PHD #370: Late Night Collaboration
Late Night Collaboration
Summary: Ximena drops by the BioChem Lab late one night to find Cameron busy researching. The two catch up and collaborate a little on his findings thus far.
Date: 03 Mar 2042 AE
Related Logs: None
Cameron Ximena 
BioChem Lab - Deck 10 - Battlestar Cerberus
Not nearly as large as it probably should be, the Navy seems to have added this area almost as an afterthought. Various machines and testing equipment line the room’s exterior, their complex functions in various states of use throughout the day and night. In the center of the room are two islands that have broad work areas and microscopes sitting at the ready. Clean testing materials, vials, and tools stand on end in metal grates in the middle. At the rear of the room is a huge fridge, its double doors locked most of the time. Beside it is another locked steel cabinet containing a variety of chemicals and compounds used for testing and comparison.
Post-Holocaust Day: #370

The hour? Late. The doctor? Tired, but still working. In truth Cameron knows he can't keep this up much longer - between working in Sickbay, working on the Cylon materials that keep coming to him, and trying to take care of Elpis, the man is stretched thinner than he ever has been before. Coffee no long is cutting it and for the last few weeks now Cameron has been taking stims regularly to keep himself going. Hair rumpled, eyes red from rubbing them, Cam slides another brain slice beneath the microscope, carefully examining it and taking notes as he adds a dye compound to the tissue, watching how it interacts with the cellular structures. Softly in the background traditional music from Aerilon is playing and to one side of where he is working there is a half-eaten sandwich that seems to have been forgotten.

It's not quiet, exactly, as Ximena makes her way into the lab, the need to get over the hatch always a bit of catch for her. But in she comes, packs and bags full as usual. Work hasn't only caught up Cameron. The still newly minted Ensign has barely seen hide nor hair of the doctor in, well, far too long. So, despite the fact that she's heading in the general direction she was pointed it, there's none of the usual ease in her manner as she approaches, "Cameron?"

Part of his mind is aware that someone has entered the room, but he knows that no one without clearance can do so, so the doctor doesn't look up at first, his hand jotting down a few more notes before the sound of his name catches his attention. Ocean eyes lift and stare at Ximena for a few seconds without comprehension before it suddenly dawns, a crooked smile touching his lips as one brow lifts in surprise. "Hey… Ximena…" blinking his head tilts to one side as he asks, "What brings you here?" In many ways their relationship has taken something of a backslide. No time for love, Dr. Adair! It seems that the only times they seen each other these past few months has been passing in hallways on their way to some emergency or another. Even when they do have time to visit they barely have time to share a meal before they're off again or falling asleep. "Everything okay?"

It's one of the downsides to the end of the world. Even the best things seem to end, whether you want them to or not. "I brought those reports from Engineering you wanted." Those she pulls out, offering them first. Before she offers a travel thermos to go along with them, "You look like hell, Cameron." And that's said gently, her tone somewhere between caring and uncertain if she still has the right to. No time for much of anything anymore, least of all something they used to call a social life.

"Oh!" is his startled reply, as if he'd entirely forgotten that he requested them, reaching out a hand for the reports offered, returning gratefully, "Thank you. I'm sorry you had to be bothered with bringing them yourself. I know how busy you are…" He blushes slightly, as if she had just complimented him, running a hand through his hair to try to pat it back down into place again, noting, "You look lovely, as always." He takes the thermos she offers, his expression curious before he shifts, rolling closer to Ximena and asking curiously, "What's this?" He might be tired and overworked, but there's still a playful gleam in his eye as he shakes the container carefully, listening to it.

Ximena's eyes glance down at herself. Still in her coveralls, but sporting her pips, instead of the old familiar enlisted ones, "Coffee. Straight from the deck. Thought you could use it." A beat, as she studies the man, and what their 'relationship' has been reduced to. Meals and a few hours of sleep. Likely not even a relationship anymore, but the Chair bound engineer still quite fancies the doctor, even if reality tells her the time has passed, and she should let Cameron move on. "Brought some back from the galley." A glance to his sandwich, which has dried out in the hours since he last took a bite. "That other stuff will kill you."

