2019-06-11 - Still Need Wet Wear


Steve drops by to speak with Jemma about current events

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Tue Jun 11 00:17:07 2019
Location: Jemma's Lab, The Triskellian

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It's getting out that Jemma has returned from … whereever she was … and unsurprisingly the gifted biochem is busy. Steve Rogers has received a message that she'd like to see him and he knows that she'll be found in her lab. Where else would she be?

In the lab, the biochem is standing in front of her workbench, a 3D rendering of what looks a DNA structure. She gestures, the image turns, another gesture and the image zooms in. "Hmmmm…." she's talking to herself.

At his desk in his office located in the Operations wing of the Triskelion, Steve glances over to the corner of his holographic screen. A timed reminder labeled: "15 MIN - LAB VISIT, SIMMONS" pops up. He set it yesterday. A light touch of his finger dismisses it and he sighs as he gathers up the report stack on his desk into a neat pile. A vertical tilt of the stack and tap-tap on the desk to align all the sheets means he can clip it together and set it aside for now. It'll take 15 minutes to get down there anyways, someone always has something to share in the hallways.

Indeed — three verbal updates and one anecdotal story later (awkward!), Steve shows up in the doorway to Jemma's lab. Knuckles knock-knock upon the doorframe to announce him. He looks so civilian today in a plain button-down in grey and khaki-colored pants; the combat boots give him away as readied despite the facade.

"Doctor Simmons," he says by way of greeting, giving her a small and professional smile as he approaches. His eyes flick to study the holographic display of the helical DNA and then return to her. "You mentioned you had something for me?"

Jemma starts a little when Steve enters, the resulting gesture causing the 3D image to rotate slightly. It takes a moment for Jemma to readjust the alignment before turning to Steve as she blows out a breath.

"Agent Rogers, thank you for coming. Call me Jemma, if you like."

The Doctor sticks, it seems, even though she's been a qualified Field Agent for several years now.

"The Director asked me to speak to you… regarding the Thunderbolt that Consultant Harper found and …" She pauses, eyes falling to Steves hand and the gold ring on his finger. "Is there something you want to share, Agent Rogers?"

"Jemma then — and right, the Thunderbolt situation." Steve nods before glancing down to his right hand. He's got his thumbs hanging habitually from his pockets as they tend to be when he's standing about rather than being in action. It's unlikely that most folks around SHIELD get to see the shy, pleased smile that crosses the man's lips. His true-blues rise to Jemma's face again.

"Forgot to take it off back in the office. It causes a ruckus whenever it goes." The ring, of course. "I proposed to Barnes 'nd he accepted like the lunatic he is. Been together long enough, so it seemed silly to hold off any longer." Despite the humble and quiet shrug of his shoulders, the soldier can't keep the twinkle from his regard.

"What've you got about the Thunderbolt though?" The question isn't unkind or brusque, simply a manner of the Captain directing attention away from himself and back to the task at hand. Despite time on stage and in the public eye, he remains a private man.

"Well congratulations then." Jemma smiles genuinely, taking a moment to assess the man but not making a big fuss. She knows what it's like, she prefers to keep to herself and focus on the SCIENCE! "And my congratulations to Agent Barnes. I'm sure you'll see him before I do."

It's a nice ring but Steve's right to draw her attention back to the work though.

"Thunderbolt. Nothing good, I'm afraid and I've another project I'm working on too." Her accent, for all the time she's been in America, the british still comes through. "But let's start here. This is the dna of one of the infected that Consultant Harper … took into custody. It's not standard, this structure, it's being rewritten. The Thunderbolt is doing more than just supercharging these people, it's changing them."

"I'll pass on word to Barnes, Jemma, thanks." Steve doesn't quite do a little foot-scuff of shy delight, but the inclination is there and passes in lieu of him walking over to stand beside the scientist and her 3D display. He squints at it as she explains, eyes falling and rising to the points of interest at the junctions of bases and within the twirled backboning strands themselves.

"So somebody's not only made a drug that causes extreme psychological reactions, but is affecting the make-up of their bodies as well?" He rubs a hand down over his mouth and lets out concerned sigh. "What else to we know about it?"

"Correct. What I'm not sure of is how long the changes take. Let me give you the run down of what I gave Consultant Harper and the get to the point of my request. The chemical breakdown of the drugs that I've been able to sample show that some of the organic material originates in Madripoor."

