Bedeviled By Details


bf_cassandra_icon.gif elisabeth_icon.gif

Scene Title Bedeviled by Details
Synopsis When making up a lie (or a background), stick as close as possible to truth. Easier not to slip.
Date February 1, 2019

Secure Facility, Kansas City, MO

The place that they landed was almost as far off the grid as one could get while still being on the grid. Sunspot, New Mexico, is a place in name only, boasting a permanent population of zero people per square mile before the war, The only visitors went to the observatory on the hill, the visitors made up of the occasional scientist and their hangers on who wanted to experience the solitude and the lack of light pollution places far from population enjoyed to view the stars, unobstructed by any sort of man-made interference. This spot in the world was, for the longest time, inhabited only by the coyotes and lizards that called this forsaken spot of high desert home.

That all changed when the Travellers were scheduled to arrive. That required planning. Implementation. Logistics that hadn’t been marshalled since before the Civil War to get these people from the middle of nowhere to Kansas City, where their quarantine was to take place at a secure facility. Thankfully, there was a staff of guards to keep the travellers safe, medical personnel to keep them healthy, and psychiatrists and counselors to help soothe nerves shredded over years of constant conflict and strife. And food. Glorious food. Enough to keep them all well fed.

Cassandra, in her knowledge of how logistics worked in the time before, was impressed.

In the days since their arrival, Cassandra had spent most of her time in her private room on the middle of the first floor, luxuriating in the shower and bath from time to time, feeling the clean carpet beneath her feet, and working to scrub the grime off as best she could.

It took Cassandra most of the flight and a few days after landing for her to wrap her head around what was required for her to have a life again. Not her life - there was a Cassandra Baumann from this world, but any questioning about her family, her parents, her grandmother, were met with gentle, but firm, deflection and silence. That led her to believe that Cassandra Baumann was no longer of this world. Recently, too, from what she could gather from the small interactions she had with some SESA scientists who came to do some tests - genetic, she was sure - to find out exactly what she could do.

It’s an odd thing to be given a chance to start over again. An impossible thing, really, yet here she was.

So let’s see what she can do.

“Okay, Cassie…” She’s talking to herself, a pencil tucked behind one ear, a second being gnawed on in thought as she stares at a yellow legal pad, an iPad with a map of Washington state being scrolled through with a touch of her finger . “Seattle…Tacoma…Spokane…” She circles Seattle and Spokane, turning back to the other, and in her view, more pressing question.

How do you choose a new name?

Elisabeth taps on the door and, when invited to enter, does so easily. She looks a little less tired than when they arrived — the ability to sleep safely is something that it takes a few days to really get used to after combat-sleeping for nearly two years. She's made a point of speaking to each of her people every day, even the ones who are avoiding being too social, but it hasn't been at length. Most of her energy is taken up with making sure Aurora and Evie, in particular, are doing all right and she spends a great deal of time with her mother and with the man who stepped from the shadows.

"Hey," she greets quietly. "I just wanted to check on you and see how you're holding up." It's not a surprise that new identities are part of the landing — Elizabeth Cranston was never Liz's name, after all. Blue eyes glance at the iPad and she quirks a brow. "You looking to head for the West Coast?" she asks curiously. "I'm told it's… a bit rugged out there." Understatement much?

Cassandra is sitting on her bed, surrounded by a comforter and a blanket with a small space heater on the nightstand. This place was designed utility more than comfort, but a few rugs laid in each room and plenty of warm socks and pajamas helped change that and, considering what kind of world they came from, pretty much anything is more comfortable than that.

“Hey there.” Cassandra responds softly, shifting to show the iPad’s contents, turning it back to herself and zooming in with finger and thumb. “Well, not exactly. I’m…trying to take control of something for the first time in a while. If I can’t be Cassandra Baumann from St. Martinville, Louisiana, I’m going to come up with something that…I don’t know…kind of fits the mold, I guess? A new name and a new hometown. A new life before starting over, here.” She looks down to the iPad. “So I was thinking I’d come from Seattle, Washington. Parents worked on both sides of the border in..computers, I guess. Something vague. Then the war thing and a lot of travelling…”

Her eyes close, Cassandra slumping over a little in her little cocoon of blankets. “I feel so lucky…and so guilty…for wanting to still be me even though I should have died a hundred times over. I made it when so many of our friends didn’t…” She scrubs at her eyes with the heel of her hand. “My therapist is helping a lot with these feelings.”

