Sleepy Baby Hedgehogs and the Triskelion

May 16, 2015:

Agent Morse finds some cute, adorable, baby hedgehogs that she brings into the Triskelian to check out.

The Triskelion

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Agent Morse does a lot of deep cover missions these days. She's been volunteering for them in an effort to keep busy and not think about Hunter not being there. One such mission involved breaking into an AIM warehouse in Jersey and popping open a crate that was not listed on any of the shipping manifests. What was inside caused her to call HQ, and have them gather some people in one of the labs.

Bobbi steps inside, carrying the crate under one arm like it weighs nothing, one of the benefits of her new enhancements. She has a grimace on her face, her expression stony, but a crease in her forehead showing some stress. "All right. I'm not sure what is wrong with these, or if they're enhanced or magic or something worse. But they weren't on the shipping manifest for the items in the AIM warehouse, and it's just not something I'd expect them to have a hold of."

She sets the crate on a table and steps back, folding her arms over her chest.


Melinda May was the one to 'collect' the non-SHIELD types in on this particular fact-finding meeting and thus why she's present. She watches Morse handle the crate but doesn't so much as reach for it once it's on the table. Not her job right this moment. She is, however, very much prepared to turn the crate and its contents into so much kindling if it so much as hints at threatening anyone in the room.


Sue Storm has a consulting agreement with SHIELD for just these sorts of situations. She'll never admit it to Reed, but she actually looks forward to these sorts of meetings. SHIELD, after all, has some excellent scientists, and plenty of resources for acting on findings. She's rolling up her sleeves as she follows May inside, smiling amiably at the agent. Whether or not May responds, that's just what she does. "So, I hear we have some interesting things to look at," she says as she enters.


Jericho has an easier time getting in the door… despite the fact that he has to be verified every time he comes. Won't get a SHIELD ID. Which fits his MO certainly. It's easier when May escorts him which is the case today. The hacker isn't a science type but he's got some technical and esoteric expertise which does occasionally make him handy for tasks involving the unusual. "What do we have today May?" Ever since HYDRA's defeat in Metropolis he's been pursuing other projects, so the call from May came as a bit of a surprise. He nods in greeting to Bobbi and Sue.


Simmons is already in the lab and is studying something on her tablet when Agent Morse walks in. Knowing that Bobbi had received the serum doesn't change the surprise on her face and she raises an eyebrow at the way Agent Morse carries the box of artefacts… or that's how she thinks of them and then frowns more deeply as the woman explains.

Sues entrance has the biochemist looking up and polite smile replaces the frown "Nice to see you again, and so it would seem."


There are sounds coming from the crate, which has a few air holes punched into it. It also has the word HAZARDOUS painted on each side in red. Not promising. "You might want to stand back. I think AIM may be trying to kill us," Bobbi says ominously, pausing for effect as she looks from person to person. "With cute." She flips the lid off the crate, revealing a pile of little squirming, prickly, forms. Hedgehogs. It's a crate full of hedgehogs. Baby hedgehogs nonetheless. They are adorable, and mostly sleeping at the moment, curled up in cute little balls of ouch.

"Anyone want to hazard a guess why the hell AIM has a secret shipment of baby rodents in their warehouse?" Bobbi asks, arching a brow at the scientists present. "Doctor Storm? Doctor Simmons? They had someone coming in every few hours, I suspect to feed them."


Melinda May raises an eyebrow at Morse then leans forward to look at the occupants of the crate. "They're not rodents." Oh, THAT'S helpful. "Maybe they were acquired as experimental test subjects." That is, sadly, all that May seems willing to contribute at this point in time.


"Dr. Simmons, Dr. Morse," Sue nods to each of the other women, smile flashing as she steps closer to the box to look inside. "Test subjects, perhaps?" she muses with a nod to May, looking over the hedgehogs inside. "Though why they would use hedgehogs rather than mice or rats is an interesting question. Something particular about their biology? Availability? I'm not certain where hedgehogs would be more available than other test subjects."


Jericho peers in. He knows that HYDRA has done genetic research in the past but they tend to be focused on uh… more combat oriented applications. "AIM, mmm? No idea yet but I can certainly have a look." There's a part of him that wonders if it wasn't adopt a pet day at the evil lab…


"Dr Storm. Call me Simmons, please." Simmons gives the woman a warm smile. Peering into the box herself, the biochemist 'awwws' a little before collecting herself "Perhaps, or perhaps they're something more. We do know that certain agencies have been playing with dna splicing… maybe we're looking at the results of such testing."

Looking at her tablet, Jemma taps at the screen "Let me see what we might know about… anything…."


