Exogenous, Part I


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Scene Title Exogenous, Part I
Synopsis In search of answers to her past, Squeaks digs deeper into SESAs archives and finds an alarming truth.
Date May 24, 2019

The problem with getting answers is it always brings up new questions. That, in turn, leads to the eventuality that those deeper questions won't have answers found in conventional ways. That's what Squeaks has come to understand. Even the people who are supposed to know all the secrets don't always. It isn't their fault, it's just what happens.

But sometimes there's a clue hidden in the answers that are given. Sometimes that clue is even the easiest to see and follow.

Not only is it Friday, but it’s a holiday weekend too.

For most people in government offices that means the work day can end early, and a three-and-a-half-day weekend. What that means for Squeaks is the SESA offices are pretty well cleared out by the time the lunch hour is over. There might still be some of the custodial staff around, maybe a couple of scientists or agents finishing up projects before taking some greatly appreciated time off. But she’s otherwise able to slink through Fort Jay without much chance of crossing paths.

Use of her ability also helps with that. People definitely echo differently than walls and other not-living things do. And that makes it easy to avoid being asked why she’s wandering and not home. Or exploring the fair, since it’s common knowledge that she’s already explored more of the campus than most.

Orientation only offered so much, there were places she had to find on her own. So she figured she’d find all of the places once she had time. Sometimes that meant making time. But it’s a knowledge that’s come in handy. With an afternoon that’s seemingly free, Squeaks has traced steps and found her way to the banks of files. Somewhere in here there might be answers. Or clues that could point her to other searches. On quiet feet, she creeps along cabinets and shelves in search, first, of the files about herself.

But then, a ping. A sense of someone—

That’s not for intern access.

Minutes Later

Office of Records & Retention

Fort Jay

Governors Island, NYC Safe Zone

May 24th


What you’re looking for is here!

With a soft click, recessed lights in the ceiling come on one at a time.

Standing in an open doorway of a glass walled room, a brunette woman in dark-framed glasses shifts her weight to one foot and alights her chin to strike a proud pose. As she steps into the room with a confident swagger, the hem of her mid-thigh length white labcoat flutters around at the fabric of her slacks. The ratty She Wants Revenge t-shirt worn beneath her jacket was once black, but has gone through the wash so many times it’s a weird shade of dark green now.

The room features a handful of sleek black laptops directly wired to an internal network, access to SESA’s primary archives in Kansas City. The words Restricted Access are stenciled into the glass of the door, and the identification badge of the woman who just unlocked the entrance is still swinging from one of her hands on its lanyard.

Dana Carrington pivots on the chunky heel of one booted foot and angles a look down at the young, copper-haired woman behind her. “You intern agents aren’t allowed in here without supervision,” Dana explains, threading an errant lock of hair behind one ear, “so whatever it is you’re looking up… you’ll have to do it with me over your shoulder.”

One of Dana’s brows rises slowly. “Just to make sure you’re not looking up porn.”

She’s kidding.

“We only really have to worry about that with Mr. Dickerson, probably…” Dana adds after a moment of thought, cheeks puffed out as the exhales a huff of breath to blow her bangs out of her face.

Ew.” Any awe and wonder appreciation intended for the room is delayed by the grossed out, insulted look that Squeaks gives Dana. “Mega yuck. Mister Dickerson is gross.” At least that's her unashamed opinion. Once given, she shakes her head and makes a face, the sort of nose-wrinkled frowny that happens around particularly pungent trash.

“How come we have to be supervised?” Asked innocently enough, casually too, and while she lets herself wander around Dana and into the room.

She walks past the first laptop, a hand trailing over the closed case. She picks the third she comes to, and angles herself so she can also see if anyone else walks in. It's probably not going to happen, there's hardly anyone else around. Squeaks slides a curious look up at Dana, even offers a small grin, then gets to work on the laptop. “How did you start working here,” is asked as the teen types out a search for herself.

“Honestly, it's to make sure you're not abusing the database or hacking into restricted files. You're just interns, and while the data on here can be helpful to you as prospective agents, it's…” Dana wobbles her head from side to side. “It could get messy.”

The initial search reveals an unredacted personnel dossier for one Jacelyn B. Morrison. Included are attached files, transcripts of her agent review during her ability registration, a secure file about the Sunspot NM incident, a “known accomplices” section listing a surprisingly accurate detail of her familial, professional, and personal connections. All of which appears to have been entered by Rhys.

