2019-12-11 - Many Reasons Why


Jemma raises her concerns about her implants and a way forward is formulated.

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Wed Dec 11 06:30:43 2019
Location: Triskelion

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Theme Song



"Helpless and hungry. Lowly, afraid. Wrapped in the chill of midwinter. Comes now among us. Born into poverty's embrace. New life for the world." The song is in a minor key and the tune is played on a keyboard that appears to roll up enough to be carried in a backpack.

The player is Jeriah who is… rather surprisingly not too bad at this. The singing and the playing. Not professional grade but probably good enough for youtube. That kind of thing. It sounds like - indeed it is - a traditional Christmas carol. Why it's drifting out of Jemma's lab is… well.

He's bored.

Jeriah probably thinks it's better than having to listen to Abba. Which is often what is playing in the background when Jemma works.

Looking up from her workbench to where Jeriah sits, the biochem shakes her head and looks down at the robotic dog next to her. The one that has a holographic cat curled on its back.

"Do you really have nothing to do at the moment?" She can tell he's bored, it seeps through their connection. "I thought you were trying to find connections between that attack in Canada and AIM."

"I am. It takes zero point zero two percent of my processing resources and largely involves listening for things in networks I have already compromised." Jeriah replies while he tickles the portable ivories. One of his 'dogs' is laying behind him. The thing is, as always, huge. It's like having a small pony sitting behind him.

"Besides it's better than the usual background music here, I think you'll agree."

"And what have you found so far?" Jemma puts her work aside and rolls her neck as she stretches. Then scritches Sheps ears and runs her hand down Spots back.

It's a little crowded in here with the two robotic dogs, but Jemma's not complaining. "You don't like Abba?" she smiles a little, knowing full well that he doesn't. "I was going to play some Frankie Vallie today. I updated my playlist and all."

Of course, Jeriah probably knows that. It's amusing he hasn't tried to update the lists himself.

"Not much. Well, let me rephrase that. I've found quite a bit but nothing that I have determined to be relevant." Jeriah shrugs slightly and stops playing to stand up and move toward Jemma, mostly to see what she's doing.

"When you're searching very large data sets, there's a lot of random noise and in that statistical noise you can find interesting but utterly irrelevant 'false correlations'. The larger the data set, the more of those there are. I'll be filtering for a while before I get something with a really good sigma value." Jeriah looks at her music. In her head. "You need something from either twenty years earlier or twenty years later. This seventies stuff is just… eh."

"The seventies? Most of these songs are from the sixties, thank you very much." The British biochem sniffs. "Well, the Valli play list is. I don't have a lot from the seventies, just mostly Abba." If he digs deeper, he'll find an interesting collection of songs indeed. Fifties, Sixties, Eighties. Not a lot from the nineties, though Billy Joel is there.

Jemma is looking at samples, of course, and if he's not mistaken from a couple of projects. When he comes over, the biochem glances up and lets out a long breath. "I was enjoying it, you didn't have to stop on my account. I was wondering what you were going to play next. You couldn't decide."

"Did you get the information I managed to recover on my implants? What little information that's classified to my level. I think there's a few enhancements to my implants that I wasn't told about …"

"No. I couldn't." He pauses. How did she kno- Oh. She was listening in. Yes of course she was. Jeriah is still getting used to that.

"Yes, I've been looking over it. It's difficult to infer but I think your gear got a processor upgrade some time in the last three to five years. It's got more power than it should and it multi-threads better." This is something that only someone like Jeriah would notice but notice he has. "Whatever is the case those upgrades are not documented in whatever we can access which does make me suspect that someone has tampered with them in an… unofficial capacity or at least an off the books one."

"Sometimes you think loudly too…" Jemma answers the unspoken question. "I quite like Carol of the Bells and Silver Bells." She adds as a bit of non-sequitor.

"Why would though?" Jemma asks quietly, worried by the implication of that. "I'm not paranoid enough to think I was targetted specifically for these, it was accident after all, but was it just that they were there to be used in me? Or did someone think it opportune that I needed them?"

"I know you've gone over my system a couple of times, is there anything there that isn't documented?" Do her implants do more than she realises or she's not able to access herself?

"Touche." Jeriah says as he moves back to the keyboard and starts into a movement from the Four Seasons. Winter. Specifically. It's slow though, not at full tempo, and he's clearly just playing it while he thinks.

