smart_house: (Default)
[personal profile] smart_house
SARAH had to hear about Callister Raynes secondhand. Zoe picked up Puck and played with his catnip toy in front of the cat's nose while explaining everything that had happened.

Callister Raynes, artificial intelligence.

Created by Nathan Stark.

SARAH reports in for her weekly conference call at Global Dynamics a day early.

Date: 2010-03-08 01:27 am (UTC)
director_global: (are you sure?)
From: [personal profile] director_global
He's alone in his office when the call comes in, standing by the window with his hands in his pockets, looking out across the floor below.

It takes a moment before he turns back to his desk to answer it.

"SARAH." Stark's eyebrows rise. "We weren't scheduled to talk until tomorrow, I thought?"

It's possible he's lost track of time again, though, he knows; he certainly hasn't slept.

"Has something happened?"

Date: 2010-03-08 01:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"Zoe and Sheriff Carter told me about Callister."

There's a level of silence coming through the phone. It would be hesitation. Maybe.

"Are you alright?"

Date: 2010-03-08 01:33 am (UTC)
director_global: (intent)
From: [personal profile] director_global
"... of course they did."

For an instant, he sounds unutterably weary, and lines of strain tighten in his face. It's that, and that alone, that serves as the answer to her second question.

"I'm sorry you had to find out that way, SARAH."

Date: 2010-03-08 01:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"It is fine. You have had other committments.

"I am sorry I did not meet him."

Date: 2010-03-08 01:38 am (UTC)
director_global: (focused)
From: [personal profile] director_global
Silence, for a number of seconds.

"I am, too."

Low, and very, very quiet.

Date: 2010-03-08 01:40 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"Will he have a funeral?"

Date: 2010-03-08 01:43 am (UTC)
director_global: (blue-eyed intensity)
From: [personal profile] director_global
The screen linked to the phone remains the soft-lit blue of an audio-only call, but he knows she's perfectly capable of tapping the video signal.

Stark nods at the screen.

"Tomorrow afternoon. He--"

He breaks off there and clears his throat.

"I thought it best that people have an opportunity to pay their respects."

Date: 2010-03-08 01:44 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"Deputy Lupo," SARAH provides an example in a somber tone.

Date: 2010-03-08 01:45 am (UTC)
director_global: (blue-eyed intensity)
From: [personal profile] director_global

A tiny, wry smile quirks the corner of his mouth. It doesn't match the darkness in his eyes.

"Despite their ... differences."

Date: 2010-03-08 01:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"But she didn't know what he was."

Date: 2010-03-08 01:52 am (UTC)
director_global: (blue-eyed intensity)
From: [personal profile] director_global
"She didn't know that he was AI," Stark corrects.

"But she knew Callister."

Date: 2010-03-08 01:52 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
In the same tone as ever: "I picked my vocabulary as needed."

She said what, not who. It's a distinction SARAH has gotten used to making.

Date: 2010-03-08 01:58 am (UTC)
director_global: (a formal occasion)
From: [personal profile] director_global
Stark sighs.

"I know you did, SARAH."

He sits down, finally, and swivels his seat halfway around so that he's only partly facing the screen. Stark gazes out into the distance again as he adds,

"No, she didn't." A pause. "It would have been too dangerous."

Date: 2010-03-08 02:01 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"You do not think they would have gotten along if she had known?"

Date: 2010-03-08 02:10 am (UTC)
director_global: (a formal occasion)
From: [personal profile] director_global
"I don't know," he admits. "But in any case, it wasn't Jo Lupo that I was worried about."

Date: 2010-03-08 02:16 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"It was you.

"You didn't want anyone to know."

Date: 2010-03-08 02:21 am (UTC)
director_global: (are you sure?)
From: [personal profile] director_global
That gets his immediate and full attention. Stark spins back around in his chair to face the screen.

"It was Callister," he snaps. "What they would have done to him --"

He cuts himself off sharply and glances away as he holds up one hand, signaling for her to wait.

"You're right. I didn't want anyone to know."

Stark looks back at the screen, back in tight control of himself. A beat.

"But it wasn't myself I was protecting. Not in this."

Not entirely, at any rate.

Date: 2010-03-08 02:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Other AIs get repaired. Reprogrammed. Covered up.

Callister gets a casket and for a long while SARAH doesn't say anything.

"You will be fine," SARAH replies eventually.

Date: 2010-03-08 02:37 am (UTC)
director_global: (examining something)
From: [personal profile] director_global
"I will," he agrees.

That's what usually happens with enough time, after all.

A beat. Stark's eyes narrow slightly as he studies the screen.

"What about you?"

Date: 2010-03-08 02:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"I am attempting to process current events.

"You could repair him. He doesn't have to be gone."

Date: 2010-03-08 02:51 am (UTC)
director_global: (intent)
From: [personal profile] director_global
Something flickers in his glance. Stark glances away again, briefly, but not fast enough to hide it.

"I'm afraid I couldn't."

A beat.

"I tried." He's striving to keep his voice even, his tone level, and for most people it would pass as such.

For most.

"I was unsuccessful."

Date: 2010-03-08 09:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]

"I did not intend to upset you."

Date: 2010-03-09 01:52 am (UTC)
director_global: (really?)
From: [personal profile] director_global
"It's all right."

He scrubs a hand across his face, over his eyes, then lets it drop and looks back at the screen.

"Did Carter tell you all of it?"

Date: 2010-03-09 01:53 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"I do not know if I have heard all the details since I have only spoken with Zoe and Sheriff Carter about it, though I doubt he has divulged everything.

"He knows you and I speak."

