From A To X


ff_chel_icon.gif squeaks5_icon.gif pride2_icon.gif

Scene Title From A to X
Synopsis Jac and Dr. Pride seek out a genius' insight into a medical mystery.
Date November 17, 2020

Since being hired on in the Biological Technologies department on a part-time basis, Ourania Pride hasn’t had as much occasion to mix and mingle with other employees outside of her department, and — except for lunches with Sera Lang — tends to keep to herself anyway. Inexplicably, however, she seems to be close to the Ray siblings, Richard and Kaylee in particular. For the last month, she’s been spending a lot of time with one of the interns as well. It’s with her in mind, Jacelyn Childs, that Pride has arranged for a meeting.

Drs. Pride and Cranston have not met in person in the time since Pride joined the staff in September, but hers is at least a name familiar on several e-mail strings.

Subject: Radio Signal Project

Dr. Cranston,
I have a project coming up with Miss Childs regarding the radio facilities in Kansas where I think your expertise and insight would prove invaluable. Would you be amenable to meeting with us Tuesday at 14:00? I appreciate your time.

I hope you have a good afternoon,
Ourania Pride

Raytech-Yamagato Greenhouse
Jackson Heights

November 17, 2020
1:57 PM

It’s wonderful to see the Greenhouse for herself. It’s been nearly three years since Bjarni conceived of it, and to see it bear literal fruit makes the blonde scientist smile and feel somewhat overcome with emotion. Pride wraps an arm around Jac’s shoulders and draws her in briefly, squeezing the teenager to her side. “Sorry,” she murmurs. “I’m feeling sentimental.”

Her hold is relinquished and Ourania has to further resist the urge to smooth out the jacket hanging off her niece’s shoulders. As she leads the way forward, a satchel slung across her body to hold her handwritten notes, her crystal-pommeled cane in her hand, she smiles over to the intern. “Dr. Cranston is one of the most brilliant minds to ever live,” she asserts quietly as they step into an elevator that will take them to the top level of the facility. “We’re so fortunate to have her with us.”

When the door closes, Ourania looks down at Jac. “That’s due in no small part to you,” she reminds the echolocator. That’s to say nothing of her own contribution at the Crossing, but after what she lost at Sunspot… it’s hard to feel much pride in that, pun unintended.

The doors open when they reach their destination and Jac is sent out first, Dr. Pride just behind her at her slightly slower pace. For two months, she’s taken care not to allow a meeting, she’s been afraid of how she’ll react. The three beat cadence of her steps-plus-cane carries through the space, signifying that she’s right there, even without Jac needing to glance back.

When Michelle Cranston steps around the corner of a box that’s home to tall stalks of corn, that rhythm is disrupted. There’s a gasp that accompanies the arrested movement.

Director!” The timbre isn’t quite right, the pitch a little too low, but the essence is there. Chel knows that voice.

The cane clatters to the floor and Ourania’s hands both come up to cover her mouth. Tears fill her eyes. Eyes that Chel can recognize, even if the rest of the woman’s form is unfamiliar to her. Destiny Ruiz hasn’t laid eyes on Michelle Cardinal since she boarded the sub with Else Kjelstrom, leaving her behind in the Ark and for all the dark days that would follow.

As an arm is draped around her shoulder, Jac angles a look up, but it's a look of acknowledgement not reproach. Physical shows of companionship and support aren't something she herself seeks out often — it wasn't that long ago she'd follow up with a grumble about hugs being weird — but she's learned to accept them as most people in her social circles seem to like and seek them.

"It's weird I haven't actually met her," she replies to Ourania's assessment of Dr. Cranston. That's not to say she disagrees or doubts the claim. It's an honest observation. The last time. She'd seen the woman in question was probably while those at the Crossing were in quarantine, if not at Sunspot itself. It leaves a lot to wonder about, naturally curious as she is.

