Day 039: Reaping Knowledge
Summary: Mister Blackwood, Miss Kennedy, and Dr. Li begin to crack the secret of the Reapers.
Date: 6 July 2016
Related: Reapercussions
Li Morgan Silver 

Infirmary, Camp Jaha
This was only intended to be a secondary medbay, a backup to the main Go-Sci labs. Unfortunately, Go-Sci is still in orbit. There are 20 medical beds, and space for another dozen or so cots, any more casualties have to spill out into the hallways or nearby rooms. Each of the beds has a computer readout alongside it, and several more line the walls, displaying information or patient scans as necessary. Imaging equipment folds back into the wall or the ceiling, and racks of additional equipment line the walls, all the way up to where the top corners angle in to make the ceiling narrower than the floor.
39 Days After Landing

From the day they arrived, it's been obvious Morgan regards the remaining 100 as his patients. Asher especially, given how often he's had to patch up the guy. At the moment, he's seated at a computer terminal and creating a file of healing herbs, listing their names, benefits and - assuming the computer banks have it - a picture of the leaf, root, or tree depending on what part is used. He's seated at a slight angle to give the sword clearance so it doesn't bump into anything.

Doctor Anna Li steps quietly into the infirmary with her usual casual, yet quiet, stride. Her lab coat had once been pristine white, but over the generations, it has become discolored, particularly at the hems. She has managed to maintain several pairs of scrubs, and wears a pair of pale blue ones now. The knees are patched in the pants, but they otherwise look well-cared for. With her bone-straight black hair wound up in a tight knot, she has a very no-nonsense expression. Her gaze flicks to Morgan as she enters, and then to the sword, and then back to Morgan. "Mister Blackwood, good morning," she greets, her tone warm and pleasant.

Morgan looks over at hearing his name and nods a greeting. "Doctor Li. Morning." Looking back to the computer, he finishes that entry then sort of half turns to make it clear he's done typing for the moment. "I've been thinking of how best to do emergency transfusions and was wondering if you have a better way. I was thinking direct to avoid any exposure of the blood itself to anything that could contaminate it. Needles, tubing and medical tape."

The Chief of Medicine steps up to the monitors, and picks up her assigned dataslate. Li taps it awake, bringing up the nightshift reports. Her eyes scan the information presented, and she cannot help the small smirk that plays at her lips. "Looks like Mister Kholmin keeps trying to escape… should we start using binder cuffs?" The question is posed without much seriousness to Morgan before she focuses on his question. "Are we talking field transfusions or medical lab transfusions?" She steps toward the young Med Tech, tucking her dataslate in the large pocket meant for its holstering.

"Field. I assume we've got stuff here actually suited to the purpose." Morgan says. He can't help but grin a bit at the comment about Asher. "He does that. It's usually easier to just let him have his way then discover for himself why he should have listened. And if he was careful enough, no harm done."

Li looks thoughtful, arms crossed with her fingers resting on opposite biceps. Her mouth presses into a thin, thoughtful line, and then she nods curtly. "We didn't often have to deal with field transfusions on the Ark… trauma teams were always instructed to tourniquet and get the person moved as quick as they could to medical, but…" She gestures broadly to the wide outdoors. "You're right that the field is quite large these days." Then she smiles lightly before she stuffs her hands into her pockets, patting the coat against her thighs. "We can do vein to artery transfusions, but that should only be for stabilizing… if we're dealing with massive blood loss, there could be a risk to the donor." Then she shakes her head. "And Ark personnel to Ark personnel is safe, but I've not had a chance to run full panels on… Grounder blood. It is unlikely that they went through the same genetic mapping we did to ensure we all had the same blood type."

"I'm guessing you didn't have to deal with a lot of things on the Ark that are common down here." Morgan notes, just a touch dryly. Swords to neck for instance. "I thought of the typing problem too. We just combine samples. The clotting on non-compatible types and RH factors is visible to the naked eye. It might not be ideal but…" He shrugs. If it's an emergency, nothing is ideal. "I can ask one of the Grounders if they'd be willing to donate a sample."

