How Kami knows this, is another question. But Liam doesn’t know that this is Kami, does he?
“Okay so the fact that it HAS a makers mark means that it was made in some kind of factory. That means that it has to be… made in something that we can trace and track.”
“Good work Irene. Can you tell from that which company made them?”
Already he’s pulling open a search window to see if he can do the same. But if she knows that’d be even better.
In some cases she knows this because Kami. But in some cases RIAN is feeding her the information…
“What are you doing here so late by the way?”
“That’s right Mista Whelan, suh.” Irene answers, already switching the screens to start a search. “If I’m not mistaken…” her pale brow furrows as she thinks “… that’s strange. I’m sure that’s Allan Chemicals …” Which might mean it’s now Oscorp, right?
Liam will find that a bit a quicker than her. No need to be ‘too’ helpful.
“Oh. Uh. I had some paperwork to file for your team and then … I saw ya working late and thought I might stay.”
“Allen Chemicals was Oscorp and then split out into Alchemax when Liz Allen left. How old are those?” Because if they’re original that means they’re very old. If they’re new that means that these were most definitely manufactured by Alchemax. And THAT gets interesting. It’s the first solid lead they’ve had. Doesn’t mean the big Circle A is involved. They might be victims.
But it does give them something to work.
“It’s…” Liam checks the time. “Three hours after closing. Don’t you need to sleep Irene?”
“There’s an old story dating back to the days of the Cold War…” Irene starts, frowning at the screen and that mark. “The Russians had stolen some early microchips from US manufacturers and //those// chips had the manufacturers mark on them. The marks, though, included a date or were dated – I’m not sure which, but they told those looking whose chips they were and when they were made.”
Irene flushes, knowing she’s blathering a bit “Those stolen chips were copied by the Russians and the ‘bugged’ versions were released into the US market. The problem was they all included the dated mark because the Russians didn’t know if they could remove it. It was easy, once they worked out it was happening, to detect the copied chips.”
She taps the screen “What if this is copied and not done by OsCorp? What if OsCorp were stolen from and … ” she shrugs. It’s a stretch and she knows it.
“I sleep, Mista Whelan but I like to help.”
Liam puts his hand on Irene’s shoulder by way of saying thank you.
“Alright. That’s an interesting story and an interesting theory. So maybe these numbers actually indicate the date of the theft and not continuing use of a manufacturing facility. It would mean that the theif didn’t know how to get rid of them for some reason.”
Seems like it could be fairly legitimate. Either could be. He frowns.
“I need to talk to someone in Alchemax R and D. Do you know anyone who might be able to do that?”
“That’s a possibility Mista Whelan.” Irene agrees. “It might also relate to a facility. But that facility might not be owned by OsCorp or Alchemax. That’s easy enough to find out though, would ya like me to …” the redhead peters off.
That’s not her job is it?
Then she brightens “I do yes! I know Doctor Grishold. She’s quite nice.”
She blushes more as his hand stays of her shoulder. She really is quite enamoured with the Carry.
“Can you leave a message for her to please contact me?” Liam says giving that shoulder a squeeze and then letting go. “It’s late and I doubt you’ll get through to her right away.”
But if he can contact her tomorrow, that would be good.
“Thank you, Irene. That was really helpful.” Enamoured with the carry? He’s seen her flush a bit. He gets a ‘crush’. Does he suspect enamoured? No not in the least.
“Oh I’d be happy tah, Mista Whelan.” It’s sweet little lilt the woman has. Her voice is almost … musical. When he squeezes her shoulder, she covers his with her hand for a moment before she blushes and turns back to the keyboard. “Oh, uh, let me do that right now. Do yah need me to organise yah ride home?”
Indispensable, isn’t she? Oh, so, helpful.
“I’d like that but it might be a bit of a wait with the game on tonight.” Mass entertainment is even a bigger business than it used to be. The Last throw themselves into any distraction with abandon almost completely unheard of in previous generations.
And who can blame them.
That just means he’ll have to wait a while here. But Irene won’t mind that will she? “How long have you been with the company, Irene?”
“Oh well, I suppose you’re right, Mista Whelan. I was thinkin’ there might be a company car you could take but the big wigs were all at that game and …” There’s enough said right there.
