ArchivedLogs:Communication Is Architecture

From X-Men: rEvolution
Communication Is Architecture
Dramatis Personae

Jackson, Lucien, Micah, Parley, Iolaus, Reg

5 November 2013

Psychic medical testing! And...oops. (Part of Infected TP.)


<NYC> The Mendel Clinic - Lower East Side

With its sharp crystalline edges and sleek lines knifing up into the sky, this building is one of the most /distinctive/ new additions to the neighborhood. An angular structure in glass and steel, the tall tower has a deceptively slender look to it that is belied by the heavy security as soon as you enter the doors. The front doors are frosted with the Clinic's logo -- a rising sun over a rod of Asclepius -- a motif echoed in many places throughout the building.

Visitors to the clinic must first pass through a small mantrap, guarded by some of the Clinic's security guards; once they make it through the metal detector and airlock's double doors they emerge into the much more hospitable lobby. With dark wood floors underneath and comfortable black and red couches at its edges, the high windows give the room an airy feel. A bank of elevators to one side carry visitors to the many destination floors, while the wide welcome desk at the other side is manned by a security guard ready to help point visitors in the right direction.

  • (Jax --> Lucien): We're pretty sure there's some weird neurological stuff going on with this sickness.
  • (Lucien --> Jax): Oh?
  • (Lucien --> Jax): What tipped you off about that? Was it the people trying to eat each other?
  • (Jax --> Lucien): Well, yeah, the anger helped.
  • (Jax --> Lucien): But the language issues came first and those were weird too.
  • (Lucien --> Jax): Language issues?
  • (Jax --> Lucien): People who are infected seem to have a lot of weirdness around language. Forgetting words or repeating them.
  • (Jax --> Lucien): I know a man who is psionic and said that something strange was going on mentally when it came to the words people were stuck on.
  • (Lucien --> Jax): Strange how?
  • (Jax --> Lucien): Just strange. Weird mental static. Like their brain just stopped for a bit? I don't know.
  • (Lucien --> Jax): Like a seizure?
  • (Jax --> Lucien): Maybe? Actually I was kind of texting you in hopes maybe you could try and see.
  • (Jax --> Lucien): The psionic friend I mentioned is working with Io at the clinic to look into this, if there is a heavy neurological component they might want all the help they can get if they're going to figure out what's going on.
  • (Jax --> Lucien): So far we've noticed the bizarre behavioral changes, the repetition of words, the weird fugues.
  • (Lucien --> Jax): Also the coming back to life after they've died?
  • (Jax --> Lucien): Also that.
  • (Jax --> Lucien): A couple words in particular. Sorry. Night. Water.
  • (Jax --> Lucien): If it is doing something weird brain-wise maybe you can help look into it.
  • (Jax --> Lucien): Does your power work on the dead?
  • (Lucien --> Jax): Not generally, no. This case might be exceptional.
  • (Lucien --> Jax): I suppose we will find out.
  • (Jax --> Lucien): Maybe. The ones who are mutants seem to keep use of their powers. That's kind of exceptional, too.
  • (Jax --> Lucien): At any rate you might could come down here and see.
  • (Jax --> Lucien): Just -- please don't die.
  • (Lucien --> Jax): If there's one thing I have gotten very good at, it is not dying.

Despite all the strange reports of disease popping up over the city, for many New Yorkers, their lives are not that unusual. Feeling a little under the weather, perhaps, but the subways still run, businesses are still open for business, and tourists still skitter all over the city like insects on some rotten fruit. Not all businesses are open, though, and the dark lights of the Mendel Clinic make it almost as if its opening day yesterday was but a dream. The doors are locked, and though a security guard sits inside, the large notice on the front door gives reason for the bolts and lights: The Mendel Clinic is CLOSED due to the public health emergency.

That suits Reg just fine, all things considered. Many bodyguard shifts are not difficult - even some of the guard shifts are not overly complex - but sitting with his legs up on the table, X-ray machine off, watching television on a laptop propped up on the table in front of several security camera screens? That kind of work, he'll gladly do, even with overtime.

Tap tap tap. Tap tap tap. It's rhythmic-steady but it isn't the thudding of a ZOMBIE trying to get inside. It's the polite rap of Lucien's knuckles against the door. For all the chaos outside he's dressed neatly -- if more casually than usual. Black corduroys and a trim black peacoat make for an uninteresting profile. He's kind of /side-eying/ the next block up, where a lone figure is walking farther down the street with an odd shuffling gait.

He taps a little bit more quietly. Knock, knock. Hello Reg.

