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“I have and M.D. with a specialization in genetics.” Now, which question to ask? How much information could she get from a woman in a rush? “Now, do you happen to know anything about the drug Lenthe? The FDA is very interested in it.”

The bodyguard may not know anything; she was hired to watch over a teenage girl. But Noriana knew that sometimes the hired help had a tendency to network with each other in a way that was nearly incomprehensible to her. It was possible that Ms. Ensis had heard something while inside Mnemosyne headquarters that was not in the official files.

“We can step back into my apartment to talk, if you would prefer. The streets are very crowded today.” She sent a pointed look at the police officers currently patrolling the streets.
Mina had never been so tempted to throw caution to the winds and show her hand. The impulse to just tell this stranger that her ward was the lab rat used to create Lethe and she should just come with her right now to manufacture a cure immediately was stupidly strong. This above anything else told her how much she was losing control.

Mina Ensis was panicking. She had never panicked before in her life. Or had she? Could she really be trusted to know anymore? 'Stop it,' she told herself in agitation, 'Lethe doesn't work that fast. Get a grip. Get back on track. It's time to function as if nothing has gone wrong or you and Echo are both going to end up dead.'

Before she just handed her charge over to this woman, she needed proof she was who she said she was. She also needed to be satisfied that the doctor was good enough to do what was necessary. Mina eyed her critically for a moment. She was awfully young for an M.D. That either meant she was a prodigy or she had friends in high places to pull strings. The latter was far too possible to just ignore it.

Scanning the street as Dr. Mitchell had, Mina grimaced. She had walked out into the street in front of a bunch of cops. Phenomenal work, really. Her gaze swiveled back to the doctor again. It occurred to her that the doctor was aware of Mina's aversion to the authorities. Had she heard the news, then? In which case... was she walking into a trap? Why would she want to help a berserker bodyguard who had captured a teenage girl? Unless she knew about Echo's unique background. Her eyes narrowed on the woman. Her lenses indicated that she was an average human being- no hidden genetic mutations. If it came to a fight, Mina would win hands down. Even if there were cops laying in wait, she wasn't too worried about being able to handle an ambush. Especially since she was half expecting it. Mina's options at the moment were rather limited. This could be exactly what she had hoped to find over the course of a week and here it was, landing in her lap mere hours after the fact. There was no way she could pass up looking into this.

"Alright, doc. What apartment are you? I don't do front door entries. I'm paranoid. I'll meet you there."
‘She doesn’t ‘do’ front door entrances? She expects me to give her permission to break into my home?’ Was this wise? Logic said...little because it was quickly becoming apparent that very little about this situation was logical. If the bodyguard knew nothing, she probably wouldn’t be so paranoid. So she must know something. That meant that Ensis was either going to help Noriana or murder her quietly in her own home to cover employer’s tracks. Noriana was going to have to gamble on the other woman’s loyalty to Mnemosyne.

“I live in 12C. The window is on the opposite side of the building from us.” Noriana turned and walked back into her building. Once she was safely inside, she took her mini-tazer out of the convenient side-pocket of her briefcase and concealed it in her sleeve. If Ensis tried to murder her, at least she could pretend she had a fighting chance.

Minutes later, she was unlocking the door to her small, ruthlessly organized apartment. The walls were lined with bookcases containing medical texts, binders filled with documents from some of her old studies, and even a few fiction books. Her various degrees (two bachelors--one in biology, one in chemistry--and an M.D.) hung in their frames on one of the few bits of wall not taken up by shelves. She could have had all of the books in digital format (in fact, she did), but her compulsive tendency to write notes in margins meant that the paper versions meant far more to her than text on a screen.

As she entered her apartment, she gripped the mini-tazer in her hand, hoping it would be concealed by her fingers and give her an advantage should Ensis attack.
12C. Cake. As soon as the doctor was inside her apartment building, Mina slunk back into the shadows and made her way through back alleys until she was behind the doctor's building and then she began to climb. Counting to eleven with care, she started testing the windows. She struck gold six apartments over. Even better, there was no one home. She slid silently into what had to be the office of whosever home she had just broken into. Clearly, they didn't feel the need to keep their windows locked eleven stories up. Closing the window, she disturbed nothing as she left first that room, then the apartment in general. Finding the nearest stairwell, she made her way up. It was far easier to tell specific apartments from inside, after all. Not many people kept their numbers by their windows. As she got to the door for floor twelve, she cracked it open and her lenses flickered on. Scanning the floor as a whole, she was able to detect that there were only about four or five people on the entire floor at the moment. Their exact locations weren't entirely discernable. Most of the residents had clearly left for work. So if there was an ambush, they had opted for a smaller group.

