1964-04-26 - A Shot In the Park
Summary: The commander of the Inhuman royal family's guards has his own reasons for being at New York University. As for Vesper, she just works there.
Related: First scene!
Theme Song: None
gorgon vesper 

Central Park bubbles with black-eyed zombies running amok. Latveria leans on the hand of the Doomsday Clock. The viscosity of water must be measured, irrespective of these dangers.

Delicate instruments trained on samples under bombardment in three different capsules faithfully measure the advance of atoms and activity over time. Experiments go so slowly that even their designer decides to trudge out of her laboratory and shuck her white coat, stretching out her arms over her head. Two flights of stairs put her at ground level, taken slowly in her flats, a coping mechanism for hours bent over a microscope or typewriter pounding out her findings for another grad student to follow up on. This is the lot of Vesper Mezieres.

The perils and the miseries of a scientist are neverending. She pushes open the door and stops, the twitch of her throat a warning. Fumbling in her pocket for a fresh handkerchief in pale blue, she brings it to her mouth after the coughing begins, a wracking threnody lasting for seconds. Shoulders shake, her hand braced on the frame.


"What happens if the mixtures…" a slight hesitation. "Mix?" asks a resounding deep voice at the door. It belongs to a rather tall fellow with a beard and a mane of hair that looks out of place in this decade of human history. He wears a long coat and pants that look entirely too baggy.

And he is eyeing the young scientist with curiosity.


The coughing will not stop for mortal man or living one, but Vesper struggles. Oh, she tries mightily to hold back the agony flaring in her lungs and burning its way up her trachea, demanding out. Her slim form shakes as she finally manages to clear her windpipe, though the effort costs much more than she wants to show. Not to anyone.

Not a stranger's voice behind her. Startled, the young woman immediately goes forward into the night air and turns, the blood-spotted handkerchief shoved awkwardly in her pocket. Hair fallen loose from her bun slopes over her face but do nothing to hide flaming cheeks. "P-pardon?" It comes out French, not English, a different sound to the ear for a shared word. Doe-dark eyes blink rapidly, the sheen too bright. Always the curse of overexerting herself, she doesn't know it until it happens, a fatigue syndrome with no name or understandable traits in this time. "You… I think you want someone else?"


The big man goes silent for a moment, and folds his hands across his chest. "No." Another pause. "It's definitely y — are you alright?" He frowns and takes a step forward. The man's legs move… differently, almost as if he were picking up a foot, extending it toe-first and then having the rest of his leg follow. A human's leg would lift at the knee…

"You look sick. Should I fetch a healer? I… have no idea where to find one in this place… I can shout for one." And he walks a few steps closer.


"Me? Eugh, I think you are mistaken, monsieur." Now is not the time to be absent a labcoat even if it doesn't have her name on it. The badge in the pocket proves useful for providing necessary evidence at being more than a Girl Friday or a gofer. She isn't in any state of mind to quite notice oddities about the very, very tall man facing her. Except such great height does not, as it happens, offer advantage to someone as petite as she is. A matchstick, next to him. "I am doing work here in the…" Another of those wretched, hoarse rasps cuts her off, and if it were in her to do so, she might sigh.

No help for it. Her tongue scours her dry lips. "Laboratory. Research, oui? You do not need to call for the physicians. None would be around so late." His walking closer puts her in straight retreat, presumably to let him clear the door and find the path. Oh why did she mention no doctors around? Or apparently no anyone but the odd student far away from the biosciences wing?


The man frowns.

He strokes his beard.

"Why do I get the feeling that you're not supposed to be here… right now, at the least? Or are you older than you look? Hmm. You still look like you're dying."

He stops near the experiment/research and frowns again. "Come to think of it, I'm not really supposed to be here either. No one said anything about coming at a particular time or day of the week… (humans are strange…)."

A pause.

"Is your name Vesper? And are you dying? You have to tell me if you're dying… You're no use to anyone dead."


The implication Vesper does not belong in the lab leaves her mouth pinched and eyes darkly ablaze. She reaches into her pocket and disengages the metal slide, holding up the photograph of herself with STAFF prominently stamped underneath, as well as two typed lines indicating facility and office.

"I do, monsieur," she emphasises the point with a slight stress. The French accent wells up from the bleeding wound to her pride. The interior of the labs are mostly dimly lit, doors closed, and standing outside with the door blocked by her foot, she is outlined against the darkness of the night. "I am not a student or a thief."

Her shoulders bounce like a laundry line in the wind, the coughing following up again. Up goes the handkerchief to her mouth again. It takes her a good minute to stop coughing.


"I know thieves," Gorgon retorts with a faintly amused expression on his bearded face. "You're not one — so don't worry about that. Hold onto that pride though. It'll serve you well. You're direct while being courteous — good." He gives a nod.

The big fellow with the odd gait moves through the lab, looking it over. Given the way he speaks and acts around this woman, one might think he already assumes he has some authority over her. Perhaps he does, and she simply doesn't know it yet. Either way, he still means his compliments.

He stops by a peculiar apparatus and bends down to study it more closely. "What… is that?" he murmurs aloud.


