2020-03-06 - Limbs and Bees and Partnership


Dr. Kelsey talks to Nadia about organic and cyborg limb replacements and their partnership in RESCUE.

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Fri Mar 6 19:19:46 2020
Location: RESCUE Campus

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Theme Song



As promised when they negotiated Nadia joining the team at RESCUE, she has been given her own lab space - even if she chooses to use that lab space largely just to unshrink her own lab and plug it in for power and supplies. She has been given complete autonomy on her own projects, although the company has optioned the chance to invest in any patentable work she might create. And most importantly, as RESCUE has sponsored and is supporting GIRL, Nadia has agreed to help Overwatch in the field when possible.

It's all as fair, up front and above board as the founders of RESCUE promised. They get to support a brilliant woman in her efforts to use science to make the world a better place, and support generations of young scientists - especially female scientists, those of color, and those from less-advantaged demographics - in their efforts to grow into the same. Admittedly, that gives them great PR, and they are not so altruistic that they don't use that positive PR. But it is the truth of the mission that means the most to them, as proven time and time again when they risk their lives, their personal and corporate fortunes to help and save those in need.

Dr. Kelsey's line is, "Enlightened Self-Interest. We are enlightened enough to know that it is in our best interests to work for the betterment of everyone, not just our corporate or personal bottom line."

The alert sensor at the front door to Nadia's lab lights, and the soft tone sounds to alert her that someone has arrived and requested access. Obviously they are cleared for access, or the alert wouldn't sound. But as promised, they wait to be granted admittance, rather than overriding and strolling in.

Nadia doesn't really shrink or unshrink her portable lab. It's hidden inside a necklace and, if returned to a normal size, would probably be able the size of the Disneyland castle. Besides most of her work can be done with nothing more complicated than a good comfortable chair, some marker pens and a whiteboard to scribble on. Perhaps a table for reference material to go on if she's feeling really fancy.

Of course that doesn't mean the space she's got set aside at RESCUE has remained sparse. She's slowly but surely built up a selection of equipment for genetic engineering, insect samples and some prototypes of an artificial beehive made from a lightweight polymer.

The door isn't locked and after a long pause, time spent finishing off a series of calculations most people would have used a supercomputer for, she distractedly calls out "Come in." Of course upon entering 'Roni might be a little shocked to see Nadia and a very very large bee. About the size of a large dog and sitting placidly on her desk.

Roni comes rolling in once Nadia calls out, and she waits for the door to close behind her while … staring … at the supersized bee. It's not attacking. It's not even moving much. But oh my, is that a big bee. "Is it … safe to roll closer? I don't want to upset your friend, there." she inquires.

"Friend?" Nadia repeats with a bemused look on her face. "Oh wait you mean the bee? She's fine. It's had a lobotomy of sorts… You could even call it a lobotobee. I was checking some of the research that's been done in the field of electronically controlled insects. But it doesn't really have any practical applications with bees other than letting me extract samples of the venom more easily." She motions for Veronica to come in. "I'm trying to produce non-venomous explosive hunting bees for use in security situations. With the additional benefit that it would help maintain green spaces by pollinating flowers." She hrms at her scrawled whiteboard of math. "Still needs some work though."

"Labatobee. Right." Veronica murmurs as she rolls in the rest of the way and examines the formulas and diagrams on the board, and the hyper-sized bee herself. "So, you made her larger, the reverse of the way you make yourself smaller, to make harvesting easier?" she inquires. Having never seen Nadia make something naturally small much larger, it's proof Roni is a smart cookie, putting it together naturally and with no further clues.

"So, you're a bit busy. By the way, I love the idea, at least. Not sure if it can work or how practical its solution will be. But it's really creative, and a lot less dangerous than our current solutions." Veronica pauses. "I was hoping, though, that you might have some time to discuss something with me? If not, maybe you can pencil me in for another time, and I'll be there."

Nadia Van Dyne shakes her head. "Busy? Oh no this is just a pet project," she assures. "No pun intended this time. It's not really the reverse of the process. It's just a different application of the same process. Changing the distance between molecular bonds and some extradimensional mass manipulation." She reaches over and spins the whiteboard round so it's showing a blank side. "The theory is sound, providing I can genetically modify the bees to care about the explosives. And because of the way bees swarm after one stings it'd be fairly easy to track a target once they are identified."

To show she's actually ready to listen and not ramble about geneticly engineered super bees Nadia scoops up a cloth and throws it over the Lobotobee. Then, after a moments consideration, she tucks a bowl of sugar water under there with her. "So what's on your mind? We're not expecting more Russians in power armour suits to burst in are we?"

