Human Intervention


amalia_icon.gif bowie_icon.gif kayla_icon.gif

Scene Title Human Intervention
Synopsis SESA's collected professionals find a few breadcrumbs to follow.
Date July 26, 2018

Fort Jay

Being presented with the bisected corpse of a rat, of all things, initially confounded SESA's technical support department; wildlife, whether urban or otherwise, is not normally under their purview. They left it on figurative ice for several days, playing internal hot potato with the job of dissecting it until the quandary finally reached the right ears. Then Amalia proceeded to spend yet more days studying the normal morphology of rats, a species that had never figured highly even in her eclectic experience. Or, truth be told, at all. Thus it isn't until just over two weeks after Agent Lin brought in the problematic corpse that he's summoned in to receive the associated findings.

The examination room in which Amalia waits is sterile and citrus-scented, its decor all white and steel, and built to a scale considerably larger than the bodies it now hosts. Plural, for there's not one but two rats laid out in dissecting trays, one whole and the other not, both laid belly-down and with a minimum of obvious disruption to form, seeming only a little macabre in the fact of their death.

The woman herself leans against a nearby table, pen in hand, but appearing to be reviewing rather than writing notes.

Agent Lin is, if nothing else, prompt. He comes to the examination room as soon as he gets word. There's a little knock as he enters, a smile there when he spots her.

"Amalia, it's good to see you," he says in greeting. "I had heard the, uh, specimen ended up in your lap. Oh, not literally. I hope." Because that would be messy. He glances toward the bodies— more than he was expecting to see there— and blinks. And then looks back at her. "I know this is probably for comparison, but at this point, I would not be surprised if you told me it cloned itself," he says, confronting the macabre with humor. It's easy to picture it as a holdover from his nursing days, working to keep patients relaxed and at ease. Nowadays, the only person it's keeping steady is himself. But it works, so he carries on doing it.

The woman starts at the knock, looking up and smiling warmly as she catches sight of the agent. "Hey, Bowie." The smile broadens into a grin at his quip, and Amalia shakes her head. "No, no, that's entirely on me. I've scrutinized a lot of mammals in my time— " Having a distinctly non-traditional background for a medical examiner. "— but rats, well. Not something anyone ever bothered much about."

Her smile takes on a distinctly apologetic cast. "That's half the reason all this took so long. I had a lot of reading to do, and I'm a bit rusty besides." She taps her pen against the notebook, glancing past Bowie towards the door. "We still need— "

The distinctive clicking of heels on tile bisects Amalia's statement rather like the rat on the table. Shortly after, Kayla Reid strides into the examination room, clipboard and folder in hand, resting idle against her forearm. "Bowie. Amalia." She gives a brusque nod to each of the two already in the room, glances over the dead rats, and plants herself on one side of the examination table, clearly intending to remain as an observer. Which is distinctly not normal procedure.

"Sorry if I kept you waiting," Kayla adds, more out of token courtesy than actual regret. Waiting is a thing that happens with busy people, after all.

"Don't even worry about it," Bowie says, as far as how long it took, "it's definitely a strange case. Thanks for digging into it, though. I'll appreciate any insight you've got." He pulls a small notebook out of his pocket, as well as a pen. It helps him remember things, writing them down, even if he often receives reports that cover the same information.

He glances toward the door at the sound of someone else approaching. Surprise shows in lifted eyebrows when Kayla comes in and makes herself at home. "Hey Kayla," he says, all the same. "Came to see the weird and exciting?" Obviously, he doesn't really think she's just here for the novelty of it. There's a curiosity to his expression, but he doesn't jump on what she might have to add to this debriefing. It'll come around. "Nah, you didn't. I just got here."

"Exciting," Kayla echoes dryly, "sure."

Amalia gives the other woman a purely social smile before moving over to the examination table. Gloving her hands, she reaches for a probe resting in one of the dissection trays, using its slim metal tip as a pointer. "Well, then. Let me start by saying your specimen has all the usual parts in all the usual places, allowing for it having been cut in half."

"Which is what we'd expect to see," she adds as an aside, "given that the same is true for SLC-E humans. There are rare documented cases of small-scale physiological changes, but not of the kind that would show up in autopsy." There's a distinct enthusiasm to Amalia's tone as she relates her findings and commentary, as of anyone who enjoys her work and the opportunity to share it with others — for all that her particular field skews towards the macabre.

"That said…" Amalia touches the point of the probe to the head of her more-intact comparison specimen. "There are small but probably significant differences in skull structure, particularly cranium size and therefore the size of the brain inside it. I'd need several more samples to be certain this one isn't a fluke," she comments apologetically, "but we'll go with the expectation that it isn't until proven otherwise."