Micah is immensely happy to be out of the house, not having left it in over a day. There just aren't many places he can justify going, considering his potential to expose people to his maybe-fatal illness. Even in coming to the mostly abandoned clinic, Micah's face is concealed behind a bright yellow surgical mask dotted in bouncing Tiggers. His messy hair is hidden under a brown-green newsboy cap, his hands under a pair of gloves striped in a gradient from black to light green, and an olive canvas jacket is buttoned up over his faded, patched jeans. A bottle of hand sanitizer hangs from a clip off of one belt loop.

Micah breaks stride when he sees another person at the door, his frown mostly obscured by mask. He approaches at a slower speed, trying to give the other man time to pass through the door before he gets there.

Parley is already here, inside the clinic. He's probably actually wearing scrubs at the moment, as he hadn't had much chance to pack before leaving the apartment the day before, dark-rimmed glasses perched on his nose and hair tied back in vague messy little nub of a pony tail. A clean bandage on the side of his neck. Also, probably an ID badge to give him temporary and likely highly limited clearance. Clearance that leaves him to roam mostly... the lobby area. He has vague underslept shadows under his eyes. But then, that /also/ may as well be going around.

Having just washed his hands, he's hurrying along their drying with brief little shakes, head tipped to the side to peer out the door at who is arriving.

The guard peers at the cameras for a minute before putting his legs down on the floor and pressing a buzzer underneath the table. The door makes a brief hum and clicks open, even as Reg stands up and walks over to open it. "Lucien. You know we're closed, right?" he says, giving him a wary look. Micah gets one too, and a second when Reg spots the mask on his face. "Micah." he says, nodding once, then looking back and forth between the two men. He steps slightly to one side, holding the door open enough for the two men to enter the little security lobby, "What are you guys doing here?"

Down at the end of the block, the figure turns, watching Micah approach the clinic and then changing path to start heading that way.

"My sister is locked in your basement," Lucien points out mildly. "And Jackson texted me telling me to come by. He thought I might be of use. Micah. Hello. How are your children faring?" He turns, for a moment, after the door has opened, lips pressing thin as he watches the slowly approaching figure. And then steps inside, hands folding behind his back. "These doors have been built to weather quite a lot, n'est-ce pas?" His brows furrow as he looks deeper into the lobby, watching Parley with absent thoughtfulness in his expression and no change in the glassy still-waters tranquility of his mind. "-- We have met."

Once he is addressed directly, Micah does come closer, though he remains an arm's reach away from Lucien and Reg as he makes his way inside. "Hey, Reg. I just came t'collect Jax. I...might be a little early. Sittin' 'round the apartment all the time's like t'make me completely bonkers soon enough, so I kinda rushed leavin'." He nods to Lucien. "Hi, hon. They're...not great. Spence is sick an' his teleportin' is goin' nuts. Can't keep 'im in one place much unless he's sleepin'. Fortunately some of the cold meds. make 'im drowsy. The twins are at the school an' still sick an' out of it. Shane bit a teacher. It's...not good." As if to emphasize this point, Micah has a brief coughing fit, his arm coming up to cover his face in spite of the mask already there. "Desi's here?" he asks once he is able to breathe normally again.

"--Once. It's Lucien, isn't it?" Parley flicks his eyes towards Lucien's face - a rapid cross shape, up and down, back and forth to either eye - while stepping forward and past, to put his back to either arriving men to look once out the window. Then back around to Micah, his mouth compressing at the cough. "... do you have it as well?"

Reg gives Lucien a slow look, a brief frown tugging at his forehead. "Yeeeeah, I guess visiting your sister is a good enough reason as any." His eyes glance up, and he takes a step back away to the desk as Micah starts coughing, heading back to apply hand sanitizer liberally to his hands. "Supposedly they'll contain a bomb going off in here from making its way into the main lobby, and same with bullets. Not sure I believe it, but the glass looks strong enough, and the airlock doors are certainly heavy enough to feel like they could shrug off almost anything you could throw at them."

Reg gives the three men a brief smile, and picks up a phone, dialing quickly. "Hey Doc, you've got visitors. Micah and Lucien are here." A pause, and the guard looks up at the other men for a moment before he nods. "Alright. I'll send them down." With that, he hangs up the phone and stands once more. "I'm to send you guys down to the isolation labs. Iolaus is down there - so's Jax."

"Shane bit a teacher. Not Bastian. Mmm." Lucien's eyebrows briefly raise at this. The metal detector beeps in protest when he moves through it, and he turns briefly to eye it and then eye Reg. "A bomb. Good. I doubt you'll have that much trouble."