What kind of person is she, and why is she in the Greenhouse? Probably because even geniuses like fresh vegetables and gardening, maybe it's relaxing or…

The young woman's mind wanders as it does, following a path of questions about who the mysterious Dr. Cranston is. She vaguely notices that she's traveled a half step, then a step, then nearly two steps ahead of Ourania. Chances are better than good, too, that she'd have walked right past the one they're looking for if her aunt hadn't suddenly spoken.

An odd thrill — is she afraid? Relieved? Angry? — coils in her chest when Ourania uses the title Director. It's a title that stops her dead in her tracks, now a little better than two steps ahead and angled to not run into the unfamiliar presence of Michelle. Jac Childs swivels a look first at Ourania, almost expecting to find Adam Monroe between them. And maybe hoping, which could explain the vague confusion and twist of disappointment over the empty space that spreads as she turns from her aunt to the woman near the corn crate.

“I don’t care, I want the samples by the end of the week or we’ll go with a different supplier. This is a life or death matter.” It’s only when she’s caught mid-sentence and turning to face someone shouting in her lab that Michelle is revealed to be on the phone, a small wedge-shaped bluetooth earpiece coated in gold plating tucked into her right ear. “I’ve got to go.” She says, then taps the earpiece.

Chel’s expression is a stoic one as she assesses Jac and Ourania, blue eyes narrow and chin up. She carries herself like a woman twice her height and moves with the same deliberate purpose that Jac saw in Adam Monroe all those months ago.

“Doctor Pride, Ms. Childs,” Chel says with familiarity, even if neither of them are familiar when the masks are on. A few nearby technicians checking digital screens attached to garden planters look up at the new arrivals, then over to Chel in momentary inquiry. They dip their heads down as Chel walks past.

There is no warm greeting, just a tired blue-eyed look of a busy woman when she closes the distance to Jac and Ourania. “Let’s go to my office,” she says with the same flat delivery she gives other employees. Ourania can feel a tremor of nerves in Chel, ones too deep and too great to be about this meeting. There’s a twist of guilt, a pang of longing, flavors of sadness and helplessness. There’s a lot more going on beneath the surface than she’s showing.

Chel turns on a heel, moving to a sliding glass door that empties into a concrete stairwell. She begins talking on the ascent, rather than waiting to be in her office. “I haven’t seen you two in quite some time,” she says with less formality in her tone, though no less guarded. “If this is a personal visit, I appreciate the sentiment but I don’t have the time.”

Heck!” Ourania squeaks against her hands. She scrambles to retrieve the cane she’s dropped, motioning Jac on again with a quick wave of her hand. “I’m coming,” she assures with a watery smile. She takes a moment to get her sea legs before she starts off after the pair, moving on toward the office and wiping the tears from her face as she goes.

“If it were personal,” the blonde assures with a hint of cheer to her voice in spite of the emotion she’s experiencing herself, “it’d have happened a lot sooner.” She eyes the stairwell with determination, glad suddenly for the bottle of pills she thought to tuck into her bag. “It should have happened a lot sooner.” There’s her own regret there that makes a smart dance partner with Chel’s guilt.

“Cheer up, Director,” Ourania says in a quiet voice, like they’re sharing a secret. “If you’re struggling with something, there’s plenty of people who’ll help you here.” For Squeaks’ part, she’s never heard her aunt talk in quite this manner. With this inflection or this level of… pep. “That’s why we’re here,” she explains further.

“You’re way smarter than I am, and Jac needs some help running an experiment. But it’s about radio waves and stuff, and…” This is the way Jac hears Ourania talk to someone who doesn’t have a scientific background, not how she talks to her peers, but it’s clear Dr. Pride doesn’t think Chel knows what she’s doing. “I mean, I could fiddle with the knob like you taught me, but I don’t know how to actually calibrate anything. Or read the instruments. Or make adjustments on the fly.” Her eyes get big as she makes that admission, laughing quietly. “I thought maybe you could give me some pointers.”