"Right. Well. Yes, there's a lot of stuff in your hardware that isn't in the documentation and that's the tricky bit, since they won't actually show me the full set of docs. Without knowing what's really in it, it's hard for me to say if something was added after it was written. Or not updated. Or what have you."

There's a couple more minutes of playing before he continues. "I suspect it was an upgrade intended for the next person who got the set. Your hardware was never meant to be used on your. Or on any living person. It was an act of desperation by your very dedicated medical team. So you're getting after effects from whatever the planned feature set for the next Deathlok is."

That's reasonable. But SOME of those things could be about control, and as Jemma is a living woman, that's somewhat worrying.

Jemma gives Jeriah a look as he moves away, letting her hand trail on his arm for the briefest of moments before turning back to look at her work. "You play well …" she says as he starts up again.

"We could start by comparing the notes that we have to your findings. And then addressing the discrepancies seperately." The biochem says, gazing absently at her work. She's not really focussed on it, not at the moment, her mind occupied with what's going on inside her.

"So I have tech inside me that was designed to work on a dead person. That was modified quickly to use them on me. It's possible the team that did my conversion didn't know of the upgrades, so the modifications are problematic to start with."

Jeriah can feel Jemma stutter at the though of control. "You think that someone can take control of me, don't you?"

"Thank you." Jeriah says as his hands run over the keyboard, before he switches to a John Legend song. A slower one, easier to play while he thinks and talks.

"We know that someone can take control of you at least partly. I've done it, and someone tried to get you to put a knife in my back. That is, unfortunately, unavoidable in any tech that interfaces with both your brain and mechanical body parts. It's a computer. It can be told by a user to do things. The real question in my mind is why the suite is network capable. That suggests that someone thought it might be necessary to access a Deathlok remotely and what I want to know is… why?"

There are several possibilities that present themselves but in light of some of Jemma's recent experiences, one that strongly stands out is the possibility that the designers had encountered a problem that they thought might require an outside override.

"Ockams razor." Jemma says, leaving her work and coming to sit next to Jeriah. Shep, the mech dog that was sitting next to her, follows with Spot giving a feline growl for being distrbed - not that he moves, just the jostling does that.

Without really thinking about it, Jemma leans against Jeriah as he plays.

"Ockams Razor. Two possibilities present themselve to me. One, the needed to be able to control the Deathlok. Possibly because they were unpredictable. What this is doing to my emotions is bad enough or would be, if I didn't have Kelly. Two, remote access to get data from them. A Deathlok could make a good data drone, don't you think?"

"If this were about remote data connection you wouldn't need input level access. You wouldn't need to be able to take control of the hardware. Just receive telemetry. Network access like this is a vulnerability. People can get in that you don't want to do so. You don't build it unless it's mission critical."

Jeriah knows a thing or two about designing weapons systems. He has helped to test a lot of them.

He glances up at her as she leans. "So at the very least we can say they needed to be able to seize control for some reason. What's the reason that makes the most sense given what we know?"

There's the faintest of blushes as Jeriah glances up, the biochem moving to straighten. Jeriah can hear the thoughts about invading personal space and being familiar, tinged by embarassment. She's so very British.

"I'll give you that. Looking at what we know. We know that I can get unpredictable at times if my systems aren't stabilised. We know there's something, in the tech probably, that tries to do something. We don't know much about previous Deathloks, those files aren't 'need to know', which means we don't know why they were … terminated. Or even if they were. "

Well, at least one had to be, for Jemma to get these implants, right?

"Option 1: They were afraid the Deathlok would get out of control and needed a kill command that couldn't be overriden. Option 2…" Jemma shakes her head as her mind turns to it. Jeriah can see the thoughts as they form - quite visual really "… they wanted a weapon. Something they could get in somewhere and then turn its protocols."

"There's a few other possibilities but I agree those are the main ones. And given your experiences with SOMETHING inside the data stack, I suspect that option one is a stronger contender." Which means that they knew of the 'entity' that Jemma has encountered and didn't quite know what to do about it.

"I really need access to the full, unredacted specs for this thing. Unfortunately I doubt that even the medical team that implanted them in you has access to the full unredacted version and if I go snooping around and get caught that'll be big trouble for everyone."

"What are the others?" Jemma moves away as they talk. Maybe she's not able to remain still at the moment. Option 1, in her mind, is only marginally better than Option 2. Maybe.

