10 hours later, Kyleigh emerged from her bunk in pajamas and in search of coffee. "What are we doing today?" she asked Coulson, after taking a long sip of her coffee.
"Nothing really. Is today pajama day?"
"Every day is pajama day," she replied.
"I like that motto," Skye said. "Good philosophy."
They ended up playing video games all day, in tournaments. Kyleigh unplugged to make things fair, but even then she was still tops. Finally it was down to Fitz and Kyleigh, going head to head, nearly tied, when Mae said over the com, "We're touching down in 10 minutes."
"Ok, pack it up," Ward said, standing up reluctantly.
"Aw," Fitz said. "I almost had it!"
They turned the game off and Kyleigh went to get dressed. By the time she came back fully dressed and her stuff packed up again, they landed and the ramp was open. But no one was moving.
"Guys?" she asked cautiously.
"The SHIELD team isn't here to meet you," Coulson said, holding out a hand to her. "Can you see them?"
Kyleigh put on her glasses and put her earring up. "There's nothing within a radius of 2 miles. The base is deserted."
"Where are they?" Ward asked.
"There's no answer on the comms," Kyleigh said. "And their locations are... fuzzy."
"What do you mean, fuzzy?"
"It's fuzzy round the edges," Kyleigh said, frowning. "Like, they're there but they're not."
"Right, let's check it out," Coulson said. "Simmons, Ward, you'll stay here with Kyleigh on the busy."
"Oh come on," Kyleigh said. "You need me out there."
"Not really," Coulson replied evenly.
"No, but this is what I came here to do." Kyleigh frowned. "I can tell you now what the research project is. We're tracking the history of Asgardian intervention on Earth, using the radiation traces left over from the use of the Bifrost. Normal tech has picked up 17 possible sites and at each one we're going to backtrack through all the radiation signatures and find out where they went, what they did, and see if they left anything interesting. Not to mention it'll be fascinating putting together a picture of the past. And a SHIELD team? Easy."
"Wow," Skye said, definitely impressed.
"Ok, we should still have time to track their heat signatures," Ward said.
Everyone looked at Coulson. He looked at Kyleigh. "Suit up."
She grinned. "Yes sir." She left and came back two minutes later. She was wearing her black and silver shirt, and black fitted cargo pants with a delicate shimmer. She had on black combat boots and metal clasps on them. She was wearing her contacts and glasses, her bracelets and earrings, and a pair of thin black gloves with silver tips.
They stared at her. She was practically crackling with energy, and there was definite holographic screen on her lenses.
"Wow," Skye said. "You look awesome."
Simmons turned on her tablet. "All systems good," she said. "You okay?"
"Yep. My head's buzzing and I've got sparks in my nerve endings. There's a fly buzzing on the jeep's carburetor... it's singing."
"Kyleigh, focus," Coulson said gently. He held up a hand in front of her face. "Focus."
She blinked, focused on his hand. "Right. Ok. People... they were here. I'm reading latent heat signatures, four of them." She moved down the ramp, stood there in the midst of her data streams. "Okay, yeah. The molecular excitation is really strong. They stood here half an hour and then left." She moved her hands, flicking through the controls on her glasses. "Hold on. I can see an EM echo... they got an alarm from the base. An unknown energy spike." She whirled madly, stared into the air. "I can see it." She pointed at it. "I'm sending the readings directly to you."
"Got 'em," Fitz said. "Looks Asgardian."
"It is," Kyleigh said. "Definitely Asgardian. 4,000 years old. But activated within the last 4 hours. The team went towards it. And their GPS trackers are in that area."
"Let's go," Coulson said.
They left Mae in charge of the bus and headed out. "Ohhhkay, now that is an artifact," Skye said, as they entered the clearing. Everyone carefully got out and clustered near the edge of the clearing, staring.
There was a short stone obelisk covered with moss in the center of the clearing. But floating above it was a glowing blue cube, pulsing steadily with energy.
"Kyleigh?" Coulson asked quietly.
She studied it for a while and said, "Some sort of inter-dimensional energy cube. Like the Tesseract, but not as powerful. It's not active right now, it's on standby." She froze, and turned around slowly. "They're here."
"Who's here?" Coulson asked.
"The SHIELD agents. I can sense their GPS trackers and heat signatures." She pointed to an empty spot. "There."
"But there's no one there," Fitz said, edging away nervously.
