Russian spores are the worst spores

Summary:
March 21, 2015: Reed and Sue stumble upon a medical emergency.

Science Station outside of St. Etienne France

It's a science station. Outside of St. Etienne, France


Characters

NPCs

  • Loic

Mood Music:
[*<http://insert.video.or.music.link.here>]


Outside St. Etienne, France

Inside the scientific lab, the darkness is pierced by Reed's flashlight. "It doesn't look like anyone is home," he says passingly. Abruptly a shower of sparks erupts from a broken light fixture above.

As Reed's light trails around the room, it's clear that whatever happened here was violent. Equipment is turned over on its side, computers have been smashed upon the ground, and paperwork is strewn all about. Windows into laboratory areas are smashed.

"Looks like one heck of a party."

"What did you say they were studying here, Reed?" Sue asks as she steps over a shattered monitor, pressing a force field bubble over the sparking outlet as she lifts her own flashlight. "This always seems so senseless," she murmurs. "Who doesn't back up their data somewhere else so that this sort of destruction accomplishes nothing?" Possibly people who don't face super villain attacks at least once a week?

"Spores of unknown origin," he says in response. "They were found in the siberian steppes and brought here by an international team. I hadn't read much of the research; they were keeping almost all of it under wraps."

Reed turns and looks over, "Supervillain attack?" He nods his head a few times. "A good hypothesis," he remarks. "But who? Or why?"

SCREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEK
The terrible sound of metal sliding against metal rings out through the laboratories, echoing far in the distance against the walls.

"What was that?"

"Nothing good," Sue murmurs, stepping closer to Reed and throwing up a shield around both of them as she searches for the source of that sound. "How long ago did this happen?" Of course, as she looks around, her mind is working through the implications of what they were studying in the background. "Spores in Siberia could be practically anything, Reed. At those temperatures, in the permafrost, it'd be like keeping whatever it was in the deep freeze at the lab."

"You're right," says as he shines the flashlight around on the ground. Tellingly, there are no bodies. Reed had feared there would be when he first got the call from a worried colleague. At least, there doesn't seem to be any bodies present.

REEAAARGH!

Something bounces hard against Sue's forcefield and Reed immediately shines the light in its direction. Stringy black hair over white, dying skin and bleeding black gums with hollow eyes. Whatever it is, whatever it was, it is now something ungodly.

"Loic?" Reed says. Indeed, the ID on the thing's pocket identifies him as Loic Bruno. "Oh no," Reed says sadly.

Sue yelps. She'll probably never admit it, but when something jumps out of the dark and slams against her shield, she yelps like a girl. Of course, the yelp comes with an answering press from the field, flashing bright blue and shoving the creature back. "Oh god, Reed," she breathes when she gets a better look, horrified. "If the spores did that…" It takes a great deal of self-control not to immediately seal them both in impermeable fields. But breathing is important.

Reed approaches the barrier and holds his gloved hand up towards the edge of the cocoon. "I know him. Knew him. He was a peer of mine at Empire State. Brilliant." Pushing his disappointment from his mind, Reed gets to work. "Biology is your expertise, my love. Hypotheses?"

Sue looks pained as she stares out at the person who was once a brilliant scientist. "If it's the spores they were studying and not something external, then obviously it's affected them…negatively." She steps closer to the field as well, trying to get a better look at the changes. "Obviously it's affected the brain. Higher functions. Skin condition suggests…I don't know, Reed, I'm not sure if this can be reversed. Honestly, I'm concerned we might have inhaled some already ourselves."

"It's possible that if we have, we have not suffered consequences because of our altered DNA," Reed says while he continues to inspect his friend. Loic continues to snarl and bounce off the bubble, attempting to attack the light. "I fear you're probably right about the irreversibility of their condition," Reed says with a sigh. "My thoughts are we are probably looking at an accident within the lab, some sort of contamination. I fear their lives are forfeit at this point and we need to focus on ensuring the rest of the community nearby does not become infected."

"Call Johnny," Sue suggests, though there's a weary note to her voice, thick with regret. "Incineration would be the most certain way to destroy whatever the spores are. Though I'd prefer to see if we can find out anything more about them before we destroy any potential information. If there are more of them, if they could have gotten somewhere else."

Reed rubs at his lip as he begins to consider, "If we call Johnny, we need to be sure that you cover the blast area so that nothing gets out and we need him to burn it to the fullest extent of his ability. The other option is freezing it to buy is more time." Either way does not look good for the scientists.

