A Timely Apprehension


des_icon.gif luther2_icon.gif richard3_icon.gif

Scene Title A Timely Apprehension
Synopsis Sometimes hard decisions need to be made. But sometimes you can hedge your bets.
Date May 22, 2018

Raytech NYCSZ Branch Office

The personnel records of one Desdemona Desjardins are spread out across Richard Ray’s desk, with other personnel records visible beneath them on the screen built into the black glass that makes up its top. A newspaper sits off to one side, with the headline screaming about war criminals that were never arrested.

It’s all very neatly organized, and thorough, and purposeful. If there’s one thing Richard’s always been good at, it’s setting the stage to tell the story he wants it to tell. It served him well in his criminal days, and it serves him well today.

The man himself is standing at the window, though, looking out over the greenery and solar panels of the lower roof-top as he waits for the head of security to arrive - a message just sent marked ‘urgent’ to have Luther come to his office as soon as possible.

“God, I hate this,” he mutters to his reflection, faintly visible in the window.

But it has to be done. For the company. For his family.

That doesn’t mean he doesn’t hate it.

Interrupted in the oversight of some construction at another level, Luther takes a minute to clear up any loose threads and questions, but then he’s on the way. The tall figure of the security chief fills the doorway not long following his texted reply. A moment spared for silent pensiveness at the windows and brow lifted while scanning the sight of papers neatly organized upon the desk. But the message had been marked urgent. So he steps closer, and waits for Richard to begin.

A slow breath is drawn in, and then Richard turns from the window. “After certain questions being asked by certain authorities, I have had an internal investigation carried out… I apologize for not letting you know, but I wanted to handle things personally rather than cause any suspicions to be raised,” he says, his voice tired as he fixes his gaze on the other man, “In the course of this investigation, I discovered that one of our employees was here under a false name and false credentials, and during the war had been fighting on Mitchell’s side.”

Of course, most of this? Luther already knows. The look in the CEO’s eyes is very much a play along one though, as grim as it is.

“I need you to send a team of security personnel down to Blue Lab to pick up Dr Desdemona Desjardins and bring her here to answer for herself,” he states, “After which we’ll be contacting the authorities to collect her.”

In part, Luther knows what is being said is formality. But if his next words are acting, then he should be nominated for some awards. “Is it true? Did you know about it?” His jaw works as he cuts a glance down to the newspaper article’s splashy headline, then back up to his boss. The question, quiet and low like distant thunder, carrying the feel of a charged storm. Luther sounds… conflicted, angry. Hurt. And in want of answers.

The boss doesn’t need to ask him to play along. The man already knows what he wants to do about it, and the words out of Richard confirm. He reaches into a pocket, taking out a phone to start typing in messages for the team to assemble. A thumb pauses over the send button. “You want to come with?”

“No.” That, at least, seems legitimate. Richard’s jaw tightens a bit, “If I was aware that someone that we employed had been working with Humanis First…” He looks away, then, gaze falling on the desk as he says more quietly, “Different decisions may have been made. As a friend of mine once said, though— whatever happened, happened.”

He looks back to Luther, then, and he shakes his head, “No. I’ll stay here. Just… bring her up here, and I’ll contact Lazzaro about this.” It appears that he has the phone number of the Secretary of Homeland Security on speed dial.

A bare nod, and Luther sends off the message. Quiet falls back over the man, but tension has entered his posture, deepened his breath as he looks over the file and the article. “Probably better for it that you don’t. Because, if she resists.” A hardening of his gaze follows, along with a lift and fix upon the other man.

“Richard, I know you’re about second chances. And I’m the last guy here who should be talking about that with you. But this?” He taps a finger on the newspaper. “Whatever happened, was a choice. She made her bed with them. And now…” A rough sigh rolls out as Luther’s phone chimes a reply and he checks it. “And now we don’t have a choice.” The phone is slipped back into his pocket.

“Team’s ready. I’ll go meet them.” He turns away to leave, fingers flexing in and out of a fist at his side.

“There are always choices, Mister Bellamy…” Richard shakes his head, “We make them and have to hope that they’re the best ones for us and everyone around us.” he turns, stepping back over to the desk and moving to claim his chair, leaning back with a creak of leather and metal.

“I’ll bring up the security camera in case we need to call an emergency,” he says, fingers moving over the black glass of his desk, tapping a control here and there.

Luther pauses at the threshold of the office, turning to look over his shoulder with that statement. The knitted brow of his, though a common expression now for the security chief, seems to deepen the discomforted features. But the latter, neutral statement seems to bring him back to the present task at hand and Luther nods, turning back to head down to the security team’s meet up point.

