Look To The Shadows


asi5_icon.gif kaylee6_icon.gif

Scene Title Look To The Shadows
Synopsis Kaylee asks Asi to peer into the shadows of the Dark Web for answers.
Date October 28, 2020

Eileen’s cafe was quickly becoming one of Kaylee’s favorite places to go when she needed to meet with people. If anyone asked, she’d tell them it reminded her of her time in the Ferry, living in the dark and shadowy areas of New York. The coffee was a lot better now and she wasn’t running for her life, but damn if she wasn’t still over her head in shady shit.

It was going to be heading into the last call for coffee in a few hours, so that the speakeasy could take over once most of the world was asleep.

“I know it was really last minute, but I need your help,” Kaylee says rather apologetically. Resting a hand on the file in front of her, the other wraps around the warmth of her hot mocha. She looked like she needed something stronger than coffee, honestly. “The science team at Raytech made a significant breakthrough on some of what’s going on with us. I’m pretty sure Yi-Min or Dr. Miller will get this uploaded to the server, but I couldn’t wait.”

Asi only shakes her head, eyes on Kaylee even though her interest is clearly going to be on the file's contents. All things in due time. A cerulean blue scarf is wound its way round her neck today, providing a splash of color against the backdrop of her black clothing. "No, of course. Anything I can do to help."

It's not quite a smile, but Asi's brow beedles together with some quiet expression like it. "Truth be told, I've been waiting to launch from the blocks for some time now. I knew the medical sorts figuring out their answers would take time, but…" She finishes a sip from her own drink before setting it aside entirely, pulling her phone from her pocket to take whatever notes needed. "What are we looking at?"

“Our blood. More importantly our red blood cells,” Kaylee states flatly, not elaborating right away.

The file is slid over to Asi, though what’s inside is mostly filled with medical terms and such. Mostly photocopies of research notes, hand written. “I didn’t wait for Dr. Pride to transcribe… so I apologize if most of it is handwritten.” Pulling her hand back. She wraps both around the cup, eyes on the cover of the file.

“What it comes down to is our blood may very well be what is sustaining us and how Shaw is alive after being skewered,” Kaylee sounds rather grim, whatever is going on isn’t setting well with her. “There was a lot to it, but while our red blood cells look normal it doesn’t act that way. It doesn’t divide, it doesn’t age the same, it doesn’t act like it should.”

Kaylee goes silent for a moment as someone passes their table.

Asi waits for Kaylee to finish her layman's explanation of it all and only then slides the folder closer and open. Skimming the page, she realises many of the terms go over her head without a reference to know what they mean, but at least the handwriting is neat. It'll take time to go through, though.

"Some form of… low-grade regeneration? No, no you said…" Her brow begins to furrow. "It doesn't age?" The corner of her mouth pulls back into a frown. "That's bizarre. And coupled with what happened with our white counts…"

It indicated their bodies should be fighting something, constantly. If not outright dead from what they should be struggling against. She tries not to postulate any more without additional information. It's clear this is going to need a full read. "Okay. What do you think I can help with, exactly?"

Because this all still sounded out of her league.

Kaylee lets go of her cup and holds up her hands, “Wait. It gets a lot weirder still.” Reaching across the table she flips to a page and taps a word on it. The word ‘pig’. Lowering her voice she explains how in the world it could get weirder. “The platelets have a roughly four month shelf life, far exceeding regular, and mutates to the host.” Her hand flattens and pushes the page enough to show a photo labeled Kermit. “Dr. Ourania injected pigs with sample blood and it mutated to be usable to the pig’s system.”

The former telepath almost seems excited by this even though it’s super alarming. “Asi, do you see it? Someone is poised to benefit with a breakthrough like this. Imagine the shit ton of money someone could get with this discovery.” Tapping that pig picture, she watches Asi’s reaction to see if she gets what Kaylee is getting at. “I need your help monitoring the dark web and black markets for someone boasting about medical technology like this.”

Leaning back and wrapping hands around her drink again, Kaylee gives Asi a significant look, “Whoever did this may very well be on the lookout for buyers or investors.”

