Written In Blood


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Scene Title Written In Blood
Synopsis Ace and Yi-Min begin their extracurricular project involving the blood of the Sundered, involving a third party based on Staten to keep track of the results when both he and she are indisposed.
Date December 2020 - February 2021

For this being some place on Staten, it looks about exactly what Yi-Min would have expected.

Firmly on the western side of the island, nearby long-overrun greenery of the Freshkills, a still-standing brick structure that once housed an HVAC business nests quietly between other buildings in various stages of disrepair. If there are any persons living nearby, they keep to themselves, keeping to their business and hoping those who come though the area keep to their own.

Probably because of the unsavory activity that so often surrounds them. Try as the Army might to successfully root out and stamp out places like these, they're as opportunistic as rats— settling back in as soon as the light is shined somewhere else—

And as hard to kill as cockroaches.

New York Mechanical Heating & Cooling

Wild Ave, Staten Island

December 17

2:15 pm

Ace Callahan is smoking outside the building when Yi-Min arrives, his breath clouding thick around him between the cold and the cigarette. He lifts his head in greeting, looking out of place in his fine woolen overcoat for all that he seems at ease here.

"I'll show you how things are coming along," he says, indicating the door with a tip of his chin. The cigarette stub is ground underfoot before he heads in. A chain with a lock is wrapped about the front door's handle, presently arranged in a way so it merely doesn't fall from its perch, rather successfully bar entry. The sparsely-decorated interior of the building was once a front office, and he navigates it without casting a light ahead to confirm safe places to step. Hands in his pockets, he leads her to the back, where a generator hums inside what was once a breakroom kitchen.

Wires run from it into a metal door, just enough space etched at the bottom corner of the frame to allow them to head downstairs. When Ace swings in the door, it leads down into a well-lit basement area.

"This isn't a luxury arrangement, but it should meet our needs for several reasons," he explains easily, following down the stairs after. A refrigerator and cooler are adjacent to two tables arranged perpendicular to each other to create a countertop. The basement has several other rooms, once dedicated to storage, now are fitted for storage of a different kind.

There's someone else in the basement, too, outside of those bounds. Someone who carries with them the unmistakable stench of smoking of a different kind.

Pete Varlane is a name that would be a curse on the lips of many, but Ace's attitude toward his presence is decidedly more neutral. "Dr. Yeh, given the unreliability of our mutual contact and the fact this is by no means a single-person endeavor, I took it upon myself to find you a partner in these matters." With a thin smile, he asks, "Pete, I don't suppose you'd like to introduce yourself?"

“Nah,” is Pete’s monosyllabic response, cigar pinched between his teeth and eyes narrowed at Yi-Min. He tilts his head to the side and looks at Ace with a predatory smile. “The good doctor and I are actually acquainted already.”

And yet he’s giving her a look like she’s an alien. For a moment, at least.

It was a chain of connection Ace hadn’t considered, that two people with connections to Praxis Heavy Industries via the intermediary of the Institute may be aware of one-another. Yi-Min Yeh has never met Pete Varlane in person, but she’s corresponded with him via email while working with Doctor Wu on the Flower Garden project. She knows Pete’s irascible nature all too well.

“But that’s fun, right? It’s like a fucking High School reunion for criminal science.” Pete says with a puff on his cigar, unbuttoning the front of his blazer as he looks back at Yi-Min. “Provided she isn’t going to sell me out to the feds to save her own ass. Of course.”

"…Indeed." There in the cold, sparse space, Yi-Min's eyes are narrow and placid as she appraises Pete in amused silence. In the immediacy of those first moments, her one word of agreement as nebulous as it could possibly be. Nor does she miss the look he gives to her— quite strange in that there should be nothing so strange to visibly react to.

After all, her appearance is as orderly as it usually is.

"What? Do I have something on my face?" she is compelled to ask as she tucks a strand of black hair behind one ear. Her questioning tone is surely real, but she doesn't seem as concerned with getting an answer. Instead, she is already transferring the sum of her impressions back to Ace with a look.

"This is some company you keep, Callahan. Shall I expect more surprises from you in this charming after-school science fair we are putting together?"

Oh, how he despises the belittling of the otherwise intriguing work going on here. Ace presses out a flat sigh through his nose at Pete's flippancy first, and Yi-Min's needling secondarily.

