It’s been a week or so since Jericho raided the safehouse in the Sprawl and recovered computer and framework components to analyze. Now, after a dinner of chinese takeout at his apartment, he has some of them spread across his work table while others are plugged into his computer setup undergoing various forms of analysis. There’s three notepads full of scribblings, correlations and questions. In general it looks like a tame version of the classic conspiracy theory board with pictures and insane ramblings connected by string.
He’s been at this for a while. Someone may want to come check on him.
Someone does check up on him, of course. A SHIELD scientist who has a number of things on her plate. Not the least is how some of her research, that she hadn’t released, had ended up in the Framework they found.
So she arrives, in person, not digitally – though with that wearable, it’s possible that she could do that too, with a bottle of vodka and more food in hand. Maybe she doesn’t think he’ll eat.
When the hacker opens the door he’s got a half empty tumbler already in his hand. The first thing he sees is the vodka. “Ah. I’ll take that. Come on in.” Apparently he could use it. Or is low on his russian alcohol/fuel. It doesn’t keep him awake and it kind of burns going down but it does take the edge off, a little bit.
“Find yourself a seat if you like. You can put the food with the rest of the food.” There’s not too much left in the takeout cartons but there doesn’t seem to have been very much to begin with.
“I think I’ve figured out what they have…” There’s a pause. “What they’re doing with my sister.”
Kaylee’s changed her hair colour again, it’s purple now and not seafoam green. A deep, vibrant purple that almost gleams as the light catches it. What the colour changes have been doing to her hair must be murder.
“You can have it, as long as you pour me one, too.” she answers as she enters, eyes taking in the apartment – particularly his ‘research’ on the table.
“Looks like it was a good thing I bought food with me. How many times have you eaten this week?” it’s a quiet question and the look she bends on him is concerned. A concern that intensifies as he mentions Gabrielle.
“Well, let me dish up something to eat whilst your pour us a drink and you can tell me about it.” She doesn’t mention her research, yet. Maybe she will.
“There’s cups in the cabinet. Go ahead and help yourself.” The hacker waves as he sets the now open bottle down on the table and turns back to his workbench to gather up the paper pads. When she returns with a cup he pours her a drink.
“Eaten? Uh. Most of them. I don’t think I’ve missed too many meals.” And he hasn’t… they’ve just been small.
“The research mentions… a lot of things. But their notes are full of references to a resonance or a frequency. It seems to be related to our traces. They emit some kind of energy or detectable frequency and might also be linked on some level. Quantum something or other. A bit over my head. The upshot of it was they thought they could use her traces to locate everyone else who had one. But they hadn’t figured out how.”
He pauses, setting the pads down. “The second upshot is that they’re looking for everyone else involved in the project.”
That’s something at least, though the size of the meals concerns her. He needs a certain calorically balanced diet and small meals … may not be sufficient. “Well, I’m glad I bought some food with me. Because I’m famished.”
The LMD lowers herself into a chair and considers what he says “Is that right? When I worked on the project we were working on an energy source, trying to work out how to tap it. We didn’t know where it came from or what they wanted for.” When //Jemma// worked on the project, not her. “Something must power the traces, so maybe that’s what they’re trying to find…” she muses.
Her eyes rise to meet his “Does it say why?”
“The notes here are a bit confusing on that point. It seems that they regard the traces themselves – or the exotic material in them – as the energy source itself. How exactly that’s possible even they don’t seem to know.” He slides the papers on over for Kaylee to have a look at. She might be able to at least make sense of some of them though he’s aware this isn’t really her specialty.
“No it doesn’t beyond references to the orders having come down from higher up. I get the sense that they have some kind of benefactor who is very interested in the results of the project.” Jericho makes a face. “Which… doesn’t make sense. It’s not like they’re targeting us for elimination though that certainly seems to be on the table. It’s more that they’re interested in seeing what the traces have done to us and how they operate individually. I… gather they’ve been using Gabrielle as a test case. Having her use her power in a lot of different scenarios to see what the traces do and how her body reacts to them doing it.”
If it seems that he doesn’t like that idea… he doesn’t.
The traces might not be Kaylee’s speciality but they reside in the body and that is. She takes the papers and starts to read them, listening with a half as Jericho speaks.