That gets her attention. Until now, Asi had been convinced whatever had happened to them was a political ploy, even if one performed by well-funded terrorists. The sheer number of highly-connected individuals impacted pointed almost irrefutably to that. However…

"Truly universal blood?"

Someone could change the world with an invention like that. Universal, and not to mention, resistant to degradation? It didn't explain why it was running through their veins, but it was alarming and painted a new target on their backs should anyone find out they had it.

Asi's brow furrows as she looks down at the photographs. "I'll set up watch, see if there's any murmurings about something like this. Done. Without a doubt." She shoots a look up to Kaylee. "But this doctor you've involved, the one not us— they can be trusted?" There's a hard edge to her tone. "They wouldn't take this and do something with this information?"

There is a moment of hesitation, before Kaylee gives a firm nod. “I trust her.” There is a slight twitch of her brows and flicker of pain in those blue eyes. “Mostly, without my ability I can’t be one hundred percent. However, Yi-Min and Miller haven’t complained yet about her involvement and she’s a biologist, which means this is right up her alley.” Kaylee motions to the file. “She’s done things we all haven’t thought of, yet.”

There is a sigh that escapes her as Kaylee admits, “I can’t guarantee anything, but… with her, we’ve learned about our weird blood, that there is no evidence of known cloning methods, no crisper tampering… and my DNA matches exactly from before and after the crash.” She gives a helpless shrug with her hands, “Except for the fact I am coming up Non-SLC.” There is a wrinkle of her nose and a grimace.

“Dr. Pride is giving us new avenues to explore, is what I am saying,” Kaylee says with a faint, crooked smile. “And currently one of our best weapons to find out who the fuck did this.”

Asi keeps her expression deadpan throughout, though Kaylee's moment of hesitation, to her, speaks volumes. Even if it was born from not having her ability, it was a lack of certainty born from something.

The note she pens for herself on her phone is in Japanese. There's one bullet for looking into selling of blood of high-quality, and another for looking into Dr. Ourania Pride.

"We have to expand our circle of experts if we're going to succeed. We just have to hope it's the right people we're bringing into the loop." Asi closes the folder. "Can I keep this copy?"

“I brought it for you,” Kaylee says with a nod. “I figured there might be useful keywords for your search.” She only knows so much about it. “If you want to add a search of any… I don't know… websites where you might be able to find medical journals. I’m going to be doing a search, too, but I’m not as net savvy as you are.”

There is a shake of Kaylee’s head, before she rubs the side of her face tiredly. “Our luck is they have it under lock and key, but I’m hoping someone is going to want to profit. I know something like this would make Raytech rich.”

Kaylee’s brows furrow some, thoughtful. “Which doesn’t explain stealing away me and Nakamura.” Both of them being owners of well-known companies. “Still worth a look into.”

"Doesn't it? If there's some company out there that may eventually want to blackmail you and yours, who wants to keep you under their thumb somehow…" Asi only shakes her head, taking a sip from her coffee again. She's always come at this with that particular bent. Some other boot is sure to drop eventually, if their kidnapping and stripping wasn't the end of the attack on their beings.

"Anyway, I'll take this and do some digging. I'm not sure what I'll find, so give me a day or two to get back to you." For a moment, her brow slants, and she admits quietly, "It'll be a good distraction from obsessing how everything went wrong at …" Asi stops short, glancing back at Kaylee. Normally, she'd not trust someone enough after this little time, after so few encounters, but they've both shared traumas now, and we're sharing other secrets besides. She continues more quietly, "At the Xpress Yourself event."

"I was there," she adds for missing, needed context. "Eve's a friend, and I wanted to support her. We should have known better the likes that would be attracted, though. We should have done better." Her voice cracks on the first syllable of, "I should have done better. But I didn't. I couldn't sense what was out of place until it was blowing up in my fucking face." It's more honest and raw than she meant to be, and she looks down at her drink and the file. "… Like I said, the distraction is welcome."

“I heard what happened,” Kaylee says solemnly, with a touch of sympathy. It had been a huge news story after all. “I… I wanted to go, but I… “ she sighs softly through her nose and offers another crooked smile, “It would have stung too much to watch all those people showing off what they had, so I stayed home.”

