2020-02-03 - Labhunters Part I


Toni Ho takes Hank McCoy on a tour of an abandoned R&D lab RESCUE owns, and ends up calling in Augmenta, Posse, and an RESCUE emergency team once they discover what's inside…

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Mon Feb 3 01:07:19 2020
Location: RP Room 6

Related Logs


Theme Song



It is fairly late in the day, and Hank is a little bit dismayed, he's been searching for suitable lab space that ISN'T on the grounds of the Institute. The thing is that his requirements are fairly strict - it needs to be secure, it needs to be someplace near the city but not IN New York, it needs to be something he can buy and modify, and it needs to be something he can afford. Now, he's not poor by any means, but a super science capable lab? Not cheap.

He's managed to sell off several of his patents for lump sums, he /hopes/ enough to buy the lab he finally settled on, a smaller space, very discreet, about twenty minutes from downtown. Perfect!

Cut to Toni, one of her real estate managers calls her, and sounds a bit concerned. "Miss Ho, there's a property of yours that has been on the market flagged - we have an offer, but I'm unsure if you want to sell…"

Toni mmms? "Which property is it?" Toni says distractedly, having taken the call on her smartglasses. "And why would I be unsure if it's up for sale?" She walks down her workbench, looking for a particular part, then bringing it back to the gauntlet she's workign on.

"Well ma'am, the interested party is a known mutant, and that has been a problem in the past, not with /you/, of course, but it was." Jennie Shields, nice woman, really sharp businesswoman and she owns her own Real Estate firm. Who knew she was a bigot? Probably not Toni. "The potential buyer is one Henry Philly McCoy…his credentials are sound, and he has a sizable amount set aside in escrow to secure the purchase, but my information indicates that he probably had to liquidate a lot of assets to get to that point. I can't in clear conscience recommend we sell to him, not for something as major as the old R&D Site for Biogen Enterprises LLC."

Yeah, not so great memories of them, they were more than a bit shady. The former CEO is still in prison, and rather than let it go out on public auction, it was quietly picked up and carefully dealt with. It has been fallow now for over two years, and there haven't been many offers due to the stink that lingers from before.

Toni raises a brow, frowning now. "I know Dr. McCoy. He's a brilliant researcher, who's made numerous advances in biology and biochemistry." The bigotry is a mark against Jennie at this point. "I'll contact him directly. Did he want to tour the facility?"

Jennie can /hear/ the frown. "Oh, I was unaware he was known to you." She ponders a moment, and then shift gears. "Well, if you're sure he's a good risk, I'll setup a meeting. He did want a tour, yes, but I've been…unavailable for about two weeks now." Yeah, probably another strike right there. "Or did you…you said you'd reach out to him, sorry. I thought you'd want to keep some distance, just in case."

Toni's voice sharpens a bit. "I have no reason to keep some distance. As I said, I know him, and he's a well known and respected scientist. Don't let me trouble you further with it, I'll call him and show him the facility personally." Her tone is a bit crisp now. "Thank you, Miss Shield." *click* Toni inhales, then huffs out, before dialing up Hank.

Jennie sighs, she's so lost a major account, she just knows it. Damn muties, they poison every good thing! "Of course, Doctor Ho. Good bye." Once she's hung up on, another sigh.

Hank picks up after the second ring, a smile very much audible in his voice. "Well, Doctor Ho, how good of you to call, I hope this finds you well." She can hear the sound of traffic, clear as day. Probably driving. "To what do I owe the unexpected pleasure?"

"I understand you're interested in buying the Biogen R&D lab from RESCUE, Hank." Toni says, blunt as ever. "I had an issue with the real estate agent handlign it, so I thought I would offer to show you the facility myself. If you're available? If not, we can make an appointment for a good time for you."

"I am, but I wasn't aware it was held by RESCUE, Toni. Miss Shields was a bit difficult to work with, in truth I haven't been able to get through to her for a couple weeks." A pause, she can hear the click-click-click of a turn signal, and then he continues. "I am actually en route to New York, will arrive in about another forty minutes…if you have the time I can redirect to the Biogen facility, and be there in about an hour. Is that doable? If not I would be more than happy to schedule another time."

"Miss Shields seems to have an issue with mutants, which is why she will not be handling my real estate accounts in the future. Biogen was part of the old AIM holdings that I absorbed that became part of RESCUE when my original corporation merged with Dr. Kelsey's. I haven't done anything with it, since we don't really deal with biological experimentation and investigation much on that level." She hmms. "I can make that easily, I'll meet you outside. I'll need to track down the keycards for it."

"Really? Real Estate is apparently not a mutant friendly industry, I had an incident with a condo not long ago as well. Interesting." Hank gets rather quiet when AIM is mentioned. "AIM, really? Interesting. I heard of the corruption charges and that the old CEO is in prison, did not know Advanced Idea Mechanics was involved." A firm nod then. "I accept, one hour, I'll park Bessy by the main gate and wait for you." He smiles again. "Thank you, Toni."

"I will see you there. IF you want to know the whole sordid story, I can tell it while we're walking the site." Toni says simply. "Drive safe."

And by the time Hank pulls into the log, Toni is waiting outside a steel blue Tesla Roadster, leaning against the car.

"Of course I do." Hank says with a laugh. "Everything interests me." And based on his academic career…that's the simple truth.

She'd see him drive up with his 78 Ford, and parks it. "Oh, very nice, the 2020 is going to be the fastest production car in the world, I assume you've got a pre-order in?"