"We need the access. I … could go and see the Director." The biochem gives Jeriah a look. Not her preferred option but what choice do they have. Just … what on earth would she tell him?

Uh, excuse me Sir. We think I'm compromised?

"Networked weapon system. If they planned to share targeting data and command and control across multiple Deathlok units. Or it was deliberately built in as a back door because someone thought there might be loyalty issues within the team." He could think up a dozen scenarios, really. Jeriah's good at that. But it'd be pure guesswork on his part.

"May. May might be able to get us the access. The trouble is… she's a cat right now. Which I rather suspect dampens her security clearance somewhat."

"You really are paranoid, aren't you?" Jemma should know that by now. As much as Jeriah has access to her mind, she's got some insight to his. "None of those are good, at all."

"May might, yes. We could ask her. Finding her might be a problem. I understand that she's been a bit flighty." beat "And no, there was nothing in the tests that I did to tell me how we might change this. All I know is that she really is a cat, a rather ancient breed too."

"This is what keeps me alive, Jemma." Jeriah responds. Yes he's paranoid. He has excellent reasons to be paranoid. As the saying goes, it isn't paranoia if they're really out to get you.

"Well hopefully SOMEONE can figure it out. Can't you just… you know. Get some human DNA from a hairbrush and force her actual body to re assert itself? Or would that wind us up with something really horrific like… Teen May?"

This is not a mental image for the faint of heart.

"It's also what keeps you from getting close to anyone." Jemma mutters as she takes a turn around the lab. The one huge robotic dog laying behind Jeriah where he's playing that roll up keyboard, the other tick ticking behind Jemma with Spot on her back.

Her. Jemma's decided that dog drone is a her.

The suggestion when it comes has Jemma turning to look at Jeriah. "Oh sure. I'll get right on that, shall I? How about, while I'm doing that, you put on sunglasses and black trench coat and just hack the SHIELD databases?"

Maybe it's just the combination of not enough sleep and the worry about what's happening to her that makes her snark. Jeriah hasn't seen her snark like that before though.

"I could do that if I had sufficiently weird sunglasses. Like, those type that cling to your nose with no legs to hook behind your ears." Jeriah smiles impishly. "Look, I MIGHT be able to break into SHIELD. And I might not. I don't know and because I don't want to spend the rest of my life running from them it'll probably stay that way. Unless I need to do it, you know. For a mission."

The hacker turns back to playing the strange little roll up piano he's got on a table in Jemma's lab. The robo dogs are… well. Doing dog things. Much to his annoyance.

"Or you know. Need to forge May's credentials for something. Just saying."

An agent walks into the lab looking distinctly uneasy and carrying a hardshell cat carrier… which is growling lowly with the accompanied of what sounds like a bell. Cussing. In Cambodian. "Uh, Agent Simmons? I was told to… " He holds up the carrier, eliciting a yowl and hiss to go with the growling that is punctuated by still more cussing bells.

Not bothering to wait for the biochemist to reply, he sets the carrier on the nearest table and flees, a particularly emphatic string of bell jangles following him out the door.

"I'll be sure to get you some for Christmas then." Jemma answers, the snark leaving her nearly as quickly as it came. "And a trench coat. You did buy me a dress, after all…"

That's what the agent and May hear as they come through the door. Jemma turning and sighing, touching the little brooch on her jacket so Spot disappears. "Sit Shep. Stay." She says to the dog following her. It does and turns its head in a distinctly canine manner at the biochem, as if asking for pets.

"Thank you…" The biochem calls to the Agent that's fleeing. "Agent May, just give … me … a moment and I'll have you out. Try not to claw at me, hmmm?"

Gesturing to Jeriah to make sure the lab door is shut, Jemma steels herself to open the crate door and stands back.

"How did you know we were wanting to speak to you?" She'll go with that.

The two robo hounds begin to scrabble. "Hey!" The hacker snaps but it's too late. Ignoring Simmons first Brutus and then, egged on, Shep both try to stick their big metal faces right in Cat-May's face. This can only go well.

"Oh for the love of…" Jeriah mutters as he gets up to go haul the drones back off the irritable sounding feline agent. "Just the cat I wanted to see. I don't suppose you left your access card laying around anywhere did you May?"

