Day 039: Enjoy the Sunshine
Summary: It's a beautiful day shining down on Mount Weather! With the help of brilliant scientists and the friendly neighbourhood doctor, Ashley heads out for a tan and a breath of fresh air.
Date: 7 July 2016
Related: Features Ashley, introduced in A Presidential Visit, and Ruth Mercer's blood from Forays into the Field of Haematology
Grant Poe Salvador 

An Upper-level Laboratory — Mount Weather
Haematology equipment, a computer, an outside monitoring station and a door leading to the upstairs ladder can be found here.
39 Days After Landing

It's a sunny Summer afternoon at Mount Weather, with barely a single wispy cloud in the bright blue sky. Golden rays are beating down — but not inside. Inside it is room temperature, as it always is with climate control, and the sun is kept back by gloomy concrete walls. The image on the security camera is taunting the scientists monitoring proceedings from this upper-level laboratory, who can see the colours but not experience the heat.

"You asked to see me, Dr. Montgomery?" A bright, sprightly woman by the name of Ashley steps into the lab, where normally she would not be permitted. She's been assigned as an assistant to President Wallace, and for the last two weeks her work has seen her bonding closely with the Ark's juvenile delinquents. Too closely, one might say: not just because the fate of the Twenty-Three is for the moment still uncertain, but because for medical reasons, even after quarantine, they carry a higher risk of contamination than most.

"Yes," says the doctor, waving her in and looking pleased to see her. "Do sit down."

Grant is in the background, reviewing Ruth's test results carefully, making sure that the numbers are correct after they ran the tests. He starts to put the information together as Ashley arrives. His deep blue eyes glance up from the computer screen to gives her a friendly smile before looking back down to input and organize the data for the good doctor. Her results are impressive compared to what they have seen from the outsiders and Grant is eager to get his in Dr. Montgomery's hands.

Ashley takes a seat, glancing towards the monitor with interest as she smooths out her skirt. Salvador, himself breaking out of his reverie of the tantalising view of the Ground, turns to look over his shoulder at Grant before speaking. "Your labworks came back showing signs of contamination," he cautions the President's assistant, who as quickly as having sat down, now moves to get up.

"You want me to head to medical?" she asks.

"No. We have an experimental treatment we'd like you to try." Stating this, the doctor takes a step back for Merriweather to take the floor, raising a pale fist to prop up his own chin. "Grant, do you have the sample?" First name basis there.

Grant looks up from his computer and nods, getting up from his seat as he moves to get Ashley's paperwork as well as the sample that the Sally wanted. He hands them both to the doctor, giving him a smile. "Here it is Sally." He looks at Ashley and gives her a reassuring smile. His blonde, blue eye athletic appeal often puts the ladies at ease, even if he's never shown them the slightest interest. But in this case his charm works in his favor as he gives her a gentle look. "It's going to be okay… The doctor will help you."

While Grant works his charms on Ashley, who grins a touch sheepishly up at him, Sally inspects Ruth's blood-sample briefly, then hands it back to Grant to administer.

"Does this have something to do with the kids?" asks the brunette, who is barely past her teens herself. She looks to both scientists curiously, but there is also a hint of suspicion, of caution there. Like many who aren't typically allowed into the secured medical labs, the woman does have a bit of a bleeding heart.

"Ruth volunteered," Salvador cheerfully answers, turning over another page of the paperwork. "We believe that this will allow us to do more than we have ever done before, Ashley." To go outside: that is the promise that these results potentially hold. But to spoil the surprise for her would not be in the good doctor's nature.

Grant places the sample in the syringe and then murmurs to Ashley, "It's going to sting just a bit Ashley, but I'll try to be quick." He then gives her the injection of Ruth's blood. "Yes, Ruth wants to help. She's very interested in helping us." He glances up and nods once the injection is finished. He pulls the needle out and then places a cotton ball and bandaid to make sure the injection site is covered and then places the items in the canister marked for recycling so it can be sanitized properly. He then moves over to the doctor, keeping an eye on Ashley as he waits so he can meticulously record Ashley's reaction to the new treatment.

For a moment Ashley is startled by the injection, as the transfusion is being received in a less orthodox manner than she's used to. But all the same, with Grant's soothing manner, she slowly nods her head. "Does President Wallace know about this?" she still has to ask. She sounds anxious. She really isn't sure that they should be doing this.