Though outside there is a slow-moving man coming into view; dressed kind of like a hobo in many tatty layers, he's too-pale, his gait stiff and his eyes vacant-blank as he turns for the door and just -- crashes into it. Thud.

"Desi is here," Lucien agrees, mildly as though this were not happening just outside. "Yes, Lucien. And you are Parley. You must be the one Jackson mentioned was here to help." He heads further in, glancing towards the elevators with a questioning lift of eyebrows. "Which floor?"

Micah gives Reg a sheepish look when he moves for the hand sanitizer, answering Parley at the same time. "Hi, Parley. An' yes. It was almost inevitable. My whole family's got it, an' half the buildin' on top of that. I've only had it a few days, though. Still at the flu-like symptoms. Ain't had any of the confusion or gettin' stuck on words or tryin' t'bite people yet. So, prob'ly you're okay on the I-won't-attack-you front. But should prob'ly not touch me. I'll keep my gloves an' mask on, too. I've been keepin' m'self locked in as much as possible. Ain't lettin' Jax take the train home, though...s'bad enough he's comin' t'work at all. I ain't convinced he's as better as he thinks he is." He winces, looking at the door as the man runs into it, then forcing himself to look away and follow Lucien. "How's she been holdin' up? Desi?"

"Shane..." The name is breathed out, " could be from added stress over Daiki-kun," Parley murmurs vaguely, hanging back by the door for a moment longer to reach out for a brief sample taste of the slowmover's mind, head tipped down and to the side. "Though I wonder," whups, he turns around to fall in along behind the trio, hands loosely tucked into the pockets of his scrubs. He wears them rather comfortably, like he may as well have his initials monogramed on the breast. "if those that are more naturally aggressive wouldn't have more daily experience controlling it. --I'll be watching you." He says this to Micah, sort of a dry tease, not energetic enough to smile with it. But also sort of not teasing. Because he's fluttering a small << (here.) >> touch to Micah's mind. Probably more polite to let him know he's being monitored.

"And at this point, even saying what is or isn't going to end up helping is a grab bag. The disease seems to target some aspect of the human psionic center." He's idly watching Reg move away from the phone. " so many things the what, and how and why is still..." Well. He doesn't really need to finish that sentence, does he. Frown.

Reg ushers the little crowd into the security airlock, pulling the heavy door shut behind them before he opens the one into the main lobby. It is brightly lit and warm, with comfortable couches and a reception desk. It is also barren of people, and still looking as new as if it might as well have just come out of the packing. Which, to be fair, it did. Reg leads them to the elevator and presses the down button. He does not follow them into the elevator, though he does hold the door open for each of them. "Restricted section. Bottom floor." The guard tugs an ID card from his waist and leans into the elevator long enough to insert the card into the slot of the elevator mechanism, hit the button, and retreat from the elevator.

Outside, there's a thud, and then another, as the man slowly continues attempting to enter the clinic straight through the glass. Thump. Thump. Thump. It's slow and steady. There's nothing /in/ his mind to taste, not quite emptiness but a blank static-fuzz devoid of thought or emotion.

Lucien's walk almost keeps pace with it, unhurried as he heads towards the elevator. "On the contrary," he murmurs, "touching you seems like exactly the thing I should do. Jackson thought I might assist --" He tips a hand towards Parley, "-- in lending insight as to how this is affecting people. If you have yet to manifest neurological difficulties, watching your progression might be worthwhile." He slips into the elevator with a nod of thanks to Reg, waiting for the others before he presses the button. "I do not know how she is holding up. She is here. I have come to check. She and Daiki were close, so --" He gives a very small shrug of one shoulder, expression still neutral. "She has yet to try eating anyone." Though he's eying Parley's bandaging with suspicion. "As far as I can tell."

“That may be wise. I certainly won't object,” Micah replies to Parley with a shrug, his mind echoing the sentiment when Parley continues there. “Psionic centre? /has/ been the neuro. symptoms that were worryin' me. S'all just flu-like t'start. Then people start gettin' headachey an' confused an' really strangely caught up on certain words. Then's the aggression an' the bitin'.” He chews on his lower lip, the only sign of which is a wiggling of the Tiggers on his mask. “Vector did say that the first person he infected with what we think this is was a telepath.” He steps onto the elevator, cramming himself into a back corner to give the presumably uninfected pair a wide berth, calling a quick, “Thanks!” to Reg before the doors close.

“No!” Micah's eyes fly open wide at Lucien's suggestion of touching. “Absolutely not. What if this thing is transmitted by touch? Parley can listen in on my head without touchin' me. I ain't riskin' givin' you /this/. I'll run through whatever other kinds of tests y'want of me, but I ain't exposin' nobody if I can avoid it.” His shoulders slump with ongoing discussion of Desi and Daiki. “Oh, hon. I...wish this didn't have t'be... Not her. Not anybody. It's all horrible. many of the /kids/.”