When she finally came upon 12C, she tested the door out of habit and smirked. It was open. Tugging her gun from the small of her back, she creeped silently into the apartment. Pausing momentarily, she waited for her lenses to tell her the specs of the place. Large living area, one bedroom, one bathroom and a functional kitchen. One body in the living room area. Tensed. She slid along the hall wall and had her lenses zero in on the doctor. She was holding a tazer.

So, no ambush at all. That was good. Apparently, however, the good doctor thought she could take down a trained body guard with a single tazer and no muscle. Cute. Again, she contemplated killing the woman, but that would be such a waste. She had to know if this opportunity was at all viable. It took her a matter of seconds to get across the room, behind the woman and catch hold of her wrist, which she squeezed until Mitchell dropped the would be weapon. Smashing that under her foot, Mina dropped her arm and slid back a few paces, arching a brow at her.

"If you were trying to be the hero who brought in the felon, it was incredibly stupid not to have back up." There was little point in keeping her recent indiscretions a secret. If Mitchell didn't know already, the moment she flipped on any channel or walked anywhere in public, she was going to hear the story. Keeping the doctor in her peripheral vision at all times, Mina studied the room swiftly. The woman was smart. She had the credentials to back up what she was saying. Now she just had to know how accurate they were.

"You asked me if I knew anything about Lethe. Why is the FDA so interested in it?"
Noriana dropped the tazer almost immediately. She had never been good at dealing with physical pain. Now she just had to hope that the fact that she was still breathing meant that Ensis wasn’t going to kill her.

She turned to Ensis, taking a moment to comprehend her words. “Felon? Since when are you a felon? I just don’t want to get murdered by a bodyguard intent on protecting Mnemosyne from prosecution.” As soon as the words left her mouth, Noriana remembered one of the main reasons she was bad with people. She was terrible at lying on the fly. Usually that meant she said something like “the way your dress is cut is unflattering”, but apparently here that meant saying the equivalent of “please kill me”.

Well, no use in trying to backtrack now. She would inquire about the “felon” bit later. Or maybe never. “Mnemosyne has ignored several very important steps in the process for getting Lethe approved by the FDA. A high number of people have recently been committed to hospitals for atypical cases of retrograde amnesia that line up suspiciously well with the intended effects of Lethe--or rather, what would happen if the intended effects of Lethe got out of control. That adds up to a very necessary investigation by the FDA.” Noriana felt no need to mention that this was a one-woman, off-the-books investigation. There was no point in showing all her cards (or lack thereof) now. Maybe if Ensis thought a team of people was looking into this she wouldn’t kill Noriana.

“So, do you have any information to contribute to this investigation?”
Mina's smile was brittle and cold as Mitchell talked. 'If the intended effects of Lethe got out of control.' They certainly had. She was surprised that it had taken so long for someone to catch on. She was also surprised that this woman hadn't been silenced yet. Mnemosyne had too many FDAs in their pocket. Mitchell couldn't have been talking about this with many people. Once again, Mina let her eyes rove over the doctor's personal belongings.

"What would you do if you got your hands on the information you're seeking?" she asked airily, putting her gun away and clasping her hand over it. "A full scale inquiry? You haven't reached that level yet, of that I'm sure. Although, I admit, something has gotten the company spooked enough to start covering their tracks." She shot the woman a look here, "But I highly doubt it's just you. How much support do you have behind this investigation?"

Mina never had been able to find out exactly what triggered Mnemosyne to decide to eliminate their billion-dollar lab rat. She had assumed it was preemptive move because so many of their customers were having such severe side effects and people were bound to notice. On top of their recent discovery that the virus was active and could be spread. But if the FDA actually WAS investigating, that would be a better trigger. And also infinitely helpful in their situation. If she could get Echo to these people, they were far more likely to manufacture the cure and then NOT kill Echo. They had those morals or whatever. Greater good for all nonsense. Which currently worked great for Mina's cause.

