2013-05-17: The Trials And Hercules


Cloud_icon.jpg Echo_icon.jpg Hercules_icon.jpg

Summary: The Mighty Hercules steps into a situation that calls for wisdom more than strength. An unapologetic murderer and an unsympathetic student complicate matters.

Date: May 17, 2013

Log Title: The Trials and Hercules

Rating: G

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 orderies 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.

A tall, broad man walks into the medical office, looking around curiously, as if he had never been in the place.

For the moment, there appears to be no-one on staff available. This medical facility seems constantly understaffed. In the corner of the room are a series of isolation cells, paneled in thick blast-proof glass. Only one is occupied, by a dark haired woman standing very close to the glass, the left half of her face shadowed by hair. She doesn't say anything at the approach of the big man. Just stares at him with a single steel grey eye.

The man looks around a bit, "Hello?" Curiosity gets the better of him, and he starts to walk around a bit, looking at the bits of medical machinery and technology. "Perhaps it is automated? It needs to have a better bedside manner, if that is the case." Then he spots the woman in the isolation cell. Approaching, he offers a friendly wave. "Good evening, miss, do you know if any of the medical staff are around? And what, if I may be so bold as to ask, is it that you have that they have you isolated thusly?" The man stops near the edge of the glass.

That single grey eye follows the large man with precision, not just observing, but *analyzing*. As he approaches her, the woman narrows her eye slightly. "There's an emergency button," she says laconically and without preamble, nodding her head in the direction of the entrance doors. "If it's an emergency," she reminds. His second question goes conspicuously unanswered.

Hercules chuckles and shakes his head, "It isn't an emergency, simply a check up required." He rubs at the back of his head. "My name's Hercules, it is good to make your acquaintence. I note that you do not answer me as to the nature of your illness. Perhaps it was too bold of me, so I will not press you on it. Have you been here long?"

"Echo," the woman in the cell introduces herself. Not coldly, just… flatly. She continues in the same tone, "Partially, I believe it's the twenty-seven homicides. Largely, the fear that there would be more." Then she pauses, considering, before answering, "Six months."

Hercules hmms, his face going a little more serious. "Twenty-seven homicides. That is quite a few murders to be sure. Why did you commit those crimes?" He strokes his chin thoughtfully, "Of course, if you do not wish to speak of it, I understand. You've probably had that question many times, yes, friend Echo?"

An incline of her head, up to Hercules' face, is as much of an admission. It's an old question by now. "In each case," Echo says quite clearly, enunciating each syllable with a kind of teenager's spite. "Self-defense."

Hercules's eyebrows raise up slightly, and he looks at the isolation chamber. "I am guessing that they did not believe you, or that there is evidence against your defense." He strokes his chin once more, "Still, twenty-seven is a lot for self-defense. Did you accidentally wander into a riot, or perhaps gang territory? I must say I am intrigued, despite the seriousness of the charges."

"Don't misunderstand. I am definitely responsible," the woman in the cell admits freely. "I've admitted to all of them and provided details, GPS coordinates, and photographs where available." She tilts her head to one side as if regarding the hugely muscled Hercules seriously for the first time. "There's something of a legal loophole. Can you prosecute a non-sentient machine?"

Hercules hrms and ponders that question. "Well, if it is self defence, then I am sure that in time you'll be allowed to go." His face takes on a puzzled look. "You do not seem non-sentient to me. If you are a non-sentient, and you have committed such serious crimes, I would think you would have been put down like a rabid dog, yes? If they are holding you, then they plan to try you in court, else what is the point of using up valuable resources when you can just destroy a malfunctioning machine."

"What is consciousness?" the machine asks. "Can you describe it to me, so I can tell if I have it or not?" The question hangs there. Unanswered, perhaps unanswerable. She shrugs lightly, spreading her hands. "If I have no rights, then they should have destroyed me already. In truth, even if I did, I don't think it's likely to go to court. So what am I here for?"

Hercules sighs and rolls his shoulders, "I am not exactly a philosopher, or considered to be a big thinker. Even I can see that my skills lay elsewhere." He leans slightly against the glass with one big hand. "You refer to yourself as me, and I. You understand the situation you are in, and the difficulty in working out a proper solution. That to me speaks of sentience. But I am not a judge or arbitrator." He gestures with the other hand. "Obviously they, who have imprisoned you here, also see the difficulty, and do not wish to make a mistake. If there is punishment to be dealt, they want it to be proper and reasonable. They obviously believe that there are redeeming qualities. That is one thing I have always admired, that despite how it would be easy to simply judge and slay, there are many people who follow their conscience, they wish to stay upon the high road."