“Neighbor.” Parley explains blandly when Lucien eyes his bandaging, leaning his back into a corner of the elevator, eyes directed up at the section above the doors where the current floor tends to be displayed. The side of his mouth twitches as Micah mentions a telepath having been involved in the birth of the disease, but for much of this exchange, the condolences, he remains only silent and listening. Or presumably listening, it’s hard not to.

He soon begins to shake his head, though, “I can watch without touching. But you say that assuming the infection isn’t transmitted psionically somehow. – That sounds mad, doesn’t it. But we can’t rule anything out at this point. You would – well, probably help more letting him do what he needs to do. If he is required to touch, if not you, it will be someone else soon enough.” He says it frank, without drama, looking up at Lucien over the top of his glasses. “Though if it’s any consolation, I don’t think it’s transmitted by physical contact. Even after being bitten, I haven’t displayed any symptoms.” The word ‘yet’ has a way of lingering in between words these days like a serpent, even when it’s not said out loud. He guesses to Lucien, “ -- Are you a healer?”

“If this thing is transmitted by touch, I suspect my exposure has been high already. Regardless of how it is transmitted, we --” Lucien tips his hand outward to Parley in indication of his words. “Will do better searching for a cure than attempting to avoid exposing one or two people. Have you noticed how quickly it has spread, Micah. If not you, perhaps that fine gentleman at the door.”

He unbuttons his jacket to shed it, now that he is in the warmth; beneath he has a dark grey button-down over a green t-shirt; beneath the unbuttoned shirt he carries a holstered handgun at his side. He folds the jacket neatly, draping it over a forearm. “Only in some circumstances. It was the suspicion of a neurological origin that prompted Jackson to direct me down here. I am --” His bright green eyes flick over Parley, slow and thoughtful. “If psionics are the engineers of this machine, I am perhaps more a sysadmin. My brother termed me a neurokinetic. I read brains. And rewrite them. But in more of a hardware capacity than software. I cannot tell what you are thinking; I can only tell what neurons are firing when you do.”

His arms fold over his chest, coat absently hugged against it. “Though as yet I know little save what my sister and Jackson have told me. Strange words, strange disorientation. Restless hungry dead. How much do you know?”

The doors to the elevator slide open as they reach the bottom floor of the clinic. The hallway is oddly barren, lit pleasantly enough, but stretching off for a ways before it reaches an end and splits off into two. The left path continues turning, a slow arching pathway that leads to a set of five small, comfortable rooms with couches and televisions, as well as a large bay window several inches thick, each looking into a room with a hospital bed and various monitoring systems, impeccably clean and sparsely furnished. A curtain hangs on the other side, ready to be pulled aside for privacy.

The other hallway leads to a sliding door that is always locked, and has an iris scanner mounted on the outside. It is emblazoned with a large red biohazard sign, and restricted to highly trained personnel only. Beyond several sets of locked doors, two sets of changing rooms, a shower, and a chemical shower lie the hot laboratory and the secure patient rooms, all safely sealed behind airlocks and negative pressure.

Jackson is down here already. Clearly hard, hard at work; he’s pulled up a chair into the hallway, though he’s not sitting in it, perched instead on the floor beside it. It’s holding his laptop -- which he’s currently also ignoring in favour of his sketchbook. He’s dressed sort of blandly, dark boots, dark cargo pants, his Lorax t-shirt underneath a rainbow hoodie -- though if there was any doubt that he is currently on duty that might be dispelled by the compact semi-automatic carbine at his side.

He doesn’t currently seem to be expecting any threats from the /elevator/, though; no doubt he’s already been informed they’re due visitors. He glances up when the elevator slides open, a brief small smile touching his glittery lips. “He -- oh wow Micah you’re -- a little early I think, um. You maybe shouldn’t --” The smile fades into worry; he glances down the hall towards the locked doors. “I mean hi. Luci. Desi’s still doing alright. Maybe a little bored.”

“Sample size of one ain't very good evidence. Sure it doesn't have a /one hundred percent/ infection rate, no matter how quick or by what method it's spreadin',” Micah insists a little grumpily. “Doesn't matter if you haven't shown signs yet. I'm just tryin' t'minimise known transmission avenues as much as possible.” Another frown shows mostly in the bunching of his eyebrows. “If you're insistin' on touchin' people /anyhow/, I'd be willin' t'let y'test at me. If it's helpful.” Not that he sounds happy about it. “I guess, since you're used t'what my head's usually like. Might make differences more obvious.”

