2019-11-17 - Artificial Resonance


T'Challa help Jemma stabilise the Reverbium formula. Testing is still needed.

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Sun Nov 17 06:44:17 2019
Location: SHIELD

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Theme Song



It's getting on in the afternoon and Jemma's in her lab, music playing softly in the background as she works. Judging by the current song this might be a Billy Joel playlist - the biochem certainly has an interesting taste in music.

She's expecting a visitor - the request had come in recently - and quite frankly she's a little excited for it. She's been working on the Reverbium formula for months now and whilst she's got it, it's not quite stable.

Her visitor is expected soon and there's instructions for them to be escorted directly to her lab.

"Doctor Simmons." The man who addresses her does so in an african accent and is indeed rather impeccably dressed. He politely bows to her and smiles. "I hope I have not come at a bad time."

Which is true. This is important but he's polite enough and genuine enough that his pleasantries are more than just mouthed words. Though… when they are it's hard to tell. He is REALLY good at pleasantries.

"Prince T'Challa." Jemma manages to squash the urge to curtsey. Somewhere there'll be a hacker soldier guffawing to himself. "I was expecting you and I was *delighted* to get your message and request."

He is exceedingly polite and charming. Jemma will give him that.

"Would you like tea as talk or did you want to just started? I believe you're responding to some questions that I posed to you? About the stability of the Reverbium that I've been able to synthesise?" He had said she could ask him if she needed help.

"I would love a tea. And yes, that is why I am here. I take it from the nature of your questions that you've already done some experimentation." Which will save quite a bit of time. "May I see the data you have collected thus far?"

He's already moving to one of the terminals. "It isn't often that I meet someone who has both the interest and the opportunity to study vibranium. It was one of my especial fields of study back in University. I am quite curious about your efforts though. Metallurgy is not one of your usual areas of work, am I correct?"

"Let me set you up so you can look and I'll make the tea, then." Jemma answers, unlocking the terminal for T'Challa and bringing her data up on the 3D display above the conference table.

"I haven't really studied much Vibranium, to be honest. Steves shield but I didn't want to tamper with it too much. It's Reverbium that I've been testing mostly, using the information and samples that we've managed to lift from AIM."

The formula she's using is all there, with obvious holes in it. Why would that be? Plus the data from the tests that have been conducted. All of those tests have been failures with the resulting product unable to be stabilised.

One might wonder what sort of damage had been caused.

"No, metallurgy isn't my speciality. I'm a biochemist, so much of this is out of my depth."

T'Challa pulls up a chair and starts going through the data. He takes notes on an actual pad of paper as he does. He's quite organized, that's for sure. An engineer's mind. Of course he has a number of inventions and patents to his name, so there is that. It certainly makes sense.

"Ah. You're having difficulty stabilizing the Reverbium's crystalline lattice when you precipitate it out into a solid form." He says quietly. "Yes I can help with this. Reverbium is different from Vibranium in that the molecular bonds are conditionally weaker. Like Vibranium it stores kinetic energy but unlike Vibranium there are certain properties of the molecule that amplify said energy to the point that it must be released. If the mixture isn't properly stabilized that release comes in the form of a catastrophic disintegration of the metal."

"AIM have divided the formula up. What I've got, I've patched together from various sources. I also have to say, that AIM isn't anywhere *near* as interested at stabilising the element. If it explodes or implodes, they really don't care."

"We'd noticed the amplification effect and as you can see from our tests here …" The screen changes with a hand gesture from Jemma. "… we've had some success but nowhere near enough to be qualified 'successful'."

"It's interesting how the two compounds - Vibranium and Reverbium - work so differently. Do you think you can help me, T'Challa?"

"Yes, I think so." T'Challa has the advantage of knowing what stable actually looks like in this case. He pulls up the molecular structure that Jemma has stored and begins to toy with it. "What is SHIED's interest in the formula, by the way? Aside from the obvious, that it is being used by people whom we would rather not have it and therefore needs to be understood."

What T'Challa is doing at the moment is purely theoretical work, messing around with changes to the base structure and simulating them under a variety of test conditions. He'll work backwards with how to achieve those changes once he has something usable.

"Well…" Jemma turns to make the tea, taking a moment to let the question sit. "It's more me, than SHIELD, to be honest. It is revolutionary and there are several applications for it. Right now, it's understanding it so that we can neutralise it as necessary."

A mug is handed over with cream and sugar for T'Challa to add to his taste.

