Disclaimer: Marvel's Agents of SHIELD, and Avengers belongs to, well, Marvel. I only claim the Kaleidoscope.
They were at the Sandbox.
"What are we doing this time?" Skye asked as Coulson gathered them all around in the loading bay of the bus. "Super secret mission?"
"Our orders are to escort the Kaleidoscope from the Sandbox to Norway, where SHIELD has a research project going relating to Asgardian travel, which we are not to ask about in any way, shape, or form," Coulson said. "I'm the official handler. Ward and Mae, you'll be in charge of security for the Kaleidoscope, Fitz Simmons, you'll be in charge of the tech, and Skye, you're going to keep her company. Might learn a few things."
"Wait, what's the Kaleidoscope?" Skye asked, as everyone around her looked both excited and impressed. "And why are you calling it a she?"
"The Kaleidoscope is the world's best supercomputer," Fitz said excitedly. "A walking, talking supercomputer, I might add, with the ability to learn and theorize and create. She's usually kept at the Sandbox to study new technologies and improve on existing tech, but SHIELD moves her around for big research projects like this. And we get to take her! Isn't it great?"
"Aren't supercomputers kind of, large?" Skye asked.
"About 1'6" at the widest point, 5'4'' high, tops," Simmons replied. "And she's also light, last I heard. 130, with hardware."
"That's down two pounds," Fitz said. "They must have gotten the battery system streamlined."
"Here she comes," Coulson said, grinning.
Everyone turned, and Skye raised an eyebrow at the small entourage of SHIELD agents that came out of a van, surrounding- "The Kaleidoscope is a girl!?" she said, turning to the others for confirmation.
"Of course," Simmons said.
"What else?" Fitz asked.
"The brain, best supercomputer there is," Coulson said, stepping forward and giving the young teenage girl a hug. "Kyleigh, it's great to see you again."
"You too, Agent Coulson," she replied, returning the hug and grinning delightedly. "Is this your team?"
Skye stared at the girl as Coulson introduced everybody. The girl, Kyleigh, was exactly the measurements Simmons had described. She was wearing a pair of jeans, black boots, a black long-sleeve shirt that had some sort of silver designs threaded into it, and a dark purple T-shirt over it with the picture of the starship Enterprise on it.
"And this is Skye," Coulson said, finishing the intros.
"Hi," Skye said, giving the girl a friendly wave. "Nice to meet you."
"You too," Kyleigh said, smiling.
Coulson dismissed the SHIELD agents and Mae put the ramp up. "So," Skye said awkwardly, "what's it like being a supercomputer?"
"Um, not bad. I'm hungry all the time, though."
"We can fix that," Simmons said cheerfully. "We've stocked up on snacks." The group started to move into the lab.
Skye tugged at Ward's sleeve and the two of them fell back. "How can a 14-yr-old be a supercomputer?" she asked.
"Why don't you ask her?" Ward asked, shrugging.
"She can hear you, you know," Coulson said, appearing behind them and scaring Skye half to death.
Kyleigh turned and gave the group a smile. "It wasn't actually my choice," she told Skye, offering her an Oreo from the package. "I wanted to be a pirate." She grinned wryly. "But when I was 3, SHIELD found out about my IQ and started the Kaleidoscope Project. I receive a veritable kaleidoscope of information from not only my senses but my hardware, and my brain catalogues, collates, interprets, and stores all the information. And my mind does the rest, whatever needs to be done with that information."
"It wasn't just IQ that was needed," Simmons said, "it was an imagination."
"I can't imagine you as a pirate," Fitz told the girl.
"You should see me with a hat," Kyleigh retorted cheerfully.
"What hardware?" Skye asked, still on the original topic.
"Earpiece for augmented sonic perceptions," Kyleigh said, pointing to her earrings. Now Skye noticed that one of them was turned upside down and resting in her ear.
"She can pick up the entire spectrum of sounds on that thing, up to two miles away," Fitz said. "More, if it's a specific frequency."
"What else?" Mae asked. Apparently she'd never gotten the full brief, either.
Kyleigh pointed to her eyes. "Contact lenses and glasses. Contacts are passive sensors, pick up heat and other forms of radiation. Glasses are mounted with active sensors, camera, and zoom. Together they act as my personal holographic projection system. I can 'see' a 3-D interface anytime I want, overlay scans with objects. Just think Iron Man's helmet, but with less flash."