“That doesn’t make sense.” the Scientist mutters, as she flips back and forwards between the pages. “See here, the material is inert. But here …” she points to another set of results “They are operational. They introduced //something// that it seemed … to absorb. That’s not quite the way to put it, but it’s close.”
That there might be benefactor gets a face from the biochem herself “You said this was a Defense project right? It doesn’t make sense that there would be a benefactor, unless it’s one of the original team. I suppose it //could// be that. But it they’re trying to recover the participants, there has to be money behind it.”
Science is expensive, whichever way you dice it.
She lets out a sigh, putting the papers back on the table “I know you don’t like the sound of that, but if it were me … it’s what I would do. Controlled field tests to observe and monitor.”
“The original Project Prometheus //was// a defense project. This clearly isn’t being run by the same people or they wouldn’t have to reinvent the wheel with all their research. The fact that they clearly don’t have the original Prometheus notes suggests that whomever took an interest in this, it’s someone other than the original research staff.” Jericho points out.
“Track and recover. AND they somehow had access to White Devil’s framework and consciousness digitization research. So we can assume someone rich and European which narrows it down but not so much that it tells me who it is… although…”
The hacker’s eyes narrow. “I assume SHIELD keeps track of EuroMIND agents in Coalition Territories. If I could gain access to their secure systems I could find out if THEY know anything. Someone this powerful in Europe or Russia probably has a file somewhere in their archives.”
“Perhaps, Jericho.” Kaylee murmurs, picking up the research pages and perusing again. “Maybe not the same people, exactly, but some of them. Like me … I mean Jemma … they’ll have parts of the jigsaw and now they’re trying to find the rest of the pieces so they can see the picture.”
“But I think you’re right, that it’s another group – even if there’s someone familiar with it. I don’t find it hard to believe that there are parties interested in the research and the … products.”
She doesn’t mean to sound cold and clinical – it’s not Kaylee’s general demeanour – but it helps when they’re trying to work things through.
“Not just White Devil’s framework …” the scientist points out quietly “… but the modifications that I made when I helped Anastasia.” Which means it’s someone who is, perhaps, close-ish to the Scientist.
“Of course we keep track of EuroMIND agents in our territories. What are you thinking? If you want to link with me, I can get you that information now…”
“Doesn’t explain the foreign involvement though.” The hacker murmurs. “But yeah, clearly it’s someone with access to SHIELD or Institute databases as well as White Devil research. So either they’re a super sneak on a level even I’m a bit shocked by or they’re an organization with fingers in a lot of pies.” There might be other explanations but they don’t occur to Jericho right now though.
With a wave, Jericho establishes a connection to Kaylee’s wearable. She’s probably not supposed to give him this information. On the other hand, SHIELD is remarkably ambivilent about people taking out troublemakers like EuroMIND spies or HYDRA agents.
“I’m going to find one and interrogate their wearables. They’ll have some kind of comm system and I doubt they can go old school and do everything hard copy. Difficult to get mail from there to here. So once I have access into their network, I can scan it for relevant files and see if I can compile a dossier on either this ‘benefactor’ or the organization in question.”
He pauses a moment. “This might also give us a way to bait Gabrielle out. If we can make them think there’s a target in some location of our choosing, I’ll bet they’ll send her.” Then he can pounce. He knows how his sister fights. And he knows the weakness in her ability set. It won’t be easy to take advantage of it… but it can be done.
There’s a few things it might be – some of them neither the Hacker or the Scientist would even consider as Kaylee establishes the connection to SHIELD and feels Jericho in the back of her mind. His presence … is almost familiar.
“Careful what you touch there …” she murmurs teasingly. She //had// rifled through his memories when she wakened. He’s right that SHIELD might not approve – but Kaylee’s been pushing those boundaries for a while.
The list when he gets it is extensive. There’s several agents in the US and Canada to start with. Even a couple right here in Chicago.
His plan gets a nod of approval but another look of concern “Be careful. I know I don’t have to tell you, but do…” her brown eyes rise to his green flecked grey ones “… I want in, when you do that. Even if it’s just to monitor. I won’t leave you out there alone …”
“I’m always careful.” Jericho says with another gulp of Vodka. What he probably means to say is ‘I take calculated risks’ which is a bit more like it. He does, indeed, take calculated risks. And this one will be no different. Agents like this, if they’re good, are always watching their backs.