"However, knowing how to stabilise it will be extremely helpful. Though, I'll guarantee that the powers will be will want to know how we can use it, when this is all said and done."

The biochem watches the work, canting her head but not offering anything yet. T'Challa is a scientist and he's working - she knows what that's like.

"Thank you." T'Challa says. He takes a sip as he works. It only takes him a few more minutes to get something he seems satisfied with. "Right. This molecular configuration should prove to be stable at energy levels below that of a nuclear reaction. Which should be 'good enough'. The trick will be getting it into this configuration…"

He thinks a little bit. "Electroplating might well be the key. Does SHIELD have access to metallurgical facilities? This will need to be tested obviously. I'm fairly confident in the math but Reverbium is rather an unknown quantity."

So they might have to do this back and forth for a bit. "What is your personal interest, if I may?"

"Electroplating. I hadn't considered that." Jemma admits. Whether she should have or not is a good question, she's not an engineer after all. "And yes, we do. In the Engineering labs. I can take you down there, if you like. Will you need anything from here? I can relocate the data to the bench in there…"

"It started as just wanting to know about it. Learning what I could and being able to say that I could do it. I've had a colleague, a friend, use some in an experiment. It's mutagenic properties are amazing. I also have someone who has enhancements that use it. "

"Knowing how to formulate it, what affects it, is becoming more and more important in case either of them need my expertise."

"We con go there now if you are prepared to sit through a fairly boring process. I'd bring a book if I were you. But in any case I have nothing else planned for the afternoon." T'Challa rises. He is a LOT different from other scientists that Jemma has worked with. There's something about the way he carries himself. A man absolutely assured of his place in the world.

"Ah yes. I am familiar with some of the mutagenic properties of the base metal, Vibranium. It is a minor topic of study in Wakanda. As you know my nation has had a small amount of the metal to trade, and we did notice the fact that it binds to living tissue in unusual ways."

"Or I can bring some work and conduct it from there." Jemma smiles. The expression a little strange on her part cyborg face. "I did know Wakanda had some Vibranium and it's clear you have some ideas about what you have, given the Captains Shield."

"What isn't clear is what you really know about it and normally I wouldn't ask, given your countries preference to keep things close to the chest. How much testing have you done in that regard? If the metal is scarce, I imagine not much."

Jemma locks the workstations in her labs and gestures for T'Challa to accompany her. It won't take them long to get to Engineering.

"Some but not much. There simply wasn't and isn't ever enough to risk it on potentially destructive testing." T'Challa says as they move. Soon enough he settles back down into the new workstation and begins directing robotic arms to set up their experiment.

"It's simply more valuable to Wakanda as a trade good." Which is NOT true but T'Challa is also NOT going to tell Jemma that.

"However I had noted that it CAN be extremely toxic. The binding process is disruptive. However, a creature that survives it may well find itself altered in beneficial ways."

"Then maybe this will benefit all of us, T'Challa. Perhaps. Allow Wakanda to have the rare, real thing but also a substitute when needed." Jemma answers, watching the Wakanda as they walk.

When they make the Engineering lab she settles in at a terminal, entering her access code and bringing up one of her projects.

"I haven't seen that with the tests we've conducted so far with Reverbium however, I do wonder though that it mightn't be used as a binding agent for something nastier. One of the subjects I've found who has reverbium implants is displaying an extremely high white blood cell count but there's no sign of infection in the tests that I've run."

"Would you, are you able to, share your experiences with Vibranium in that regard?"

"It's effect on biologicals? That's only one of my secondary fields of study and I cannot say as much on it as you would probably like." T'Challa says as he works. "However I can share with you some theories that have been spun out over the years."

Another few key strokes and the robots get to work. The process is fascinating scientifically but not very interesting to watch.

"It is theorized that vibranium particles can get into the very DNA of a biological structure. That the changes they cause can become hereditary. This is interesting because it suggests the possibility that affected forms actually produce very tiny amounts of vibranium naturally. A metal which is only otherwise known to come from space and then only rarely."

"You can't, hmmm?" Jemma looks up from her workstation and casts a slightly cheeky and knowing smile to T'Challa. She doesn't ask, but he might be able to guess that's she's wondering if it's because he doesn't know or simply … won't. "I'm not sure that anyone could answer my questions to the depth that I would like."

