2020-03-18 - Bring Me Answers


After running a drone mission, Posse visits Dr. Kelsey to get some answers.

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Wed Mar 18 00:00:00 2020
Location: RESCUE Campus

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A couple hours after her phone call with Ava, there's a chime from Dr. Kelsey's office door followed by two distinctive knocks that resound with the noise of metal against a hollow carbon frame.

Inside the office, the good doctor startles a bit, not prepared for the sound of the knock. She glances over her shoulder from where she has been staring out the window introspectively, and then sighs, rolling her chair towards the desk again as she calls out, "Come."

The door slides open to reveal Posse in her proper and official Overwatch uniform, which still has ironed-in creases likely from the very first time she wore it. Favoring armor as much as she does, it's not a part of her normal wardrobe. Without any helmet or beret to go with it, her RESCUE-issue headgear is in plain view as it hugs her scalp with an array of sensors that all feed back to a wireless box at the back of her skull.

The sergeant enters without preamble, steady on her feet but perhaps a little slower than normal, with the subtly looping gait of a walking algorithm rather than her natural stride. Her face however, betrays no sign of challenges. If she is having any difficulties with her current equipment, it's just one more job in her day.

"The drones have finished their sweeps," she begins before Roni can ask for it. "Both small dogs were missing with signs of retrieval, the large dog was undisturbed. Humblebees are running forensics top-side and have a surveillance perimeter around both sites. Tissue samples were taken from the big one and available for analysis."

"Have we pulled it up?" Veronica asks, more as a matter of course than any complaint on the whole of matters. Learning the two above-ground had been taken away keys her up, heightening her tension and suspicion, but at least they got the one below. They have something to go on, without waiting for another attack.

"Thank you, for getting on it so promptly, Ava. I appreciate it." Veronica murmurs, as she taps on her keyboard and then sighs exhaustively. The pensive languishing is still there, just beneath the surface. There's something else still going on, and it hasn't eased up.

"Plans are WIP. I'll need your input on how many pieces we can turn it into," Ava replies, continuing her impromptu brief with the plain directness that's so natural to her. The languishing gets a reprieve, at least long enough for her to finish. "Either we enlarge the hole and haul it with a bird or it comes out in humblebee-portable chunks."

"I would rather pull it up as whole as we can. We can just send out the drillipedes and their friends and widen the hole." Veronica answers. "Be sure to add all of the earlier imagery and readings to the casefile, so we can cross-reference. The team did an excellent job today; let's make sure that's reflected in their reviews." That said, Roni gets quiet again, teeth worrying at her lower lip as her stare shifts towards her computer monitor … and then into a void far beyond it.

"Roger," Ava affirms before tapping her earpiece with a finger. "This is Posse, proceed with the boring plan - widen the hole and extract it in one piece. Freezing and containment before lifting it out."

With that done her lone green eye returns to Veronica as her arm swings down to rest behind her back, hand on hand. "Anything else immediate for the dog op?"

Veronica does not answer right away. It takes her a bit before she finally catches up with herself enough to realize Posse is waiting on her to answer. "Dog — oh. No. Nothing else for this op. I recommend a sealed bag or drum for containment, rather than freezing." That said, she lapses again, but only for a few moments.

"Ava, I … I need your help. I need … a bit of a reverse of the usual. I need you to help as a liason between myself and the NYPD, through PCB." Roni sighs. "I am going to have to talk to people, and I need to be sure I'm not dismissed out of hand."

The tawny security chief nods before hearing the full request and regards the doctor subordinately, giving her space to let her thoughts out at her own pace. "Are you ready to tell me what else is going on now?" she broaches.

Veronica's dark eyes lift to meet Ava's, and she shies away, then returns a bit later, exhaling gustily. "I … I guess so." Damnit, she doesn't want to do this. Least of all twice in one damned afternoon!