And if, as she was inclined to suspect, Dr. Mitchell was working by herself, than at least she was a genetics expert. It wouldn't hurt to let her study Echo under supervision.
Something here was very, very off. The bodyguard of a spoiled rich girl should not know more than a few tidbits about Lethe, if that. Noriana was not sure that she should trust someone who knew so much more than they should with the full facts of her situation; namely: she was the only one investigating, and her investigation was not strictly approved by the FDA. They couldn’t approve (or disapprove) of something they had no knowledge of.

“The amount of support I have depends on how much information you give me.” Truth. She was her own support, and she would be useless without information. There was also a chance, albeit a small one, that enough information from credible sources meant she could take it to someone important enough within the FDA to give her backup. Someone who wasn’t already in Mnemosyne’s pocket, as she suspected many of her supervisors were. “Exactly how much do you have? I can assure you, if you have the information I need, I will do everything within my power to stop whatever horror Lethe has unleashed on the world.” She was doing a lot of obfuscating about her support system, but this was pure truth. Holes showing up in people’s memories, people’s memories being wiped entirely, was not something she would sit back and let happen. It went against the “working for the good of the whole” philosophy Noriana lived by.

She filed the bit about the company “already covering their tracks” under the heading of “ask about later”, next to the fact that Ensis was now a felon, and came up with a possible answer. Ensis became a felon overnight, and coincidentally, she seemed to know a lot about Lethe. Was Ensis one of the tracks they were trying to cover? She was certain that if Mnemosyne had FDA employees on their payroll, they most certainly had a few cops. Perhaps they had tried to frame her for something? Or tried to kill her and the plan backfired? Of course, that still left the question of why a bodyguard needed to be hushed up over something she shouldn’t have known about in the first place.

Hmm.... Noriana cocked her head slightly to the side and studied Ensis. “If you are a felon, as you say, the government might be willing to make a deal with you. Information on Mnemosyne in exchange for immunity or reduced charges for whatever crime you committed.” A gamble. Possibly true, depending on who Mnemosyne had in their very deep pockets, but offering was worth a try.
She would do all everything within her power, eh? Mina knew deliberately vague answers when she heard them. She'd be willing to bet that Dr. Mitchell didn't have much support. That was alright for now. It grated against her better judgement to place so much trust in a woman that she barely knew, but the lack of options available to her reared their ugly head once again.

Mulling over how to handle this, Mina was a little jolted by the offer of immunity. She smiled wryly. She hadn't even really considered the future much beyond getting ahold of someone to help Echo and make a cure. She figured once the cure was made and everything was out in the open, one of two things would happen. Echo would be accepted back into the world (as a freak, yes, but safe) and Mina would have to go underground (she had aided and abetted Mnemosyne in the manufacture of Lethe, after all) and protect her from the shadows, or Echo would be condemned as too dangerous and they'd both have to go underground.

Regardless, she might as well tell the woman why she was considered a felon at the moment. "I've kidnapped my ward, Dr. Mitchell," Mina said silkily, arching a brow. "That's why I am a felon. Tell me... how much do you know about Echo Gavril? Have you ever, ah... had a good look at the girl?"

For as long as she had been in charge of her wellbeing, Mina had been boggled that no one had ever asked questions as to why the Gavril girl looked so eerily perfect. She LOOKED genetically impossible, for Christ's sake. And yet no one bothered to look into it, they just avoided the girl like she was diseased. Maybe if she could GET someone to look into it.
Noriana had a file on Echo, just as she did Echo’s adoptive father, Ensis, and numerous prominent members of Mnemosyne. It was intelligent to know the key players of any operation, along with their extended networks. “My information indicates that Echo has some sort of illness,” although she was never able to figure out what, exactly, that illness was. “She is also quite good looking. I assume she has undergone some form of surgery to achieve her looks.” Plastic surgery was very good these days. The girl’s skin was eerily flawless, it was true, but other than that her facial features and bone structure appeared to be the result of top-notch surgeons. Her father certainly had the money to pay for it. By all accounts Echo was spoiled enough to have both asked for and received cosmetic surgery.

