March 19th, 2015
Part of the Future Past TP.
The main entrance of Oscorp Tower is a sprawling space - the ceiling is five stories up, with balconies for various offices exposed to the lobby interior. The front desk is manned at all times by no less than three secretaries prepared to direct you where you need to go - or file an appointment with the appropriate manager. Two escalators flank the desk, extending up to a third story pantheon - where tour guides regularly take visitors through a variety of hotspots, including Oscorp's biology and engineering departments. Two elevators are set aside beside the escalators, with a third private elevator that is guarded at all times by a guard and requires a security card to access. The place is crawling with guards, all of whom are watching for the first sign of funny business.
Mr. Shaw greets Josiah at the front door of Oscorp Tower.
He's a rough looking man -- the sort of fellow you'd expect to see marching up to your doorway if you had recently ratted out the mob. His head is shaved as smooth as glass; his jaw looks like it could double as a sledge-hammer in a pinch. He's dressed in black; a long charcoal coat, with a matching suit and tie beneath -- he eyes Josiah up once as the man steps into the massive, sprawling lobby of Oscorp Tower, gesturing once for him to follow.
"--s'downstairs," he informs Josiah, leading him toward the elevator -- a sleek, glossy piece of technology that sits squarely inside of a glass tube that extends high up into the dizzying lobby's upper heights -- and, apparently, also can access the sub-basement floors. Then, as the door opens -- and Mr. Shaw gestures for him to step in -- he begins talking: "Mr. Osborn extends his apologies for not being able to be here for the presentation; he's quite busy with the opening of the Osborn Institute. Nevertheless, he hopes you will yadda yadda, blah blah," Mr. Shaw continues, flicking his hand dismissively. "He brought you here t'show you something you can write about in that paper of yours."
"Mr. Shaw. It's a pleasure to meet you." Josiah nearly moves to shake hands, but meeting with the other man's abruptness, he decides not to let his open palm hang midair. Instead, he follows into the cavernous lobby. Dressed semi-casual in a pair of muted slacks, a blue two-button coat jacket, and pinstripe shirt - all nicely fitted thanks to the family tailor - he presents himself exactly as Oscorp might have expected, as someone important enough to entertain, but not take entirely seriously.
In the elevator, Josiah speaks in a calm, almost jovial manner to Mr. Shaw. "That's a shame, I was hoping to meet him. Of course, I understand he's a very busy man." Moving to the topic at hand, he adds, "I understand this has to do with the medical situation facing the mutant community. Big news, if the headway being made here is what I'm led to believe it is."
Yeah. Shaw isn't the sort to shake hands, it seems.
The elevator thrums with life; Mr. Shaw steps aside to give Josiah enough room. And then, as the doors slip closed -- glass walls on either side granting them a view of the lobby -- the elevator dips downward. Into the BELLY of OSCORP.
It's a very sterile belly -- one that slips down into one of Oscorp's lower-level elevators. The door opens, revealing two rooms separated by a hallway that splits them -- the walls are made of glass, cleanly segregating the laboratories from the hall. Behind the glass, technicians and engineers in white labcoats work furiously upon a variety of machines -- all of them sleek constructions of plastic mixed with steel. Here, there is a hinge-joint, rotating upward; here, there is a ball-joint, slowly spinning. Here, there is what appears to be a 'prosthetic hand', with four digits and an opposable thumb -- clasping down on a bouncing ball.
As Mr. Shaw steps out, Josiah might catch sight of something else, near the back-end of the laboratory on the right. A 'completed' model, fully assembled -- sleek, white, and 'humanoid'. Nearly seven feet tall, it has a gaunt, skeletal appearance -- a face that's little more than a white 'helmet' with a black 'screen' for its face -- currently lit with two little bright purple dots and a simple, slightly curved line to give it the appearance of a faintly-smiling face. The 'machine' appears to be... an emaciated robot. With the Oscorp logo printed neatly on its chest.
"Buddy," Mr. Shaw responds, "you ain't whistlin' dixie." He's already moving down the hall at a brisk pace, apparently expecting Josiah to follow.