Micah's expression brightens somewhat upon approaching Jax. “Hi, hon. I'm...yeah, it's early. Think I'm prob'ly gonna lose it /faster/ just sittin' around that apartment all the time. Might've rushed gettin' out a little,” he admits with a glance ceiling-ward, shifting his weight from one foot to the other. “I'm already sick. An' there are wanderin' bitey people outside, too, it's not like...this is any worse, really.” A gloved hand gestures vaguely down the hall when Jax looks that way.

Though attention moves passingly to Lucien's sidearm, Parley's head and eyes more intently turn to his face as he explains his ability. "/Really/." He may actually be saying 'honto ni?', but it conveys the same. When the elevator opens, he exits with one hand loosely on a hip, head tipped down low to speak at a three-quarter view. "That -- would be uniquely helpful, yes. Mnh - you've summed it up with just that: strange words, strange disorientation. The speed in which it progresses is inconsistent, but the pattern isn't. Flulike symptoms first, then they pass, and disorientation sets in. Word fixation, appetite, aggression, fugues. -- I'll never get used to seeing you carrying a gun." He breaks off to say this, when Jackson comes into view. Shaking his head briefly like 'I just can't, with this.'

Then he turns his body to facing Lucien to continue briefing, as Micah and Jackson talk, "The third stage, of course, is the strangest. Essentially, as far as I can make out, it's a prolonged and far more intense version of the fugues from the second stage. Our friend at the door upstairs," he describes a negligent gesture towards the elevator, "was there. Hunger. And nothingness. They stop responding to the trigger words. Or any language at all. They only seek to… consume. For no discernible reason either - their metabolism is entirely shut down." He's turned his eyes to watching Micah and Jackson, or looking through them. And seems compelled to add, as if from a great distance, "…They do have minds. Somewhat. But they're rudimentary. Fleeting. Empty. They have no want, no intention. No language."

“Word fixation.” Lucien echoes this with a puzzled furrow of brows, stepping out of the elevator and then pausing. Those brows hike upwards, his eyes skimming over Jackson -- lingering on the gun -- with a briefly startled look to murmur in agreement with Parley, “-- It /does/ rather jar, doesn’t it? /Have/ you ever actually shot someone?”

He moves down the hallway closer to Jackson’s chair, his fingers loosely twining together behind his back. “They do still have minds?” This sounds like it surprises him, as well. “Functional ones? Can you --” He unfolds his hands, fingers uncurling towards Parley’s head. “Reach them? Do they respond to you? -- How long,” this time it’s to Jax and Micah both, “since the both of you fell ill?” He’s apparently just -- glossing over the rest of Micah’s protest about touching and transmission.

“S’there one here now?” Jax tips his head up to look up at the ceiling. There’s no alarm at this thought -- given its purpose, this clinic has been constructed /sturdily/ -- but just a brief cataloguing note before he turns his attention back to the others. “S’... kinda worse,” he says with a faint wince, “down here it’s people you /know/.”

His nose crinkles up as he looks down at the gun. “... Yeah, is kinda weird ain’t it? An’ no, I’ve shot it /plenty/ in trainin’ but I don’t really never -- /expect/ to need to out here. S’kinda as a backup? I mean, /I’m/ more accurate an’ quicker on the draw. But pullin’ a trigger takes less energy, I guess, if somethin’s happened an’ I’m run low. Would take a lot, though. You could bomb the upstairs an’ we wouldn’t barely feel it down here. An’ the coupla folks down here with us is --” He shrugs a shoulder. “Strapped down good an’ in isolation wards.” But better safe than sorry, is the absent thought that accompanies this.

“Just around Halloween for me, I guess. Day before, maybe. An’ I texted you the words we done notice.” He’s glancing between Lucien and Micah, now, teeth wiggling at a lip ring. “You been out much? Speed this thing has grown, I can’t tell if from the beginnin’ of my shift t’the end the city --” He stops, here, stumbling over the rest of his sentence with a fuzzing mental blankness accompanying. “... city. The city --” His knuckles lift to rub against his eye. “It all changes real fast.”

Micah goes quiet for a moment at the talk of shooting people, picking at the fingers of his gloves in a fidgety manner. “There's a guy kind of...runnin' himself into the doors upstairs like a moth, yeah.” He shakes his head at Jax's assertion. “'Cause it ain't like half of everybody I know is already sick with this thing. I can handle bein' here.” His hands drop, ceasing their fabric-fussing. “First started noticin' a little sore throat Friday night. Ain't been long for me. Guess that's why I'm still just kinda sniffly. And no, I ain't been out much at all. Other than here I ain't been outside our buildin' since Saturday. Too afraid of spreadin' this thing.”

