Logs:A Gremlin's Bargain
|A Gremlin's Bargain|
A curious gremlin this way comes
|Dramatis Personae|| |
13 March, 2016
Siri confronts Howell about Project: SCARECROW, and after some discussion, decides to join the HDWF research team - but only after signing a pledge.
'It's Your Move' by Diana Ross is playing quietly over the speakers. It plays almost on the hour in here, because Howell enjoyed the song so much. He is sitting in the lobby, filling out requisition forms and whistling along. It has been a slow Sunday so far, though Saturday night had been particularly busy. He was also still cleaning up the mess from that reanimated hand that strangled Dr. Hilton in the surgical lab. Finding a replacement for the sort of physicians that Howell required was no easy task. But he was trying to focus on the mundane operations of the clinic at the moment, leaving the stress of his clandestine projects for a later time. He's wearing his usual work fare of a lab coat over a blue oxford shirt and a gold tie, with brown slacks. His old stethoscope is draped over his shoulders, clearly dated with its wooden accents and tarnished metal, but still perfectly functional.
Siri wanders in, earbuds in her ears, phone in hand, typing away. Once she's inside the room, she glances up and takes a look around, giving a little sniff and making a face. Her gaze lands on Howell, and the earbuds come out as she heads over to him, "Hey Doc. How's tricks?" She skulks up to the front desk, leaning against the counter and trying to get a peek at what Howell is working on.
Howell looks up, recognizing the creature before him. He'd seen her the other night, however briefly, at the B&B. "Sara, Siri? Siri I think it was? Welcome to the clinic!" He rises to his feet with a grin. He puts the file down and turns to one of the nurses next to him, muttering something about finishing up the reqs. "Here, one moment." The doctor says, raising a hand, and makes his way out the side door and then into the lobby, he extends a hand. "Hello, I'm glad to see you again. How can I help you?" Howell contains his suspicions well, trying to parse out why she might be here. He hoped she didn't want a checkup, as her physiology was clearly beyond his considerable expertise.
Siri eyes Howell as he comes out, giving him a lookover. "Oh, I just thought I'd come by and see what you were up to in this 'clinic' of yours." Her fingers are typing away on her phone, but the air quotes around clinic are clear in her tone. "I've been hearing some interesting things about your hobbies."
The surgeon drops his hand to his side, and quickly scans the room. "I see, would you like to speak more privately, then?" Howell offers. Perhaps she was a friend of Isrieal's. Hopefully she was. "Please, follow me into my office, we can continue our conversation there." He walks past her, withdrawing a key card and opening the door to his private office, gesturing for her to enter.
Siri's eyes narrow as Howell suggests moving to a more private place, but after a moment, in which the static in her eyes twitches and jumps, filling with 'screen of death' blue for a moment, she follows. "That bad, huh? I mean, I /know/ its that bad, but...You're a surprisingly shady bastard," she says with a hint of approval once the door is closed.
Howell has a seat behind his desk, gesturing for her to settle into one of the plastic chairs across from him. "Siri, presumably you've been made aware of my ability to see past the mask, then? I imagined word would spread quickly enough through the... whatever you are, community." He crosses his legs, making himself comfortable. "Who, might I ask, referred you to me? Furthermore, who revealed to you anything about my private research? I'm also assuming you don't mean to actually do me any harm on account of my experimentation, either that or you're incredibly bold - or unwise." He pauses for a moment, drumming his fingers along the desk with a furrowed brow. "If you don't mind my asking this also, what is it precisely that you want, from me?" The surgeon adds. "Some answers are certainly in order."
Siri flops into a char, pulling up a knee and resting her arm on it so she has easy visibility of the phone she is perpetually typing away on. The talk of him seeing through the mask gets her full attention for a moment, though, as she first raises her eyebrows in surprise, then those brows quickly dive into a deep scowl, "Didn't know that, actually. Wouldn't have assumed that broad was stupid enough to go that far." She rolls her eyes and shakes her head in disgust. "Whatever. Anyway, Bold, unwise, all these things are probably pretty fucking accurate, but nah, I don't really give a shit. Fear gas the hell out of everyone. I'm working on a project to protect myself from that shit. I'm paranoid enough already." She considers, then adds, "Anyway, I think, given that /you/ are the one plotting to create some fucking biological weapons and shit? You're probably the one who should be handing out answers."