Downstairs in front of the main security room, there’s a team of eight waiting for him, each bearing a XLRAD Banshee with the battery pack clipped on a holster, though none of them are outfitted in the AEGIS armor. Luther nods to Bob and the others, taking an offered Banshee from Bob. “We’re headed to Blue Lab to detain Ms. Desjardins,” he tells the team as he slips the belt on and adjusts his suit jacket over it.

“Don’t engage unless she tries to run. I want three covering each exit, so you,” he motions to a first trio, “and you,” the second. “Bob, Lou and I will handle the approach. Any questions?” When he notes some of the confused looks on faces, his voice drops to a dangerous timbre. “She is wanted by the government for war crimes. You probably read the Times article about Odessa Knutson-Price.” The mention of her name causes a ripple through the team, but also in Luther’s features as he continues to adjust his jacket. It gives him something to distract his own thoughts with. He continues, “Once we have her in custody, Mister Ray wants her brought up to his office.”

With the basic plan laid out, positions and strategies confirmed, the team heads out to Blue Lab. Their route is direct, passing by employees, ignoring the looks that are received. At a point, the second exit trio breaks off to go cover the other end of the lab, leaving six. Luther scans his keycard at the lab door, then enters with two flanking him on either side.

Down in the laboratory level, Desdemona is looking over her latest notes on the spinal injury project, reading what she’s received back from Warren’s team. She gets up from her desk to stretch her limbs and starts out toward the hall. That’s when she spots the guards on the other side of the door. Casually, she turns and starts toward the other exit instead.

That doesn’t turn out to be a better option.

Odessa purses her lips and considers all the ways she might talk her way out of this. She’s not who they think she is? She was coerced? It was years ago?

None of those options are likely to work.

The door opens and she turns to face Luther. “Hello again, Mister Bellamy.” They both know why he’s here.

The security camera video from the lab in question is brought up, and Richard leans against the desk, arms folded on its edge as he watches the view of it - watching the guards surround the lab, his security chief confronting the researcher in question.

His other hand moves to bring up the phone app on the desk, although he doesn’t dial anything. Not yet.

There’s a hard edge to Luther’s expression as he confronts Des, a broken reflection of the expression he’d had not long ago standing in front of her apartment door. “Miss Desjardins,” he starts, voice even, “You need to come with us. Leave your work.” Before there’s protest, he continues, “You are being detained on the grounds of having falsified information on your file. Mister Ray has a few questions for you.”

Bob, the security guard on Luther’s left, extracts a pair of handcuffs but Luther motions with a hand to stay the man from coming forward. His grey eyes haven’t left Des yet. And before he really thinks it through, Luther utters the question burning deep in him, “Why? Why did you—” He cuts off, dropping the hand that halts the guard at his flank. “This whole time you were here… Are you working for someone else?” He has to ask, even though there’s an expectation that she’s not going to answer, or if so, answer falsely.

“I’m not going to fight anybody,” the doctor assures. The reason for this arrest is expected. But his question isn’t, and it breaks her heart. “I never meant to lie to anybody,” Des begins, shaking her head, “I tried to be as honest as I could. All the time. I just… left out some hurtful truths.”

Odessa looks away, her dark hair veils her face as her chin tips toward the floor. “I’m not here for anyone else. This was supposed to be my chance to get things right and live my own life for the first time.” She looks up again, eyes begging him to understand.

“Your own life?” echoes Luther incredulously, their eyes meeting but his bearing none of the sympathy she might hope to find. At least not now. “You’ve been masquerading as this… this…” Color reaches his cheeks, the air surrounding him turning just a little hotter. Because he hits a realization that makes his gaze turn cold. “So everything they wrote. It’s all true?” If he’d had taken the newspaper from Richard’s desk, he probably would have been shoving it in her face. In a way, he still is. “Is it?”

“Did you even think,” he growls out, “who it is you’re working for? Working with?” It’s Luther who takes an aggressive step forward, the pair of guards behind him leaning but not following yet.

Odessa shakes her head quickly, and holds her ground. “No. They don’t know everything. The papers filled in the gaps, but… Not everything is right. I’m not the monster they paint me to be.” Which isn’t to say she isn’t a monster, she’s just of a different stripe.

“I wanted a chance to do good. Look at the work I’ve done! Rebrand it. Put someone else’s name on it. Help people with my research.” Her arm sweeps out toward the desk she was just sitting at. She isn’t angry, but sad. She’s proud of the work she’s done at Raytech, and she knows that it’s all in jeopardy now.

