Epigenetics, Part II


devon2_icon.gif elisabeth_icon.gif emily_icon.gif richard3_icon.gif zachery_icon.gif

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Scene Title Epigenetics, Part II
Synopsis Sometimes an answer isn't an answer at all.
Date June 18, 2019

The idea of having Devon's wisdom teeth removed so that a couple of them can be crushed and DNA extracted from them was one that was offered because Elisabeth once saw a documentary on identifying ancient remains and the method was used. That it might be useful knowledge was not something she ever thought likely, but… here we are.

Raytech's state-of-the-art labs don't have Bella Sheridan in them, but they are manned with extremely talented, smart people. Now it's simply a matter of seeing what information can be gleaned… and whether the DNA in the teeth matches the DNA that was taken from Devon's blood. An additional comparison, although it hadn't occurred to anyone until he offered it, is whether there are markers in Richard's blood now that may match — it's been a lot of years, but the transfusion that returned his hand to him may well have left trace evidence.

June 18, 2019

Raytech Bioinformatics Lab

"Richard… it occurs to me that perhaps we should get your mother on this." It's not a suggestion Elisabeth makes lightly. But Michelle Cardinal is, very possibly, the smartest person in history. She may well be able to do this.

“If we have to bring her in,” Richard says with a slight shake of his head, “She’s still— well, I think we should leave her alone unless we really need to, she’s not— “ He grimaces, looking down at the vial of his blood in the rack on the counter, “Well, we’ll ask her if we get stumped, but it’s a last resort. I don’t want to push her too far.” She’s still carrying around a lot of guilt from her last scientific breakthrough, after all.

He turns his head to offer her a faint smile, “Hopefully Doctor Miller will be able to get us some answers at first — his ability may prove useful as well. He should be here shortly.”

Zachery wanted a real job, so he’s getting real assignments to go with it.

Speak of the devil — or, well, close enough.

A door opens too loudly, and blundering through it is Zachery, backwards, with a cardboard box heavy in his arms, shoulders set back as he heaves it into the room. And look, he's dressed for the job in a white coat that helps him blend into the lab environment as a perfectly generic researcher one might find in the background of a movie - if not for that missing eye, at least. The first thing he says upon turning himself around is, "Am I late? I had to get some things from my car. I know you probably have them here, but - I'm… particular."

“If you want my opinion,” Devon interjects from the stool he's seated on, “the fewer people involved the better. Not saying your mom’s a spy or anything.” The aside is directed at Richard, as earnest a look as he can manage with his vaguely bruised and slightly swollen face. “Just that keeping the information contained, there's less chance of the wrong people hearing.

Of course, Richard already knows that. As does Liz and Emily. Master of the Obvious here had teeth pulled not long ago, be nice.

“What's his ability?” Devon's question is how he greets Zachery. His gaze goes from the adultier adults to the door as the doctor walks in. The question isn't rephrased either, but a brow lifts in askance. “Are… you supposed to be here?”

Emily has been trying (bless her soul) to be supportive rather than amused at Devon's behavior post-op (especially immediately after), but it's only resulted in her bearing both behaviors in equal parts. The presence of Elisabeth and Richard has helped curb any open amusement, and she stands close by Devon, arms tucked in a tight fold. The name Richard says pulls her attention, brow twitching as her memory nags at her without immediate clarity.

She's only begun to turn to ask who when the doctor lets himself in. After he spins about to reveal his face, the teen's eyebrows shoot up her forehead. Zachery?? It almost slips from her in disbelief, too, but instead she exhales:

"Holy shit, you got a new job." Her arms start to slide from their fold in her surprise, a range of emotive microexpressions playing out. After surprise comes pride or joy or something positive. Definitely happy for him, at any rate. Then, consideration. Finally, a bit of disappointment.

Man, did it have to be a job here?

"Good to see you," Emily says regardless, because that's what you're supposed to say here, right? It's polite? She looks just as confused at her extension of the courtesy as anyone else might, given her greetings usually don't go like this.

Zachery has an ability? That's … actually news to Elisabeth. She never pried. Blue eyes on Devon are still amused as hell because just before they all got settled in here, he was sort of pleading for Liz to sing. Cuz you know… she was faaaaaaamous while she was dead. Or something like that. Liz was trying too hard not to laugh at the fact that his eyes are dulled by the painkillers still and that he's occasionally popping out with mildly loopy ideas.