The little hedgehogs stir after the crate is opened and the light streams in. They yawn and snuffle in the shavings that are in the bottom of the crate. The cuteness is almost painful. Bobbi leans against one of the counters, the agent looking stone cold perplexed at this. "I don't think they'd have to bring them in on the sly if they were just for lab experiments, or one of those petting zoo things some universities have started with puppies to de-stress students. This is AIM we're talking about. There has to be something bigger at work here."

Morse reaches into the box, slowly, towards one of the hoglets and it lifts its little snout at her, licks her fingertip. Awwww. Then it turns around and fires three quills out of its back. One hits Bobbi in the arm and she staggers back. "They can't do that. Hedgehogs don't fire their needles…oooh." She looks a little woozy. Which means whatever is in those quills is very strong, since her metabolism is cranked up from the super soldier serum.


Melinda May steps forward to pull Morse away from the crate and slam it closed again. Well, she manages it, but the sound of the crate falling shut is almost perfectly synchronized with the sound of May falling to the floor like a marionette with its strings cut. There are three little quills stuck in the underside of her arm all the way through the fabric of her long-sleeved shirt.


"Dr. Morse, perhaps we ought to not touch them until…" Whoops, too late. Sue is already throwing a force field over the crate when May reaches out to close the lid, just a split second too slow to keep the agent from getting caught in the crossfire. Just in case, she puts a small bubble around the hedgehog in Bobbi's hand, in the interest of preventing any further attacks. "Well, that's one question asked and answered," she murmurs. "Are you all right, Dr. Morse?"


Jericho would have been next but for Sue's quick thinking. The sudden 'attack' does make the nervous hacker trace out amber and a moment later he's sporting large amber batwings… one of which is almost comically wrapped in front of him like he's dracula warding off a cross. Hsssssss! "The hell?!"


Simmons looks up, completely oblivious to the older Agents actions till that point. Jericho's Dracula impression has the young woman starting before she looks between… well everyone…. and blinking in surprise. "I've uh… what … uh…" she stammers gesturing with her tablet. Maybe she found something in the database….


More quills thud into the roof of the box, and a few shoot out through the air holes only to bounce off Sue's shield. Bobbi sways on her feet, and slumps against a counter. "Oh damn…" she slurs, "That's diabolical…" She doesn't go down and out completely, but she's pretty useless looking at the moment. "Can someone take this little guy? I'm afraid I'm losing feeling in my legs." Wobble wobble. "Hey when did he get wings?" she babbles, looking at Jericho, before sliding to the floor.


"I've got him," Sue assures Bobbi, lifting the hedgehog in its own little bubble. "Simmons, can you- Jericho, if you could get Agent May onto a table here, Simmons, could you see if you can get those quills out of her? I'd rather they not stay and risk pumping any more of whatever this is into her system." She crouches next to Bobbi, looking her over with some concern. "An interesting, if potentially unreliable delivery system. Let's get you somewhere a little more comfortable."


Jericho blinks for a moment as the quills shoot out of the box to rebound off the forcefield and then shakes himself. The wings and light fade. "Right, got it." He bends down to haul May up and clears one of the tables to set her on, looking to Simmons. Sue's got Bobbi. He thinks. "Did we just get played?" Probably not. Fairly bad timing and location. But he's waiting for the bombs to go off and the attack to start.


Finally recovering from her shock, Simmons nods to Sue and bustles over to the table where Jericho lays May. "Hard to tell, Jericho." Simmons casts Bobbi a slight look "But I doubt it. Proper handling procedure wasn't observed, though" She seems unimpressed and then concerned when she looks at Agent May.

Almost handing Jericho her tablet, she puts it in on the bench instead. Donning a pair of surgical gloves and safety glasses, the biochem retrieves a dish and then starts to remove the spines. "When I'm done here, we can analyse them and then cross reference that to the results I've just found." beat "Dr Storm, I would appreciate some assistance with the analysis"


"Kind of brilliant though," Bobbi murmurs, her words a bit like her tongue is slogging through mud. "Who could resist leaning in to look at the adorable baby animals? Who would suspect them of being a bio weapon?" She has a point. "AIM definitely doesn't play faiiiirrrrr. I canth fewl mah tahng." She doesn't resist Sue's help but the density of her musculature might be surprising when Storm tries to move her. At least they were experimenting with a sleep toxin and not something deadlier.


One advantage to having been knocked out so fast. May will still have at least some of her dignity.


"What were they going to do, though? Drop off an aquarium full of baby hedgehogs in a park?" Sue helps to get Bobbi sitting up, though she quirks a brow at the other woman's unusual weight, leaning in to check her pupils. "Of course, Simmons," she adds, a small smile quirking when she puts on glasses and gloves. See? This is what she keeps telling people. Procedure is your friend. "All right, Dr. Morse, open wide for me. I want to make sure it's just numbness and not a swelling in your tongue. I don't think emergency tracheotomies are on the agenda today."