"It can? People say that?" That gets a raise of her eyebrow. "How much testing has been done to the end do you know? Is there anyone that I might be able to test that theory with? I mean that's fascinating just for it's very own science. Altering a subjects DNA and letting them pass that alteration on, as well as getting the body to produce it."

She's heading into a Jemma babble again.

T'Challa holds a hand up and laughs a little. "I do not know anyone you can test, no. The closest thing would possibly be a Wakandan mutant. Which we DO have, though the population is quite small. There is a theory among those fortunate enough to be educated in the topic that they may have derived their mutant abilities from vibranium exposure. But if so it would have had to have built up over generations AND activate already existing mutant DNA."

Again he's not telling the full truth. Though if Jemma KNEW he were the Black Panther he might speak a bit more about that. And she might but he's not sure if she has the clearance.

Jemma seems captivated, T'Challa can see this. "I imagine there are mutants everywhere, if you know how to look. It's a shame some cultures decide to ignore or deny them." She does settle though and looks a little sheepish, colour tingeing her cheeks a little.

"Are you saying, that the initial abilities were derived from Vibranium and then later, it worked to activate already existing mutant DNA?" She's working that through in her head. There's probably DNA structures already dancing there.

Jemma isn't aware that T'Challa is the Black Panther. Even if she did have the clearance, does she *need to know*.

"Have you seen any sideeffects of the use of Vibranium?"

Rapid fire questions from the biochem.

"It's not easy to find them. Simplest when they announce themselves by doing something destructive or impressive with their powers. Otherwise they go undetected in a population. Although given what we have seen here in the United States they must still be vanishingly rare. A larger segment of the population than previously realized must carry the genes inactive, else it is statistically impossible that mutants should exist."

T'Challa is at least easily able to keep up with her when she goes off onto SCIENCE>

"Use? Not that I am aware of no. What manner of use, exactly, did you have in mind?"

"It could just be evolution occuring. There's much we don't know about ourselves. I mean, certainly, our Science! has improved to a great degree so we know the mutant gene exists now but evolution must be playing some part in that."

Jemma is considering what T'Challa has said. His next question has her considering her answer.

"In one case in the use of Reverbium, I'm seeing an escalated white blood count with no reasons for there to be except the presence of Reverbium in the blood stream."

"It could be, however there is a slight problem…" T'Challa says, turning in his seat to look at Jemma.

"Evolution does not occur on the kinds of timescales that we are talking about. Whatever process is occurring within the human genome, it either obeys natural laws that we have not yet discovered OR it is at least in part artificial."

That fact had occurred to Wakandan scientists but thus far the answer has eluded them. Which is saying something for how advanced their science is.

"It is possible to poison yourself with Vibranium so I presume it must be possible to do it with reverbium, but that should not generate an immune response any more than any other kind of heavy metals poisoning generates an immune response. I would think there would need to be another cause for that. Possibly related to the reverbium but not as simple as the presence of the metal itself."

"Perhaps. It's an interesting conumdrum, isn't it? Things have certainly accelerated since the 80's. It might be natural, a response to the changes on Earth, after all. We've certainly found no evidence of tampering. Then again, I'm not sure that we would."

Jemma watches as T'Challa works, letting her own work sit for the moment. "I only have a small sample of blood available so my testing is limited at the moment. Given the work was done by AIM, I wouldn't be surprised if they'd done something else."

"The question of what evidence of tampering would even look like is a good one. A sufficiently advanced technological base could presumably do it in ways that would look like acts of nature to us." It's an interesting thing to speculate upon, yes. T'Challa looks thoughtful as the considers a number of possibilities, as he has in the past.

"Of course mutants themselves do not much appreciate such talk and who can blame them? They've been rather unfairly targeted in the past. At any rate to your mystery man. More evidence would be helpful but would you like me to look at your data?"

"That's a good question. I'm not sure that we could. The only indicators we have are the accelerating pace. Or what seems like an accelerating pace. People have conjectured that mutants have always been amongst us but if that were true, then I think we would have evidence earlier than we did. Well, amongst in the numbers they are now."

It's an interesting theory that someone or something is tampering. It could simply be evolution, certainly - but what has changed to cause it?

"I can't blame the mutants for being so wary. The registration act was so very harmful."

At the mention of the sample, Jemma blinks one eyed at T'Challa. "Would you? I … don't want to impose, you've been so accomodating at the moment."