"All right," she acquiesces to Richard's call on Michelle. "Although, to be fair, if shit goes sideways and we find out you're gonna be a target of Adam, I am not taking the blame for keeping your mother in the dark, Richard Cardinal." Uh-uh. No way, nohow. Fuck that noise. "She and I have a tacit agreement — I don't get between her and you and she doesn't get between me and you. Best mother-in-law agreement ever." She pauses. "Until I need you to step in between me and her cuz she's being bossy or something — and then you better fucking take my side."

All of this is more or less said as a joke, but… maybe not entirely. Smart people are afraid of supersmart Cardinals.

“No, you’re right on time, Doctor Mill— you two know each other?” Richard arches a brow, glancing from Zachery to Emily and back again with a bemused expression upon his face. The world is full of coincidences, but none of them ever seem to be true coincidences.

He doesn’t comment about the ‘agreement’ between his lover and mother, although there’s a hint of amusement that briefly crosses his expression as he looks back to her momentarily before returning to the matter at hand.

“Right, then,” he clears his throat, “For the record, all of what we do here today is privledged information under the title of Project Nessus. Nondisclosure agreements, lawsuits, black-ops corporate assassins in the middle of the night, all of that.” One of those is probably a joke, one might think, unless they’ve met Monica.

“We have reason to believe that Devon here has been genetically modified, and we’re attempting to discover what has been changed if anything. We have a genetic sample previous to the alteration, and a current one,” he explains to Zachery, “We also have a sample from me because I may have been similarly altered, and we think that might help as a comparison to see if there are any matching genetic markers between my own genome and the altered ones on his side.”

Simple as that. Right?

Zachery's grip on the box he's holding tightens when he hears Emily's familiar voice. His head swivels to look at her with a tilt upward of his chin and a pleasantly surprised sort of grin which suggests her polite comment would be returned in full… if not for the fact that the world keeps going.

And for a moment, while other voices pipe up, it seems the world will have to keep doing its moving thing entirely without Zachery's involvement. First, mention of the name 'Adam' depletes a modicum of the energy in his expression, then 'Richard Cardinal' finishes the job in turning what's left of his grin a quick shade of anxious which he immediately tries - and fails - to swallow back. Okay. Yeah. Yeah yeah okay. Cool cool cool.

The box in his arms has started to slip, slowly, by the time Richard starts his explanation and summary. Only just barely before it escapes his arms entirely, he seems to snap upright and bounces it back up, sliding the thing quickly onto a countertop nearby so he can face the others present without the risk of breaking anything. And also with his chest puffing out as he inhales as deeply as he can. Calm. All good. Processing comes later.

Fortunately, there is something else to focus on. Namely, Devon. The doctor's gaze fixes on him hard, and he starts to stalk forward with renewed focus, only to stop just short of reaching to touch the young man's temple. He leaves his hand hovering, his voice dipped low when he asks, incredulously, "Where in the world did you find this one, a crash test dummy facility that was out of synthetic volunteers?"

Rustle, rustle. While Zachery asks his question, back from whence he came something in the open cardboard box seems to resettle. Something round and metallic bounds upward from below a layer of paper notes, landing silently on the other side, and disappears over the edge of the countertop and out of sight.

Devon's head turns and tilts so he can look at Emily when she extends her greetings to the guy. It tracks to Richard next, and in that he picks up on Liz’s lack of surprise that someone would literally just walk in like he was invited. Zachery must have been, but that doesn't stop the unfiltered opinion of such an arrival.

“Everyone knows this guy but me?” The complaint is clear in his tone. That's so not fair. He levels a look, slightly off from his usually deeply calculative gaze, on the doctor when he gets close. His brows knit, uneasiness at the nearness and the hovering hand, but he doesn't exactly move. He might be leaning just a touch closer to Emily though.

“Where'd you get your medical licensure,” he counters the other man's question with snark of his own, “a Cracker Jack box? Is this guy for real?”

Devon looks at Richard, half grumping along with his doubt of their newest company. “You think this guy’s going to help us find out what Adam Monroe did?— Had done to me? He's rude, he called me a dummy.”