There's an abrupt scrabbling and jangling as May shakes herself off inside the carrier, and then multiple giant robodog noses. « Back off! » she snarls and yowls at the dogs, but possibly for a positive change, she doesn't actually swat at them. Maybe it's because the carrier is still securely closed. No way to know for sure.

« I didn't, » she Meezer-meows at Jemma. « I just got back from another … unplanned outing. » No, she's not going to elaborate. But at least Besas wasn't to blame this time. « My access card? Last time I saw it it was attached to my jacket. » Which means if it's still somehow attached, it's wadded up in the bottom of a backpack.

"Shep!" Jemma hip checks the metal monstrosity and puts her metal hand on the dogs shoulder. "Come on you …" Jemma is more than strong enough, surely, to pull the dog back. The door is open and May can nose it open whenever she's ready.

"I've a … small problem … with my implants. We need to access the full details on them, Agent May, we were hoping you would give us the access to do it."

Where the hell is the jacket? Jemma isn't sure.

Jemma is STRONG enough to pull the dog back yes, but she doesn't weigh enough to really anchor or pull so if the dog wants to go somewhere, she's coming along for the ride. That said, Shep doesn't fight her. Just pouts - as much as a robot can - and gives May space.

"Damn." Jeriah mutters. "I was hoping to use it. Uh. Anyway. You're looking well. Fur's nice and… glossy. How's the wet food?"

What ARE they feeding May?

May really didn't want to admit to this, but, it sounds like it's necessary. And if anyone can manage to be non-judgemental, it would be Jemma. « The WAND agent I've been quartered with, she keeps it in the backpack she uses to bring me to and from her home. » Hopefully that means it'll be simple enough to just contact said WAND agent and retrieve the access card from the backpack.

Stepping primly out of the carrier, she moves to where she can sit and look down at the robodogs as if they're green recruits fresh into the academy. The tip of her tail twitches a somewhat syncopated rhythm. « Wet food? Well, I got a piece of chicken breast stuffed with bacon and cheese for dinner the other night, if that's what you're asking. » She does have to admit, her hosts have been generous with offering foods, even if one of them keeps offering her things that are toxic to feline bodies.

Jemma frowns at the cat. May would ask far more questions than that. She would also consider grounding Jemma till this was sorted out. Maybe. Jeriah gets all those thoughts, Jemma sends them to him. She's worried.

"Jeriah, we'll have to take May to get the card, the WAND agent won't hand over to either of us." That would be a severe security breach. "I need lunch soon. We can go past WAND, there won't be any need to put May in a carrier. If she wants, she can sit on my shoulder so I don't carry her." Someone might realise how independant and proud cats can be. Particularly cats who are SHIELD agents to boot.

"Have they made any progress on finding out how to return you?"

"Are you suggesting we turn kung-fu kitten here loose in WAND?" Jeriah cants his head, chuckling a little bit. "Because I like that idea but only if someone wears a go pro. I want to watch from a safe place."

It is his way to joke when things are a bit tense which they are just at the moment. They DEFINITELY need that card. Well, they could just wait but Jeriah is a bit impatient like that.

"I was suggesting that we attempt to clone you in your own body. Jemma didn't like that."

May looks at Jeriah, her ears flattening. « She's right to not like that. » She then returns her attention to Jemma. « Agreed. » She's not entirely sold on the shoulder-riding thing, it sounds like it would have the potential to have one or more people falling down. But, it's worth a try at least. « It's a curse, that's what's been determined. They think they know the origin of the curse, and are working on arranging to meet with someone integral to getting it undone. » And now she can't help but wonder how much of a delay her unplanned trip to an elementary school will have caused. «While you're eating lunch, Agent Simmons, you can explain to me WHY you need my access card. In detail. »

And she can glower at Jeriah for his attempts at humor, and maybe still a bite or two of food off of his plate.

May can always be carried. Or Jemma can improvise a harness. Sitting Jemma's shoulder is safer, surely.

"No, I'm suggesting we take her to WAND and retrieve the card." Jemma says to Jeriah. Stop teasing, you troll. Just because I let you tease me doesn't mean you should deliberately tweak the nose of the person we need to help us.

"Well, a curse. That's … interesting. I … hope they can reverse it, Agent May." the biochem offers her shoulder. "I'd be … well not happy to, but I will tell you what we know. Over lunch. Coming Jeriah?"

Shutting down her machines and locking them, Jemma heads to the lab door.

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