Codename: KADATH


aislinn_icon.gif alia_icon.gif ff_chel_icon.gif dana_icon.gif elisabeth_icon.gif kaylee_icon.gif richard3_icon.gif

Scene Title Codename: KADATH
Synopsis A Raytech Strategic Meeting is held to decide what they're going to do about the anomaly found in Antarctica.
Date December 22, 2019

Raytech Industries Conference Room

“Thank you all for coming, sorry for calling this meeting on such… short notice, but I’m sure you’ll all agree that it was absolutely necessary.”

There are no windows in the conference room, there’s sub-audible white noise interfering with recording devices, and all outgoing wireless signals are currently being blocked - this room is currently on the highest level of security possible within the Raytech building, short of possibly one other room.

It’s not until the door was closed that Richard began speaking, and as he begins he taps a control on the computer interface to bring the holographic display up, showing a topographical map of a particular section of Antarctica.

“As most of you know, we were investigating the Colobanth facility for any remaining technology or files that the Company may have left behind. While we didn’t find any,” he admits, “We found something far more… interesting.”

The display shifts to focus on an area a few miles away from the station, flashing in a particular patch of ground. Then it displays a slowly cycling series of photographs - showing a valley filled with lush, alien verdancy, flora and fauna both entirely unique to anyone present. A sun that hangs in an eternal aurora overhead.

“This. We’ve designated this valley Kadath for the time being — we do not know where the hell it came from, or why it exists, but it represents a potential treasure trove of scientific knowledge.”

Well, the hair on the back of Alia's neck is standing on end. That looks wrong on so many levels she doesn't even know where to start… So she doesn't. She stares in silence, eyebrows raised in alarm.

The presence of Michelle beside Alia is a silent one. She's been wordlessly scrolling through a preliminary report on her tablet since before everyone else had come in. Richard knows she's listening as well, but the ratio of her attention raised rather than lowered has been skewing in the tablet’s favor more and more. She only really looks up when Dana Carrington enters with a laptop under one arm and a bell jar nestled under the other.

“Sorry, sorry,” Dana whispers as she shuts the door with her foot and shuffles past occupied seats to find a space next to Aislinn. When Dana sets down the bell jar, it becomes immediately clear what's contained inside: an orange and violet-petaled flower with black stamen and fiery orange pollen. There is a loose lump of soil at the bottom of the jar that the flower sits in and some soft spots of condensation on the glass. It is the one, sole sample retrieved from this wonderland at the bottom of the world.

While she is an owner of the company, Kaylee isn’t really dressed like it. While she does have a nice white buttoned shirt, she has on a dark pair of jeans, and her old worn brown leather jacket hung over the back of her chair. The telepath has taken some time from work to hear about what they found on the trip, her badge still hanging around her neck.

Blonde brows shoot up as the first photo flashes up on the screen, a soft sound of interested surprise escaping her. Kaylee can’t help but feel a sharp pang of jealousy. Who wouldn’t getting to see all that, it looked amazing. Leaning forward in her chair, she doesn’t really pay Dana any mind. “That’s insane.” Not literally, she just thinks it’s amazing.

Elisabeth is not an owner in this company, she just married him. Gray slacks and a black and white vest over a white button-down are accompanied by a pistol in the holster at her waist and a badge on her belt — a sure sign that she came from work. The white noise has her skin feeling uncomfortable, though no one else is bothered. It's like static in the back of her perception, and it's the strangest sensation she's ever felt. This is not something she's really ever been standing near before.

Her attention diverts from her discomfort as Richard starts talking. Crossing her arms as she settles in to listen, Elisabeth is caught flat-footed by the sight on the screen. "What the ever-loving fuck…."

That cannot possibly be good.

“Although the permanent aurora does suggest that it’s related in some way to the… cross-superstring incidents,” Richard admits, gesturing with an extendible pointer to the picture of the eternal sun, “We have no proof of that at this time, nor do we know of any superstring in which such flora and fauna even would’ve evolved.”

Wryly, “To be frank, we don’t know much at all. What we do know is that it’s there, and there’s an abandoned but still functioning scientific center that we could move into and use to study the area.”

“Carrington,” he directs the question towards Dana, “What is— ah, the legal status of the area? I know that the States technically don’t hold any territory in Antarctica, but we do have bases on the continent.”