Kayla takes notes on exactly none of this, but then she's not an investigator, and the full written report will fall into her purview soon enough.

Bowie does take notes, which at least means the report will be thorough. Strange, but thorough. He nods to the parts of her findings that are expected, the excitement in her tone keeping him hopeful. He looks up at her, then follows the point of the probe to the rat. "It's brain is bigger," he repeats, lifting his eyebrows some before he actually writes that down. "That's weird," he says, but in such a way that implies that weird is good. For this case, it certainly is. "So we might need to set up traps for electric rats in the sewers," he says, then his arms drop to his sides, "I have no idea how to requisition that."

But he shakes that thought off and refocuses on Amalia. "Is there any evidence that the SLC-E animal was the result of an experiment? Human intervention. Lab rat, something like that?"

"You'd need Faraday cages," Kayla remarks. "Probably a custom design." She looks from the rats to Bowie and shrugs slightly. "Requisitions aren't my venue." Which is to say, she doesn't know, either.

Amalia skips over that subject altogether. To the inquiry that falls squarely into her court, she remains quiet for a moment, lips pursing thoughtfully. "I did do one thing — I ran samples from both rats through a DNA fingerprinting kit. They came out… very different." Another momentary, pensive pause. "All that really says is that their DNA chops up differently. Nothing about what the differences are or where they came from."

The examiner leans her hip against the table, looking between Bowie and Kayla. "That said… you don't see differences like that between -E and -N humans. So I wouldn't say it's a natural rat."

"You'd be right," Kayla states in the wake of that conclusion. "But it's not a 'new' experiment, either."

“That sounds expensive,” Bowie comments dryly, because one thing he does know about getting requisitions approved is that the cheaper the better. No matter which arm of the government he’s worked for, that remains true.

The DNA findings, though, that seems to be better news. Or, at least, something he feels is better news. “Okay, so someone was poking around in there. That’s good, that means there’s a source to all this.” Naturally occurring SLC-E animals would be a different beast all together. Less of an investigation and more of a panic for animal control.

When Kayla adds to the matter, Bowie turns her way, lifting an eyebrow. “It isn’t?” That’s less of a question, exactly, and more of a prompt for her to continue.

Going by the expression Amalia turns Kayla's way, this is new information for the examiner, too.

Kayla nods briefly to Bowie. "Turns out," she continues, hefting the folder in her hands just enough to draw attention to it, "the Company thought it was a brilliant idea, back in the 80s, to test their ability-granting Formula on rats." By tone, she is patently not a fan of the prospect herself.

"Overseen by one Victoria Pratt," Kayla adds, sliding the folder free and extending it to Bowie. "Company Founder, biological engineer, based out of the Fort Hero facility on Montauk. We have brief mention of these experiments being conducted, and of their final success: a rat with electromimicry."

Imagine that fills the space after she stops speaking, unvoiced yet nearly audible nonetheless.

"So it turned into electricity and escaped," Amalia muses. "And now, thirtyish years later, we have a bunch running wild in Brooklyn. Talk about unintended consequences."

Bowie lowers his notepad when Kayla explains, a hand moving to his hip as he takes the news in. He isn't much of a fan himself, it seems. But he gives her a quiet thank you all the same when he takes the folder to flip through. It isn't a lot, so he closes it again fairly quickly and looks over at her again. "We've got some ex-Company in the ranks," he says, even though they all know that, "I'll see if they know anything else. Maybe Corbin has some idea of just how much cocaine the Company's founders were doing back when."

He looks back to the folder, giving it a second, closer look.

"I guess I'm going to need to requisition those Faraday cages after all," he says. And that part isn't a joke. "The kids— Winters, Gerken, they seemed to think RayTech would be willing to pitch in. Maybe we can see if the Rays would give us a discount." Which is neither here nor there for anyone in this room, but he muses the thought anyway. "Kayla— thanks for digging this up."

Kayla gives a thin smile at the expression of gratitude, more form than function. "We do, at that." Have ex-Company in the ranks. She makes no comment as to the Faraday cages; that's not her problem. Not these days. And if Kayla feels more than a bit of relief at that fact, she'll indulge it when she's back at her desk.

She glances to Amalia and gives the examiner a brief nod, then steps away from the table, starting for the door. "By the way, if you feel like taking a tour of Fort Hero," Kayla casts over her shoulder along the way, "well, you know where I'll be."

Behind her computer. Working.

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