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Also Featuring:

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Scene Title Actualize
Synopsis Hana and Mr. Renautas delve into the forgotten past.
Date August 14, 2019

Snow whips across an endless expanse of white and jagged gray.

Mountains blend into the whiteout, visible for only fleeting moments between the billowing and voluminous drifts of stinging cold that steals breath and already works at freezing exposed flesh. In the gloom of the cold, in these twilight hours that hang perpetual across the vast expanses of cold, a pair of headlamps shine bright and golden through the blue. Steel treads have cut a path through the snow where the red-painted body of a snowcat idles loudly outside an elevated, octagonal building of bare steel with long, dark, rectangular windows.

A lone figure approaches the structure, his blood red parka trimmed with fur, face covered by a full mask of insulated fiber and yellow-tinted goggles. He trudges through the hard-packed, icy snow, then looks up to the stairs ascending to the building where it is suspended off the ground by columns of white-painted steel. No flags fly on this structure, no identifiers of nationality.

In this twilight, there is just snow and the dim blue glow across the horizon of a sun that set long ago.

A sun that may well be setting for humanity.

Colobanth Research Facility

Utsteinen Nunatak; Queen Maud Land


May 17th


Sealed behind an airlock to keep out the cold, the red-clad man begins stripping off the layers of his arctic survival gear. Gloves come first, to facilitate the remainder of his work. Fingers chilled to the bone in spite of their protection shakily work at buttons and toggles to remove the parka, two hands sweep back the fur-trimmed hood revealing chin-length wavy brown hair. As the goggles come up, blue eyes survey the dimly lit interior, and as the facemask comes down, a bear flecked with ice is already melting.

Richard Drucker looks just as he did in the handful of old photographs that ever existed of him. But up close it is his height and the intensity of his stare that is most familiar, as if somehow the photographs weren’t able to convey the sense of presence he had when he became T. Monk in a decade yet to come from this moment. “Charlotte?” He calls out, boots tracking melting ice and snow as he walks deeper into the cramped, submarine-like confines of the research facility.

“I suppose there may be some elements of surreality to be experiencing this as you are,” comes not from Drucker, but from the white-haired phantom in the room that can neither be seen nor heard by those that belong in these moments. Walter Renautas turns to look at the woman he is showing these images to, the tuning fork that helped him find the proper note in history’s symphony, and draw it out from an instant to forever.

“Take your time. If we need, I can pause the moment as it happens. They cannot see or hear us.” Renautas explains, “we are still in your safe house, and the world is moving around us. Be mindful of your furnishings as this merely overwhelms some of your senses.” To the technopath at Walter’s side, she needn’t be told. While her eyes and ears, her hands and heart, tell her this is Antarctica she does not feel the reach of the digital angels.

Hana never did meet Richard Drucker in the flesh. Only in digital reconstruction, and one's self-image is never quite the same as reality.

She can see the relationship between them, despite their distance in degree, in acculturation. Something about the way he holds himself, the force of his attention, hearkens back to vestiges of childhood memories… and perhaps something of what the woman sees in a mirror, when she's looking for it.

The poignancy of that will sting more, later.

The statements of the ghost responsible for this even greater apparition evoke a brusque nod, Hana not even bothering to shift the focus of her attention. The constancy of computerized signals — a touchstone belonging firmly to Rutba, Iraq before all else — is only one clue that what her physical senses perceive is not real and present.

The other is the hawk that swoops down out of nowhere, owing nothing of its existence to either the historical illusion around them or the spectre mediating it. Reddish-brown wings flare and bring it to rest on Hana's shoulder; that her posture is not affected in the slightest by this impact carries its own implications. Black eyes in a golden-plumed head regard Renautas briefly, then turn to the entirely different manner of phantom striding down the hall.

"Understood," Hana says at last. And then she does begin to walk in the wake of her personal ghost, moving world or no.

The look of surprise on Renautas’ face at the hawk is just as quick to arise as it is to fade. But the momentary uncertainty he has fades with understanding on some instinctive level, visible in the crease of his brows and a quirk of the corner of his mouth up just so. With an incline of his head, Renautas follows the sound of Drucker’s voice as he moves deeper into the facility, through short segments of hallways riveted together and barely illuminated.