"So it was Isrieal. Surely she told you that she commissioned Project: SCARECROW, did she not?" Howell cocks an eyebrow. "Frankly, I don't think the project is any of your business at all, and it is most likely in your best interest to remain uninvolved. I'm just doing what I was asked to do, and, by contract, am obligated to do. Of course, beyond that, the whole thing is highly fascinating. This really is groundbreaking research. Direct control over the fear response, dispersed as an inhalant. This will be the most effective weaponized hallucinogen in the history of biochemistry to date." He muses, grinning. "If you, 'don't really give a shit', why are you here, Siri?" He adds, more curious now than before.
Siri shrugs and says, "It is my business, in that I want in on that shit, and I ain't planning to pay whatever fucking jacked up price that Lady Gaga looking drink-slinger is planning to charge for people outside her fucking club. And even if you /don't/ want to share...I don't know if you understand how fucking crazy each and every one of us freaks is, but...figure I should warn you. We're /all/ fucking nuts, and it doesn't take a god-damned psychic to know that shit ain't gonna be used in a responsible manner." Siri doesn't seem all that bothered by the inevitable, irresponsible use, but clearly just figures Howell should be made aware. She considers, then adds, albiet reluctantly, "Might be willing to help you out a little, though." She pauses a moment to read something, which brings a smirk to her face, then adds with a glance back to Howell, "Also, if you were serious about 3-d printing guts? I'm hoping you and I might come to a business arrangement of our own. I've got an idea for some freaky fucking robot, and juicy innards would make it fucking /amazing/."
Howell leans back in his chair, and scratches his cheek. He ruminates for a few moments before saying anything, and when he does so, it is in a quiet, but deliberate voice. "I see. Well, firstly, make no mistake; I did not anticipate Isrieal would be deploying the agent responsibly. But that's not what I care about. Nothing about this project is responsible. Responsible science doesn't produce results quickly enough." He pauses for a moment again, measuring his words carefully. "Now, as far as... collaborating, is concerned..." He leans forward now, lacing his fingers and resting his arms on his desk. "Certainly you're capable of some sort of mysticism, like Isrieal. That is plainly evident. But what benefit do you provide me, why would I even want your help, and what reason do I have to trust you with research this sensitive in nature?" He asks, his brow furrowed again. "I mean certainly you have the same refreshing imagination that Isrieal does, but that doesn't mean you have the expertise."
Siri gives a chuckle at that, nodding and seeming to find Howell's honesty pleasing. "Ah, well, at least so long as you're fucking clear on what sort of shit storm you're brewing, more power to ya." She leans back, eyeing Howell for a moment and shrugging, "Stigmata was talking about arosol cans or some shit. Like fucking tear gas bombs or whatever the hell. Seems boring, considering the 'fuck you' punch that shit's gonna provide. I might be able to come up with something that would be a more...interesting dispersal method." She seems to have finished whatever conversation she was having on her phone, tucking the device away in a pocket as she adds, "Mostly I'm into tech. Computers, robotics, that sort of shit. Don't do much with chemicals, but it doesn't take a fucking genius to figure out how that shit works." She sniffs and adds, As for 'mysticism'," this time the air quotes are an actual gesture, now that her hands are free, "I break shit. I make shit. It doesn't get very fucking woo-woo, ya know?"
The surgeon grins, taken with her candor. "Good. I don't like woo-woo. I could benefit from someone tech-savvy, and if you think you're capable of building a robot, you're probably skilled enough on that end." Howell says, considering her carefully. "My charity organization, the Howell Davis Wellness Foundation, is the entity which completely funds this clinic and its staff using charitable donations. Ninety four percent of those donations come out of my bank account, anonymously. Only twenty one percent of the funding is needed to cover the clinic and the full time staff. Another thirty is spent on security. he other fifty or so is spent on research." He begins, crossing his legs the other way. "Part of the foundation's mission statement is the research of life-threatening and terminal illnesses. We do conduct that research. But there's more. Project: SCARECROW is the first serious chapter in a long list of projects I have planned. We recently had some success reanimating a human hand. It strangled one researcher and gouged out he eye of another before being contained and cremated. But we're hopeful. My researchers are talented, but I'm trying to put together a more... particular staff of scientists. Those with extraordinary skills, if you will, to aid me in future endeavors." He taps the tips of his fingers together as he continues to explain. "Would you be interested in joining the foundation's research division? It seems to me you have the vision and the skills."