"Just cuz you can't physically see them," Kyleigh started. "It's a phase shift. I wonder if they can see us?" She waved, and turned to the artifact. "They must have activated it somehow." She took another step toward the artifact but stopped and backtracked hastily. "That is a lot of energy."
"Can we reverse this phase-shift?" Coulson asked her.
"Let me see if I can interface with it." She took a cautious step closer. "I'm gonna get tunnel vision, guys."
"Okay," Coulson said. "We've got you."
"Tunnel vision?" Skye asked quietly.
"She's going to hyper focus all her sense on that one object," Simmons said. "If she's gonna interface with it she'll need her full brain capacity."
"If she starts speaking different languages nobody panic," Coulson warned.
Kyleigh moved towards the device, her hands out in front, sensing the energy waves. She managed to get her hands on either side of it and then she slowly picked it up. A few seconds later she started to speak in Ancient Nordic, and then a few seconds later she started to speak in Asgardian, mumbling to herself.
"She's writing her own compatibility program," Simmons said, awed.
"So she's basically all of us put together," Ward said, eyeing the girl cautiously.
"Basically," Coulson said.
"Except we're cooler," Fitz said. "Teamwork and all that."
"Why don't they have more people with Kaleidoscope abilities?" Skye asked.
"You have to get to them early enough," Fitz said. "Anybody past the age of 3 is too set in their ways and their brain isn't spongy enough."
A few seconds later the air around them began to shimmer. The cube glowed brighter and sent out a wave of energy that swept outwards, stopped at 25 feet, and then folded back in on itself, coalescing into the cube. Kyleigh didn't move at all, her entire mind focused on the cube.
Skye looked around, and nearly jumped a foot in the air in surprise. There were four new people standing with them in the clearing.
"Agent Coulson," the person said, stepping forward.
"Agent Michelson, nice to see you," Coulson said, shaking the man's hand. "What happened?"
"We were waiting for you to arrive when we received a signal from one of our sensors here. This thing had activated and as soon as we got into the clearing it sent out a beam like the one we just experienced. The next thing we knew we were walking through trees. We saw you coming so we waited around to see if you could figure it out. We knew Kyleigh would see us eventually."
"Now what's she doing?" Ward asked Fitzsimmons curiously, seeing as the girl still hadn't blinked.
"I honestly have no idea," Simmons said. She pointed to the screen. "Look at these readings."
He looked but didn't have any idea what it meant. He assumed it was brainwaves.
Kyleigh stood as if in a trance, staring at the depths of the device. Only the slightest twitch of her eyes and the frantic scrolling of data on her lenses indicated any sign of consciousness. Finally, after what seemed like hours, she put the cube back in its floating stone pedestal and stepped back. She was trembling, and as she turned to face the team she nearly fell over.
Skye stepped forward and put an arm around her to steady her. "You okay?"
"Yeah..." but she looked pale.
Simmons scanned her quickly and handed her a power bar. "Here you go. And turn off all your extras."
"Can't. I'm still connected to it. It thinks I'm the control unit." She ate the power bar in a few bites and said choppily, "It's the pure energy source. That's why it turned on when the sensor pinged it. I turned all the other ones off, passive-only, just in case. It's on standby now. We need a neutralizing container for it." Her gaze slid back to the cube.
Fitz was going to take another scan of it, but Kyleigh held out a hand.
"No active scans. Anything might set it off again."
Suddenly there was a low rumble of thunder.
"Anything?" Ward asked, eyes wide. "Like, a thunderstorm?"
"Sonic blasts," Kyleigh said, flicking through some database in her mind. "Not good." She looked at Coulson. "We need to get it back to the lab and contain it." Another roll of thunder went off and she flinched and took her glasses off, rubbing her eyes.
Fitz spoke up. "If that storm brews lightning or gets any closer the resulting energy spike could phase shift the entire region."
Coulson turned to Kyleigh. "Can you manage the cube during the ride?" he asked.
"Are you sure?" Simmons asked.
Kyleigh nodded and put her glasses on. "I can handle it."
"Okay. Let's move out." Coulson looked at the other team. "You'll follow us?"
Kyleigh picked up the cube and they all piled into cars and headed for the bus.
"That storm is way too close," Skye said, catching sight of a bolt of lightning. She wondered if Thor was here, drawn by the energy box, but dismissed the notion. He'd probably have shown up by now.