Back here!” calls an unfamiliar woman’s voice, echoing from the other side of the small complex. Drucker ducks his way through a doorway, following the sound of the voice and a distant glow of faint blue light. Though the world does move around them, Hana can’t help but fall in stride as she follows. It is an awkward process, but one that eventually feels like second nature in a world as illusory and ephemeral as anything digital could be.

Drucker passes through a laboratory, one that seems to draw a moment of inspection from Renautas as the old phantom pauses and inspects a chalkboard scrawled with mathematical equations and a large circle surrounded by tight bands of additional concentric rings, waves of lines coming from the far side of the board. The phrase X-Class is written nearby to the equations. Hana recognizes some of the mathematics from her time aboard a Chinese space shuttle bound for a Company satellite some years ago. They’re astrophysics, specifically involving gravity and mass.

“When was the last time you checked the satellite feed?” Drucker asks hastily, continuing through the doorway on the other side of the lab. “The SDO at Goddard picked up a huge flare this morning. This might be the one we were waiting for!” As Drucker moves through the doorway, Renautas looks back to Hana with one brow slowly raised. He pauses, noticing something sitting on one of the shelves at the edge of the lab. A crude wooden box, filled with wires and angular pieces of metal in the shape of…

…a compass.

Renautas starts to reach for the compass, then curls his fingers in toward his palm. “This looks like something I fashioned,” he says in a small, hushed voice. “Except… I have no recollection of having made one in 1984.” His blue eyes move back to the disappearing silhouette of Richard Drucker through the doorway.

Astrophysics. A flare, solar from the context. A decidedly inelegant piece of ad-hoc engineering that, on the face of it, seems to have nothing whatsoever to do with the other two.

Hana takes these things in, even as she moves forward to follow the trail of footsteps… then stops mid-stride, raised foot setting back into its prior place.

…responsible for the Institute's compasses…
…the research hasn't stopped…

There's a moment where the illusion flickers, in Hana's perception of it at least, the overriding of her senses overridden in turn. A skip, a stutter both within and without; and then it's past, leaving her with head tipped, eyes squinted nearly shut, and an even more discombobulated sense of place.

I've got it, her perennial companion assures over digital feed.

Focus on the vision, is unspoken subtext. Hana is rattled enough to nod, just slightly.

"And after 1984?" is spoken to her phantom company of the moment, just a hair shy of sharply pointed.

“I had a few more years left in me,” Renautas says casually as he starts toward the door out of the lab, “in which my confidence in the entire apparatus was quite shaken. I took my research on those devices and put them somewhere the likes of Arthur Petrelli or Daniel Linderman wouldn't get them. A device designed to track any people of a minority group is…” He shakes his head. “Ghoulish, when given historic precedent.”

As the pair make their way from the lab into another connection of narrow hallways they pass by junctions that lead off to other wings of the facility, something like a recreation room down one hallway, a small kitchen down another. “I passed on before the turn of the millennium,” Renautas goes on to say. “Or so that's what my granddaughter has educated me on. I don't… recall the moment, precisely. I may have been asleep.”

Another voice cuts over Renautas’ reminiscence on his own mortality, coming from a doorway up ahead where the blue glow of a television fills the darkness with cool shades of electronic lighting. “That explains why the hairs on my arms have been standing up all day,” the woman’s voice says softly.

“I came back as soon as I could.” Drucker is heard saying, and as Hana and Renautas creep around the corner they find an office with but one darkened and narrow window in it. The walls are a sanitarium white, with a television mounted in the upper corner of the room playing an Argentinian news broadcast with the sound off. A headline in Spanish on the screen reads Fuerzas Iraníes en estancamiento en Irak.

Most of the room is filled with computer equipment sitting on an L-shaped desk pushed into the corner. Several IBM computers and two black and green monochrome monitors hum softly, and though Hana can hear the chattering of their hard disks accessing data, they are like ghosts to her; ephemeral and unreal. A dark-haired woman sits at the desk, turned with her back to the computers and attention up on where Drucker has come into the room.