Straightening to full height, Luther looms over the woman and takes another step closer, close enough she can feel the energy bleeding off into the air around the man. “They wrote about the work you did, too. For the enemy.” The final word of that is accompanied by a curl of his hand into fist at his side, and a dark look in his eyes that seems to ache for just any excuse to let go of the grip on his control.

It’s enough. Bob steps forward and places a hand on the security chief’s shoulder, a reminder that there are others here. And they’re here to do a task. It’s the other guard, Lou, who follows Bob and takes out her own set of cuffs. This time, Luther doesn’t stop the guard from coming forward to go through the motions of the detainment.

“There’s nothing I can say to you that will change your mind, is there?” Odessa takes a step away from that burning energy, slowly lifting her hands out to her sides, non-threatening. “I’m sorry. I truly am. I never meant to hurt anybody here.”

Once her arms are parallel with the floor, the motion is quick, like some arcane incantation. Odessa draws her hands toward her chest, crossed with her hands at her shoulders, gathering the threads of time to her. Then, her arms snap out to her sides again, quick as a flash.

Time stops. Odessa stares up into Luther’s face, frozen in his anger toward her, and lets her sorrow make her chest ache. She deserves this. Everything he said to her. “I’m sorry. I bet you wish you’d saved someone who turned out to be worth it.”

Des gathers her purse and a duffle bag from under her desk. Everything important to her in one bag, not her usual work materials. Her laptop and her research is all left behind, unlocked. Maybe Richard can do something with it.

For now, the condemned woman weaves her way through the frozen guards and toward the exit.

Odessa Price disappears before Luther Bellamy’s very eyes.

"Odessa Knutson," says Richard, leaning back in his chair and closing his eyes, "Is a woman who was raised by the Company. Her memories have been significantly, traumatically altered, and we suspect there're some very important things hidden in those memories. She's been manipulated all her life, and has done— terrible things for one organization or the other, always under duress. She was used to it…"

"Due to the various… groups she was dragged into, she's wanted by the law, and by Wolfhound. She's also currently going under the alias of Desdemona Desjardins…"

… "She's been a tool for all her life, Luther. For the Company, for Adam Monroe, for the Institute, for God knows who else. She deserves a chance to show what good she can do without some evil bastard making her design viruses and shit."

Luther flinches off his second's hand, still staring at Odessa standing before him. Behind the anger, there is hurt. There is betrayal. Behind the betrayal, Luther's grey eyes are full with conflict. He had known the reasons for her hiding, for them hiding her. He had struggled with it like a blank puzzle missing pieces. With the confrontation, the confirmation, it's caught in a perfect storm of the past and present crashing together. Would she have known that the past would come for her in the form of this man?

Her question, the backwards step, and non-threatening posture shift the storm's course to something more immediate. "You're coming with us," the words from the security chief roll through stubbornly, each word forced through the shutters of his gritted teeth. "And you're going to answer for what you did."

Right as her arms are near parallel to the floor, the flanking guards and Luther make their move to grab her… And are caught in the threads of time that none of the security team are equipped to handle. Luther's hand stretches out like a grasping claw, his features a fiercely contorted scowl. Until he's released from her power. There's a forward stumble, a catching of his footing as he reaches for and grabs nothing but air. Luther's confused gaze whips around in search. A sharp swear (what the fuck) of pure frustration splashes out. Then, he barks out the next commands. "Lock it down! Sweep the building!" Bob's on the radio shortly, relaying the orders to all teams. "Someone get an AEGIS on and check on her apartment," comes Luther's afterthought as he starts towards the lab entrance.

His walk is brisk paced, his mind racing. That she was able to disappear like that smacked of an ability, though he recalls her file listing her as non-Evolved. Then the flash of the article…

* Voluntarily accepted negation to remain at Valentin’s side within Humanis First forces

A sudden, dreadful thought hits him, spiked by a short "Fuck!" And then Luther breaks into a dead run for the lab exit, for the stairs leading back to the executive offices.

On the camera, Odessa Knutson-Price seems to disappear in an instant, vanishing in the not-time between moments, and Richard closes his eyes for a moment.

A breath drawn in, and exhaled out.

“I’m sorry,” he murmurs to her, wherever she is, and then his hand falls to hit CALL on the display on the screen.

He leans back in his chair, and as the line picks up and the voice of a secretary answers he replies, “This is Richard Ray, of Raytech Industries… I need to report that we discovered an individual wanted for war crimes working for us under an assumed identity. We attempted to apprehend with internal security, but they escaped by using an ability. We are, of course, willing to cooperate fully on this matter.”

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