Hank approaches and offers a hand to shake, though they're friendly, he'd not presume to hug Toni.

"Mm, maybe. I like this one, it seems wasteful to buy another when it works fine. But maybe in a couple years." Toni says, taking the hand and shaking firmly. "It's good to see you again. Let's see now…" She reaches into a pocket and pulls out a gold keycard that she slides into the security gate, which beeps, before the door unlocks and she pushes it open. "Well, to be blunt, I was an idiot when I first was out of university and looking for a position to make my name in. I already had a few patents, but I thought I'd be better working with a company. Likeminded individuals, that sorta thing." She holds the door open, then lets it close and lock behind Hank, before she offers a clip on flashlight. "Sorry, power is off at the moment. Probably works fine, but getting the local power company to turn things on past their usual working hours is a pain."

Hank's grip is just as firm, and no firmer, than Toni's. "I like my Bessy, I've been working on her for literally a year and a half, I have a lot invested." His Grenada /is/ a pretty sweet classic ride. "Great to see you too, Toni. Oh, I have some preliminary work on the bio-project, the transitional meds for those undergoing transgender operations." He offers her a thumb drive. "I know you're more into the mechanical side of things, but I'm sure Roni will find the formulae interesting."

He laughs very softly about the power. "Oh, that's fine, I'll be rewiring it anyways. My power needs will require it."

Toni accepts the thumb drive, tucking it away in a pocket. "Mm, rewiring it? Sounds like a major project, do you have the funds to update this place?" She mms. "Though to be fair, it's a bit more advanced than it looks. YOu see, the first place that really appealed to me was an organization called A.I.D., which proposed to assist people in third world countries with limited infrastructure with new and novel ways to provide power, clean water, sewer systems, and similar ideas."

"I honestly have no idea, I suspect it will be the sort of thing I do as time permits and as funds come available. It is a small enough facility that I am reasonably sure that with care I can get it up and running to meet my needs if not quickly, at least steadily."

He takes out his reading glasses, then taps the side of the left hand stem at which point they morph into an amber visor that adheres to his face as he he touches it to it.

"A.I.D.? Fascinating, I'll have to research them but I take it they were an A.I.M. front?"

Toni nods simply, pausing in front of the lab secure door and unlocking it to head inside. A variety of sealed labs are on either side of the corridor, many with airlocks to keep them sealed and with attached clean rooms and disinfection chambers. "You catch on quicker than I did. Yeah, their actually acronym stood for Advanced Ideas in Destruction, and they were using their non-profit bits as a cover to go into various third world nations and make deals with the dictator in charge to sell them superweapons. Usually by testing them on rebels or whatever people were unlucky enough to get in the way."

"Well, you DID say that the holdings were absorbed from AIM, so hardly a big stretch there." This said by the rather large man with a kind tone and kinder smile. "I doubt in the same circumstances I'd have done any better, so don't beat yourself up for the folly of youthful idealism." A sigh. "Of course they sold to warlords and dictators." He looks to the woman, walking beside her with hands clasped behind him as they tour. "How long until you found them out? I assume you then took action as well."

"Yup. I very carefully hacked their systems, then started draining awya their slush funds, gathered information, bought up their loans an' such. I had money from my patents. I very carefully took them apart, and they didn't even realize it until I turned the information over to the feds in return for protection for what was now MY company." She stops, turning to face Hank. "There were some scientists who were under their thumb, or at least salvageable. I gave them one chance. The worst of them went to prison, and most of AIM's stuff was turned over. Or shut down like this place. Didn't make too many friends with AIM, but screw 'em." She shrugs her shoulders, putting a hand on her right hip. "What would you like to see first? This place should get some good use out of it, that goes to better purposes."

Hank doth approve! His smile shows this very clearly. "Oh, well done, Toni." Hank chews his lower lip a bit, and then nods. "A.I.M. is still very active you know. I have been working with S.H.I.E.L.D. as a consultant, they're up to no good. Just, FYI." Obviously he doesn't want to violate any sort of official secrets, or blow his security clearance. That said, Toni's a friend. He wants her informed. So, vague it is.

A firm nod, his eyes about as hard as she's seen them. "Screw 'em is about how I feel, yes."

A shake of his head to clear it, and then he chin points towards the labs. "If I remember right, there's three labs onsite, one chemical, one for hazardous biologicals, and one for more ordinary medical work…lets start with the chemical." Because…biochemist.

"Yes, basically." She reaches up to touch her smartglasses, scrolling. "Mmm, lab 3 is chemicals, apparently." She walks down to the lab in question, then unlocks it, the airlock standing open. "Airlocks are engaged, anything bad was taken out a long time ago or cleaned up. What exactly were you planning on working on?" she wonders, watching but letting Hank wander as he wants among the worktables and equipment.

"I need a facility off campus from where I work now. I want a place where I can work with others easily. I have a ton of projects I want to work on, research into the nature of mutation, of metahumanity in general. I study a lot of disciplines, as I know you are aware. I have some interesting ideas on learning to tap into Zero Point energy." He shrugs his shoulders. "I can do all this at my present labs, but…I can't collaborate there, not easily."

Hank does explore the contents of the lab, and he seems pleased and surprised by what he's seeing. "You're right, they had some top notch gear. I want to repurpose the biohazard labs to be for more engineering application."

"AIM is good at advanced…just not moral or ethical science to get there." Toni says darkly. "This is a pretty big facility to handle by yourself, are you going to be hiring staff for this? I mean…security alone would be a thing, so people don't break in or something."