"Hank was out there today because he caught onto a problem. Animal attacks on people nearby or in the Zone. The latest was a family of five, all slaughtered save one: a six-year-old girl, Kelli, who lost her right arm at or just below the elbow." Veronica explains. Posse knows, of course, how Roni came to be in that wheelchair of hers. Not hard to guess how closely she would identify with young Kelli.

"According to everything Hank has found, she has no family except a convicted felon in prison down south on heroin charges. So she is completely alone." And something about that haunts the Hells out of Veronica.

Ava takes the news stoically, perhaps more than the doctor might hope, though it's enough for a light to go on in her head. "So that's what's got you distracted? You're mind's on that girl?"

"After a fashion, absolutely." Veronica answers honestly. "I intend to approach her doctors, and provide her one of our new generation of civilian arms, gratis." Of course she does. That will come as no surprise at all to Ava. But the next might. "I've also called my lawyer, to begin research into the necessities to qualify for adoptive guardianship."

The first part is so expected Ava doesn't even react but the second half makes her eyebrow creep visibly up the woman's head. "…You mean foster her or permanently adopt?"

"I suspect I'll have to do one, before the other." Veronica answers by way of answering, if not the best way possible. Not nearly as clear as Roni usually is about details. It is the woman's stock in trade, after all. "Such as that is."

"Really? You're going to pick up and adopt her out of the blue? Isn't that putting a lil' much on your shoulders?" the cyborg asks skeptically.

Veronica shrugs those shoulders. "She has no one, Ava. Not evne an aunt, like me. No one left in this world. And if she goes into the foster care system as a handicapped, special-needs child she will almost certainly not be adopted, and be most unpopular, hard to find long-term stable placement. Someone has to do something. And I'll not just pass the buck. I know better than most the agony that girl is going through. And I can help. I have to try."

Ava's jaw sets at the mental image painted by the auburn doctor and she shakes her head dourly. "You're not talkin sense, Roni. She'd make a mess of both of ya. Give her the arm gratis, with the swap-outs and maintenance until she grows into a permanent one. That's what you can do well for her and it'll make her a damn sight easier to adopt out."

"But we both know, Ava, that fixing her arm is barely the beginning of what that girl faces." Veronica answers firmly. She has not been moved from her conclusion. "I will NOT leave this to 'the system'. I can do research as well as anyone, and I know what lies ahead of her if I do. I can't, I won't do that." But she will not deny that she feels herself harshly ill-equipped for the task at hand.

"So do you plan to start living in your Augmenta suit so you can keep up with her and carry her around?" Ava asks bluntly, loosing her first arrow upon the idea.

Veronica smirks and shakes her head. "Of course not. I'll have to hire help. A nanny, or something. Someone to be the running legs I'll often not be able to be. Someone to be there when I can't be." She may be an awful parent, but she's going to at least try her best. This isn't just about a gesture here.

"That sounds an awful lot like adopting her to someone else. You'd rent a parent for her?" Ava questions, unimpressed.

"Lots of people have to hire help, Ava. I'd rather someone more permanent, someone else she can bond with, find stability in. Not just a babysitter." Veronica snorts and shakes her head. "It's not as if I am going to do something stupid like get married so I can have another parent for her, to help." She clearly finds that idea patently ridiculous. "I would be happy to back off and let her be placed with someone else, if someone else was there. If someone else was interested. But there is no one else. So what the Hells do you expect me to do, Ava? Nothing? Leave that girl alone with her torture, her loss? What the f**k kind of doctor does that make me, willing to treat her physical injury but content to ignore the rest of her needs and care?"

"It makes you a smart one," the cyborg answers immediately back. "Not a dumbass cherry med school grad who thinks if she just 'does it all right' she can fix everyone perfectly every time. You know better than that Roni, I /know/ you do. You're a helluva lot smarter than me but you're letting emotions get the best of ya."