A thief looking as ethereal and doe-eyed as Vesper like stands as a terrible choice. People who are memorable do not do well fading into the background, obtaining information or lifting artifacts. The Kree never learned this. It's plain in every one of the greater Inhumans or, you know, the Kree themselves. Ronan is about as subtle as a peacock among pigeons.

Pride is hard to attain when blushing furiously, the pink rising over her cheekbones and her congested lungs giving way. Stiff knees brace automatically against the threat of wobbling too hard, the last assault on her dignity, but she's still forced to sway to the futile efforts to void pollution from sensitive, inflamed airways and alveoli.

Where he stands, she barely even notices. Gorgon might well be pointing to the binding machine used for their books as much as an atomic microscope or the corner metal cupboard for supplies. It's not like she keeps cesium hanging around. "Eugh? Pour quoi?" Her hoarse question is still pretty. French can be guttural and still lovely. "Corner or…?" She leans against the external door and stares out at the starry sky, eyes blurry. Counting down helps to regulate her breathing to normal.


Dismissing his confusion at some of the things in the lab, and moving right past Vesper's questions, Gorgon turns around and rises to his full height, hands behind his back.

"There's a reason for it, you know," says he with a motion of his hand toward the ailing girl. "Your ill health. In a way… it runs in the family. Also, in a way… you and I are distantly related." Then he lifts his chin.

"I know it must be hard to believe, but… you'll understand soon, I promise. I sought you out because of family. I promise you I mean you no harm."

He says that as if the words were etched in the Rock of Ages. "You don't have to trust me, Vesper — I'm a stranger to you, for now. Know that you have friends. You have family. That's… all I really came to say."


There are a number of devices: a microscope, what looks like a small fridge to preserve samples, light tables, and several chalkboards. She has models in the cramped space that show structures of chemicals and crystals, the DNA helix a poster on the wall with a number of star charts that have nothing to do with the biosciences.

These elements, along with numerous textbooks and journals stowed in cardboard sleeves on shelves by topics, authorise impressions she is in fact a scientist. Or else someone else has very pretty calligraphy around here. Penmanship is not often a masculine pursuit in the sciences.

"Maman and Papa never mentioned a cousin Gorgon Zola," Vesper murmurs, pinching her brow. The headache always follows, the bone deep aches she is always used to bearing under creeping up into a neurological smack from her body. She has no way of identifying when she pushes too far, except when she does. "Oui, my constitution is delicate. No exertion, say les medecins. It is not catching. You are safe." Contagion fears of TB are not so old, and not so long ago.

"My family is back in France," she adds, still short of breath, but managing. Her eyes are still watery, dampening her black lash line. "I am sorry to disappoint."


"Gorgon Petragon," the Inhuman replies tersely. He looks as if he might say something — perhaps launch into a brief diatribe of whom he is, what rank he holds, what heritage he owns etc — but he bites his tongue and takes a breath.

"I know how it sounds," says he with a slow nod. "Trust me…" Then he frowns, curious. "You study genetics, yes? Have you… ever done a test on yourself?"


Someone has to say it. Maximus, in fact, will probably demand she say it multiple times and who is she to argue yet? She doesn't know, of course, and she is French. Gorgon Zola is a name. Honestly. It is.

Vesper tiredly shakes her head, leaning back against the door and pinning it to the wall. Fresh air steals into the corridor along with the few sounds of New York University. "Non. It is not acceptable to use equipment for personal use." For playtime, but she's not saying that. "Too much work. The provisioning of time would never allow for it. Our experiments do not take hours, they can take weeks or months." And it wasn't long ago they cracked the photographs of DNA, but it took near on a year to decipher what was even seen.


"I keep forgetting the technology you have here…" Gorgon murmurs aloud, looking down and to the side with a frown upon his face. A genetics test would reveal so much… and lead to so many more questions — but it is still the fastest way toward convincing Vesper that he is 'on the level'.

"Just swell…"

Turning back toward her, Gorgon nods his head in understanding of her response, and begins making his way toward the door. He's done all he can do… for now. "I should be leaving then," says he to the girl. "Take care of yourself, Vesper — and think about that genetics test. Think about everything I've said."


He insists and that insistence wraps a few unseen coils around the unsuspecting subject. Vesper juggles facts well and she can possibly see where Gorgon leads her, tired as she is. "Oui, oui, the Molecular Biology Lab has a better selection. Maybe Harvard or the MIT has improved ones, but it is not so bad. I can make do."

Her expression clouds over at his odd reaction, and she rubs her shoulder, the ache in her joints burning hotter. Tonight is going to be a time to slip into her bathtub, knees under her chin, and try to soak it out. "I know I'm sick. What gain to have a picture of the thing that kills me?"


Gorgon stops at the door and turns around.

He is very serious, but not stern. With the directness of a warrior, he replies: "You're not dying, Vesper. You're special." He smiles wryly. "Don't give me any 'look' about that — I mean it. Count on it. Do the genetics test, and you'll see. Or…" and he lifts his chin.

"You can just trust me. Take heart, little one; the world is brighter than it appears right now."

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