She takes a deep breath and straightens, her shoulders back. “Come sit? Help me brainstorm a couple of names?”

She lowers herself to sit on the side of the bed, drawing one knee up as she looks. "So… take it from me, since I've had to do this before. Pick a place you know that you've been a lot. Because if you slip, it won't matter. My recommendation might be that you still use Louisiana. If anyone comments on you looking like the Cass who lives here, well… everyone has a twin somewhere, right? As for a name… did you always go by Cassie as a kid? I mean… you might be able to use something like Sandra if you want to stay close to your own?" She smooths a hand down the younger woman's hair. "In that, I guess I was lucky. I was able to keep Elizabeth just because it's so common."

Cassandra chuckles. “I wish it were that easy for me. Cassandra’s just too unique and might raise some interest. And Childhood nicknames? Peanut and Suggie Bee from my grandma. Those won’t stand out at all. And if it were a girl’s name, I’d just go by my middle name.” Cassandra pauses. “The thing is? No-one in their right mind names a girl Thibodeaux anymore. I think it was a family name or something…” She trails off. “Having to come up with a new name after interdimensional travel wasn’t really isn’t something that got planned for when they picked it out, y’know?”

She does take Elisabeth’s suggestions to heart, though. After all, despite all that’s gone on, Elisabeth has never led her in the wrong. A few flicks of her fingertips on the iPad and New Orleans comes into view. “I think I can put together a decent history, coming from New Orleans - big enough to where no-one could be the wiser, and wrecked from the war, so records are fragmented if they exist at all. That’s one good thing about this place - it’s easy to get lost in.”

“Where do you think you’re going to end up?” Cassandra asks quietly, leaning into Elisabeth to give her a gentle hug. “I’m guessing you and Aurora are heading somewhere with that Ray guy to catch up on a lot of parental visitation?”

"You can pretty much end up wherever you want," she tells the younger woman. Elisabeth's smile is soft. "I will definitely be heading for New York, yes… if you want to come out there, I'm not abandoning you to fend for yourself, Cassie. That's not the way this works. We did that in your world. It went poorly for some of us, so I'm not making that mistake again." Kain got his ass thrown in Rikers practically immediately, it sounded like. The hug is returned, and she smiles slightly. "You and Kain are all I have left of our travelers, Cass. I'm not going to give you up. Apparently, Aurora's father runs a rather large business. So… I think that we have time for you to stick close and figure out what you really want."

“Like having a rich uncle.” Cassandra opines with a small smile, leaning into Elisabeth’s embrace, letting out a soft sigh. “The place I want to go to most, I can't. I don't even know if the old house is still standing, and with that thing I need to sign to get out of here, it would be going against my word and the safety of this world if people knew that we weren't from here.”

“You and Aurora are all I have left at all. What's the saying? Blood is thicker than the waters of the womb? You and I…there have been sacrifices. Losses. Tears on top of fears on top of terrors with wonderful moments sprinkled in that are sweeter than penny candy…”. She taps Elisabeth's nose. “If you'll have me, I think I might see how New York fared through all of this. Aurora could definitely use a nanny, couldn't she? I get to keep you around and it Gives me a chance to find something for me to do. The SESA scientists have asked about my ability and seemed interested in what I could do. It might be nice working to help people and solve problems rather than building a world-ending machine.” She blinks as she realizes something.

“I really need to talk to Michelle at some point, too. At least to introduce myself to Mr. Ray. Michelle might like to learn about the things I studied, and I need to at least thank him for being here to catch.”

Blood and tears is an understatement regarding all they've walked through together in the past couple of years. Elisabeth's regret for ever telling Cassandra to go ahead and work for Pinehearst knows no bounds. The hells that the young woman has suffered as a result are not her fault so much she feels responsibility that what she asked cost so much. "Look… Aurora's going to need familiar faces. And I definitely think it's a good idea that you stick close until you feel stable. SESA… at least seems to be on the up and up," she offers. It's hard to set aside the deep-rooted suspicion. "Richard tells me that in the years since I've been gone, this place has begun trending more toward where your world was… acceptance, even if there are pockets of problems. I have to have hope that we can rebuild." Otherwise why the hell did she fight so hard to get here?