Jericho is familiar with battlefield trauma treatments. Which this isn't but it means he has the presence of mind to find a tray for Simmons to deposit the quills on as she goes to work. She'll be wanting to save those, he suspects. He also keeps an eye on May's breathing. "Maybe a ploy to capture people alive. Hedgehogs are unusual and generally non threatening animals. An individual one might draw attention. Still seems chancy though. This is the organization that tried to powder up arcane artifacts and infuse them in people's blood though, so there's that." He makes a face, glancing back to see how Sue and Bobbi are doing before turning his attention back to Simmons and May once more.


The quills are removed and save. Simmons gives Jericho a smile of thanks for the dish and holding it for her before turning her attention to May and conducting a routine examination of the sleeping agent. "How is Agent Morse, Dr Storm? Agent Mays vitals all appear to be normal, no swelling, it appears she's just fast asleep. That's some toxin."

Jericho's comment gets a considering look "I can examine the baby Hedgehogs once I'm sure Agent May is stable" and will wake up, goes unsaid.


Bobbi slowly opens her mouth for Sue, but her eyelids are drooping fast. She looks like she's in for a little nap. No swelling though. "Let em loosh ina room. Poliche preshinct. Prishun…dllier toxshin…" then she's out like a light.


"Agent Morse is…" Sue reaches out to check vitals with a careful touch. "She's out, but appears to be sleeping. Breath and heart rate normal." Carefully, she arranges the agent so she'll be secure in case she has any sort of adverse reaction to the toxin, then moves toward the crate to carefully merge the force field around it and the smaller one surrounding the loose hedgehog. "What an odd experiment," she muses.


"These are the people who mess with replicating dinosaur DNA after all." Jericho says, glancing down at May. Simmons has her. He nods and then comes over to where Sue is to see how… yep. Out like a light. "Jemma you said you found something on them? I think the good Doctor Storm and I would be very interested in hearing it." For different reasons.


"She's out?" Simmons frowns. Nodding to her tablet, she indicates for Jericho to pick it up. If Fitz was here, he'd already be on it. "Nothing specific, Mr Trent. But a number of hits on genetic experimentation, dna splicing and the like. Check the fifth entry down, I was just about to look at that before" she gestures "this happened. There was a reference to Erinaceinae, which obviously caught my eye."

Glancing at May, Simmons frowns again "I could try to wake them, but I feel that letting the toxin work it's way out of the system is a better idea." Glancing at Sue, Jemma's eyes widen as the forcefields merge "What do you think, Dr Storm?"


"Mmm, I concur," Sue nods to Simmons, stepping back from the crate and leaving a field around it. Just in case. One of those shots made it through the wood. She moves back toward the table where May is, frowning slightly. "I'm impressed that they didn't start causing trouble while the crate was being moved."


"Certainly suggests a particular kind of target. I wonder if it was… triggered by reflex or by some other signal. Radio command? Of course that'd mean they know they're in here." Glancing toward one of the shadows the hacker motions. K'nert comes forward curiously and Jericho kneels down, speaking quietly to the imp in a soft tone and a twisty language. It nods and scampers off.


"What did Agent Morse do?" Simmons hadn't been watching. "Let me check the lab footage." Bringing up the security feed for the lab, it takes a few minutes for her find the correct place. Slowing it to about half the normal speed, it clearly shows the Hedgehog licking Agent Morses fingers before turning it's back and firing.

"Something to do with interaction I would say." Worrying her bottom lip, Simmons think "Triggered by touch? or by some chemical reaction perhaps? The others were likely triggered by the first… "


"They appeared to be sleeping to begin with," Sue muses. "Perhaps it was just…a natural reaction. If they haven't actually been handled much, waking up to a strange person would certainly cause many animals to react aggressively. It isn't as though they know what their quills can do."


"No… and they'd have no natural instinct to fire them. Since regular hedgehogs don't do that. Unless they were taught… which I suppose isn't out of the question." K'nert returns with something wrapped up in leather. Don't ask what kind of leather. Really. Jericho unfolds it to reveal what seems to be a plant. "This may smell a little."

He holds it under May's nose and snaps its woody stem. It reeks like death and decay and a hundred compost heaps.


Melinda May jerks awake very abruptly at the …whatever that is, and she wakes up mean. One hand snaps up to try and latch onto Jericho's arm where he's holding the Deathstick (tm) near her face, and she launches herself off of the table in an attempt to disable the hacker and get clear.


"Oh… my…." Simmons covers her nose and her eyes water as Jericho uses whatever that is and then skips back as May launches herself off the table. The look she give Jericho is one of 'all yours'. Trying not to retch, the biochem displays the entry from her tablet on the screen "This is the entry I was referring to." The entry show the details of an experiment to mutate Hedgehog dna….


