Break The Silence


richard_icon.gif squeaks_icon.gif

Scene Title Break the Silence
Synopsis After meeting with the Dragon-Man, Squeaks reaches out to the man who seems to have a lot of answers.
Date August 27, 2019

Raytech Richard Ray's apartment


Praxia Squeaks' private apartment

“Nuh uh. There’s no way,” insists Ricky, small arms folding over his chest in imitation of the way his father does it when he’s being stubborn.

“Yuh huh! He can do it,” Lili replies firmly, “Just watch!”

The over-sized jenga tower set up in the middle of one of Raytech’s rec rooms wobbles slightly as the manipulator arm of a Spot reaches slowly out, hesitating as the quadripedal robot attempts to calculate a way of pulling out one of the blocks without toppling the entire structure.

Unlike the Yamagato robots, the Spot wasn’t built for construction.

Richard’s relaxing in one of the comfortable chairs as he watches the children play, dressed in his suit although he’s undone the jacket to relax more; a bottle of root beer in hand, an easy smile on his lips. Then his phone rings, and the smile fades just a fraction at the interruption as he reaches into his jacket for it and taps answer.

“Richard Ray.”

Silence. Except for the ambient sounds, the nearly inaudible humming buzz inherent to cellular service. A faint rustle, difficult to discern if it came from the live line or from within the room.

It lasts long, ponderous seconds, interrupted once by a faint breath.

Then again by a quiet voice.


A young voice. Familiar.

There’s a silent moment, before the man in the chair sits up and leans slowly forward— resting one hand on his knee, lips pursing together a bit. “…Squeaks,” he asks carefully into the phone, “Is that you?”

One can never be too sure.

“Yes.” No hesitation in answering. This time it's the opposite. Squeaks barely allows the question to sit before chasing it with a reply. “Um.”

Movement again, subtle but purposeful. The teen must be walking. “Hi. I… my phone doesn't work here, this one isn't mine. But.” But. “I'm not in danger. It's really safe here. But.”


“I have questions.”

“I know where you are,” says Richard, though he’s careful not to name it, “It’s both the safest and least safe place you can be right now.”

There’s a long pause, “Alright. Ask them, I’ll give you what I can.”

“How?” The single word hasn't changed in volume, but there's more suspicious challenge than innocent curiosity behind it. Squeaks exhales a measured breath. It's a small thing, not to be upset by but a reminder to be careful.

Silence again lingers, but not in expectation of an answer. Not completely. That Richard knows changes things, changes what questions are important. The teen makes a noise, likely a false start or second thoughts about what she wants to ask.


“Have you found anything new about Cindy? Or the projects?”

“You still dream,” Richard observes in somewhat-wry tones, “Keep that in mind in the future.”

There’s a breath drawn in, and then he exhales it through his nose, “A little. Not about Cindy. Umbra, yes. We believe it was an attempt at reverse-engineering parts of your father’s ability to… essentially vaccinate them against the entity’s power to change what they are, what they can do.

“I don't dream on purpose,” Squeaks counters quietly. “It's not my fault and some people need to learn to keep secrets.” Still quiet, but also a little huffy.

“Yes.” Agreement and confirmation that comes after a moment’s pause. Rhys had said Umbra appeared to be a vaccine. “If it's because of the entity…” The girl trails off that thought. Some things are better not talked about. At least not just yet.

“Do you know who my mom is?” So she changes the subject. “Not my real mom, but my other real mom.”

“People are worried about you,” Richard notes with a hint of reproach at the huffiness, “It’s taken some effort to keep people from just going full guerilla warfare over this, you know. Gillian’s been out of touch since she started driving west.”

“Not… specifically, no,” he admits, “Do you?”

“I haven't met her.” But Squeaks’ tone hints that she knows who it is. Her side of the phone goes quiet for a moment, even the ambience, what might be caught on the other side, is quiet. Still no radio, no background noise of any sort.

