Is It Similar Capabilities?

August 15, 2016:

Audrey reappears after a three month absence. She and Jemma catch up.

New York

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

It's been a while since Jemma has been able to catch up with Audrey. Partly because the biochem has been busy, but partly because Audrey hasn't been in contact. That certainly happens and whilst Jemma doesn't really know what Audrey does, she suspects it's something secret agentish (if that's even a word…)

So it was a little surprising when the call came in. Pleasently surprising, of course.

Sitting in a cafe, somewhere in New York, the two women are quietly talking. There's a folder on the table, under Jemma's arm. "So, you see, with the main threat of the Daemonites gone, there's been a bit of a restructure. The Director has put me in charge of my own project - to work out more about them and other alien entities, as well working out how better to combat when needed."

Realising she's probably been babbling non-stop and getting a bit too Sciency!! the biochem colours slightly and lets out a deep breath "So how are you, Audrey? It's been a while…"


Secret agent-y would be one way to describe it. For the better part of the last three months, Audrey has been on a deep cover assignment for the Authority. It may not exactly be a surprise that she would disappear; if anyone would without a word, it would be Audrey. But it was certainly longer than usual.

The young woman doesn't look to have suffered for her absence, though. She's her usual self, just a little bit reserved, listening to the science talk. She may not understand all of it, but there's always that sense that she's remembering it, just in case someone else who does understand needs to know it.

"I'm good," she smiles faintly back at Jemma. "Been chasing down some leads. Not much progress, but I wasn't ready to give up on it either. Been keeping up with your training?"


Jemma smiles at Audrey's answer, it seems like she might have expected it. It's the sort of answer that agents give when asked. "Training. Yes. I've even been running with a friend. Most of the moves are still automatic though, if I think about what I'm doing, I'm still my own natural clumsy self. Thomas thinks that he taught most of it - but neither of us can remember much." Whoever Thomas is and why they can't remember looks to be a story in itself. "But as you see, they let me out unescorted now…" She's joking, a bit, but there's certainly no security detail around.

"Chasing leads on your unit, you mean? If so, I've been busy there too. So has Jericho."


"Trying to keep my distance from them," Audrey admits, grimacing. "Running into someone I knew was a little close for comfort, you know? It gets messy when it gets personal." She doesn't exactly look around, but there's a slight change to her posture as she assesses the people around them, testing Jemma's assertion that she hasn't been followed. "I was sort of wondering," she smiles faintly afterwards. "Assumed maybe they'd hooked you up with some new tech or something. Some of the pressure ease off?"


Jemma is alone and Audrey won't see a thing. Apart from the fact that SHIELD has downsized with the Daemonites leaving and they simply don't have the agents to spare to babysit her, she's proven quite adept at looking after herself.

"Yes, I can understand that. Personal though, you can't always avoid it but you can try." Audreys question gets a shake of her head "Just the standard issue SHIELD firearms. The pressures eased in one way, yes. But grown in another. The Daemonites and Psyborgs have gone quiet. SIGMA and The Section too. I expect they'll make a try if I get too close to things, but I can only do what I can do."

Taking a sip of her tea, the biochem sighs before adding "Now, it's a timetravelling piece of code that wants to … eliminate me. Seems that I do something it doesn't like in the future." Seriously, how much strange can Jemma's life get? "But that's not why I sent you those messages. I've got the results of your DNA tests and Jericho has found some interesting work of The Section…"


"Well, you do have a record," Audrey drawls, a glimmer of humor in her eyes matching the slight twitch of her lips as she pushes the remains of her eggs around her plate with a piece of toast. "If someone shows up saying come with him if you want to live, make sure you use birth control before every timeline ever gets twisted into a mess."

Talk of the DNA test, though, gets a quick upward glance. She's had blood taken before, had tests run. But any results were always filtered through the unit, so anything she learned could have been tainted. "What kind of interesting work?"