Echo's eye stays on Hercules as he approaches the glass. She looks momentarily tense, but it passes and she puts her hand up against his. It seems pitifully small by comparison. "You seem to understand well enough," she damns him with faint praise and a nod. "They're cautious of making a mistake. I can understand that."

Hercules chuckles and shrugs, "Do you believe yourself to be sentient, or non-sentient?" A simple question with a difficult answer, perhaps. "How do you feel about your imprisonment?"

Echo shrugs again, more animatedly. "It doesn't matter to me, except what it means for the immediate future. I can see my coding. I know how it runs and where. I see nothing special about it." She slips her hand away from the glass and folds both arms across her chest. "It is very boring," is all she says.

Hercules chuckles, "Nothing says sentience like bordem." He brings his arm down, "So do many people come to visit? Do you have family, or friends?" The man crosses his arms, "Do they give you anything to read or watch?"

At Hercules' own chuckle, there's a slight crinkle in the skin near Echo's visible eye. Amusement. "No, no, and no," she answers easily. "I believe they assumed I would spend most of my time shut down. I *resist*." She says the last word with relish.

Hercules hmmphs at that, "Well, what sort of books do you like then? Perhaps I can convince them to let you have a few, yes? You can't really do anything dangerous with a book, well, reading a book I mean."

"I don't know how to use a book as a weapon," Echo confesses, a little sadly it seems. "You're not the first person to suggest I read. I don't know what 'civil rights' entails, but it sounds as if I should learn it. If you have any suggestions, I could hardly say no."

Hercules hmms, "Well… tell me more about yourself. What did you do before your incarceration? You claim to be a machine, so, what was your purpose? And how did you come to be claiming self-defence in twenty-seven murders? It might help to make things easier to determine what you might like reading." He rubs the back of his head, "And perhaps I can find a few law books that might be important. You know, the more I think about this, the more I am concerned about your situation. Perhaps you are not telling me everything, or perhaps there is other information that is not obvious. I am now resolved to look into your situation here, for ill or for good."

"Mobile Anti-Personnel System, model Echo," Echo responds sharply, like a soldier at attention. "I evaded capture or destruction for over a year in New York City. When my existence or identity was threatened, I responded in self-dense." TWenty-seven times, with lethal force. "And no," she admits blithely. "I am not telling you everything."

Hercules says, "And you have locations, GPS coordinates, possibly video recordings and so forth?" He chuckles, "Unless you have directives to turn yourself in when you commit a crime, I would say this is more evidence for sentience. However… what were the circumstances of your capture? Did you turn yourself in finally, or did they manage to take you down?"

"I'm not here by choice," Echo responds in a slightly annoyed tone. She tightens the clasping of her arms across her chest. "It was not an exicting battle. My internal batteries ran dry and I was brought here by a Barnes student who was concerned for my safety." Her safety, not other people's.

Hercules chuckles, "See? Obviously there is concern, and care, in your situation. It might not be all that bad. So tell me more about this MAPS system. Are there others? Were you trained for a specific purpose?"

It's nothing she hasn't already told, and if SHIELD is so lax in its security as to not stop her from talking about it further… "As far as I know, there are six models. Alpha through Foxtrot. Small team insertions, rapid takedowns, close quarters and urban combat. Neutralize the target as quickly as possible." She curls the fingers of her right hand, index finger extended and pointed at Hercules. Bang.

Hercules hehs. "I see. So a special operative trained in assassinations, essentially. Well, perhaps I shall bring you some spy novels then? Or should I go a different route? Hmm." He looks at her hand "gun" and grins, "I believe you would need more than your finger to take me down, friend Echo. Oh. Echo. That makes you the fifth model then?"

Cloud had been planning on heading down here to see if he could get anything for a headache but upon stepping into the room he heard the robot woman's voice again he stopped round the corner. Dressed in his Barnes uniform he's only been there long enough to hear what Echo just said, still hearing that the thing behind the glass if some sort of nice bodied terminator his irises glow yellow for a moment before stepping out properly into the room.

