Breakroom Interlude


cassandra_icon.gif cesar_icon.gif

Scene Title Breakroom Interlude
Synopsis The lead agents of the food theft case take a moment to discuss their next steps.
Date March 30, 2018

Fort Jay

It’s been a long day of work for Cassandra. With the investigation of the food thefts starting to ramp up and some people located that might need to be brought in for further questioning, the postcognitive sits in front of the massive wall of notes that’s been put together to try and illustrate the connections that this case has. Food disappearing, a dead boy, a prophecy, and a forensic report that references a massive amount of rats. She leans back in the office chair she’s commandeered and finishes the last of her coffee, pushing up to go and refill her cup. There must be something she’s not seeing, somewhere else to look, or something. Right now the leading theory is kind of crazy, and now with the director asking for leads on the case…it’s a lot to take in.

She makes her way down the hall to the break room, pushing the door open and heading through the spread-out tables to the coffee machine where, with a bit of work, she starts getting ready to brew a half pot. Just enough to keep her going a little while longer.

“Baumann?” Cesar’s voice calls from behind her, where the man stands at the breakroom entryway. “What’re you still doing here, it’s late,” he adds in remark as he leans against the closest wall. In his hands, a large clipboard with a thin stack of paper. “The last ferry’s in ‘bout an hour, I think.” He checks his wristwatch - the man’s got some old habits - before sliding the clipboard under arm.

“Heard you put in for lead on the depot theft case too. Guess it’s you an’ me for now.” And with that statement, he eyes the younger agent up and down, assessing, albeit not judging. His next words come lighter. “Did you recover from St. Paddy’s alright?”

Cassandra is just in the process of emptying out the grounds in the trash when Cesar comes in, the woman straightening, glancing at her watch. “Day got away from me I guess. Lots of stuff to try and piece together, and the memo….” The corner of her mouth quirks up in a small smile. “Just burning a little midnight oil. I'm pretty burned out for the day, though. And it being Friday, I'll have some time to sleep in tomorrow, as long as the cat’ll let me.”

She nods, emptying the dregs of the pot, filling it with water from the tap to soak overnight, so the morning crew can have coffee when they come in for the weekend shift. “Yeah, I did put in for the position. Mainly because I saw you did. I'm not playing the ladder climbing game, but I thought….you an’ me? We could do some good on this.” She rests against one of the tables, scooting up a little, one boot kicking, snickering a little at the implication. “Ah, I'm fine. No worse for wear. I just had three drinks and projected Freddy Mercury doing a show to break up the chaos. I could have headed to church the next morning and sat surrounded by nuns without a problem.” She goes a little quiet. “The meeting with the bar owner a few days later, unofficial-like, was the real strange thing that I can't really….come to terms with, I guess?” She shrugs. “It's strange.”

Cesar utters a quietly understanding ‘mmhm’ about the cat. They can be jerks. He continues watching as she goes through the motions of prepping the coffee pot, a brow quirking upward at her words. “As long as we figure out what the hell happened,” he says, trailing with a glance cast down to the clipboard in his hands.

“That was you?” he remarks when she answers his little tease with seriousness. “I mean, I’ll admit I don’t think I saw you there considering how much I had already… and the rowdy boys at the bar.” His recollection being a little hazy all things considered, Cesar rolls his shoulders dismissing the St. Paddy’s chaos at the Cat’s Cradle. His gaze sparks with interest at her mention of the meeting with Eve. “You met Miss Mas. What’d you think? What’d she say to you?”

Cassandra nods a couple of times in the affirmative. “That was me, yep. I was over by the bar talking to a couple of people, enjoying the evening until Miss Mas slammed a frat guy’s head into a table and rode him out of the bar like a bronco. Entertaining, yes, but still… shocking if you weren't expecting it. I thought I heard you singing to ‘I Will Survive,’ but it might have been some other tipsy SESA agent.” Now she's the one teasing, slipping off her perch on the chair to stand.