Dipping her head to the folder in front of the other woman, Kaylee says, “If I get anymore that needs your brand of expertise, I’ll make sure to bring it to you. I’m working to keep the files updated on that thing you gave us all too. Likewise if you need any help from me, I might not have my ability, but I’m still able to wade into shit. So let me know - you have my number and know where I live - even if you need a place to lay low.”

There is a touch of amusement as she adds, “I’ve been told I tend to be in the habit of gathering strays in need.”

Fidgeting with the cooling cup of coffee, Kaylee studies the woman across from her. “How are you otherwise holding up in this shittiest of years?”

Asi comes back from the place her mind had started to wander to with a vague shake of her head. The offer of a place to stay if needed is acknowledged only with a nod— as much grace as she can manage for that. For as little as Kaylee might know of her personally, she certainly puts off the vibe she's someone who has difficulty in doing any such reaching out.

But these were strange times they were wrapped up in now.

The question when it comes back around to her takes a moment to formulate an answer to, one Asi seems like she might leave as a silent answer, giving the meaningful but wordless look she gives Kaylee. She lets out a sigh through her nose. "I'm… managing." Her weight shifts on her seat. "I'm not less for my loss, I'm just… not as fast. Not as versatile. I can still do my job, it's just…"

Different? Harder? Was there a difference?

"I fully expect things will get worse before they get better, so I'm attempting to not settle," Asi admits over the top of her next sip.

“I wish I could say the same, figuring this whole thing out is the only thing keeping me sane,” Kaylee says quietly, gaze going distant. “I feel… partially blind and deafened to the world.” It was the best she could describe it.

“And my whole job is based on what I am, SLC positive, it’s why I am on extended administrative leave,” Kaylee says with a huff of bland amusement. “Mostly so I can figure out what happened and fix it. Donovan seems convinced we can. Not sure how much more time he can give me until he needs to hire someone new in.”

Sighing into her mocha, Kaylee gives a sharp shake of her head in an attempt to push away the storm of emotions that are always threatening to consume her again. “But you are right. It’s going to get worse, it always does. Be nice to have some answers before that happens.”

"I'll drink to that."

Asi looks up, managing a smile visible mostly in her eyes rather than in her overall expression. Her cup lifts again in a quiet, thin cheers. "It's good they're supporting you. I'm not certain my CO would have been as understanding. Not for this long, with government funding on the line and a constant eye on our division."

She pines for it for just a moment. "He likely would have maneuvered for shifting me to a leadership, non-field role to keep me on." Her gaze softens. "It… for a while, it seemed like they'd do a lot to have me remain with them. For my experience, and insights…" Asi's head cants, a small smirk pulling at the corner of her mouth. "Anything to keep me from returning to being a free agent."

Smile fading, she supposes, "Anyway, perhaps they would see some use for you there— in leadership. It would be better than being cast out."

“Difference between here and there possibly?” Kaylee asks, knowing the other woman isn’t originally from the US.

Though the idea of her being shifted to desk work makes Kaylee’s nose wrinkle, ultimately, she sighs out a “Maybe he will. I dunno.” She’s not totally convinced, but as long as she doesn’t lose her job… “I’ll cross that bridge when I get there though, since he doesn‘t seem too worried last I heard.”

Kaylee’s attention pulls to her reflection in her mocha. Her empty eyes staring back at her. “Till then, I’m just going to continue to wade into the deep end of all this to try and fix us. If this is permanent…” Watching her own lips press into the line, Kaylee doesn’t feel any alarm at her own thoughts. “Well, let’s just say, I don’t need my ability to ruin the lives of whoever did this.”

In that, Asi must find some sort of peace for how placid she looks. If anything, she's not disturbed by it.

"I got my start in ruining lives over a good cause," she offers up lightly. "I'm not at all afraid to let that be my end, if it comes down to it."

Kaylee would at least have a partner in her venture. More than one, most likely, given the similar outlook of their fellows who had also been severed from their abilities. From their sense of self.

"I'll let you know what I find, Kaylee," Asi promises as she pulls the file off the table. Kaylee, not Thatcher. "Keep an eye on your phone the next few days."

“Thank you, Asi,” Kaylee says truly thankful. “I’ll be looking forward to hearing from you.”

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License