That's not good news and Steve knows it. The term "hive of scum and villainy" isn't far wrong. Mainly because there's no extradition from Madripoor, criminals tend to congregate there.

"The effect of the drug is to stimulate the users hypothalamus and adrenal glands, which is what makes them as strong and as fast as we've seen. But the human body just isn't designed to take it. That part of the drug is provided by the hypothalmic fluid of Spider Monkeys."

"The Director has tasked Consultant Harper to run with this and we'd like you to help him out."

There's more though, Steve can see that.

The mention of Madripoor is enough to summon up the stormy drawn brows of the Captain. Oh damn, Madripoor — his 'favorite' place on the planet. Nope, scrach that, second favorite, only to the glacial ice of the northeastern Canadian territories.

"Send the dossier my way 'nd I'll get ready for whenever the team needs to leave." He gives the scientist a searching look on a suspicion that there's more — because there's always something more. "Anything else, Doc — Jemma?"

"Of course and I recommend you touch base with Consultant Harper as soon as you can." Jemma lets out a sigh. This is no smiling matter and the biochem is finding it hard to find reasons to smile at the moment. "Of course there is, you know how it goes. We're getting chatter from the South East Asia desk that a HYDRA cell is operating in Madripoor. We think it's related."

It might not be. But that's part of what Harpers team is going to find out.

"I've already sent you the briefing notes." They'll be in Steves secure inbox when he gets back.

"There's another thing too. I've been absent because I was assigned to a mission, a mission that hasn't completed yet. We've good intel that A.I.M is developing a DNA targetting bioweapon. We know where and we're going to stop them. I'll need your help on that as well."

Two things. Of course. There's never really a dull day in SHIELD.

Never a dull day at all. The secondary potentiality with A.I.M. pings off the Captain's steel-straightened spine and nearly resonates in him. The mention of HYDRA already had him squaring up without thinking about it, a reaction to the worldwide terrorist cell almost Pavlovian at this point. He sighs hard through his nose again, lips drawn to a thin line until he speaks.

"You know 'm in for anything involving putting HYDRA down. I'll touch base with Consultant Harper as soon as can be managed," Steve reassures the scientist. "What's the timeline?"

"For the Thunderbolt? I don't know." Jemma's honest. "Consultant Harper is dealing with those details. My part in this is finding a way to deal with Thunderbolt affected people. To control them and preferably, cure them. Though I'm not sure the latter is possible." beat "The sooner the better on that though and as I told Roy, I need more samples to work with. Some of my testing is destructive."

She sighs on the other though. "I hadn't expected to be shanghai'd on that. A.I.M is equally as important. We'll be conducting a raid within a week or two. Consultant Harper has been assigned to that as well. With the right planning, that should be in and out."

"I take it Agent Rogers, your calendar is clear… " it's a poor attempt at humour.

The attempt at humor is precious and Steve finds himself wearing a crooked smile as he huffs a laugh or two at it.

"Can't be too clear, otherwise it'd be boring," he quips back good-naturedly. Still, the divot of a frown lingers above his nose as he looks back at the DNA strand projected above the desktop. "Hope you can find a cure. Even though 'm sure some of the people taking them are doing it on purpose, I bet a few of 'em are poor saps who didn't know any better. Either that, or if they're all culpable, we can get 'em squared away 'nd then interrogate 'em since they were stupid enough to try Thunderbolt in the first place."

Jemma sighs and draws her attention from the image that is hanging above the workbench back to Steve. "I've been rude. Would you like a cup of tea or coffee? I've restocked my kitchenette with a lovely blend of oolong if you are interested in that."

"As to the users? I find they're the ones who are looking for an out. They want to be more and they don't care how they get it." She looks at Steve carefully. "Is there anything I should know about? Apart from your happy news? I haven't had chance for my feet to hit the ground since I got back."

"Coffee would be great, thanks, Jemma." It might not do much for him these days, but with its quality better at least ten times over that the weak and gritty brew of the trenches, Steve will never cease to indulge in it. He still has his thumbs hanging his hands from his pockets as he walks with her, slowing down to tilt his head and look at the various experimental set-ups on display. There are sections of the counter dedicated to beakers and tubes while others are all electronic screen and files layered upon one another visually — graphs, charts, numbers — SCIENCE.