Eve Mas….Hooboy. Cassandra sighs, hands coming up to about shoulder level, another shrug the initial answer. “First impressions? Eve Mas is likely insane or at least very badly bent. Zero impulse control, a ton of charisma, and probably self-medicates on whatever substances she can find. Alcohol and pot mostly, but a search wouldn't surprise me to find other, harder things in her bar. She makes you want to bet her friend, and when she speaks on her visions, she speaks in riddles on top of riddles.”

Cassandra goes quiet for a second, thinking. “I don't know exactly what she saw - she wouldn't give me a straight answer - but she did use my full name. Then she started on about rats and teeth.” She fixes Cesar with a cool gaze, glancing away after a moment. “When her eyes were back to normal, she asked if I liked rats and then gave me this vibe that she saw something bad. I felt like someone had walked over my grave. Just…creepy. And then…. she warned me to watch my back or bring a lot of rat poison if I went to the sewers again.

Wagging a finger at Cassandra for the tease about his singing, Cesar responds with, “You darn right I was. And don’t be talking down to Gloria neither.” Still, he recognizes the tease and takes it in stride. His features turn a touch more serious especially when the conversation turns to the precog in question, and the man listens attentively to the other younger agent’s assessment.

“At least she didn’t try to show you her tuba impression.” When Cassandra mentions the rats, Cesar lifts his brow with interest. The man makes a noncommital ‘hm’, scratching at the light stubble on his jaw as he looks at a middle distance in thought. “What we thought was about DeLuca might just be coincidence that he was down. Well, his body was down there.” He glances over to her. “The thing about rats, though. Did you read about the incident at the hospital? Animal telepathy. The young girl there, Hailey Gerken. Sister to Lance Gerken. Director Choi wants them questioned. Considering how involved Lance was when Lin and Bluthner found him and his pal down in the sewers? I think it’s worth following up.”

“I wouldn't dare besmirch the good name of Gloria Gaynor.” Cassandra seems offended that Cesar would even consider such a thing, her smile appearing for a second before getting back to business.

“I did read that. During my interview with Winters and Gerken, they were talking about a Hailey right as I arrived, mentioned she was their sister during the interview, and said she lived outside the safe zone with some animals. My initial thought was the old zoo in the Bronx. I think we should be able to find her if we can keep on their good side. These kids…”. And yes, Cassandra does realize they're only a couple of years younger than she is, which causes a little eye roll.

“They've got good ideas. Crazy ideas, but then, we do life in a world of superpowered people. On their own, they came up with a theory kind of like what we did. DeLuca, in their view, went out of his body and still is alive, somehow, down in the sewers. It may slot in with the rats too…” God, she said it out loud. “This is what I'm working on trying to work out. I mean….rat swarms possessed by the consciousness of a twelve year old that's been down there since before the war? It's crazy….but it's all we have now. The evidence at both places showed high amounts of rat droppings and fur, and what there was was contaminated with lead, copper, and the like. Could be from just being in the sewers or from using the sewer pipes to come up into the buildings.”

“Sorry for talking so much. It helps me work things out. It's just….I felt what happened to William. He was alone and scared when all that happened and it haunts me….” Baumann gives a short shake of her head. “Do you have any ideas about anything? I’ve been doing a lot of the talking.”

“If the U.S. got rid of the penny, they’d save a lot of money in the overall,” quips Cesar thoughtfully to the young agent’s question, “But that’s just my two cents.” He pauses, obviously for comedic effect, but then continues with a short shrug, “Agent Lin’s a tough crowd too. Should’ve seen the stare he gave me.”

Shaking his head, Cesar then finds a new spot of the entryway to lean against, head bowed enough that he can look down at the clipboard in his hand, the top page of which has various notes. “Talking’s fine, Baumann. But all this doesn’t explain how the theft was done. You saw the depots, the storage rooms. How’d the rats get in and out? How’d they drag the food down into the sewers, ‘cause some of that was canned goods. Boxes that wouldn’t have fit through the holes. You said a bit ago, could’ve been a phaser, too. If it is DeLuca, how’s he able to get to the food and get it out? And why…”

The agent slows his own questions down so that it doesn’t sound like he’s interrogating Cassandra. He pushes off the wall again and paces a few steps in the hall. “We need more info is what I think,” concludes Cesar, “if you can find Hailey and Lance Gerken again, figure out what went on at the hospital. The ‘kids’ will take to you better than they’ll take to me I bet.”