Grabbing the visitor chair in front of her, Ava walks around its arm and eases herself down with a sigh before looking across the table eye-to-eyes. "You lost your parents in a car crash. Hers got /torn apart/, screaming, probably right in front of her. That is one hell of a big shock and it's gonna' fuck her up the rest of her life. A crippling fear a' dogs will be the least of her issues," she explains with pitiless directness, but a glimmer of sympathy in her lone olive-colored eye. "You're retired. You don't have a day job, so yeah, I'm sure you'll be able to give her all the patience, attention, and stability that she needs." Ava allows silence to lapse before continuing, letting her dead-panned sarcasm sink in. "Come on, doc', use that brain a' yours and think. You spend your whole life rebuilding people, and you work at it the hardest I've seen since leaving the Army. How much of that would you have to give up just to try to make it work, with hired help, and still only be halfway in her life? You can give her a phone number to keep in touch and still be Aunt Roni and her doctor without gamblin your life on it."

"Right now, Ava, she's f**king homeless. Call me? Really? With WHAT?!" Veronica answers. Does she get the sarcasm? Hell yes. She has known Ava longer than anyone in this whole damned campus. Six years they have been together. Anyone else talked to her like this, Roni would probably fire them. She wouldn't throw them out the window, but maybe out of the building.

Even if she had to summon her suit to do it.

"You keep telling me I can't do it, Ava. Fine, smartypants. Let's say I can't. I call bullshit, but maybe you're right. I'm sure as Hell scared I can't." Honesty. Veronica is raw, and she's just barely in control of how angry she is right now. "So you tell me what I do. Not what I don't do. Screw that. What do I do to help this girl? To give her a chance? And if you say nothing, get out. Get out, and don't come back until you have something better than 'don't even try'."

If anything, Roni giving vent to her mood seems to hold the amputee calm. It's easy to see she has a lot to let out and, just maybe, Ava is coaxing her a little. Holding a steady gaze, the white-haired woman takes a calm breath while sorting her thoughts. "First, do what you said: take care of the body you're well-equipped to handle. That will be night and day for an adoption to know those costs are covered - heck get your lawyer to put it in writing so they've got a signed guarantee. Track her throughout the process and setup so she's got your address, number, whatever else. She'll be under your care for months anyway just healing from everything that went down and going through rehab; she ain't disappearing tomorrow on ya."

"Then you do what ya can to improve her odds with the foster system. What is she - white, black, brown, purple?"

"From pictures and names, I'm guessing mixed-race, white and hispanic. But I don't know." Veronica hasn't met her, after all. "But how do I improve her odds in the system, Ava? Without stepping in and taking her myself, I have no influence there. No way to make anything better." Indeed, there are those who would scream bloody murder at her stepping in and offering the medican care and advanced prosthesis she is offering, since it will be an advanced prototype, not just a consumer grade model of the existing line. There are those who will assume Roni is doing this to get a human guinea pig, not because she sees a tragic little girl in need and wants to help. CFS may even deny her the opportunity to help.

"You can point good parents at her," Ava responds simply. "Advertise. Put the word up around RESCUE - we're full of people who've dealt with fucked up things. And…" here, the cyborg actually hesitates and glances back to ensure the door is shut behind her. "There's another thing you could do but ya didn't hear it from me."

Veronica glances at the door, and by habit checks the telltale in her smartglasses to be sure the lock is engaged and the privacy screen is on, blotting out any chance of anyone overhearing from outside this room. Also that no listening devices have been detected. "OK. What's that?" she inquires. Advertising? She could do that. That isn't impossible. Weird, maybe. But not impossible.

"Tell the media. Let 'em break a sob story and she'll have a hundred offers before she's clear to be discharged," Ava explains. "If the public picks it up they'll pressure NYPD to help with those dog-things too."

Veronica considers that for a bit. She doesn't respond right away. When she does, finally, she nods. "OK. We don't want any of our prints on that. We'll put together what we have on the story, find a way to get it to the right reporter very, very anonymously. Probably then spread a lesser packet around to a lot of others. Get them all involved." She can clearly see why Ava needs to have no connection to any such thought as that. "I don't love the idea of pushing at the NYPD on this. But you're right, that will be a side-effect."