Opening the container, Cameron gives it a sniff and asks, "Is it laced with narcotics? Speed? Crack? Stims? All of the above?" There's a hint of teasing in his voice, but he's not entirely joking, setting the thermos aside. He would likely be quite surprised if he knew that Ximena was thinking of setting him free when he hasn't had the urge to stray. But he's comfortable enough with her that he doesn't think about what they do or do not have between them, other than the fact that they're in a relationship that is more than just friendship. He eyes the sandwich and sighs, noting, "Yeah, I probably should have put that in the fridge with the other tissue samples, but it's best not to mix food and research materials too much. It wouldn't do to accidentally start eating Cylon brain tissue…" Reaching out a hand, Cameron curls his fingers about Ximena's and asks, "How are you doing? Is the equipment I got you working? Keeping your muscles exercised and keeping the atrophy at bay?" It's a point of guilt for Cameron, that in all the work he's been doing, he still hasn't been able to figure out whether or not he can restore Ximena to walking again. The exercise machine will help keep her limbs viable, but he knows that he can't keep putting it off. The longer they wait, the harder it will be to repair the damage done, if that's even possible now.

Eating food that would be easily contaminated would be a Very bad Thing(tm) in the bio lab, but Ximena did bring back some fresh sandwiches, which she sets out next. It's amazing the shit she tucks away in her bags. Fresh bread, and plenty of fresh veggies from the Elpis to overpower the taste of canned meat, which, while being a necessary evil, isn't hardly as nice as something off the hoof, as it were, might be. "Just coffee from the deck. I think they use it in the vipers when they run low on tylium." So it's got a kick. Her fingers curl around Cameron’s in turn, a smile, part happiness, part regret, at the touch of his hand in hers, "I try to use them everyday, if I can, during my off cycles. My back doesn't hurt as much."

"Ahhhh, well then, just what the doctor ordered," Cameron teases softly with regards to the coffee proffered. But the sadness in her smile doesn't elude him, fingers squeezing hers as he asks, "Ximena…. what is it? What's wrong?" As much as they care and are attracted to each other, they still don't know each other very well yet, but Cameron knows Mena well enough by now to know that if he can sense sadness from her, it must be serious. The woman could write the book on stoicism.

Ximena frees her hand, setting out Cameron's small meal, one of the few things they still have time for anymore. She can't do much, but she can still do this, can't she? "I miss you. I thought, I mean, I know I accepted going to OCS and getting my commission because Pewter asked me to, because the department needed me, but I thought it would make things easier. "I just miss you. And that's selfish."

"I miss you too," he replies, reaching out to catch her hand again, urging her gaze to meet his. "There's nothing wrong with that, and it's not selfish. If we were to slack off on our duties to spend more time with each other, that would be selfish. But missing each other? That's just… natural." His gaze goes introspective for a moment before he notes, "But maybe I have a solution. There's something that I'm working on that I need help on. I was going to talk to Bannik about it, because he's the expert so far in Cylon technology, but I would think that Engineering should be involved as well, and that's you and your team. Hopefully, and more specifically, you." His shoulders shrug as he notes, "It would still be work, but at least we could be working together?"

"I spend most of my time behind a desk, anymore, telling everyone else where to go and what to work on. So I don't think it'd be much trouble for you to get me on board." Mostly, Ximena's not looking at Cameron at all. Mostly she's just studying his hand in hers. The sight of it, the feel of it. She's missed both of those things, and the rest of the man besides, "Is it that hybrid they brought back?" There's not much about the project engineering is working on that she hasn't at least heard about.