Still, on the 3D display in the Engineering Lab the sample, the blood panel and the breakdown is displayed. "The subject was designed to have the power for their implants transmistted in their blood stream …"

"Yes, one would expect that some time in the last couple of thousand years there would be some well attested evidence." The whole thing just doesn't wash scientifically speaking. But that's a discussion for another time.

"I would be happy to of course. I am going to have to be here to watch this other process run anyway. I might as well be helpful." So very accommodating, this prince.

"That is a rather unusual setup. I can see how it works and it's quite clever. Mmmmmm…" T'Challa pulls up a couple of pieces of information and ahs to himself.

"Yes. I suspect that your subject is mutating and that in this case that has resulted in tissue changes that the body is rejecting as foreign. Rather like a transplant. Very bad luck. Possibly also deliberately induced. Or well, not the rejection part but the mutation. It could just be a function of extended exposure to the reverbium as well."

Jemma frowns at that assessment and peers more closely at the results, pulling up another set of results beside it. "This is a male of a similar age. The implants were done at about the same time. I'm not seeing the effects that the second sample is exhibiting."

It's true. The 'control' set certainly seem to be stable.

"Given this AIM who this man was working for and may still be working, I can't but wonder if they're tampering or if the owner of the control set will experience similar."

"As with all mutagenic substances there's always a chance that exposure to it will alter a subject and that chance increases over time. However given that these two subjects seem very similar and that I cannot imagine having elevated T-Cell levels like this for long, I would suspect that something has been actively done to the first one."

That is, at least, T'Challa's considered opinion which granted isn't a medical one but is one of someone who has a lot of experience with Vibranium. A lot more than he is letting on.

"It's possible a catalyst substance was introduced. There are ways to manipulate vibranium to induce it to do a lot of different things and biology is… tricky." He smiles a little. "Which is why I am an engineer."

"Engineering is tricky to. Don't undersell yourself." Jemma murmurs, frowning at the results on the screens. "That was my surmise as well. Which is … somewhat … reassuring. It means the donor for the first sample is less likely to be affected by the same thing."

She hopes so, anyway.

"I'm concerned that the donor of the control sample will begin to experience similar side effects. There's nothing much to be done aside from monitoring and trying to get my hands on the affected person."

"How are you going there?"

"Yes but at least it always makes sense and rarely has a mind of its own." T'Challa says with a bright smile. "The process here is underway and there's little left to do but monitor it and then let you test it when it is finished."

Which means this is the important but boring part of the job. Science is often like that.

"If I may observe you seem rather invested in this problem?"

"You mean engineering generally follows a defined set of rules? I think you might have some fun with the tech our engineers are given at times." Jemma smiles, the expression softening her face a little, though the faintest of blushes appears on her face at T'Challa's next question.

"Oh well. The control is a person I work with. A contractor. Knowing they might be affected by a similar thing, is good to know, don't you think?"

Jemma CAN lie. She just doesn't do it very well. At least there's truth in that statement.

"Ah yes. If it is a coworker that would make it somewhat personal." He did of course pick up on the bluff but T'Challa is an eminent diplomat, able to gloss over or ignore things with aplomb.

"Well if it helps I think do not think he is at much more than baseline risk for the sort of thing he is doing. Probably has a bigger chance of having a work related injury than having the reverbium in him cause problems, since thy apparently have not caused him problems already."

Is that comforting? Hopefully it is.

Jemma offers another small smile in T'Challa's direction. She knows he's glossed over her other concerns very well. "Perhaps … too personal." She murmurs. More to herself than to him.

"I believe you might be right, Prince T'Challa. I'm looking at worst cases, for sure. Still, AIM may try to do something - and that concerns me."

"Do you have to be here to monitor this work?"

"Unless you have a way for me to monitor it remotely." Which SHIELD probably does or at least he would hope it does. Otherwise their engineers do some very, very boring shifts in this room.

And he doesn't see near enough magazines for that to be the case. "Did you have something else you wanted to do?" Like perhaps eat?

"It's lunchtime. Why don't we get something in the cafeteria?" Jemma answers. "We can monitor things here and return if we need to."

"Be warned though. When people recognise you, and they will, you'll be approached. If you prefer to do something else, we can do that."

"Lunch in the Cafeteria is fine." T'Challa says, rising with a small chuckle. "I used to be a king. I am used to people recognizing me. It will be alright." If people want to talk to him, that's fine. He can talk. What he does now is probably less interesting to many of them but… he's okay with that.

Because it means they don't know what he's actually doing.

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