Jax's stumbling over his words causes Micah's head to tilt, regarding him more intently. “'City'...might be a new one. 'Least I hadn't noticed anybody trippin' on that one before. 'Water', a couple of times. 'Weird' seems t'come up a lot. Almost thought it had somethin' t'do with 'W' for about a day 'cause of those. Then folks started gettin' stuck on sss--” The sentence trails off sibilantly, almost a hiss, but blander. His mind seems to echo the sound, though it extends it as well, almost like radio static. “Sorry, what?” He blinks once. “Sorry. That's what I meant t'say. That...isn't a good sign, is it?”

"They respond - somewhat." Parley is already pulling out a tablet from his scrubs' breast pocket, eyes sharpening on Jackson when his mind lapses. A pen is withdrawn to write something, still speaking, "Or are at least aware of it. Mental manipulation isn't my forte, but there isn't much in them to work /with/ - their response to stimuli is very base. What draws their attention, they want to eat. If they can't eat it, it loses their attention. I would hazard it would be difficult to /give/ them commands beyond that. My empathy is most sensitive to, mnh. Sentiment. Intention. And they don't /have/ intentions. They just…"

As Micah slips in his speech, he goes silent for a moment. Staring down at his paper with eyes slightly dilated. The fur down his nape slowly stands on end in something too gradual to be a shiver. "... no." He answers Micah. And animates once more, writing down 'Weird' next to 'City'. "That probably isn't good." His eyes lift upwards - to seek Lucien's. A silent question in them, flicking gaze then towards Micah.

The heavy door at the other end of the corridor - the one marked with a biohazard - slides open with a quiet hiss. Iolaus steps out, comb in hand, brushing his still-damp hair back into place. “Hello, everyone.” he says, giving them a little bit of a wave. His clothes have been substituted for light green scrubs, freshly unfolded and with creases up and down them. “Quite the crowd.” he comments, as he steps over towards the little group.

The doctor’s pace stops as his eyes fall on Micah’s mask. “Not feeling well?” he asks, voice quite calm. “Flu-like, perhaps?”

“Hm.” Lucien is quiet through these hiccups of speech, eyes flicking between Micah and Jax and his lips pressing together. Instead of greeting Iolaus, he just steps forward, reaching for the doctor’s hand to pull him over closer. He nods at Parley as he does so. “-- He has a list of words,” he tells Iolaus. “Can you say them?” His other hand moves to rest fingers at Micah’s neck. “Then you.” His touch is devoid of the habitual warmth he usually infuses into it, this time only quietly scanning the other men’s brains. Searching feelings, searching thought patterns, searching activity. “... My sister,” he adds absently to Parley. “Has a rather strong form of mind control. We might compare her results to yours. When you do -- reach for them,” he pauses as though not entirely certain what question he is trying to phrase, “-- do they feel you? Mentally?”

Jackson just winces, as Micah hitches on his words too. “-- Oh.” There’s a brief sense of dismay in his thoughts. “No, that probably ain’t --” He swallows. “But the time between that and --” He gestures back towards the door Iolaus has come from, “-- is inconsistent. Could be a while yet ‘fore -- anything more happens.” He draws in a breath. “Luci’s come to help,” he tells Iolaus. “Thought he an’ Parley might work real good together for lookin’ into -- whatever’s going on in them. Us.”

Micah just nods at Parley's affirmation. “Well, at least it's bein' predictable.” He looks up as Io enters. “Hi, Iolaus. Yes, I've been sick since Friday. I'm gettin' the feelin' the flu part'll be over pretty soon, though.” Somehow, he sounds less than excited at the prospect. When Lucien reaches for him, he flinches and initially pulls away, having developed the habit of avoiding touching recently. “Sorry, I just...ugh.” He holds still, allowing the contact. “I started off bein' here as a driver an' seem to've ended up a guinea pig.” Obediently, he waits for Iolaus to read the list of words before going through them himself. He slides through them easily, like reciting a grocery list, until hitting, “Ni--” The static fuzz kicks in where the word halts, replacing any formation of thoughts or communication, as well as all of his jumbled feelings of predominantly caution and worry and fear and protectiveness. “Night.” He finally finishes, scrunching up his nose under the mask. “Great, 'ni' is a power word now. Maybe this can all be solved with a shrubbery.”

