2020-05-07 - Ghost In The Machine


Jemma undergoes some tweaks and meets the ghost in the machine.

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Thu May 7 08:19:29 2020
Location: RP Room 2

Related Logs


Theme Song




Type "+thelp" for help.

The blacksite labs that SHIELD runs are all a little different since they're all custom built for the project in them. The DeathLok lab is no different. It is a secured bunker that isn't attached to the Triskelion. All very clean and well lit and sleek. Jeriah and Jemma had to be physically checked for devices before they were let inside… which was silly. Jeriah can record everything and store it in his head.

"This is the room where we are going to do the procedure. Two beds. We thought Mister London might like to lie down since he will have to be patching while this happens and… that's likely to be intensive. Are there any questions?" Doctor Kisaki, the head surgeon here is asking as some of her staff prepares the small implant and the surgical tools.

Jemma is nervous about the procedure but she's doing her best to conceal it. She's bought a small bag with her, a change of clothing and some toiletries - just in case her stay is a little extended. She knows that not all surgery goes to plan and her surgery is experimental at best.

"How long do you think this will take, Doctor Kisaki? And I'm assuming you will put me under?" She's actually not sure on that - they may need her awake. She sort of hopes they don't.

Briefly her meat hand finds Jeriahs and she squeezes it for reassurance. "And how much risk is there to Jeriah in doing this? Just so we're all clear on that."

"Yes you will be under. Total time for the operation is two hours, though you'll be in recovery for another eight just so we can make sure everything is okay and then you'll want to stay home for a few days after that." They are after all going to cut a (small) hole in her head. "Risk to Mister London is low physically. But there is some risk if his implants interact with yours oddly during the operation. Since we've never done this before we don't know what kind of risk that is."

Jeriah nods and squeezes back. "It's fine Doctor. Are you ready, Jemma?"

Jemma smiles wanly and swallows - it's almost funny seeing a cyborg look ill at ease. "Not particularly but I'm as ready as I'll ever be. So pip-pip, let's to it and all that. And yes, I've taken the rest of the week off." At least she can work from home, sort of.

Changing into the robe she's given, the cyborg scientist lays out on the bed. Given the connection between hers and Jeriah's implants, she does wonder at that not that she says anything about it.

"When you're ready, Doctor, Jeriah."

"Just count back from ten then…" They push the sedatives. Everything goes fuzzy and warm and then… dark.

And then she's standing alone in a featureless black plain. She must be inside her own head. A light shows above her. A light which becomes a large progress bar that starts filling up. Jeriah is doing the updates.

"It looks like you're being patched. Need help?" It's… Clippy. Jeriah's being a jerk.

Unreasonably, Jemma would like to hold Jeriah's hand as this occurs but she doesn't reach for him. Instead she keeps her hands on her stomach and tries to relax. She doesn't reach seven before she finds herself standing in that featureless black plain. "Jeriah?" Her voice echoes about her as she turns and watches that bar. Well that's something, anyway - shouldn't she be … asleep, though?

When Clippy appears, the biochem sort of chuckles and raises her cybernetic to swat at it - blinking as she realises it's a meat hand again. Tentatively she brushes her eye and the location of the other implants, they're … gone too.


"Yes, you can." She says to Clippy, knowing it's just Jeriah being clever "… what's the coefficient of the bond for methanol and water."

Jeriah appears in Clippy's place. "That's not a thing and you know that." He says. He turns to look at the bar, that's slowly filling up. "Looks like everything is going as plann-"

There's a mechanical noise and the light of the progress bar flickers. "DEATHLOK." A machine like intonation thunders and something begins very heavily walking toward them though it can't be seen.

"Did I make you look it up?" Jemma actually smiles at Jeriah, looking like she used to. It's interesting, maybe this how she see's herself. "And it's not."

The bio-chem takes a deep breath as Jeriah looks at the bar, trusting the soldier-hacker to look after her.

"Jeriah? Are you doing that?" She asks, her voice shaking as she peers into the void and turns slowly around. Is this the 'ghost in the machine'?

"I am not." Jeriah says as he turns around. His gun appears in his hand in an instant. It's not a real gun. It's a representation of coding tools he has at his disposal, as is the power field that starts to surround him - that odd haze and halo that seem to accompany his implants.