"Advanced is right in their name in fact, their one truthful advert." Hank says seriously. "I was planning on it, yes. Assistants at the very least, security. This is not a trivial undertaking. Just this lab alone is bigger than the one I work in now, and /it/ is medical, chemical, computers and engineering combined. Granted, the tech is literally super-science, but still." A smile. "And of course I'll need a new place to live, near here would be ideas as this is not zoned for living space."

Toni looks curious. "Would this be something that would be easier if it was a joint project, rather than just on you?" she says after a moment. "I don't pretend to know as much about biological science as Dr. Kelsey, but if she had an interest in this and we already own the property, it might be easier if we discuss what you're working on and if it would be better to work together on it."

"Easier, definitely, but I didn't want to presume on our friendship and take advantage." Because: Hank. He might occasionally get a bit scattered by all the directions he's getting pulled in, but one thing is constant - he's very moral and very ethical. Simply put - he's a decent human being. "Do you think Roni would be interested in such a collaborative effort? I admit that I find your minds very stimulating, working with her on my armour with Catseye…delightful." And really, how often do any of them get to work with peers?

Toni hmms. "Not taking advantage to ask about it, only if you were automatically expecting a yes." she notes, tapping her smartglasses. "Call Roni." Most people would have a phone the glasses are connected to.

Toni just minaturized it into the lens and included an induction mike in the frame so she can talk, or even subvocalize, and hear Roni back. "Are you going to be hiring Catseye here too?" she wonders, then pauses at the pickup. "Hello Roni. Are you free? Hank is wondering about buying or leasing the old Biogen building, I was wondering if you had time to come by and discuss the project with him, in case it might be something we want to go in jointly on to make it a bit less of a financial burden just on him. Sure. Yes, I'm sending the address now, the front door is unlocked. We're at lab 3 currently, can't miss it, the door to the left of the….crap."

She frowns, glaring at the door. "..just realized there's no way for it to open. Evil corporation. Weren't big on ramps and buttons within each reach from a chair. Just knock when you get here if you've got any issues, I can open it from the inside."

Veronica was in fact busy going over a presentation she is intending to make to a conference next weekend when her own glasses notify her of a call on her phone. A tap to her temple answers that call, and her side of the conversation is relatively predictable. Free? No, she is quite expensive, thank you very much. Have time to come talk to Hank? Sure, she can do that, and she immediately sets about commanding her van to warm up and drive itself from the garage to the main entrance to the Wellspring. Address? Oh good.

But when Toni informs Roni that the place is not very accessible, she just growls. "I'll be there soon. Should I just suit up so I can walk in?" She hates having to do that; she feels it's a waste. But she's willing to do it. Her wheelchair is quite capable of making this work. That's why she uses it. Why, in fact, she designed and built it in the first place.

"By the way. Tell Hank he should hire Sharon. She's brilliant, and has already figured out how to train him not to blow himself up."

"I don't like making friends feel awkward, so…tend not to be too demanding, honestly." Hank rubs the back of his neck. When Toni calls Roni, he finds himself studying the equipment with greater and greater approval. He doesn't make any comment - that would be rude!

At the last, he shakes his head and smiles. "Why don't we just head out to meet her?" Depending on mic filters and sensitivity, Roni might well hear that.

Regardless, he nods. "Yes, planning on it, if she's available. Otherwise I have no other direct leads, though I have an idea or two from the school." The one he doesn't ever go on about.

There was a time he might have heard that, actually, though that time is past now that he's de-fuzzed and lost his super senses. That's part of why he built the visor he's wearing, so he could have nightvision and such. Kind of sad really, he'd have laughed…a lot…at the statement. A grin to Toni. "She gave me a Christmas Gift, she's coded nag messages into my lab." His voice goes sing-song. "It has been fourteen hours since your last break, Doctor McCoy, commencing extreme annoyance protocol in five…four.."

"I just asked him about Sharon, actually, and probably." she confirms to Roni. "Mm, it might be worth it if you want to go into the labs, they have lips for the airlocks that will be bumpy otherwise, though I'm pretty sure your chair can get over them with a little work. ETA?" She glances over to Hank, then smiles a bit. "Sounds like her, and sounds like something that Posse would do for me, come to think of it." she notes wryly.

"Maybe six minutes. That site isn't very far away from campus. That's why we bought it." Roni explains. "I'll set the digital assistants to pull the files. Switching off to drive. Be there soon."

Six minutes are /easy/ for Hank to spend exploring the chemical lab, Lab 3. Hell, he could arguably spend six HOURS here. Yes, he's something of a science-phile and more than able to geek out about good equipment. "You know what will be oddest here? Having so much space. Any of the labs, at least according to the blueprints I've seen, are much bigger than my current lab." He grins then. "She's a wonderful friend, and she's a bona fide genius too." A nod. "I like Ava, she's…grounded, something the rest of us lack. She and Sharon would likely get on very well."

"Alright, we'll see you then. Drive safe." Toni clicks off the call, glancing over at Hank as she follows him around as he meanders. "Well, then all the better reason to make her an assistant here." Toni says, reaching out to run a fingertip along the top of a worktable, wrinkling her nose at the accumilated dust. "She is. It's been…nice, having her around. She's solid and dependable." She hmms. "Well, perhaps we'll have to introduce them soon then."

Outside of the facility, the RESCUE van pulls in and stops, then locks down. A minute or so later the chair lift unloads Roni from the back of the van, and she rolls towards the front even as she is already getting her velcro straps ready. Once she rolls as far as she can she stops and activates the chair's transformation.