He turns to her without amusement. "No, there's nothing further up my sleeve except your eventual second subject to pair with the first that's already here. He's got quite the set of eyes on him— sharp, can see in thermal imaging when he closes them. He helped to proof the room right before he was locked in it. He'll still get paid when we're through with him," or maybe he won't if something terrible happens, "It's just that the time-spent-to-payment-received ratio will be somewhat evened out."

Dryly he pins onto that, "Pete's want for professionalism aside, he stands to be an excellent candidate who can mind things here when you can't be on the Island, with the added bonus of not always needing equipment to examine samples and verify results."

Ace slips his hands into his pockets once more, waiting to see if this sounds agreeable to those involved. Then: "Have you brought the first batch of blood samples with you? I'd be curious to see the results of a first injection. Transfusion. Whatever it is you mean to do."

"It will let me know if I should do that much more work in finding you additional subjects," he explains amicably, as though they were talking about picking a different color to go with a place setting rather than finding another human to expose to a potentially-deadly experiment.

While Ace talks, Pete listens. He’s invested in the interactions of Callahan and Yeh, though he tries not to look as much. Ashing his cigar on the floor, Pete paces around like a bored dog who just wants to go outside, scuffing his heels as he walks for want of making noise.

“So, Yeh.” Pete finally interjects, because he can’t keep his mouth shut. “Care to share a little bit about what this experiment’s all… about?” He kicks up his brows with a help an old man out expression. “Because I’m not much of a hematologist, but I have my specialties. If you’re looking to cure sickle cell or something…” He’s playing dumb, Yi-Min can see that. But it feels like he just knows more about the experiment than what he’s really playing dumb about.

Behind Pete Varlane’s eyes, Yi-Min Yeh is a map of confusion and mystery. What he sees when he looks at her inspires so much curiosity that he could kiss Ace on the mouth—and may yet still—for involving him in the proceedings. There’s professional fascination, but also a little bit of well-learned trepidation. Whatever Pete sees when he looks at Yi-Min gives him enough pause to seem as if he’s heard of her by reputation. Not the story her bones tell.

"Yes. We are gathered today, here in this gorgeous rundown back-alley building, to cure sickle cell disease." Judging by her completely unchanged expression, Dr. Yeh otherwise holds every intention of taking the situation seriously, but it's also a reply she can't help. That in itself poses another query for Ace, though, and she resumes her slightly curious look in his direction.

"I am unsure what Callahan has already told you. Not much, by the sound of it? No matter. I am sure we can explain as we go. Yes, I have brought everything you asked for—" now to Ace— "And a few things you probably didn't." With a light upwards nod, she indicates the heavy leather bag she had deposited on the floor under the farther of the two tables.

Before they can begin in earnest, Yi-Min drops her final thought on the subject of Pete's introduction, which comes with a somewhat intrigued tone of her own. "Your… 'added bonus' that allows you to operate without equipment. I am assuming this to mean that you have some ability similar to that of Dr. Miller's? Well. What he had, anyway."

"Something like that," Ace interjects on Pete's behalf, a smarting of impatience to it. Digging into his ability isn't why they're here, after all. He looks back to see the expression the other man wears, for all that he tries to hide it, one eyebrow arching in the stark overhead lighting.

"Shall we, though?" he asks, beginning a slow pace away from them and around the basement's open space, hands coming together in a clasp behind his back.

Pete raises a brow on hearing that Doctor Miller went from SLC-Positive to SLC-Nobody. His eyes wander down to the floor, then to the smoke winding up in front of him from his cigar. He turns to walk alongside Ace.

Let’s shall,” Pete says, quoting a Looney Tunes gophers cartoon no one in this room is old enough to remember. Magnes liked it. His stomach twists a little. He doesn’t answer Yi-Min’s question about his ability, the assumptions she made are answer enough.

That's all the prompting Dr. Yeh needs. Already slipping on a pair of readied nitrile gloves with perfunctory nonchalance as soon as Ace begins his pacing, she heads straight for her large leather bag, lifting a covered microtube chiller from out of the mouth of the main compartment. From inside this in turn, she withdraws the object of her desire between her fingers with unexpected tenderness— a transparent, visibly blood-filled tube, only one of the many awaiting her touch in a gridwork of parafilm-wrapped caps.

