It’s been a couple of days since Jericho and Kaylee had to incapacitate Emily in the Danger Room. Dora as it turns out had also needed some attention, as she had two broken ribs from escaping the maddened telepath. The school has been a little bit tense since that happened since no one knows what caused it.
Today a request had come down to the library to bring up a few books to the infirmary room where Emily is staying at the moment. Nothing particularly notable, just some light reading it seems.
Jericho is sitting in the chair next to the bed by the time Ian arrives. The golden haired telepath is sitting up, eating a cup of pudding that appears to be the last of her hospital lunch. Yes even in the Institute hospital lunches are kind of blah.
Kaylee has been in and out since the occurrence, she hadn’t got out of the episode scot free. She’s been sporting bruises from being knocked into a wall, and the one on her cheek is just starting to yellow.
She’s bustling in now though, unaware of the request that was made “And how’s my patients today?” She asks, almost too brightly. Emily might have been triggered but Jericho’s emotions had got to him.
And quite frankly she’s not sure what scared her more.
Lack of details hasn’t helped to really put him at ease, if mostly because of the palpable tension that’s settled about the Institute since whatever incident. It makes it hard to ignore, and quite clear that whatever had happened is a serious matter.
Things carry on however, and Ian can understand the need to keep to routine. He’s rather glad when he gets the request, a mundane task that he’s more than happy to carry out. Unfamiliar as he is with Emily’s tastes, he’s picked a varying selection of fiction and non, and now makes his way to the infirmary.
When he reaches the room he shifts the small pile of books to one arm so he can knock on the door.
“Room service,” he calls with the hint of a smile in his tone.
“I still have a massive headache, Kaylee.” Emily complains with a smile, side-eyeing Jericho. “Oh and my head kind of hurts too.”
Jericho snorts from where he’s seated.
“Ian.” The blonde telepath smiles when he arrives. “My hero. I’m getting bored out of my mind here when Kaylee isn’t checking in on me. Jericho’s rotten company.”
“That’s not what you used to say.” The hacker mutters, taking the ribbing more or less good naturedly.
“What’s my prognosis, Doc?”
“Hello Ian…” Kaylee smiles, the yellowing of the bruise standing out a bit.
“Is your headache the same as the pain in my neck, Emily?” She smiles, picking up the chart at the end of the bed. It’s electronic, of course.
There’s the wanest of smiles at the ribbing, a hint of something flashing across her face. “Prognosis? You took a bit of beating in there, Emily, for which I’m sorry but there’s no permanent damage. The headache should abate soon and I’ve ordered some meds to aid that.”
“What we need to talk about, is what happened.” It’s not something she’s keen to bring up, but they have to.
Ian slips inside, giving those within a nod as his pale gaze meets each one. He hesitates just a moment as he sees Kaylee, but refrains from asking. It seems in poor taste to ask, at least, immediately. So instead he steps over to the bedside to bring his book offering.
“Some Bronte, Jules Verne, C.S. Lewis, a study on penguins and a couple of biographies.” He shrugs. “It wasn’t specified what subjects you might prefer so I deferred to classics and then some.”
At least between Jericho and Emily, the banter suggests normality despite whatever had occurred. The librarian’s glad that he doesn’t have to prompt anyone for information as Kaylee makes the suggestion herself.
“I’m not sure. We were training. The city simulations had been recently updated. We try to keep them as true to life as possible. Then I heard something and I just… snapped. I’m not even sure what it was. A… short burst of static from a speaker, I think.” Emily puts her food aside and takes the books, smiling her thanks at Ian.
“What had you been doing before?” The hacker asks.
“I’d… visited SHIELD. Someone had asked me to help with the recently captured mutants. I’d been… wait. You don’t think…”
Jericho nods. “That some of their conditioning got into your head? Yeah, I think that’s possible considering there were three other Frost clones in there.”
That’s a kind of chilling suggestion. Was Emily vulnerable because she has been a Hound before or… could they have say turned Ian into one?