Out of the darkness, straight at them, strides the thing that Jemma has seen before. A deathlok cyborg, a large bald man with more implants than Jemma. He makes right for the woman. Jeriah fires but it only slows him down. It doesn't stop him.

"I … didn't think so." Jemma says quietly. "And that's worrying …"

She can't remember the name of the agent that is. She can't even recall if she ever knew it at the moment. "Shooting it isn't going to help, Jeriah…" She's stammering as she thinks.

"That thing is an artifact in my implants. At least that's what I think. If it's an artifact, there has to be code for it, somewhere, right?"

It's a pity she can't just think the thing away.

"What do you want?" She asks the big bald man, even as she backs up and tries to keep distance between them.

Jeriah stops firing and sort of pushes Jemma back, falling back as this thing steadily advances at them. "Activate Deathlok protocols." The code fragment insists. "Installation incomplete."

Jeriah frowns. "You said they had to modify your implants, right Jemma? What if they didn't fully utilize their capability? I imagine using these things on a living body means that you don't have to… fill in for the personality and the conscious mind the way you would if you used it on a freshly dead person." Even if that person had been kept on life support.

Jemma is more than happy for Jeriah to push her backwards - she makes sure his body is between hers and the construct. "Yes. I did. They had to. The implants weren't designed for a living body." She's thinking on that. "It wants Deathlok protocols - that are missing. It can't be looking for its personality - but it knows something is missing."

She's thinking, going through everything she knows of the program - which, admittedly, isn't much. "If they cut things out of the programming, Jeriah, you should have stubs in what you've been reviewing. If there aren't, then it must the hardware or biomechanical connection itself."

She doesn't know and to be honest, she's terrified at the moment.

"Let me see…" Jeriah says, concentrating as he continues to backpedal. "Yes. There's something. It's in your implants and it's accessing your brain through one of the cortical connections. I can't close it because that would cut you off from the implant." There's another pause. "It's a query. It's looking for particular data in your brain. I'd say it's a failsafe. It's designed to bring a Deathlok back into a reasonably safe state in the event that the portions of the brain being used to store the personality matrix are ever damaged or degraded. It's not detecting any in you so it's trying to restore you to factory settings. But it doesn't have the files it needs to do that either so it's just… looping."

Jeriah shows Jemma what he's looking at. She's not a programmer but she has the same enhanced brain that he does or near to it. So she should be able to analyze it.

"So what's our aim here?" Jemma stutters as she reviews the data Jeriah's sharing. "We don't want the failsafes in place, right? And the Doctors had to know this was there … " Her thoughts are all over the place - they usually are. Jemma doesn't think lineally, not at all.

"We need to give it what it's looking for to settle down. Something that is triggered by an impulse in my brain. If I give you the signal, can you code something?"

"I can certainly try. Do you know what it is looking for?" The doctors probably did know it was there but code this complex isn't entirely predictable. They may have thought they had it handled. Or they may have simply not considered that their failsafe code could do this. Scientists have some amazing blind spots sometimes.

They keep backing up but can they do this forever? Jeriah gets the sense that they are going to run out of metaphysical room at some point. And if it catches Jemma… well. He isn't sure. Maybe it won't actually be able to do anything. Or maybe it'll blank her out. Permanently.

"An impulse, I imagine. In the Deathloks it would have been artificially generated, given the brain wouldn't have been producing electricity on its own. It's likely they though my own brain would provide the impulse it needed but it's possible the timing of it is too fast or too slow."

Jemma stands to create a series of formula in her mind, letting Jeriah see them, so he knows what to code for. "Tie it to that signal, but you'll have to artifically create a pulse and tie it to the interval the Deathlok is looking for."

Jemma is wondering, and Jeriah can get this easily enough, whether she should just … try to embrace this part of the code.

"Implanting you with electronics probably threw it off." Jeriah mutters as he seizes upon the formula and starts to code. The image disappears from sight and when it reappears it is much closer. It bats Jeriah out of the way and reaches for Jemma.

"Activate Deathlok Protocols." It insists loudly and mechanically. At that moment Jeriah triggers the signal. It's a bit of a rushed job and he hopes to hell it works because if it doesn't he's going to have to engage in code warfare in her head.

"Don't worry about commenting it. You can do that later. And what do you mean, implanting me with electronics? Oh, the brain augments? That's possible. It's also possible that my brain just works a bit faster than others."

Or not the same, anyway.