There are moments when she wonders.

"I agree you should talk to Michelle. We've got the whole month and we're all crammed in here. I'm sure you'll have your chance." She smiles slightly. "I'll introduce you to Richard personally if you like." It's not as if it's not perfectly clear who Aurora's father is.

IF asked directly, Cassandra wouldn’t have seen it as Elisabeth’s choice to work at Pinehearst. Sure, she was nudged in that direction, but there wasn’t any coercion or threat hanging over her head if she didn’t. If anyone was to be be blamed, it’s Pinehearst. Not Elisabeth. Pinehearst were the ones who put Cassandra in the position where she was forced to choose. That choice started the whole string of dominoes falling. Just to tinker with the space between worlds.

A part of Cassandra really couldn’t blame them - after all, she was a curious sort to begin with, and the allure of finding out a secret that was buried from decades before her birth was extremely tempting. Coming from a place of hindsight, it would have been better to leave that pandora’s box closed, but that’s a door that can’t be opened again. The possibility of returning home again, of asking Elisabeth, Magnes, Ruiz and the like, to re-open the portal so she can get back to the world she knew, is there, but Cassandra knows better than to ask and wouldn’t dare to.

That portal was the start of all her troubles. Being here, with a chance to start anew, is a chance she’s not willing to throw away. Not after all she’s been through.

“I think I’m going to be in the same boat as Aurora, except my familiar faces, if they’re still around, aren’t my familiar faces. So I’m going to go with the family I’ve got instead of a family that may or may not even exist anymore. Besides…we might be able to get some decent pizza again.” Cassandra mock-swoons. “That crispy crust…that cheese. Haven’t had anything close to that since before I ended up in Colorado….” She trails off again. “I wonder if there’s a Pinehearst here? If they’re in the domes in the middle of Colorado, ready to start this all over again with the me from here and the Kravid from here. Ready to throw a monkey wrench into reality in order to go visit another reality. For whatever reason.”

Cassandra leans into Elisabeth. “If this place is moving towards acceptance, maybe I can help with that. Another set of boots on the ground. And Richard might be able to find use for my talents, too. No interdimensional transfers or research towards that will be contractually obligated before I start research, though.”

The idea that Kravid is still doing her shit makes Elisabeth's face take on the harsher lines Cassandra has only seen just before the older woman goes to war. It passes across her features and she visibly relaxes it so as not to alarm Cassie. "Pandora's Box has been opened already. What happens now…" She shrugs a little. "But I sure as fuck hope that no one is stupid enough to keep doing this kind of research and building machines like it."

There's a long moment before she sighs softly. "Human nature being what it is? Of course they're that fucking stupid," she observes. "But definitely let's just stay the hell away from that mess."

She ruffles the younger woman. "It's not easy to build a life from scratch." Elisabeth would know. "Whatever help we can give, you have." It's a promise.

“Of course they are.” Cassandra responds with a roll of her eyes. “With the chaos this world has seen, they'd be mad to even try. And if they do? We’ll be there to pull the plug, burn the hard drives, and make sure they j ow they have been very naughty boys. Without Michelle? Or me? Decades of research to even get started. I know Michelle isnt talking, and I'm not either, so see you in….”. Cassie thinks. “2048? Give or take?” She's not serious, but she certainly knows how to make a joke.

On the matter of creating a new life? Cassie, probably Sandra, or maybe Casey, nods. “You've got experience. You've done it before, so you know the pitfalls. I mean, that Seattle thing, I never thought of that. Chances of me making a mistake with a place like that is pretty good, but somewhere back home? Not as much.” She goes quiet for a second. “Thanks, Lizzie. It's strange having to lean on so many people, but I thank my lucky stars you're one of them.”

Elisabeth's mouth tightens slightly. They don't actually know Michelle isn't talking. Time will tell on that front. She knows the Institute back in 2011 had at least some of the research, and the Company had it before that. Obviously, because the machine was available to help the travelers. She just shrugs slightly on it. "You're welcome, kiddo." With a gentle shoulder nudge, she stands to go back out. "I'll leave you to sort things out. Let me know if you want to talk more." She smiles over her shoulder as she slips out.

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