“That’s good reading.” Kaylee offers a smile to Ian, seeing the concern but not commenting yet.
The explanation has her thinking carefully and pulling up some other reports. “Emily, I’d like to run scans if I can. I’m not sure it will show anything but I’m wondering if all … like you … have hidden ‘back doors’.”
Jericho gets a look for that. He’s the Hacker and might be able to follow her thinking. “If you invest so much in an asset, I’m sorry for being so clinical, you wouldn’t want to lose them and you’d want something you could use if the programming went wrong and you were locked out of the ‘admin’ account, right?”
“What if, the other Hounds recognised this in Emily and activated it?” That’s almost as chilling as turning Ian into one.
Since no one’s dismissed him Ian seems content to linger. He hasn’t any pressing matters to get back to at the moment anyway, and his curiosity is evident. Better to hear what’s happened direct from the source than to try sussing out anything from words in passing.
There’s a frown on his face the moment Emily speaks of hearing something during her simulation that had triggered her, and it shouldn’t be difficult to guess as to why that would concern him given the times, few as they’ve been, that he’d found himself triggered with the unexplanable urge to kill. And that’s not even due to telepaths.
That potentially the Frost clones were involved is just as disturbing, and the librarian shifts uneasily where he stands. “…when did you meet with them? Was it before or after we’d spoken to them?” He’s not even sure if it would matter for lack of knowing just how their conditioning procedure worked, and certainly he has no idea that Emily was a Hound herself, before.
“After.” Emily says and she looks at Ian sympathetically though possibly misreading his worry. “Don’t worry I don’t think it’s anything you did. They’ve got a lot of stuff in them. It took years to get it there it won’t come out all at once.”
Could they have DONE something to Ian though? Well he was suppressing them. But… sure. It’s possible. It’s definitely possible.
Jericho looks at Kaylee. “That could have happened yes. Or something in the updated simulation was put there on purpose when the Institute was gathering information for it’s simulation.” He pauses. “Gnosis could probably help with the analysis on that one, honestly.”
Emily takes a breath. “How would you scan, Kaylee?”
Kaylee fiddles with the tablet, clearly uneasy about this. “I’m not sure, Emily…” she thinks and they can see as a thought comes to her.
“We have your brain scans from your regular visits. That’s part of my protocols when come to see me. If we compare those to now, it’s possible something will show up.”
“If it’s the framework that was used, Jericho can scan that. Check the coding and look for anomalies.”
Ian gets another from the biochem and then to Emily “Ian doesn’t know your history, Emily.”
His worry had actually been for if Emily had been involved with examining the clones prior to his and Kaylee’s visits, but even with Emily’s reassurance he’s not so sure what to feel. Well, other than troubled. Those poor girls. The thought that they might have somehow managed to affect him and/or Kaylee during their own medical examinations hasn’t even occurred to him, but that’s because he already knows his own brain’s already been nano-rewired to react by signal. That there’s an additional possibility of being mentally manipulated would definitely unsettle him more than he might appear to be now.
As such, he seems in a state of neutral calm, his concerns focused upon Emily. He catches Kaylee’s glance, a twitch of a smile in apology granted towards Emily as the biochem explains. “I don’t need to hear it- it’s personal. Anyway, I think I can understand enough just from this conversation.”
Emily gives Ian a wan smile and shifts her weight in the bed slightly. “I think you should probably do that Kaylee…” The scans. Check everything they have. Just to be sure. They have to eliminate any possibility they can in a matter like this.
“How did your conversation with the… other Frost clones go? I know you did speak to them, that was in the visitors log, but I hadn’t heard if it was productive. It can be…” She glances to Jericho now.
“… difficult to recover Hounds, sometimes. HYDRA is very good at turning them into dehumanized tools.”
That might well sound familiar to both Ian and Kaylee.
Kaylee is going to leave the answering of the last question to Ian. For the moment she’s accessing Emily’s record and comparing the scans that have been done.