The truth is, Salvador doesn't know the answer to that question. But he doesn't have to lie to avoid being honest. "Cage is well aware," he says, referring to the president's son, and his fellow man of science. Another glance is sent down to the paperwork in his hand, and then to Ashley. "Well," he says. "What are you waiting for, Ashley? Time to enjoy the sunshine."

Grant allows Sally to answer the girl's questions, not wanting to make presumptions on who knows or does not know about the test. It doesn't surprise him when Sally answers that Cage knows about the test. President Wallace doesn't usually concern himself with such things and leaves them in the hands of his son. He gives a look of envy when Sally tells her it's okay to go out in the sun. That's something that Grant has never done, seen the light of day. But Emerson told him stories and even through his hazmat suit, it was beautiful. Grant pauses at that thought and then forces his focus on the task at hand. That's recording the subject… he means Ashley's results.

Like Grant, Salvador Montgomery has never seen the sun. It shows on his skin, which is pale and deficient, even for all the medical care his own expertise can afford him. Daily supplements of Vitamin D, exercise and impeccable nutrition still aren't enough to make up for the lack of real sunlight.

It takes her a moment to really process what Salvador is saying. "Serious?" asks Ashley.

"Serious," the doctor affirms.

With a bit of persuasion, she exits through the door, knowing full well that if anything goes wrong, she'll immediately be brought back inside and receive the best medical care. The sound of her shoes ringing against the ladder can be heard, and soon she's visible again: this time on the monitor in front of Grant and Salvador. Outside.

Generally speaking, Doctor Wolfe doesn't involve himself in these proceedings. In fact, of all the medical staff, he's the least often seen around patients. Today though, he's arrived for possibly the first time on the scene of a project run by Doctor Montgomery. Poe makes his way with slow, measured steps into the secured medical labs which he had no issue getting into, no escort required. Then again, given Dr. Wolfe's clearance levels of late, that is not all together unexpected.

Hands clasped behind his back, Poe moves into the lab and cants his head just a bit to Grant and Salvador, remaining a silent if obtrusive observer for the moment.

Grant watches the screen, glancing up briefly to give Dr. Wolfe a respectful nod before going back to watch the young woman go outside. There's a silent moment where Grant holds his breath, waiting to see how the girl reacts to being outside. Normally, it could be deadly for them… that amount of exposure, or at the very least make the girl sick. He glances at Sally to see what his thoughts are.

In perfect counterpoint, Dr. Montgomery is standing by Merriweather's side at the monitor when Dr. Wolfe walks in, his hands likewise clasped behind his back. Unlike Dr. Wolfe, however, the medical doctor is a cheerful sort, known for his impeccable bedside manner and good humour around patients.

"Lovely of you to join us, Dr. Wolfe," Sally enthuses, though he doesn't turn away from the monitor. He's watching Ashley take slow, cautious steps, running a nervous hand through her brown hair as she looks around at the overgrown grass and wildflowers. Slowly, it becomes apparent that her skin isn't about to melt. Slowly, she becomes more comfortable, and allows herself to absorb the wonder of it all as she looks about, barely containing her glee in favour of shock. Salvador too looks impressed, but for now he settles for courtesy: lest it be forgotten that the Mountain Men are a cultured people. "How was your weekend?"

"I wouldn't dare miss a breakthrough such as this, Dr. Montgomery," Poe replies. Which is his way of saying that he was directed to be here, since he would definitely have missed an event such as this in theory. Poe's attention flickers over to the monitor and he watches it as he takes several steps deeper into the room, head canted to the right.

"Intriguing," he offers at first, quietly. "And it was quite pleasant. I'm working on a durable compound to placate our new friends should be need arise."

Grant doesn't contribute to the conversation, he's carefully monitoring Ashley as she stands out there in the sun. He has a timer running on the computer the minute she steps out there, because he wants to get an idea on how long she can last out there. He also takes notes, making observations on her demeanor.