"The Ark's natural sterile environment was a bit of a blessing," Li replies in equal dryness, though she allows herself to be humored by these things instead of saddened. She then looks thoughtful, frowning a bit. "Only if we are thinking about whole blood," she offers with a slight shrug. "Blood product might be better, but that isn't exactly field friendly. If we had emergency rovers, we could have blood product on hand, but I doubt it is travel friendly." Then she nods a bit at the idea of a donor. "Yes… being able to run some tests on Grounder blood could be beneficial… on multiple levels."

Silver has changed out of the distinctly grounder gear she wore when she arrived, back into the stained and battered clothes she's worn for the better part of the last month before coming to the infirmary. They're at least as clean as hot water could get them, so that's something. Hands in her pockets as if to prove she's going to keep them to herself, she steps quietly into the infirmary, looking around cautiously. "I could probably get some samples," she speaks up quietly as she approaches, looking sheepishly between the pair.

Morgan looks the part of an Arker except for the Grounder swordbelt, sheath and sword and the Ark satchel attached to the belt. Too many times he hasn't had any medical equipment to be willing to not have it handy. "I was thinking Tuan might be willing." he says to Silver. "But you can probably get Wren to agree. Then again, the more samples the better." he looks from Silver back to Li and says "Since we're all here, maybe we should do that autopsy?" He's been patient but anything that can will help getting Cam back should be done yesterday.

Li turns slightly toward Silver, and the recognition is instant. The Chief Medical Officer offers a full smile to the young woman, nodding her head slightly. "Miss Kennedy… I had heard you may not be returning to Medical, but… I am glad to see you." Li's warmth is genuine, as it always has been — a master at bedside manner, but only because it fits who she is. The Mother Hen of Medical. She nods then at her offer. "Much can be learned from hair and blood samples… we could even figure out how they survived the fallout." Her tone suggests how impressed she is with that. Then her gaze cuts to Morgan, and she offers a quick nod. "Alright… wash up. I've kept the body in a sterile bag and chilled… I want to make sure there's no risk of decontaminants."

"Wren would. Pontus might," Silver nods to Morgan. "It'd be nice to get a sample from Starling, too, if only for a chance to compare types among family, but…That might be pushing it." She smiles faintly back at Li, turning to look around the bay. "I kind of thought you guys were in better shape," she admits. "I guess everything was so busy when we woke up, and things were…I didn't really see. I figured I'd be more useful learning how the grounders - Trikru," she corrects herself, "Were doing things. Then I came back here and…It looks like things weren't maybe as good as I thought. My poor babies had a rough ride down." Poor babies, as in the monitors by the beds. Poor, poor electronics.

Morgan saves the file he was working on and stands up to go get cleaned up. "This should be fun. I've never done an autopsy before." It's difficult to tell if that was sarcastic or not. "Wish I'd thought to have done one on the three with the acid burns. It would have told us something useful about the mist. And Benning might agree. And Que. Maybe Bruns but he'd want to trade for his blood and hair." Okay, that was definitely a joke.

"I'll take any samples we can get," the Councilor says honestly. "Though, a variety would be best." Then she looks to Silver and offers a somber note. "We're lucky that the techs were able to get the solar panels fixed so fast," Li says to Silver, looking over at the monitors with her own affection. "Not that I don't think we couldn't have managed, but… we're severely understaffed now." She sighs heavily, shrugging out of her coat and extracting the dataslate from its pocket. "I insisted on dividing up the medical staff as evenly as I could between the stations, because Saint Claire wasn't certain we would land close together… to have every thing in one station would have proven to be a bad idea." Then she hangs up her coat, and grabs a bandana to tie over her hair and a face mask. She heads into the back room that has been kept at a chilling temperature to preserve the Reaper body. The body is still snuggly zipped up in a containment bag.