Turning the tablet so Jericho can see, she frowns and gestures to a section. Her hand movements suggest she’s zooming in on an area. “Look there, Jericho. What do you think?”
Ian folds his arms, head tilting at Emily before he casts a brief glance at Kaylee. As the biochem busies herself with the scans, the librarian turns his attention back towards Emily.
“It was… I’m not sure that I can say it was productive. We did get a reaction from one of them- Kaylee named her Rosa since she claimed they couldn’t have names.” He frowns. “The things she told us about whatever had been indoctrinated with were troubling, to say the least. She refused to believe that mutants could ever be treated as people, that they’re just used. She thought we were lying when Kaylee and I described otherwise, and so we took a chance and allowed her to look through our minds to ascertain the truth herself.”
He pauses, wondering if he should be more concerned about that then he’d been then before shaking his head, continuing. “…while she realized that we spoke the truth, it seemed to unsettle her immensely. I haven’t heard anything further about her status since.”
Jericho leans in and frowns and then taps another part. “That seems abnormal there too. Could be a result of what happened to her. Does it show up on previous scans?” That’ll tell them if it’s new or if it has been there all the time. Of the possibilities, Jericho is thinking it most likely that something in Emily’s head got tweaked and reactivated. If they put something entirely new in her head that’s TERRIFYING.
“It was difficult for me to believe too, when I was first brought out. Jericho, actually, was the one who did that. Raided the facility where I was being kept. It was months before I could accept that freedom wasn’t just some cruel lie meant to give me false hope.” She sighs.
“It takes patience Ian. But from what I’ve seen of you, you might be ideally suited. You’re calm. Your patient. Your mind is fairly ordered so it isn’t a sort of horrifying mess to touch…”
A small, wan smile touches the blonde’s lips. “Well she DID ask about seeing both you and Kaylee again. But we hadn’t decided what to do about that yet. Or if you would be amenable.”
“I do, yes…” Kaylee swipes the screen and brings up another scan. “Let me overlay those …” she mutters, taking longer than anyone really wants her to.
“Do you think I was right, Jericho?” She asks quietly. “Something has changed here in the area that affects instinctive behaviour.”
She looks at the mention of her name and blinks. “I don’t mind seeing them again, Emily. Once we sort out what’s happened. But they need to learn to trust and seeing people that respect and admire mutants they know.”
His eyes drift over towards the scans as Jericho and Kaylee go over them. No matter how many times he has to look at such things it’s still beyond him as to how such parts can change. That doesn’t make it any less frightening.
Ian turns his head back towards Emily again, smiling wryly. “I suppose it helps that I haven’t much to hide either.” His private life had been rather dull, and he’d had plenty of time to exercise patience, and that had been without any particular motive to work towards.
“…I’d be willing to speak with her, with them, again. What they’ve been taught, how they’ve been treated- it isn’t right.” He pauses, eyes flicking towards the biochem. “But as Kaylee says. It’d probably be best to figure out what happened here first.”
“Yeah, that looks… concerning.” Jericho taps another area. “It’s enlarged too. I think…” He thinks that happened recently. Possibly when she went to visit them or maybe in the simulation. It’s a little difficult to tell.
“Maybe in a controlled environment. One less… sterile than the cell. We’re going to have to start resocializing them soon.” Emily says, nodding at their concerns. Very valid concerns. “I hate to use the analogy but it’s going to be like rehabilitating wild animals to an extent. Only a hundred times worse because they’ve been so lied to and twisted that they’ll have a hard time accepting the facts right before them. Earnestness is probably the best asset, really. Especially when dealing with the telepaths. And you two have that in spades. It’s like you’ve realized… the Importance of Being Earnest.”
Jericho sighs. “I know you ate…” He mutters.
“I’ll pull the recordings from Emily visit and we can review them.” Kaylee murmurs, looking at the blonde. “You’ll need to work at it, Emily, but I think we know what caused it. And with your help, we might find out how they did it.”