Josiah stands rigid in the elevator, one hand clasped around the opposite wrist, doing his best not to seem as excited as he actually is. As the doors open, and he's flooded with scientific achievements in the works, he misses the chance to comment on Mr. Shaw's turn of phrase. Instead, he follows in momentarily silence, taking in the prosthetic hand, the eerie robot, and all the bells and whistles on everything. Bells and whistles to him, at least, though he knows they all do have a purpose.
"Will there be anyone else joining us today?" Josiah asks as his footsteps click-clack across the sterie hall floor.
"--Osborn wanted to give you a chance to see it on your own," Shaw replies. "Actually, I figure he didn't want the other reporters getting spooked by a mutant -- you ain't recording this, are you?" Shaw suddenly asks, head snapping back to /peer/ at Josiah suspiciously. He's already reached the opposite door; there is a soft 'hssss' as it opens, exposing the next hallway -- and the next set of laboratories, similarly separated. Here, fully assembled (and still gaunt) robots are now humming away, performing a variety of tasks -- some well, others poorly. Included are some of the machines traversing simple obstacles -- stairs, walkways, doors -- and performing a variety of tasks, such as opening drawers, lifting up objects, and stacking blocks.
Near one end, the machines are seen administering -- what appears to be syringes to dummies upon the floor. A machine walks toward the dummy, carrying a sleek white 'case' -- depositing the case on the floor, reaching inside -- and plucking up one of many hyperdermic needles. Another machine is applying pressure to the 'wound' on a dummy; another is performing what appears to be CPR compressions.
As Josiah and Shaw approach the latter, Shaw continues: "--been testing these things for a while. Kind of our take on DARPA's whole Petman project; Osborn wants to use 'em for emergency medical care on the frontlines of combat situations. They're actually pretty damn good at most things--" At that precise moment, the machine performing chest-compressions makes a soft 'clck' -- and proceeds to *cave in* the dummy's chest. "--uh, CPR's still... a little buggy," Shaw admits, glaring at the machine.
"You can pat me down if you'd like," Josiah says, flashing a grin. By now he's used to people changing the rules for him. "But no, I'm just using the old noggin' today," he adds, tapping the side of his skull.
The strange-looking machines are intensely scrutanized by Josiah as he moves past them. He furrows his brow as he watches them work. "It's an...admirable vision Mr. Osborn has," he says, though his tone doesn't exactly match those words. On the botched CPR administration, he cringes.
"I'm glad that wasn't me," Josiah says with a chuckle. He continues down the hallway, following Shaw, but focusing on the "wonders" around him.
Shaw /grunts/ at Josiah's usage of the word 'admirable'; the grunt intensifies at the mention of the last botched CPR attempt. The final door opens with another 'hssst', exposing -- a small 'presentation' room -- with six of the machines mounted into the wall, standing like silent spectres, their friendly faces broadcasting that quiet, silent, low-resolution smile. "Osborn's entering in talks now to enter low-risk tests with these things -- equip some ambulances with them -- as a way to provide emergency medical care to mutants who's powers might hurt EMTs. You can also send 'em into fires, or hostage situations, or any place an EMT probably wouldn't /like/ to go -- whatever. We expect to have a fully 'un-kinked' model ready within two weeks. Osborn is hoping," and here, Shaw looks back to Josiah with an upraised brow, "that folks like you will see the benefit, here, and put some pressure on politicians to get the testing phase started -- I mean, th'fuck is the alternative, really? Just have doctors keep refusing to treat mutants?"
It's likely becoming increasingly obvious to Josiah that Shaw was /not/ Osborn's first choice for this job; additionally, he was probably not the man who ran the demonstration for the /other/ reporters.
Josiah doesn't seem put off by Mr. Shaw. In fact, he actually smiles at the honest remarks the man is making. "This whole deal really is changing the medical community, don't you think?" He steps further into the room, taking up a stange in front of the wall of robotic technology, eyeing them as he would a piece of art, contemplatively with one hand halfway into the pocket of his jacket. "Further politicizing the hell out of it. Turning once brave men green." He moves his head in a low arc from left to right, studying the specimens before turning to face Mr. Shaw. "I'll be honest with you, Mr. Shaw. I can see a benefit here in some respects. I can also see these hitting the market, allowing actual doctors to continue their...current way of handling mutant patients. I wonder about the long-term effects." He lifts his shoulders and says, "So, tell me more about these low-risk tests you mentioned."