"They feel me." Parley turns his head to mark Iolaus's entrance, stepping aside to allow him space to join (be /snagged/) into their midsts. He offers his notepad to Iolaus, where there are words written: Night. Sorry. Water. And, fresher in a different ink, City and Weird. The side of his mouth twitches up, "If I'm focusing harder, I can make them not. I have a mild psychic camouflage - in its passive form…" There is interest that sparks up in his dormant gaze, as he looks back and forth between Iolaus and Micah, and the hand Lucien has placed on either of them. The spark remains there on the surface, with a curious softening and glazing just beneath, as he steps sideways into monitoring more closely, the mechanisms of the two men's minds. "... it's not strong enough to affect them. But a stronger push, as your sister may have… mn." He breathes in and then out, pulling off his glasses to reflexively clean them on the hem of his scrubs, "Well. I guess there's no danger of exposing her twice."

“Is that a wise idea, Lucien?” Iolaus asks, following along with the other man. “Somehow, it doesn’t seem a great idea to practice on someone whose boyfriend is holding a sub-machine gun.” Clearly, it is an attempt at a joke, but it falls flat even to his own ears and he nods his head once.

Iolaus’ thoughts are distracted even despite his current experimentation, looking over the list and wrinkling his nose. << I need to get back into the lab. The MRI results should be back from the radiologist in a few minutes. >> His eyes look up and into Micah’s, beginning to read down the list, steadily. “Night. Sorry. Water. City. Weird.”

“It doesn’t seem a wise idea to me to /give/ a sub-machine gun to someone who might be prone to mental disorientation or bouts of aggression at any time, but you are running this institution, Iolaus, not I.” Lucien doesn’t look at Jackson as he says this, only letting his eyes drift half-closed and focusing on the others. “Mmm.” His mind reaches out more, here, quietly nudging at Micah’s brain when that fuzzing happens, though the static burst slips away too quickly for him to really latch on to. “Does it hurt, when you do that? I might ask it off you quite a bit more. -- Can you try that again? And then you, Iolaus.”

Parley does draw his attention back, a curious lift of eyebrows. “Psychic camouflage, how does that work? And is there any way you can --” His fingers tap lightly against the back of Micah’s neck in thought. “Highlight what he’s thinking. Amplify it?”

Jackson grimaces down at his gun. There’s an uncomfortable tension that curls through him at Lucien’s comment -- he doesn’t really /disagree/ with the notion that it’s unwise to arm him but is far more concerned with the /natural/ weaponry he is incapable of disarming. For the moment, though, he just stays quiet, sitting back and watching.

“I tried t'argue against 'im comin' t'work,” Micah agrees with Lucien's assessment. “Turns out it's a bad idea for the both of us t'be out of work at the same time when y'sit an' think about it, though.” He sighs, the mask puffing out slightly in front of his lips with the heavy breath. “An' I /really/ couldn't go t'/my/ work like this.” His head shakes back and forth slowly at Lucien's question of pain. “Doesn't hurt...just goes...fuzzy? Kinda blank. Makes it hard t'think. I can do it again.” Once more, he spills out the word list and catches on one. “W—weird. Weird. Weird.” His brows dip toward one another, the static blankness eating up his thoughts and feelings alike. As he reaches for new words, they seem to tangle and snarl like discarded thread. “I can't...weird. It's...weird. I can't...stop sayin' that. Oh. Ohgood, it stopped.” While the thoughts and feelings return from the static, there is still some tangling around verbal communication.

It's not really joyful, but Parley smiles privately to himself. << (i can) do (more)(than that.) >> As ever, it's not words he speaks in, but suggestions. Implications and sentiments. << if (you don't) think) it (would be)(distracting.) >>

At this, there is a mental sensation - it less invades than it allows Lucien to, opening up a channel to one side, here, at Lucien's mind, where he pours through cool and uncolored as liquid mercury. Then there, at the other side, flows an open blossoming field of Micah's mind. Between, the anonymous gray binds them - if only one way.

Outwardly, he's speaking on, if while leaning a hip against a wall, arms loosely crossed over his abdomen, eyes vaguely directed at a wall, "I'm quiet." Is all he explains, distractedly.

“The words, again, right? Night, sorry, water, city…” The doctor pauses for a second, frowning down at the list. “Weird.” Even as Iolaus finishes saying the list of words, a brief frown comes over his face. The parts of his mind that deal with words, with talking, briefly spasm, tripping over itself and causing him to open and close his mouth, no words immediately coming out. His mind fuzzes over for a second, and then he looks over at Lucien, blinking.

“I’m sorry, what did you say?” A pause, and he shakes his head once. “S-Sorry.” Fuzz briefly fades in and out. “That was strange. Did I say something weird?” He doesn’t repeat the word, but he does cough, once, and his eyebrows furrow. “Hm.”

