2007-10-09: Tenuous Alliance


Cass_icon.gif Mohinder_icon.gif DrAldric_icon.gif


As agreed, Mohinder and Dr. Aldric come to Bat Country in order to convene with Cass about the virus threat.

October 9th, 2007:

Tenuous Alliance

Bat Country Lab

Most of Cass' waking hours has been spent at Bat Country. And it's starting to become clear just how much of her father's daughter she is when she's stressed. Though not so flustered and lost, she certainly looks tired. Dark circles ring the bottom of her eyes and her hair has been hastily pinned up - badly, as parts of it are falling out already. Finally donning a lab coat, the sleeves are pushed up to the elbows and the glasses that she normally wears while working in the labs are perched at the very end of her nose, as if she pulled them down to look at something closely and just forgot to push them back to the bridge of her nose. Five folders are open in front of her and she's been going through results back and forth for hours now. Though there's only one mug in front of her, she's already had countless cups of coffee and another pot has set to brew. Though she had guests in the lab last night, there's no sign of them in the main room or the lab. As if expecting guests, a book - Activating Evolution, actually - has been set between the door and the frame so that it's possible to simply knock and walk in.

Welcome to the world of medicine, science and research. Mohinder's territory. Having gotten the call from the elder Dr. Aldric, Suresh shows up at the lab. He knocks at the door, and is distract to look down and see the choice made in door stop. "I knew my father's book was considered a joke, but isn't this going a little far?," he asks with a bit of dark humor in his tone. Stepping into the lab carefully, he's armed with a messenger bag that looks filled to the brim with what he considered necessities.

The doctor is about to be in the house. Hesitating at the doorway, eyeing the book, and then proceeding to peer down the stairs skeptically - that doesn't look like a lab, Cassandra - is Dr. Aldric. Dressed in shades of khaki, with his corduroy jacket on, he pushes on the door. "Cassandra?" he calls out quietly. The book is a good clue, and he followed directions to a tee, but if he winds up in some crazy lounge underneath the clinic… aha! He spots Dr. Suresh and heads down into this… Bat Country… proper, but not before taking the liberty of swiping Activating Evolution off the floor and closing the door. Now then. "Dr. Suresh. Cassandra."

To be honest, the reason why Cass used it as a doorstop - not only as a jab at Mohiner - was because she had so many copies she could spare one being a bit banged up from the door closing on it. Plus, it was kind of funny. When the door shuts behind them, there's the faint click of it locking. No surprise visitors today. In the doorway to the proper lab, Cass appears, tired looking and all. "Hi dad, Mohinder. Thanks for coming." Especially so soon after the call. "Come on back." To where they'll most certainly feel more comfortable - with machines and scientific gadgets. This is where everything is that she needs to bring to this meeting. "You can bring the book back with you, dad."

Mohinder pulls his messenger bag up from around his neck as he turns to greet his colleague. "Dr. Aldric, always a pleasure." He doesn't seem put off about the surroundings. Afterall, his lab is in a converted artist's loft. No offense was taken at the book, it was more of a dry and dark humorous look at what it's been reduced to. "How could I not when Dr. Aldric called me?" He follows Cass on through the door and once in the proper lab, he takes a look around. "Where might I set up my laptop?"

Dr. Aldric does, indeed, bring the book with him, tucked absently under one arm. "You look tired, Cassandra, have you been sleeping?" What he really means is, 'do you have any worrying symptoms that could be causing you to look like that and if so why didn't you tell me right away?'. Who said men are simple creatures? Giving his daughter's lab a critical eye, while still coming to terms with the fact that his daughter has a lab, Dr. Aldric stands more or less between Cass and Mohinder, the silent partner for the moment.

Suck up. Cass gestures to where there's an open countertop by the wall. An open plug will be found a little further down, as well. "I'm sure we could think of a few reasons why you wouldn't," she says, for once not unkindly. "Which is why I was thanking you. I was actually hoping you wouldn't mind me taking a sample of your blood, Mohinder." Might as well get right to the point, right? Waving a hand at her father's worry, she just replies, "I'm fine, dad, really." She knows that for a fact. At least, she's not sick with any of the virus that her friends have. "I heard about how the antibodies in your blood managed to heal someone with the virus. And…if this is the same virus, then, well, we may be able to tell if it reacts to your blood."