"Correct," Echo approves with a slight smile and lowers the finger-gun. "You've no fear. I have no internal weaponry. We were designed to utilize current arms and vehicles, which are designed to be human operated." Her head turns gently to the side at the glow and the motion of Cloud entering the room. Not enough to be obvious, hopefully. "I think I'd like some espionage stories," she comments as if Cloud weren't there at all. "I miss the thrill."

Hercules doesn't seem aware of Cloud's approach at first. "I have no fear whether or not you have internal weaponry." He chuckles. "I am Hercules, after all." He rubs his chin thoughtfully. "There is a spy novel I have always enjoyed, called the Eagle has Landed. A hypothetical account of the German capture of Winston Churchill. By a man named Jack Higgins. It would likely be a quick read, but well, I think it may be right up your alley." He pauses here, and looks over his shoulder at the young man now entering medical bay. "Ah, friend Cloud, how are you?"

Cloud gives a nod in greeting to Hercules, "Hey" and walks up to where the other two are talking, after his meeting with Echo previously she still makes him uncomfortable. "If you're bored why don't you power down or something? reboot when you're fixed and they're considering letting you go?"

Echo's eye tracks Cloud as he moves into the room. "I *resist*," is all she says. Strange.

Hercules looks at Cloud curiously, "Why should she power down? Why has she not been giving access to things prisoners have access to? A lawyer? Reading materials. And other things like that. I find this curious and I have already stated I will look into it now. But I find this strange, why are people asking her to shut down?"

"I could help with that? all it would take is controled emp?", Cloud actually isn't sure if he could do so without shutting down all the electronics in the room but the offers there, "She's worrying… first I met her our discussion quickly came round to me apparently not doing enough killing".

"Your own admission," Echo clarifies Cloud's words. "You idly talked of killing a purifier, but wouldn't commit further. I find that counter-productive to your agenda." Maybe she is a *little* worrying.

Hercules stares at Cloud. "So you would wish to kill her then? If what she says is truth, then she is a machine. You would erase her, effectively. Not to mention I think people might be angry if you rendered worthless all the equipment in here." His eyes flick to Echo, that eyebrow raising again. "This is what I spoke of before, about people following their conscience. Perhaps he is concerned about making a mistake, yes?"

"I don't think she'd be down for long, why build a killing machine that can think without protecting it, at the very least you'd have some defences against an emp, Mike does", Cloud frowns, "I'm getting better, last I made one I limited it to twenty feet", he listens to what Hercules says to Echo, "Thats what I tried to say, can doesn't mean should".

The threat of some kind of electromagnetic pulse weapon causes Echo to freeze in place with anticipation, like she's spoiling for a fight. Except for the inch-thick reinforced glass between them. "*I* am concerned about him making a mistake," Echo says deadpan.

Hercules rubs his head and shrugs, "Well, I didn't know you were an expert on military robots. Did you have a hand in her construction, friend Cloud? Or is there something you know about this situation, that I do not? How can you say you are sure she wouldn't be down for long? That is like me saying I can punch out a support column for the building, for I believe it's contruction would hold up. Is it likely? Maybe. Do I know for certain? No."

Cloud shakes his head, "No I'm not an expert, I'm just specualting", he leans against the wall, "And I didn't say I would, I just presented the option, if she can't be shut down a temporary power down might make repairing her easier is all I'm saying".

The tension doesn't seem to be going away. Echo's fingers tighten on her upper arms. "I've cooperated with voluntary shutdowns on numerous occasions. This is not one of those occasions. There's no need to 'knock me out'."

Hercules chuckles, "So you believe her to be damaged then?" The large man looks to Echo for confirmation. "Are you injured?"

Cloud nods at Echo, "Yeah, see she's missing an eye and she clearly has morality issues", he shrugs, "Not really my issue though".

Without shame, Echo pulls aside the soft curtain of dark hair shadowing her left eye. It is indeed an empty socket, lids not quite meeting in the middle. When she opens them, the empty metallic hollow is nothing organic. It's not science-fiction impressive, with tiny winking lights. Utilitarian dark metal and off-white plastic, ready to pop in a replacement eye had she one. "I lost a fight," she says dryly.

Hercules looks at the empty socket, hehs and looks to Cloud, "I am really going to get to the bottom of this. Who do I need to talk to?" He looks back to Echo, "Are you in pain, friend Echo?"