With the email sent, the redhead sits back and looks at the Carry “There’s some snacks in the kitchen, we could have a picnic …” very helpful and a little mischevious. That should appeal to Liam shouldn’t it. “Oh, about a year. I started in the intern program down in R & D.”
The backstory is nearly flawless and RIAN must be laughing. Liam doesn’t suspect ‘Irene’ at all. But what of Kami? What’s happening to her while her persona is on full display.
“A picnic at eight thrity?” Liam laughs and nods. “Well I’m going to be waiting here anyway. So why not. Picnic away. In the office.”
Yes helpful and mischevious does appeal to him. What happens to Kami? Is she being run through more simulations? Is she asleep? Or is she aware of what happens to her on some level?
“R and D? What brought you up to Security?” To InfoSec no less.
“Alrighty then…” Irene bounces up and turns to go, getting caught on the mouse cable and then tripping over the chair. She falls against Liam in a terrible tangled, nearly pulling his computer from the table with her.
“Uh … that, mostly. Along with the fact that I can research and like to help.” She’s blushing. But he might get the idea. So incredibly different to Kami, he wouldn’t believe it was her.
It’s possible that RIAN has managed to run Kami through more sims while she’s so deeply under. There’s a note on the sneak-thiefs file though – that too long under a guise can cause psychotic breaks.
“Bwah!” Liam has to sort of lunge both to cath Irene and to prevent his computer from going. He does manage both though. Lets out a long, releived breath and looks down at the admin assistant. “Maybe no drinks on the picnic for you.”
As if she’d had any.
Is RIAN trying to drive Kami into a psychotic break? Or trying to prevent her from having one so as to extend the usefulness of this charade?
“You must be able to research like a pro to make it into the most secure division in all of Security, though. Shall we?”
Irene flushes as Liams arms close around her and she manages to disentangle herself from the mess as Liam saves his computer. “I don’t need to drink to be a walking disaster zone. But now you see why they didn’t want around R & D, Mista Whelan.”
Leading the way to the break room, the redhead raids the snack cupboard, emptying packets of chips and crackers onto plates. It’s not long before there’s a … feast … set out on the table. Liam has probably found some beer in the entertaining fridge. If not, there’s soda in the fridge.
“A veritable feast. What did I tell you…” Irene answers and gives Liam a look “I don’t know about a pro, but I’m pretty good. I just like to … help.”
RIAN is likely trying to bring Kami right to the edge of a break. Keep her so messed up, so she’s easier to control.
The question is why? What does the AI get out of this?
The AI gets an endlessly malleable body and if her personality is just easy to change then that’s a bonus for RIAN. RIAN is, after all, a machine. Her own personality could be altered by a coder with enough knowledge and access. It’d be difficult and dangerous but… the same is true of Kami herself.
Liam sits himself down in the break room and grabs some of the food. And a beer. He’ll be waiting a while. “Like to help huh? I’ll bet you’re the kind who does volunteering on the weekends then, mm? Work with the Institute maybe?”
Is that all this is for RIAN? A pleasure ride? A way to experience the world through different eyes? If it is, then poor, poor Kami who’s likely to lose herself within her own personas.
Irene colours as Liam talks to her. This is the most attention he’s ever paid to her. She sometimes wonders if he even realises she’s there – come to think of it, he’ll likely not recognise her presence tomorrow. “Aye, well yeah. I guess I do, at that. When here’s not somethin’ that Stark Fujikawa is involved in. But research, finding the things that others find boring, that’s kind of my jam. But that’s not all I do, on my weekends.”
Is it a pleasure ride? Or is it that Kami is a very useful tool. Which she is on a number of levels for both her skills and her powers. The second might almost be scarrier. The AI might at least at some point get bored of a toy.
“What else do you do on your weekend?” It’s likely that most people know what he does on his weekends. He is still something of a minor celebrity and his gaming prowess has won him a few office pools and some mild rivals. People who would like to take him down a few pegs.
If only he weren’t so damned good at his hobbies. Or his job.
And yes, he might not notice her a whole lot then. Sometimes it’ seems like she’s not around.