Siri laughs, a genuine sound of amusement rare from the gremlin, at the talk of reanimated hands, "Oh /fuck/ you're weirder than I thought, Frankenstein," she says approvingly, "God damn Cousin It is your first fucking project?" She shakes her head, still chuckling. The talk of money seems to bore her, but this research facility? That has her (cautious) interest. Brow furrows as she turns serious and suspicious once more, "Uh-huh. Heard that one before. 'Come research in my super secret lab' is fucking code for 'I'm gonna kidnap you and fuck with your brain' in freak-speak. What's the catch, and what sort of shit would I be roped into if I agreed to join your fucking mad scientist clan?"
Howell raises his hands defensively, shaking his head. "I couldn't kidnap you if I wanted to. I'm a part of the Autumn court, and I am allied with Isrieal by contract - of the magical variety. I'm sure harming you without a proper reason would bring down more heat than I'm interested in dealing with. Furthermore, I don't have the time or resources to study you even if I did - the agenda is too full for another subject any time soon." He grins at his joke, but it didn't entirely come off as a joke. "No catch. You help me conduct research, I help you conduct research, we both benefit from the results, we both get to pioneer science that wouldn't be accepted under public scrutiny. If there's any catch, it's that you need to be prepared to break a few eggs to make a utopian omelette." He says this rather casually, though the implications are clear. "If I invite you into the lab and you get cold feet the first time you see someone's blood boil out of their nose and eye sockets, we're going to have a problem. If it sounds like this might be too much for you, I have no problem letting you leave right now and we won't speak about it again. If you try to bring the heat down on me, I think you'll find I'm exactingly prepared to avoid any sort of indictment or authority and relocate my operation rather hastily."
Siri snorts, "You clearly don't know the fucking Autumn court if you think they'd give a shit about you fucking with people." She considers, then shrugs, noting, "Don't think I'd freak out about blood boiling. Sounds fucking awesome, really." She muses, then scowls and says, "Fine. But we're gonna do this shit official-like. Like you've got with Stigmata. Keeps you sure I won't fucking rat on you, and me sure you won't decide to see whether I've got a fucking motherboard instead of a brain." A beat and she adds preemptively, "I /don't/, by the way."
Howell pinches the bridge of his nose. "Another pledge?" He looks up. "Alright. Alright, sounds fine. I'll be reading it very carefully. I spent a decade studying law, I'll have you know." The doctor narrows his eyes. "Nevertheless, I think it's a safe enough idea. I don't mind insurance when it comes to matters this sensitive."
Siri nods and agrees, "Yeah, sure, gotta make sure there's no fucking loopholes. Shouldn't be too bad. Just that you don't fucking run your mouth about me being involved, /including/ to the god damned Autumn court, without permission, and I won't fucking rat you out either. Also, that you won't fucking experiement on me." Those are her concerns, the benefits and potential backfiring of such a pledge? Not really something she cares about. Silence and not becoming a lab rat are more than enough for her. She considers, then adds, "I'll write it up if you want to sign it in blood or whatever the fuck."
Howell nods. "That sounds agreeable enough for me. I expect that you won't discuss our research either, and that you won't compromise the facility or harm me." He says, quickly adding, "Or my staff. At least not permanently."
Siri smirks, giving a little snort, "Nah. I have a constant urge to punch people in the face, but I'll resist it. My work is mostly with machines anyway, and I'll try not to break your shit." She considers, then asks, curiousity unable to be stifled any longer, "What sort of 'mystical' shit do you got going on that you could manage reanimation anyway? That ain't normal."
"Alchemy. It's a primal, ancient science, but science nonetheless. It is alchemy, in part, which has sustained my life for the past one hundred and forty three years, as of my birthday yesterday. I can explain the details some other time but," Howell gestures to the portrait on the wall behind him. "That used to be me. About a century ago. I'm Dr. Howell Davis." He smirks, enjoying any opportunity to show off his skills. "Of course I'm not sorcerer, or otherworldly creature. Alchemy is hard to control and it's rarely consistent or reliable in any certain terms. Fascinating nonetheless."
Well, that's one way to catch Siri's interest. She looks to the portrait, then back to Howell, eyeing him up and down as if she's reconsidering the 'no experimentation' clause. "Alchemy, huh? Well fuck me..." She leans in, eyes narrowed as she looks Howell over, scrutinizing every line on his face, every stitch in his clothes. "That's fucking awesome. Happy fucking birthday, I guess."