"Maybe this'll be a good point to dig your heels in and take a breather then." He gives Jemma a warm smile. "Just finished out dealing with a gang working alongside a magical cell. Nightfall. Had a lot of help from the Spider-folks on it 'nd couldn't've done it without 'em." He makes no mention of the Wayne family's involvement, of course. "There've been a fracas or two around the city involving the Asgardians, but 'm out of the loop on that one. I'd ask someone over in WAND for more details on that. Hmm…" He glances to one side, idly at a test tube filled with wine-hued liquid. "Happy to be back?" he asks of Jemma, looking to her face again.

"Coffee it is then. A pod machine was delivered whilst I was away." Jemma turns the kitchenette, noting Steves … response to the lab. "Are you ok in here, Agent Rogers? Not bringing back too many memories, I hope?" The coffee machine starts humming and soon the scent of fresh coffee fills the air.

"I caught up on the briefs for those. Sounded intense and a good chance for WAND to work with other agents. The Spiders? How many are there? When I left, there was maybe two or three."

"Happy? Yes, I am. For as long as I'm back, at any rate. Until this A.I.M threat is dealt with, I'll be in and out. I haven't had chance to catch up with many others." As she hands the mug to Steve, the biochem smiles a little. "So a December wedding? Or would you rather not discuss it?"

The mug is warm and smells really rather heavenly in Steve's hands. It looks a little small cupped in them, but he sniffs at it and sighs, content with it. His eyes rise to Jemma once more. By how he minutely moves his lips, he's thinking of saying one thing and choosing another — or at least, the order of information presented.

"The lab's fine, Jemma, don't worry. 'm not one who might get jumpy around beakers." Barnes comes to mind first, of course, but the Captain doesn't volunteer the agent's name. "This's all fascinating stuff. Science has advanced since I was the weirdest thing walking the Earth." He grins a little, able to make fun of himself. "As far as the Spiders go, I know of three of 'em, but there may be as many as five. Check the SHIELD files, there might be something on 'em in there." The coffee is sipped and appreciated by the near-silent 'mmm' from Steve. He can't quite keep the dimple from showing again, however, as he squints at Jemma.

"Can you keep a secret?" It must be about the wedding, he hasn't volunteered any information yet.

Jemma's observant and her mind works differently to many others. It's one reason she's such a gifted scientist. She see's the hesitation, the change in tact from the Super Soldier and raises an eyebrow in question but doesn't push.

She's worked with another scientist for so long, she knows that way lies futility.

"I won't then but maybe next time, we can do lunch instead. It will do me good to step outside of here once in a while." That's been said on more than one occassions "And, yes, it has, hasn't it. Look at my modelling software." She gestures to the image over the workbench. "I can 'see' the structures, manipulate them, model them. And that's just the technology!"

"I can keep a secret. You know I'm a terrible liar though so as long as I don't have to answer any questions, you're safe." Is it about the wedding? Or something else?

Thus revealed…Steve's inner mischievous streak and proof he's dreadfully good at keeping secrets if simply because he never shares them.

"Hmm…" He eyes Jemma for a second. "Figure you can talk around this one if you have to. We eloped." He takes up an easy lean on the counter nearby, very careful to keep elbows away from all screens and glasswear. "On the sixth. It seemed symbolic." Explaining it seems to bring the pink of self-consciousness to his ears and he laughs to himself, tucking his chin momentarily. "Dunno. We're happy though."

He gestures at the workbench with its software, however, taken by it. "What's the best this program can do? Can it…" The pause is for musing. "Can it simulate past incidents? Say, a car wreck? Or show the reaction of an agent to an explosion? Calculate the numbers 'nd all?" His fingers remain near to the 3D rendering without accidentally triggering its functions.

"…can I move it around?" he asks, looking almost…boyishly excited beneath the containment of calm questioning.

Jemma's eyes widen so much she nearly bug eyes and sputters the mouthful of tea she's just taken. "You did what? Well double congratulations then. You're … going to have to tell people though, you know that right?" Even the pragmatist. "And you'll need to update your files here, next of kin and all that. People will find out…"

Because that's just human nature.

"But that's an easy one to talk around. I simply say when I don't know when they are getting married." Splitting hairs works nicely.