Blue eyes that are partially masked by a mop of curly red hair flick to Ourania then return to Chel. It is the same woman Jac Childs had seen from a distance, for a very short time, that day at Sunspot. Hearing Ourania call her Director is still unusual — not that it's an unusual title itself, but not one she'd expected to hear — and Chel’s presence of self is nothing that was anticipated. It leaves her wondering…

until she's called by name. A dip of her head acknowledges the greeting, only a little delayed by her confusion.

It's well controlled by the time Dr. Cranston turns away to lead them from the gardens to her office elsewhere in the facility. Jac lingers with Ourania only until she's waved off to follow, which places her somewhere between the two as they start up the stairs.

The young woman glances back as much as she looks ahead. It's partly to check on Ourania, but also done out of a habit that’s usually more subtle now than it was a year ago. Jac still likes to know where she's going and what's around, and it gives her the opportunity to listen and observe without being obvious about it.

Chel’s expression is a flat, impassive mask. At least for a moment. Once there’s a silence from Ourania and a stillness from Jac, Chel stops short outside of the door to her office a couple floors up from where they started. She rounds on Ourania, looking at her with an intense expression and clenched jaw.

Stop it,” Chel says through her teeth, and the bitter wave of resentment that rolls off of her makes everything feel chartreuse to the empath. “Whatever… this is?” She motions up and down at Ourania, eyes wide. “Don’t.

Sparing Jac a longer rebuke that was clearly brewing behind stormy eyes, Chel takes a step back and draws in a sharp breath, then throws her office door open. The lights don’t come on when she enters the room, blinds drawn and only the pale glow of a couple of computer screens to define the edges of the space. She picks up a who-knows-how-old coffee in one hand, chugging it.

“What’s this experiment?” Chel asks, directly, turning her attention to Jac. “Explain the desired outcome and the parameters. What input do you need from me?”

When Chel turns on her like that, she’s met with eyes that are just as wide. There’s confusion there and a hurt that she’s seen before, but on a different face. The posture is familiar, too. Ourania holds herself like someone much smaller than she is. It’s almost like the next words out of her mouth should be What happened to my brother?

But there are no words at all. Nothing beyond a murmured apology from the hangdog woman who keeps her head down now, following the pair into the office and taking a seat only because the hike up the stairs was a difficult one and she needs the respite. The floor is yielded to Jac.

When Chel rounds on Ourania, Jac slants a guarded look at the latter of the two. She'd witnessed someone else turn angry plenty of times with little warning and found it best then to stay silent and still. It's what she practices now, only moving to meet Chel’s look when the director turns to her next. Then, and only once Chel has moved into the office does the redhead follow.

She stays standing once within the office, close enough to Ourania’s shoulder that she could touch it with the smallest movements. And even the light bump of her knuckles could be accidental, but it might also be a silent, subtle offer of support. Either way, the teens eyes roam through the room in habitual exploration instead of drawing attention to it. Her attention lingers on the computer screens longest, but quickly draws back to the woman in charge as she's questioned.

“It's a simple one,” Jac begins carefully, but without any real certainty of how to explain. “My hypothesis is… that the electromagnetic field generated by a person, when exponentially increased, could result in the transmission of radio waves.” It sounds like something by Asimov or even Bradbury, and the realization of it heats her ears. But her hesitation is very brief. “I'm hoping to prove or disprove it. I've read that saltwater increases the attenuation, making it easier to pick up the waves with a transceiver. My plan is to immerse myself into a tub of hot water with a high salinity, and have Ourania or…” she nods to Chel, “maybe you? Work the radio controls to try and find the signal.”

A longer pause follows, as the young woman weighs further explanation. Why it should even be a thing, especially now given the new information. It might be relevant to getting Doctor Cranston’s help. A flick of her eyes dances the unspoken question to Ourania, then redirects it to the director.

Chel shifts her weight to one foot, looking from Ourania to Jac. “It’s not broadcasting,” she says with unearned confidence before turning to her whiteboard. “For a couple of reasons. One, if the frequency you were emitting was a transmitted signal, it’s only emitted on a large enough spectrum to be detected at a range of maybe 18 to 20 meters if the medical documentation Richard forwarded me is accurate.”

