Logs:Robotics Club Reunion

From X-Men: rEvolution
Robotics Club Reunion
Dramatis Personae

B, Kisha

2019-03-07


B drops in to visit Kisha at work. They catch up on the wonderful world of science and robotics.

Location

Stark Tower - Midtown


A gleaming beacon of modern architecture shining bright amidst the industry of Midtown, Stark Tower serves as headquarters to one of the largest tech corporations in the world. The offices and boardrooms of Stark Industries and any number of satellite companies, subsidiaries, and nonprofits are homed here. To the public what draws most visitors is not the business but the science -- the first two floors of the building hold an extensive museum dedicated to technological innovation. As well, guided tours three days a week are open to the public, to be shown through both the museum and, more notably, through (select parts of) the dozen floors dedicated solely to R&D.The building itself is as eye-catching inside as outside. The soaring lobby atrium extends upwards, bright and glass-walled with perpetually bustling balconies ringing each floor. All visitors must pass through the lobby security checkpoints to be signed in. The technology integrated into the building, from the interactive holographic displays that help guide visitors to their destination to the quiet AI that remembers visitors' preferences upon repeat visits to the basement arc reactor that powers the entire building, are quiet reminders of the company's dedication to innovation.

    • Locations:** Tony's Penthouse (TON), Bruce's Lab (HLK)

Up in the R&D floors of Stark Tower, tucked away in the section of the building that's not intended for casual visitors (or indeed any visitors without some level of security clearance) is Robotics Lab 223-Q. Or as it's more jokingly known 'The Toybox'.

There's even a poster of a childs toybox put up by the door with tape that's been there long enough to have gone a little yellowish. Presumably as a joke at the expense of the employee who spends most of her time working here. Although it's still open for debate if she's even noticed the attempt at playful mockery (she has not).

Inside the name actually seems rather fitting. There's a seven foot tall mechanical humanoid with armour styling like a medieval knight. Some sort of strange cocoon shaped pod that is hooked up to bundles of cables thicker than most peoples arms. And the outer walls of the room are lined with desks and benches with various half finished devices on.

And in the middle of it all sits Kisha. Balancing cross-legged on a swivel chair and adjusting the dozen or so floating holographic displays that completely surround her. Her outfit and general appearance are largely the same as ever. T-shirt with a chemical logo and black pants, the functional valued over style.

There's no knock, no announcement at all. The door just opens quietly, admitting one tiny blue sharkgirl into the eccentric workspace. B has on metallic silvery-blue skinny jeans, a dark purple jacket liberally adorned with patches, very chunky black and silver boots, a heavy backpack slung over one shoulder. For a moment she just stops in the entrance, black eyes flicking around the room. A slow smile spreads across her face. "Do they just, like, give you free rein in here these days? Have they regretted it yet?

If Kisha is aware of B entering the room there's almost no outward sign. At least not at first. A few long moments after the string of questions have finished she pauses and gestures at the holograms to part them. Although none are actually dismissed.

"Not really. For health and safety reasons I'm unable to work on a portable rail gun within the building. At least not a physical version. I ran a holographic simulation and the results were... well lets just say I could have easily placed a round through my own apartment." She frowns for a moment. "I'm assuming that if your card let you in here you'll have clearance?" She barely pauses for a response, perhaps indifferent to the answer."Anyway I cheat with my mutation to stay well within budget which seems to earn me a remarkable degree of goodwill."

B drops her backpack by the door, drifting forward to study the tall armored mech. She's focused on it with interest, casually a moment later going to the nearest available workspace to pull up a display of her own and log herself in. "I bet the piloted killer mechs don't hurt with the goodwill, either. Oscorp's doing drones, you know." There's no actual weight given to this information.

"It's technically a drone," Kisha points out, nodding towards the weird cocoon. "That's the control rig. Full sensory deprivation tank and brain hook ups. But it's not intended to be left to run autonomously like the Oscorp offering seems to be." She flicks one of the holograms so it appears next to B and begins scrolling through technical specifications. " It's very demanding on the pilot but you more than make up for it with per unit performance."

"I don't trust Oscorp's project. We're barely getting fully autonomous cars we trust not to run over black people and they're promising robocops? Please." Maybe a touch self-deprecating, given that Stark's own self driving car was one of B's first projects here -- but then, that was high school. Her gills open and close slowly as she eyes the data, clawed hand lifting to run back through some of it herself. "Has anyone tried it besides you? What's been the most taxing for the operator?"