"Freezing it would be great, Reed, but we're not exactly in Siberia right now." Sue carefully constructs a second field around the infected scientist, close enough to keep him from moving too much as she moves closer to try to understand what's going on. "I could contain the fire while Johnny incinerated things. But…this isn't something we want to get loose. We should see if we can salvage any records. Anything to keep this from happening again."

"No, but we do have allies. But you're right. Incinerating it is the best plan. Let's move around and see if we can get any records. I'll put a call into Johnny and we'll get this taken care of." Reed's hand slides down the edge of the bubble a bit forlornly as he turns back to Sue.

Sue meets Reed's eye sympathetically as he turns back, nodding once. She lets the field around the other scientist die, though she keeps the one around her and Reed. "Let's stay close. I doubt this was the only person working here." She takes a few steps, then stops looking around in concern. "And I hope none of the rest have left. If this was caused by the spores, at least it shouldn't be contagious, but…"

The shuffling in the background tells the pair of Fantastics that Loic was not the only one. As they walk, Reed gives more information, "There were seven scientists on duty when the call for help was put in. I imagine they're drawn to light." Almost as soon as Reed says that, there are two more who leap head first at the bubble and bounce right off. "See if we can't gather up the paperwork into the bubble here. This place is giving me the creeps." Reed pulls his digital communicator and gives a text to Johnny.

Sue moves over toward a pile of escaped paperwork, setting her flashlight down so that it shines up toward the ceiling. At the same time, she pulls out a pair of glow sticks, breaking them and adding them to the pile. "I can hold this field if we can draw them to us and keep them here. Even if it's going to give me nightmares," she shudders as she tries to see what's on the papers.

Reed shakes his head, "I say we drop our flashlights when we get a UN containment team in here. I don't want to expose us to any more than we need to be."

Sue shuffles through the papers searching for clues, when a flash drive falls out of the pile and skitters onto the floor. "Data back up," she says with some satisfaction, leaning down to pick it up and pass it over to Reed. "Hopefully, at least. Maybe it's just family pictures, but it could be useful. And this…" She trails off, looking over a print-out of analysis of the spore. "Hibernation. It was supposed to be a step toward cold-sleep procedures, Reed."

Reed steps over to look at the print out analysis as he puts the data in a pocket in his uniform. "What happened?" he asks as he begins to pour over the document.

"The spore decreases higher brain functions, slows the body's systems," Sue explains, pointing out a few charts, a few elements and compounds. "It looks like they were trying to adapt it to help put people into…Well, hypersleep, whatever they're calling it in science fiction circles these days. Unfortunately…" She trails off, looking up at the gathering scientists. "It looks like it shut down the higher systems, slowed the body, but didn't shut down the basic instincts."

Reed shakes his head as he looks at the readouts, "Any chance that they could bring them back? I wouldn't want them to perish if there is any chance at all of recuperating them." Sue has always been better with biology, so he leaves the details up to her as he focuses on trying to get a better look at the beasts using light as his guide.

"It depends on how long they've been in this state," Sue murmurs distractedly, looking over a line of readouts. "There could still be some damage to the higher functions. And…I'm not sure if they'd actually devised something to bring people back out of the sleep yet," she grimaces. "Can you check that flash drive? See if there's anything more on it?"

Reed nods, inserting the flash drive into his handheld computer. His eyes seem to bug out as he begins to read the documentation. His eyes always do something weird when he needs to do something quickly, and this apparently allows him more surface area to get information more quickly. He does it with his back to Sue, of course.

The drive is full of information. Apparently, there was a data back up. One that shows an…unusual solution. Apparently, the cure is a massive vitamin shot. Or at least that's what the theory said. Vitamin E, C, D, a few versions of B. All wrapped up in a fatty acid barrier for better absorption. It's similar, in fact, to the cocktail Reed and Sue had been giving out to malnourished children while they were in Africa.

"Remarkable," Reed says as he looks at the information. "Sue, I think we have things for a potential cure still in the Fantasticar. I don't think it would take long to make it either. Can you cover me to get outside? I won't be but a few moments." Assuming he gets the go ahead, Reed runs quickly out towards the entrance and towards the Fantasticar. Where there was no hope, now there's an excitement at potentially having found a way to save Loic and the others.