Chel picks up a red marker and sketches out a stick figure of a person, then draws squiggly lines coming off of their head. “This is you,” she says, writing Jac below the stick figure. “This is your EM frequency,” she notes to the squiggly lines. “The purported strength is likely due to the power source being minimal, likely nothing greater than a 12-volt battery in layman terms.”

“Now, we can rule out transmission — or surprise me by ruling it in — with a simple test.” Chel says while drawing two very different waves. One set is gradual and sloping, the other is spikier and tighter together. “Electromagnetic radiation common in SLC-Expressives,” she says underlining the first wave, “and radio signals,” she says underlining the second. “Broadcast on the same frequency as SLC-E individuals would result in a lot of signal confusion, especially around other Expressives.”

Moving to her desk, Chel opens a drawer and pulls out a handheld device about the size of a 1980’s cell phone. It’s big and blocky, but has a touch screen. Coming off one end is a plastic-coated cord with a hand-held micro antenna on the end. Chel approaches Jac, pointing the antenna at her while depressing a button on the device.

“This is an electromagnetic field meter, it can detect waveforms down to the mili-Tesla and milli-gauss range.” Chel says as the device beeps twice. She finishes closing the distance to Jac, then turns the device around and shows her the screen. “And here we have it. You’re emitting EM radiation. An ordinary person radiates EM radiation in the 12 micron range which falls into the infra-red category.”

Yamagato PCE EMF-1120
Detection: Success
Field: 0Hz
Magnitude: 38 µT

Chel looks up from the screen to Jac. “The field is 0Hz, that’s a direct current not an alternating current. In order for there to be waveforms, you need an alternating current to create signal strength. This would look more like a…” Chel makes a gesture around her head, “a halo in a spectrum visualization. Except from your whole body. That is like the Expressive frequency, but then we see the magnitude here… 38 microteslas. That’s the same magnitude as the Earth’s magnetic field.”

Chel looks back down at the device for a moment, then back to Jac. “It’s not a transmission. If I had to make an educated guess, it’s a beacon. Like an RFID chip, but different. Not entirely unlike this-timeline’s Company using radioisotope tracking devices.”

Ourania answers Jac’s look with her own brush of knuckles. Good job, it conveys just as much as the proud smile she angles down to the girl. Then she stares at the screen Chel turns toward them, not comprehending the reading. This is not her field of expertise. Which, of course, is precisely why they’re here.

The childlike enthusiasm has gone from her entirely now. This might be more in keeping with what the others in the room expect from her. “So, what are you saying, Dr. Car— Cranston?” Her brows furrow and she focuses on a memory that slips through her fingers, like trying to hold water in her hands. “She’s— Someone’s tracking her with—” Alarmed and fearful, Dr. Pride can’t help but rest a hand on Jac’s shoulder, smoothing it across her back and leaving it to rest between her shoulder blades.

Shaking her head, she looks up to Chel again with wide eyes. “Can you get a reading on Dr. Miller? Or I can do it and report the results for you to interpret for me? I know you’re very busy. But… Dr. Miller had a chip removed from his head. I’m wondering if that might have been part of the signal source?” Her gaze averts momentarily, lips tight as she gives deeper consideration to the situation. When the light bulb goes off again, she returns her attention back to the other scientist. “Mrs. Miller did an experiment with— Right, you know about that, don’t you? Maybe it’s worth scanning her as well?”

Again, Ourania brushes her thumb lightly back and forth over Jac’s spine, finding comfort in the act that she hopes provides comfort in return. “38 microteslas. What does that mean, anyway? Is that a big number? How far could a transmission with that kind of magnitude travel? Could it travel across… strings? Or operate like the Mallett Device?” She sighs, feeling helpless. “I don’t understand any of this, and I want to very badly.” Brow creasing, her expression belies confusion. “The earth’s magnetic field protects it. Could… this be protecting Jac from something?”

