Adrift on the River Styx


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Scene Title Adrift on the River Styx
Synopsis Greek myth.: The river Styx is one of the five rivers of Hades, and considered the boundary between life and death; the ferrymen Charon transports souls across it into the land of the dead… if they could meet his price.

Two souls apparently unable to pay the ferrymen's fee encounter one another in a darkness fit for the land of the dead. They find they know one another, after a fashion, and can commiserate on most fronts — save perhaps one.
Date March 14, 2010

A Subway Tunnel Beneath Midtown

One month spent with official oversight of her recovery, so much as anything in the network can be considered official, is more than anyone could rightly have expected to get from Hana. And it's as much as she's willing to put up with. Giving Megan such notice as their mutual tolerance merits, and less to anyone else, Hana has packed up and set out for other pastures, if not necessarily greener ones.

Not that the former Mossad had anything to pack, really; such gear as is appropriate for the outside evening's below-freezing temperatures, and hardly anything more. Gravel crunches beneath her feet as she walks down a long, desolate stretch of subway tunnel whose only notability is that it connects where she was with where she's going. There are no lights save the one Hana herself carries, its lamp a red light that would be dull anywhere except this darkness; here, with her eyes long since adjusted, it suffices. A coat lies folded over her left arm, the insulating earth around the tunnel protecting from outdoor chill; the coat would be too warm to wear. Her hands are gloved, long-sleeved shirt and lined jeans equally dark in color; the woman's hair has been bound back in an unremarkable tail; and while her previous firearms are long lost, she carries their replacements on her belt.

Hana Gitelman walks, ears and eyes tuned outwards despite the desolation of the tunnel — and more senses than those besides, but the digital silence is almost as profound as the aural stillness.

Where does one hide a teenaged girl in the underground tunnels of Midtown? That's an excellent question, but unfortunately it's not one that Richard Cardinal has an answer for. Therefore he's been exploring them in an attempt to locate Harve Brennan and his ward, in the hopes of stumbling upon something before Peyton comes up with anything more solid.

Unfortunately, he's had no luck so far.

The discovery of a woman walking through the tunnels in the midst of the tunnels is a curiousity that he does stumble across, however, the tattered shadow pausing upon the wall as she walks through. What the hell, he thinks. Worth a shot.

"Pardon me," whispers the disembodied, echoing voice of the shadowmorph, stirring hollow and reverberating within the tunnel's confines, "I don't suppose that you've seen a doctor and a young girl wandering about down here, have you…?" Have you…?

The woman freezes as a voice pronounces her not as alone as all else had indicated; plants her feet, coarse pebbles rustling briefly, and cants her head, the better to gauge its source. Which seems to be everywhere, so her dark gaze scans the entirety of her surroundings, slowly. Finds nothing, which draws Hana's brows into a disquieted furrow and causes her right hand — the one not carrying anything — to hover near her hip. "What reason do I have to answer you?" the Israeli counters sharply, listening all the while. "You haven't even the decency to introduce yourself."

"Of course not. We're underground, beneath the ruins of Midtown," observes the echoing voice, stirring in the darkness about the Israeli woman, "Neither of us can possibly be up to any good. I've no idea who you are, nor you me, but I am looking for a man and a girl, and thought you might have seen them…" Have seen them…

"If you must have a name, you can call me Cranston." Lamont Cranston…

One of the pulp Shadow's aliases, of course, and also a name the shadowmorph's used from time to time. Also the name of a particular CIA agent who isn't, actually, a CIA agent, that was assigned to Operation Apollo. That would also be him, of course.

The lift of Hana's chin, the resolution of tension in her waiting hand — there's an element of recognition that enters upon the heels of the given name, despite his belief that they know nothing of one another. Nonetheless, she speaks only three words in turn: "If you prefer."

There's a silence that ensues, a moment's consideration. But in the end, she has very little information to give up; regardless of whether she's truly speaking to the shadowmorph, nothing is lost. "I haven't seen them," Hana answers. "Neither here nor elsewhere."

"Ah, well…" The echoing whisper swirls around the tunnel, "…it was worth a try. I suppose I'll just have to keep looking. They're down here somewhere I'm pretty sure. Thanks for the help anyway, Miss…?" So polite, for a mysterious shadow, Cardinal is.

Although not polite enough to introduce himself without prompting. Hana smiles, and though the smile is thin there is honest humor in it. "Apila will serve," the woman replies. She doesn't look for the source of the shifting voice, now, but remains still, regarding the darkness ahead with even aplomb.

"If they don't want to be found," Hana observes, after a beat of silence, "then you might be searching for a very long time."

"True enough. I have other ways to find them, fortunately… Apila?" That's an unusual name, but Cardinal's certainly not one to… talk. Wait. "You." A whispered stress on the word, "Hah. You know, I was going to say that you don't look like what I expected… but I don't really know what I expected." Expected…

A slight incline of the woman's head: Me. "I can imagine," Hana replies, in a manner that doesn't invite further conversation on that score. "As I was saying — I do not know where they are. I can leave a message, if you wish." There is of course a caveat: "I don't know if or when it might be received."

"It wouldn't be taken well, I'm afraid, although I appreciate the offer. I suspect that Rebel's attempts to recruit the man are part of what drove him down here…" Down here… A frustrated stir of voice in the shadows, the unseen form of Richard Cardinal stirring in tattered trailers across the wall of the tunnel, adding, "…I thought you were dead. When communications ceased." Ceased.

Hana nods, letting the Brennan issue lie; that would, after all, be an end of it. "I very nearly was," she answers, her voice opaquely matter-of-fact. In body, at least; but the potential of a half-life like Cardinal's is left unspoken, something she doesn't need to share unasked. Her fingers stretch, curl inwards, stretch again, repeating the motions in slow, unhurriedly pensive intervals. "No," the technopath corrects, after a moment's silence. "We all died, I think."

"Perhaps so," whispers Cardinal, "Perhaps so. Death is a fluid concept, after all, these days… perhaps we'll need to come up with more definitions for it. Presuming anyone survives the storm that's coming." A dark little chuckle, cynical and bitter, "All we can do is try our best. Arbeit macht frei, yes?" Work will set us free…

The woman's lips press into a thin line, humorless now; her eyes narrow slightly. "Ain davar k'zeh," Hana retorts promptly, her tone harsh for all that it is muted in the darkness; kept controlled, in that she is speaking to Cardinal and not the whole length of the subway tunnel. Ivory glints in the dim red-filtered light, however briefly; gravel shifts underfoot, stone rasping against stone with her changing weight, resumed motion. "You know how to reach me."

Hebrew. Quite outside the education of a good Catholic boy. Well, a Catholic boy, anyway, one can't exactly call him good after the things that he's done. He'll have to remember that, though, and look it up later. "And you know how to reach me… Apila. I think we're all going to need each other, if we can prevent the sins of the past from rearing their heads once more," whispers the shadow of Richard Cardinal, "May God help us all." Psalm twenty-two one…

Hana nods as she walks, but once, silent acknowledgment of Cardinal's words. Between the shadow and the woman, there is no sound in the tunnel save that of her departing footsteps, where they land upon gravel and not metal rail. That — and the murmur of fading words, albeit also in Hebrew.

«O my God, I call by day, but Thou answerest not; and at night, and there is no surcease for me.»

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