Surprisingly, this log includes feelings of concern! And of Vivaine being not quite at the top of her game.
Things were progressing. She'd love to say 'nicely', but that would be giving her impromptu team too much credit. The majority of them spent more time whispering behind her back than double-checking figures of DNA constructs to make sure the specimen didn't implode on them.
It couldn't be helped, she supposed. The death of the previous team leader had been a mixture of fortunes. She saw it as good, but others couldn't help but wonder if she'd helped Fortune's hand a little. It had angered her at first, to think people would actually think that of her. But, like many things in her life, she learned to instead ignore it and carry on. She had work to do, unlike some people. More work, she thought to herself, punching a finger at the button of the coffeemaker out in the hallway, a vaguely sour expression on her face. People were too distracted with her reputation to worry about their own, and thus every night when everyone else had left, found herself double- and triple-checking the work done during the day.
It had to be perfect. Absolutely perfect. Not just for Giovanni, but for herself.
Romerald stood beside her, peering at the coffee machine and righting the cup before it could fall over when it dropped, an ear twitching and tail sweeping the floor once in dog-like motion. Absently she reached out and gave him a pat on the head, then took her coffee and went back towards the lab.
Duncan had already gone and returned from his own trip out for midnight coffee and was currently back in front of a console in the lab. He was slouched back in his chair, one hand on the keyboard to scroll through the lines and lines of code he was staring at, with his coffee sitting on the desk beside the keyboard, within arm's reach.
No matter how many times he looked at it, he just could not figure out what was wrong with this code. Something just wasn't matching up right, but why? He sighed, reaching out for his mug of coffee; this was when he noticed the sound of footsteps and looked over his shoulder to see his least favourite person entering from the hallway. He decided to ignore her as long as he feasibly could and turned back to the screen.
She walked in without noticing anyone else there, her thoughts barely registering beyond "must double-check today's work". Her high heels, though intrusive in the normally quiet nighttime lab, seemed oddly dimmed as well, not quite as authoritative as they did during the day. They seemed almost sluggish, thoughtful.
She went by her desk and picked up the papers she'd put there, sipping her coffee and engrossing herself in the figures. Romerald's ears swivelled as they walked by, and he peered in the direction Duncan was in, the already almond-shaped eyes narrowing further. But she continued to move, which compelled him to follow after her, though his attention remained distracted by the other presence its mistress didn't notice. "It's not working out," she murmured, words that carried in the silence. She stopped in front of the test tubes, the largest of them only harbouring a sickly green water. Soon they could transfer all of the organic material into those waters, which would nurture it into physical, tangible life.
But first they had to worry about the intan-
Lost in thought, her grip on her coffee cup had loosened, along with the papers in her other hand. It took her a moment to react to it physically, and by then the coffee was already staining the papers, soaking it up hungrily. Romerald's attention shot back to her and panicked alongside her for a brief moment as she tried to simultaneously mop up coffee and pick up the papers, confusing one with the other in shock.
Those carried words distracted him from the screen; he listened for more as she walked across the lab, but didn't turn to look at her. When he heard the exclamation he finally looked up, pausing in surprise when he saw her muddling with the coffee-soaked papers.
He set his own coffee back on the desk and pushed his chair back to stand. He paused again there, though, not quite sure whether he should run over to help or not. It was VIVAINE (GRRR VIVAINE) but also...she seemed a little off right now. Vivaine would never do something so careless. He was really taken aback by that.
She was infuriating. Nobody liked her. She had high standards, and the only reason she didn't punish more severely was that she was unable to and had to make do with what she was given. She didn't need Romerald to tell her all of what everyone thought of her, all she knew was that she had to ignore it. If she had those standards, she kept to them herself, whether her workers knew it or not. She'd learned early on it didn't matter what other people thought. The key was to be constructive in the face of negativity.
But it took a lot of energy. "Ooooh," she moaned quietly, crouched on the ground, watching the paper in her fingers drip now lukewarm coffee onto the floor. Romerald crouched down beside her and took up other papers, twitching his moustache as he did so, already starting to take the excess out of the papers with some smart application of psi ability.