"Yeah," Cameron replies with a nod, watching Ximena's face as she studies their hands. "Biologically it's a mystery, but I don't have the chops to handle the mechanical side of the thing. The interfacing is fascinating, astonishing, but the rest eludes me. I have no idea what the machinery that is connected to it does - if it controlled and supported the biological part or vice versa, if the biologics were supporting and controlling something else instead." His thumb lightly rubs over Ximena's knuckles as he watches her. "You must hate that," he muses softly, "sitting instead of doing…"

It's as if everything that meant anything in the world could be whittled down to Cameron's hand in hers. And perhaps, that's true. It's a reflection of everything they were starting to be to each other. "Do you think it might be possible for you to bring it back online? Or have you dissected it already? Pulled it apart so that you can't? There's a second foundry, I'm sure you read the report…what if we could bring back that thing it was lying in, or bring back the whole thing?" Not that that's likely to be at all possible, but still. "I'm always sitting. And I have to tell myself that it's for the good of the department. The Chief still let's me out of my cage when he can."

"I don't think that's possible," Cameron murmurs. "The body, the brain tissue, when they removed it from whatever it was in, they killed it. Killed her. Though I can't imagine that she was really 'alive' in any sense that was human any more, if she even was human to begin with. But to answer your other question, no, I haven't dissected it yet. I've taken samples, but I wanted to study it fully while it was still interconnected, make sure that we've learned everything we can from it while it's still intact before I start dissecting it." He smiles at her wry point about 'sitting', snorting softly and challenging, "You know what I mean. You like to be hands on. Doing, not telling others what to do. But I'm glad that you get to do some work yourself from time to time. I'll talk to Bannik, see what he says. Someone from Engineering should definitely be at least monitoring what we're doing at the very least, if not actively participating."

"I'm no woman of medicine, but…I've built things from the ground up before. Seeing what I could see of her, I don't think they grafted a human into that machinery. Took out the parts they didn't need and put in parts they did. It looks too neat. Where are the rivets, so to speak, where are the cuts from surgery? The places where machine was grafted to tissue? There are none of those things. Not that I can see. It's as if the two pieces were grown together. Like she was some sort of halfway point between the centurions and these humanoid ones." A shrugs, "I prefer to be doing. But I'd prefer to be doing a lot of things. I'm happy for what I do have." A pause, as she looks up at the man sitting from her. Not the most romantic place. Sitting at a specimen table, in a lab full of cylon brains, "Who I have." A moment, and a smile, "I'd be happier if he'd eat and drink something."

"So in your estimation the biological parts were essentially 'grown' around existing materials?" Cameron ponders that thought for a moment before noting, "That would explain the metal tube that has replaced the normal spinal cord… which I have found quite the stumbling block, to determine how they could have swapped it out. But I'm still not certain. I don't think it's impossible for it to be a very carefully done grafting. With the Cylons clearly their abilities both biologically and technologically outstrip us by decades if not a century." For a moment Cameron is lost deep in thought. His current situation is one of incredible excitement and discovery only to be equally matched by frustration and inadequacy. He blinks as he comes back to the present and looks at Ximena blankly, asking, "What?" before what she said penetrates and he adds, "Oh! Right!" Releasing her hand he takes the sandwich she brought him and breaks it in half, offering her one half as he asks, "Have you eaten already?"

"Well, sure, I mean why not? We've seen skin grow over wounds and such…Trees grafted together healing into one tree. What if they found a way to do that, make it almost natural, taking the human part and the cylon part and just…splicing them together? Cut the parts to fit, provide the right environment and let the pieces come together." It sounds horrific, actually, but she's thinking like an engineer. "They must have some other way to keep tissue alive and functioning. But there's no look of inadequacy on Ximena's face. Nope. She's got all the faith in the world in Cameron. "I already ate, but I'll take a bite if you promise to finish off the rest." She knows the man hates eating alone.