Far from being upset that her theory was wrong, Jac is fascinated by the information that Doctor Cranston provides. She misunderstood and ran with the first theory that seemed to fit. And at the same time, there was some correlation to what she'd guessed at — the survivors are likely transmitting something. And that is how science works, right?

“The agents said we're all ourselves,” she says more to Ourania's comfort than Chel’s. That she and the others are possibly being tracked is worrying, but the revelation is more exciting to the teenager than it is frightening. “And nothing in any of us is from one of the other strings.”

The redhead steps forward, politely nosing into the director’s space and property to get a closer look at the drawing and how it relates to the display on the electromagnetic reader thing. Curiosity has a way of blurring those lines that should be respected.

“Is there a way to block it?” Jac wonders out loud. The technology isn't one she's familiar with, but some vague memory of credit cards and some kind of lined envelopes to keep them from being read comes to mind. “Or is it like those ones that get put into pet dogs and cats. It's probably battery powered, not passive. If it's tracking, right?” The young woman lifts her head from studying the reading to look up at the two scientists.

“Accurately? Not far. And it’s a magnetic field, you can’t block it but you can redirect it. Any ferromagnetic surface would suffice — anything with iron, nickel, or cobalt in it.” Chel explains with a wave of one hand. “See, the problem here is that the magnetic energy you’re giving off is a static field. There’s no way to really differentiate you at a distance from say… a refrigerator covered with magnets for Panucci’s Pizza.” A small smile creeps up on Chel’s lips.

“For your signature to be useful it would require someone with specialized equipment like this,” Chel explains with a waggle of the device in her hand, “and line of sight. You could probably devise a magnetometer or a gauss sensor to detect the field you’re emitting, and if they’re expecting to find a person with a specific field strength far greater than a normal person… viola, they found you!”

Shrugging, Chel hands her magnetometer over to Ourania. “But as far as finding you if you’re hiding? It’s likely worthless. But this isn’t precisely my field of expertise, so I might need to read a few books just to brush up on the topic. I wouldn’t be worried about it for meaningful tracking though. Identification? Absolutely. Again, the RFID chip analogy.”

“And none of this is in the supernatural range. Crossing interdimensional boundaries of superstrings — none of that’s possible here. This is strictly the domain of backyard science. What differentiates this from the field Expressives radiate is that it doesn’t have a frequency. It doesn’t modulate. It’s static, so it’s… unremarkable. A blank tag.” Chel tries to find the right comparison and comes up short. “You can borrow that, just return it. I think it was like seven hundred dollars or something ridiculous. Either way, check the others to your heart’s content, but I doubt you’ll glean anything useful from it.”

“Oh and yes,” Chel looks over to Jac. “It’s probably battery powered. Whether that battery is your nervous system or something mechanical, I can’t say for certain. Given they pulled a chip out of Mr. Miller’s head, though? I’m willing to guess a mechanical battery.”

Identification, Dr. Pride mouths as she takes the boxy piece of equipment from Chel, examining it for a moment, then carefully holding it in her lap to ensure she won’t drop it while she picks her bag up from where she left it sitting next to her chair. The magnetometer remains balanced on her knees while she works open the fastenings of her satchel so she can place it inside. The explanation so far has actually managed to relieve some of her fear.

“So, let’s say for a moment that whatever’s taking place here,” Ourania’s head tips toward Jac with the intention of further encompassing the other survivors, “is some kind of hecked up research. They’ve chosen some very unique test subjects, right? Apart from Dr. Miller, it isn’t like it’d be easy to mistake them for anyone else. So why, when it’s simple enough to physically identify one of them, would they need something like an RFID chip to provide further elucidation?”

While she has some theories about her hypothetical scenario, she’s either not brave enough to voice them or prefers to hear what Chel has to say first.

“Batteries.” Jac feels the word out as she steps back, returning Chel’s space to its rightful occupancy. Batteries can malfunction. She’s seen some old enough to have swelled up like a frozen soda can, and others that haven’t exactly burst open completely but had a crusty residue on each end. Dried battery acid, she assumed. Could the battery be contained to the chip then, and something caused it to rupture? “Could that be why the others had those strokes?” she asks quietly, and of no one in particular.