Emily notes the discomfort in Zachery (but really, anyone who doesn't feel uncomfortable on some level in the face of the big energy flying, or the absolute crazy things being discussed is weird in her book), though her attention is more cleanly diverted to Richard when he goes about giving what they're doing a project name.

"Seriously?" She can't help the skepticism in the scoff that comes from her. "Sure, let's go ahead and treat this like a science project instead of a human thing, yeah." Emily almost went without a sharp turn in her behavior, too. Almost. The other sass that flies between Zachery and Devon receives a hard glance between the two of them. Zachery's apparent ability use leaves her a touch wary of what he's able to see in people, remembering their first encounter, but Devon…

She swats at Devon's midsection lightly. "Maybe if you didn't run around like <insert sassy comment here, my brain is stuck on work mode>…" Emily sounds harsh due to her shifted mood, brow furrowing as she wonders if she should follow up with something to make it clear she means well. Devon had been interpreting things oddly while on the pain meds they'd given him, after all.

"Really, Richard? Genetically modified? You make him sound like a crop." Elisabeth can't help but laugh, and moreso when Devon whines that Zachery called him a dummy. "No, he did not, Dev." She winks at Emily. "He thinks he's Superman. Always did." Now she has some read on Zachery's ability — she's seen Abby and Deckard both do that kind of assessment. And Zachery isn't wrong about the abuse Devon has put his body through… but he's also just as obviously not a healer. "He said you've beaten your body to hell and by 40 you're gonna hurt all over."

She should know… she feels the toll more than she'd like to admit.

Tipping her head, Elisabeth is watchful of the way Zachery is handling Devon, protective in a way she can't entirely squelch despite his age. He is still that teenager that she promised to be there for, to come home to. There are a number of people of whom she's protective, but only a few over whom she's so violently on edge.

"It needs a file, Emily. Naming it allows cross-referencing of the data. He's not a science experiment, and Richard and I wouldn't ever allow him to be treated as such," she assures quietly.

“Devon, everyone in this room has called you worse than a dummy before,” Richard points out in dry tones, rolling his eyes behind dark glasses, “Suck it up and let Doctor Miller take a look at you.” An aside to Zachery, “Ignore him, he’s still on pain medication from when we had his wisdom teeth ripped out.”

He leans against one of the counters, arms folding over his chest as he gives Emily a really? look over the edge of his shades. “What Liz said,” he states, “We need all of this on the record so it’s documented, in case we need to reference it later.”

Zachery continues to stand over Devon, regarding him with a mixture of intrigue and the hard sort of inspection one might give a dysfunctional piece of machinery rather than fellow human being. While others talk, he remains silent, his expression dropping to one of idle consideration behind narrowing eyes of incompatible colours.

When, finally, everyone seems to be done talking, Zachery bends ever so slightly lower in an attempt to accommodate Devon's current stool-level perspective, and says, slowly and carefully, "… I'm sorry, Devon." His tone implies this may be sincere. "You must have had a challenging couple of days. Can I get you anything? Water? Cracker jacks?" Amusement visibly stifled, his hand extends again, but this time not to reach for his patient outright, but for the calm offer of a handshake. "Doctor Miller. You can call me Zachery, if you'd like."

“Ow.” Devon feigns pain and injury when Emily swats him. “So violent.” Teasing shifts gears to address the room as a whole. “Second place goes to Uncle Richard Ray-Cardinal for his analysis of my genetically modified genetics. But who will win the grand prize…”

He slants a look up at Zachery, but not to award him first place. His brows arch up in disbelief. Is this guy really trying to use kid gloves with him? Is he for real?

It’s an obvious thought, but at least the filter between his brain and his mouth catches the words before they’re spoken. Devon relents to all the wisdom in the room by spreading his hands in a fine, okay sort of gesture. Then he stands, because he’s not about to introduce himself to somewhile while he’s sitting down. Not while he’s got most of his capacities available to him.

“Devon Clendaniel,” he returns flatly, with an extension of his own hand. And a firmer than needed grip. Talk down at him, will you. “Guess I should thank you for your help, and your discretion.”

Emily returns the yes, really look at Richard over invisible glasses of her own. She bites her tongue on additional commentary for the sake of not derailing forward progress, because grudgingly or not, Devon doesn't seem to be shoving Zachery away.

It's something that causes her shoulders to slope, losing some of the tension held in her if only just. She has hope maybe they'll get answers now, however minor they might be. Who knows, maybe the wisdom teeth in question really will hold wisdom instead of headaches.