"I should be. You'll be safer if you leave the light, though. What did you-" Sue steps over to get a look at the screen, brows rising at what she reads. "That would explain why they're drawn to the light. Their bodies are trying to resolve the vitamin D deficiency." Stepping back, she nods once, taking a seat on the edge of the table to focus. The shield around her contracts, leaving her with more energy to extend a small one over Reed as well. "I'll try to hold it as long as I can, but I'm not sure how it will work outside of line of sight. Be careful, all right?"

"Of course, my love!" Reed says as he leaps from the entrance in large steps and slams his hand into the door sensor of the cockpit. In a moment he's inside, mixing together a cocktail at the small chemistry station. He prepares a dozen small syringes all built to specification. In all it takes about 8 minutes before he returns to Sue and the two flashlights.

Sue is never watching another zombie movie again when those eight minutes are over, for the record. She's well protected by her own field, and there's scientific curiosity to take the edge off, but being surrounded by people who've been turned into mindless anger and hunger just isn't good for the nerves. "Please tell me we had everything," she says, relieved, when Reed returns.

Reed nods, "We did. Thank goodness." He holds out a makeshift satchel where the syringes are. "I have 12. We need seven. we have some opportunity for mistakes, but not that many opportunities for mistakes."

Sue looks around the field, counting up scientists. "I think they're all here," she says quietly. "I should be able to hold them in place." Taking a deep breath, she gathers her will as she starts to wrap each of the scientists as gently as she can into bands of force at arms, legs, and ankles. Twenty-one independent fields takes a considerable amount of concentration. Luckily, they don't need to do anything more than continue to exist. "All right," she nods once the bands are in place. "I'm letting down our dome, but we are scrubbing our lungs when we get home."

Reed nods, "If something happens, don't hesitate to make the difficult call." He nods again to Sue, "You know what I mean."

He arms himself with one of the syringes and gets ready for anything, preparing for when Sue lowers the shields.

"I have no idea what you're talking about, Reed Richards."

Or at least Sue isn't admitting it. Luckily, there's no need for difficult calls just yet. The dome around them fades away, and though the scientists snap and snarl, trying to reach for the light or wiggle free of their bonds, the bonds hold.

Reed figures that entering from the back is his best bet as he approaches and sticks the needle into the back of the ne ck of Loic first. He doesn't bother to see if it's successful, figuring that Sue will tell him. He throws the syringe to the side and heads to the next scientist in question as fast as his legs will take him.

The reaction isn't immediate. The scientists' metabolisms and bodies have been slowed by the effects of the spores. And the damage to their bodies is going to take even more time to recover. However, by the time Reed is administering the last shot, Loic's frantic twitching toward the light has slowed. The nervous twitching eases. It isn't a full recovery yet, but it looks like a few more minutes will tell.

Reed hustles back over to Sue with a nod, "The UN won't be long. Hopefully we'll be able to get them into some form of contagion center to help them." He gives her an upward nod, "You alright?"

Sue nods, though her eyes are half closed. "I'm…all right. A little stressed from living in a zombie movie," she adds, looking over with a small smile. "And hoping this works. Really, really hoping it works. These scientists were trying to do something good." It takes a few more minutes, but eventually Loic first starts to come to, stirring in the bonds. "Reed?" he says, voice thick. "Reed, is that you?"

"It's alright, Sue, the UN is here. This is all about to be over," Reed says as he puts his hand on her shoulder, and pulls her into a hug. When he hears his name, Reed scurries over toward his old friend. "Loic? You have looked better, my old friend."

Sue leans into the hug, though she releases him when Loic starts to stir. "I have felt better," Loic says hoarsely as Reed approaches. Sue goes to check on the others, who slowly seem to be coming to. As much as they can, at least. It's going to take a few weeks to really recover, but they all seem to be coming back to themselves.

The UN team arrives, all cloaked in the white garb of cleanliness. "Dr. Richards, we're sorry but you need to get out of here immediately," says the first respondent in a heavily German accent. "We need you to leave and be inspected, ma'am," says one to Sue.

Reed nods and begins to lead Sue out the door. "You're going to be okay, Loic. Just hold on. I will come to see you as soon as I am able."

"Of course," Sue agrees, letting the force fields fade away once the UN team has control of the area. The strain shows, but a few tylenol should take care of the headache just fine. As they leave the area, she slips an arm around Reed's waist, resting her head against his shoulder. "I'm saving this for the next time we have to talk to a group of unimpressed middle schoolers about vitamins."


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