These Great Minds


ff_chel_icon.gif yi-min_icon.gif

Scene Title These Great Minds
Synopsis On Richard's suggestion, Yi-Min reaches out to Michelle with regards to a special project and learns a great secret.
Date October 27, 2020

Raytech Industries Campus
Dr. Yeh's Office

October 27th
2:19 pm

In the time since she has been hired, Dr. Yeh has all but taken over this space and transformed it into something that is totally her own. For a woman who dislikes excess ornamentation as much as she is known to, both in style and in speech, it turns out she is devoted to environments that harbor just the right blend of harmonious aesthetics.

This office space is no exception.

Sunlight, cool and lambent, pools in through voile curtains rippling like white liquid light down the windows— a contrast to the rigid jet-black faces of the wainscotting. Much further in sits her desk, a dignified affair framed by Victorian-style botanical sketches of a variety of labeled flora. Posed into the geometric bookshelves are sprays of actual flowers: lithe little sharpnesses that cut much more vibrant swathes of color into the chiaroscuro of a minimalist palette.

There is also a generously-sized vivarium on the nearer side of the expanse, the glass walls on its darkwood plinth stretching up towards the ceiling. Nestled under a stony overhang in the miniaturized landscape, in the manner of a tribal chief lording over his primeval land, is a monstrosity of a Gila monster. As it plods forth, its black-and-orange bodily markings cause it to glisten like a mobile, infinitely-beaded labyrinth.

The door to the office lies fully open, and Yi-Min can occasionally be seen moving about not far beyond.

It's feeding time for her pet.

But, not without some expected distractions.

Doctor Yeh?” For all that Michelle Cranston is on Raytech’s payroll she is almost never seen directly around the main office. Her dominion is the hydroponics lab all the way across what is now Raytech’s sprawling campus. But here she is, making what is ostensibly a house call. “Richard told me you wanted to talk?”

‘Chel’ as she often prefers to be addressed carries about her an air of confidence and authority of someone who is accustomed to being in charge. It isn’t the chin-high arrogance most men bluster with, but the firm and clear confidence of a woman who has earned her seat at the table and will be taken from it when it is pried from her cold, dead hands. Wispy blonde hair shows gray in the front of her bangs and her temples, weariness hangs in her eyes. She smells of cigarettes and chrysanthemums with a hint of that damp smell greenhouses get.

As Chel walks into Yi-Min’s office, she regards it with a scrutinizing eye. Her neat-cut boots clack against the floor, black slacks and a thin sweater in contrast to the crisp uniform of her white labcoat. “You’re new?” She wonders. People come and go from Raytech, and she can’t be certain if Yi-Min is an indoor cat or an outdoor cat yet.

Expected distractions were always preferable to the other kind.

Michelle's entrance is met first by a small smile from Dr. Yeh, one given to gauging the older woman's appearance in a moment of courteous silence before she gives her answer aloud. "Yes, I was told you may have valuable insight into the GeminI process that I should hear. I thank you for taking the time to come by— please, have a seat. I hope you do not mind if I attend to this as we talk."

At the moment, 'this' appears to be taking a single, heavy plastic bin from a freezer couched near the base of the vivarium. As she straightens with this in her arm, she nods towards the seat she is offering: the leather Chesterfield sofa posed across the opposing wall, offering a comfortable vantage of the whole perimeter of the room. There are two paired armchairs nearer her desk, too, but of course she isn't at her desk right now.

"You are correct about me being new. I was hired here in June," Yi-MIn confirms additionally as she scans the shelf in front of her for something else. “What do you prefer I call you?" That's with a marked glance towards her visitor again, and a pause. She knows as well as anybody here about the nickname of 'Chel', but assuming a casual first-name basis with an elder, and in a professional setting no less, is not something she is comfortable with doing.

“Michelle or ‘Chel,” the latter of which she pronounced like shell, “will suffice. I’ve never been a fan of titles or surnames.” She says. The latter especially true when her surname isn’t even hers. “And I don’t know if the information I have about Gemini is valuable, but I might be able to offer you some insights. I’m not a microbiologist, or even a botanist,” she admits with a crooked smile. “My field of specialty is physics.”

Michelle’s slow progress through Yi-Min’s office is slow now that she’s past the door. She assesses decor choices and furniture arrangement with a careful eye, though does not allow her attention to slip away from the woman she is a guest of overly long. “What did Richard promise you I’d be able to deliver?” She wonders with a tongue-in-cheek tone, like someone who has known him for years.

In a plain way, the decor is an outward extension of Yi-Min herself. Both present near-uniform profiles of neatly ordered elegance, yet with calculated, subtle striations of vivid coloring throughout. The potted monkshood constellating the wood stretched over her head, a star-like cluster against the darkness of the grain, is such a visual counterpoint.

The Gila monster itself is another. Head barely lifted, the great striped beast has receded to a halt in midst of the sandy substrate, observing its master with eyes like fervid black beetle-shells.

"He wasn't terribly clear about that," Yi-Min's answer comes cheerfully as she pops open the lid of the container she holds one-handed. In the other, she brandishes an impressive set of stainless steel tongs. "He only said that since I was interested in developing a test for Gemini identification, and you were already working on Gemini, 'we should probably talk.' His words. I took his word for it."

“I’m working in theories,” Michelle clarifies, “little else. I’ve been studying documentation on similar genetic degeneration syndromes — all of which lack anything resembling effective treatment — and have largely been hitting a brick wall. Gemini degradation is a simple cause and effect of the deleterious effects of a slap-dash system of gene manipulation. It wasn’t designed to work well, it was designed to work fast.”