Roni listens with honestly rapt attention; she is not a particle physicist, so the concepts behind the Pym Particles and what they can do often seem like some degree or another of black magic voodoo to her, but hers is an ever-active, curious mind, and she is always open to learning further tidbits; maybe someday they will lead to true understanding. Roni does smile at the joke about the pun, and seems actually pleased by the fact that - labotomized or not - Nadia thinks to feed the bee while keeping her like this for the experiment.

"Oh, no. I surely hope not." Roni answers, smiling while offering a little shudder. Once was enough, thanks! "But in a way that's what brought me here to talk to you." She readies herself a bit, and then continues her approach. "I was talking with Ava about her recovery, and she brought up a conversation she'd had with you. She said you had mentioned a way to actually regrow lost limbs organically? I realize we may not be able to make that solution a reality right away. But I wanted to learn what I could about what you knew of the process, against the possibilty we might be able to build a project and work towards that eventual goal."

In short, she's not planning to suddenly remove all of Ava's cyberwear. But she's not at all against starting research to lead towards that eventual goal someday, if not for Ava than for others.

"Oh well it very much depends on what exact result you want," Nadia explains brightly, springing up from her chair and making some doodles on the whiteboard to illustrate. "The most difficult is to genetically modify a person so they just regrow missing limbs. That has some serious problems with potential runaway growth and cancers." She still adds it onto the whiteboard anyway. "Second is growing new organs or limbs using a genetically modified animal, probably a pig. That's a little messier from an ethical point of view but very doable from a technical standpoint. Finally there's vat growing from scratch. Which is a lot more work but you don't have to worry about as many protest groups. Just.. well.. still quite a few honestly."

She adds a bit more technical info to each line in scribbled sharpie.

"When I left the Red Room I basically stole everything they had in terms of R&D. That included a lot of research taken from other sources. So I have some documentation to use as a base, although that would prevent you from filing any patents, and some of the material is very ethically dubious." She winces. "I would not recommend looking through it if you've got a delicate stomach."

"Anyway uhm in terms of a technical challenge it's less complicated to replace regular Human tissue than it was for me to genetically engineer myself to withstand the Pym particle process. Although every individual is different and there's no absolute guarantee of success."

Veronica is very tuned in, and listening to every word Nadia says, as well as the ones she doesn't say and the tinist implications of her notes on the board or her tone of voice and mannerisms. This is definitely Roni's wheelhouse, here. "So, with B or C we still have the challenge of surgical implantation and alignment. With A, our biggest challenge is the overall secondary and tertiary effects on the subject. Have you seen anything regarding using a biological substrate to construct - or grow - a new limb directly on the subject at the cellular level?"

Yes. Roni is asking about three-dimensional bio-printing.

Nadia Van Dyne nods. "I've read some research about it," she says with a grin. "Mostly through official channels. The process is a little slow for the Red Room.. I also left off one method which was just taking bits from other people and grafting them to the subject. That one seemed far too barbaric." She draws an offshoot from the third point. "Bioprinting tissue largely falls under vat growing. As we'd need to create the cells in the lab first before we can print them. But it's a pretty effective way to put everything together." After a few moments of foot tapping she unhooks her necklace and hangs it off the whiteboard. "I'll be back in a minute or two."

And then she vanishes. Or more likely shrinks down in size so much Veronica can't see her anymore.

And sure enough a few minutes later she returns. Although this time her wings are strapped on over her clothing and fluttering slightly. "I've copied a large portion of the data I had to a drive for you. Everything I had electronically stored anyway. Spies weren't big on computer records so a lot of my archives are in coded Russian hard copy."

"The good news for bio-printing is I can microscale engineer the equipment to have a degree of precision that is basically impossible for most other research teams. Who I think are using gear more akin to the bio-printers used to make ethical steaks rather than anything I'd want installing a nervous system in someone."

Veronica accepts the drive, and puts it in her lab coat pocket. "I will make sure to access this only on the Cassandra system once air gap has been initiated." she promises, because she keeps her word on such matters and recognizes how important it can be. "And I agree, your talents and abilities would be ideal for getting the micro-scale manufacturing process sufficiently accurate, and testing it properly." Yeah, Roni has some ideas about all of this.

"Assuming you are willing, I would really like your help with the surgery to replace Ava's stentrode with the upgraded model once testing on it is complete." Roni inquires. "Given your proven abilities, I expect you would be able to remove the existing unit by shrinking it, then un-shrink the replacement into place and solidify the connections with almost no real surgical intervention, assuring a clean and rapid recovery to full operation."

Nadia would be very well aware that Roni, Hank and Toni have been working pretty hard to finish designs to overcome EMP vulnerability for the cyborg's systems, and that her stentrode is her most vulnerable part, the key and lynchpin to the entire interface with her cybernetic systems.