But the hacker is highly motivated.
“I’ll loop you in if there’s time to set it up. If I get a snap opportunity there might not be.” But usually he does these things methodically. Set up survielance, spy on them a bit, learn patterns and find a good time to strike.
And ideally do so without alerting the network that it’s been compromised. That’ll be the tricky part.
“That’s not what your profile says …” Kaylee mutters, sitting back finally and leaving the papers on the table. Rather than gulping her vodka, she sips it carefully, letting the burn warm her throat as she does. It really is hard to believe she’s a robot – she’s so very, very human.
“If you get a snap opportunity, you should take it.” Hopefully he’d ping her and she can support, as she can, from a distance.
“You can take the notes if you like. Could be that you or one of the Fitzes can do something with them. Just be careful if you decide to. We still don’t know how these people ended up with your research and we don’t want anything important getting back to them.” Of course, ideally they don’t want the notion that they’re onto the leak get back to them – whomever them is – either. It’s a tricky game, counterspying. And it’s not entirely Kaylee’s job. There are… field types for that. Still, she should be familiar with it. She’s an agent, after all.
Kaylee looks at the notes on the table and chews her bottom lip as she thinks “I’d prefer you’d scan my systems before I enter them. But I think I can store them safely until then. Cullen might like to review them – not that it’s his field. He might have ideas on how we can tap into the network.”
Or he might not.
But either way, Kaylee’s concerned about the leak.
“I … still don’t know how they got that research, Jericho. That frame work … I’d say I’d set up myself if I didn’t know better.” Like Hacking, every ‘operator’ has their own distinct style, their own signature and for Kaylee to recognise it so closely to her work … that speaks volumes.
“When can you drop by, do you think?”
“Tomorrow or the next day. I’ll let you know.” Jericho starts to plate some of the food that Kaylee brought over. Seems he’s still a bit hungry.
“Maybe you did. In a way. How many other Simmonses are there… and might one of them be compromised?” Jericho isn’t thinking if any Simmonses are in other hands though if he stopped for a moment that is clearly also a possibility and an uncomfortable one at that. How does one deal with someone who thinks largely like you do?
“I’d like to say, the sooner the better …” Kaylee murmurs, watching the Hacker as he starts to eat more. It brings a smile to her lips and a look of … relief to her eyes. “… but when you can.”
“Three, I believe. Four including me. And I don’t see how. I’m the one that’s the most active – the others really do prefer lab work.” What is it, that makes Kaylee so … different. Makes her enjoy the field work almost as much as she enjoys her Science? “But I had thought on that. That one of us is … compromised. If we are, it would mean an inside job given there’s no external to access our systems.”
That’s why Jericho had created the wearable for her. So she could access the outside world.
“How … would we determine if it was of the others?”
Because it couldn’t be Kaylee. She’s sure of that. Jericho must be relatively assured of that as well.
“Given that you’re basically people that’s just as simple as someone having leverage or loyalties lying elsewhere. And that’s difficult to find. Though I assume you would know if one of the other Simmonses was accessing your work.” Which means they would have to have a way to cover their tracks even if the leak was internal.
“Ideally we test them. Drop some information to one of them and see if it gets out. Then drop different information to another and see if it gets out.” The process of elimination is the only way they’ll ever be completely sure. And even if they do eliminate all the other Simmonses… they still have a problem, so there’s that.
“Should pobably test the Fitzes too. Though that might be more difficult. We’ll get to that. Right now I just want to find Gabrielle.”
“I would and they’re not. I get alerts when others have accessed my work.” Maybe Kaylee’s a little bit paranoid. “But we can test them, once you’ve reviewed my systems and see what comes out… Fitz’s too. Cullen was the other one who worked on that tech with me.” It was Cullen that did the hardware interface, after all.
“And sure, we need to find Gabrielle, first.”
“Right. Now. Pass me the vodka. I’m going to need a little more tonight.” Jericho’s not given to drinking much… and to be fair he’s not drunk. Probably a bit buzzed but no more. Still the fact that he’s gone that far suggests this is starting to get to him.
And there’s no way in hell he’ll let up.
Jericho and Kaylee discuss the findings from the raid where Gabrielle had been held.
April 17, 2051