"Hell if I know. All I can tell you," Shaw relates, "is that it'd been nice t'have one of these things watching my back in Afghanistan." The mention of brave men turning green seems to inspire a twitch of Shaw's mouth, as if he was trying to suppress what /could/ be a slight smile. When Josiah points out that it would allow doctors to continue their practice with patients... "Yeah, Osborn said you'd bring that up. Said to reply that y'put out the fire before you tend to your electric bills -- these things'd be a temporary fix, until we get a little sanity in our politics." The way Shaw says that last bit is positively contemptuous; as if the very /idea/ of sanity being in any proximity to politics strikes him as deranged.
"Osborn wants to use 'em basically as diagnostic tools, to start with; plop 'em in the ambulance, and when you get a mutant -- or a dangerous situation -- or any time the EMT feels like there might be a threat -- you send this thing in. Gets a reading on the injured guy -- can take heart-rate, temperature, whatever -- sends it back to the EMT, along with a video feed. If everything looks good, EMT can move in, start doin' their thing." Shaw shrugs. "They wouldn't actually be practicing any /medicine/, not at first. Just be a way for EMTs to make sure the coast is clear and the patient ain't about to -- well, sprout quills or something."
Josiah chuckles and crosses his arms. "Well, I don't know if diagnostic readings are going to put out any fires, especially the one kindling as we speak. Nor do I think there will ever be a proper time to start mending human-mutant relations. That needs to just happen, at least in a field as important as medicine." He turns once more back to the display, thinking on them another moment, before turning back to Shaw. "I don't want you to misinterperet what I'm saying here. These are impressive, and I'm sure they can be put to use well. It would be nice to see them roll out along with some kind of sensitivity training, as lame as that sounds." He smirks and lets his hands drop. "Because let's be honest, there are plent of cases where EMTs and doctors may have to deal with mutants and not necessarily need these. Don't want them becoming a shield eventually replaces them and bumps up the unemployment rate, right?"
"Hey, if Osborn had his way, these things'd be stitchin' up any mutant who needed it /tomorrow/," Shaw admits, though there's a faint laugh behind his words. "But he figures people need to get comfortable with 'em, first." Shaw's head cocks at Josiah's point about unemployment rates; he grins, just a little -- hands slipping into his pockets. "Wouldn't that be a hell of a thing? Puttin' doctors out of business? But yeah, I see what you're saying. Though the other thing Osborn's imagining they'll do..."
Shaw's eyes drift past Josiah, to the machines. They silently watch. "Mutant biology is weird. Sometimes, doctors need to know about it to give proper care. But just giving doctors unfettered access to registration data? Huge can of worms. Eventually, Osborn wants /these/ things to have access to that data -- they use facial recognition software to recognize registered mutants, download a description of their powers, and determine whether or not those powers are relevant to their treatment. If not, they keep their yaps shut; if they /are/, they tell medical personnel what they need to know -- or perform the procedures themselves, if their powers make treating them dangerous. Then they delete the information to maintain privacy. So only time someone gets outed as a mutant is when it's relevant -- and only to their doctor."
Shaw's eyes slip back to Josiah. "Osborn likes to think of 'em as guardians for mutants. Machines lookin' out for them -- 'Sentinels'."
Josiah lifts a hand to his face, rubbing his chin gently as he follows Shaw's gaze back to the machines. After hearing the other man out and thinking some on the subject, he turns and says, "Mr. Shaw, if anything this sounds like a game changer. I'm not sure how it'll change it, exactly, but I'd like to see it through with you. The New Yorker is giving me time to put together something on this, and I think I'll need that time to write something impactful. If you'll allow it, I'd like to keep in touch regarding whatever testing is being done, and if I can link what they can do to something tangible to the audience, that will be all the better." He may not be completely sold on the idea, but an interest clearly is present in his tone and expression.
"Sure, sure -- Osborn told me that he'll have his secretary forward a press docket to you tonight. And I'm supposed to help you with whatever you need, so long as you ain't, well, bein' /sneaky/ about anything," Shaw says, his eyes drifting back toward the machines. "Yeah -- game-changer. I guess you could call them that."