Ourania’s speculation cuts into the teen’s own wonderings and draws a blue-eyed questioning look to the woman seated. A beat later, without anything to add, she angles that same expression up at the Director.

Chel looks back and forth between Ouriana and Jac, then plucks a pencil from behind her ear and taps the eraser on her lips. “As far as the why, you’ll spin in a circle forever trying to estimate the intentions of another person. We don’t know why this was done in the first place, but it’s possible it’s a sort of tracking system? Imagine… expressives with the ability to change faces…” she says with a look down at Ourania. “How would you keep track of them if they slipped into the night? How could you confirm the President is really the President?

Chel may be new to this world, but she’s studied its history enough to know the Sylar/Nathan Petrelli debacle was one that wouldn’t have existed with the proper checks in place to identify shapeshifters. She paces back and forth a bit, briefly chewing on the end of the pencil.

“As for Jac’s question,” Chel says with a wave of her pencil like a magic wand at the teen, “I would say probable. Battery leakage would’ve been discovered on toxicology reports and blood panels, though. Any heavy metals poisoning would’ve been noticed. That said, if there’s something going on with a secondary implant, let’s say the chip that was removed wasn’t responsible?” She waggles the pen around. “Malfunctioning implants could cause any number of neurological problems.”

Going back to the whiteboard, Chel tucks her pencil back behind her ear and picks up a marker. She quickly draws five stick figures on it. “Let’s say, for sake of argument, this is the crash survivors. Each implanted with some sort of cerebral chip.” Waggling her marker at the drawings, Chel looks back to Ouriana and Squeaks. “Now, that seems fine. Cause, effect.”

Turning her backs to the two, Chel then draws a little airplane above them. “Now, let’s take pipeline issues into effect. These five are now traveling on a plane going from Point A,” and she writes the letter A on one end of the board, “and Point B” which she writes on the other end of the board.

“At Point A, our survivors are implanted with some technology that serves a functional purpose. But let’s say for the sake of argument that this wasn’t the final step.” Chel then draws an arcing arrow from Point A to Point B, crossing through the airplane. “These people are to be shipped to a second manufacturing plant to receive their final modifications. Maybe the difference between hardware and software.”

Then, Chel draws an X through the airplane. “But the plane never makes it. Now we have a group of people with implants that lack critical updates for operation…” One by one, Chel draws an X through the people. “And as their hardware fails due to bugs or entropy or any number of internal problems… they suffer medical emergencies.”

Looking back to the others, Chel raises one brow. “Maybe the problem isn’t what’s been implanted, but what’s missing?

But Chel ultimately shrugs and puts the cap back on the marker. “Unfortunately we don’t have enough information to truly speculate on that one way or another. For all we know timed seizures is the goal. A cerebral time bomb? The possibilities are too numerous.”

Ourania snaps her fingers. “Of course!” There’s been multiple of those moments for her as Chel has been speaking, and she’s kicked herself for just about each for not thinking of them herself. It’s allowed her to distract herself from the discomfort of being looked at directly and more or less accused of being a shapeshifter.

Excited now, she fixes the other scientist with a wide eyed look. “Chel, what about iron levels? I realize it’s not typical of, say, a lithium ion battery, but… Mrs. Miller has had an incredible spike in her iron levels since she tried to reboot herself.” She draws a little circle in the air by her ear — not in the way that teenagers in the 90s tried to signify someone might be insane — but merely to indicate the brain.

“But she isn’t showing any signs of secondary hemochromatosis, nor do the levels seem to be otherwise adversely affecting her physiology.” What do they even do with that? “Although…” Tipping her head to one side, she considers. “A leap in iron absorption and decrease in shedding would be consistent with some of the— ” Ourania hesitates, reaching out to squeeze Jac’s arm briefly, because she’s about to share something kind of scary, but she also promised not to hide things from her, “— Leukemia-like traits of the survivors’ comprehensive metabolic panels and their complete blood counts.”