At the creaking noise of the chair, her head turned sharply in shock. "Who's there?" she demanded suddenly, standing, only to have to crouch again quickly with her lab coat caught underneath her heel. There was someone else- she could feel her hands shaking, but she swept her lab coat out from under her and stood again.
"Nobody you'd bother to recognize," he said; it was sort of half-hearted, in that he said it mostly to himself and didn't care whether she heard it or not.
He knew where they kept the paper towels in this lab though, so he went to grab those from the supply cabinet before moving over to her. It was probably best if he helped; the papers she was carrying were most likely important or something.
She seemed very distracted tonight. He'd almost laughed when she nearly fell over her coat, but the fact that she'd even made that error worried him. He didn't say anything more to her as he knelt down with the paper towels to start mopping up the spilt coffee.
When she caught sight of him, she frowned. Unfortunately, it did take her a moment to recognize him- something about the nose- and even then, the name eluded her. The lab was a sea of faces for the most part, and she paid enough attention only to notice who did what.
She hesitated as she watched him walk off. The frown faded and she slowly crouched down again, hands hovering unsteadily over the pool of coffee, not having anything to soak it up with. She felt dizzy having stood up so fast, and swore again under her breath. It wasn't only a lack of sleep; what sleep she did get was fitful, and usually she dreamt only of a rehash of code and actions she performed over and over again during the day. Even though she still had coffee dripping off her fingers, she reached up and rubbed at her face, trying to force her thoughts into order again. She hadn't been able to sleep at all last night... had she slept the day before? She recalled a brief nap on the couch in her office, but that could have been anytime...
Her hand jerked away from her face when she suddenly noticed the young man (as though he were that much younger than her!) crouching down with the paper towel in hand. "I can do that," she said, her voice as sharp as it usually was, though there was none of the usual direct eye contact she was so fond of. She took the paper towel from him, her movements jerky as she wiped up the rest of the coffee.
"...what are you doing here for?" she asked, almost grudgingly, as though her speaking to him again at all would have to suffice as thanks for his helping her. An actual word of thanks? Come on, you can only have so many surprises in one day! Don't get greedy.
When she snatched it away, he leaned back, holding his hands up near his shoulders as a sign of surrender. "Suit yourself."
He rose to his feet, watching her, and answered, "I'm working." It was all he really felt he needed to say.
His gaze drifted up to the Alakazam at her side and his eyes narrowed at it. One of these days he'd work under somebody who didn't feel the need to have their Pokémon follow them around everywhere for intimidation.
She pressed her lips together tightly, ignoring the fact he was just standing there watching her mop up- that was her own fault there- and kept at it. Romerald, obviously not seeing much interest in Duncan at this point during the night, sat down on the floor and watched Vivaine clean up while holding the stained papers, glancing at them and shifting them into the appropriate order. When she moved back a little, letting go of the soaked mess, the pokemon glanced up and with a twitch of his ear cradled it in psychic power and sent it cleanly over to the garbage can. She looked at her hands a moment, and then simply wiped them on her hips. She'd have a new lab coat on in the morning, and he'd already seen her drop the damn stuff. Pride had limits.
"The personality traits. I noticed there was an anomoly in the code. Have you figured out which aren't matching up?"
She stood up again, slowly this time, her eyes still away from his. She reached out and the alakazam let go of the papers, which floated up into her hands breezily. Intimidating was the last word for the two of them just then.
He was considering just turning around and getting back to work when she finally finished. Watching her wipe her hands on her lab coat - well, that was something most of the scientists did, but Vivaine? That made him decide maybe it was worth sticking around for a while. Something was obviously wrong here AND HE WAS SO CURIOUS.
When she addressed him with that question, he slipped his hands into his pockets and moved his eyes to her face. "Not yet. That's what I'm working on now."
His eyes followed her to the Alakazam. In that moment he could see that there was a strong bond between Pokémon and trainer; he'd never noticed it before, and it both surprised and impressed him.
Well, there went that cup of coffee. Probably for the best. She was headed for heartburn city as it was.
"I'm wondering if the sample I took for the aggression gene might be too overpowering for the original sample. I hate to sacrifice it completely, so if you can find some way of minimizing its effect on the rest of the genetic composition, that might help put everything else into order."