It's not something Veronica does very often. But she can. It is, in fact, the first version she ever built of her exoframe concept. The one she demonstrated to DARPA to secure the funding that would eventually lead to Augmenta … and to Ava. One moment Veronica is sitting in her wheelchair, strapped in far more securely than should ever be required, including her legs individually. Quite a few moments later Veronica is standing upright, her legs, hips and lower back encased in an exoframe that responds to her thoughts. And she comes tromping along, slowly but steadily, like any other able-bodied walking person.

A text message scrolls across Toni's glasses. 'Hey. I'm here. Walking in the front right now. Here's the link to all of the papers the assistants pulled up.'

"Mm, she's enrolled in University, won't be around much, but I am sure she would do well here." Hank can't help but grin about the dust. "How long has this location lain fallow?" He smiles. "I liked Ava the moment I met her." Hank admits. "And then you and Roni showed up, it was a very strong first impression I must say."

Eyes of blue hidden behind his visor, Hank frowns a bit. "That's curious, do your glasses have thermal optics?" He moves a machine that probably weighs a couple tons with one hand. "I see what looks to be a live wire."

"Practically since I took over RES, so…let's see. At leat six years since a full shut down. and cleaning it out." Tonis ays, tilting her head as Roni responds. "Roni's out front, shall we go meet her? And not yet, no. I've been considering replacing the lenses with the same lenses I use for my Patriot armor, but it's a fairly expensive composite and would require some tweaking to include other visual wavelengths, since they're not fully covering goggles.' She taps the frames for her lenses. "Too much light leakage from around the top and bottom right now to make it easy." She starts heading up to the front, peering over. "Don't touch it then. Just in case it's hooked to battery power. I'll be right back with Roni.

And Toni will step out, heading up to the front door to the labs to open it, waving Roni down as she sees her walking up in her armor. "This way, we're just looking over the labs and equipment a bit." She falls silent as she brings up the paperwork on her glasses, skimming them idly on one lense while she follows Roni back with, leaving the other open so she doesn't run into anything.

Veronica, when she appears, is not in 'armor', per se. She is strapped into her wheelchair. But her wheelchair currently has its larger wheels positioned over her hips, and its smaller wheels 'dangling' the sides of her ankles. Her feet are strapped into the plates. She is not walking quite as quickly or smoothly as the Augmenta armor, but she is a LOT lighter than that, too. Also, she looks human, rather than like a robot.

"Good evening, Hank." Roni offers, immediately turning to peer at the live electrical lead. "Toni, check that paperwork, would you? I thought I remembered a sign-off from the inspector's office stating all power had been shut down?"

"Curious." Hank settles to a crouch, studying the feed. "It is buried inside the wall." He rises then, and removes his goggles, tapping out something on the air and then offering them to Toni. "Here, take a look…thermal, nightvision, telescopic and microscopic, though only 40x mag." Still, not bad.

Should she do it, the visor would prove to have a very sweet holographic interface including multiple screens only visible on the HUD at the moment, and full AV and comms.

Hank smiles as he sees Veronica, eyes of blue warm and welcoming. "Ah, clever." He approves of the exo-frame cum wheelchair. "Actually that's quite another elegant solution." He inclines his head. "Good evening, Roni."

Toni takes the offers goggles, taking off her glasses and hanging them from the collar of her t-shirt, then slides on the goggles as she says distractedly. "Everything should be powered down, no active power. We haven't been getting the power bills if the power grid is running power to it." She shifts through various view modes as she studies the wire in the wall.

"I have checked; no power bills." Veronica pronounces. She waggles her hand at Hank, smiling. "I built this a long time before the armor. It was the proof of concept, I suppose you could say." And she did. Often. "Toni, I don't see any mention of this on the inspection reports, either."

"Well, I can expose the wiring if you wish." Hank offers, he can literally crush bricks in his hands after all. "Then we can trace it. I wonder how long ago this feed was activated, it would be interesting if it is six years old."

Sure, he wants the lab space - but this is enough to fully engage his intellect, the man does not have the ability to resist a mystery! Not even a little, it can and HAS gotten him into trouble, and it assuredly will again.

"So…no power bills, certified no feeds, so…less than six years old unless the inspectors were compromised."

He smiles right back to Doctor Kelsey. "Concept proven, and solution still elegant." He opines.

Toni frowns, then slides off the goggles, handing them back to Hank. "If you can get to it safely…if it's still powered, either there's a battery system that was missed or the power for the building wasn't properly shut down." She pauses. "Or someone turned it back on." She looks thoughful. "Where is that wire running to, exactly?"

Veronica hrms. "I could call in Augmenta. The suit's scanners should be able to trace the EM signature of of the wire." Should being the operative term. And calling in the suit is a bit of an escalation; no one is going to be able to miss the thing walking itself out of the van and through the building on its own.

Hank dons the goggles again, and then nods as he moves to the wall. "I think I can safely expose the wire." Hank muses as he studies the wall. "I wish I had my electronics tool kit." He mutters a bit. He looks over to Toni. "Seems to be going down into the basement, not familiar with the wiring to tell you more."

His gaze shifts to Roni then. "With any luck there won't be many if any witnesses, this is a private facilty, yes?"

Toni mmms. "This is an ex-AIM installation. Call in the armor. I doubt anyone is watching this place, and if they are, we probably should have it around. Just in case." She's regretting not taking her first inclination, which was to fly over here in her Patriot armor instead of taking the Tesla Roadster. "A bit of security won't hurt."