"Cool," Skye said.
"Also my shirt," Kyleigh said. "It's an extension of the sensors, and also geared to monitor my body systems in case of overload, overheating, low blood sugar, too much caffeine, etc."
"No more than two cups of coffee," Coulson informed the group.
"And your bracelets?" Simmons prompted, gesturing to the gold and silver bracelets on both Kyleigh's wrists.
"These let me manipulate my 3D interface. And they're my hacking tools. With these on I can access any computer in the world directly through the CPU and even go direct into the internet. These regulate the information and act as additional RAM." Kyleigh grinned. "Plus, I've got like 20 gigabytes of songs downloaded onto here. I've got Star Wars 7 on here, too."
"There is no Star Wars 7," Fitz said suspiciously.
"You mean there isn't, yet," Kyleigh said, grinning.
"Can we watch that?" Fitz asked, eyes lighting up.
"Do you have popcorn?"
"Ahem," Coulson said warningly.
"As soon as it comes out in theaters," Kyleigh added hastily. When Coulson turned around she mouthed, "tonight!"
"Anything else?" Mae asked.
"The original Indiana Jones uncut version," Kyleigh replied. At Mae's raised eyebrow she said, "Oh! You mean technology. Yes. Just my gloves, and the sensor mesh leggings, and the ankle sub processors. But I don't have them on right now. This is just a plane ride."
"What programs are you running right now?" Simmons asked, accessing a tablet.
"Um, Wi-Fi, infrared, color, zoom, taste, smell, augmented hearing, passive sensors, and for some reason I've been picking up radio stations for the last five minutes. I think my earring needs to be realigned." She looked at Coulson. "And Lola's spilling ions again. I can see 'em."
Skye stared. "How can you process so much information? And remember it all? If I were you I'd go crazy."
Kyleigh smiled self-consciously. "I've had training. Do you know what a mind palace is?"
"I've read about it," Skye said. "It's like, you picture a place, and put your memories in one specific spot."
"Exactly," Kyleigh said. "I call them hard drives, and for me, they take the form of spaceships. For purely technological advances, I have the starship Enterprise. Good old NCC-1701 with buttons and levers and dials."
"But isn't the new one more, advanced?" Ward asked. He'd seen the movies.
Kyleigh scoffed. "I get enough of holographic and touch screens in real life, thank you very much. Anyways, that's pure science and tech. And for everything else, I have the TARDIS, from this one show called Doctor Who. I like the newest version, with the Circular Gallifreyan on the top. That's how I write my mental notes, just in case of mental incursions. Since the TARDIS is infinite, I add on rooms as I need them. Overflow and non-current science also goes into the TARDIS. As long as I have my map, I have the total sum of everything."
"How do you even remember the map in the first place?" Skye asked.
"I created a copy on my glasses," Kyleigh said. "The holo interface guides me. And if not, I just close my eyes." She grinned. "Ask me a question."
"About what?" Ward asked.
"Anything. Just ask me."
"What were the scores for the Super bowl seven years ago?" Ward finally asked.
Kyleigh's eyes unfocused and she looked like she was staring right through all of them. She lifted her hands and was flicking through screens that they could see vaguely reflected off her glasses. "Sports, that's in the squash courts," she said. "Seven years ago, in the last decade, that's court 2010, 3 meters from the far wall, that is..." And she rattled off the scores.
Ward looked impressed. "Wow."
"What is the genus of a duck-billed platypus?" Simmons asked.
"That I have to Google," Kyleigh said. "Good thing I have Wi-Fi." She put her hands out in front of her, moved her fingers like she was typing, and scrolled with her eyes. "Ornithorhyncus."
"Very good," Simmons said. "That was fast."
"My last upgrade was to 4G," Kyleigh said.
"All right, show-off," Coulson said, "let's get you settled in."
"Okay." Kyleigh picked up her bag and followed Coulson. She took the other package of Oreos with her.
"She has a metabolism comparable to someone with Extremis," Simmons told the team. "Eats all day long and doesn't gain a pound. We'll have to make sure she doesn't dehydrate." She went off to run some scans and Fitz followed her.
"That's so not fair," Skye said. "Wish I had Wi-Fi in my brain."
Coulson showed Kyleigh her bunk for the flight. "Do you need anything?" he asked.