“We’ll need to get out of here after the flare,” Drucker says with a motion to the darkened window, “we’ve barely got a day of sunlight left, there's no way we can keep working here through the winter in the dark.” He eyes the computer behind her, “do we have all the data we need?”

Renautas narrows his eyes slowly. “I don't know her,” he says with some amount of suspicion. Her appearance is vaguely familiar to Hana, in the way that familial resemblances tend to be.

Hana slants a hard look at Renautas. "Well. That failed," she states with acerbity, because she is not a better person. But she stops at that, and does not elaborate, nor further detract from their joint purpose here — not on that account, at least.

Smothering the unpleasant sensation that vibrates in her bones, Hana refocuses on the strangeness before her — this place, this people… the equipment she hears but cannot hear, though of course this window of time predates commercial wireless networking, and even the allocation of frequencies for that purpose. But if any place were to have radio relays, it would be this place, out at the far end of nowhere…

"Charlotte Roux," Hana supplies absently, facts drawn not from her own patchy knowledge but borrowed from her silent companion, who went in search of information the moment there was anything worth searching on. "A painter, by trade."

Other details — the woman's death, the kin who survived her, even her place of residence — she fails to share. Only partly because they seem on the face of it to be irrelevant… perhaps even fabricated, in light of the scene before them.

Raising the question, which version — if any — can be said to be true?

Silence is Renautas’ response to Hana’s remark, coupled with a momentary furrow of his brows that implies he doesn't fully know the truth. As the most likely possibility sets in, he exhales a sigh and looks down to the floor as Charlotte Roux speaks up again.

“We need to wait for the storm, at least. If this is an X-Class it'll tell me everything I need to know about how the effects of solar radiation impact that thing’s ability to manipulate genes on the fly.” Roux turns to her computer and starts keying in commands, backing out of one program and executing another that shows a line chart of several different types of cosmic radiation, including electromagnetic. “I did this while you were gone,” she says, pointing to the pixelated chart.

Drucker leans in, resting a hand on the back of Charlotte’s chair for balance. “This is you?” He asks, blue eyes flicking to Charlotte and back again. “This plateau,” he traces his fingers across the screen, “it's higher than before. We talked about this, you can't— ”

No,” Charlotte interjects, turning to look up at Drucker. “I talked, you lectured me. If we don't figure this out we're all good as dead, aren't we? After Canada how many of us are even left?” That comment had Drucker straightening up and leaning away from the chair. “I know you don't trust Charles, or any of them, and neither do I, but they need us, Richard. The whole damn world does.”

Exhaling a sharp breath through his nose, Drucker propels himself away from Charlotte’s seat and directly through Hana and her falcon as if they were the ones who were immaterial. Drucker laces the room, raking a hand through his hair. “I know, I know. But we can't keep… we keep handing them tools to oppress us. I don't want to be a part of their future, I don't want them to keep an eye on me.”

“Then we dismantle it,” Charlotte says as she pivots her chair to face Drucker. “When this is done, we destroy the research. The compasses, the Looking Glass, the dish— we burn Fort Hero to the ground if we have to.” She closes the distance between them and places a hand on Drucker’s shoulder. “But after we save the world.”

It's with a deep sigh of resignation that Drucker looks to Charlotte’s hand and nods, then slips out from under the contact and makes his way over to her computer. “Just promise me,” he says with a hint of bitterness in his tone, looking from the computer screen and back to Charlotte, “you won't burn yourself out.” Then he looks down to her midsection and back up. Anxiously, Charlotte rests a hand on her stomach and nods. “Don't do that to Conner or your child.”

Renautas looks away from the pair, to Hana. “This is what I have been trying to understand. Whatever it is they are researching, preparing for, but the pieces are missing. This is too far in their future, too close to whatever happened. I can't see the whole picture.” He looks back to Hana, “do you have it in you for one more… search?” His brows rise. “We need context.”

