Animal Stacking


hailey_icon.gif lance_icon.gif

Scene Title Animal Stacking
Synopsis Lance finally works up the nerve to tell his sister what he's discovered about their pasts.
Date November 10, 2019

The Lanthorn

Just outside the door of his sister’s room at the Lanthorn, Lance has been hesitating for a few minutes now. He’s just gotten off of work, explaining the suit he’s wearing and the tie messily undone and let hanging free around his neck, and clearly something’s got him off-balance from his body language. None of the usual over-confident-to-the-point-of-comedy manner to the young man today.

Finally, he grimaces and just knocks on the door. “Sis? You home?”


Hailey’s been quiet for a while, not as career focussed as Lance or the rest, she’s best labeled as a drifter. When she is home, the odor of her companions gives her away every time. The door is thrown open and Lance is treated to an odd view. Her sister in her usual raggedy clothing, this tie spattered in paint, and a vertical tower of animals in front of the large window. At the bottom, a goat, followed by a dog, cat, rat, and finally a chicken.

“Oh hey, c’mon in!” She’s cheerful at least. “I’m trying something new… I’m going to be a painter!”

Only, not a very good one by the looks of the canvas off to the side.

“…how did… how did you get them to— “

Lance brings one hand up, smacking into his face as he laughs, “…well, I’m impressed.”

Stepping into the room, he glances to the canvas, “That’s great, uh, maybe Brynn can give you some tips if you want? I wanted to talk to you about something, though, uh, kind of important…”

He looks nervous about whatever it is, which isn’t like him.

Hailey turns to look at the pillar of animals and almost immediately they jump/tumble/spill to the floor. She artfully dodges all of them as they scrabble for the exit, likely fearing another instance of modeling for the empath. She can feel that much…. But it’s not pain or traumatizing, so she turns all of her attention to Lance.

“You think I need Brynn’s help?” So far the canvas only plays host to a colorful assortment of circles, ovals, and lines. A wonderful stick drawing of a goat, dog, cat, rat, and chicken. “I dunno, I think I could get someone to buy this for a few bucks… I bet I could get some goof at Raytech to shell out a few thousand.”

She kicks at a stool, her invitation for him to take it, and then takes a seat of her own on the bed a few feet away from it. “What’s up, you look as nervous as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs.”

“Ack—- “ Lance dodges to the other side from his sister as the animals scramble towards the exit, watching them go bemusedly before giving his head a shake. The opportunity to tease his sister about her painting exploits taking a back seat, it seems, to what he’s here for.

The door’s pushed closed once they’re out, and he steps over the stool before dropping down to sit on it. “Yeah, well…” He looks over to the window, fiddling with his tie anxiously “So I was— so at work they have me working on research for this case, right? It’s awful, literally some psycho Slice has been turning girls into trees.”

Back to Hailey, he grimaces, “It’s horrible, but, so I was helping Agent Ayers go through some old Company records— he used to be with them— and. And he found ours.”

“Sounds… yeah…” really awful. Truth be told, Hailey could probably think of much worse things to be turned into than a tree. “You know you can take that off in here, right?” The tie. “It doesn’t look as comfortable as you’re presenting it, I’m thinking about feeding it to the goat.”

That last bit causes Hailey’s head to snap toward Lance. “Our file?” She knows she shouldn’t be that surprised, of course they have a file, they’d been living in the system as long as she could remember. Attempting to be a little more aloof, she examines her fingernails and scrubs them off on her shirt. It’s what people do… in old movie, cartoons, things like that.. When they want to look like they’re not really interested. “I guess it’s cool that it survived the war and stuff. Does it say when you stopped wetting the bed?

“No, it’s— be serious for a minute?” Lance rakes a hand back through his hair, looking frustrated, “This is— it’s serious. I mean, it said what happened to us. To our parents. All of that, it had it all in a file.”

“And it’s not what everyone told us.”

Hailey’s eyebrows knit together in a firm expression. “You mean what they didn’t tell us.” She stopped asking for her parents less than a month after they were given to Brian and Gillian. To all in the know her memory wipe was a complete success. She didn’t experience any of the trauma that afflicted young children when separated from their parents. Except for the incidents involving her friends at the lighthouse, she was completely happy. Until the evacuation to Pollopel.

“So what… “ it’s half question, half challenge. “… it doesn’t even mean anything anymore. Most everyone is dead.”

Lance’s hands spread a little, and he blurts out, “That’s the thing, they— when they put us in the system? It’s because the Company kidnapped our dad, not because he died!”

The bomb dropped, he adds, “They put him in that Level Five place, their private prison— the place where they put Eric? He wasn’t dead at all.”

Her eyes narrow slightly, trying to discern if the bomb is true or if it’s some sort of prank that Lance is famous for.

“No.” She says after a minute or so of silence. Though there’s a nagging part of her that’s sure he’s not playing a practical joke on her. Swiftly, she gets up and stalks silently toward the door. One firm grasp of the knob and she swings it wide open, ducking her head into the hallway to look both ways. Finding nothing she slams it again.