It takes a moment from the time Zachery touches Devon to the moment information reaches his mind in any discernible order. If the young man in front of him were a menu all that would be sold on it is pain. Dislocations, broken bones, bullets still inside his body, scar-tissue on his organs, a fracture on his skull, a cracked vertebrae that healed, evidence of accelerated healing performed on him at some point in the past. Devon should be dead a half dozen times over, but then

No, he was. Dead.

This is new for Zachery, he’s never touched Lazarus before.

The open book of Devon Clendaniel tells an interesting story. He was literally blown up, dismembered by force and fire, then burned nearly down to the bone by intense heat. The history of that all is in there, in the way Zachery knows things. But what’s also there is how he regenerated from all of those injuries, how a single intravenous injection reorganized every single cell in his body, reconstructing him from the bone up. Burned flesh grew back, dead brain cells came back to life, even the congealed blood in his veins returned to normal. Devon shouldn’t just be dead, he was dead and for at least several hours from what Zachery can tell.

At a cellular level Devon has been transformed. There’s something off about his cell walls, something off about everything in his body. But Zachery can’t pinpoint exactly why. It’s like how a weird smell in the air might be recognizable, but sometimes you just can’t smelt who dealt. Much like rings on a tree, Zachery can tell when the resurrection took place as well by counting the new injuries. A mark on his pelvic bone where bone marrow was extracted after his regeneration, a minor sprain in his right ankle — he should stay off that — and other minor inconveniences.

At Zachery’s best estimate, Devon was dead roughly six months ago. Give or take.

So that’s weird.

Though Zachery straightens when Devon stands up and does not flinch at the firmer than expected handshake - in fact, a sharp exhale through his nose suggests he seems entertained by it - his own grip is swiftly drained of its strength a moment later.

He loses his pinpoint focus all at once, and the gaze that was previously trained on Devon drops to nowhere in particular as he withdraws his hand by virtue of taking a reflexive, unplanned step backwards. Not that this seems to help stem the tide of what he's suddenly processing, and he slams a palm flat onto the counter next to him in order to steady himself.

Shock is clear on his face, mouth ajar, though a twitch of his functioning eye seems to transform his expression into something else. The wild-eyed look he throws to Richard once he's recovered enough to find the damn man again suggests he is enraptured, but his tone is nothing short of utterly and insistently urgent. "Adam Monroe is involved in this how?"

The doctor’s shock doesn’t seem to come as any surprise to Richard from his expression, but he brings one hand upwards towards the others palm-forward as if to hold off their commentary. He regards the other man for a long moment, before answering the question in a steady tone.

“Devon was injured, and then captured, by Praxis Heavy Industries forces during a Wolfhound operation,” he explains, now watching Zachery’s expression closely from behind the darkened lenses he wears, “He was later found washed up on the shoreline of the Safe Zone with little memory of what occurred. Our investigations have shown that he was in the custody of Adam Monroe at the time, at the mercy of his science team.”

“And how do you know Adam, Doctor?”

Elisabeth's eyes sharpen on Zachery. Now the doctor gets to bear the full weight of the fact that woman is compulsively suspicious… if he knew what she'd lived, he'd understand why. The subtle hum of her agitation could be missed by most, but her power is ignited by the surge of adrenaline dumped into her bloodstream by the familiarity of that tone.

It says much about their relationship that Richard's calm tone keeps her in place and restrained, not immediately removing Zachery from her 'son's' vicinity while she waits for him to answer.

An unsurprising number of people know Adam Monroe, so it doesn't really come as a shock when Zachery asks the question. What does earn the man a more focused, more intense study from Devon is the way he asks the question. He's likely to clamp down on that information, end the examination and everything with it immediately.

Except Richard answers first.

The prize for that is an unamused look.

At least until he deflects everything with a casual snark. “We regret to inform you that Devon Clendaniel was a bonehead three months ago.” Because if everyone else is going to talk about him like an experiment, he'll follow suit. “And he died as a result of his boneheadedness. But what's this? He was given a continuation! That's no zombie, but a living, breathing, hairless, bipedal guinea pig!” The kind of snark that would have given him a well deserved smack.

Without another word, Dev returns to his seat, his eyes still tracking Zachery.