Hana studies the displayed information; importantly, so does the digital entity sharing her senses. For she also parses the words, trying to fit the cryptic conversation not meant for an uninformed audience into the frail scaffold of her own knowledge and understanding.

That thing. It isn't like Drucker to dehumanize an enemy; for all that this is the shade of the man she never knew, Hana can't find it in herself to expect that be any different. Nor does Monroe have the ability to 'manipulate genes' — so, this cannot be him. Where does he fit in?

And what does this have to do with solar radiation?

It's this distraction that keeps Hana rooted in place a moment too long, leaving her blinking as she and the Drucker that isn't briefly occupy the same seeming space. She turns to watch his interaction with Charlotte continue, prompting Similarities? and receiving what amounts to a 'stand by…' notice in return.

When Renautas speaks, his voice strikes her as momentarily foreign, an intrusion, an interruption of the analyst at work. Hana casts a narrow-eyed glance his way, then nods brusquely, consent unspeaking but clearly conveyed.

He's right. She does need more context.

Drucker walks away to pull up a chair, dragging it across the floor to beside Charlotte. “Let's go over the data again,” he says with a resigned sign to her silence. But the data isn't what Renautas is here for, nor Hana.

Not yet, at any rate.

Primatech Paper

The Pas, Manitoba


April 1st


Arrhythmic notes of jazz music fill the air. The transition from one moment in time to another seems instantaneous to Hana, as instantaneous as her recollection of the sounds of Thelonious Monk, a famous musician of another era long beloved to one man.

“No, it was something that you did. I'm sure of it.” Richard Drucker paces around the fluorescent-lit space of a tile-floored lab filled with computers. A dot-matrix printer is noisily chirping as reams of data are spilled out onto the floor. Nearby, Walter Renautas stands beside a wall that does not exist, yet one he leans against none the less, looking more tired than an instant could have caused.

Charlotte Roux is here, standing by a window to an equally uncomfortably lit hall, writing on the glass with a wax pencil. “That doesn't make any sense, that kid blasted her with— whatever the hell that was— and she didn't even so much as flinch. What'm I going to do to it, exactly?” She asks, looking over her shoulder to Drucker, opening her free hand and creating a warm yellow glow from her palm. “Illuminate her?

Pacing past the turntable playing that jazz record, Drucker shakes his head and takes a hand through his hair. “No, no it's not— we need to break down what happened. Because the second you showed up on the roof she looked at you and vanished into thin air. It's like she knew something.”

Charlotte seems more focused on the window, scribbling a list of terms on the glass.

Ability negation?

“Kaito said that she wasn't special, he's looked through birth records and data from Korea and Japan and he's said that there's no indication of a probable ability.” Drucker brandishes a hand at the data on the glass.

“Then Kaito was wrong,” Charlotte shouts, turning around and pointing at the glass. “Arthur said he couldn't do anything when she looked at him. You know he doesn't feign weakness. He was scared, Richard, terrified.”

Drucker stares at the list on the glass, then closes his eyes and takes a hand through his hair again and drags his palm slowly down his face. “We’re talking in circles…” he mumbles.

The apparent shift from Antarctica to somewhere else is jarring, even though she expected something. The intrusion of jazz into the ambiance around Hana serves incongruously as a source of aggravation. Dark eyes follow the pacing of a dead man around the room, her own feet remaining rooted in place.

"I fail to see," she states, giving a sharp look to the phantom mediating this experience, "what this has to do with anything."

Then, Hana shifts into motion, younger kin now pacing where the shade of the elder has stilled. In the real world, her steps track the edge of what passes for a living room, avoiding collisions by grace of cues from the computer not quite in her head; in the visualized past, she walks right through someone else's furnishings with unconcerned impunity.

Some Evolved girl in Japan thirty-five years ago who caused headaches for other people, perhaps especially Company-adjacent people, might relate to Adam. That's as likely as can be. But the present? Her here and now?

Hana's waiting on that illumination of context, and each jazzy note — each word from a ghost's lips — seems now to fray the woman's patience more than not.