"Ugh," Sue grimaces at the smell, starting to raise a hand when May reacts as quickly as she does. "Easy, Agent May," she says calmly, not calling up any force fields yet. "It's just…Actually, I have no idea what it is. What is it, Mister Trent?" she asks, stepping closer to try to get a look at the stick.


Jericho gets throat punched. Straight up. He wasn't expecting her to get up quite that fast. Fortunately he's not trying to hold May down so it's quite easy for her to get away. He spends the next fifteen or so seconds coughing though. "Ow…" He manages when he can finally talk again. "It's called… er… bloodbrush I think is the best translation. It has a name in another language but I don't want to risk waking it up." The hacker holds the stick out to Sue. It's bleeding red/black 'sap' that appears to be the source of the stench…

Simmons explanation gets some attention once Jericho's sure May's not going to try to kill him. "Welcome back May. Now…" He glances to Jemma. "I just… why? Did they say in there?"


Melinda May maintains a defensive stance for about five seconds while Jericho coughs and the two scientists try to reassure her, and then her brain catches up and she visibly wobbles and ends up on her behind on the floor. "What is that stench?" she manages to grate out hoarsely.

The smell causes May to gag slightly, and then she mutters, "It's almost as bad as a ripe Durian."


"Bloodbrush, apparently, Agent May" Simmons watches Jericho hand the root over to Sue. "How are you feeling?" She'd check the Agent over but she doesn't particularly feel like loosing a limb. Although she puts out an arm if May wants to catch her her balance.

Reviewing the entry, Simmons shakes her head "It looks like it was a series of tests conducted." She frowns as she reads "as if they were trying to see what worked best. See these numbers here, they're like scores… scoring the success of each part of the experiement."


Sue holds her hands up at the offer, shaking her head. "Thank you, Trent, but I think I'd prefer not to smell that on my hands for the next week," she says with a rueful smile. Jemma's explanation gets a speculative look. "Well, at least they seem to understand the general concept of experimentation."


Jericho smiles thinly, still rubbing his neck and wraps the thing back up in leather. Which makes it… stink less. He passes the bundle off to K'nert who trots off with it again. Bloodbrush stink because their 'sap' is the decaying blood and meat of the things they eat. Limbo plants can, potentially, be very dangerous. He's learned this up close doing his gardening.

"Don't blame you Sue. That stuff doesn't come off easy either." May gets an apologetic glance. "Sorry. Seemed like a good idea at the time. Simmons, any iddea what the goal of their work was?"


Melinda May stays sitting on the floor for a bit longer. "It worked," she says glancing up at Trent. "How long was I out?" She's not trying to stand again, implying that she's nowhere near able to stand up yet.


"General concept, yes." Simmons says "But I'm also extrapolating so I may be off, Dr Storm." Shaking her head at Jericho "Not really, there seems to be a number of reports in the series, so maybe they were trying to decide what worked best? or what worked even? There's no terms of reference for these reports." Which is odd.

Glancing down to Agent May, Simmons frowns in concern "About 20 minutes, I'd say Agent May."


"Apparently," Sue summarizes for May, "These quills have some sort of sedative on them. Which is good news, in that it isn't anything more nefarious, but bad news, in that we aren't certain just how many of these there are, or what they were planning on accomplishing with them."


Jericho nods at Simmons time estimate. Twenty minutes about. She probably would have slept for hours if not for the bloodbrush. "I don't suppose there's any intel on AIM activities recently? Where did your agent even find those things?" He shakes his head and finds a table to lean on. "Simmons, you and Sue here both do bio tech. I know May tends to give the orders around here but I'm thinking it might be helpful to 'reverse engineer'? If we know specifically what they did, that may give us clues as to why?" He glances back to May.


Melinda May just nods in agreement with Jericho's suggestions, the amount of whatever from those quills still very much messing with her. But, it's time to stop being a wimp. Reaching for the side of the table closest to her, she moves to stand. This is worse than getting hit with ketamine.


"Agent May may be able to answer that, Mr Trent" Simmons responds "I'm not cleared to know what Agent Morse was doing." Jemma nods to Sue as she gives May the update. "Reverse Engineering is a good idea. With having the creatures here and those quills we recovered from Agents Morse and May, we can certainly do that." beat "We'll just need to be careful that the little ones don't hurt us. Dr Storm, what do you think?"


"I think I can handle containment," Sue says with a faint smile and a nod toward the field that shimmers around the crate still. "And we should absolutely look into testing this." She moves to get a pair of gloves for herself, then uses a pair of tongs to pick up one of the quills for an inspection.

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