"Wonderful," says Salvador, who for a full-grown man appears to have the excitability of a Border Collie, and therefore probably finds all things wonderful in his own evenly muted way. At the very least, Dr. Wolfe's research is included in that. "Sarah is learning to play the piano. I am trying to impress upon her the importance of classical training, but she's determined that she wants to learn the violin. Grant, would you care to give her a five-minute lesson tomorrow at breakfast?" Since Poe did not ask about his weekend, Sally takes it upon himself to share the details of his own, even so. He seems sure that the cold, clinical psychiatrist would be fascinated to know about his family life.

Four minutes pass and still Ashley seems perfectly fine. More than fine, in fact. No longer nervous, the woman is now delighted, and she turns in the direction of the camera with a big grin and a wave. It worked! On the screen, the enviable image of her enjoying the sunshine radiates back at the scientists cooped indoors… and then she starts to cough. Slowly, red blisters start to bloom upon her face and limbs.

Grant doesn't allow his eyes to leave the screen, but when Sally asks him if he's willing to give a lesson to his daughter, he tells him, "Of course, I'd be happy to stop by and give her some lessons. Does she have a violin or do you need me to bring one?" Besides being a trusty lab tech, Grant also repairs violins in his spare time. At some point he wants to be able to craft them but his skills are not there yet. At the first instance of any skin reactions, Grant time stamps it so they know when she started. He doesn't stop watching, not for a second. "Do you want me to call security, doctor?" Meaning, do they want the subject to be rescued or not.

"No." Poe responds instinctively to Grant and then pauses a moment. He looks at Salvador and inclines his head, "Apologies. Your show and all." He pauses a beat. "Disappointing results though, Doctor Montgomery. I would have expected longer than…" he checks the timer, "Just over four minutes." He tsks quietly, "Very disappointing." A sigh is offered and he states, "Time of death, fourteen thirty two." He looks over to Grant, and then Salvador. "Leave her until it is finished. Time the duration of what appears to be radiation sickness. Compare that to standard values and provide the delta in your report to me." Because that's not at all creepy. The girl could be saved. Easily. And then Poe turns and starts for the exit. "We shall require improved results, Doctor."

Ashley is not yet dead. In fact, at 14:33, she runs for the door, which she starts banging against and screaming at to be let back in. The blisters turn to boils, until she is red from head to toe, grasping at her own neck as her throat closes up and she starts to choke to death.

Salvador looks shocked. At first he just looks disappointed, for the same reasons as Poe, furrowing his brow down at the monitor as he notes the indeed anti-climactic results. And then the verdict is in and he laces his hands in front of him, starting to look decidedly uncomfortable as he glances from face to face present here in this room. "Well, that's a bit hasty now, don't you think?" he questions Dr. Wolfe, but if he really disagreed, surely he would be doing something rather than standing calmly about and making idle conversation. No, he's just being appropriate. The appropriate thing is to be appalled, and that's what he does.

Eight minutes: Ashley collapses in the grass and wildflowers, dead.

Grant doesn't react at the doctor's choice to not save the girl. He just takes a deep breath and lets it out slowly as he records the girl's progressing symptoms, taking several more timestamps to mark the different stages of radiation poisoning. In some ways, leaving her out there is a mercy. Treating radiation poisoning isn't an exact science, James' death shows that. He forces himself to keep a professional demeanor as he watches the girl die within eight minutes. Once the girl expires, he immediately puts a note in to security so they can retrieve the body. They'll need to do an autopsy on the girl.

Poe doesn't say anything else as he exits. He isn't in a hurry, but does leave before Ashely dies. He just seems disappointed. His walk and tone of voice indicated that. He's out the door, without replying to Salvador. These are the choices they all made. Well, those who knew the score anyway.

It's not that Salvador chose not to save Ashley; it's that he didn't choose to save her. Basically this is the same thing, but alongside a doting wife, the difference might help him sleep at night. It wasn't really his fault that Ashley died, surely.

The doctor looks glumly at the monitor, then slumps into his chair. Apparently there are in fact things that can make him not smile, such as failing the promise of a scientific breakthrough.

"Did you get a full reading?" he asks Grant. "And yes, do bring over a violin. I'm sure that Sarah would love that."

Grant nods to Salvador, assuring him that he indeed got the reading, "Yes… I timestamped it along the way and made notes so we can review the tape again, slower and observe the different milestones." He pauses and then tells the good doctor, "It's four minutes Sally… that's time enough to get a door closed if we have a breach. And we only injected the sample… If we do a transfusion of plasma we might be able to up the time spent outside."