“My mom’s a big brain,” Dana says as she pulls up another chair and sits beside Squeaks. “Quantum physicist at the University of Oxford in the UK. The minute I passed blue on my blood test she had me shipped off to live with my aunt and uncle here in the States, and that was… 2010? Yeah, right before the war. I was just starting classes at Columbia University when everything started going to shit.”

Dana looks over at the laptop screen and smirks, interrupting her story. “Googling yourself, huh? Whatever SESA has on file for you probably won't be a surprise. Our database — I mean the one either of us can access — is pretty surface-level. Is… this for a case? I know you're working with Agent Quinn on the… Baumann murder.”

“No.” Squeaks voices her answer quietly, but with a questioning tone. She could probably make a case for it, investigative work on herself. But she doesn't stop skimming over the information that's presented about her. “Is it supposed to be?”

Finding not much of useful information about herself she sits back to think. It kind of makes sense that there maybe wouldn't be anything on those projects.

But where to search prompts a look up at Dana.

“Where could I find files on… the things that we found with Rhys and Corbin?” Provided she could even look at them. Squeaks doesn't take the time to worry about it though. “When we were at… Fort Hero? With the rats thing. Or… or information on Institute things?”

Generally,” Dana says in a low-key sing-song tone, “use of SESA property is for official federal purposes. This includes the agent database. But most of what you’re asking about there?” Dana makes a face, halfway between a grimace and a smile. “That’s going to require a direct agent authorization code. Pretty much everything sensitive is kept on a hard copy — paper and ink — in Kansas City, with digital backups accessible here.” She says with a motion to the laptops.

“The Fort Hero stuff, though,” Dana’s brows rise, “woof, that’s some wild stuff. I haven’t seen it personally, but some of the old lab equipment was sent down to my office for analysis. Turns out the Institute had actually tried to refurbish the facility before the war, but somebody burned the whole thing down after the arcology fell. Forensics was trying to get an idea of who, because most of the agents on site thought the fire was from the fall of the Company, which— ” Dana laughs to herself, “isn’t even kind of what you were asking about.”

Shaking her head, Dana sweeps a lock of hair behind one ear and bends one of her knees up to her chest, wrapping both her legs around it, chin resting on the back of her knee. She looks at the screen for a moment, brows knit together, then blinks a look back over to Squeaks. “Why do you want access to any of that?” She asks pointedly. “And I want to know the truth.”

“Because.” Said simply enough and as Squeaks looks at the laptop all over again. “Because we found a lot of things. Rhys brought some to my house because it was about me.” And some about Gillian’s family too, but that's for her mom to dig into.

As she explains why she's looking, she types into the search field anyway.

Project Gemini.

She's not expecting much, if Dana's telling the truth. There isn't any reason to doubt it though. “The Institute, Pinehearst I guess? They did these things on me and… and I'm trying to understand what it means. Maybe not have to get shots and see what's there.”

SESA Intranet Case Database
Search: Project Gemini
Please contact your senior agent.

Dana looks at the screen, teeth toying at her bottom lip, then looks back over to Squeaks. “One sec…” she says quietly, sliding her leg down and scooting her chair over. She leans into Squeaks’ personal space, taking over the keyboard. Two clicks and she’s pulled up a login page.

Login: vog.ases|notgnirrac.anad#vog.ases|notgnirrac.anad
Password: *

With a deep breath, Dana clicks “Enter.”

Access Granted

The files on Gemini are overwhelming. There’s dozens of named and serial-numbered reports, transcripts of interviews with names like Pete Varlane and Adrienne Allen. Tens of thousands of pages of documentation, including photographs of a place called “Sunstone”, coroner’s reports from the Liberty Island Detention Center, all categorized by date. Curiously, the most recent file has a familiar name on it.

k.voss_analysis_report.pdf | Price, Odessa; Suresh, Mohinder

“What are you looking for?” Dana asks quietly, conspiratorially. “I might be able to help you narrow this down.”

Squeaks makes a humming sound, a thinking kind of noise in her throat, when the expected block answers her search first. It was pretty much expected. What isn't is when Dana leans over to enter her own login information. Surprise shows openly when she leans back to give the lab tech space to type.

Her eyes flick between the woman and the screen as fuller access is gained. “Thank you,” she nearly whispers. Her eyes are already roaming over the page.