This is terrible but good all at the same time. It’s another piece in the puzzle of the hounds.
“That’s a good movie.” Kaylee smiles “Colin Firth and Rupert Everett really made it for me. Errr, Jemma, rather.” she gives Emily a wink, appreciating the pun.
“Ian, I’m going to want to scan the both of us as well. And I’ll put precautions in place for others interacting with those in rehabilitation.”
That makes sense to Ian. He nods at Emily, distasteful as it sounds, but unfortunately not too far off from the situation that the clones have been in. Or rather they’d been treated like animals and needed to be introduced and convinced that they’re so much more.
The reference made draws no reaction given the librarian doesn’t seem familiar with it, further proven for the blank look at Kaylee’s saying something about a movie. He shrugs to himself, but when addressed directly he nods, half of a smile tugging at one end of his lips.
“For all my brain’s been through it’s a wonder I can even function on a day to day basis,” he says dryly.
“You’re brain’s like a library. You just put the books back on the right shelves when you’re done.” Emily smiles cryptically. It’s not clear if she means that literally but she IS a telepath after all.
“Maybe we should let one of the telepaths run around in Ian’s brain.” Jericho jokes. “If it’s that nice.”
“Actually… with Kaylee and maybe Dora supervising… that’s maybe not a terrible idea. What better way to lay everything out to one of those poor Frosts…”
Jericho quirks a brow. He was joking but he looks to see if Ian and Kaylee are game.
Kaylee snorts softly at Emily. She can imagine that Ians mind is just like that. She doesn’t ask about hers. She really doesn’t want to know.
“It’s similar to how we convinced the first one.” She nods to Jericho. It’s not a terrible idea but it is. Well it is, if there’s danger they might reprogram and they don’t know she’s doing it.
“What do you say, Ian? You’ve got some good experiences they will benefit from.”
The librarian arches a brow at Emily, even more so at the suggestion. From the look he flicks between Jericho and Kaylee, Ian seems a little uncertain himself about just how good an idea that would be.
“Good experiences?” He almost laughs. “I don’t know that I’d call them that. Learning experiences, definitely. But…I guess it’d be the easiest way to see how it’s been to be on both sides of what they’ve largely been neglected.” They hadn’t been treated as humans, and not properly by any means, as mutants. Ian’s life as a mutant is still relatively fresh to him, and yet the changes to his life have been largely situational. But he’s been surrounded by the right kind of people as well, and for that he realizes how fortunate he’s been. Which just makes it more evident what the opposite could have been, just seeing how those young women have been trained.
“…all right. Yeah. I’m willing to give it a shot.”
“I think if we do it in a controlled environment with a telepath watching who isn’t me and Kaylee around to sedate people if needed, it should be okay?”
Jericho nods. Kaylee seems to be on board at least. He rises from his chair.
“You should read and rest, Emily. When this is set up let me know and I’ll come do security for you guys. Until then, I’m going to the cafeteria to get something that isn’t hospital food.”
Emily frowns and bounces her empty pudding container off the back of his head.
The hacker laughs, waves and heads on out, saying “Come on you two. Lets get some food and let the lady recover.”
Kaylee laughs at the antics and checks on Emily one more time. “I’ll be back to check on you. When you’re feeling better, Dora and others, will want to poke around in your brain. They might think it’s pay back.” She winks at the blonde and gives Ian a quick hug.
“We’ll do all we can to make it safe, Ian…” she murmurs, following Jericho out.
Ian doesn’t try terribly hard to conceal his own chuckle as he watches that container go flying to hit its mark. “Nice shot,” he murmurs, smirking at Emily as he grants her a nod before turning to join the others.
The hug surprises him that he goes rigid for a moment, but he smiles softly at Kaylee’s reassurance, and as she turns to lead the way out after Jericho, Ian offers a quiet, “Thank you.”
Kaylee and Jericho check up on how Emily's doing, although the possible causes for the incident raise more than a little concern.
April 09, 2052