Silver gets cleaned up, wrapping a spare piece of cloth around her own hair before she follows the pair into the back room. "We didn't have enough to keep ourselves safe in case it was an infection and not acid," she shrugs to Morgan. "Or anything to analyze whatever we found by cutting them up. Plus the blood…" She shivers, though that could be from the chill in the room. Or maybe it's the memory of the fight with the Reapers.

"I'd have seen how bad the damage was to their lungs." Morgan points out as he follows Li. "I'm thinking that's what killed them. Or just the internal damage in general. It's a safe assumption but it would be nice to know that if we do get exposed, holding your breath could keep you alive long enough to get out."

"So, Miss Kennedy," Li begins, her voice slightly muffled through the protective face mask. "What do the Grounders say about these… Reapers?" She starts to unzip the bag, pulling it open to reveal the body. It hasn't yet been cleaned, leaving it looking more grotesque in death than it did in life — if that is possible. She looks to Morgan, offering him a nod. "Mister Blackwood… let's remove its clothing, and wash it down. I want to collect some particulates, just in case we're dealing with an external factor. Maybe something they are exposed to." She looks up to the pair, and frowns. "This acid fog… it comes from Mount Weather, right?"

"We assume," Silver nods to Li. "I mean, the Trikru say that it happens when people get too close to Mount Weather, so it's logical to assume that the two things are related." She catches the inside of her cheek between her teeth, watching the body closely, as if it's going to jump up again. "They say that whatever makes the Reapers, it turns them into mindless beasts. They - the Trikru - know that the Reapers were their own people once. They've recognized them. But the Reapers, once they're Reapers, are just hungry and angry. They don't recognize anyone anymore. Speaking of which, they've asked if they can dispose of the body when we're finished," she adds absently.

Morgan unbuckles the belt and sets it all aside before grabbing a scalpel to start cutting its clothes off. "Cannibalistic." he clarifies. "And yeah, someone needs to burn it, whether it's us or them. That was a condition of getting the wagon to take it and Asher here."

"Could be a parasite," Li postulates as she watches Morgan. She starts then preparing some tools and collection vessels for blood and tissue. "There were some old Earth parasites that could cause brain damage… could be something that attacks the prefrontal cortex." Then she sighs thoughtfully. "My guess is that we need to focus the autopsy in the brain, but a full organ examine should be done, too." She frowns a bit, but it is a thoughtful expression.

"They'd really like to know if it can be reversed," Silver grimaces, stepping forward to help with the prep. "I didn't…have the words to explain why that might not be possible. Depending on what's being damaged, and if it's being actually damaged or just temporarily blocked. But if we could find a way to reverse it, that'd give us a serious leg up when it comes to friendly relations."

Morgan gives Li a surprised look. "Yes, I thought of a parasite. Or maybe some kind of poisoning. Possibly mineral? Radioactive mineral?" He shrugs, pulling guesses out of a hat. "Reversing it would just be plus but if we can tell them how to take precaution to keep it from happening I'll be happy. We need to show them that we can help them as much as they think they can help us."

"If it is a parasite, we could possibly find a way to remove it," Li offers, frowning. "But, even the most complacent of parasites can dig in deep and cause irreversible damage." Then she offers Silver some space to prep, and she looks up to Morgan. "Do you remember how to make a Y-incision, Mister Blackwood?" She nods to the corpse, that is undoubtedly cleaned off by now. "We will start with a preliminary look at the chest cavity before we remove the skull cap."

Silver frowns slightly to herself, thinking things through. "The question would also be where they were picking it up," she muses. "And how. I can see where they might not've found it, though, I don't think they'd cut up their fallen friends to poke around after the trauma of having to put them down." Once she's finished, she moves to one side of the body, watching carefully. "The brain makes the most sense," she agrees with Li. "But if it's a toxin that's affecting the brain, maybe we can find something in the liver. Did any of the blood analysis machines make it through the landing?"

"I think I can manage it." Morgan answers. It's a Y incision. Hard to fuck those up. The S incisions are the bitch. "An insect maybe. Or some kind of spore." He shrugs. It's all speculation at the moment. One slice, two then three. Voila. A Y. Even if they don't form the most perfect intersection.