There's so many files. It would take forever to get through them all. “I don't know exactly.” Squeaks looks at Dana for a second, to show she really isn't totally sure. “Rhys said I was part of this project. And another one. So… so… How was I?” It's stated like a question, but it sounds like the right direction to go. For starting anyway.

Also. “Can we look at this too?” The intern’s eyes have held on one listing displayed for a good number of seconds. She lightly taps a finger to the screen, indicating the .pdf file on Odessa Price and Mohinder Suresh.

“Yeah that's classified to the science department, I can access any of that.” Dana explains without really saying why she's being so liberal about her access. She indicates for Squeaks to open the file, and the first few pages are a stock report form. Dana leans in, translating it.

“So, this is from Deputy Director Voss. It looks like he… went to the PISEC facility on Long Island. He's assigned… convict researchers— that must be— yep. Price and Suresh,” her brows furrow, “to research projects… Gemini and Hydra.” She reaches up to touch the screen and scrolls it down some. “Looks like this was recent. It's an active investigation. It says that they were given files on Hydra and Gemini… and this was all ordered by…”

Dana’s eyes grow wide. “Secretary Zimmerman. Damn. This’s gotta be a big deal.” She closes the file. “There's not much info there, though. Probably won't be until they file monthly research reports…” Dana looks over to Squeaks. “Let me see if I can narrow the search parameters down some…”

Taking the keyboard, Dana clicks through a few menus and cross references Gemini with a few variations of Squeaks’ legal names. Nothing comes up.

“That's weird,” Dana says, “it might be over my clearance? But I'm not even seeing a requisition option. What was the other project he said you were a part of?”

Definitely weird, but also not very surprising. There's been a lot of dead ends when it comes to her name. Squeaks huffs a soft breath and sits back as that search comes to an end with almost nothing.

But Des might have some new information.

“Project Umbra.” Squeaks looks up at Dana. “I think it was like a vaccine or something. The Pinehearst people were trying to make.” Or had made it and were testing it out on her. “I wonder why I'm not anywhere. Except the one file.” Her personnel file she means. “I looked before on the computers at the library and there's nothing about me.”

“There might be a simple answer for that,” Dana says as she starts typing. “During the war a vast majority of permanent data storage centers, along with the internet backbone in the southwest, was destroyed by… Honestly I don't know what side. A massive amount of government records were lost or destroyed. Thanks to the archive in Kansas City we have some things, but…” Dana shakes her head. “The war erased a lot of things. People's debts, criminal records, active federal investigations…”

She stops typing and enters a search, returning precisely one related result. “Hm, this looks like— okay, this is a scam of documentation retrieved from Fort Hero. You were there, weren't you?” Dana asks as she opens the file, finding the majority of it redacted with thick black bars.

Wow,” Dana says softly. “Okay, this is mostly above my clearance. I’m… okay, so, I see Umbra referenced. Hmm, this is…” As she's reading, Dana slides a cell phone out of her pocket, unlocks it without looking, and begins running a secondary search while reading the other document.

“I'm seeing references to— BRAF inhibitors?” Dana squints, glances at her phone and looks back. “So those are cancer treatments, but they weren't— that isn't… those have only recently been trialed. So…” Continuing to scroll down, Dana uses her phone to search definitions of terms she's unfamiliar with while she reads.

“If I'm parsing this right, and I might not be, I'm only loosely familiar with biological science,” Dana looks over to Squeaks, “it looks like you were an invitro-fertilized birth using a donor egg and sperm sample in a surrogate womb, but the identity of the donors have been redacted.”

Looking uncomfortable, Dana continues to scan the document. “It looks like you might have been a part of a program to impart the Suresh Linkage-Complex onto you artificially. Your ability was… chemically induced from a donor of some kind. But there's so much redacted text. I'm seeing something about…” Dana makes a noise in the back of her throat, “case study for mass application? I don't think this project ever got that far.”

Worried, she looks over to Squeaks. “Are you // sure// we should be reading this? I'm— it looks like Secretary Zimmerman redacted most of this herself.”

“Cindy Morrison was the surrogate.” That much she knows. Cindy wasn't ever her real mom. They're not even technically related. Squeaks makes a face, nose scrunched and eyebrows pushed together. Rhys had told her and her and her real mom some of this already. But there's other parts…

“Maybe I should… maybe do those tests. Look at my blood and…” Whatever else needs to be tested. She's not even sure. Her eyes lift off the screen and she looks at Dana.