As she holds this first tube before her at eye level, examining it for last-minute flaws, she rather offhandedly addresses an earlier comment that Ace had made. "By the by… your answer is that you should do all the work you possibly can to acquire additional subjects, regardless of however this first test turns out. My sample size will be much more useful the larger it is. Pete can attest." He is a fellow man of science, after all.

Ace's mood mellows with that, certainly. He looks back to Yi-Min over his shoulder, eyes catlike in their quiet satisfaction with her indication. "Very well," he preens, and on seeing the blood being prepared, sees no better moment than now to do his part to move them along.

Around the corner, the metal frame of the broad cube enclosure is braced by wooden struts to ensure it doesn't somehow shift or tip, a gap for the sense of the locked door. The whole thing looks like, and maybe was a walk-in cooler in its former life— no need now for the chill it could provide if properly powered, though. Ace swings down the outside lock and pulls the door open to reveal a dreadfully small cell containing a man in winter clothes, ankle chained to a metal ringlet in the middle of the floor. A cot is set up over a bucket, a drain on the ground to catch what doesn't make it in there.

There's also a metal food tray occupying the room, which is thrown immediately at Ace as soon as the door swings open. At him it goes, but it sails right through the put-upon-looking man and collides with Pete's chest instead.

Eyes opening, Ace regards the man within with a certain flatness. "Jack," he says mildly, "there are better ways to say hello."

"Go fuck yourself, Callahan," the man inside counters, and spits at his feet for good measure.

Tongue to cheek, Ace rolls around consideration in his head before sighing a muttered, "Okay." with a loss of any remaining humor. He slips a hand inside his overcoat, drawing a gun from a shoulder holster. Stepping aside once he enters the small space, he gestures with a tip of his head to the cot. "Have a seat, and bare an arm. I know you know that procedure."

Warily, Jack loses his fight and sinks down. The procedure he thinks is being referred to, which Ace both is and isn't, is preparing for a Refrain injection. He looks up to Yi-Min with as much doubt as hope for that regard, and slips out of his coat by a sleeve, then begins to roll up his shirt to his elbow. Maybe he's lucky, and she really has brought the blue.

Either way, there's a gun pointed at his head now, so what else is he going to do?

Pete, a few paces back, has his arms out to his side and half a prisoner meal smeared across his blazer. “God damnit,” he mumbles to himself, shaking cold beans off of his hands. Moving up to Ace, Pete doesn’t join the conversation but instead steals the pocket square out of Ace’s blazer, shakes it open, and then uses it to clean up the slop on his suit.

“So would one of you like to explain to me why we’re down here with Mr. Piss Bucket?” Pete asks, wiping more of the discarded meal off of his clothes. “Because I know the word science came up, but with Doctor Yeh here I know that can sometimes be a loosely used word.” He turns his attention over to Ace, offering the soiled pocket square back. “Are we making New Coke?”

"Excuse you, I am sure I have no idea what you mean," Yi-Min says of Pete's remark with even more of the same idleness, all of her actual focus being bent to her current task: transferring the contents of her sample into a long, rather evil-looking syringe.

Once that has been completed to her satisfaction, she aims a small expression down at the readied implement that is probably a smile, her gaze flitting pointedly upwards again a moment later. "New Coke. Sure. This is why we are all huddled over this human test subject." An interesting way of manufacturing coke, her very mild look denotes without a need to say the actual words. Not long after, her prim footfalls have taken her right up to said human test subject, whom she spends only a single exaggerated moment surveying as though he were some sack of meat ready to take out to market.

Without wasting any more time, she jabs the length of the needle into Jack's bared lower arm— a momentary invasion of flesh performed with deep precision, despite all of her apparent dispassion.

Looking thoroughly put out by Pete's audacity on several levels, Ace only lifts a hand when the dirtied kerchief is offered back to him. No thanks, he's just fine here. He keeps a wary eye out for attempts to regift it back even as peers mostly in the direction of the injection that's taking place.

Said subject of injection warily regards Yi-Min's approach once it's clear she's not got some experimental Refrain she's about to stick him with. He, too, looks like he'd like answers.

But Jack stays still and silent throughout the needlework. "That ain't no blue," he mutters to himself.

Well, he stays mostly silent. And then he looks up between the three with an expectant lift of his brows. Well? "That it? Can I go?"