"Nope." Kyleigh took a picture frame out of her bag and set it on the ledge.
"Do you miss them?" Coulson asked, gazing at the five figures in the photo. Kyleigh's parents and younger twin brothers and baby sister.
"Not really," Kyleigh said, shrugging. "I Skype them all the time. And my little sis learned how to Snapchat, so we're doing that constantly. My brothers think I'm the answer to all their homework. Which I am. But mom says I have to let them figure it out. Which is okay with me, I guess." She looked up at Coulson and grinned. "I saw Tony Stark last week."
"Oh really," Coulson said. "How's he doing?"
"Good. The same. Arrogant as ever." She grinned. "He gave me a hotline to Jarvis, if I ever wanted to talk."
"Wow," Coulson said, impressed.
Her smiled widened. "Well, us techie types have to stick together." She frowned. "Speaking of teams..."
"What about them?" Coulson asked.
"I'm sensing definite relationships," Kyleigh said. "You are aware?"
"Fitzsimmons, and Ward and Mae?" Coulson asked.
"Okay." Kyleigh smiled. "Fitzsimmons. They're so cute. I admire their work."
"You should tell them," Coulson advised.
"I will." Kyleigh frowned. "And, about Skye..."
"What about her?" Coulson asked, trying to remain nonchalant.
"I don't know. But there's something, odd, about her. She's blue-shifted." Kyleigh had been born with an acute form of synesthesia, and it extended from colored letters and numbers to spatial maps and radiation 'auras'. When she said she had a holographic screen in her brain and all she had to do was close her eyes, she wasn't kidding.
"What does that mean?" Coulson asked.
"I don't know. Scans aren't picking anything up, and I can't see anything. But I do know the only other ones who have a blue-shift perception are Thor and Dr Banner and similar, specials."
"Are you saying she has superpowers?" Coulson asked.
Kyleigh shook her head. "I don't know." She frowned. "Why are you not surprised? What happened? Why don't I know?"
Coulson closed the door to her bunk, made her sit down, and told her the whole story.
Kyleigh stared at him. "So there is a reason... do you want me to keep an eye on her?"
"Yes. But subtly. And don't say anything to anyone else."
"No worries." Kyleigh stood up. "Wow. Your very own superhero." She paused. "Mae's started the plane."
Coulson waited a few seconds, and then heard the tell-tale sound of the engines. "How'd you know this time?" he asked.
"I felt the power surge and the vibration when she pushed the buttons."
"Always." Kyleigh smiled and stifled a yawn.
"Tired?" Coulson asked gently.
"Yeah. I was up late, processing the latest information on the state of intergalactic politics." Kyleigh flopped back on her bed.
Coulson patted her on the head. "You should take a nap. The flight will be thirty hours long. You'll have plenty of time to do stuff later."
Kyleigh nodded. "Thanks. Can you tell Simmons I'm going to unplug?"
"No problem." Coulson turned off the light and left. He went down to the lab. "Simmons, Kyleigh's going to take a nap. She'll be down to bio only."
"Yes sir." Simmons pulled up a readout on her tablet. "Power levels decreasing, all turned off. Only latent GPS signals now. She's-wow, she's already asleep. That was fast."
"She'll need a high-protein snack when she wakes up," Coulson said.
"Yep." Simmons looked up at him curiously. "How do you know her, sir?"
Coulson gave her a half-smile. "Kyleigh was the one who came up with the Avengers initiative." He headed for his office, leaving Fitzsimmons to stare at each other in awe.
When Kyleigh woke up, she was starved. She headed out to the lounge and found the others eating dinner. "That smells really good," Kyleigh said.
"Pad Thai with peanut sauce and chicken" Skye said. "Want some?"
"Yes please." Kyleigh accepted a huge plateful and started to dig in.
"Are you online again?" Simmons asked.
"No. I hate feeling like a blip on a map." Kyleigh poured herself some water.
"A blip on a map?" Ward asked.
"She can monitor the plane's position. Track it. Us."
"Yeah. Very handy."
"Don't even think about it," Mae told Ward, seeing the look in his eye. "She does not go into the field. No exceptions."
"I track everybody anyway," Kyleigh pipe up. "Deck 12, internal sensors. Every SHIELD agent on the map. In real-time."
"What if you got kidnapped?" Ward asked.