Reversed mirror to Hana, Renautas is remarkably patient. Though he seems to glean no immediate understanding of the events either, his narrowed eyes and lips parted in anticipation seem to hold no small amount of hope that this thread will lead somewhere. His attention is momentarily stolen by Hana, a brow raised in thoughtful consideration. He was about to say something when the sound of a frustrated growl from Charlotte draws his attention, watching the brunette walk away from the glass.

Drucker turns, watching her move, and he too looked about to say something right up until the distant and muffled sounds of panicked screams comes down the hallway. Drucker’s back straightens in an instant and he moves away from the windows, setting flush up against the wall. Charlotte turns to look at him, and he reaches out and grabs her by the wrist and pulls her over to stand beside him.

“Arthur and the others just got back,” Drucker says, his eyes unfocused and distant, “I can see them on the security feed. There’s a half dozen agents, it— ” anguished screams come down the hall, moving past the door to the lab. Through the windows covered in Charlotte’s writing two black-suited Company carry a third between them, who is screaming in absolutely unbridled anguish. Drucker grows silent as Charlotte cups a hand over her mouth and stares out the small window.

Arthur comes limping past next, blood painted up the side of his face and the shoulder of his suit jacket split along the seam. Angela walks beside him, a hand on his shoulder and blood spattered across her face. Two more agents run by, and a trailing sound of footsteps stops at the door to the lab, slowly opening it.


Charles Deveaux stands in silence in the doorway, a ghost of a memory long dead before Hana began her path of revenge through the founders. Here, though, he’s a younger man. His suit is torn in places, white undershirt soaked red with blood that doesn’t appear to be his own, soot collected in his hair. “Stay in here,” Charles instructs Drucker and Charlotte, not even so much as waiting for a response before he turns to the hall, only to bump squarely into a younger agent unfamiliar to Hana.


“I’ll— catch them up.” He says quietly to Charles, who lets him pass with a shell-shocked look in his eyes. The young agent steps in, hands trembling, holding a cigarette between his lips that has an inch and a half of ash dangling from the end. As Charles shuts the door, Charlotte and Drucker are frozen in anticipation.

T.Amas has already been able to pull a positive facial match from the sensory information. Aaron Smith, 59, a resident of North Carolina and paralegal at a Carolinan law firm. Past history includes service as an officer in the NYPD. Divorced. One son, Bolivar Rodriguez-Smith. Apparently his role as Agent Smith was never a piece of information made public. No record of Smith facing justice at Albany shows up in any legal docket nor had he given any testimony.

“We ah,” Agent Smith says with a shaky hand snatching the cigarette from his lips, “we— cornered her. Out in— it— the whole fucking…” Charlotte moves away from the wall and goes up to Agent Smith, placing a hand on his shoulder and looking back to Drucker who seems both more suspicious and less concerned for Smith’s overall wellbeing.

“Spit it out,” Drucker is quick to say, his nerves already on edge from the screaming echoing down the hall. Agent Smith takes a long drag off of his cigarette, burning into the filter, then just throws it down onto the floor and grinds it out with the toe of his shoe.

Exhaling a lungful of smoke, Agent Smith glances to Charlotte like he’d only just then seen her, and looks back to Drucker. “They— we— found her. Nisatta, on an island. Somewhere in— in fucking Ontario. We had thirty agents.” Smith is so shaken that he reaches for a cigarette in his mouth he’d already put out. “She fucking killed all of them. Almost all of them. How— however many we had come back.”

“Jesus Christ,” Charlotte says into her palm, “what about the chemical negation that Sue— ”

Nothing fucking worked,” Agent Smith spits out, “I saw people— fucking— just turned to dust. Benning,” he motions to the hallway, “can’t fucking breathe. It’s like his lungs stopped working. Collins’ ability just turned off and hasn’t come back, it’s… the whole town on the island is gone.”

Gone?” Drucker finally speaks up. “What do you mean it’s gone?