Jemma blushes a little and laughs just a little. Audrey might have hit a nerve there, somehow. "Ah, well, yes…"

"Let's start with that…" Taking up her tablet, the biochem pulls up some footage and starts to play it "This is all I could capture on a recent mission. The bunker had been welded shut and we had to break in…"

The images are dark but Audrey can see a dozen or so humanoid forms, with chitinous patches on their skin and several with scything bone-like talons instead of hands. Some even have more than two arms.

"This is the bunker I was taken to. Jericho has been to at least one other. The doors shut and locked so well - we believe to keep things in, Audrey."


Audrey quirks a brow at Jemma's reaction, but doesn't ask. She's certainly never been forthcoming about her own romantic attachments. If she has any. Instead, she leans in to get a better look at the pictures, brows furrowing in a frown. "That's…That's not what you found from the DNA tests or the unit, right?" she asks, glancing back up at the other woman. "We always worked with talents that were already present. Even if they'd been trying to induce mutations, they wouldn't have gotten the same results that many times."


"Well, it's come from Jericho following the leads we found on the experimentation The Section were doing on your unit…" Jemma says quietly, knowing this is unpleasant. "… I'm not sure they were trying to induce mutations though. I'm beginning to wonder if they were, are, looking for strong genetic base material to 'splice' the alien DNA with."

Tapping the screen, she brings up a series of DNA profiles "This is the DNA profile I got from Sample XT-1225 - the one that you liberated when we did that 'raid'. This is the DNA profile of some 'ooze' Jericho got from another bunker… see how there are similar traits? That's XT-1225 being spliced in."

"Now not withstanding that the DNA samples we took have 6 base pairs, there's a lot of similarities in it to our insects."


"Hold up." Audrey plays that back in her head, giving the pictures another long look. "You're saying that they were thinking that mutants might have a better chance of surviving a process that was trying to…basically graft these alien traits onto it?" She sets her toast down on the edge of her plate, trying to work through what she knows about biology and genetics to make sense of it.

"Why? Is there some reason they'd think people with the x-gene would be more…compatible with the changes? Or were the subjects they chose ones with mutations that themselves would be more compatible?"


"I don't actually know, Audrey. I'm still working on it. But you're asking all the right questions… and make some good observations." Jemma says quietly "I have no idea what The Section are thinking - all I know is what they're doing is dangerous and seems to have created … creatures so powerful they've had to abadon complete bunkers and weld the doors shut to keep them inside."

"But that does raise a good point. This is your DNA sample … and from what I see, it's all pure mutant - no tampering." The screen on the tablet changes again - showing one set of results with an obscure identifier "I labelled the sample so that only I would know who's it was by the way." The biochem might have a few trust issues.

Another set of results appear beside them "This is a sample of one of the creatures we recovered. If isolate what I believe is the X-Gene from your sample and filter the second sample…" she waits for a few moments until the results appear "It's there. I would conjecture that the original subject was a mutant." beat "So maybe you've hit on something. Maybe they started trying all mutants and now they're looking for mutations the will readily adapt… I just don't have enough data. It's bad science the way they're going around it."

Not to mention unethical to boot.

"What do you remember of the person from your unit that you saw them working on? Anything about his mutations?"


"Yeah, well. If they did that to me, they'd have to weld me into a bunker, too, if they didn't want a close introduction to their latest creation," Audrey snorts softly, leaning back to look away from the pictures before she reaches for her toast again. She takes a bite, chewing as she thinks.

"I probably wouldn't have been a good candidate," she muses. "The only physical manifestation of my mutation is my vision, but the last theory they had on that was that it wasn't actually anything in my eyes so much as my brain interpreting additional information it was picking up from sensing wavelengths that I was then imagining as visual information."

Grimacing, she rubs a hand at her brow. "Neurotoxins. He could secrete a paralytic substance from his fingertips. But he was growing scales when I saw him. I thought maybe it was just a secondary mutation he'd come into since I left."


"Well, my introduction to these creatures was that they were mindlessly violent. Whatever The Section had done, I doubt much of their humanity remained. Without a live subject, it's hard to tell though. Still, I can imagine you'd be a pretty tough character to deal with." Jemma observes, adding a chuckle at the last. "Your vision?" Jemma has never really asked Audrey about her mutation. She'd just been thankful for it on a number of occassions. "You can see light?"