Veronica looks between the other two, and then nods. She taps a few bits on her wrist-mounted controller, and then her wheelchair exoframe goes rock still. Toni's glasses will inform her that a new RESCUE-encrypted networking node has been activated, and will then start tracking the incoming armor as it is brought online, deploys from the van, and walks its way through the building, all while Veronica pilots it remotely via the same interface she was using for her wheelchair; hence why the chair-frame is now stock still.

About three minutes later, the door opens and in walks Augmenta, stepping up behind Veronica. The armor then opens up to reveal the cavity inside as the wheelchair exoframe deploys a grab bar that extends to the side. Veronica starts unstrapping herself and the exerts her powerful upper body to pull herself up out of the wheelchair frame and laterally hand-over-hand sideways to the powered armor and dangle herself into place, where it can button up around her.

When Augmenta speaks, it definitely doesn't sound like Roni's voice, but it is her vocal patterns. "Let's not try to expose the wire before we trace it. Just in case someone put something hinky in the wall to catch the curious."

In the interim before Augmenta self-walks into the room, Hank studies the wall and then very carefully removes the wall material, in this case plastered over concrete. When the live wire is shown it is /clearly/ not standard wiring on any level. "It looks pseudo organic." Hank says quietly, zooming in with the visor. "Some sort of bio-tech is my cursory theorem." He watches as Roni moves herself, sure, he could help but he's not dumb. She would not welcome aid when she's able to do something, that's screamingly obvious to the once fuzzy genius.

Augmenta's sensors would be able to trace the tendrils of 'wire' into the basement, and below. It seems to lead to a sizable mass of similar material.

The hell?

Toni behaves like a good engineer who is not wearing armor or blessed with superhuman reflexes….she walks behind the nearest worktable to put it between her and the wall, just in case of explosion or something. "Organic? It's alive?" she says uncertainly. "Is this some experiment that we missed that's still running?"

Augmenta scans. And scans. and then finally speaks up. "I concur with Hank. I do not think it is in any way naturally organic. But it is organic. Far higher energy conduction than standard. And there seems to be a mass in the basement. Toni, it might be worth calling Ava, and having them launch the Patriot." She won't make decisions for her partner, but she will speak up rather than stay silent on the issue. That done, though, the armored figure walks away from the now-empty wheelchair exoframe and starts following the building plans, heading for the closest stairwell that will lead down where they need to go to investigate farther.

"Not alive, per se, but definitely made of mostly organic compounds from the look of it." Trust a biochem genius to have a good feel for that sort of thing. And he DOES have a built in low level microscope so Hank could study the structure in fair detail. He looks to Toni and nods slowly. "That's reasonable, or some remnant that laid dormant for a long while?"

With Roni's commentary on the energy conduction, he looks even more thoughtful. "Electrovore?" He queries.

When Augmenta heads for the basement, Hank moves along with her as the armor whirs and thuds along. "I wonder what we're going to encounter."

Toni frowns, bringing up the rear as she ponders. "If it was eating electricity then there would have been a power draw noticed at the site, though. Unless it was a recent thing. The paperwork Augmenta brought…" She always uses hero name when Roni is in armor. "…said there were no power bills being paid. So the power company isn't aware if it's drawing power. Or it's drawing it from another system, or from a neighboring building."

"I could be wrong," Augmenta offers, "but I think it's generating the power. The EM field readings are increasing, not just in scope but in intensity and spectrum." Thump. Thump. Augmenta is incredibly light for a powered armor suit, but it's still pretty darned heavy. She doesn't do subtle. "I'm still not sure from these scans and images if the wires actually grew into place …" But it's a theory her brain is picking at. She is the other biochemist, being a doctor and neurologist.

Eyes bright, Hank follows in the wake of Augmenta, since Toni isn't armored at the moment, he provides his bulk as a meat shield between her and harm. He's protective of his friends! "It is possible to mask such a drain, but…that takes intent, systemic knowledge, and skill that wires probably lack." It is a strange enough world that Hank doesn't entirely rule the possibility out. "Easier to assume it is feeding on something else."

"How large is the central mass below?" The scans would suggest it is quite large, perhaps the size of an SUV, and now that she knows what to look for, it seems like there's tendrils of the stuff extending out in several directions too. The pattern is suggestive of a root system, which supports the 'grown' theory a bit.

Once they get to the basement, they'd find a series of vats, once used for chemical storage, and the tendrils and large mass are at the bottom of one.

The bulk is a blue-black, and glows very faintly, the air smelling a bit of mold and a bit of ozone.

"So…it's a plant or something?" Toni says from the back, keeping alert as they enter. Unsupervised experiments tend to have unfortunate consequences, after all. "And someone built it to drain power to feed…it? Or osmething else?"

"There's something else inside that mass at the core. Something giving off a differentiated radiological signature. It's big. About the size of a large, bulky SUV, or maybe my van. But the power levels seem … well." Augmenta doesn't want to say aloud 'it seems to have about the power of a small nuclear reactor.' That's a terrifying thought. But it is matching what she's seeing thus far.

Veronica - through Augmenta - continues. "I can tell you that the tendril we found is not along. There are dozens, if not hundreds, spreading out from the central mass inside that tank. The graphics look not unlike a deeply-buried root system. Hang on. I'll send in a sensor pod."

The shoulder-mounted launcher gifts a soft pfft sound, and a disc two inches wide and half an inch thick flies out of the launcher, giving a soft whirr as its power core comes online and its sensors start feeding telemetry to Augmenta. Often she will load these on Humblebee drones, but they are capable of limited maneuvering all on their own. And the drones are back in the van right now.