Alia just sits there a moment, and finally just leans back and puts a hand to the bridge of her own nose. She doesn't -say- a thing, this is out of her field house. This is a nightmare on so many levels. And where to even start explaining why this is a problem? Yeah, no, Alia is leaving it alone as she just instead starts mentally constructing what it'll take to do something about it without wrecking Antarctica.

She can dream, at least.

“Colobanth doesn’t technically exist on any official Antarctic surveys, thanks to the Company’s influence in its creation,” Dana explains, closing her laptop. “That said, the region is claimed by Norway, which bodes extremely poorly for our relations.” That much earns a pointed look from Michelle, lacking the context to understand why. Dana folds her hands in front of herself and continues. “Norway is a strong adherent to the EUSR Act, which— if you aren’t familiar is a more draconian version of the old Linderman Act registration database. Norway hasn’t had favorable diplomatic relationships with the US since before the war and they only begrudgingly accepted the current administration as the legitimate government.”

At the further explanation, Michelle exhales a sharp sigh and rests her chin on her hand. “I suspect SESA doesn’t have a strong relationship with them, either?”

“God, no.” Dana says with a slow shake of her head. “Right now we know that it’ll only be a matter of time before Antarctic satellite surveys spot the site. There’s a half dozen observational systems in orbit monitoring ice melt alone. Which also means to me that this thing is recent. Once word gets out there’ll be no covering it up and governments across the world are going to want to know what happened.

Opening her laptop, Dana keys in her password and pulls up a document to cross-reference. Thanks to her ability, she’s able to fully read the document and carry on a separate conversation simultaneously. “Director Zimmerman responded to my report this morning, indicating that the US’ stance on the anomaly will be to disavow any knowledge of its creation, as sharing any knowledge about the electromagnetic entity could endanger other classified data.” She inclines her head subtly to Michelle, then looks back to the screen. “That said, SESA’s stance is that this is absolutely an SLC-Expressive matter, however the final arbitration on what agency holds authority over an official investigation is pending review from the President.”

Dana glances around the table, then back down to her laptop. “What SESA is advocating for is a piggyback on another nation’s expedition, one with friendlier ties to Norway. Possibly Germany or Malta. Given the complexity of the site, the equipment necessary, and the logistical coordination required to explore it… well,” Dana angles her head to the side, “a covert operation seems sort of unlikely to work.”

Michelle’s eyes track from Dana to the bell jar she’d brought in with that vibrant flower inside. “Why’d you bring this from the greenhouse?” She asks, looking back to the agent. Dana exhales a soft ah, and then slides the bell jar into the middle of the table.

“This is the other issue,” Dana explains. “Devon Clendaniel took this sample from the anomaly location. It’s an unidentified species of flower. I’ve done some basic analysis of it to try and determine any unusual properties…” she looks up from the bell jar to Richard, “…and I found something rather unsettling.” Frowning, Dana slouches back into her chair. “The entire plant’s cellular structure is highly unstable. Even though it’s receiving sufficient nutrients it is decomposing at an accelerated rate. I’ve also found similar situations, with Michelle’s help, in the microbial life in the soil. Everything alive about this is rapidly breaking down, and has been likely since its creation.”

“What this means,” Michelle interjects, “is that everything we saw in there is incredibly finite. Everything in that valley, right down to microbial life, is dying at an accelerated rate. In a few months the entire location might simply be gone. But we don’t have an accurate timetable on that yet without further samples.”

The telepath’s head ping pongs between people talking, before looking at the plant itself again with a furrowed brow. Lips press into a line. Go figure. “With how politics are, they will keep it all in red tape until it is too late… or give it to the highest bidder.” Kaylee looks at her brother, “Or both.” There was no way they could compete for that.

A thought occurs to her, turning back to Richard. “What about Madagascar? Raytech has a good relationship with them,” her attention turns to Dana as she asks, “What’s their relationship to Norway? Do we know?” It could very well be a question for the leadership in Madagascar. To be honest, Kaylee wouldn’t mind seeing Huruma’s son again.

Kaylee wouldn’t say that outloud.

“Otherwise, we might have to write this off as a loss.” Kaylee comments to Richard, knowing very well, he won’t take no for an answer on this. Not that she would either.

Resting with her back against the wall, Elisabeth frowns slightly. She can't blame Director Shaw. "Do we think that whatever it is, it's urgent to understand it overall? I mean… it's anomalous, and certainly interesting…" but is it relevant to anything else?