The penny quip gets a snort, a quick chuckle from Cassandra, followed by a rimshot taped out in the table and a shake of her head. “I have no clue why they still make those things. With inflation being what it is, they might as well pay me just to take them. They're worth more for the copper in them than currency.”

Back to the matter at hand.

“I don't think we have all of the information yet - at least not enough to answer those big questions. One of the first steps is to find Hailey Gerken and talk to her. Get her on our side and ask her to - and I can't believe I'm saying this - talk to some rats for us. Another thing we could try is to set a trap. Get a small cache of food and lock it in the same storeroom that was hit once before, and a camera or something recording. Maybe even an agent there, watching, to see if it happens again.”

If Cassandra feels interrogated, she doesn't show it. “I'll head to the Gerken’s place on Monday and request to speak to their sister. Since she's outside the walls, getting her to HQ will be a little rough, so I'll offer a middle ground. Somewhere in Brooklyn or Staten Island, or get her a pass that'll get her inside for the day. Somewhere she feels safe and comfortable enough to talk.”

“Oh, and one thing I did notice…”. She pauses for a moment to get her words in order. “Why wasn’t DeLuca’s body stripped to the bone? That’s a rat buffet down there, and the mattress wouldn't stop them, so why didn't they devour him entirely?”

Lifting a hand to stay her, Cesar frowns a bit. “That’s going to tip ‘em off, you realize? And if you can’t get her to come in, then what’re you going to do?” Shaking his head, he paces a few more steps, hands flipping the papers on his clipboard a few sheets before he pauses again. “Don’t alert them that they’re being investigated, otherwise all that work goes…” He frowns, blinks, sighs. “Down the drain.”

That wasn’t funny, as indicated by his expression.

“If you got an in with them, pursue it. But just remember that Director Choi’s said we’ve got a microscope on us. I’m not good with that idea to set a trap with what food’s already available. Or risking an agent’s safety without an understanding of what happened.” His gaze flicks over to the young agent. “Nobody’s going to end up like the DeLuca boy. Or the food.”

After another moment, he slips the clipboard under arm and turns fully to face Cassandra. “Listen, I’m as eager as you are to solve this case. But I got a feeling this is deeper than what we’ve got so far. Why wasn’t DeLuca’s body stripped down, maybe it’s just coincidence. Maybe it’s not. Either way, right now it sounds like there’s a bigger problem than just sewer rats. We’re not much closer to figuring out the how, let alone the why. But, I’m also confident we’re going to figure it out.”

Cesar tilts his head, picking up a corner of his lip in a more characteristic smile. “So you got some work still ahead of you, Baumann… and so do I.” And with a look off to the hallway, he notes, “Starting with cleaning up that notes board. Like, can anybody can read Lin’s Chinese. And nobody needs to read Cooper’s glitter.”

“I know, I know, but with Hailey being an entirely unknown aspect, I can see us attempting to bring her in cutting off entire avenues of investigation. It’s a fine line I’m going to have to walk. I was just trying to come up with some way to get what we need without killing the golden goose, as it were.” Cassandra frowns and starts towards the door where Cesar leans. “It sucks being inexperienced. I want to do so much, but don’t know where to go next. That said, I’ll talk with Gerken and Winters about this, try and get some information or an agreement to see if I can find Hailey, and we’ll just go from there. The next moves I can kind of guess, but the ones after those?” She shakes her head. “I’m lost. It’s like the middle of a game of chess where the pieces vanish and only show up once they’re moved.”

She stops a few feet from Cesar, hooking her thumbs in her belt loops. “I’ll come help take care of the board. It’s not like I can read Lin’s Chinese either.” Cassandra remarks with a smirk. “The glitter, while making the investigation that much more fabulous ,does make it a little hard to read, too, although Cooper’ll probably have kittens when he sees it gone. We’ll get it cleaned up and translated from chicken scratch to something more readable.” She actually reaches out to clap Cesar on the shoulder - a friendly gesture. “Thanks, Diaz. You must have done this before, talking rookies through things. I appreciate it.”

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