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Scene Title Barghest
Synopsis English Myth.: A ghostly black dog reputed to prey on lone travellers and/or sightings of which presage the death of the viewer.
After an unusual corpse is pawned off on delivered to Fort Hero for examination, the unpleasant findings are related to Assistant Director Ryans.
Date June 16, 2010

Fort Hero: Labs

This particular exemplar of Fort Hero's laboratories is a room relatively rarely used. It's made noisy now by the fact that all of its ventilation fans are running, more than the usual complement to a lab; even that doesn't entirely eliminate the smell of decay, although the miasma is bearable. It helps that the room is also cold, colder than its subterranean locale can justify; chill as a morgue, the temperature turned down to drive decomposition to a standstill.

The scruffy tall blonde of a pathologist who is Nicolas Ahlgren is dressed for cool climates — long-sleeved black shirt and dark jeans under the splotched white of a much-used lab coat. He stands near the head of a long metal table, not far from others; behind him is a long counter with two very deep sinks. A variety of tools scatter the nearby working surfaces, while the object of examination dwells on the table that is his current focus. The pathologist isn't doing anything at the moment, just looking. Thinking, perhaps; musing over some puzzle the corpse presents.

It looks to be, of all things, canine; that alone is an oddity. It also looks like it was frozen, flooded, chewed on by several scavengers, and maybe left out in the sun a little long. Because it was.

A hand presses against the door, admitting Assistant Director Benjamin Ryans into the room. With the much warmer weather, he's taken a bit more of a casual appearance himself: dark jeans, a dress shirt with a jacket over the top. "I got your message." He announces, letting the door swing shut behind him, so that they don't cool the whole fort.

Rubbing his hands together against the chill, Ryans makes his way over to the examining table. "This… that… thing?" Lips press into a fine line as he looks it over, not exactly his favorite part of the job, but… at least he doesn't look green.

"Any ideas?" Blue eyes shift from the corpse to the man at the head of the table.

Ahlgren turns to face the door as Ryans enters, greeting him with a polite dip of his head. "Director Ryans." The shortened title works well enough. "It's a dog," he corrects, or clarifies, very mildly. "Not normally the sort of thing I work on at all; but we don't have any veterinary pathologists." The heels of the pathologist's shoes clunk heavily on the concrete slab floor as he walks around to the head of the table. "Still, I can see why it landed here." A beckoning gesture invites Ryans to come around as well, presumably for a better view.

"It's not your normal dog."

Gloved hands peel away the skin and fur covering the opened chest cavity; the organs that remain inside are a gruesome mess, but not the object of Ahlgren's attention. He slides his fingers down the inside of the dog's ribs — ribs which are not discrete bars, but flattened and merged into a single mass. "You don't find fusion like this in any mammal, as far as I know. The muscle attachments also seem… weird, but again, not a veterinarian." Caveats are always a must.

"Really?" is murmured in genuine interest, as the older man follows the pathologist. Hunching over to get a closer look, brows furrow with interest and a soft, 'huh' escapes him. His head tilts a little to the side as he looks where directed. "That's interesting… it's almost like making a breast plate out of bone… Is there flexibility at the spine to allow the expanding of the chest?" Straightening, Ryans glances sideways at the man. "I mean, does it fuse to the spine as well?"

An odd question, but the oddity of it is too fascinating. "Though… I guess the more important thing is that… someone did this." There is a deep breath taken, ignoring the sharp smell before it's sighed out. "So.. bone and muscle shaping?"

"Doesn't seem to," Ahlgren replies. He dips his head in affirmation as Ryans continues. "It looks like something of that nature. Which is why the corpse got sent to us." Stepping one pace to the side, the pathologist peels the dog's gums back — revealing that the teeth behind them have been extended and merged into the opposite jaw, sealing the animal's mouth closed. "I would guess the dog didn't take well to it, either."

"I didn't pull much out of the coat," he continues, lifting his hands away from the corpse. "Looks like water and time did away with what evidence there might have been. Couple fibers from the back of its head, no telling if they're associated with whoever decided to remake the dog. Viscera were partially consumed by scavengers, but I took what samples I could for tox. Suspect they'll come back negative. Cause of death could have been a number of things, ultimately coming down to systemic stress — there's enough wrong at the tissue level," and here Ahlgren raises one hand in its blood-streaked glove just enough to imply this particular knowledge came from his ability, "that any one could have been the final straw."

His fingers seem to shake just slightly, and Ahlgren lets them fall. "Unfortunately, the body went through three different holding areas before finally coming here; we don't have the scene to examine for more evidence."

The older agent leans over to get a look at the teeth, his head shakes. "That's rather…" There really are no words for it, but he manages a conclusion: "…twisted." His head turns to glances at the other man before straightening.

"I want photos of all the things you found out… of…" He makes a vague motion at the thing's chest. "…that dog and sent to Agent Ayers so that he can prepare them for the meeting." Ryans wants full impact of this one for the group. They might not like it, especially the 'delicate' ones… but this is serious enough they need to know what they are facing.

"Shame about the scene." Benjamin murmurs thoughtfully, shifting around the table giving it a look over again. Finally, he steps back, a hand running over the slight stubble along his jaw, his expression thoughtful. His words though spoken aloud, sound more like personal notes. "Maybe I can have Ayers trace the paperwork back to what agency it originated from. Get an idea for the area. Then have them keep a look out for more."

Ahlgren observes as Ryans muses over the body, the available information, possible avenues of research. "I probably have all the pictures you could want," the pathologist remarks, "but I'll make sure to have a show prepared for — when is your meeting?"

"Monday." Ryans remarks rather distracted. "I find visual aids, no matter how disturbing they are," he glances at the body with that look of disturbed wonder, "make agents cautious and take notice.

"Anything else?" He asks after a moment, curious to see if there is possibly anything else… as if things are not bizarre enough as they are. This was the stuff of modern horror flicks, not that it's any different then a lot of stuff they get… but this just seemed a bit more twisted.

"Monday," Ahlgren echoes, as if to fix it in his memory. He steps away from the examination table, peeling off his gloves and dropping them in a container lined with a vivid orange biohazard bag. "No, Director Ryans," the pathologist replies, turning back to face his superior, "I don't have anything else yet. Thank you for coming down."

"Thank you for taking this on, especially since it is not the norm around here." Ryans manages to give the other man an encouraging smile, before eyes slide back to that body. It's disturbing… especially since the next logical step up would be finding humans that way, brows dropping at the thought.

"Good work." The Assistant Director says firmly, with evident approval, before slowly turning towards the door. Hand resting on the door, he glances back once more, to add, "Keep me informed if anything else comes up," before pushing his way out again.

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