It's only when Dana speaks up that Aislinn blinks and snaps out of her stupor as she stares at that absolutely alien plant. She leans back as it slides to the middle of the table, before standing up in her chair. "I don't think it likes bein' called an anomaly," she remarks absently. Leaning over the table, she reaches towards the bell jar but doesn't quite touch it.

"Hey there, lil' one," she whispers, narrowing her eyes as she concentrates. "You gotta take on this? What a' y'think of home?"

She's clearly more focused on the plant than anything else.

“If it’s going to be gone in months we aren’t going to have the time necessary to negotiate politics with Norway, let alone adding someone else into the mix,” Richard grimaces at the news, one hand coming up to rub against the bridge of his nose, “We can always move some people in to get started while the negotiations begin, though — better to ask forgiveness than permission, especially if we miss this window.”

Elisabeth’s question is a good one, and he tips his head over her way. “Multiple reasons, really. The most obvious is that there’s potentially a gold mine of biological science down there - new medicines, new organic materials, who the heck knows what?” Aislinn and Michelle probably have some ideas, but that’s neither here nor there. “Especially if we can keep some of these samples alive despite their degeneration. Which— Aislinn, do you think you can keep that plant alive?”

A faint smile, and before he gets an answer he continues on, “As well for more— esoteric reasons, if this was not a creation but an overlay and it’s dying because— hell, because physics don’t work the same here? Then we’re potentially getting a glimpse of an entirely alien superstring, and I think we should get to know how it works.”

Alia is still rubbing the bridge of her nose, and mutters something about 'uplink' and 'new mexico' followed by a look that basically says she wants to head desk. Instead she just shakes her head and opts, out loud. "New biologicals. Bacteria and Virus." She offers as her only real wisdom to share so far.

She's not Hana, so trying to reach a satellite unaided by an uplink of the traditional sort is … unwise. And she's not terribly fond of going out of body anymore when it's not life or death.

When Alia speaks up, Michelle angles a look over at her, then to Richard. “If you want to narrow down the sample’s point of origin, we could test the superstring compass. We have control subjects for it, so we could tell if it was getting a false reading. I… think we’re about close enough to begin the final testing steps anyway.” Though that almost sounds like a question, leveled over to Dana.

“Oh it’s— yeah. It’s not really portable in its current form,” Dana explains with a spread of her hands, “it requires a surprising amount of power to perform a reading, on top of requiring a supply of liquid helium to keep the superconducting magnets used in the emitter from melting through the housing. But in a controlled lab environment? Absolutely, the prototype should work.”

Michelle nods, fidgeting with a pen in her hands as she looks across the table to a vacant point in space. Her brows furrow, lost in thought for a moment. But it’s Dana chiming in again that draws her attention back to reality. “And— I mean as far as Madagascar is concerned? Persona non Grata with Norway. They have even more relaxed registration laws thanks to their Free Peoples Act of 2015.”

“Shame,” Kaylee comments, since it was probably their best bet to go in without having to be sneaky about it. Oh well. Beyond that, the telepath doesn’t have much. The mention of the compass gets Dana a mildly confused look. Something she’d only heard about in person, trusting things like that to her brother.

Rubbing the back of her neck to loosen muscles suddenly gone taut with tension, Elisabeth listens to the discussion of the Compass. Her misgivings on that research align with Alia's — hell, with Richard's own. Developing that piece of equipment isn't a matter of whether, it's a matter of when. But she doesn't have to like it. "It's beautiful," she comments quietly, "And certainly it has its potential uses. But if it's only going to be weeks rather than permanent, any studies of it will have to be done quickly." And severely under the radar. "Did you get any readings of that aurora going on?" she asks. Because that phenomenon is really no longer a thing of beauty, it's also a thing to be wary of.

"No, no, little one. It's okay. You're safe here." Aislinn pauses, looking back up at Richard. "It's confused and that's about all I can get from it on the quick," she offers in a low voice. "It knows about as much as we do." Her lips curl into an amused and slightly devilish smile as she crosses her arms. "Also you're all scaring it. Probably not nice t' talk about how long it's not gonna live for, huh?"

With that, she slides back down into her seat, still keeping her eyes on the plant. "Gimmie whatever kinda suit you can, an' I'll head out there once I get things settled here if y'want." Her voice is quiet, hopeful. She knows everyone here will say no, but… "Fire me first if you have t', so it doesn't come back t'Raytech. But I want to see this." And take it in for herself.