"If official channels work it won't matter, but I'm not above hardball to get them doin' their jobs," Ava remarks once again with pitiless bluntness. "They've got more mission than resources and if this a kick that helps the suits with the checkbooks accept that you can't write square miles of indian country as contained just by putting a fence around it, I won't shed a tear. But what matters is how it helps the girl."

"Maybe we can put Tamara to use," she considers. "She's known to be a money-grubbing merc and if she takes a cut from the reporters for breaking the story… nobody looks twice."

Veronica listens to all of that and lets it percollate for a while. "I'm … not sure I want to do that to Neena and give her conflicting boundaries. But your point is well made, Ava, and I'm not ignoring it, either. So, you think we should put the word out here at the company. And then push the story publicly." She nods, clearly ruminating. "So, I make it clear I have every intention of pushing the issue, but not so that she becomes my ward. Just because I have a vested interest in seeing her taken care of. And keep pushing until the right match is found. Including counseling, supportive family, the works."

"You're not… "pushin"," Ava clarifies thoughtfully as she crosses her arms flesh over metal. "You're enabling and makin' it easier for an adopter. And don't worry so much about gettin a bad adoptive family, the money's all in fosterin. Adopters *pay* to get hids, they're the more clean-cut ones."

Veronica considers this input as well, and nods. "Alright. Those seem like good points." A part of her almost feels a loss, really, at giving up on the idea of adopting Kelli. But if it is for the best of the girl, the doctor cannot help doing anything, everything required. Even giving up no something she never considered before. Never knew she could even care about. There honestly is a real well of sadness there, but she does not allow herself to get sucked in. "Alright. Those are solutions I can support." So why is she so much more sad now?

"Glad I could talk sense back to ya," Ava nods in assent to the doctor's conclusion before smiling in empathy. Roni isn't the only one who's learned how to read what's across the table. "Your big ol' heart's all hung up on her, isn't it?"

Veronica frowns, considering, and then shrugs. "A bit, I guess. Like I said, I have never in my life even had reason to consider ever having a kid. But when I realized what she needed, that I couldn't just let it go be someone else's problem … I had to open myself up to the possibility." She sighs. "Now … it feels weird, letting that possibility go."

"Yeah I've heard parenthood can be a trip," the green-eyed bionic muses as she lets her gaze drift across the wall, noting only vaguely the educational pedigree on display. "But it ain't for everyone and there's a whole wide roster of parents who ain't cut out for what they're doin. Besides you're actin like this one little girl you've never even met is the only sob-story you might, possibly adopt some day and get along with," Ava notes as her eye returns and hangs vaguely critically upon the doctor. "You could foster twenty kids at once and not even clean out this city. Trim off the druggies, abuse victims, and the ones with rap sheets, and you're still overwhelmed. Amputees-only? There's a fair few floatin around the country and if you want more, you can import."

"But you already spend most of your day rebuildin lives, doc - and really, that's not good enough for ya?" the cyborg remarks with a disbelieving grin, pausing to let her question sink in. "How many kids have you rebuilt at this point?"

Veronica's eyes widen a bit at Ava's take on the subject. "A bit over four thousand." she admits, answering the last question. Not all in the US by far, but that's the vast majority. "But not nearly all of them, nor almost any of them as well as I want." That one Ava knows well: Roni wants to do for all of them the level of what she has done for Ava herself. Or more!

"I just … I never considered children, Ava. Ever. It wasn't even a possibility to question." There is something there. Something more. But she doesn't say it. Roni has said what she believes explains it all, even though it barely touches the surface. It's like her tech on the first pass.

It's the cyborg's turn to be rocked back as she gets her answer, though she schools her expression quickly enough. A smile slips out as Ava sighs, bittersweet. "Yeah I know. And now you want that one."

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