“Hold your horses, Hoss.” Pete says with a raise of one brow. “Now that Doctor Goodfeels here has injected you full of scientifically unsound chemicals, they want me to see if your fucking eyeballs explode or something.” He laughs, a deep guffaw of a thing. “I mean that probably won’t happen.” He reconsiders. “Probably.”

In spite of his boorish behavior, Pete seems to actually be doing what he was asked to do. In the least, he’s watching the subject with a mixture of curiosity and impatience. There’s no indication that anything interesting is happening, though. Or, if there is, he’s got a good poker face about it.

“Just a note,” Pete says as an aside to Ace, “sometimes science can take a while. So this might be a thing measured in hours or days, not seconds or minutes.”

"Si-ah. It may be some period before we discover if your eyeballs do explode, implode, or transform into something else altogether," Yi-Min agrees helpfully, turning her back so as to begin disposing of the used-up syringe.

"So. I hope that you do not have any immediate plans, Mr… Jack? Because you shall be under our observation for a good, long while."

The total collapse of hope of leave brings about a change in the captive man's demeanor, a struggle of grief playing out in microcosm in his expression. Ace's eyes flash as he takes it in, including the moment Jack reaches anger in his cycle, a look unequivocally driven directly at him once the weight of everything Yi-Min just said— what she did to him— fully hits.

"Y' son of a—"

It's an experience with enough of a delightful taste it dulls the edge of disappointment that there's nothing to see immediately. Ace should know better by now— through what Odessa's shared of her own frustrations and exercises in patience— but he had hoped that off-the-books activities would be different.

"Ta," he tells the man inside the box with cheerful indifference to his plight before swinging the door shut on him and locking it anew again once Yi-Min is clear of it. He lets out a sigh of whimsy after the door clicks secure, turning somewhere between Yi-Min and Pete both.

"Maybe we'll be fortunate enough to be blessed with an exciting Christmas present," Ace suggests with shocking amounts of uninformed optimism. "And witness interesting results sooner rather than later."

December 23

It's mid-afternoon, and Ace is checking his watch practically from the moment he's down the stairs, conscious already of the places he needs to be after this. He sighs heavily after his feet hit the stone at the bottom of the steps, eyes sweeping immediately to the enclosure at the far corner.

A second body warms the other half of the prepared space now, a woman hardly taller than Yi-Min, her hair matted and dark.

The only thing he seems to care about is the lack of visible strangeness so far with her. "No Christmas presents for us after all?" Ace sighs wistfully.

Behind Ace's waist, Dr. Yeh lurks like a shadow, for all the world a perfectly natural part of the darkness and isolation of this building. Only her dark eyes gleam speculatively in the mocked-up lighting.

"You know what it is they say, no?" she observes, the coldness of her attention never leaving the new woman brought before them. But some of it is directed at Ace, too, and she does not have to expend any energy to make it obvious. "You only reap what you sow. If you want to see a meaningful harvest, Mr. Callahan… bring me more seeds to sow."

"Many, many more than this."

Ace might miss out on his ideal Christmas. At this point, there was no helping that. However, with a healthy dose of luck, they would both be blessed with a bountiful harvest eventually.

Stepping out from behind Yi-Min, Pete Varlane looks over at the two people caged in the test areas. “Jesus Christ you two, I’m not sure who of you has their nose more firmly up their ass to smell their own farts, but it’s a neck and neck race.”

Stopping a few feet past Yi-Min, Pete tucks his hands into the pockets of his slacks and turns to look back over his shoulder at the two. “Nothing,” he says with a helpless shrug. “Which, by nothing, I mean literally nothing. Your mystery blood has so fully integrated into your hosts I can’t sense the difference. It’s like it modified itself to match the host and then, I don’t know, got absorbed into the vascular walls or something.”

Pete turns to fully face the two. “Congratulations, you’ve got some kind of synthetic self-augmenting plasma on your hands. Might be valuable to doctors, people doing blood transfusions. But nobody in there is going to go all John Carpenter on us.”

With a wrinkle of his nose somewhere between Yi-Min and Pete (it's mostly Pete), Ace lets out a put-upon sigh. "Your delivery of news is knuckle-draggingly lackluster, Varlane. Whatever value it has is unfailingly soured by that." With a slight tilt of his head that conveys his disappointed scrutiny, he regards Pete a moment longer before he glances back to Yi-Min.