Li nods with Silver's words, and ultimately to her question. "Yes… just one…" She offers a small, almost wane smile. "But it is in good working order, as long as it doesn't break." And she raps her knuckles against the autopsy table, as knocking on wood is now more symbolic than literal. There hasn't been wood on the Ark, save for the Last Tree, and no one would dare knock on that. "Insect with a very small range," Li says, uncertain. She stands back like a dutiful teacher, only offering suggestions and adjustments when she needs to. Otherwise, she is quite okay leaving Morgan and Silver to show off their skills, as they had both been quite along in their training before they were boxed.

"Small mercies, at least," Silver nods to Li, stepping in to help retract. "Is it absolutely terrible of me if I desperately want to get a look at their blood chemistry just to know what it's like, after surviving all of the fall out?" she murmurs as she works. If anyone will understand, it's other doctors, right?

Morgan nods to Silver as they open up the chest cavity and start checking things out. "We should compare it to our own. Which reminds me, do we have a geiger counter on the station? There was a nuclear war. There's gotta be radiation. Just look at the two headed deer."

"I would ask the techs," Li offers to Morgan at his question. Then she offers Silver a wry smile. "You're a scientist… hungering for knowledge is on par for the course, Miss Kennedy." She then steps forward when Morgan and Silver finish up with the chest cavity. "Alright… about what I would expect, though…" She frowns a bit at the liver. "We should probably run those tissue samples with the first batch… I don't like the look of it." She then nods up to the skull. "Miss Kennedy, could you please remove the scalp tissue and prepare the bone saw." The best part, apparently!

"Could be genetic damage from ancestors that were exposed to the radiation. But yeah. Two-headed deer are weird," Silver agrees with Morgan. "I thought the bracelets were designed to report back on radiation," she adds, glancing to Li as she moves to the Reaper's head. This is so much nicer than what she had to do to get the bracelets off the first pair of dead kids. What a difference tools make!

"I should. Though obviously the war wasn't as bad as it was thought for people to survive." Stepping back, he gets out of the way of possible bone fragments but also so he can get a good view.

Once Silver has peeled back the scalp and removed the skull cap, it becomes quite evident that they are definitely dealing with the side effects of cannibalism. There is heavy damage to the brain's frontal lobes, and quite a few brain lesions across the other lobes. The brain stem seems to be the only healthy part of the brain, and even looks a bit larger than your typical specimen. With Morgan and Silver so close to the head of the reaper, they can both see a combination of scarring and fresh wounds that look like rounded marks from some kind of weapon. They are focused along both sides of the neck, and seem to be about the size of an old Earth nickel.

Since Li is more at the torso, she doesn't notice, but is handing the pair sample containers to take slivers of brain tissue, again, offering feedback as they work.

"Uh…" Silver pauses, looking up from the autopsy, first at Li, then at Morgan. "This doesn't look like anything that came from the fight to you, does it?" she asks Morgan, pointing out one of the wounds. "I don't remember anything using anything blunt. I remember axes, swords, and arrows. And Grey had the shock baton, but…that doesn't look like that."

Morgan is frowning at the condition of the brain. "It almost looks like he devolved somehow. Look how the brain stem is larger than normal when the rest has degenerated. I'd say we've found the cause for their behavior. What's causing it?" Silver's question gets him to shake his head. "No, I was right there and I didn't see anything that would account for those wounds. Besides, look at the ones already healed. And all in the same location? I can't think of anything that could account for it."

When the two notice the wounds, Li steps up to examine them herself. She looks thoughtful, crossing her arms. "Hmm," she muses thoughtfully. Her gaze glances to Morgan, and then to Silver, and she nods slightly. "Alright… time to think outside the box," she says, tone taking on that of a teacher. With gloved fingers, she gently pokes at a fresher wound, and then pulls it taut. "Mister Blackwood, Miss Kennedy… just look at the wound… think of it outside its context… what does it remind you of?"

