| It has been a busy day at the clinic. In direct defiance of Murphy's Law, however, the evening traffic has lightened considerably. A few sniffling children wait to be seen by the nurses; one clutching a wounded arm, likely broken, another with the flu, the third with a strange rash. Nothing life-threatening. The flourescent lights make them all look more ill than they are.
His shift over, Jack has commandeered one of the patient rooms and invited Morag to visit him with a strange and concise message: "It's about the bug."
And so evening finds him staring at some medical research books and listening to Willie Nelson play on his portable CD player.
Having heard from Niamh and such that Jackalope has been wanting to get ahold of her, a bit of careful inquiry has resulted in Morag taking a bus to the clinic. That's right, this Scion of the Watchtower of the Stone Book makes her way around Edinburgh using public transit. Go fig. She walks in with a shopping bag full of cheap medical supplies - cotton swabs, bandages, the sort of stuff that free clinics always needs buckets off and while cheap, the volume gone through is often pretty pricey. Stepping in, she looks around, hoping to spot Jackalope.
The nurse currently on duty looks Morag over critically, but spotting the supplies, decides to err on the side of resigned friendliness. She offers a terse smile, then pushes a button and speaks quietly into her phone. Sure enough, a moment later, Jack appears in the a hall outside of the examination room, waving to get Morag's attention. "Howdy, Lil Miss," he hollars, "right this way!"
Morag can't help chuckling at the appellation of Little Miss. She's more accustomed to lass from the locals, but reckons it about the same sort of thing. "Hello...Jack." she uses the name tenatively, under the assumption that it's how he wishes to be addressed in front of the Sleeper public. She follows him dutifully clutching her bag of supplies.
And indeed, the name seems to be readily accepted. Holding the door with one hand, he ushers her in with the other. "So glad you could make it," he drawls, tossing a wave of thanks to the nurse who informed him of Morag's arrival. And then, he's closing the door, his expression growing more serious. "I hear you are lookin' into this bug," he says, moving the CD player by the door to make it more difficult for anyone to listen in from the outside.
"In as much as someone with my qualifications can." she admits, her Edinburgh accent rounding out all her vowells and vibrating her r's. "I'm afraid the science involved is not really matters. Which as it turns out, may not be a bad thing, but I still lack foundations to really understand it - am I making sense at all?"
"Yeah," Jack nods after a moment, scratching at one cheek. "You're not a virologist. But you can still solve a puzzle." He seems completely unbothered by the admission. Resting back against the cabinets, he folds his arms over his scrawny chest. "And boy to we have us a puzzle, Missy. The virus that made me sick? It was being controled by another virus. Like...a separate entity."
"When I got infected, I didn't notice that. I just healed myself straightaway." she confesses sheepishly. "A few people with more fingers in pies then I have got back to me with some research about it, but I'm not entirely sure what to do with what I know."
"Yep. I blasted the crap right outta me," Jack says, nodding, not one to mince words, "but I was still able to find traces. Traces that indicate the virus was being /directed/ to evolve." He lets that sink in, then coaxes, "What did your folks tell you?"
"That all the people currently being held in quarintine in the Royal Infirmary are being categorized as carriers for 'swing fever'. According to the...rules? I suppose, of viral structure, what they're carrying shouldn't actually be causing any harm to a human body, but it's not behaving within its parameters, as obviously they're experiencing symptoms. Thus far there's been no success in neutralizing it - but at the same time, none of the carriers are dying, either."
"Yeah, that lines up with what I was able to learn," Jackalope drawls slowly. After a moment, he punctuates the statement with a heavy sigh, one hand scrubbing over the top of his head in frustration and leaving a mess of hair in its wake. "I think there is a second virus, one not yet detected, in the human hosts. This second virus is encoding the swine virus to affect its human hosts. We need to find a way to isolate that second virus."
Morag looks thoughtful. "You were able to detect traces of the secondary virus in your body even after neutralizing the swine flu virus?" she asks.
"I was," Jack affirms. "The traces were just about dead by the time I was able to get a read on them, but in a living host with an active virus culture, it shouldn't be a problem to detect at all. Whatever these bastards are...they are /tough/. The purge I performed on myself should have blasted every trace of this thing out of me. The fact that there was anything left is worrisome."
"So first problem," Morag folds her arms in front of her chest, "We don't know how to isolate or neutralize the secondary virus. Second, which lends itself to more questions, we also don't know where and why it originated, though it's obvious it's designer and intentional. A friend of mine with an eye for the future got the gut feeling that this could become a significant problem for our little society of fellows in the future if this isn't handled."
"I don't see any reason why we can't do a survey of our human hosts for the virus using a little bit of special sauce." Special sauce is apparently Jack's new favorite euphemism for 'life magic'. "If we can narrow down the parameters of what we are looking for, you or I could find a sample and then take a closer look." He rubs the bridge of his nose. "Perhaps the secrets of its origins can be learned by figuring out what the hell it /is/."
"True. If we can get a sample, we can scrutinize it, maybe learn something about the nature of the creator." Morag perks visibly. "That makes a great deal of sense." She gives him a pleased expression, as if to suggest he is brilliant.
"What? Don't look at me that way," Jack grouses. "You're the expert here. I'm just reportin' in." He saunters over to move the CD player from its place near the door, setting it back on the counter. "Now go tell those contacts of yours that we need a sample. Or barring that, access to one of those patients."
"How am I the expert? You're the one with the medical degree." she points out, and shakes her head. "Agrivain's a media mogul. I might be able to acquire press passes, but I doubt that would get us into quarantined areas."
"A medical degree is all a part of lie. In some ways, I'm less qualified than you because I'm still bound by old notions. Useful now, yes. But in the days to come?" Jack shrugs, "I'm not so sure." As for the rest: "Work your magic. Get us access to those patients. If not, we'll have to do it my way. And that ain't /ever/ pretty."
Morag lifts her brows. "How is your way, exactly?"
"I'm a spook," Jack says, with an easy roll of his shoulders. "When spooks get involved, illegal things happen. Breaking and entering. Blackmail. Kidnapping. I'm not even averse to checking out a corpse instead of a living body to examine this virus in greater detail, though I suspect the latter will give us more info."
"I'm waiting to hear about how any of this is supposed to be bothersome to me." Morgaine replies wryly. "It simply sounds expedient. I don't have /any/ medical community contacts. I'll try and work within my circle, though."
"Fair enough," Jack says with a curt little nod. Then, face softening a bit, he adds, "You're doin' great, kiddo. I know you can pull this off." Without more fanfare, he opens the door to the examination room. "Lemme know when you do."
"Of course." she says, and chuckles. "Kiddo. That's new. American phrase, yes?" The question, it would seem, is rhetorical as she makes her way out.
"I reckon it is," Jack says with a small nod. "Means 'pain in the ass'. Now get outta here." Giving Morag a wink, he turns back into the room and, baring any final remarks from her, closes the door softly behind him.