"I suppose no adverse reaction is interesting on its own. And, I suppose any new bodies you want will best be of different blood types?" That would be meddlesome, but not impossible criteria to meet. "There's twelve days of Christmas, as the saying goes, so there's time yet to deliver you your partridge in a pear tree."

He regards the space they have set up down here with a wrinkle of his nose next, wondering just how comfortably they'll be able to continue working with the square footage available to them should they continue to accumulate more bodies in it.

"Adaptive blood is fascinating to be sure," he clarifies with a look back to Yi-Min. "Just not visually exciting." Ace smiles with an air of grace and supposes, "But that's what my half of the job here supplements, doesn't it?"

"Yes. This is interesting in and of itself," Yi-Min confirms in a somewhat mechanical-sounding, lower voice, ignoring Pete entirely. As had now become the norm.

The man might as well be a broken fixture on the wall for everything he's been doing to render himself either helpful or endearing.

"Alas, it is true. Real science usually isn't near as visually entertaining as it is in comic books. However, the fact the samples are assimilating so thoroughly into the biologies of our subjects has its own entire set of implications— one which I will not be able to form a more complete picture of until later down the line."

Later down the line continuing to mean exactly what Ace thinks it does. Yi-Min tips her chin to him in a tiny nod of affirmation. "That would be a possibly useful criteria to meet, if you can do so. No suspicions have been aroused so far… I would hope?"

“You wanna get me a present, Callahan?” Pete just steamrolls over Yi-Min’s question. “You get me someone with like… sickle cell or anemia. Get me someone with a blood disease and let’s see what these little buggers do then.”

Pete starts to pace and he fishes inside his jacket pocket as he does, producing a wrapped cigar and a lighter. Biting the end off of the cigar, Pete glances at Yi-Min and then spits the end off onto the floor. “Actually, you know… you might be helpful.” He says in a way which implies she hasn’t yet. As he lights up the cigar, Pete keeps pointing at Yi-Min. “With like a… toxin, something to poison the blood?” He takes a puff off the cigar, stoking the ember at the end. “See how resilient our injected patients are?”

Then, grumbling, Peter looks to the side. “Makes me wish we didn’t lose all the goddamn work we did at Staten Island Hospital…” one of his eyes squints shut, “we tested a lot of this shit with regenerative blood. Now that’s a cellular duel I’d like to see, too.” He admits with a bark of a laugh.

Yi-Min's question regarding aroused suspicion is one Ace feels he gets away with not answering properly owing to Pete's contribution to the melodrama in the room. He merely looks at her in a side-eyed, silent glance of affirmation before slipping into thought regarding these latest requests.

That goes a step beyond just picking randoms off the street. And adds in that these persons may need to be brought in from off-island. He narrows his eyes.

But that's his problem alone.

"This wouldn't be fun without a little challenge on my part, now would it," he opines aloud, an answer to both of them. "Now, let's see…"

January 11, 2021

"Just how lucky are we?" Ace asks rhetorically and with a knifelike grin. He has his hands clasped together before him. The wall between units in this duplex has had a tear of a doorway put in, granting the additional room needed for the additional persons Yi-Min and Pete both are asking after. The input of them actually into the environment is slow, but…

"I'm excited about this one actually," he admits. "Can it cure cancer is the question of the day." Clasping his hands together before him with a clap, he looks pleased as he turns his head in the direction of their latest captive— a thin young man orphaned by the war and struck by additional misfortune since its end, chiefly being developing leukemia he has little hope of paying for all the necessary treatments for, and secondly being that he crossed Ace's path. "That'd make this entire adventure a shade more philanthropic than it already is. It'd be fascinating."

The arrangement in the cool basement isn't ideal or comfortable living conditions for any person, much less someone actively suffering from cancer, but he seems nonplussed on that regard.

"How long will it take to find out, you figure?" Ace looks between both the scientists present to gauge how much tempering his excitement needs. "Longer or shorter than the poison trial?"

"Patience." It's technically a reprimand from Yi-Min, but by this point in their relationship, it has almost come to sound like a kind of stoic teasing. Ace's sheer enthusiasm about seeing results is something that still bemuses and amuses her both.