Mohinder is quite familiar with Cass's current stage of fatigue. He's there so often it's like an old friend. Once directed to a clear space of counter, he sets up his personal laptop. While that's booting, he withdraws three manilla folders. One, his sister's file. The other two? Copied from the Company, but without any information to really breach security. The subjects? Molly and Sylar. The folders are held out for Cass to take, "Two have the Shanti strain of a virus that affects evolved. The third is a modified strain by the Company, used to neutralize the ability of evolved. The information here might give you some insight. If we are dealing with the same original strain, then by all means. You can have a few samples of my blood. I will even help you formulate the cure." Since he in all likelihood, has it memorized. "While you are looking over the case files, do you mind if I have a look at the samples you've drawn so far?"

Yesterday, Dr. Aldric conveniently left out the part about one strain of the virus being used to "neutralize" people with abilities by the Company, and so, as Mohinder voices it, his expression grows slightly tight and he glances at Cass. "I'll take a look there, too, Cassandra, it's been awhile…" he says as he shuffles closer to, presumably, investigate the data brought by Mohinder. However, the files Cass has nearby of the current samples catches his attention. One, two… three… hold the train. "Tell me you haven't discovered more infected since yesterday?"

Picking up the folders, Cass hands them over to Mohinder. Just like the ones she showed her father, there are no names or any identifying information about whose blood it is. There's a different color highlighter slash on the front of the folders so Cass can remember whose sample the results belong to, but that's it. "Yes." Peter's was actually all but finished, but hadn't been looked through before she went to visit her father. The other two were what she's been working on since last night. It's why she looks so tired. "Four of those samples are from people with abilities. The last one is my own blood that I had tested as a control." One of the samples shows what looks to be a far more advanced case of the virus while the other three simply show that they are infected. The last, Cass', is completely free of any of the anomaly.

The news that the Company tried to use the strain as an actual neutralization effect makes her pause. It doesn't actually surprise her very much, the news. But, then, she's exhausted and not much emotion is penetrating the tired. "If this is even the same strain that you had cured before." If this virus is something that the Company modified and it got released, well, she is going to have so many words with these two. But for now, she just studies the files Mohinder brought with him, holding it over enough so that her father can see them, too.

Mohinder's expression darkens at the talk of more infected. He's clearly not bothered by announcing another strain. Probably, he shouldn't have, but it would have come up sooner or later. "The second strain is one that's been in development for some time. Prior to my recruitment. I'm not pleased about it, but I know how to cure it. As well as the original strain.. what we're dealing with.. this could be an outbreak of a mutation in the virus. The two strains that I am familiar with only affect those with abilities. The original strain does not appear to be contagious via airborne transmission. The second requires an injection, unless.." He looks at the contents of the folders Cass hands to him, brows knitting as he reads the results. The advanced case is the one that has his attention the most.

"I see." Although concern knits Dr. Aldric's brow also as he looks over the files, there's a flash of relief: Cass is fine. He lifts is eyebrows darkly in Mohinder's direction, questioning. "Unless?"

"Pleased about people playing genetic judges? I can't imagine why not." Sarcasm is easy to come by for Cass, especially when she's so tired. Setting down the files for a moment, she goes to refill her mug of coffee. "Do you two want anything to drink? There's coffee…water…more coffee." For the moment they're a little spartan on the commodities. "Well, these people had to get this virus some way. None of them have told me about an injection in any way. However, if it's airborne, there should be many many more people who should be sick with it." It's kind of a mystery and she doesn't know how it spreads. Or even what it does. "Unless what?" Cass echoes her father's question.

Mohinder doesn't seem to notice the sarcasm coming from Cass. He's a little too preoccupied with the test results in front of him. His expression darkens the more he reads. Keeping the file open, he gestures for both Aldrics to look at his laptop screen. He pulls up the imaging from Molly's bloodwork. "You can see the similarities between these two.. right here.. and here. These were taken almost a year ago from my ward. She had the same strain as my sister.. but as you can see, the virus has mutated somehow. There was just her case in 1977, and then Molly last year. A twenty-nine year difference. Now all of a sudden, you have four cases right here." He gestures to the files in hand. "To determine how it's spread.. what do these individuals have in common, aside from being evolved? Where they in the same place? Did they receive a blood transfusion? What are some uniting factors between them?" The grimness seems to have dissipated as he now is launching into full-on research mode.