As the construct reappears, Jemma yelps in surprise and dances back, only to find she can't go any further. Yes, she's run out of room.

When Jeriah is batted, the small woman swallows her fear and blocks the next the grab at her. For Jeriah, he can see all the lessons he's given her, all the training she's done with SHIELD run through her mind. It's … automatic.

"Now see here. You belong to me and I don't belong to you. Now behave…"

Jeriah can see the synapses fire, see his code trigger and send the signal to the Deathlok construct. Does it accept it? Jemma sure hopes so.

There's a long, long moment. It is, in reality, probably only fractions of a second long, but here in this semi-simulated mindspace with things being measured in millions of computer cycles even a fraction of a second can stretch off into eternity. Actually… being kept prisoner in your own computerized mind would be hell. A few minutes could be made to seem like decades.

"Protocols accepted." It says and ceases its attempt to grab Jemma by the throat. As it fades the progress bar for the updates reappears and starts to move again, and Jeriah gets up rubbing his side like his ribs hurt.

Jemma holds her breath. Or at least the representation in her mind does that. When the construct starts to fade, the biochem lets out a shakey breath and she bends to help Jeriah get up.

"You you you did it…." she's stammering and looking around the black void that is … her mind? "How badly hurt are you?" To her it was all very, very real. "Do you think it's gone for good? And it was failsafe? It's horrifying. What would it have done if it got me?"

"Sort of?" Jeriah prods his side and… ow. "You did it more or less, I just wrote the code. And I have no idea. We'll have to keep an eye on it and see if it falls into the same loop again." As to what it would have done? He doesn't know. He doesn't know what fragments of the original programming that routine had at its disposal. It might have done nothing but… that's not a chance that felt smart to take.

"Hurt? Not at all really but I'll have a headache when I wake up I'm sure." After all the injury is entirely in his head. Er. Her head. Whatever. The progress bar nears completion and Jemma can sense something being added to her system. That filter, or router that was being described to her earlier. Things get a bit… quieter in her head.

"I couldn't have done it, Jeriah. I just gave you the input to use, you had to write that code and make it work with the mish mash of stuff that is there." Jemma actually leans against the hacker soldier as he talks, frowning a bit. "At least we're in a facility where you'll get good drugs?"

Watching the progress bar, the biochem winces - not because it hurts but because the sensation is strange. "Can you feel it?" She asks quietly, letting out a slow breath. Jeriah feels her relax - it's like she's been holding herself engarde all this time.

Can you still hear me?

"Not the same way you can but I can tell it's there." Jeriah says and smirks slightly at Jemma. "Yes I can hear you, yes I've still got an open channel. How do you think we are talking right now?" Because they aren't actually face to face. He's sort of taken over her REM sleep to manifest like this.

So yeah, he's still there.

"I'd say that was successful. I'd wager that you're going to be waking up with cotton mouth and a bit of a headache in the not very distant future."

"Oh, right. I … thought you might have a direct patch in." Jemma murmurs, embarrassed by the chiding. "As long as you're there when I wake, it will be ok. And then we can see what's been wrought."

Jeriah is right, Jemma starts waking. Her head … well it doesn't it hurt yet, the drugs are still working.

Jeriah sort of fades the way a dream does and soon she's blinking her eyes and opening them. She's awake. And yes, she has cotton mouth. Jeriah is sitting in a chair nearby looking at data on his HUD and monitoring her vitals via her implants. When she comes to he turns in his seat and smiles.

Welcome back. Try not to move, you've got some stitches in the back of your head. Not a big incision but you'll probably feel it as the anesthesia wears off. Speaking of, how are you feeling?'

Jemma's eye flutters as the cyborg awakes, her metal hand flexes on the sheet and she offers Jeriah a weak smile. He can't miss the moment of disappointment that spikes through the link.

Hi. It's almost shy, the way she responds. You're still here … I'm … pleased. Blinking again, the biochem blows out a long slow breath Muzzy. No pain but that will change in a bit. I can see I'm still a cyborg. How's your head….?

Hurts. But I'll live. Just lay back and rest. They'll be in with some pain killers for you soon and you'll probably want to sleep again. Later they can stress test the new addition. But for now it's just that this went off without a hitch.

More or less.

Jemma reaches for Jeriah's hand to hold, not moving her moving her head even though she wants to nods. Tell me a story and I'll rest. She'll doze off, holding his hand - at least for the next little bit.

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