"That's because cell phones from the Safe Zone don't work out west," the teen points out. Matter of fact. Hers hasn't worked since she left.

Squeaks makes a noise, a sort of thoughtful hum. Her face is probably scrunched just so with thinking. “There's a science doctor here that works with neurotoxigens. He wanted to do some tests.”

“Who is she? I might know something about her,” Richard admits, although he doesn’t push.

“Yes,” he admits, “She’s out of cell range, but I’m sure she has a thousand voicemails by now by the time she gets back into range. A doctor? Neuro… alright, who is he, and what did he want to test for, do you know?”

So many questions, but the concern is mostly for her.

“He said to make sure I'm healthy.” Squeaks’ answer is a scoffing one. “He said my dad wants to make sure there's nothing wrong, but I don't believe him. He's… part ice dragon or something.” The description comes after a short pause, a hinging on the long e sound before she completes the thought.

“Anyway, I didn't agree to any tests. Not until there's straight answers and probably not then either.” So there. “Do you have Claudia Zimmerman’s phone number?”

“Bao-Wei Cong. He’s…” Richard hesitates, “…well, it could be worse. He was with us in the end. We used to play poker together, back when we were both just… petty criminals.”

Then he’s exhaling a sigh, as she gives voice to the idea that had him briefly hesitate when she asked the question. “I was afraid you were going to say that,” he murmurs, “I do. I’m close to the Zimmermans. Claudia is— her memory was erased of everything to do with Adam, you have to understand.”

“He's a dragon-man, and he lets me ask him questions but he doesn't give full answers.” Like most adults. Squeaks had accused Richard of that too, once, but this time it's different. No petulance or childish frustration; just careful, observant weight.

It's still in her tone when she follows the warning with her own questions. “Why, what's to be afraid about that name? I'm… I think I'm close too, but I need to talk to her. She might remember something.”
“They were married, kiddo,” Richard explains, shaking his head even though she can’t see it, “And they erased that entire part of her life. She didn’t even know that her kids were his— I just told her recently and she’s still… figuring out how to deal with that.”

A deep breath, “So I can give you her number but I can’t make any promises about how well she’ll take it, or how much information she might have for you.”

“Except they used Cindy,” Squeaks points out. Her voice is level, with only a slight emphasis on the surrogate’s name. “Probably after the memory thing. Maybe. I don't know.” She's determined, still, even if there's a roadblock.

“Yes,” she continues with a sigh. “Maybe she won't know anything, or she hangs up on me.” But… The teen nods against the phone, the action making a faint rustling. “I need to ask anyway. I need to try to find out.”

“I didn’t mean you; I meant her other kids.” Which means that Squeaks has siblings! Isn’t that nice? Richard exhales a sigh, “Alright, alright, I’ll get you the number. Hopefully she doesn’t shoot me for it.”

There’s a pause, “Can— is Yaek, er, Joy there?”

“Other…” Of course there would be others, it just wasn't yet on Squeaks’ radar. Interesting. She makes a sound, a kind of huh. Wonder who…

“She's somewhere.” Almost dismissive, or distracted, like the girl took a second to actually look. “Not right here though.”

“I didn’t mean— right there, no,” Richard actually chuckles, “I figured that she wouldn’t be right there when you were making an illicit phone call. If you can— look, I want to understand what he’s up to, but he’s being a stubborn ass about it. Can you give her my number? I have a feeling that she’ll talk to me, if we can get in touch.”

“I'll try. She's… sometimes cryptic though.” Squeaks would know, she's spent a lot of time with Joy. “But also promise to not say we talked or anything. It's too risky for everyone if someone finds out.”

“Of course. You can say that I mentioned her when you were interning, or something,” says Richard, and then he sighs, “Alright. You have something to write down the number with?”

Rustling, the first real sound aside from the girl’s voice, answers that question. It lasts only a few seconds, long enough for Squeaks to find a pen and paper. “Okay.” Slightly breathless, anxious, when she returns to the phone. “Okay. I'm ready.”

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