“I mean the island is gone. The houses, the people, the boats, everything. Like it never even fucking existed.” Agent Smith starts pacing the room, running a hand through his hair. “Mr. Petrelli is going to come in here as soon as— as he’s cleaned up and you contractors better— ” he splutters over his words. “I just hope to god you’ve got a miracle up your sleeve. Because we threw everything we had at her and… nothing.”

Hana's pacing stills as clamor rises outside. She looks to the hallway, then to Drucker as he speaks, technopathic senses straining futilely for detail this visualization cannot convey. Her expression darkens as distinctively infamous personages enter into the scene, the blood they are burdened with only a tithe of what might be ascribed to their hands.

She can't help but wonder, as they speak, revealing a tale as tall as any might be, if Renautas managed to tap into some alternate reality. Some historical event that belongs to another timeline altogether, no past of her own. Stranger things have happened; stranger possibilities are known to exist.

And not a bit of it appears to relate to her concerns. Some strangeness concerning the name Nisatta, perhaps, a curious dearth of associations… but not enough red flags even for this analyst to draw anything but the most circumstantially speculative of tenuous connections.

Stepping back to lean against a wall, Hana folds her arms and simply watches the drama play out. She might even be inclined to appreciate this "Nisatta's" apparent victory against the Company-that-was, except her history has something very clear to say about who emerged victorious in the end.

“We don't have much,” Drucker admits, shooting a look over to Charlotte that silences an interjection she was about to make. “But we’ll give them what we have.” Charlotte slouches against the wall, watching Agent Smith in silence. In turn, the agent flicks a nervous look between them both and nods a few unsteady times, then shakily opens the door to the hall.

“You two stay put,” Agent Smith says, and neither associate says anything to the contrary. At least not until he closes the door. Immediately, Charlotte looks over to Drucker with her brows furrowed.

“What about your theory about how she reacted to me?” Charlotte pointedly asks once the agent is out of earshot. Drucker shakes his head and paces around the room, offering a skeptical look up to the boxy surveillance camera in the corner of the room.

“Have you ever gone camping?” Drucker asks her, and the seeming aside has Charlotte shaking her head in the negative. Drucker clicks his tongue, then waves a hand in her direction. “If you're camping and you're approached by a bear, and you feel threatened… pointing a rifle at it isn't going to get it to run away. Hell, even firing it into the air might only piss it off. Because the bear has no frame of reference for how dangerous a gun is. It'll charge, and odds are it'll get killed. Maybe it'll get lucky and survive an initial barrage, but not for long.”

Slowly, a look of dawning understanding comes over Charlotte at Drucker’s strange choice of analogy. “These people are the bear in this analogy, aren't they?” Drucker’s rise of his brows and emphatic nod is both a youthful and tongue-in-cheek mannerism Hana had never expected from the much more stoic, older and disembodied man she once knew.

“They're going to get us all killed because, I don't think they've ever faced something stronger than themselves before.” Drucker looks back at the security camera and furrows his brows, then back to Charlotte. “I don't trust them, I haven't since they picked us up. This whole operation of theirs, everything they've got here feels criminal. Forget the big picture problem, what happens if we’re successful and they get to keep on doing whatever clandestine work this is? What happens to us if we don't want to be complicit?”

The possibilities hadn't dawned on Charlotte, and as she looks down to the floor, all she can offer as an answer is a slow shake of her head. “So what, we play free for all and hope this— person doesn't decide to proclaim herself Queen of the Earth?”

“No,” Drucker says with a slow exhale of a sigh through his nose, “if we run they'd find us. Maybe not right away but… on a long enough timeline. What we need to do is be smarter than the bear. And keep our options open. A failsafe.” He brushes his bangs from his face, considering the window to the hall with Charlotte’s writing on it.

“What was that movie you were telling me about this morning?” Drucker asks, slanting a sidelong look at Charlotte. For a moment it seems like she doesn't remember the conversation — nerves frayed — but then

“It isn't out yet,” Charlotte says with a shake of her head, “what— ”

“The plot. The story— the,” Drucker rolls one hand in the air, “why were you excited to tell me about it?”