She was originally wearing the armor just to get around poor handicapped accessibility, not to investigate AIM foolishness.

Perching on the edge of the vat, one hand gripping the metal between his feet, Hank studies things. "It is quite interesting, I've not seen anything quite like it. After a moment he drops down /into/ the vat, and looks about. "I think this might have been an elevator or lift of some sort. Perhaps a sub basement not on the plans?" Because: AIM. He takes great care to not get too close to the small segment, relatively speaking, so as not to risk triggering some reaction. He's brave, not stupid.

The pod would find that the 'roots' do form a sort of of network, and that they've infiltrated local power, gas, and telecom conduits. There's THICK lines running to the power conduit, and at the core of the thing there is a mass of an unknown isotope, something unstable and rich in gamma radiation bands - which the thing is apparently absorbing, there's very little leakage.

Is it something on standby, then? Dangerous?" Toni hangs back, but curiosity gets the better of her as she peers down at the mess carefully, then looks around the lab. "Maybe they had some sort of failsafe in place for the lab, just in case."

"I do not think we can afford to move the mass much, without some extra gear. I've got some pretty significant gamma radiation readings om the sensor pod telemetry. The cables are soaking all of that up, and have infiltrated most of the utility lines." Augmenta explains. "As for dangerous? Whether intentionally or not, I would say yes. We will definitely have to deal with this before Hank can move in." But how is up for debate. Not being the particle physicist here, Veronica is not going to make the decision of how to do so on her own.

Hopping back up to the top, Hank loooks to Roni. "Augmenta, check for /this/ molecule…" He taps on the air, and then a screen appears, showing a very exotic molecular model. There's none present, which relieves Hank, visibly. "Gamma rays? Dangerous stuff." He'd not to Toni in support of Roni's assessment. "Absolutely dangerous." He agrees. He looks to both ladies. "I could try to pry up a section of the floor if you wish, we could then investigate the larger mass, and perhaps see if there's just a 'cyst' of some sort, or a whole level below."

"Be careful. I don't like this, maybe we should call in an Overwatch cleanup unit, just in case." Toni says with a frown, staying out of her companions' way for th emoment.

"No sign of that molecule on my scanners. But I suspect you might get a better, more accurate read with the Patriot's scanners than mine." Augmenta is not going to get into the differences in methodology, intent, or design of their sensor systems; just suffice it to say that there are differences, and they are not minor.

"Yes. Please. Let's summon them, with anti-rad protocols and excavation gear. And your armor." Augmenta stresses. She might be a mite bit miffed. Or just worried. "Can we back up, now, and I can send the message to summon them? Please?"

Curious, Hank is a little disappointed that they need to wait, but not so disappointed that he makes a fuss. He does look a bit contrite. "I apologize that I started so much fuss. Granted, it is better to have found this - who knows what might have happened had we not. Still, it is probably going to be expensive and dangerous for your people. I do hope you'll allow me to assist."

He does start back towards the exit however, when Augmenta asks, and yes, he waits to be sure he's between Toni and any danger. Go go meatshield mode!

Toni mmphs, then gets out her glasses, starting the call as the group approaches the front. "This is Dr. Ho. Patch me to the Overwatch ready squad." There's a pause, then she says. "Chief. I need your squad at the address I'm sending you, with excavation gear and anti-rad protocols, up to gamma level. I'm sending the unlock to my armor casket, bring it as well. It's not an emergency but get here at a hurry, I don't know how long it'll stay that way.."

"Activating the locator beacon on the van." Augmenta offers, not bothering to cut into the communications channel with Toni and Overwatch. "Cycling the armor's locator beacon to one of the alternate frequencies. Van is at Alpha, Augmenta at Charlie frequency." she explains aloud to Hank and Toni, as she types in the commands and sends them by test to Overwatch. "I'm assembling our path of travel and sending that along now."

Since Augmenta is already armored up, and Toni is /going to be/, Hank grins and taps a few few invisible holorgraphic keys. His clothing shimmers a bit, and then morphs into the costume that Roni helped him perfect with Catseye. It is NICE to see the proof of concept, what might strike one a bit odd is that the armour does not come with gloves or boots. Of course, knowing that Hank can actually perform surgery with his feet would help alter that perception. Dressed now in that new costume, he looks to the ladies, as they exeunt stage left to the main lab. "Do we want to search the rest of the facility while we wait, or just hold tight and let the Overwatch team arrive?"

<Excavation, anti-rad gamma level response, and Patriot case to Dr. Ho copy that,> a voice affirms over the Overwatch radio in the cool and even 'Houston Controller voice' so ubiquitous to American air travel. <Alpha and Echo teams are in route, arriving in 10. Proceed to comm channel three.>

"No. We should wait until the team is here and go together. IF this is something dangerous, there's no point not preparing a bit first." Toni say, glancing back at the lab. "Who knows what else is in there, if we missed this? And we still don't even know what this organic construct does yet." She adjusts her glasses to the correct channel. "We will hold here out front until your arrival." she says simply.

"Telemetry from the sensor pod still coming in clean." Augmenta explains. "But the signal is degrading. Some of that is structural interference. But the rest seems to be the growing intensity of the EM cycle on that thing down there." Gamma radiation is typically shite for radio signals.