More the latter than the former, at least when she bothers to give it any thought. Now is not such a time: at present, her stare is resting on the profile of the newest, unfortunate young soul in their care. "Curing cancer might be rather optimistic at this point, but it is one possibility among many." After all, certain survivors of the plane crash had demonstrated accelerated healing in the past, at least to some extent.

"I would think we might begin to see something in a matter of weeks. As usual, time will tell."

February 4

It would. And it did.

The noise Ace makes is far less enthused than the ones he was hemming several weeks prior. His hands find themselves shoved in the pockets of his overcoat, which he's not even taken off this time. It doesn't seem like he plans to stay for long today.

The young man, in simple terms, has taken a turn for the worst.

Green-grey eyes flutter in an irritated blink as he looks away from the sickly man. "I don't understand," he bemoans simply. "The poison test was boring in comparison to this. The blood didn't help, it didn't hurt. Why does it seem like his condition's accelerated compared to before?"

“Well that’s because he has full-blown cancer,” Pete says, sucking on a cigar at Ace’s side. “Which is ironically the opposite of what we were trying to fix here. Judging from the…” Pete waves his cigar at the captive, “you know, results.” He flicks a look over to Ace, “The synthetic cells are replicating uncontrolled. They’re not beholden to the pituitary gland, there’s no control mechanism for them. These synthetic cells are anchoring to arterial walls and fucking up the whole system. Which, you know, it’s funny. The anemia? Cured. But the cure is worse than the disease, I suppose…”

Pete takes a drag off of his cigar, then looks over at Yi-Min, then back to Ace. “Looks like all you’ve got is a really sure-fire way of giving someone leukemia. Slowly. Maybe that’s weaponizable, but honestly it’s not very invisible. You check out the blood under a microscope and find these little guys and…” Pete slowly spreads his hands. “It’s novel. I’ll give it that.”

'Didn't hurt' is really a very strange way to put everybody has cancer now, Yi-Min says emotionlessly to Ace without looking. Without looking at either of the two men, actually: she is seated on a nearby folding chair with a laptop centered in her lap, simply staring at the rows of the latest data table she had entered into it.

The implication of the results is nothing short of bewildering.

"There are so many things that are riveting about this, even aside from all the havoc it is wreaking on our poor pool of test subjects. For example, the mystery of the control mechanism all by itself. If the blood is not being regulated by the pituitary gland, then it only stands to reason that there is something else…"

Something else, inside the Sundered alone. Something present inside the depths of their brains, in lieu of a pituitary gland, that is preventing their own blood from laying siege to their bodies.

So many riveting things, Yi-Min says, and yet Ace looks like he feels he needs to physically wash his hands of this to ensure it doesn't spread to him. "Jesus Christ," he mutters to himself. The way he regards the subjects, the abjected distance to it, makes the sign of the cross without him needing to lift a finger.

Clearing his throat, he notes, "The original pool of test subjects… they all had abnormal blood readings, didn't they? Dangerously, cancerously high, as I recall. But they didn't suffer like this. No— by all reports they were just fine."

The question of why goes unspoken. Obviously, something was different.

"And yet the controls in the initial testing with the blood— they didn't look like this, either," he goes on with saying, nearly in a mutter. "Are we sure the high-tech blood isn't … talking to each other here? Reading the cancer in one and feeding it to the others nearby?" He scowls at the concept. It's far-fetched, ridiculous, but a horrifying possibility he wants to rule out.

“That’s just the problem, these things can’t communicate,” Pete says, followed by a long drag off of his cigar. “They just cannibalize healthy blood cells and make more of themselves, which is fine except, when they reach the end of their life cycle—and they are alive—they kind of…” he pauses to exhale smoke through his nose. “Well, you get what you have here.”

Pete pauses, brows pinched together. He looks at Yi-Min for a moment, then Ace. “You ever owned a swimming pool?”

It’s rhetorical, and Pete doesn’t give Ace enough time to answer. “You know, you chlorinate it, you clean it, you get one of those fucking…” He makes a vague hand gesture. “Skimmer things? But if your pool filter stops working?” Pete spreads his hands, palms out. “All you have is a big vat of algae soup.”

Pete’s palm-out gesture becomes two fingers pointing away. “That’s what we have here. All pool, no filter. So without whatever missing thing directs these, they’re just an invasive foreign body that can mask itself and bypass the immune—”

Pete looks back at Yi-Min.

