: Business District/Midtown --> Lab Crisis
Closing the door of her driver's car, the pinkette young woman groaned, as she slumped languidly down into the cushioned backseat area. Oak-brown eyes slipped closed, as she leaned back, savoring the low thrum of the vehicle's electric engine, a comfortable quiet settling over the private interior, the front seats separated from the back by a divider with a tinted -and currently closed- window set into it. She wasn't in the mood for idle chatter, and VERONICA had clearly conveyed so beforehand to Xavier, the driver, hence the lack of so much as a greeting inquiring on welfare.
Not that she needed the meddlesome old-timer to worry about her, but she supposed it was nice that he cared.
Whether that was because she didn't treat him like garbage... or because she was the reason for his paycheck? Who could say.
"Severance packages delivered," came a familiar smooth, feminine voice with a hint of buzzing to it, much to the pinkette's restrained groan of irritation. The last thing she wanted to think about right now was the hassle the day had been. Too many good workers had been fired today. She would admit that freely, but it had to be done, irregardless of their otherwise laudable competence and technical expertise. Allowing themselves to be bribed for corporate espionage? Divulging company secrets? Could they be any more foolish? She was not in any position to show mercy to those that broke their contracts, and to expect anything else from her was the height of arrogance.
Certainly, some had had their reasons, ones that even made them victims of a sort in all this, but an example had to be made, a no-tolerance policy enforced. And of course, she wasn't going to stop at just firing them. No no, compromising their contracts? Potentially endangering the bank's integrity and reputation? Her legal teams were already chomping at the bit to take them for everything they were worth, perhaps badly enough to take back what they had earned from the company and more. It was nasty business, but it was necessary. In this age of marvels, you couldn't allow a single chink in the armor to fester, couldn't show weakness. Not to the public. Not to your allies and subordinates. And most especially not to your enemies... and the opportunistic worms and dregs writhing beneath the surface of society."Excellent work as always,"
Sighing, Kasumi favored the personal AI's report with a nod, which she knew had been seen of course. Her sunshades functioned as a form of visor, an Omni-Lens, allowing seamless wireless access to The Nexus and projecting a one-way holographic interface for her private viewing on the inner lenses. Naturally, with a personal AI at the helm, modded most especially for security, she had little reason to worry about being compromised... even if she did sometimes wish it was a little more feasible to operate "off the grid" in a productive manner.
"Of course, Ma'am," VERONICA replied easily.
A familiar buzzing from her phone brought Kasumi's attention to the screen with a frown. Swiping through the lock screen, her pink brows furrowed at the general alert of a major fire. Lips pursing lightly, she skimmed several related articles. The disaster in the making was yet ongoing and by no means appearing to be any closer to handled, such was the intensity of the blaze. "A laboratory, huh? I wonder if a chemical spill has anything to do with how the fire got out of hand so quickly..."
"Undoubtably, Ma'am," VERONICA chirped.
Kasumi sighed... again. She seemed to have been doing that a lot today. The (un)natural pinkette shifted in her seat, right leg crossing atop her left. Her newsfeed, helpfully curated by VERONICA for the sake of relevancy, made mention of several other incidents in progress... including a major jewelry robbery. Honestly, sometimes Kasumi wondered if today was just one of those days or if New Haven was always like this... and she simply too busy and ... sheltered to notice it. "Should I be worried about this?"
It was a general question but more directed towards the fire. The jewelry was insured... probably, and it was exactly none of her business to be going out of her way to make enemies with the latest flamboyant nutjob on the block.
The holographic image of a brunette secretary, smartly-dressed for an office environment, briefly flickered into the corner of her sunshades' view. "Xavier has already been informed to correct our course. Due to detours, regrettably, arrival to the estate shall be 4.2069 minutes diverged from your arranged schedule." Kasumi rolled her eyes lightly. She wasn't that
anal about her time management, but try telling that to VERONICA. The AI seemed to take even understandably unpredictable delays personally. Honestly, Kasumi supposed there were worse quirks for an AI to develop in its lifetime, Terminator homicide tendencies among them. Frankly, she could handle some nagging over punctuality. It was even helpful most of the time.
Regardless... "Belay that directive,"
Kasumi slowly inhaled steadily and then exhaled sharply through her nose.