"Hm. Mhhmm." Dr. Aldric, now looking over Mohinder's shoulder, examines the differences and similarities closely. "This one, Cassandra," he draws one of his daughter's open case files closer, tap-tapping on the results. It's the file showing the seemingly more advanced progression. "Who is this? I don't expect a name, but if there's anything that makes this case unique… date of onset…"

Back with coffee, Cass is in a slightly better mood. Possibly because of the caffeine. Sighing, she shakes her head. Two more cups and it's possible that she may just start to jitter. Moving behind Mohinder, she studies the strain dealing with Molly and then glances back at the samples she took. In fact, holding up Evelyn's bloodwork to the screen, she can see the similarities even better. "What could have happened in the past year to change the virus so drastically? Especially if it was stable after twenty-nine years?" That's certainly a mystery in itself. "Many of them were at a hospital at the same time," she supplies. Even telling them that much is a leap of faith. "Some of them know each other, some of them have never even met before. It's a jumble, Mohinder." Which is the truth. When she notices her father tapping on Peter's file, she frowns. Of course. Even if she told them about Peter's ability, that would give away who it was, since he's the only person she's ever met with one like that. "I'm honestly not sure why that patient is unique. Honestly, I don't know why he's sick. He has the ability to regenerate. It should have culled the virus by now, I would think." Which is true, actually, Peter does have the ability, it's just not his only one.

Mohinder nods to Aldric's request. "Are the subjects related by any chance? What are the common factors? Date of onset is good.. We could trace back each of these to a time and date of infection." He rolls up his sleeves, setting to work at the laptop, more than happy to show Cass images he's got to go with the files of Shanti and Molly. He shakes his head in the negative as Cass asks about what happened. "A mutation. In the DNA, environmental factors.. it could simply be a mutation in the evolutionary process. That's my guess for now until I research this more in depth… he what?" That has Mohinder frowning again, this time not just in thought. "I used regenerative blood in a cure for the second strain. This alone tells me we're dealing with definitively, a new strain." And he's not pleased about this. "So let's go back a bit. They were all in a hospital at the same time. What hospital and why?"

"He can regenerate? Heal himself… why then…" Dr. Aldric slides Mohinder's father's book onto a clear spot on the nearest surface and folds his arms, eyeing the results, not just of Peter's bloodwork, but everyone's, steadily trying to weasel out answers as he listens to the geneticist. He folds a fist against his face pensively, knuckles bristling his moustache. "It would be helpful if I were able to examine this patient, this one with the regenerative ability… there's something we're not seeing, here." He glances sidelong at Mohinder.

"Yes, yes." Cass knows about mutations and how they come about. It's just stunning that after twenty-nine years it could happen so fast and suddenly they're faced with at least four people they know of who are sick. There could be many more. "Possibly, it's impossible for the body's regeneration to fight the virus for it's - if it's like the others - shutting out that possibility. Adding the antibodies may help." She's not sure of that, though. Because neither Nathan nor Elena are having problems with their abilities. "Mount Sinai is where they were. And for various reasons. But they were all quarantined for some reason." Now she knows she's saying a bit too much, but curing this is more important at the moment and she's willing to protect the others should this lead to anything like an attack on them. "I'm…not sure if he'll agree. But I'll ask him when I see him next," she tells her father.

"I agree.. We're more or less going into this blind. The documentation you've provided is quite thorough, but it's not the same." Mohinder stands straight, eyes casting downward to the file in hand. "Regenerative blood has extraordinary healing properties for others. Undiluted or mixed in a formula. The cure I made for the original strain was useless against the created one.. /until/ I added the regenerative blood to the formula." Then he's tapping a finger at the file in hand, "This strain that we're dealing with right here, has the potential to be devastating if we can't get to the root and devise a cure. We could be looking at a pandemic with a staggering casualty rate." Four in just a few days? That's not good. "Hopefully it's not communicable, and these individuals just share a genetic anomaly…." Glancing sharply at Cass as she mentions the quarantine, he frowns, his train of thought totally derailed by the reason they were at the hospital. "What were they quarantined for? It could be nothing, but if this is something they share, the situation cannot be discounted."