"Not that I'm suggesting we test again so soon but it's worth exploring," Grant tells Sally, not wanting him to think that he's suggesting we ask another girl to step out into the sun and die. He is a little disturbed at Poe's choice but on a clinical level understands why Poe needed the subject to die. They need to understand if her stages of death differ from the control or even the ones that have died on Outsiders' blood.

Beyond that, Ashley was going to talk. She was too close to the 23. Her death makes things easier for everyone. "This isn't going to work," says Montgomery, his bleak expression already dismissing each suggestion Grant offers as he makes them. "We have twenty-three subjects to work with. Even if we drained them all entirely, as we do with the Outsiders, there still wouldn't be enough to create a real solution here."

The doctor's jet-black hair is frazzled now as he cuts his hand downwards through the air, determining their options even as he speaks with such defeat in his voice. "We need to speak with the security teams about acquiring more subjects, and we need to find a more elegant solution. Do you want to put in the report to Cage, or shall I? I'm assuming we want to get there before Dr. Wolfe tries to doom and gloom the whole thing into oblivion."

"It will be better coming from you Sally," Grant tells him as he pulls together the notes in record time so Salvador has what he needs to do the report, "If my report is put up against Dr. Wolfe, he'll get the further consideration because I'm just a lab tech." And Cage values Poe's opinion more, as much as it grates on Grant because he is trained in hemotology. This is his specialty.

"Do we know how many are left out there on the outside? I could do some calculations if I knew we had more donors." He's not arguing with the doctor that they don't have a solution with only 23. Now if they had 300 or more, then it might be a solution but that would require a larger extraction than their security teams are prepared for.

"We would have to talk to Corporal Vega about that. My clearance level doesn't cover it," Salvador admits. His clearance level covers many things, from laboratories to the unseemly harvest chamber (which being such a bleeding heart, he avoids), but security personnel he is not. Ashley's body has now seen more sunlight than he ever will, if things stay the course. He rises soon from his chair, picking up the paperwork on R. Mercer's blood and tidying an orderly pile before he files it away. "I'll leave you to speak to security, shall I?" Meaning the team that is on its way to the lab. "Make sure her paperwork matches up when she gets to the morgue. Radiation sickness: induced by contamination from the twenty-three."

"I'll file all the necessary paperwork and then handle notifying her family," Grant tells him. Cleaning up after an experiment after it fails is something that Grant does very well. His father did it for Salvador and now the mantle has fallen on the young man. He bears the burden well as he moves to take care of matters with the cool, calm composure of a man that has done this before, "We'll also want to place restrictions on exposure of the 23. Perhaps give them separate feeding times and provide more separation from the population." He takes a deep breath. "And Dr. Kirschenfeld has also had plenty of exposure. Do you want me to run through the motions of testing all staff that's had extended contact?" He looks to Sally, knowing it's a bother but it will keep up appearances.

The look Sally sends Grant suggests he does indeed deem it to be a bother. When he isn't joking around, Dr. Salvador Montgomery is a busy man, with only so many minutes in the day to spend dilly-dallying. He double-checks his watch, then says, "Yes, alright. It'll be up to President Wallace on the separate feeding times, and I've a feeling he'll say no. But do test Dr. Kirschenfeld in particular."

Grant nods at Sally's words, "I'll make sure to test her and anyone that's had extended contact. I'll talk to Corporal Vega and pull the logs of residents that have had contact." He gives a sigh as he starts pulling the request together, handing the report that's almost completely written for Salvador for him. "Oh also, before you go… I wanted to know when your wife was scheduling your birthday party. My parents are taking their time getting back to me and I don't want to schedule on top of yours." Yes, between duplicity there are birthday parties for Salvador and Grant to plan.

"Well, I expect you'll have to talk to her," Salvador replies with a grim smile. Even for a doctor as cheerful as him, the fortieth milestone is enough to make any man split hairs. "She's planning a surprise, though don't let on that I know it." With the orderly file compiled, he now heads towards the door — the one leading further inside, not outside — with fluid strides against the concrete. "Shame about her," is all he says about Ashley, turning for a moment to nod towards the monitor.

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