Howell smiles, nodding. "Thank you, thank you. I appreciate it very much!" He drums his fingers along the desk. "Yes, I've recently had certain rumors confirmed about the more esoteric alchemical arts. I maintain a library on the subject as well. But beyond that, just the cutting edge of medical science." He extends his arm and turns it a few times, pulling back the sleeve and lab coat. "I did this one myself. Extraordinarily painful, of course, but if I'd taken too many pain killers or anesthetics I wouldn't have been able to take notes. Look, you can't even make out any sutures!"
Siri is up from her chair at the invitation, getting all up in Howell's space in order to examine his arm, "Did it yourself? Like...fucking transplanted an arm or what?" Fascinating, but still a bit off-putting, she doesn't try to touch or anything just yet, though she looks like she's working up the nerve for it. "That's...damn." Her mind is clearly racing, trying to figure out just how she can use this man's talents to her own advantage. "I wonder..." she lets that wonder go unspoken for now, the static in her eyes jumping and twitching as her mind races.
"Yes, this arm came from a few people. The muscle tissue was from a scuba instructor, the skin tissue actually came from a vagrant. Most of the bones and ligaments were from a tourist, I think a college student on an abroad program. I don't entirely remember. I just did the skin grafting, myself, the rest required multiple hands." Howell explains, then gestures towards the door. "The staff out there? All specially trained. That's why people are talking about how they seem overqualified. They really are, some of the best around. Most of them work down below, in the real lab." He continues. "That's where it is, mind you. My private facility is a bunker just under our feet. Once we've signed this pledge I'll make sure you're in the security system, and have a key card produced. Don't try getting in before that time. You could get yourself killed. I told you thirty percent of funds went into security. The foundation has several million in assets." The surgeon warns.
Siri makes a face at the talk of all the 'donors', grossed out, but not enough to be entirely put off. "Huh," is all she says before finally sitting back down. She nods a bit at the talk of the staff, giving a little shake of her head, "Fucking super villain, you are," she says, rather impressed. As for the security system, Siri smirks, and sounds rather cocky as she says, "Don't tempt me, Frank. I fucking told you, my specialty is breaking shit. I'd hate to ruin your fancy system just to prove a god damn point. Unless you want to hire me as a security specialist? In which case, I will totally prove to you just how fucking easy it is to break in." Or die trying.
Howell grins again. "No please, I'm quite confident in your abilities. I'm sure you'd be very capable, even against a system as formidable as my own. Perhaps in the future you could help furnish them with more armaments." He stretches his arms out and laces his fingers behind his head. "I /am/ in the market for a security consultant, but I need wards. I need a ward in the lobby, a few in the bathroom over here, and I'd like multiple in every part of the bunker, especially the vault and the panic room. It's tricky, of course, because not many people are comfortable with the nature of my research, not many people are of a sort that I can trust them with knowledge of it and access to my security system, and not many people are capable of erecting and maintaining the wards I need. Those that fall into all three categories are elusive indeed; true rarities."
Siri narrows her eyes as Howell discusses his security needs, pulling her phone out again and beginning to tap away at it. "Yeah, I could do all sorts of shit. Give you guns, robot sentries, some serious fucking locks or blast doors or whatever, maybe even hunt down a fancy trick or two, of a more 'woo woo' variety, but if you want like...magic force fields or whatever, probably not my thing. But I'll keep my ears open for anyone who might be able to fucking witch it up around here, if that's what you're after."
Howell nods. "That's the bit that I couldn't hope to do on my own, after all. It'd be much appreciated. Just make sure you trust them as well. If the wrong elements get in, you'll be at risk as well." He says. "I put up an advertisement where some of my immortal compatriots could see, I know some of them are quite gifted with warding magics. We'll see how that goes." The surgeon sighs, apparently no too hopeful.
Siri smirks, "Dude, I'm fucking paranoid. First thing I'm gonna do once we've got our contract signed is check over your computer security, see just how fucking many holes you've got." She considers the talk of other immortals, seeming curious, but holds her questions for now. "Anyway, I'll go draft up our agreement and send it over to you for review or some shit. I gotta go though. Some fucking idiot at the county clerk's office decided to try and 'fix' something in their server bank." She shakes her head in disgust as she stands.
Howell nods, rising to his feet as well and using his key card to open the office door again. "It was excellent meeting with you, Siri. I look forward to our collaborative efforts in the near future. Once everything is signed, I'll have your key card made." He grins, pleased with the way things had gone. Another excellent technical mind for his team.