“—system.” Pete says after a long, heavy pause, eyes wide and mouth open.

Now Yi-Min looks back to Pete, having arrived at the same conclusion at practically the same time.

"Just what we would like," she says in a slow, sardonic breath, slipping her legs uncrossed with a clack of a protrusion from her exoskeletal limb against the floor. "Yet another substance manipulable into a deadly bio-agent, given sufficient modifications in a lab and any scientist who knows what he is doing."

A mystery project where even the tiniest tokens could be utilized in a lethal fashion, regardless of whatever the original intent had been. Great.

Just what Yi-Min loves best.

"I do wonder if it would be possible to install such a ‘filter’ in a previously unaffected person. Else, if we could create a device ourselves that could replicate this one function— or even manipulate it in other ways. Perhaps out of the question with our current resources, but theoretically…"

The relief that the blood isn't wi-fi enabled between hosts, somehow, is a massive one for Ace. He looks less inclined to bolt ungracefully for the situation, his chin dipping as his brow angles into a furrow.

His thumb presses into palm, rolling in a slow circle while he thinks. He lets out a tempered sigh. "So," he pronounces in a thoughtful purr, "We have on our hands a cancer-inducing agent, a slow killer for those … who deserve a painful, agonizing death."

Ace mumbles to himself, "It's not pretty, it's not elegant— but perhaps some don't deserve such a death." He lapses into silence as he moves past considering them for his own means and instead considers them on the same level that Pete and Yi-Min seem to have already been thinking at. Others' use, others' profits.


"Well, we would need to examine one of the originals, then, wouldn't we," he finally answers Yi-Min's suggestion that they find a way to regulate the unchecked blood and leverage that knowledge in the future. "The donors of this very blood." He sighs. "Not that they would know what mechanism by which their blood is being regulated. We wouldn't be in this situation in the first place, would we."

Turning his head halfway back between the two, Ace proposes, "I believe we've found out enough of worth here. Enough that you can bring this foresight back to your aboveboard project, and we…" He looks to Pete with a knifelike smile. "Well, we can say we've had a fun little learning experience here, haven't we."

He doesn't bother with what will need done with those they've experimented on. That seems less important than their gain here by far.

“It’s more than just a learning experience.” Pete says after a moment, plucking his cigar from his mouth with two thick fingers. He turns to look at Ace, leaning around Yi-Min as he does. “These little fucking whatever the fuck they are? You get a proper lab environment or someone with the right ability and you could turn this into a pack of Trojan horses.”

Pete gestures broadly with his cigar, ignoring Yi-Min’s protests about turning it into a biological weapon. “You want to slip a virus past the immune system? You want to introduce a time-released drug? You want to make a drug that bypasses the brain-blood barrier like that?” Pete snaps his fingers at the end. “You have the vector.” He points with the lit end of his cigar to Ace. “Right here.

Brows raised, Pete slowly lowers his cigar and puts it back between his teeth. “What you have here? It’s worth more than gold to the right buyer.”

The curve of Ace's smile nears flat with the continued emphasis provided by Pete. His overstatement of what they've found here was a discussion he'd been hoping to have after Yi-Min left… and here they were.

"Oh, trust me. I daresay I'm aware of the worth of this thing we have found, even in such a rudimentary state," Yi-Min states as she pushes her laptop off onto the counter so she can get to her feet, a certain danger lacing the softness of her tone.

There is little doubt she would have arrived at that conclusion anyway, with or without Pete's inability to not mouth off.

As for the question itself, Yi-Min resumes punctuating a line of keystrokes into her computer from her new vantage point, not even bothering to glance back at either man as she does. "We are not necessarily finished with our darling little after-school club, either. After all, the path of learning is one that does not end so shortly, hm? However… I shall hear no talk of the right 'buyer'. If such a transaction is fated to spread, it shall not do so from this origin point."

Now the Taiwanese woman pauses, letting both her small hands come to rest on her keyboard, palms-down. Now she settles a look of casual scrutiny onto Pete and then Ace, her face as inscrutably calm as her voice. "Both of you understand this, yes?"

Ace's renewed smile to Yi-Min is knifelike, sharp for all those teeth try to gleam more pleasantly than that.

"Of course," he promises.

"You have my word."

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