"Gamma rays." Hank murmurs at the mention of the signal degradation, and then crosses arms over his chest as they wait. "I don't know if you missed anything, Toni." She's not armored yet, so…first name. "What's the cypher key and frequency for the comms, if you don't mind me synching up?" Once he's on comms, a brief. <Comms Check, Beast is online…copy?> And then to Toni once more. "It could well have happened in the interim between the site going fallow, we can't be sure until we investigate further."

A smile to Augmenta. "You both do beautiful work, I must say." He has not yet seen the armour in play before today.

"<Dr. Ho this is Alpha Actual,>" the Overwatch radio cuts in again with a familiar voice, the Chief of Security herself. "<Arriving in fiver. The boys are making faces in their space suits. What's the gamma-level situation on the ground?>"

"<Lickin' chicken, Beast, I gotcha',>" she acknowledges simply, saving longer conversation for later.

"We were touring the Biogen R&D lab with Dr. McCoy, who was interested in purchasing the property. It shut down years back when I took over AID and turned it into RES; one of the AIM front labs it owned. Power was shut down, and no one's been on the property other than off site security checking to make sure the building was still closed off." Toni frowns. "We've found something in an unregistered subasement, some sort of organic construct emitting levels of gamma radiation. It seems to have grown roots through the building that are carrying power. We're not sure what its purpose was, or how dangerous it is…but if this an ex-AID project, it's probably a weapon. Applied Ideas in Destruction, it was in the name."

"We should pull up their old files and run some searches, see if we find anything. More intel is always better than less." Augmenta offers over the comms to all concerned. She turns her head to face Beast; one cannot see her grinning. "So far, I'm not picking up any demonstrable movement. But with signal degrading, I may not be getting a clear enough picture, if it's miniscule enough. Ava, the 'roots' are around something else. Big, the size of a full-sized boxxy SUV, or may be my van. It's emitting serious gamma radiation, and the roots are soaking all of that up. You should also warn DWP: the roots have burrowed into the utility lines. When we deal with this, there could be interruptions of service or other problems."

<Copy, Alpha Actual, Beast on standby.> Hank isn't RESCUE, that doesn't mean he's not used to working with professionals!

He runs a scan of nearby radio and other broadcast frequencies, and then 'mmphs'. "Interesting…there's some theta band activity…that's…not normal at all." Usually that's something one registers in an EEG! "Check my readings, please." He rattles off the exact frequency he's registering it, and yeah, that looks like the sort of thing one might see in a child, or someone sleeping or meditating, either way it is strongly suggestive of intelligence.

"AID - a biomechanical weapon? That sounds fairly horrific." Hank says, not that he's any stranger to such.

"<That is some serious sierra, Toni,>" is the frank answer by radio. "<Objective is evac, decontam, and contain, copy? That's gonna' interest some big people…>"

"<Tracking you, Augmenta,>" Posse adds to the group's medical expert. "<We'll put through a call and setup perimeter. Alpha team's on security, Echo team has rad-away. Toni and Beast, their bird has the decon shower. It's small so you'll have to take turns. Augmenta,>" here the chief of security pauses a moment, perhaps to issue a command to her team. "<Watch your levels and pull back for decontamination at the first blip."

"This is a global reminder: non-emergency means no one gets extra doses. When that little alarm goes off you leave. You want a tan like mine, get it on your own time.>"

Toni mmms, sighing. "…I really need to take that trip to Ukraine. I meant to mention that. Augmenta, want to go shopping in a creepy Soviet-era storage area for a super VTOL transport? You can come too if you'd like Hank. I have no idea what else they have stored in this place, honestly, though it's supposed to be primarily engineering projects." She frowns. "But I have a good lead on a intercontinental transport for Overwatch. Not huge, but very fast." She wrinkles her nose. "Though I'm probably going to need to upgrade it a bit. And I was thinking of pulling its missile system and installing a Humblebee bay instead…and it probably needs its engines improved, so they're not quite as destructive, Soviets REALLY liked brute power but it kinda does all sorts of damage taking off and landing apparently…."

"Roger, Posse. We have pulled back to the main lab at above ground level one. Subbasement location is twelve meters down, eighty meters horizontal north-northwest this location. At least three solid concrete barriers between. Rad levels at above-ground are zero nominal standard." Augmenta pauses. "I promise, we are taking precautions. That's why we called before we did anything else."

Beast's information on theta-wave transmissions causes Augmenta to adjust and adapt her scanners, looking for and finding those emissions. "These are very attenuated. I would estimate that they are coming from the tendrils, which means I would guess we have much stronger readings of these down at the site."

As for Russian VTOLs? "I'm open to the idea. Better than flying commercial and having to put the suit into cargo. And I much prefer the idea of a humblebee launch bay than missiles." Says the medical doctor: First, do no harm. "Toni, go, get a med scan, and suit up. Then we can go check this out more safely."

The possibility of /sharing/ a decontamination shower never entered Hank's mind, and now that Alpha-Actual's mention of having to take turns was made he can't /un/think of it. Fortunately Hank is a gentleman, and a medical professional even though he does not have an MD. He compartmentalizes very well, focusing his considerable intellect and will on staying on task. <Copy that, decontamination once the bird arrives, Alpha-Actual.>

He looks to Toni as she ponders about the jet. "I've worked on an SR-71 Blackbird for years, Toni. If I can assist with your Soviet VTOL in any way I'd be pleased as punch to do so." Though…wth…how did HANK end up working on one of those? That's probably a tale in its own right.

"Shifting gears to what Augmenta says in confirmation. "Mmm, I concur, Augmenta. Still, bears close study - this biomechanism might be proto-sentient, it is as least likely to have animal level awareness, which means it will likely react to anything it considers a threat." A firm nod. "Something the teams should be aware of."