She’s not finished though.

A quick search of the closet reveals only a family of cats. Under the bed another family, this time an opossum and whatever they call their creepy smiled children.

“Swear to god, Joe, if you’re hiding in here, I’m going to tear you a new one!!”

That bellow can likely be heard throughout the building.

“Hailey!” Lance bounces up to his feet, his hands spreading wide, “Hailey, this isn’t— this isn’t a joke, I’m being fucking serious here!”

There’s a bit of anger that she’d think he’d joke about something like this, and a hint of desperation that she believe him. “I talked with Aunt Huruma and Councilwoman Zimmerman, they were there, they knew him!”

Hailey’s frown deepens. “They knew him?”

Her head shakes slightly, as if trying to rid a thought. “And they didn’t tell us?” Maybe it was for a good reason, but she can’t think of one off hand. She sinks into the mattress, her back hunched slightly, shoulders rounded forward. “Is he dead? Is that why they didn’t tell us?”

“They didn’t know, didn’t realize it was him, not until I asked…” Lance sinks down to the stool just as she does, his hands dropping down into his lap, “He— I guess when the Company came for us all, he fought. He could— make sound explosions by clapping, or something. A lot of people died, half the building collapsed, I guess that’s when I manifested.”

His hands come up, as if holding something off, looking at his sister with a haunted expression briefly, “I was able to keep us safe, but…”

Hands fall once more, and he shakes his head, “Anyway. They took him away, he was there— when we were at the Lighthouse, I guess. After the big break out… I guess he was in touch with that guy. Adam Monroe.”

“But not us?” Hailey had to ask. Not that she blamed him, how could she.

“Do you have a picture? Because I can’t remember what he looked like. I can’t remember either of them.” It wasn’t something that usually troubled her, out of sight and mind and all of that. “So what now? What are you going to do?”

“We weren’t dangerous, so they just tagged us and put us in the orphanage. I… yeah, hold on,” Lance slides a hand under his jacket, pulling out an old dog-eared photograph and offering it over, showing an age-faded image of Gerard.

“Miss Zimmerman said that they told him we were dead. That he’d killed— us, too, when he defended himself,” he says quietly, “So he didn’t know we were alive either.”

“Wow… jerks.” The opossum crawls out from under the bed and begins scaling her leg in an attempt to get up onto the bed. It could almost look like a cat if it weren’t for the creepy smile, and yet Hailey smirks and gives it a little hand up onto the bed. The expression lasts about as long as it takes to get her hand off the stuffed momma. She watches in silence as the marsupial circles three times and then settles into the bed.

Lifting her eyes, she stares at Lance. “You know where to find him then? I mean… if you know who he’s been talking to.”

“No. I mean— “ Lance jerks his head as if in a direction - he’s trying to motion west but who knows if he’s right, “— Adam’s over in California. He’s on the very tippy-top of our ‘Most Wanted’ list at SESA, too, he’s not a… good guy.”

He grimaces, “Which makes it a little complicated. Y’know?”

She finally looks down at the picture, the grim expression not leaving her face. “Lance,” the quiet mutter of her brother’s name seems strained. “This is him?” A squint and a grimace. “Lance, I don’t remember him… I don’t remember anything.”

The photo is placed on her little side table, not offered back. “Why don’t I remember anything?’

“They erased our memory.” Lance grimaces, one hand rubbing at the nape of his neck, “That’s how they did it… back then. Every Slice they captured, they wiped their memory afterwards, so nobody remembered they existed. They covered it all up, until the Bomb anyway.”

Hailey swallows hard. Unlike Lance, she never questioned, she trusted… until she didn’t anymore and he did. The opossum on the bed seems a bit agitated and gets up from her sound sleep. Alarmed, it looks first at Lance, jumping back with a hiss before scrambling toward the opposite edge of the bed and slips away. It’s not just the opossum, though, all of the creatures around them seem agitated. Even out to the squirrel chittering a scream at them through the window.

“Can we get them back?”

The question isn’t one that Lance had actually considered. As the animals start to stir, he glances around worriedly before looking back to his sister. “I don’t… know, actually,” he admits, “I mean, we were— really young anyway. Maybe a telepath could?”

He shrugs, “I don’t know.”

“A telepath…” The wheels in Hailey’s head turn, rather slowly. Then her forehead smooths and a slight grin forms on her lips. “A telepath like Kaylee Thatcher?”

Picking the picture up from the little table, she looks at it again with another little squint. “I’m going to bet my last ten dollars that you’ve already got it in your head to find him… not that I’m arguing.” She holds the photo out, offering it back to her little brother. “And before you do, I just want to remember one thing. Just one.”

“Aunt Kaylee?” Lance’s brow knits a bit, then clears, “Maybe. You could go talk to her about it…”

He reaches out to accept the photograph, flashing her a grin, “C’mon. You should know that anything is possible if we can cooperate on it…”

“Nothing can stop the Gerken siblings together.”

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