Michelle crosses her arms over her chest, watching Yi-Min thoughtfully. “I’ve been brushing up on microbiology and organic chemistry to try and get a better understanding of this, and my gut reaction is that without someone who is capable of manipulating genetic matter on the fly as an Expressive ability, there’s no guaranteed treatment on a fast time table. Not fast enough for the people who are already suffering from the degeneration, that is.”

“We could probably develop a bespoke treatment for each individual — because each individual’s degradations appear different — but even with expediting measures, the basic research alone could take a year. More to develop a tested clinical trial. It’s harder because we can’t do testing on animals and our sample size for gemini degeneration is vanishingly small.” Michelle says with a soft sigh, threading a graying lock of blonde hair behind one ear. “That’s my take on it, at least.”

"You can say that again," Yi-Min can't help murmuring in agreement at the comment about Gemini being designed to work fast, not well. Thanks to Asi and their joint combover of information retrieved from Praxis, she is now all too aware of all of Gemini's bloody development history.

"Healing such genetic degradations as caused by Gemini is a worthy goal, and something I do want to look into in due time, but I think you misunderstand. Treatment is sadly my secondary concern right now, and this is because I genuinely do not know how long of a timetable we— that is, we survivors of the Manitoban crash— have in our hands. What I am looking at first of all is creating a screening test, so to speak. One that will enable a quick, simple determination of whether or not an individual has gone through the process at all. Theoretically, that work should be simplified by not having to begin totally from scratch; I was hoping that such a test could be specially refined from those that already exist for the presence of prions in blood, such as the kind used to detect Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease."

At this point, Yi-Min gesticulates to the couch again with a very slight tip of her head, tongs still partly raised in her hand. "Sure you wouldn't like to sit?"

“I’m fine,” Michelle says with a shake of her head, looking a little antsy. “A test to detect the process should be the most straightforward thing done in this company,” she says with a hesitant smile. “Gemini seems not entirely dissimilar to how Arthur Petrelli’s ability theft functioned. It extrapolates transposase recognition sites native to the prion-like gene locus,” she says with a brush of errant hair behind one ear.

Chel paces back and forth, working through the process aloud. “In the first step, the corresponding transpoase is introduced into the donor subject, causing the prion-like gene to be excised,” she says with a gesture of one hand to the air. “Some of the excised sequence is released into the bloodstream, from which it can be isolated and amplified. After this treatment, the donor subject has no functional prion-like protein and therefore is SLC-N.”

“The second step is irrelevant since we’re not looking at ability bestowal,” Chel notes. “So with some of the excised sequence in the bloodstream, we should be able to generate a simple blood test. In fact… recipients of multiple Gemini abilities would likely have an overabundance of prion-like protein, which is what eventually leads to neurodegeneration.” She muses, tilting her head to the side. “I know we’re not talking about treatment, but… we might be able to delay the degeneration with periodic SOD treatment…”

While Yi-Min doesn’t seem focused on the treatment aspect, Michelle absolutely is.

Even if the treatment aspect does not form Yi-Min's first priority at this juncture in time, it does not mean she is not interested at all. Quite the contrary, in fact. She listens attentively, if quietly, to Chel's delineation of the process.

"I know that Raytech is not Praxis. Still, it is good to hear you say it aloud," she remarks, more than a wisp of meaningful wryness in her voice. "That you are not looking at ability bestowal, that is. As for the rest of it… once I have a screening test well in-hand, might I be brazen enough to offer you what help I can? I already have a few ideas on synthetic compounds I can attempt to create and test here in this very lab, based on some thoughts I've had to at least slow down the degeneration. Biogenic agents I wish to test which would target different parts of the process of prion folding. Additionally, if Raytech is capable of getting hold of someone with the right Expressive ability, like, say, that of molecular manipulation in some form, there is even more potential there we could tap into.”

The ends of Yi-Min's tongs lower into the bin she is holding. When they come back out, there is a little cluster of frozen mouse corpses clamped inside them.

“You should ask Richard about personnel resources,” Chel suggests, one hand at her chin and brows knit in thought. It was clear she was still in considerable thought over everything. “Your expertise would be invaluable. As I said I’m not in this field, but if the principles can be explained to me I can process the information and adapt to understand, it’s… what I do.” The way Chel says that implies something beyond traditional cognitive functions, the way pyrokineticists call a big fire what I do.

“In the interim,” Chel adds, looking around the space, “I have a…” she avoid the word test subject, “patient we may be able to work with who has undergone the Gemini process, but my concern there is discretion.” Chel looks around, stepping closer to Yi-Min and lowering her voice. “My concern is discretion, because he isn’t able to come to the Safe Zone and has… trouble with the law. Presently he’s residing in Providence.”

"Your ability." Yi-Min isn't one to mince words. The small smile that grows on her face is tinged with affirmation. The light in her eyes, too, imparts both curiosity and ease. "Richard did tell me you were the smartest woman alive, capable of processing things in a way that others could only dream of. I suspected that wasn't just an exaggerated compliment of his mother, but an ability description."

It's a matter of somewhat poor timing that she has to step past Chel to continue on to the room's sink, sealing her frozen mice away into a little plastic baggie before submerging them all into a waiting basin. From the type of poise she maintains throughout, though, it's clear that she's still all ears for the older woman.

"If discretion is your worry, you would have nothing to fear from me. I assure you that I am quite used to keeping scandalous secrets. And if this patient of yours resides in Providence, it is possible I may even already have met him."

“His name is David,” Chel says with a tightness in her throat. “He’s Richard’s father.”

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