bf_kravid_icon.gif lucien_icon.gif

Scene Title Angler
Synopsis In the dark, a light can either be a beacon… or a lure.
Date December 3, 2020

Under the glow of fluorescent lights, a network of nerves spread out like branches of a tree suspended in thin air. It takes a while for musculature to form around them, for bone to weave itself from thin air, blood to start pumping through arteries and collagen to grow in blotchy albino patches over wet muscle to form skin. Melanin burns dark into the flesh, enough to turn it from sheet white to a peaches-and-cream color. All of this meat, suspended in a glass tank of protein syrup that looks like so much hand sanitizer. A human being, born of a single cell, regrown from a small piece of brain tissue.

Erica Kravid stares into the glass, arms crossed over her chest, watching the body being drawn to life by little more than intuition and willpower off of a blueprint as small as a series of cells. On the other side of the tank, Pete Varlane is a distorted silhouette as though viewed through a funhouse mirror. He stands with his eyes shut, hand pressed against the glass, brows furrowed in concentration as he guides the regeneration process. When it is finished, Kravid steps closer even as Pete steps back, a small gasp accompanying her recognition of the face attached to this biological marvel.

Magnes Varlane.

"Pete…" Kravid says with a look at his retreating form through the tank between them.

"…I never knew you had it in you."

Eight Years Later

Renautas-Weiss Evolved Nanotechnology
Canadian Branch Office

Toronto, Ontario

December 3rd

7:17 pm

"…and where is Mr. Varlane these days?"

The cityscape of Toronto spreads out like a glittering canvas when viewed from the sixteenth floor of the Renautas-Weiss building in downtown. At night the city is awash with lights amid the freshly falling snow. The company's chief technology officer, Lucien Crane, stands by those windows looking out over the city. Behind him, Erica Kravid sits at his desk with one leg crossed over the other, considering how she wants to answer his question. Lucien slowly turns, pulling his cigarette from his mouth with a prosthetic hand. Mechanical fingers delicately pinch the end of the cigarette as he gestures, servos and tiny motors whirring as he rolls his chromed wrist.

"Formerly, the PISEC facility in New York. But since it was hit by terrorists, I'm not sure. He could be in Mazdak's hands, he could be dead, he could be in the wind. They're all bad options." Kravid indicates with a slow spread of her hands, reclining back against her chair, folding her hands at one knee.

"And what does Kellar think?" Lucien asks, taking a step forward around his desk, coming to sit on the corner of it beside his ash tray as he takes another drag. Kravid looks doown, one brow raised, then looks up to Lucien.

"Unclear. He suspects Pete isn't dead, if only because of his ability's usefulness. He's one of a kind. Not just anyone can reproduce the human body from a single cell the way he can. It was instrumental work." Kravid sounds, in a way, proud of Pete. But at the same time there is a violently bitter undercurrent that is not lost on Lucien.

Taking another drag off of his cigarette, Lucien nods and plucks it from his lips once more. "I suppose," is his delayed answer. Kravid catches a flicker of orange light in Lucien's pupils, like the hard disk light on a computer going off when it's accessing stored data. Lucien's brows furrow and he looks squarely at Kravid. "Let's talk about the leak," he says, sliding off the desk. Lucien switches his cigarette from one hand to the other, then waves his cybernetic hand in the air over his desk, conjuring up a three-dimensional hologram of a spidery, four-legged machine. "How did we get here?"

Kravid sits forward, sighing as she looks at the image, then shifts her focus to watch Lucien pace the room. "Ourania Pride, an employee at Raytech's New York City office, ran a series of EMI scans at the University of Kansas City. A facility tech running the scans for validation saw what was on the imaging and correlated the results with the light-spectrum chemical analysis and got over-excited. He went to social media, and we're here."

Lucien sighs softly, closing his eyes and rubbing two metallic fingers at his brow. "Why did Raytech use college campus hardware?"

"They must not have the hardware. They're not a manufacturing company or really into microbiology. I would have been surprised if they had a machine like that on their own. It makes sense to cheaply outsource it." Kravid explains, rising up from the chair when Lucien paces out of her immediate line of sight. She takes his former spot, sitting on the corner of his desk with her hands folded in her lap. "Pride raises some red flags. We ran a background check, there's some patterns Kellar spotted that seem fabricated to him. He doesn't have enough information to go on to be certain, but we think her name might be an alias."

"You don't say," Lucien interjects with a roll of his eyes. "How did Raytech gets its hand on those blood samples?"

"Unclear. We also don't know precisely who the samples were from…" Kravid says with a look at the hologram of the nanite. "Yamagato is all over this like a bloodhound. We suspect they're keenly observing the results of this. Feelers are out in the internet and… with lightRadio no longer offered in the Safe Zone, Yamagato controls the flow of information in and out of the Safe Zone. They're very effectively building a high-walled garden without anyone being much the wiser. And we'd still be inside that wall if you hadn't—"

Lucien looks at Kravid, his pupils flickering like candle flame. It's enough to stall her voice.

"Erica," Lucien says softly, finishing his cigarette. "Ms. Weiss wants this situation resolved. I mostly called you here so you could be kept in the loop." He comes to stand beside her, snuffing his cigarette out in the ash tray at her side. At this close proximity, the scent of cigarette smoke stings her nose. But at the same time it evokes a feeling of yearning. She'd been trying to quit. But the scent of the smoke is both revolting and alluring at once.

"To be perfectly fair, this isn't Ms. Weiss' concern." Kravid states flatly.

"Her company, her rules." Lucien says with a lopsided smile. "This is all a part of the plan, Erica. Please do play along."

Kravid's mouth twitches, unable to decide whether to feign a smile or project a frown. Instead it presses into a thin line, and Lucien reaches down to press a button on his desk. "Margarette, you can send him in." When Lucien takes his finger off the button, Kravid looks up to Lucien with one brow raised. He sees her uncertainty and smiles reassuringly to her. "We're going to get to the bottom of this."

The frosted glass doors to Lucien's office slide open and a tall, blonde man in dusty cargo pants and a leather jacket strides in, reaching up with a mechanical hand very similar to Lucien's to brush an errand lock of hair from his face. Tightly-laced boots thump across the floor. The new arrival carries himself like a soldier; shoulders square, chest out, chin up. "I hear you've got yourself a problem," the soldier states with a crooked smile. Erica looks to him, then up to Lucien with one brow raised.

"Mr. Van de Walle…" Lucien greets with a spread of his arms as he steps away from the desk.

"Let's talk business."


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