“No, which is one of the things we need to do - the superstring compass might get some readings, and we’ll need other equipment as well,” Richard admits with a nod over towards Elisabeth, “And— that much power probably explains why the original schematics suggested a satellite based model.” Wherever they came from, which he doesn’t seem inclined to elaborate on right now.

“And there’s no worry of getting fired— “ He flashes Aislinn a smile, “The reason I asked you here is because I intended to have you on the team going down there. Get as many biological samples as possible, take readings, see if there’s anything we can recover worth recovering and anything we can learn worth learning.”

Dryly, “Given the speed of international negotiations, chances are the expedition will be finished and we’ll be gone before there’s even any agreements on paper yet.”

Alia opts to simply twitch, just a little, but remains otherwise silent. People here are smart enough to take proper precautions, she hopes, to avoid becoming Virus Mark II. So instead she considers how much uproar is gonna be had in a day or two when the sat imaging data hits the UK. You can almost see her considering what brands of popcorn to have Sera hunt down for that little party.

Dana purses her lips, looking up and down the table, then grimaces and raises one hand as if she needs to in order to have permission to talk. “Um, that’s— not— precisely…” she looks back up and down the table again for anyone to raise a dissenting voice before her.

Sorry, Dana.

“If— we don’t have international approval to return to Antarctica,” Dana says while awkwardly lowering her hand, “there’s, I mean, you really shouldn’t commit to another expedition. In front of me. Who reports to— SESA.” Dana smiles apologetically, if only because she understands the scientific curiosity inherent in the desire to return.

Michelle angles a look over to Dana, one brow raised, then looks to Richard to see how he wants to negotiate that particular snarl.

Aislinn’s talking to the plant, has Kaylee’s full attention for a long moment. It’s fascinating. The fact that the plant was breaking down, reminded her a little of Varlane… Lips press tightly together at the surge of emotions. It also gave her an idea.

“Given how international politics go, I think our best bet to getting a foot back in that place is to find a way to halt the degradation.” Kaylee looks at the other, especially her brother. “We have a head start on something amazing here.” She motions to the specimen. “Even if we get buried in politics, we have a piece of that place. We find a way to preserve that we have one hell of a bargaining chip and something to hold over the heads of the international community.”

What Dana said hasn’t gotten past the telepath; as she spoke her ability was already reaching out the agents mind. Stealthily coiling around Dana’s mind, like a snake around prey, finding a way in. Of course, as she is doing this, Kaylee’s conscience… or Joseph in the back of her mind. He was giving her that look and she was doing her best to ignore it.

“We need to put out a call for more agrokenetics, cellular biologists… take people off non-time sensitive projects to throw at this.” Kaylee continues to talk, shoring up what she’s about to do. “Another thought, we might be able to pull in Yamagato to help. A partnership like the gardens.”

Kaylee turns her attention to Richard, “Just an idea.” Before she looks down at the papers in front of her, seemingly meek and uncertain; eyes focusing. Her family knows that look. While the telepath couldn’t wipe memories, she could use a sort of sleight of hand.

Taking a memory and editing it ever so slightly to change the narrative to….

“And there’s no worry of getting fired, we still need you here— “ Richard flashes Aislinn a smile, “The reason I asked you to the meeting is because I intended to have you help get the team down there again. Take the biological sample if possible, take readings, see if there’s anything we can recover worth recovering and anything we can learn worth learning. Give us an edge.”

Dryly, “Sadly, if it wasn’t for the speed of international negotiations, chances are the expedition would be finished and we’d be gone in the time it would take to even get any agreements on paper yet.”

“#FFFF80|We wouldn’t do that, Dana##,” Kaylee reassures the SESA agent with ability laced words and an equally reassuring smile. Ignoring the twinge of discomfort in her head, as she strengthens that reassurance against any doubt in the SESA agent’s head.

It was a lesson learned. They wouldn’t plan in front of her anymore, they needed to be careful. The telepath looks at the others in the room, assessing if they need their memory altered as well… and warning them to follow her lead. “We’ll figure out how to do this legally. I just hope we can do it before it’s all lost.”

If there's one thing Elisabeth has learned in years of being 'sister' to Kaylee, albeit the alternate one for longer than this one, it's that look. Shiiiiiiiit. Straightening up against the back wall, her voice is calm. "Then the quicker we jump through the legal hoops —" and she adds with a self-deprecating smile, "something my father is exceedingly good at — the sooner a team can be assembled and sent. Richard's excitement is understandable, but of course he'll do what's right."