"You're welcome to keep the drive and use the data however you wish," Nadia assures solemnly. "They did also have some extensive cybernetics research that I haven't included as it was very crude and… I suppose functional. Most of the fields they're ahead in involved concealing weapons or programming people. And the process by which they hook the parts in have.. dehumanizing effects. The subjects frequently would have stability issues from the pain and trauma. If you really want to take a look I can take the time to scan it over the next few weeks?"

The wings go still and Nadia unhooks the backpack. The device folds itself down until it's small enough she could pocket it easily. "As for the surgery I'd be honoured to assist. Although the shrinking process isn't exactly good for components that are attached to each other. I may have to do some very precise lasering to ensure clear gaps. Otherwise the shrinking process could spread throughout the entire body and that would get rather awkward." Her brow furrows. "If you can send me the schematics and some preliminary medical scans I can put together a sort of nano-scale surgical procedure document. List all the risks and any other potential problems that pym particles might introduce that you may not have considered."

Veronica shakes her head. "I don't want to see their cybernetics work, thank you. We have some limited stability issues ourselves, and I want to overcome that, not go backwards into something far, far worse." Roni is a real doctor, of the 'do no harm' variety. It's vital to who she is. "I am a bit sadly gratified to know that they were not somehow leaps and bounds ahead of us on this."

That said, Roni smiles and nods. "Given what I have learned of your capabilities, I assumed that you would have to complete separation of the existing unit prior to its shrinking, and after growing the new unit into place, would have to then attach it carefully after assuring its shrinking particles had been safely neutralized." She does not ask how that is done; it's none of her business. But she respects Nadia and her dedication, as she has been gratified to find Nadia respects her own.

"I have detailed schematics, flat images and three-dimensional mapping scans of the original unit and the surgery that implanted it, as well as scans of the site as of Ava's return to the Wellspring after the incident." Veronica dips into her other labcoat pocket and retrieves another drive, offering it to Nadia. "We can go over your plans and preparations in detail whenever you are ready. I appreciate your willingness to look into this. By not needing to actually open Ava up, this will greatly improve her recovery period. And we will work hard on sterilization efforts." Nadia won't be in this alone.

"The leader of the Science Club was a cyborg known as 'Mother' and she was, or at least claimed to be, over a hundred years old and still fully capable of fighting and killing as well as any Red Room agent. A lot of her technology was probably developed before either of us were born so… they certainly were ahead at one point. It's just the focus on rotating buzz saw limbs and brainwashed super soldiers combined with a tendancy to execute people who seemed disloyal or failed did not lead to a very productive environment in the long term," Nadia explains earnestly, keeping her face an even mask as she discusses a figure from many of her nightmares. "Admittedly while their work wasn't exactly elegant it has a lot in common with those powered suits we encountered. Ugly but with a lot of brute power."

As Veronica explains what data she has available Nadia beams with delight "That would be wonderful, it's always good having a significant amount of material to prepare with." She wipes a section of the whiteboard clear. "Besides I think I can leave my bee project a while without trouble, it'll take a while for the latest generation to mature and I'd rather that happen naturally than accelerating the process. Less chance for errors."

Again, Roni listens intently to what Nadia has to say about her background, her past, and those she interacted with. Stories of Mother evoke all of the worst kinds of images in her mind, and she's not shy about showing it. It's all horrible to her.

"Review all of the data, do your prep planning, and then let's meet, and we can discuss your concerns and how to mitigate them. You know your tech. I know my tech, and I know the patient. We can work this out together, for the best of everyone." Veronica offers. And then she offers Nadia her hand, and a smile. "I continue to be really grateful, Nadia, that you chose to join us when asked. Thank you."

Nadia Van Dyne blushes a little. "It's nice to be invited along," she replies brightly. "I never wanted to do purely lab based science. So getting out in the field makes for a welcome change of pace. Although in the future I'm going to make sure I bring a fully combat ready suit when I'm out in the field. A little electrical attack shouldn't have bothered me if I'd taken appropriate precautions."

She accepts the handshake. "I should have chance to review this in a day or two. Unless you need it sooner that is?"

"Absolutely not, Nadia. We take our time, we do it right." Veronica offers, smiling and offering a little shrug. "Believe me: I know what you mean about the consequences of this last mission. I am not just adapting Ava's tech, but my own and that of the entirety of RESCUE as well."

Roni looks around the lab for a bit, but she's not really seeing it. It's more that she is seeing what it could be, what it means. "I never wanted to be a hero. I only wanted to be a doctor, and help people. And maybe someday to not only help myself walk, but help others to overcome those same problems." But now she's all this, and supporting all of it. It's a bit maddening, really.

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