Get Ahead


kaylee6_icon.gif odessa4_icon.gif

Scene Title Get Ahead
Synopsis When the results come in from KC following the Twitter leak, Odessa calls the person she trusts the most.
Date December 1, 2020

Raytech NYCSZ Branch Office: Dr. Pride's Lab

Odessa has wasted no time this morning. On any given day, she generally stops at the front desk to chit-chat with Sera about whatever little bit of nothing they’ve decided to latch onto before heading to the breakroom to brew coffee, then to her lab to tuck her things away in her locker. Only then does she sit down at her workstation and get things moving.

Today, however, she brought coffee from home, walked past Sera with only a hand raised as greeting in her haste to make her way swiftly to her lab before she can be waylaid by anyone else. Once at her desk, she sends a message through the office IM.

O: Just got in. Meet down here?

She doesn’t expect a response, just for Kaylee Thatcher to arrive at her door within minutes. They have much to discuss.

Odessa isn’t wrong. The speed at which the telepath shows up at the lab, means she didn’t take time to freshen up and change her clothes. It’s evident in the way her hair is pulled up in a messy bun, the grey Brooklyn College hoodie, worn jeans and crocs… but we won’t talk about those. Kaylee hasn’t even bothered with make-up so the bags under her eyes from the stress of the few days is showing.

And boy Odessa can feel that stress.

“Welcome back,” Kaylee says without a lot of enthusiasm, thanks to the anxiety and fear for whatever news the woman has. There is a grogginess to her voice, meaning she’d probably been napping on her couch.

“Jesus,” Odessa can’t stop herself from saying when she gets a good look at the state of her friend, as well as a read on her emotional state. “Sorry,” she mutters. “Sit, please.” She gestures to the chair she’s pulled up next to her workspace. She turns her monitor so that both of them will be able to see better.

There’s no good reason to put up any preamble, so Odessa just launches right into it. “I made them run your sample first.” Which means, “The leak that hit the news yesterday…” She shakes her head slowly, lips pressing together. “That’s you. Those nanites are in you.

Brows pop-up at that tidbit of news and Kaylee sits heavily on one of the lab’s stools. “Really?” She knew about the leak and had been waiting for DoE to crash the party and start yelling. She had neglected to tell them about this bit of research. Oops.

“Better mine, than one of the others,” Kaylee finally says with a heavy sigh, rubbing at tired eyes. There is definitely a low simmering anger over the leak. “I have Jared saddling up to act like a puffed up rooster at the lot of them and Bob’s dispatching a security team down there.” She can’t help but smile a bit. “Let’s see them try that again.”

Still, Kaylee waves that away for what’s more important to her in the moment, “Was that all there was? I mean… being full of… those is kinda scary, but explains why we healed so fast.”

Maybe.” It’s with a much quicker shake of her head that Odessa presses on before Kaylee can launch another question at her. “I don’t know yet what it looks like for the others. Do you all have nanites in your blood? I can’t say. I’ll be getting returns on samples until about mid to late January. They take days to process, plus the upcoming holidays… We’ll be lucky if we can get two back per week.”

That is more than just a little frustrating.

“I have a theory, though. I won’t be able to confirm it until we can get results from Abby, Dr. and Mrs. Miller, and Mr. Faulkner, but.” Folding her hands together tightly to keep from doing any sweeping gestures out of her nervousness, she presses on. “When they removed the chip from Dr. Miller’s head, they found the nanites. You, Abby, and Isaac all had brain bleeds on November Eighth. Mrs. Miller suffered one as a result of her ECT experiment on November Fifth. I think the nanites are in everyone, but that they’re up here.

Odessa taps the side of her head just behind her ear. Inside their skulls, not some figment of their imaginations. “I think those of you who had the bleeds will have nanites in your blood for sure. Dr. Miller’s results are scheduled to come in next, so I’ll have something to compare against hopefully soon.”

“I’d say that there is no doubt the software is flawed and it’s going to happen again,” Kaylee comments with a bland tone, though there is a hint of moisture gathering - though no tears fall. She was trying not to act.