Charlotte looks aside, embarrassed, then back to Drucker. “Oh, it— a kid finds, you know, an Atari game with Cold War data from the Russians on it. Cloak & Dagger.”

Drucker smiles, pointing at Charlotte. “Cloak & Dagger,” he says with a rise of his brows, seeing the look on her face that she gets it.

“But,” Charlotte glances at the door, then steps closer to Drucker. “What would we even put? How— where?” With a crook of one corner of his mouth up, Drucker looks over to the record player.

“Everything. Our research, our experiences with these people, names, dates. Evidence. Enough to destroy them if it comes to it.” Drucker looks back to Charlotte. “All I need is some basic equipment, nothing they'll ever suspect.”

Drucker stops moving, standing there beside Charlotte, a conspiracy of two built in the back of his mind. Renautas steps forward from the wall, looking to Hana with a white brow lifted at her. “You know him better than I,” the old ghost asks. “What do you think?”

The drama continues, complete with a roundabout metaphor so quintessentially Drucker that their unheralded audience can only roll her eyes. She doesn't move from her lean against the wall, though; why bother? It's not like she can inspect the record, nor that there would even be anything worth seeing in this time and place.

A soft snort is riposte to Renautas' query. "He's Ruth Meisner's son," Hana says, as if that statement of familial ego were all the answer needed. Perhaps it is.

"Are you finished here?" follows shortly after, implicit subtext you'd better be.

“And Ruth Meisner is dead, nor did she know the man he would become,” Renautas says with narrowing of his eyes. “It was your understanding and inquiry I'm seeking. If he were able to hide something from the Company that survived into present day, and that is a big if, it could be invaluable.”

Renautas takes a moment as he reassesses something, taking a step closer to Hana as he rests one hand in the pocket of his suit jacket. “Based on everything I've seen so far, what I've been told from people in your present, the being that caused this destruction has slipped whatever bonds the Company placed her in. Somehow this is connected to Adam Monroe, and somehow that last threatens you in the here and now on a long enough measure of time.”

Slowly, Renautas lifts his chin. “But if you're done here, then so am I. There are others I need to meet with.”

Hana's eyes narrow as the old phantom speaks; she straightens as he steps nearer, poised, the raptor on her shoulder mantling — the inherent threat of that posture somewhat lessened by the fact that its wingtips clip through the wall.

She doesn't appreciate how he pivots to focus this on her, on 'a secret from the Company'. This stranger who wears that suit, who embodies a significant proportion of the most fraught parts of her personal history, who deals in half-truths and evasions and appeals to emotion. As for this Nisatta

…we'll deal with that if it happens, too…

There is no flicker, this time, only the unabating intensity of the stare she fixes on the elderly apparition. Challenged, Hana bares teeth at him in what has only the outward semblance of a smile. "And yet, I have told you the only thing you need to know."

Yes. She's most certainly done.

“So you did,” Renautas says with a sudden dispersal of the tension in his presence, as though he'd heard something other than what it was Hana said in any tone other than the one she used. His blue eyes linger on her for a moment and

Present Day

Dim light of late evening filters through the gaps between drawn blinds, dust particles hang in the air like miniature universes, and Hana Gitelman finds her consciousness once more firmly rooted in the present, even if echoes of the past linger in the back of her mind.

But the ghost is gone; exorcised.

The transition is jarring, no matter that it was sought-for, intended, expected. Hana steps to the window, looking out on cracked paving, crumbled concrete, exposed rebar. On the dimming sky that overlooks all, distant and uncaring as the satellites that orbit in the reaches of its sphere, their crystalline clarity currently obscured by a riot of mundane inanity.

So, too, life.

She sits, then, at table empty of any prior pretense of playing hostess; she did not offer, because the apparition would not have benefited… and because even invited back, he was never a welcome guest. Enveloped by the quiet of her Spartan safehouse, Hana can only think that the entire endeavor was a waste of her time — and that, only partly because it left her nothing but fragments from which questions can hardly even be shaped.

Not all ghosts are so easily exorcised.

An hour before, the emptiness of her surrounds had not felt lonely.

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