Looking Jac up and down with a studying gaze, the blonde continues, shifting to the other hypothesis. “Maybe the ID signal is something like the old bag-and-tags? But by putting the tracker in the brain instead,” she taps the side of her neck, “of somewhere more easily removed… Or like those awful implants from—” That very thought makes her brow furrow and sees the breath push out of her lungs all at once. That topic is set aside entirely.

Fishing her phone out, she starts furiously tapping on her screen to do a little research while she talks. “Note to self,” she mutters while she types, “hit Nanette with another round of transfusions to check for elevated levels of iron versus stabilizati— Aha!” Holding up her phone, she taps the screen with her nail. Some Wikipedia article with a photo of Thomas Edison embedded.

“NiFe batteries. Nickel-Iron.” She turns the phone back to herself so she can read: “Nickel-iron cells should not be charged from a constant voltage supply since they can be damaged by thermal runaway.” Lifting her head again, Ourania frowns thoughtfully. “To charge one of those puppies, you need one-point-six-five volts. Mrs. Miller hit herself with somewhere between seventy and a hundred and twenty. If she had one of those in her head in some capacity… And a NiFe battery doesn’t have the same hazardous material requirements as a battery made with lead or cadmium. So if a company wanted to source the materials for it… Well, it’d draw a lot less scrutiny, wouldn’t it?”

Scratching the back of her head, suddenly self-conscious and realizing she’s gotten carried away by her excitement, she sighs, shoulders slouching a bit as she lowers her head, turning off her phone’s screen before tucking it away again. “Sorry. I’m just mostly thinking out loud at this point. I guess my next step is to get some measurements.” Ourania pats her bag where the magnetometer waits patiently to be put to use again.

By the way Jac’s focus went from puzzling about batteries to trying to follow Chel’s explanation on the possible unfinished-ness of whatever experiments were done to the survivors, it's likely she got a little lost. The subject matter is well beyond her scope of understanding, which she knew would be the case going in. Undaunted by the level of genius, the teen listens to both women, absorbing as much of the information as she can.

“Miller electrocuted herself with cerebral implants of unknown origins,” Chel says flatly. “The odds of her having damaged something are significant. If the battery theory is correct, it could be ruptured and leaking into her bloodstream or into her brain. Just because she doesn’t have present symptoms doesn’t mean something isn’t happening. We don’t know what was done to the survivors, if they were manipulated on other genetic levels. A multitude of things could be at play and medicine can oftentimes be as much hunt and peck as it is precise science.”

Huffing a lock of gray-streaked blonde hair out of her face, Chel rests her hands on her hips. “Without any more information I think we’re just spinning our wheels. And,” she quickly glances at the clock, “I think I’m also running up against a meeting with Yamagato Industries’ rep. Unless you two had another quick question?”

At the comment about the nature of medicine, Ourania demures, her head canting to one side. There is a certain measure of grasping at straws involved. "Your insights have been exceptionally helpful, Dr. Cranston." A few more hastily tapped notes into her phone, and she's gathering herself to stand again.

"I won't take up any more of your time for now. I'll get this equipment back to you as soon as I can." Ourania holds out a hand to Chel. "Thank you so much. Jac, did you have anything else?"

As Jac looks up at Chel, her mouth tugs with the intent of speaking. She has plenty of questions, but can’t seem to land on any one that could be answered in a few words. An effort is made, lips twisting the other direction, nose wrinkling. But after a short moment she shakes her head no. Maybe another time she’ll have things to ask.

“Thank you, Doctor Cranston.” Jac moves aside so Ourania has space to stand and gather her things. “I’m glad I finally got to meet you.”

Michelle looks from Ourania to Jac, a gentle smile crossing her lips. “Likewise,” she says quietly. When her attention settles back on Ourania, her brows furrow together with one rising slowly.

“Best of luck with this.” Chel says, then looks to her whiteboard in deep consideration.

“…whatever this is.”

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