2012-12-03: All The King's Horses


Echo_icon.jpg Kai_icon.jpg

Summary: Old acquaintances meet in Barnes. Kai isn't very happy to see her again. They even disagree on pronouns.

Date: December 3, 2012

Log Title: All the King's Horses

Rating: R

Barnes Academy - Medical Center

The name medical 'office' rather undersells what his, in essence, a state of the art, high-tech and extremely well stocked medical bay and treatment center. There are always orderlies and nurses in attendance to handle minor injuries and a doctor is always on call for more serious problems. In addition to a locked medicine storage facility, there are modules for isolating patients, a (hopefully never used) cryogenic storage and stasis module for preserving life (or bodies) when the local team can't stabilize a patient and a pair of ten bed infirmary modules attached to the main area. Each bed and exam table is equipped with the latest Stark-tech diagnostics gear.

The medical center of Barnes Academy is clean and sterile, as a good doctor's office should be. But in one of the sterile quarantine chambers, behind inch-thick reinforced glass, sits a woman with shoulder length dark hair, a sour expression on her face, and one steel grey eye staring piercingly at the SHIELD technician tapping on a tablet computer. Her chest cavity is hinged open, several thick cables plugging into the dark grey mechanical innards revealed there. Schematics and computer code scroll quickly over the technician's tablet, and the woman doesn't look happy about it.

Having done some damage to himself during a training session earlier Kai's left his room to go patch himself up. A little damp from a shower he's dressed in his blue and grey uniform and a grey peaked beanie, crossing over to the medical supplies he spots someone in the quarantine rooms. Walking over he spots a familiar face and quickly takes a step back as he recalls where he's seen them.

The woman in the cell's head inclines slightly, her single good eye finding Kai and lingering there. She lifts her right hand, index finger and thumb extended, pointing at him. "Bang," she says with a slight smile. So, she recognizes him as well.

Kai's eyes flick to the open chest and the technician's tablet, "That explains your strength at least, android", he continues to look over the readings analyzing the parts he can understand, "I assume there's no biological parts to you?". Echo may have seriously injured him in the past but you don't show signs of weakness to something like that so for now the 'Bang' is ignored.

"You know her?" the technician asks, looking up from his tablet in surprise. He's in the middle of this exchange, after all. He looks to be on the verge of answering Kai's question but stops himself. Clearance levels, after all. The little nametag on his lab coat says 'Guerrera'. His eyes move to Kai and then back to Echo. "You know him?"

"We've met," replies Echo, the self-satisfied little smile never leaving her lips. "Greenpoint Telenational Bank. April 17th. I see you survived."

"I always survive", Kai looks to the technician, "Briefly yes, am I right with android?", he knows these sciencey types, sometimes you can get them to talk regardless of clearance, they just love to talk. Back to Echo, "I'd be impressed by your memory if it didn't come from a robotic brain".

The tech still doesn't look so sure about answering questions, but Echo nullifies that point of contention. "I don't have any biological components," she answers. Not content to let the story go unexplained, she adds, "A bank robbery. $38,000 taken. One on-scene fatality." Her steely eye fixes on Kai. "And one casualty."

With the technician having taken some sudden vow of silence Kai does as Echo does and ignores him, "And yet you're the one with the hood up being poked at in a quarantine booth, bite off more than you could chew?". He nods at the Technician and asks Echo, "What's the point of him?"

"I'm volunteering for this," the android says a little sharply, her good eye narrowing. She shifts slightly in her seat but the mass of connected cables prevent her from moving except with extreme care. "In good faith. You're examining my operating system, yes?"

"Uh," Guerrera says, still unsure but clearly going along with the flow. "Yeah. Before we can connect her to the mainframe for a deep analysis, I gotta make sure she's not carrying any viruses or intrusive programs."

"Plus he finds me fascinating," Echo adds with a smirk directed more at Kai than at Guerrera.

"It's here of its own free will? You people are idiots", Kai is a trained spy and something here doesn't sit right, "So you have an android here with criminal aspirations who wants to be here and you're going to connect it to Barnes mainframe, isn't that where a lot of our details and SHIELD information is held?", he shakes his head, "You're straight up giving it access to what most of the staff and students couldn't access if they wanted to". They find it 'fascinating' he's not even got a species name, would be nice if they put half as much effort into giving him a clue what he is.

The technician seems to take offense at this. "Actually, *she* was brought in disabled and non-functional by one of our own students, Mike Drakos, who vouched for her. Trust me, the mainframe is heavily protected. We just need to use some of its processor power to speed up the analysis." He stabs at the tablet screen a few times with more vigor than is strictly necessary. "Believe me, she's not allowed to wander around freely. That cell is a Faraday cage so there's no radio communication either, in or out." He lowers the tablet. "We know what we're doing."

"You say that but you never saw me coming, if I hadn't switched sides this place might be HYDRA territory by now", Kai half smiles, "*It* is smarter than you I'd wager, then again I'd have assumed that an organization which focused on intelligence would be better at protecting it", he looks at the technician, "Arrogance gets you no where".

"I'm not a spy," Echo interjects in a dry deadpan, as if that settles the matter entirely. "If anything, I'm a prisoner."

Kai rolls his eyes, "Again that's what I used to say". "A prisoner is someone held against their will, you said yourself, you *want* to be here", he shrugs, "You'd figure the smartest way to figure it out would be just to take it apart".

"No, I don't want to be here. I'm volunteering because resistance would be counterproductive." Echo shrugs back, mimicking Kai. "I'm already in custody and at this point an armed escape is highly unlikely." As if to say she would try if she could, but can't.

"There's still the question of sentience," the technician counters. "And detailed physical examination and psychological evaluation. Would you like it if we took you apart and couldn't put you back together again?"

"Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall," the android in the cell says cryptically.

"If you had reason to you could, though I wouldn't make it easy", Kai frowns he didn't grow up with nursery rhymes so doesn't understand their meaning but makes a note of it, "It's mechanical, any apparent understanding or personality it has was programmed".

"That's what you might think," Guerrera says, softening his tone considerably. "But we see things like this happen all the time. Specifically because of the neural architecture of the processors. Once you build a machine that knows how to learn, eventually it's going to learn things you didn't intend it to." He lowers the tablet and looks into the cell. Echo stares back at him, expression blank. "It happens often enough that SHIELD has manuals on how to deal with it, procedures in place, forms that need to be filled out."

"This is for your own pleasure isn't it, it already said you're fascinated by it, you want to see it in operation, see how it reacts not just how it works, like a child with a toy". Kai is neither harsh or polite, he's just stating the situation how he sees it, "And it knows that too".

"Look, she could be a person." Guerrera lifts a hand, palm up in apparent surrender. "I don't really know and that's what we're trying to figure out here. This is a hardware configuration we've never seen before. We don't know who makes it, where, or even why. It's not just a Life Model Decoy that got struck by lightning or anything. We've got to know, even if this is just another incident of a 'crazy AI'." At this he gestures toward Echo, who… looks vaguely wounded at the final words. The corners of her mouth are downturned, eyebrows lowered.

Kai shrugs, "I'll remember that when it comes down to it, Death by 'crazy AI'", he goes over and opens a first aid kit and gets started on what he came down here to do.

Sighing a little, Guerrera turns back to the isolation cell at the clear dismissal from Kai. Echo's expression has already cleared, showing none of the brief response. "Shit," the technician murmurs. "Go ahead and disconnect yourself, Echo. You've got a meeting with Dr. Samson in a little while."

"Wonderful," the android deadpans. She starts to carefully disengage the cables from her open chest cavity. "Another hour long session of asking me how I feel about my mother."

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