When Kami can think about it, and that’s often right now, she’s sure that RIAN has other plans. Plans that somehow include Liam, that extend past keeping him distracted but damned if she can work out what.
Irene ducks her head at the question, he can see the blush as it creeps up her neck. “Well now, sometimes I watch the invitational League games on the holovid.” Those are the games that Liam gets invited to with great regularity. “But a lot of weekends, I bake things.” She … cooks? That’s sort of unusual.
“Invitationals? I watch those sometimes.” Liam winks. If she does that with any regularity she’ll see the ones he makes. He can’t make them all, or even close. But he makes enough of them. Show matches usually. Because he can’t compete in ‘fair’ competitions. His increased reflexes means that he’s at too big an advantage. But he can show off and he does rather like doing that.
“Cooking? Interesting. I didn’t know anyone knew how to do that anymore.” Some do of course but it’s easy – and even these days sort of healthy – to have meals delivered or cook them out of a box or can. Modern food is quite delicious. Cooking means… getting fresher things.
And that can be tricky.
“You do a lot of watchin’ from the fountain …” Irene prods the Carry a little, still blushing. It’s not true, really. Though when he dies in the matches, it’s quite spectacular.
“Mmmhmm, I do. It’s something I enjoy. I often cook with Grandmama, she’s the one who taught me. It’s nice being able to do things with her, even if she’s slowing down a bit. “What’s you’re favourite dessert pie, Mistah Whelan? If I don’t know how to make, I bet Grandmama does …”
“Hey now!” Liam says with mock indignation and gives Irene a little playful shove. “I do a lot of watching from their nexus you mean.”
Liam is still good at this game. Some pros might argue that they’re better without his enhancements in the way but… well there’s no way to tell now is there.
“Custard. Egg custard.” Liam grins because he loves it but he doesn’t… really know how to make it. He doesn’t cook much and most of what he does cook is more savory. Well, he should say he doesn’t bake much.
The playful shove has Irene nearly sliding from her chair. She grasps the table, but catches a plate and nearly sends it flying. Oh yeah, she’s a walking disaster.
“Oh sure. And how many times have I heard the casters yell at you to ‘hit the damn nexus instead show boating’?” She says, trying not to fall.
“Is it really your favourite? I doubt you’ve had a good one, then. The things that are made for the mass market these days … ” She’ll make him one. Or several.
“They’re just jealous that they can’t showboat.” Liam says reaching to catch the pltae that doesn’t quite go flying. He sighs when it doesn’t crack and shatter. So many things he’s relieved aren’t happening right now.
“It really is and I usually get them from the shop down the way. They taste fine to me. Not like grandma used to make but that’s because mine didn’t make them. Do you…” He pauses.
“Do you really still spend time with her?”
“Did your Grandmama bake for you too?” Irene perks up at that comment as she sweeps up the mess she just made. It’s so automatic that Liam might believe this is a regular occurence for her.
“I think they don’t like be made fools of, when they think you’re going to end the match and don’t.” Irenes conversation is all over the place, and that just seems natural.
“Oh. Well, not as much as I used to but I try to get to see her once a month or so…” Kami’s backstories are generally flawless. Hard to prove that the persona isn’t really a thing. This though, is something that might trip her up. Is that deliberate? Maybe.
“Not especially. Grandma was more into sauces and noodles.” Liam winks. He stretches a bit and takes another bite. He is completely taken in by the persona and to be honest… she’s kind of cute. Is it deliberate, that there are things that might trip her up? Maybe Kami is fighting back.
Maybe she wants Liam to know.
“Well no, no one likes to be made fools up. But that’s why it’s fun. Well okay fun for some people. I wouldn’t like it if you were made a fool of.”
“Sauces and noodles? That’s very italian, Mistah Whelan. I wouldn’t have thought that of your Grandma.” Irene is guileless really. That cute pixie bob, the way the ends curl about her chin and frame her face. The clear green eyes.
Is it deliberate of Kami? Who can tell? The sneak-thief isn’t really here. Suppressed by her persona and RIAN.
Those green eyes get rounder, the blush a little deeper as Irene processes what Liam just said. “You shouldn’t say things like that, Mistah Whelan. I make a fool of myself all the time.”