"A few people have given it a go but..." Kisha shrugs. "I've got years of my own brain scans for reference data. It's been much easier to calibrate for my own use." She sighs. "Also the test subjects tend to find the realism induces nausea when rapidly shifting the field of vision. It's bad enough I've spent the last few months designing a mechanism to clean the tank automatically."

She glances back to the holographic screens and makes a few adjustments."In my spare time I've been trying to tune my power to the Oscorp drones. I think it'd go easier if I had some samples of the current generation. Those bodies can't be advanced enough to run a full AI, so there's possibly a substantial data center plugged into the backend providing extra processing power."

"Huh." B just tilts her head thoughtfully at Kisha's speculation on the Oscorp project. "No doubt. They have so many properties, though, it's hard to say where...'

This musing just trails off as her attention is reabsorbed by the information before her. "How much abstraction can you get with the display before you start sacrificing performance?" B is starting to dive into this data, the number of displays around her beginning to proliferate as she explores the workings of the mech deeper. "I know I was /just/ ragging on it, but there's a lot of processing the autonomous drones do that we could be better interpreting into visual overlay for a human pilot and take some of the cognitive strain off of how many different things they have to be processing at once. Might help with some of the --" Her hand flutters in front of her mouth in time with a small retching noise.

"It's never really been an issue for me," Kisha points out with a shrug. "But I have been working on a way to provide some of the data in a haptic form. For now the hotfix has been to limit the field of view to roughly Human analogue. Then have the radar and lidar function as overlays or HUD elements depending on how much detail you need."

"The main problem with adding additional automation is latency. The longer the gap between the raw data coming in and the control commands going out the less we can cheat by tricking the pilots subconcious into thinking the drone is their body. If that gap gets too long the drone ends up looking less like Terminator and whole lot more newly born Bambi."

There is another moment of silence as Kisha frowns at B. "Wait a minute... Did we have lunch plans I missed? Aren't you supposed to be..." Her hand waves in what might be the direction of MIT but is probably just the whole of the outside world. A copy of her calendar also pops up on a holographic display helpfully reminding her which day/week/month it is. "Elsewhere."

B presses her palm to her mouth, stifling a giggle. "Okay but that mental image is great. If you lose the contract on it at least you can make a solid side gig filming YouTube videos of the thing stumbling around, those are always a hit." She's pulled up something new on her display, swats it over towards Kisha. "This might be a bit of a stretch, but just in case there's anything in there that can help with the latency issue. I helped out making this bionic arm for someone whose mutation gives them pretty unchartable reflexes. Trying to make sure that the signals and processing could even start to keep up with what their mind was sending took an entire rethinking. Might be there's something in what we worked on that can help with --" She jerks her head toward the mech.

The last question pushes B back into a brief silence, or maybe she's just very focused on the displays in front of her. "We didn't have plans. I just got back into town and thought." Shrug. "I wanted to see what you'd been up to. It's never boring."

"You know... I could probably use some of this nerve hook up work but it'd probably require some sort of direct spinal connection.... People seem very hesitant to let me install one of those. They seem to expect I'll have a degree in a medical field. Perhaps I'll see if there are night school classes for neurosugery." Kisha muses, looking through the information. "I've been tentatively calling the prototype the Thunder Child after the ship from the War of the Worlds.... And to be brutally honest I'm not sure we'll even end up selling the damn thing. On paper the Oscorp offering is better value for money. They both keep real people away from fighting but they don't have to contend with a lengthy training process or any suggestion of intercranial surgery... Then again I'm pretty sure this system is far harder to hack, except maybe to technopathic mutants." She hrms. "Maybe I'll see if I can put a small psionic jammer in somewhere."

"I was thinking more the work we did making sure the latency in processing was cut down but -- if that's the direction you want to go." B sounds a little wry. "It does seem less, uh. Exportable. I don't /think/ the government's keen yet on turning soldiers into cyborgs but I'm not really sure why." Her claws tap lightly against the surface of the table she's leaning against, and then he straightens. "Do you /have/ a small psionic jammer?" This is more brightly curious. "All the ones I've ever seen are pretty big. If you can fit a tiny one in that thing you could market that all by itself." Her lips purse afterwards, and she looks over at the mech. "Then again, that's not small either."