The whirl of a pair of helicopters approach from overhead, rapidly gaining in volume before reaching their peak. It's an awkward maneuver between the packed-in walls of city buildings, but not one Overwatch's pilots are unfamiliar with.

Orange and blue Overwatch uniforms fan out from the drop zone with a precaution of less-than-lethal laser rifles handy as they fan out to secure the area, just in case. Donned in their full metal suits, the addition of a glossy outer fabric layer that separates them hermetically from the city air around them does more than even their weapons to dissuade curious passers by.

Fully-suited officers enter the main lab only shortly thereafter, each with their faces exposed behind dual coverings of suit helmet and hazmat mask, and with small but distinctive dosimeters exposed on the outside of their CBRN garb. Chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear, it's a one-size-fits-all environmental protection.

Posse trails in third amongst the group and makes a b-line for the assembled trio. Even from a distance, her choice of a full carbine along with a foam sprayer mark her as distinct - rather than a regular side-arm, she's fully kitted to fill the roles of both teams that arrived.

"An SR-71? I thought those were all in museums?" Toni says, shooting a curious look Hank's way. Before she can ask more questions, however, the Overwatch team arrives to land in the parking lot, dispersing and setting up. Including one casket that's wheeled out of one of the transport helos. She frowns at Roni, then sighs. "…fine, fine, I'll get myself checked over first. Why don't you three start then, and I'll catch up, hmm?" She starts heading over towards the Overwatch medic on duty.

Toni does nod to Posse as she walks past. "Yes, you can read me the riot act when we're done." she says in a similarly resigned tone.

Veronica murmurs, "Thank you for being careful." when Toni agrees to go get checked out before climbing into her suit.

"Hi, Posse." Augmenta offers as she nods to the woman. "We have also picked up an odd reading. There's an implication that what we're dealing with may be sentient. So … do me a favor? Don't shoot anything until we get a chance to figure out what's going on first?" She is well aware of how proactively protective Ava can be, and she doesn't mind it. But she will try to keep it under control.

The armored heroine clips on her dossimeter and waits until everyone is ready to go before she leads the way back towards that stairway down. "Signal degradation on the sensor pod is up to almost seventy percent. There's no way for me to determine if we have motion with such bad readings. Stay on your twinkle-toes, everyone."

"No, not all." Hank smiles, implying rather directly he has /direct/ access to one. Yeah, Toni is probably going to want to learn more later. Well, she probably wants to know NOW, but will have to wait until later, darn the luck. Either way, when Posse and the Overwatch team arrive, Hank offers Ava a nod of greeting and welcome.

"Actually, I should decon too, my armor isn't sealed." And the hands and feet are bare. "I can modify it on the fly once I've scrubbed, but please, I'll take my turn after Doctor Ho."

He nods then to what Roni stated. "Sentient possibly, maybe proto-sentient, but aware enough to potentially be a risk." He confirms.

Once he's decontaminated, Hank would don his armor once more, and then morph it to be full coverage. The hands and feet covered by the armoured weave of unstable molecules, and the mask also full coverage. The look - actually fairly intimidating when all is said and done.

"Maybe later, Night Light," Posse responds calmly back to Toni in passing, "But if your hair falls out I call dibs. I could use some purple extensions."

Turning her attention to Augmenta and Beast, the cyborg shakes her head drolly. "Never a simple problem, huh, gamma level possible sentient? That's a big kind of risky… What's the source of all the rads?" Taking the foam sprayer from her thigh holster, Ava wordlessly offers it to Augmenta while unhooking the carbine on her opposite side - just in case.

Toni grumbles a bit, moving over to turn herself over to the tender ministrations of the medics. After being given a capsule to swallow, she steps over to the casket, touching a button on the side as it rises to an upright position, then opens with a hiss, the armor inside unfolding as she steps back into it, leaning into it as it folds over her.

With a thump of armored footsteps, Iron Patriot steps out of the casket, optics glowing to life as she looks back and forth, starting to head after the group.

"Glad you got a clean bill of health." Veronica offers Toni across the comms once her partner is suited up and marching in their direction. Once the team reaches the sub-basement level Augmenta fires off a few more sensor pods, putting them in several additional locations around the subbasement so they have better coverage; helpful since the battery on the unit she left behind earlier is starting to run down.

"OK. Let's see if we can't get a better look and scan of whatever is generating all the gamma down there at the heart of the root ball. Get some timelapse shots on the man trunk nodes to determine how much growth or movement we have so far. And let's move carefully. The potential sentience means it may react to threats if we're not careful."

Once he's been decontaminated, and pilled, Hank rejoins the party. He looks between the trine of power armoured heroines, and laughs very softly. "I feel underdressed." He comments wryly. With Augementa's drones and the plan is stated, he nods. Though to Ava. "Really? Purple extensions?"

Back on task he lopes a head on all fours, then drops down into the vat where they found the shaft down to the next level. <Beast is in positon - preparing to widen the opening, cover me please.>

And with that the man mountain sinks his fingers into the metal flooring and pries up a plate that's several inches thick, tearing a section several feet across free of the floor, and leaning it against the wall in a feat of strength that is pretty impressive.

The instant he does, there's a flare of energy down below - and from out of the hole come lashing dozens of - cables? Tendrils? The stuff is black, but threaded through with gleaming neon blue and crackling. Hank is literally pinned to the wall by several, they punch right through his costume even as more tendrils reaching up towards Augmenta, Iron Patriot, and Posse!

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