Emily of all people would be one to deliver that smack, if the subject matter didn't tread to what it did … and if not for one other fact that she hones in on near-instantly.

"Six months ago." she interjects, quiet and low and heavy. Her eyes close hard before she looks back up and to Zachery rather than Devon. "When they experimented on him, they repeatedly wiped Devon's memory. There's no gap, they just…" Emily's gaze tracks to Devon only for a moment, apology in it. "Applied a suture over the gap they left behind, and it made it feel like no time had passed.

As for Adam Monroe, she gives Richard another heavy look. "I'm pretty sure I was the only one in the entire New York metropolitan area who didn't know about Adam fucking Monroe, at least until this happened." Because it sure feels like it, some days.

Zachery's answer to Richard's question comes only after he's shot Devon another lingering look of incredulity. "Ah-…?" After a couple of noises that never really get to be more than that, he finds some words to sternly bark back at Richard. "The same way most people who know of him do - by being warned." His attention darts from Richard to Elisabeth, and finally to Emily with a twitch of his brow in what looks to be concern.

But since he's not about to yell at her, he turns his attention back to Richard again. This time with something more uncertain threaded through his voice. Something suspiciously like fear, in the midst of freshly acquired information still swimming through his head like piranhas nipping for his attention. "Warned not to get involved, and not to engage with anyone who might be. He j-just…" Throwing a pointed gesture of an arm toward Devon, without taking his eyes off of the man he's speaking to, he asks, "He just rolls out onto shore after that, and you trust him? He's—"

Zachery stops himself, as if his chaotic mind rather than actual conscious decision starts to carry him toward a different part of the lab, "—where are these samples? This needs to…"

“Of course,” Richard says smoothly— too smoothly when compared to the sudden tension in the room, his smile too easy for the moment and his eyes utterly hidden by the shades. His pulse has only gone up the slightest amount.

“And yes, I trust him,” he notes, slanting a look at the self-named ‘experiment’ with a wry tone to his voice, “We’ve had him checked out to make sure that’s actually him. Trust me, nobody can be as exasperating as the actual Devon can be. Love you, kiddo, but it’s true. You’re worse than your girlfriend sometimes.”

Then he pointedly returns his attention to Zachery, “So you understand why we’re concerned about what’s been done to him, Doctor Miller. Especially given that Monroe’s planned multiple genocides in the past and is clearly planning another one.”

Zachery's incredulous you trust him?! raises Elisabeth's hackles a bit further still, but she bites back her words and lets Richard deal with the man… if only because if she opens her mouth right now, it might be bad. As he starts to move away and toward the samples, though, the blonde does step slightly apart from the group, as if to clear her weapon hand. It's a move as instinctive as breathing; she doesn't even realize she's done it.

"He is sitting right there, and it's definitely about time people stop talking over him," she observes tightly. "How about you check those samples and see if the Hail Mary of pulling his wisdom teeth has actually netted any useful information instead of worrying about who can be trusted. Because I fucking promise you that the threat posed by Adam Monroe is one that we are all very much aware of."

Her blue eyes never leave Zachery and his movements, as if right now she hasn't decided if he is a threat.

“It's true,” Devon says with a motion toward Richard. He can't deny being exasperating, especially not presently. He leans toward Emily again, but his focus is really on Zachery. With careful notes for Liz and Richard also. He's banking on their reactions since his own don't seem quite in line with what they should be. And the nearness to Emily should give him warning enough to know it's time to peace out.

The lab door opens, blonde hair and a flash of a smile as Sera squeezes her way through the narrow gap in the doors unnecessarily, as if somehow opening them properly might be constrained as rude. Instead she takes a solid thirty seconds coming into the room. “Mr. Ray?” Sera whispers, sharply. It’s a stage whisper. Everyone can hear it.

Unrelated but noteworthy: she has lime green parakeet earrings.

“Mr. Ray?” Sera scoots closer, looking around at everyone, flashing a quick (knowing) smile to Zachery. “There’s a Kristopher Voss from SESA in the lobby? He says he wants to talk to you about a private matter.”

"His girlfriend." Zachery echoes in a huff of a laugh as he rounds a countertop and sink, on his way to a computer that he - just sort of hovers over for a moment, new to the lab and all. Anything else coming his way appears to have gone straight over his head, what with the lingering anxiety and new knowledge and then — oh look, it's Sera.