Swallowing back the emotions that threaten to choke her, Kaylee focuses on what that all means. “Doesn’t explain how all of us had it happen at the same time, but with different results.” which seems to bother her. “Unless maybe it was a failed software update.” That draws out a bitter huff of amusement and she shakes her head.

“Since they pulled that chip out of Dr. Miller’s head, I’ve been doing some reading,” Kaylee manages to keep herself composed, turning back to business quickly. They couldn’t keep a good telepath - even a former one - down. “I found some research on using electromagnetic energy to drive nanobots. Using it as a powersource and direction. We need to find someone to crack that code.” Maybe then they’d have an idea of their function.

“I’m…” Odessa trails off, thinking better of revealing her further hypotheses for now, when it’s all just speculation and conjecture. Perhaps after she’s gathered more data. But until then, it seems to her that there’s little sense in giving Kaylee more worry to chew on. “That much I can’t help you with. That’s not my area of expertise, but…”

Pulling a tissue out of a box on the far side of her workstation, she passes it to Kaylee without any comment as to why it would be useful to her. “If you look here,” Odessa turns her attention toward the monitor, bringing up the image that Kaylee’s likely burned into her retinas by now, “this is what those nanites look like. But these are… organic.” And if that’s baffling to Kaylee, Odessa makes it clear from her tone that it’s mystifying to her as well.

Basically, they’re made from the same stuff that our bones and cartilage are made up of. I posit that this is to reduce the body’s chance of adverse reaction to having metal introduced to it, as well as to help avoid detection. A person, like you, could be infected and we’d never know. Except I realized I’d probably be able to find something on the electron microscope, and…” Odessa waves her hand at her screen. “I was right.”

A couple of keyboard strokes and Odessa’s bringing up some side-by-side charts that… frankly don’t make a lot of sense to someone without a degree in a scientific discipline. “On the left is your blood. On the right is one of the samples of the InVerse synthetic blood.” How to explain… “You remember cell phones from before the war.” That’s not a question. Odessa knows this is an effective baseline to begin from. “Let’s say both of these are like iPhones. They’re fancy, they’re high tech, they’re amazing little machines.”

Pointing to the InVerse sample, Odessa continues, “But this? Is like like having the iPhone 3. Does some awe inspiring things with that speedy little computer brain it has. But you all?” She shakes her head. “It’s like jumping straight to the 4S. Suddenly everything that was already great is even better. This stuff loaded itself into a trebuchet and catapulted forward an entire generation.”

One black painted nail taps against the monitor over the graph explaining what incredible properties must be possessed by Kaylee’s blood. “All of you still test as your own blood type, but your blood adapts to a new host. InVerse can’t do that. You can use the universal stuff, like we have, but best results are achieved with their product by matching types. If I had to hazard a guess, InVerse is the blueprint for the foundations of what’s going on inside of you.”

Sighing finally, she takes a moment just to breathe, ceasing her excited babbling. “I know that’s a lot. What questions do you have for me?”

By the end of it, Kaylee’s hands are folded in front of her face, one gripping the other, the tissue she’s offered clutched tightly in the curled fists. Blue eyes don’t leave the screen for a long time, brows furrowed while she tries to wrap her head fully around what she’s been told.

There is a small shake of her head. What could she even ask?

“No questions just yet…. But that explains why the X-rays look normal, except for that mass,” Kaylee finally says, lips moving against the side of her hand. Still she stares at that organic thing that had once been living in her.

“Geezus… So… for now we can put InVerse at the bottom of our suspect list.” Not that Kaylee feels completely convinced. “As it is, Renautas-Weiss is currently at the top of it because they dabble in synthetic blood and has the nanotechnology.”

Blue eyes shift to Odessa, there’s concern there. “I want you to consider having a security detail for a little while, now that this information is out. You’ll have a target on your back.” Kaylee doesn’t mention Raytech having a target as well.

Then something occurs to her, “Did any of my samples change since the stroke?” Kaylee waves at the screen dismissively. “Beyond that, did any of the numbers change?”