Silver leans down to get a closer look, brows furrowing. "Could be an insect sting of some sort, though it doesn't look like there's swelling around it," she says reluctantly. "Which means…Nothing good." She looks up to the others, almost hoping there's disagreement. "Injection sites."

"Outside its context?" Morgan repeats. "Well, if it wasn't on a corpse that came fresh from a battle, I'd say…" Trailing off, he looks over at Silver. And then he actually smiles. "Damn. It's from a hypospray. When we tell the Grounders the Mountain Men are the ones turning them into Reapers, they're going to want blood." Which means Cam is that much closer to being rescued.

"Blood samples," Li agrees, nodding curtly. "I want to run the blood through analysis. Now." She picks up a syringe, handing it to Silver so she can extract some of the blood. "And Mister Blackwood, I want a sample from the limbic system." That would be the part of the brain that contains its reward circuit — i.e. the part of the brain associated with addiction. Li looks over at Morgan, offering up a hand to stall him. "We don't make assumptions, Mister Blackwood… all we need to do is assume this is the Mountain Men, and only find out that there's an entirely different group involved." Though, based on her tone, she agrees with Morgan despite her attempts to stay open-minded.

"Morgan," Silver groans. "I want to get our people back, too, but I would really prefer to do it with people actually using their brains instead of everyone going on a revenge-fueled blood-binge without thinking about consequences." She takes the syringe, though, drawing a sample with a few glances toward the brain. "If it's a drug…then there's a chance we could reverse it, yeah? If we caught it early enough. Doesn't help once the damage has been done."

"Just like with the gas that knocked us out, they're the only ones anyone knows of with the technology to do such a thing." Morgan points out. "I think it goes beyond assumption to logical deduction." Nodding to Li, he gets the sample. "There's still the problem of getting into the mountain, Silver. No matter how badly they'll want blood, they aren't stupid." Pause. "Well, most of them aren't." Sonia being an exception. "It's a reason for them to help us. First though, we need enough evidence to conv…" Stopping dead in mid word and motion, his jaw clenches as a fist tightens. "They're going to do this to Cam."

"Perhaps," Li nods to Silver's words. "If it is a drug, we at least could put the infected through a rigorous detox." Her expression goes a bit dark. "But, that could have profound effects as well. Detoxifications can cause withdraw symptoms." She shakes her head slightly, raising a hand to Morgan. "No… do not think like that, Mister Blackwood. To succeed here, we need to maintain a level head and approach this through logic and reason… run the sample, Miss Kennedy. Let's see what we're dealing with." And she nods them both out of the chilling room where the analysis systems await them.

"They're not going to do this to Cam, Morgan," Silver starts saying it even before he finishes. "Or any of our people. I mean, maybe Asher if they'd picked him up, but look at who the Reapers are. Have you seen a scrawny teenage Reaper yet? If the Mountain is making them, then they're doing it for protection, and the kids they took from our camp aren't exactly bruisers. Besides, we're new. They'll want to get as much information as possible out of them before they start injecting them with things." One might get the sense that she intends that to be reassuring, taking the sample out. At least she's trying.

"Experiments. Will it work on us as well." Morgan counters. "They only need a couple to try that on. And others to try different things." So Cam might not end up a Reaper but who knows if there's something worse. He just nods to Li and finishes taking the sample. A level head, yes. So he can plan how to get in there and kill every single one of them.

Li tries to follow her own advice as they step out of the makeshift autopsy lab and into the main infirmary. She steps up to the various machines set aside for analysis and diagnostic, and begins to work with the blood so she can run analysis on it. It does not take long for the abnormality to pop up, and Li frowns. "Miss Kennedy," she says, drawing Silver to the results. "Do you see what I see?"

It's fairly hard to miss: the Reaper blood is laced with a synthetic drug.

"We are going to need to isolate that… and run tests." She looks at Silver, and her expression seems a bit more uncertain. "Perhaps Mister Blackwood is onto something here… perhaps the Mountain has been creating Reapers."

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