"It's beautiful," Kyleigh said. "Makes my head ache, but it's beautiful."
They made it to the bus and onto the ramp. Ward put a hand on Kyleigh's arm to help her out but she flinched away violently. "Don't," she said, her hands sparkling with energy. "Too sensitive."
He stepped back and made sure everyone kept a wide berth. Fitzsimmons began rushing around the lab, putting together a container as Kyleigh rattled off specifics for them based on the readings from the artifact. Everyone else watched anxiously as the storm got closer and Kyleigh got more and more pale.
"Half a mile, people," Coulson said mildly, telling them to hurry.
"Done!" Fitz exclaimed a minute later.
Kyleigh gave a short nod and carefully put the cube in the box. She closed her eyes, and the cube slowly powered down to a dull blue glow. She took her hands off and quickly closed the lid. "Whoa..." she said, clapping her hands over her ears and closing her eyes. "Too many people. Too much."
"Everybody out," Coulson ordered quietly.
They filed out, leaving Kyleigh and Coulson in the lab. He retreated to the farthest corner of the lab, barely breathing. Kyleigh was still curled in on herself.
"What's wrong?" Skye asked, worried. She looked like she was in a lot of pain.
"She's experiencing sensory overload," Simmons explained quietly. "She let go of the cube but she still had all her senses at full capacity. Without something to focus on she's literally sensing everything. She has to bring it down to a manageable level and filter everything out before her brain shuts down." Simmons checked her tablet. "She has 5 minutes."
"Oh." Skye revised her opinion of the Kaleidoscope project. That was not a nice experience for a teenager.
They watched as Kyleigh gradually dialed down her abilities and physically stripped off her hardware. She took off her gloves first, then her bracelets, earrings, ankles, glasses, shirt, boots, and jeans, leaving her with a tank top and leggings. She looked absolutely exhausted.
Finally Coulson moved. He went over to her and gave her a huge hug, which she gladly returned. He held her like that for a minute and then carefully stepped back, still holding onto her arms. He looked over at the others and nodded.
Fitz opened the door and they came in cautiously.
"Take her to her bunk and let her sleep," Coulson said, transferring her to Skye and Simmons.
"Yes sir." They half-carried, half-led a dazed Kyleigh to the nearest bed and tucked her in. She managed to swallow half a glass of water before passing out.
The two women rejoined the rest in the lab. "What's the status of the cube?" Simmons asked Fitz.
"Just fine. It's powered down." He checked the computer and his jaw dropped. "She copied the control unit program to the computer. I think we could actually use it."
"I don't think so," Coulson said firmly.
"Not that we'd want to," Fitz said, quickly encrypting the file. "But with the readings she got we could definitely build our own phase-shift technology. This is amazing."
Agent Michelson spoke up. "We've worked with Kyleigh before. She'll need another 10 hours of sleep and about a half ton of food before she's ready to be transferred."
Another roll of thunder and a crackling of lightning lit up the sky.
"In the meantime you can stay here," Coulson said, closing the ramp. "Don't want you to get electrocuted."
Ten hours later, Kyleigh woke up. She ate a full meal, took a shower, ate another full meal, went over the data with Fitzsimmons, ate some more, called her mom, had an apple, and was ready to go.
"Take care," Mae told her, as she was leaving.
"Thanks." Kyleigh grinned ruefully. "I think I now have a reference for what a hangover feels like."
"Uh, no, I think yours is worse," Ward said. He shook her hand. "Hope to work with you again."
She grinned. "I don't doubt it. I could totally arrange it."
"See you later," Fitz said.
"Bye," Simmons chorused.
"Bye guys." She looked at Skye. "Keep on hacking. I've seen your work. You're good."
"Thanks," Skye said, grinning. "Bye.'"
Coulson walked with Kyleigh down the ramp. "Don't get into trouble, now," he told her.
She laughed. "Who me?" In a quieter voice she said, "When I was hyped up I definitely felt something from her. Something's going to happen. Soon." She gave him a hug. "See you around."
"Take care," he replied. He watched her walk away and get safely in the car with the other SHIELD team. He turned to his own team. "Okay. We've got a delivery to make to the Sandbox." He frowned. "If the Asgardians decide not to interfere, that is."
"They've already interfered," Mae said, and went to start the bus.
"Yes they have." Coulson watched the ramp close and frowned. What had Kyleigh said about Lola? She was leaking ions? He grabbed the nearest toolkit.