Her voice brings his attention up in a snap, a welcome reprieve from the current goings on, and he can't help but flash a grin of his own right back at her and her earrings both. He stands a little taller when he finally returns his attention to the monitor and keyboard ahead of him. "I'll, ah- look into this." Grin or not, tension remains a throughline in his voice. "It's been a little while since I've done this particular sort of work but I promise that I'll have results before tomorrow."

Zachery isn't so much a glean in Emily's eyes, her attention pretty squarely set on Richard after his comment that crosses a line. "Excuse the fuck out of you," comes from her slow, like a wind-up, "How about we lock you in a fucking conference room with someone you hate and see how you—"

… that … never reaches completion. Perhaps it's testament to just how exasperating Richard is without being put in a compromising position.

Everything else sort of goes over her head in the interim, but Sera's intrusion draws her attention, the mention of, oh, just the Deputy Director for SESA bringing her already interrupted thought to a double-halt. What the fuck? Instead of saying anything in particular, her jaw locks, molars grinding.

Zachery’s comment has Devon standing all over again. He might overlook most of the shots taken at himself — hell, he's likely made similar or worse on days when he's not floozey from pain meds. But there's certain statements being made that he won't ignore.

The stool he'd abandoned is picked up. A look angles to the door as it's opened, but it's the doctor who's needing to be dealt with. He can gripe about everyone and their mother barging into the mad science happening later.

The stool is raised, but not overhead. Devon stalks forward and shoves the legged end at Zachery’s head. With luck, it'll just pin it to the wall for a few minutes. Long enough for them to have a lovely man to man talk.

"Deputy Director Voss? What does he— " Then just about on cue, everything goes to hell. Richard brings one hand up, pinches the bridge of his nose, and takes a breath.


"…have him escorted down to Interview Room A on this floor," he says in strained tones, "I'll go prep it to talk to him. Liz please— you know."

Out the door and after Sera. Go go go.

What an absolute, utter Charlie Foxtrot. In the space of a second and a half, it's gone from protecting Devon from Zachery to 'oh fuck' where Zachery is the one who needs protecting. And in the midst of all this chaos, Sera and the news that Voss is here. Elisabeth groans. "Jesus fucking Christ."

Yes, Richard. She knows.

Dragging one hand down her face, she raises her voice hardly at all and yet it rolls through the room like thunder. "Devon, stop. Right the fuck now." Make no mistake, even without any of the subtle influencing aspect of her power backing that order, it is an order. Whether he takes it as his former rebel leader, his surrogate mother, or something else, the not-so-subtle reverb effect tells him she herself is skating a fine line of control right now.

"Dr. Miller has realized his mistake. Haven't you, Dr. Miller?"

Not the face,” Richard can hear Sera whispering as she watches whatever the fuck is going on between Devon and Zachery. She looks over at Richard, brows raised, then takes a few thoughtful steps back toward the door. “Should I call Mr. Harrison?” She asks with a quick look back. “In case this gets,” and she leans in and whispers to Richard on their way out the door, “litigious?

She might think that’s a curse-word.

There is precious little time between Zachery busily tiktakking away at something on his keyboard and him finding himself with his shoulder pressed against a wall and head in a puzzling cage of stool legs, with Devon standing right nearby.

He is stunned, frozen in place, arms already halfway up in an instinctive attempt to defend himself without even having thought about putting them up there. Elisabeth's voice being what it is all of a sudden is icing on the cake — and brings life back to him almost instantaneously.

Through laughter, it seems — starting slowly, then cascading sort of nervously into something he does not seem to manage to stop. "Dr. Miller's learned a lot today! Like there's some — some gum under here, actually, did you know that? Is that yours, Devon?"

Now everything's a new kind of exasperating. Emily reacts just poorly to this new development, arguably. "Devon!" she shouts as soon as she realizes what he's doing, lunging and failing to catch him on the first pass. But then there goes Richard and —

He's absolutely fucking unhelpful.

Emily's eyes widen in shock as he shucks engagement like some kind of Dark Mufasa, but then there's Liz, and maybe she'll have better luck at this. For her part, Emily is just hoping that'll be enough. She finds herself unable to unroot herself to try and physically encourage a distangling of himself from the stool and Zachery's person. Admittedly, in all of the 'what if' scenarios she's ever run through in her head, she never anticipated it'd be Devon needing pulled off someone. "Dev, please, put it down." she pleads.