"She doesn't get kidnapped," Simmons said, affronted at the very idea of it.
"But what if?" Ward asked. He doubted a 14-yr-old, no matter how smart, would be able to resist much pressure.
"I've been trained to resist interrogation," Kyleigh replied evenly. "Also, if anyone else tries to use my hardware, it automatically corrupts and self-destructs. And even they could induce a dream state and get me to auto-write, nobody would understand it."
"I store my info in Ancient Mayan and have trained myself to auto write in replacement cipher in Circular Gallifreyan. My own version, actually based on a 12-dimensional view of time and my spatial synesthesia map. Literally. No one can hack my brain." Kyleigh grinned at the look on Ward's face. "Came up with it myself. Can't translate what you can't see."
"Ok, you're good," Ward said, grinning at her.
Kyleigh waited till Coulson and Mae had left, and then said quietly, "Do you want to watch it now?"
"Yes!" Fitz said eagerly.
"Wait, how can there be a Star Wars 7?" Skye asked.
"They were starting to make the third set of trilogies, but they only managed to make one before the budget vanished. They kept it quiet to prevent the fans from uprising. It's got Harrison Ford in it and everything. Everyone involved was sworn to secrecy." Kyleigh held up her right wrist. "But they kept a copy. Therefore I have it."
"You are so awesome," Fitz said, grinning.
Everyone got comfy on the couches, and Kyleigh interfaced with the display. Within seconds, Episode VII of Star Wars was playing.
The entire team sat in rapt attention through the two hours of the movie, all comments being vehemently shushed by Fitz.
Finally, as the end credits rolled, a voice spoke up. "That was, awesome." It was Coulson.
"How long have you been standing there?" Skye asked.
"Uh, the first 30 seconds."
"You've been standing there for two hours?" Simmons said.
"I had popcorn," Coulson said mildly, holding up the empty bowl.
Kyleigh glanced at the clock. "Oh. Time to go Kaleidoscope again. I promised to call my mom." She started to tap her fingers on the table.
"Why do we call it kaleidoscope?" Skye asked curiously.
"That's what it looks like from her point of view," Simmons said. "A virtual, ever-changing kaleidoscope of colors, shapes, and sounds." She picked up a tablet. "I've been working on a program to translate your brain waves and show us what you see."
"Hold on," Kyleigh said. "Let me turn on the full show." She stared at her popcorn bowl. "Can you see it, normal vision?"
Everyone clustered around the tablet. They saw a bowl of popcorn. "Yep," Skye said.
"Kay. Give me a second." Kyleigh blinked, and suddenly the tablet was alive with colors and readouts and a constant stream of binary code going like ticker tape across the bottom. "D'you see it?" she asked, the words literally bouncing off the plate.
"Whoa," Skye said, impressed. "That's what you see? All the time?"
"Mostly." Kyleigh blinked again, and the tablet showed just food again. "Ok. If you guys'll excuse me, I have to call my mum before she goes to bed." She went off tot he other side of the room and put her earring up. "Mom?" A pause. "Hi. No, I'm up in the clouds. On my way to Norway. Nah, it's a research project." She laughed. "Mom, I'm not going to meet Thor. He's not even here. I don't know. I just do. Yeah. Is Maya there? Can I talk to her? Hi sweetie. Did you get your present?" A pause. "Yep. Ok. Send me an email. No, I can't Skype right now, sis, I'm on a super secret spy mission." She laughed. "Yeah. We're gonna save the world. Tell the brats I said hi, and give 'em a big hug and sloppy kiss for me, okay? Love you. Bye." She flickered her hand in a strange gesture and turned off her phone.
"So they know what you do?" Skye asked, as Kyleigh returned to the seat.
"Kind of. When I say 'super secret spy mission' they think I'm kidding. They just know I'm a computer geek."
"Wow," Skye said.
"Yeah." Kyleigh stared out of focus for a while and said, "Twenty hours to Norway. I'm going to go to bed."
"Conserve energy, good idea," Simmons said. "Are you going to unplug fully?"
"Everything except my Wi-Fi for Pandora radio."
"Oh, right then. Sweet dreams."
"Good night," everyone chorused, and Kyleigh went to bed.
"Typical teenager," Coulson said. "When she's not doing anything important she sleeps all day."
"To conserve energy," Simmons added.