"Oh I have no intention of making this into a Government super soldier program," Kisha assures, emphatically shaking her head. "Only an absolute moron would try run one of /those/. What if the candidate you pick turns out evil? Or even if they just decide they don't really agree with Government policy any more. Best case it's a ton of work down the drain and worst case you're having to deal with a killer cyborg who wants you dead. If I'm brain linking anyone to this thing it'd be me."

"I'm pretty sure I can build one. Wouldn't be able to sell it though. I /am/ committing industrial espionage tuning my power to the design. Probably treason too. And uh... small is a relative term. If you can fit one into a truck I can probably get a very localised one into Thunder here." She throws up some holograhic projections that float around the mech like an overlay of the system in question. "Might need a backpack unit. Which means it'd be incompatible with the flight pack I've been toying with..."

She pauses and then changes the holograms to display as the flight pack design. A skeletal wing design reminisce of bat wings without a membrane. Studded with repulsor units that act as thrusters and tipped with something hooked and clawlike. "I hope you don't mind but I took some inspiration from your hover bikes. Only a little more... is killey a word?"

"I just meant -- that it had to be usable for, you know. Actual soldiers. The ones in the military? That we're, uh, trying to sell this to." B's voice is a little bemused. "How do you even still have a job." It's more curious than anything else, really. "I mean who exactly are you trying to /market/ to. You know you have to be able to sell your stuff, right?" The flat of her palm rubs down against her gills, and she straightens to look over at the wings. Her webbed fingers touch lightly at her lips, which have curled into a small smile. "I guess it's a word now. Alright, so if it's not a super soldier what is it?"

"I wonder that myself sometimes," Kisha admits with a shrug. "The prototype won't have /all/ the same features as the production model. It's more of a modular test-bed for the technology. Hopefully we'll figure out how the regular interface works and that I think would be fine to sell. No worse than those drone aircraft which keep being used to bomb villages anyway."

"Besides I've made a bunch of much less technically impressive but still useful gadgets. There's a type of little flying drone which floats above your shoulder and blinds cameras or other optics. Protects VIPs against snipers or just rich people from having their photo taken. I'm pretty sure it's /those/ for which they are keeping me around. " She spins on her chair and springs off, moving over to one of the more cluttered desks to dig around. "Most of this I built while waiting for other people on the project to meet deadlines."

"I do have one working theory as to why I still have a job though," she muses. "That Mister Stark likes keeping at least one person around in R&D whose moral compass makes him look good in comparison."

B's gills flutter faster, her fingers pressing harder to her lips to stifle a giggle. "You know, I think that theory might have something to it. It'd be weird to put on a resume but --" She shrugs one shoulder, getting up from her seat to look over the holographic display more closely. "Not a problem if you just stay here with their deep pockets forever. They'd be dumb to let you go." She bounces on her toes, looking over at Kisha's cluttered desk. "Have you had lunch?"

"Well yes, I am fucking brilliant after all..." Kisha agrees, moving over and giving the mech in the middle of the room a friendly pat, without a single trace of doubt or modesty. "Perhaps not at the sales side of things. But in the business of arms sales quality tends to go a long way towards a product selling itself. Actually now that might be an idea. Program the mech to give a sales demo speech...."

"As for food... I don't recall. I don't seem to have anything I started recently. And it really depends which day it is right now..." She sniffs at her own clothing. "I don't seem to have been at work long enough to have needed a shower yet."

"I'm pretty sure we have a marketing team for that? They get paid a whole lot." B sounds amused as she goes to scoop her backpack back up. /Her/ nose crinkles briefly, but she doesn't comment on the question of showers. "C'mon. My treat. It's so much harder to find good Filipino food in Boston, if you're up for that I have such a craving."

"Yes but compared with the marketing team the mech makes for /much better company/," Kisha replies earnestly. "Food is food. And so long as it doesn't make me ill I'll eat anything." She does however start hunting around for her bag and coat.

"Hanging out with business majors?" B's shiver is /exaggerated/ as she slings her backpack onto her shoulder and holds the door open for Kisha. "Better company than them is not a high bar."

"Like you said. Someone has to sell the products... and it sure as hell isn't going to be me..." Kisha retorts with a smile as she slings her own bag over her shoulder and makes for the open door.