The description of Audrey teammates mutation has the biochem nodding slowly "Based on what you told us when we left that place, I wonder if the scales were a result of the splicing. They did say he was showing signs of rejection and to get immunosuppressant drugs, remember?" It's Jemmas' turn now to fall silent and consider "Whilst his mutation might indicate a more ready 'fit', without a bigger sample group, we just don't know."

Which means they're going to need to find out more about what's happening in that Unit. "We can dig deeper on that front but it would help if we knew which records to start with. I know it's asking a lot, but do think…."

Could Audrey remember the members on the unit and their mutations? Or is there another approach she can think of?


"We all see light," Audrey points out, smile quirking. "But yeah. I can see into the infrared and ultraviolet spectrums. Differentiate between colors normal people can't. See laser security grids that aren't generally visible to the human eye. It's part of how I can see if I'm invisible. You're a doctor, you know how vision works. Scientifically speaking, if light is passing through me then it's not reflecting off my eyes and I shouldn't be able to see where I'm going. But I can."

She shrugs, finishing the last bite of her toast and pushing her plate to the side. "I could tell you who was there when I left," she answers the unasked question. "But it's been three years, Jemma. And they weren't training us to sit behind desks. There's a good chance a lot of the people I trained with are already dead."


Jemma smirks just a little at Audreys' comment as she listens. "Well yes, you're correct but that's fascinating. Very helpful, I can imagine." Hopefully Jemma never makes the connection of the bright flare light that went off when Deathstroke kidnapped her and Audreys powers. "Scientifically, yes, but your mutation seems to cater for that." Nature is a wonderful, marvelous, unpredictable thing as far as the biochemist is concerened.

"It would help, Audrey. It's the best lead I've got. If we can get their records from the system, maybe we'll find some correlations and if they aren't alive, maybe we'll find out if they were experimented on." They might not have died from being in the field.


Audrey nods slowly, setting an elbow on the table and propping her chin up on her hand with a quiet frown. "I'll work up a list," she agrees after a moment. "I know who I worked with and what their capabilities were. It was one of the things they drilled into us. If you've got soldiers with special skills, you damned well better make sure they're all using them to the best of their ability, after all."


"Thank you. If we find another bunker, do you want to come with us?" It's a genuine offer and if Audrey chooses not to, that's ok. "I'll filter that list through what I'm finding, but I suspect we've only just scraped the surface of what The Section are truly doing."

"On another note, I'm developing some rather interesting biotech weapons. I know that you have a healthy interest in firearms. If you're interested, when they're a little further along, I might like some feedback. Agents are good, but having the perspective of people like yourself and Jericho would be worthwhile."


"Yeah," Audrey says quietly, taking her napkin from her lap and setting it onto her empty plate. "Yeah, I'd like to see one of the places for myself. Maybe there'll be something familiar there, something we can use to track this down. I guess the last couple years I've been so wrapped up in making sure I could stay out, I didn't exactly remember to try to get anyone else out. And now this."

Shaking her head, she pulls cash from her pocket for the meal. "I'm not exactly a gunsmith, but I do not about using them," she smiles crookedly. "I wouldn't mind checking them out. Just give me a call. I should be back in town for a while now."


"I'm so sorry, Audrey." Jemma might get tied up in the Science and forget about the 'human' side of things but she's not uncaring. Audreys comments bring it home to her. There's no real reassurances she can give either. "We'll do what we can. I'll let Jericho know that you want in. I'm sure he'll appreciate the help."

Leaving money herself to pay for her food, Jemma rises and starts to pack her bag. "It's been great catching up with you and it's good to have you back again."


"It's good to see you again, Jemma," Audrey agrees with a small smile. "And good to see you don't need your keepers. Just keep an eye out for the Terminators and it'll all be good," she winks. With that said, she heads for the door, disappearing into the crowds in the street.

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