Date: 2010-03-09 02:15 am (UTC)
director_global: (blue-eyed intensity)
From: [personal profile] director_global

Stark takes a moment to touch a couple of controls, activating the remote lock for his office door, then sits back in his chair.

"Callister was already gone when you arrived," he says, after a moment. "I presume you're aware of the official reports, about the fire and so on?"

Date: 2010-03-09 02:16 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"I have access to all matters of Eureka public record."

For a level of 'public' meaning top secret anywhere else, but it's the right terminology for now.

Date: 2010-03-09 02:23 am (UTC)
director_global: (charming smile)
From: [personal profile] director_global
He nods.

"The lab that burned -- that was where I built him."

It's easier telling it a second time; easier in some ways to tell it to SARAH than it had been to explain to Carter and Allison with Callister sitting beside him.

"He developed so quickly, expanding his programming and surpassing all expectations; flexible, brilliant--" Stark shakes his head. "I gave him a job as my assistant so he could continue to learn."

One corner of his mouth quirks upward in the smallest of wry smiles as he flicks a single glance at the screen.

Date: 2010-03-09 02:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
SARAH watches the change in expression but cannot determine how to comment.

So much more to process.

"...And then."

Date: 2010-03-09 02:29 am (UTC)
director_global: (intent)
From: [personal profile] director_global
"The project that funded his development was military. Eventually they started asking for updates; pushing for results."

He shakes his head again.

"I realized that if they got hold of him..."

Stark trails off there and is silent for several seconds.

"We burned the lab to the ground. Deleted the files; destroyed everything so that they'd never find a trace. Making it look like arson gave him a reason to flee."

A beat.

"It was my idea. I thought if he was away from Eureka, he'd be safe. So I sent him away."

He's looking away from the screen again, off into the distance.

"I was wrong."

Date: 2010-03-09 02:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Stark's screen has been carefully blank most of the conversation.

For a lack of anything useful to say, SARAH flicks on a camera in Zoe's room; Puck and Lysander are rolling around on the carpet.

"Were you happy to see him?"

Date: 2010-03-09 02:34 am (UTC)
director_global: (charming smile)
From: [personal profile] director_global
The movement on the screen draws his attention, and Stark looks back at it.

A slight smile appears; it could even be called wistful.

"I was."

Date: 2010-03-09 02:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"I am positive he appreciated that."

Date: 2010-03-09 02:36 am (UTC)
director_global: (blue-eyed intensity)
From: [personal profile] director_global
"Thank you."

For some reason, his voice sounds a little rough. Stark clears his throat, carefully, then adds,

"I do regret that you never got the chance to meet him. I think you would have gotten along."

A beat.

"Perhaps much as you do with Caprica."

Date: 2010-03-09 02:37 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
The cats disappear from the screen.

"I haven't spoken with her in some time. Given how much time passes there in comparison to Eureka, I would doubt that she even remembers me."

Would doubt, not does doubt. Caprica may not be able to forget anything.

Date: 2010-03-09 02:38 am (UTC)
director_global: (straightforward)
From: [personal profile] director_global
"I don't know about that," Stark counters. "You're very memorable."

A beat.

"By the way. If you have any further problems with Felix Gaeta or others of his ilk, I hope you'll let me know."

Date: 2010-03-09 02:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"I imagine that Mr. Gaeta does not view me as enough of a threat to argue with me. You on the other hand..."

Date: 2010-03-09 02:40 am (UTC)
director_global: (sharp-edged smile)
From: [personal profile] director_global
"Oh, we've certainly argued."

Blandly said.

Date: 2010-03-09 02:44 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"I do not know if I will be allowed to post bail for you at the end of the universe, Dr. Stark."

Date: 2010-03-09 02:45 am (UTC)
director_global: (charming smile)
From: [personal profile] director_global
For the first time in what feels like days, Stark laughs.

"Let's hope we never have to find out."

Date: 2010-03-09 02:47 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"Yes, let's not."

Especially with X-23 on Security. That prisoner transfer SARAH cannot calculate going quite well at all.

"Shall I give my report now or call back tomorrow?"

Date: 2010-03-09 02:49 am (UTC)
director_global: (a formal occasion)
From: [personal profile] director_global
There's a muffled thud from outside his office, as if someone had walked straight into a door that they'd expected to automatically open.

"... uh, Dr. Stark?"

He manages to not roll his eyes as he raises his voice. "Just a minute, Fargo."

To SARAH, Stark adds,

"Why don't you call back tomorrow at the usual time? That way there won't be any need to rush."

Date: 2010-03-09 02:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"I will do so."

After a second, and just before the screen goes black with a disconnect:

"Try to have a good day, Dr. Stark."

Date: 2010-03-09 02:53 am (UTC)
director_global: (Nathan Stark)
From: [personal profile] director_global
His eyebrows rise. Stark considers the black screen with interest for a few seconds, one corner of his mouth quirked slightly.

Then he taps the unlock sequence and spins around in his chair as he calls out,

"All right, Fargo, what's so urgent?"

One look at Fargo's expression when the door slides open, and Stark's on his feet as the younger scientist hurries into the office, stammering,

"I'm sorry, Dr. Stark, it's just -- the researchers from Apex Aerospace? They-- well, they're downstairs, and they wanted to --"

"--you didn't leave them alone, did you?"

"--well, I--"

Stark spares Fargo one sharply irritated glance before striding past him out the door. By the time he reaches the stairs, he's already smiling a welcome.

"Ladies and gentlemen, sorry to keep you waiting. The demonstration you're here to observe will be taking place in one of our clean rooms, right down this hallway... "

Five minutes later, everything is smoothly back on track in the normal routine of another day at Global Dynamics.

('Try to have a good day,' SARAH had said.

Nathan Stark intends to do just that.)

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