He's not planning to listen to Liz immediately. Sure he knows those sounds and that buzzing, but Devon's still looking like he's about to cause some serious pain. Zachery’s mouth isn't exactly helping anything.

Muscles tighten in his forearms and his face sets with a cold stillness. The audio kinetic would recognize it quickly.

But Emily's voice cracks whatever wall he'd constructed in so short a time.

With his knuckles gone white, Dev suddenly sets the stool down. He can't explain quite why. His hands come away and he steps fully back to where he'd been sitting so no part of him is touching the stool. There's confusion marking where coldness had been, aimed at the stool then at Emily. What just happened?

Zachery's confusion at Devon actually doing as he's told is hard to miss, though he stays awkwardly half-pressed up against the wall for the duration of the stool being set down. "… Thank you." This is offered genuinely, even if a little puzzled.

Elisabeth breathes a little easier now that the tension is ratcheting down — the low bass also eases significantly. Her jaw clenches tightly closed for a long moment while she reins in the adrenaline and then she says, "Since the results aren't in yet, how about you guys go get some air. I'll text you as soon as we know anything so you can come back down, okay?" They look like Dev might want to talk, and she's not sure what just happened.

Clearing her throat, she adds, "Deputy Director Voss may be here to ask about whether you'd be willing to undergo some tests for SESA after your ordeal, Devon. I told him I'd speak with you about it, but since you were already planning on learning as much as you could and doing the same tests here, it seemed reasonable just to wait until the results were in and tell you what they wanted so you could decide whether to share them." Elisabeth shakes her head slightly. "Although it's entirely possible he's here for something else too."

She glances toward Zachery. "I'll stay here and wait for the results to come in." She and Dr. Miller may need to speak.

They may very well.


The soft hum of an elevator, devoid of any music or other distractions, is accompanied by a simple flash of light along the sides indicating each floor it passes. Inside the elevator, a dark-haired woman quietly checks her watch, brows furrowed when she notices a message displayed on the screen that she’d missed.

Lunch later?

Her brows rise, and she considers the offer. It isn’t often that he’s the one with plans. She swipes her finger across the small screen, composing an easy response.

Dinner. Somewhere nice.

It’s something of a joke, all things considered. The elevator comes to a slow stop, and she can feel the watch vibrate with a reply, but she doesn’t have time for it right now. As the doors push open, she steps out into the hall, raking a hand through her hair and walking past glass-walled labs. Booted feet make a noisy report on the tile floor, her strides long and purposeful and grinding down the distance between the elevator and her assignment.

The second to last laboratory on the right is where she stops. Swiping a black and white badge in front of a magnetic card reader to unlock the door. The French doctor inside pivots on her stool, looking up with a worried expression on her face, dark circles around her eyes.

adrienne_icon.gif sabine_icon.gif

Sabine. I’m not finished,” Doctor Allen says with a slow shake of her head, standing up from her stool to approach the dark-haired woman in the doorway. There’s a soft beep of a machine in the room, a soft but gratingly repetitive sound. Doctor Allen looks to the hospital bed in the room, then back to the woman in the doorway. “Another hour, just so I can be sure that— ”

“Sorry,” Sabine says, closing her eyes and shaking her head as she does. “Director’s orders, he wants this up and running immediately. We’re moving you to the second project.” Doctor Allen makes a soft, affronted sound in the back of her throat as she turns to follow Sabine to her patient’s bedside.

Excusez-moi,” Doctor Allen hisses, reaching up to take Sabine by the shoulder. But the old soldier snatches Doctor Allen’s hand by the wrist firmly. Adrienne pauses, sucking in a sharp breath and staring up at Sabine. “His— stability. I don’t…”

“It either works,” Sabine says, looking down to the young man in the bed. “…or it doesn’t.” She blinks a look back to Adrienne, one dark brow raised. “Either way, we’ll learn something from him.”


“Won’t we?”

Four Hours Later

Raytech NYC Safe Zone Branch Office

Bioinformatics Lab


The chirp of a completed procedure pops up on the monitor. It’s been a while, these processes take time, and what is waiting for Doctor Miller is either something… or nothing.

D. Clendaniel Tooth DNA Match % 100

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