"Ma'am?" VERONICA inquired with a tone of confusion and... resignation? It really was impressive what technology could accomplish these days."Resume our prior course,"
Kasumi ordered easily, a wry smile accompanying drooping eyelids. Her own tone contained a spark of resignation, itself. The "did I stutter" went unsaid and would remain so. She didn't even have to repeat herself. She had given her orders, and she knew VERONICA and Xavier would carry them out without fail. VERONICA went silent for a small time, clearly conversing with Xavier, and Kasumi's gaze tracked the world outside, the scenery soon shifting into a familiar route through the city streets. The interior remained quiet once more for a time, disturbed only by the calming thrum for the mostly silent vehicle. The AI certainly had enough processing power to carry out two conversations at once, of course, but there were no more inquiries to be had. An AI of such high quality had plenty of pattern recognition to spare to see where this was going.
The crowded sidewalks passed by without incident, as the car navigated the city streets, citizenry hardly sparing the vehicle any more attention than they would any other. As intended, of course. Kasumi may have come from means... but she had long since learned her lesson. Flaunting those means so easily drew attention, and attention drew trouble
and enemies, foes and obstacles that could only be dealt with by extrajudicial methods. Therefore, as a rational, productive and law-abiding citizen, it behooved her to make her comings and goings within the same sort of vehicles as any average civilian... within a certain reason, of course.
While the car was a navy-blue affair and generally reminiscent of the average five-seater, it was naturally high-end. She had spared no expense in ensuring the windows were very much bulletproof, never mind the rest of the vehicle. Extensively internally modified as it was, it might as well have been an armored assault transport. EMP shielding was a sensible expense for the essential functions, as was enough horsepower to clear 200 mph on a good day. In addition, it naturally was installed with the capacity to be piloted by an AI -specifically VERONICA- so that she could take over for the "fatally human" driver, Xavier, if need be. Simply put, Kasumi had taken as many covert precautions as she could manage to create the most efficient and robust getaway car she could without getting into Architect levels of bullshittery. After all, the priority was never to fight if she could avoid it. She was a law-abiding businesswoman. It only made sense.
Luckily, as so happened to be the case today, she wasn't expecting a fight.
Traffic had thinned, as the crisis crept into visual range. Rolling down her window, Kasumi grimaced at the stench of smoke and the acrid scent of chemicals in the air that impacted her senses from afar, her spirit partially manifested beside her to take better stock of the situation. By now, she could see the cordon of law enforcers and emergency responders, along with the various gawkers and news crews stationed outside it, contributing nothing productive to the situation but beady eyes scrambling pathetically for their next fix of excitement as do-nothing bystanders. If anything, they were a hinderance, wasting the trained professionals' time and energy, instead of leaving them to actually help the people in need."Filthy hyenas,"
the pinkette scoffed, as Xavier turned them perpendicular to the masses. His read of the situation was in accordance with her own it seemed. They certainly weren't driving through that useless mass that was wasting whatever oxygen the fire wasn't inhaling, at least not without making a serious scene to clear the way. But that was fine. Calling through the dividing window, she said, "I'll depart here, Xavier. In the meantime, feel free to find somewhere quiet to wait things out. Pick up a snack if you like. This may take a while."
The transport slid to a buttery-smooth stop, and Kasumi disembarked promptly, shutting the door behind her and straightening her light grey suit-jacket and purple tie. The car pulled away with the almost frightening silence electric vehicles were often prone to, practically a ghost underneath the clamor of the crowds and the chaos of the calamity. Striding through the crowds towards the cordon, the pinkette made little attempt to be polite about it. While she was hardly shoulder-checking people, if they were in the way of her beeline, her presently invisible spirit quite firmly and inexorably moved
them with a guiding hand on a shoulder or otherwise.
Approaching the officers briskly, Kasumi reached into her pocket and drew out identification, more specifically her license card as a registered Noble. "I'd say good day to you, but I can't help but feel it would be misplaced in the present circumstances. So, let's skip the pleasantries, officers. There's people in need, and I'm licensed to help them."
So spoke the young woman in casual business attire, as pink petals began to peel off the palms of her hands. "Point me to the problem areas, and I'll handle the rest, lighten your load."
The smile she shot them wasn't her "winning" PR best, but instead a facade of humble, cautious optimism, designed to stoke hearts to "do their best" in a seemingly hopeless situation. She didn't feel a whit of what she was projecting, of course, but the job of a "hero" was to save hearts as much as lives.
And Kasumi was a prideful sort. She knew it well, but she couldn't help it. The only things in life worth expending effort on were those one intended to do well. Not just well, but to an exceptional
standard. It was a completely unnecessary responsibility she was foisting upon herself at times, but she was nothing if not committed to doubling down once she finally decided to become involved. So it had been in the past, and so it would be today. The possibility of genuine failure wasn't even a consideration. She decreed it.