“Probably not,” is a very quiet confession. Honestly, she isn't sure. There's that invitation to talk to Ms. Zimmerman, maybe she could try that. Squeaks looks at the screen again. If she stares hard enough, then the redacted text might show up, right? “We probably aren't going to find anything else. Not that we could read without all the lines through it.”

Probably not,” Dana agrees. “But let me try one more thing…” she says, keying in another search function.

Search Criteria: “Cindy Morrison” “surrogate” -sec3

As Dana’s search populates with a single entry, she opens a PDF containing information pertaining to none other than Cindy Morrison. There's a photograph of her from a 2001 driver’s license (one Rhys showed Squeaks not long ago) but also other information like familial relationships, blood type, birthdate, and the like. None of it is particularly revelatory, except that Dana seems to think it is.

“Wait,” Dana says, looking at Squeaks, “aren't— didn't you say Gillian was— ” Dana looks back at the monitor, and hovers her mouse over a name in Cindy’s file: Stefan Morrison. There's a numerical code after his name, which she copies and brings back to the search field.

Search Criteria: “00108768-AG” -sec3

It loads a case file, marked ACTIVE in a green box at the top. The photograph of the man staring back at Squeaks is unmistakably her adoptive father. But there's a field that Dana points at, wordlessly:

Status: Suspected Alive, wanted for questioning

And right below that…

Assigned Agent: Bluthner, Rhys

Scooting her chair gives Dana a little more room to work. Squeaks leans in just the same, entering the tech’s space like how her own was invaded. Cindy is recognized, all of the information she can see without controlling the search is given the same kind of general curiosity. There's more she'd like to know, but it's all secondary to her present search.

“Gillian is my real mom.” The teen’s voice stays soft as she answers the unfinished question. She frowns at the name of her adoptive father and almost starts telling Dana what she knows about him when the new search begins.

“Why…” Eyes flick from the screen to the woman and back again in time to see the results. At first she only stares at the picture that looks back from the screen. Then…


Squeaks pushes herself backward and into Dana. Her head shaking, she jabs a finger accusingly at the words on the screen. “No… He can't… he-he-he died. Carolyn too. That's… is it a joke?” She doesn't understand the office pranks that happen occasionally, but maybe this is one? “He… he can't be alive. Why's… why would they think he is?”

Dana closes the file with a click of one hand, using her other arm to wrap around Squeaks’ shoulders in a reassuring embrace. “Hey— hey woah, it’s ok.” Dana steps aside to give Squeaks room to back up further, gingerly letting her out of the quick hug, but keeping one hand on Squeaks’ arm. “I don’t know, maybe Rhys knows? He— ”

It clicks.

“Has— an ability.” Dana says with a furrow of her brows, looking back to Squeaks. “Rhys’ ability is some kind of… I don’t know how to explain it. He can look at someone and see the shadows of their interpersonal connections, as he calls it. Living people appear more distinct than dead. That’s how we built a lot of our wanted lists. It’s not perfect, and it can be wrong, but— he must have…”

Dana looks at the blank screen, then back to Squeaks. “We should stop,” she says resolutely. “I think— I think we’ve done enough for one day.”

“Okay. It’s okay. It’s fine.” It isn’t, but Squeaks is going to let herself believe it is. For now. She only scoots back enough to put Dana in between herself and the laptop. Even though she still eyes the screen — blank now — with suspicion and blame. “It’s okay. This isn’t… those files are helpful but…” But. Stefan Morrison isn’t alive. He can’t be.

She looks up at the tech with a tilt of her head. “Rhys… but how did he… How does…” She’s not really sure how to ask about what Rhys can do, or even what specifically. And those are probably better questions for the agent, as much as she wants to bombard Dana with all of her new wonderings. The intern exhales and angles a squinty look at the screen.

After a few seconds, she nods and relents to the searching. “Probably.” Squeaks reaches up to press a hand against Dana’s arm. Just like the hand that still rests on hers. “Could… can you keep this secret? Unless… unless it turns into something really dangerous. It’s okay to tell then.” She looks up at the woman again.

Dana fixes Squeaks with a thoughtful look, then looks back to the computer without immediately giving her an answer. She’s quiet for a moment, but then nods once to herself and looks back to Squeaks, squeezing the girl’s arm once.

“It’ll be our secret.”

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