“So far as I can tell?” Odessa frowns thoughtfully. “The nanites are the change. Like I said earlier, I think the brain bleed may have introduced them to your vascular system. You should probably set up a meeting where I can explain this to everyone as a group. Let them ask their questions. With the leak… We need to get ahead of this.” With a dismissive shake of her head – that’s a later problem – she continues. “The samples I’ve run in-house so far are showing no changes to what I’ve previously observed. Except,” her head tilts to one side as she grants the exemption to her blanket statement, “for Mrs. Miller’s.”

There’s no images to switch to for that, but she does bring up Kaylee’s once again. “WBC counts are still way up, sodium, potassium, and chloride are double what they should be, hormone levels are uniformly low across the board for everyone screened. Mrs. Miller’s blood, however, is additionally showing high concentrations of–” The phone on Odessa’s desk begins to ring, interrupting her train of thought. “Hang on. Let me just send this to–”

Odessa pauses with her hand hovering over the Do Not Disturb button on her phone which would send all calls straight to voicemail. “Wait, that’s Sera.” Which shouldn’t be out of the ordinary, except— “Sera communicates to me almost exclusively in memes over IM. She never calls.” Flashing an apologetic look to Kaylee, she lays her hand on the receiver. “I should take this.”

The sound of the ringtone makes Kaylee jump a little. At the news it’s Sera, brows tip but Kaylee motions her to answer it not at all bothered by the interruption. The former telepath just busies herself with staring at the information on the computer screen, which is probably greek to her.

“I’ll just be a second. She’s probably mad I didn’t leave her a donut.” Odessa picks up the phone and tucks it between her shoulder and ear. “This is Pride. What’s up, Sera?” Immediately she recoils from the noise. The handset clatters to the desk before she manages to get a grip on it and bring it back up again, this time not held directly to her ear. The noise on the other end of the line is distinctly Sera, but the noise bleed tells Kaylee no more than that.

“Sera, Sera, Sera! Slow down! Take a deep breath and —” Odessa winces as Sera repeats her excitable screeching on the other end of the line. “Okay! Okay!” Her face has gone pale and she waves a hand quick to make sure she has Kaylee’s attention. “Put them in the big conference room and tell them I’ll be there as soon as I can.”

Before the receptionist can try to snag her into a further conversation, Odessa slams down the receiver and swivels in her chair to face Kaylee. “Call Mr. Harrison. Get Richard out of bed.” Hands tremble as they dance over the keys and manipulate the mouse so she can close all her relevant windows and eject a flash drive, which she presses into Kaylee’s hands. “Take this. It’s all the information. None of it’s on the server. Take my notes, too.” She flips closed her notebook and hands that to her friend as well. “Get it all off campus. I don’t care where. In fact, don’t tell me where.”

Climbing to her feet, Odessa shrugs out of her lab coat and leaves it draped over the back of her chair and snatches up her cane. There’s a frantic look cast around the lab as she tries to see if there’s anything else that needs scrubbing before she goes. “They’ll likely be looking to intercept you — or someone. Take the back way to the corporate housing that Richard made for me.”

Leave it to Odessa Price to have an exit strategy already in place.

It all happens in a whirlwind of Odessa’s brand of panic and Kaylee is left clutching a hard drive and looking confused. In fact, she can’t help but be caught up in all of the panic and ends up on her feet too, trying to squash the growing note of panic in herself. If it was something really bad, she would have gotten a call too.

Right? Fingers tighten around the drive, held close to her chest.

“Wait,” Kaylee says holding a hand out to stop the other woman from leaving just yet. At least not without answering a rather important question, “Who is here?”

Kaylee can’t possibly know — not without her ability — why Odessa is so frightened of whoever’s waiting for her in that conference room. She’s paused by the hand on her arm, wide blue eyes fixed on her friend. It had completely escaped her to explain why she needs her to hide the evidence of her work. Just five words can’t paint the full picture, but at least they give an inkling:

“The Department of the Exterior.”

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