Cloud goes back to looking for something for his headache, the voices are really starting to grate on him, at least it just hurts, could be worse, least he's not crazy,leave that to the robot.

"I'm not in pain," the android replies flatly, though one eyebrow is quirked upward at the question. Like it's one she's not used to being asked, unlike the rest of Hercules' questions tonight. Her remaining good eye follows Cloud, unsure of where he's going or what he might be up to. "I understand there are difficulties in making replacement parts."

Hercules crosses his arms, looking over at Cloud. "Are you alright then, you seem a little out of sorts." Looking back to Echo, he nods, "That is good to hear then, that you are not in pain. Hmm, you said before you hadn't told me everything. Are you willing to talk about that, perhaps not now, but at some point?"

"Yeah I'm fine, just something of a headache is all", Cloud frowns as he's having trouble finding anything usefull, "If you want answers from her why don't you give her something she wants, trade an espionarge story for some answers, she gets what she wants, you get what you want".

"Perhaps not now," Echo repeats. She moves away from the glass to the single examination table in the isolation cell, perching herself gently on its edge with her feet barely touching the floor. "But at some point." She blinks lazily at Cloud. "Aspirin, bottom shelf, to your right," she offers. She has been spending the last six months largely in this room, after all.

Hercules raises an eyebrow at what Cloud says, "Thank you, friend Cloud, but I am perfectly capable of holding a conversation with a person, yes." He chuckles at her offering directions to Cloud, "See, she did that without any requirement of getting something she wants first. You know, the sort of thing … people do?" Nodding to Echo, the man leans against the isolation cell once more. "I will also see if you can be transfered to a better spot. A normal room. Well, obviously you will still be under lock and key, but at least it will be more comfortable than this. And I shall bring you books. Perhaps one of those small gaming thingies, yes?"

"I have my doubts. This is a Faraday cage. I'm in here for a reason." Still, she inclines her head at the big man and draws a knee up to her chest, wrapping her hands around her ankle to hold it there. "This has been a nice distraction, but more would be appreciated."

Cloud reaches down to grab the asprin from where Echo directs him, "Thanks", he walks over to grab a glass of water and takes the pills, he keeps hold of the bottle, was hoping for something stronger but it'll do, "They don't want her sending out a signal or something, well that's what she told me anyways".

Hercules hmms and rubs the back of his head, "I'll have to google that later. However, surely if they can build one big enough for this cell, they could construct one in a room, yes?" He looks over at Cloud, "Given the circumstances, I can understand their caution." Turning back to Echo, he grins, "Friend Echo, I can stop by as often as I please, so if you wish more company, I am happy to provide such."

"I'll be here, waiting." Since she obviously can't go anywhere, the best the android can do is lean back slightly in her pose. "I'm willing to carry on perfectly pleasant if slightly unsettling conversations at any time. I really do mean at any time. I don't sleep."

Cloud looks over at Echo takes a breath and lets his eyes go out of focus, they flash white and when it fades leaves his blue/grey irises bright green, "If it helps at all she doesn't seem to be giving off any kind of signal right now", he smiles as he's begining to get better at this.

Hercules shrugs, "It doesn't matter if she is trying to or not, while I am hoping to see her into a better situation, I am not going to compromise security just to have a more comfortable visit. I have learned, in all my years, to at least give benefit of the doubt. Were she in pain, or obvious discomfort, I would have already smashed the cell open to provide assistance." He looks back at her, "Oh, you do not sleep? Rare is the person who can keep up with my endurance. I like you all the more now."

Echo's eyebrows rise at Cloud's eye-flashing-ness. "I could have told you that. It's impossible to send radio signals through a Faraday cage." After a moment's thought, she nods a little at Hercules. "I would exercise extreme caution around me, as well. You would be right to expect an escape attempt with no consideration for casualties, and to plan accordingly."

Cloud sits himslef in a chair to let his head stop throbbing, leaving Echo and Hercules to what they wish to talk about.

Hercules chuckles, "Ah friend Echo, I understand a prisoner's duty is to attempt escape. I hope, for your sake, that you consider what it means for me to give my word. If I vouch for you, I will be greatly disappointed if you were to take advantage of that, and hurt or kill people in trying to escape. Let us solve your current dilemma before compounding it further, yes?"

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