His smile is wry and amused as he notes, "Yes and no. Skin growing over wounds and grafting trees is quite a bit different than growing a human or human like body with a fully functional brain. The processes are completely different from the way bodies grow and develop. But yes, clearly some sort of grafting process occurred, perhaps with numerous intermediate steps to what we finally have discovered. For what it's worth, the body had the essentials it required to be 'alive'. Imagine a quadriplegic. So long as the brain and body can maintain breathing, heartbeat and the metabolizing of food or nutrients, the body can survive in a highly truncated state. I suspect what killed the hybrid was the shock of being removed from its environment, which may have damaged crucial lines of biofeedback or the manner in which it received either oxygen or sustenance, or both." He waggles the half sandwich at Ximena but, as requested, dutifully bites into his own half and begins chewing.

Ximena takes the sandwich, and even takes the bite she promised. But mostly she just holds it for Cameron until he's ready for it. She actually did a good job. It's veggie and herby and delicious. Not something one can say so often about food from the galley. "And yet they've made these cylons. The humanoid ones. How did they make those? I mean, did they grow them from cloned cells, did they grow them in a vat, put them together like some crazed mad scientist? And how did they grow so many so fast? That can't be natural. We take years to develop, they only had 40. And it must have taken them time to come up with these new breed of cylons."

"The ability to make test-tube babies has been around for a long time. Creating an artificial 'womb' can't be that difficult if one wanted to do so. Though for all the Gods know they've been abducting humans for some time now and using us for experimentation and stock. Considering how effectively they've been able to infiltrate us, clearly they have been 'with' us for quite a long time now without our realizing it." His gaze is thoughtful though as he notes, "The hybrid would attest to some sort of increased aging process. While her cellular structure suggests that she is no more than sixteen years of age, her visage and facial features were more of a woman in her late 40s or 50s." He ponders the matter quietly to himself as he eats the sandwich, pondering, "Perhaps that is a drawback to their process. A highly accelerated aging factor. Or perhaps that is the point of it? Unfortunate side effect or intentional goal?" Another bite and more chewing as Cameron ponders it. "I'll need to study that. Examine the rate of decay in their cells…. though that will be more difficult now that we don't have a living specimen on board." That still rankles with Cameron somewhat - that he was not able to perform any tests on the skinjob they picked up on Tauron. A huge opportunity, lost.

"Well, they were certainly experimenting on Leonis, though you'd have to speak to Command to get the full reports on exactly what they were doing in their experimentation labs. I don't know that any of the survivors would be willing to talk to you about it, except maybe Colonel Cincinattus." The old salt captain of the Elpis, "He might be willing to share what he knows with you. He was rescued from one of their labs." A thoughtfulness as she considers, "Wasn't that a problem with clones? I think I remember reading about that…they tried to clone animals, but the problem was, they barely lived more than a year, because they practically started dying as soon as they were born, like their bodies couldn't regulate the aging process like ours can. Maybe the same problem is why the cylons made so many copies of themselves to download into."

"Cloning is not an exact science, certainly not in the way that Cylon's do it. For one, most clones, human made clones, have the same genetic makeup but do not look the same as their predecessors. As we've seen from the Cylons, this is not the case with their clones, which are all identical. As for the aging process, that is dependent on the age 'animal' from which the DNA is taken. The 'clone' is running at a deficit, it's genetic make-up already accelerated to the point of whatever age the source DNA was at the time used. So Cylon's could be cloned from 'older' genetic material, which would shorten their body life spans. But then again, if they have the ability to place their consciousness in any body, that really isn't much of a problem or consideration from them."

Ximena remains where she's seated (obviously), but she's now offering the other half of the sandwich, so that she can get the thermos of coffee open, "So it wouldn't be a deficit for them, but it might explain why that hybrid looked so young, but was so old. If she was a human, maybe something they did to her aged her. But if she was a humanoid cylon that they grafted onto the metal, maybe that's why her tissues are so aged. And it could even explain why so MUCH of her was replaced by metal." Intriguing questions, likely ones the pair will continue working over well into the night. The engineer and the scientist/doctor. Always a good combination.

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