Backing up Kaylee's statement with her own subtle brand of reassurance directed at Dana is easy — relax, Dana, its all under control! After all, who gets to decide 'what's right'? Her own gaze just holds the man at the front steadily. "Aislinn, if the poor thing is scared, you and Dana should take it back to the lab. Maybe when it's calmed down, there will be other information it can offer."

Aislinn's expression flattens as she looks over at Dana, any sense of whimsicality or worry having fled her face. "I'm goin'," she states in as commanding a tone as she can manage. "One way or another." Her gaze turns to Richard. "After I get some things settled f'r Lattice. That's why I was sayin' fire me if you need to."

Folding her arms, she rises from her seat. "Not that I'm lookin' t' break any international laws or anythin', but one way or another I'm gettin' on that team." It's unclear if this is the truth or a hastily added addendum to make her intentions sound less defiant, but the words are spoken with a surprising lack of emotion.

Another moment passes before she looks over to Elisabeth. "It'll be scared no matter what. I'd prefer to stay." Again, with that slightly defiant edge.

Richard’s gaze cuts over to Kaylee, a single eyebrow lifting… and a smile, faint, of approval.
“I’m sure we’ll have approval from the international community before it gets too late for us to gather data… and as I said, you’re absolutely on the top of my list, Graves. I’m putting you and Michelle to the job of planning the expedition for as soon as we get approval.”


“I believe I can locate an animal empath that may be helpful during the expedition as well. Dana, can we rely on you to get the wheels turning to get approval from one of the countries that can push the matter through? Obviously you can’t ensure results, but…”

Alia remains quiet as she stares around. She is so going to have her work cut out for her on this later, she's sure of it, she just doesn't know how yet. But no need to borrow headaches one doesn't have yet.

So instead she just smiles, and is glad the current mess ISN'T in her wheelhouse.

“Does anyone else smell burned toast?” Dana asks to herself, the first thing she’s said in a while. Her brows furrow together, eyes cast to the side and when they meet Michelle’s unblinking stare she reflexively dabs at her mouth. “Do I have something on my face?”

“No,” Michelle says with a smile that comes a moment too slow, followed by a slow look to Kaylee with one brow raised, then back to Dana. “You just zoned out for a minute there.” Her back straightens, a knowing look levels at Richard, followed by a quick sweep of her tablet off of the table as she rises, pushing her chair out. “And speaking of the hydroponics lab, I have soil samples tests to review.”

Dana watches Michelle stand, then looks over to Richard. “Are we adjourning? Did I miss something?” She looks around at the others, eyes flitting from side to side for a moment. “Gosh, I do that sometimes, don’t I?” Zone out, she means.

Michelle gets a brief ‘fuck if I know’ widening of the telepath’s eyes in response. This was not the response Kaylee expected, but then again this was the first of Dana’s type she’s ever tried to manipulate. It was fascinating and she has to resist the urge to poke around more.

Even Kaylee knows when she probably shouldn’t push her luck.

Still, the telepath goes with the flow, to get her out the door. “Yeah, we’re done here.” A glance goes to Richard and then to Aislinn, sending encouragement to talk to her. “You’ll keep us informed on the talks, right? Don’t want to miss out on all that if we can help it.” Can take the business woman out of the business… but you can’t make her stop thinking like one.

The calm demeanor of the blonde near Kaylee who happens to be personally involved in all of this but has no official say in any of it remains in place. Just another day in Elisabeth Harrison's crazy life, nothing to see here. Nope, Kaylee didn't just fuck with the memory of a SESA agent with the full knowledge of a SCOUT lieutenant. Not even a little. "I hope you all get all the clearances in enough time — the aurora down there worries me a tad," she admits. "If there's a way to get readings on the acoustics of it, I'd be very interested." Just like she's about to be very fucking interested in Michelle's reactions. But that will wait just a little. "Kaylee and I need to get back to the office. Do you need us for anything else for now?" she asks her husband easily.

“We all do,” Richard replies to Dana with a faint chuckle, rising up to his feet as well, “I think half of us are lost in our own heads sometime— but yes, I think we’ve finished up this planning session and understand how we’re going forward.”

At least those who are leaving with uncorrected memories of the meeting do.

“If anyone has any questions, you know where to find me.”

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