She hadn't been particularly worried about it before. Something was nagging at her now, though... "Don't waste too much time on it. There's a lot more to be done. I'll work on it myself. It needs to be..."
Her words trailed off a moment and she made a vague hand gesture, staring again at the test tube. "Nothing can go wrong." A strong, solid statement, from someone who didn't look to be either right then.
He arched an eyebrow, cocking his head slightly to one side. "Plenty can go wrong."
He didn't really like what she was saying about the aggression... Hm. If ever there was a time to speak up to her, this would be it, wouldn't it? "I was wondering why you decided on such a heavy measure of aggression. I don't think it's a very good idea to factor it in that strongly."
"Nothing can go wrong."
She looked at him sharply, but it was more than just that in her voice, in her look. Normally cold and firm, there was something that broke all that in her voice. An absolutist's passion defied his words, and she looked back to the test tube, taking a breath in as though to calm herself down.
"...it's necessary. The original construct, while superior in psychic ability, is ultimately passive. If this were a mere exercise in resurrecting an extinct species, that would be one thing. But we're creating something new from the materials we have.
"Orders demand certain traits be exposed and either exploited or removed altogether," she continued, her eyes falling again to look at her Alakazam, still seated on the floor and meditating, eyes open to mere slits.
He blinked, leaning back, and stared at her wide-eyed. Wow. Okay, things to not ever say to Vivaine.
He was so taken aback by that, that it took him a moment to respond to her. His eyes also drifted over to the empty test tube. "Well... It's not a good idea to leave it in there without balancing something else against it. The aggression's not what's causing the anomaly in the code, but..." He shrugged, looking back to her, and then following the line of her gaze down to the Alakazam.
She reached up, running her hand through her hair, trying to maintain order though she felt thoroughly frazzled. Why she was unloading all of this on someone whose name she couldn't even remember, she didn't know, but perhaps the idea of someone as dedicated to the job as her had made some sort of impact. "...I had thought there would be enough, but it seems it requires more thought. I'll go through the registers to see what else could be programmed in." She rubbed the back of her neck tiredly, but there was energy in her again.
She was starting to see something else... passive, perhaps, but autonomous, moreso than any other pokemon she had ever studied. She would have to give Giovanni what he wanted, of course, and if she could subdue a raging Nidoking, surely, this wouldn't be a problem.
Still, to have someone else look at it with uncertainty... "Leave the matter be. Go and get some rest. I'll have something else for you to work on in the morning. I need to work this out." As though it all depended on her...
"Yeah, seriously?" His eyes moved back to her. "Considering what just happened here, I think you need to get some rest a bit more than I do." Not because he really cared about her, but because if she was in charge of this project and trying to do everything on this project while she was like this? This project wasn't getting off the ground.
"It would be nice," she said, slowly, but her voice trailed off as though she hadn't said anything at all. She rubbed her cheek idly, still staring at the test tube, then nodded to herself. "Hm, I'll do that now, while the records office is quiet... it's always hell during the day."
Romerald blinked his eyes open, sleepily, getting to his feet and peering at her as she spoke, mostly to herself. A hand went up and took her lab coat, tugging at it childishly, and it took her a moment to respond. "In a minute," she said, ignoring whatever the demand was. A frustrated snort escaped the pokemon and he sat back down on the floor, letting go of the lab coat. Without another word, clearly driven by something, she turned and walked out, leaving Duncan and the Alakazam (though, half-awake like that, it looked more like an Abra) to their own devices.
...Huh. He hadn't expected to actually get through to her. Well then.
He watched her walk out, and then looked down at the Alakazam. "Hey," he said, low enough to not be heard at a distance, leaning down conspiratorially. "Make sure she actually gets some sleep tonight, alright?"
With that, he went back to his monitor to shut everything down and close up the lab so he could also get around to getting some sleep tonight.
Another snort escaped the Alakazam at those words, like "yeah right, buddy". If anything, Romerald would be asleep before she got back.
But that seemed to be the way of things. It watched Duncan power down his work station, and then settled in for a long wait.