“What does her appearance have to do with Lethe?” Was Ensis the one giving misleading answers now? No. That didn’t make sense. She appeared to be co-operating. Ensis had just said Mnemosyne was covering up their actions. She had also admitted to kidnapping Echo. If that meant Echo was part of the cover up rather than (as well as?) Ensis...the situation with Mnemosyne was much worse than Noriana had previously thought. Had the CEO begun experimenting on his own child? How disgusting. Was the experimentation related to Echo’s illness? That would mean it would have had to have started years ago, when Echo was just a child.

Since it looked like Noriana might actually begin getting answers, or something close to them, she indicated one of the two kitchen chairs at her tiny kitchen table. “Sit, there’s no reason we can’t be more comfortable.” Not that the chairs were exactly comfortable in their own right, just more comfortable than standing. She took a seat herself, pulled out her laptop, and began taking notes.

Ensis:
Knows more about Lethe than she should
Kidnapped Echo

Echo:
Appearance important?
Child experimentation?
Mina nodded to indicate her appreciation for the offer and then moved to lean against the nearest counter, crossing her arms. Sitting always felt too vulnerable to her. And it was time to make herself a little more vulnerable as it was. It took her a few moments as the doctor was typing to finally be at peace with her decision.

"Echo's appearance has everything to do with Lethe. Rather, Lethe has everything to do with Echo," she said finally. "She's had no surgery whatsoever. Her looks are entirely natural. Well, as natural as you can call them, I suppose. I'm sure you've been informed that she's adopted. The adoption, however, is completely off the books. The papers they flash around now and then are forgeries. They never went through any organization but their own.

"She's not sick, Dr. Mitchell. She's bio-engineered. Created in a lab for the soul purpose of reaping the benefits of her genetics."
Noriana’s rapid typing ceased as the implication’s of Ensis’s words hit her. Created in a lab for the sole purpose of reaping the benefits of her genetics. Echo was bio-engineered. Ensis may be a felon for kidnapping her charge, but Echo’s very existence was a crime. “You’re telling me that Lethe was created from Echo.” From that fact flowed both answers and questions. Echo’s genesis was the reason Ensis knew so much about Lethe. Since hospital records indicated that Lethe may already be getting out of control, Echo would certainly be a loose end Mnemosyne would want to tie up...after experimenting on her some more, Noriana suspected.

Although Noriana was not an emotional woman by any stretch of the imagination, she was still human, and still found the entire situation distasteful, if not out-right nauseating. A child created for the soul purpose of experimentation. Really, was there no way to use dead tissue or animal models? The ethical rules that had been shattered by the company’s actions were many and, while Noriana’s own ethics did not always strictly align with that of an ethical review board’s, in this instance she saw Mnemosyne’s use of a human incubator both unnecessary and wrong.

Since Ensis had shared major, game-changing information, Noriana felt compelled to do the same. “I’m the only one currently investigating this case. I suspect that several of my colleagues and supervisors are on Mnemosyne’s payroll, which is why I haven’t brought this to their attention. If they’ve been bold enough to break such a fundamental law like genetic experimentation on humans, they must have many, many more government employees in their pockets. I don’t think we can ask the FDA to intervene here without risking tipping off Mnemosyne.” Noriana took a deep breath, knowing that what she was about to say would change her entire life. “But I’m a certified genius and your files indicate that you’re an expert in just about everything physical. If we combine our talents, we may be able to expose Mnemosyne and stop Lethe.”
Mina nodded her understanding of the doctor's problem with her higher-ups. "I thought as much. I can name names from the FDA in Gavril's pocket." 'For now, anyway,' she thought, shifting to move forward and plant her hands on the table before Mitchell. "I'll be more than happy to fork those over when you're in a better position to fix that mess. As for teaming up..."

"I have to trust you this fast because I have no real way of verifying you are who you say you are. Before you go anywhere near Echo, I need to see that you can actually do what your credentials say you can. It would also help if you had access to a lab because I don't carry a portable one."

"She's still a teenage girl. Regardless of how she came into existence, she's human. I'm not sure how well she's gonna take it when she knows she's being experimented on for the use of her genes. They always got away with telling her it was because she was sick. But I had to bust that secret."

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