"My software? Sure. Here… " A few swipes over the keyboard and the DNA structure disappears. A list of simulations shows up, Steve can gesture to select them. There's a range. From a flower growing through to a simulated battle plan.

"Be my guest…"

"Paperwork," the Captain deadpans, with little love of it. "I know…gotta get all the ducks in line. It'll be nice while the quiet lasts," he murmurs to himself, still smiling at little as to the revelation of eloping.

But oh, that display. Setting aside the cup of coffee, Steve actually frets his lip for a second before he lifts fingers and gestures to the file folder containing Architecture. He frowns at the files until he sees the one marked 'Statue of Liberty'. Clicking it, he watches in honest awe as the display runs through the simulation of the building of the famous statue. Even the little boats puft their clouds of smoke and the pulleys move workers up and down along the bronze metalwork. He dismisses it with a flick to the side. Exiting it, he then pulls up the Nature file. Under geography, he pulls up the simulation of Mount St. Helens erupting, clouds of ash and all — and then Kilauea in Hawaii, with its vibrantly-hot splurts of lava flung into the air. A Blue Morpho butterfly flits around for a second, flashing sapphire wings, followed by the schematics of a Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird. Steve expands the anatomy of the plane in an explosion of labled parts and squints at the small tabs of information detailing numbers.

"…wow," he breathes, impressed all to hell with how his eyebrows try to climb into his hair.

Jemma snickers into her tea as Steve laments the paperwork. It's a fact of life though, here in the Triskellian. One that most agents grumble about.

"It's pretty awesome isn't it?" She nods, watching the super soldier as he tinkers. "It gets better. Here …" The Blackbird disappears and a facility appears. "We've been modelling the attack on the A.I.M facility we're going to storm."

The animation plays, showing the entrances, the guard patrols, the way the surveillance cameras are situated and sweep the area. "Our biggest issue has been getting in. Storming the facility is just going to set the bioweapon free. So we've been testing different methods of ingress. Like blowing the east door …"

An armoured figure stealthily approaches, avoiding all the security measures, and sets a charge. It goes off, but that shows the tremors and alarms that are created. And the fallout as they expect it.

"We've a dozen simulations that we're running. Of course, no plan survives first contact in the field, but this …"

Stepping to one side, Steve watches as the facility appears on the 3D rendering program. He then folds his arms lightly as he watches the scenario pan out. Little windows crop up live, connected to locations within the facility's layout by clean lines, and dictate potential reactions and outcomes in finely-flowing script.

"That's an edge," he agrees with a nod almost reverent. "It's as if you can finally show someone what's going on in your own skull without having to hazard that they're not reading your sketch correctly." Boy, that's got a shadow of winsome to it; must derive from experiences in the war.

"It is. Of course, predicative modelling like this is risky but it certainly is an edge. We can factor in many things but we're only as good as our intelligence. It still requires wet wear out in the field to adjust to the situation, of course." She's doing a Jemma babble - that shouldn't be unexpected.

"But yes, nice to be able to display what's going on in your brain. It's just not something we should put one hundred percent confidence in, you know?" beat "I also think that showing predicted casuality rates is a good way to ensure we're not being foolish."

She's come a long way, Jemma has. Steve can see this. From the green biochem who arrived several years, to the quietly confident if reserved woman.

"Better forewarned than having to beat feet in retreat." Steve looks from her to the facility again and frowns. His sigh over his retrieved cup of coffee causes the rising curls of steam to whiffle and disperse.

"Still can't beat ingenuity when it comes to tech though, you're not wrong. Figure that's what makes all of us effective as a team. We know we can trust this stuff only so far. Been around long enough without it to never have a crutch in it."

His true-blues flick back to the woman again and he gives her another little smile. "It is good to have you back, Jemma."

"Exactly, Agent Rogers." Jemma smiles. "And what a team we are. We just can't afford to get complacent and we need to remember the human factor." Human. Mutant. Wet Wear. "It's one of the reasons I wanted to get some field experience. To be able to temper my knowledge and adjust."

One of her machines beeps in the background and she looks over, draining her mug and setting it back on the counter. "Work calls." She sighs apologetically to Steve. "That's the next batch of results I'm waiting on."

Breaks over it seems. Back to work for the biochem.

"It's good to be back, Agent Rogers. Hopefully my next assignment won't take as long." beat "Give my best to Bucky." His secret is safe with her.

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