Lucien’s eyes close the rest of the way, drinking in the information both from Micah directly and what Parley channels through to him. This time, when that snarl begins he reaches for it, his own mind pushing through to start to /un/snarl it.

Only to start to, though, before he is snapping his eyes back open. To look at Iolaus. Then Parley. Then Iolaus. He sucks in a slow breath through his teeth, his hand lifting from Micah’s neck to rub his palm against his cheek. “Well, now.” His voice is very soft, and still softer, in French: “{Curious.}” His hand presses against the side of his face, still. “Did you feel that?” he asks Parley, quietly. “It’s almost a shame we’ve nobody here to replicate it with.”

“Replicate? What are -- ohgosh. Io are you --” Jax’s brows furrow deep when Iolaus’s words start hitching. “... that’s new, ain’t it.” His teeth scrape against his lower lip, clicking briefly against his lip ring. “You ain’t been sick at all though, Io, you can’t be -- word-salad just yet.” He sounds more hopeful here than confident.

Lucien's attempt at unsnarling meets with some success—but only some, since it is a short-lived attempt. It is as if he grabbed the right end of the tangled string to loosen the messy clump, then let it go before it unravelled. Micah blinks repeatedly. “Huh. That was odd.” Io's words suddenly catching serves as a distraction, however. “Wait, Io... Did you have the flu part? Did...did we just make him sick? Or is he just trippin' on words because I did? What just happened?” Each question grows more concerned in tone as it leaves his lips.

When Lucien looks to Parley, he will see that Parley's eyes have snapped back into focus, now focused fully on Iolaus. One of his hands has propped itself beneath an elbow, to hold aloft one hand, to press the back of his knuckles over his mouth. "I felt it," he answers, low and uninflected. It doesn't move any other part of his fixed stare in saying it.

The connection he'd constructed, attaching Micah to Lucien, dissolves away. And instead opens up to present the structured mind of Iolaus, all neat scaffolding and sharp formed, playing back for Lucien the specific sensation of his mental spasm. The loss of word comprehension. << (it was) the (word)(Micah-san) also was (caught on)(worst.) >>

Ignoring the rest of the dialogue, he finally lowers his hand from his mouth. And raises his brows slowly. Offers lightly, "You could try it."

<< (it's like) some sort of (mental suggestion.) >> He sounds darkly impressed.

“No, no fever.” Iolaus says, frowning at the guard. “No pains, no fever. Nothing like that.” He glances backwards towards the biohazard sign on the door beyond. “And no possible contamination, either. No breaches, nothing. If I got infected, it just happened, right now.” A pause, and Iolaus’ nose wrinkles for a moment. “Well, at least I’m going to save some time going in and out of the labs.”

“As could you,” Lucien answers with a small twitch of lips upward. When he speaks mentally it is crisp and precise, the words called up to lay each one out neatly atop the glassy surface of his mind. << It is like the words themselves are infected. >>

“It is good news for all of you,” he adds in quiet murmur to Jackson and Micah, “he has all the more incentive now to try and find a treatment in short order. -- Does your child have a sitter?” His hand unfurls, gesturing back to the closed doors at the end of the hall. “Because I believe we could stand to have your company a short while yet.”

Jackson glances towards the elevator, and then down to the other end of the hall. He closes his laptop and stands up, tucking the computer beneath an arm. “Spence tends to have about a million sitters. ‘course, just about now most of ‘em might turn into flesh-eatin’ monsters at any moment, but --” He shrugs, nodding towards the doors in agreement. “Since it’s for science.”

“No,” Micah responds, soft but insistent, at the implication that other volunteers could be infected by this method. “I'm not doin' that again. If...if we just made him sick. I'm not doin' it again. I'm so, so so--” When he catches on the word this time, it is deliberate. Refraining from saying it. “I apologise.” He substitutes, grimacing at how insincere that sounds regardless of all of the sincerity in the /world/ in his voice and mind. Despite already being masked, he covers his face with his hands, remaining there for a moment taking deep breaths before looking up again. “Y'can keep testin' me an' readin' my mind or whatever. But /no one/ who isn't infected says /any/ of those words. At all. Not allowed.” He looks over at Lucien. “What was that last thing y'did? It felt less...fuzzy. For a second.” The talk of Spencer has him nodding again. “He's got plenty of sitters, if he'd stay put for 'em t'sit. Poor kid's got less control over his ability'n usual, 'less he's sleepin'. But...yeah, he has folks. I'll stay. Just /no more/ makin' other people sick.” With that, Micah follows along for a delightful evening of psychic medical testing.