"Quarantined, is that so… Mount Sinai, you said? There was a scare several months ago about a possible hantavirus which was later dismissed, if I recall correctly," Dr. Aldric says, taking on the distant tone of someone voicing his thoughts out loud.

"I don't know when the contracted it, I don't even know when they started showing symptoms, because I don't know what the symptoms for this virus are." Cass is frustrated, but she calms herself down by taking another long drink of her coffee. Ah, what a restorative. "This one," she taps at Nathan's folder. "Complained of flu-like symptoms that started a couple of days ago. The advanced case had the same complaints, but when I saw him, he was much further along. Higher fever, weaker, coughing." Shaking her head, she looks at the files and then Molly's results. "I don't think it's a genetic anomaly. I tested the advanced cases' blood long before he exhibited any symptoms, but he didn't have this." Flipping back through Peter's folder, she points to a much earlier blood sample. It has the virus, but no protein coating. "It has this," she points to it. "But it's different from what he has now." Flipping back, she shows Peter's later advancement. "Yes, the hantavirus. I think it had to do with that." She looks between her father and Mohinder meaningfully. "Do you know something about that?"

Mohinder glances aside to Dr. Aldric and frowns some. "I recall that.. and it was dismissed. I felt that it couldn't have possibly of been researched and dealt with /that/ fast." Not looking away from Aldric, he suggests, "We should get access to the information on the hantavirus. That shouldn't be too difficult." Not for their employers. "I'll get the information. Keep the patients comfortable, stable, and let me know when they consent to further examination. It can be on your terms, here, or even at my lab with your presence. Whichever is easiest and more convenient." As far as Mohinder is concerned, this problem needs to be handled swiftly, and is bigger than disagreements on fundamental values.

Dr. Aldric shakes his head as he picks up Peter's case file, going over the older test. "That's curious," he mumbles under his breath before replying, "I heard about it - on the news, of course, and from some of my med school associates at Mount Sinai. A bit of a deadend case, it was rather odd at the time." As soon as he's shaken his head, he's nodding, putting the file down and tucking his hands into his corduroy jacket. "I sincerely believe this is a situation where cooperation and confidentiality can go hand-in-hand." Pause. Eye Mohinder. "Isn't that right. Dr. Suresh."

"Yes. It certainly seemed suspicious." From everything that Cass heard. And she wouldn't doubt they would be able to get the results rather quickly as she's pretty sure the Company had something to do wtih it. However, the one thing she does agree on is that making sure her friends are taken care of and cured is more important than whose side the two play on. For now they'll have to share their toys and be nice. "That's certainly something we agree on. I think I'd prefer to work out of this lab." So she knows that her files are here and that the information they gather isn't given to some strange higher up without her knowledge. "Yes. I need your help, Mohinder. But…I'll be frank in that I still don't trust you. So, confidentiality would certainly be appreciated. As would your assurances that you're not going to turn anyone in here to your employers. And that my brain - along with everyone else's - remains with all their memories intact."

"Of course," Mohinder says in response to Dr. Aldric. "These individuals need help. It's unclear if this strain can become deadly. However, with the flu-like symptoms, there could be deaths related to complications." Another glance is made at the file before he closes it up. "Cass, do you mind if I study these more in depth? The files that I gave you, you're welcome to hang onto those for comparison as well." He nods to Cass, "Fair enough." Although the rest does cause him to frown. Before instances, it was for the greater good. Now? Still for the greater good. "No one will be turned in or have their memories altered. This situation is a little too grave for me to do anything that would be detrimental to the patients. I do suggest that you keep them quarantined until we have more information on the cause of this virus."

Dr. Aldric stands quietly, not masking the fact that he's eyeing Mohinder pointedly. "I will be making sure of that."

"I know." Cass is very aware of the stakes that they're playing with at the moment. And she's desperate to find a cure an to make sure that her friends will be okay. "Yes, of course, those are copies." And only information relevant to the virus is contained in there. "Good. I just wanted to make sure we all started out on a level playing field, is all. If we're going to work together to stop this, I wanted everyone to know where they stood." It's just the way that works for her. "I'll talk to them about quarantine. Now, if you wouldn't mind rolling up your sleeve?" Cass goes for a needle. "You said I could have a few vials of your blood as a souvenir."

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