Digging Up The Past


barbara_icon.gif richard3_icon.gif

Scene Title Digging Up The Past
Synopsis After hiring a dreamwalker, Richard calls upon a second expert the same day to help him dig up the bones of the past.
Date September 6, 2018

Red Hook Market - Red Hook Tavern

The sun’s dying light spills across the sky in the sullen red of sunset, the lingering fallout and pollution of the war ensuring that there’s always a colourful blaze at dusk and dawn. It’s that vague period between lunch and dinner, although closer to the latter, and the Red Hook Tavern is getting prepared for the rush that’ll come in an hour or two.

At a table off to the back, Richard Ray’s settled in dressed in civilian clothes; camouflage of a denim shirt rolled up at the sleeves and worn jeans, ensuring few would recognize him as the sharply-dressed executive seen around the office. There’s a platter of fries in front of him, although it’s a bit sparse as the Zone is still recovering from the food shortage - a bottle of vinegar beside him, and he’s snacking a bit while waiting.

"Am I late…"

The question comes from Barbara Zimmerman as she steps up beside the table that Richard is seated at. The redhead glances down to his plate of fries and grins - it's a question she knows the answer to, given how she hates to not be on time. Which leads her next statement..

"…or did you just feel like getting started without me?"

She smirks as she slides into a chair across from him, tilting her head ash she settles in. "Always so impatient," she jokingly chastises - she certainly seems to be in better spirits than the last few times the two of them spoke, at least. "How are you, Richard?"

“It’s habit to get everywhere early,” Richard replies with a broad grin as the woman approaches, one hand sliding to the edge of the platter to push it closer to her, “Lets me scout the area, make sure that there’s no ambushes waiting for me…”

A glint of good humor in his eyes, “I didn’t find Niki waiting anywhere with a rifle, so I guess I’m safe.”

He leans back a bit in the chair, reaching for the glass of water sitting to one side as he replies affably, “I’m doing alright. I’ve been— busy lately. Saw your brother recently, he— “ The smile fades a touch, that good humor weakening a notch, “He seems to be doing well. Still holding a grudge about Ezekiel.”

"And make sure you get the best fries?" At the mention of Niki, Barbara gives Richard a comically flat look of mock disapproval, before reaching across the table and taking one of said fries. "It's not a bad habit to have," she notes before eating it.

The mention of Niklaus, though, bring a more serious look to her face. "You've seen him more recently than I have," she admits. "But, Yamagato keeps me busy, and with the power outage problems it's been doubly so over there." And that was a whole other set of problems from any thing else.

"Is this the good kind of busy, RIchard?" It's a half serious, half not kind of question. "Hopefully the sort that won't get me fired." If she can be. She's not looking to test that.

“Your mother keeps him busy,” Richard admits with a slight shrug of one shoulder, “Maybe someday he’ll… well. I didn’t ask you here to talk about Niklaus.”

One of the fries is picked up, and he points it at her, “Nothing to worry about, I haven’t been up to anything illegal lately. Just gathering intel, digging into some things, kicking a few anthills. You know— “

He grins broadly, “The usual.”

The fry’s tossed up and he catches it in his mouth, chewing and swallowing before asking, “When was the last time you got out of the Safe Zone? I could use your help.”

This time, that flat look isn't quite so comical. "The usual," she notes as she reaches for another of his fries, "is exactly what worries me." She leans back a bit in her seat, thoughtful for a moment. "I guess if you're good at something," she adds with a bit more amusement "keep doing it."

The question, though, only gets more quiet contemplation from her. "It's… been a while," she admits. "I rarely have reason to leave. But, with the outages at Yamagato, it might be tough to secure leave…" She taps a finger on the table. "I'm scared to ask what you have in mind."

“Your mother seems fine with me being up to my usual,” Richard observes with a slightly crooked smile, shaking his head, “On the seventh day, he rested, but it’s the eighth now… and the game’s afoot, as Sherlock said.”

He takes a sip of water, and then replies, “I need a postcognitive. I’ve located where my mother concealed her work, and I think you’d be extremely useful in helping piece things together.”

“I know,” he says, raising one hand, “You wanted me to ‘back off’ until you talked to some people, but you never got back to me, and I couldn’t just sit on my hands, Barbara. This is my mother, this is Liz, it’s— my daughter, too.”

Her expression falters a bit as Cardinal speaks, withdrawing a hand that was midway to his basket of fries. She lets out a long sigh. "I'm sorry about that," she replies, sounding genuinely apologetic. "No, I couldn't expect you to. It took some time for the person I wished to speak to to get back to me. You have my sincerest apologies."

But the mention of family, that brings a bit of a smile back to her face. "You helped my family once, Richard," she notes. "So, I'll do whatever I can to help you, provided I am able." She gives a nod of affirmation. "Where?"

“It’s alright. I mean, when you’re dealing with gold-eyed horrors from beyond our dimension, I suppose a touch of caution is called for…” It’s tongue-in-cheek, but there’s a serious undertone to it as well. Richard motions a bit with his glass of water, “Kansas City.”

The capital, technically, so at least they’re not headed into a disaster zone.

“The University of Kansas, specifically. Michelle hid all of her work behind the wallpaper in her old dorm room, if you can believe it,” he chuckles, “The most cliche method possible, and the Company never found it.”

Barbara huffs out a breath at the mention of the gold-eyed horror, her conversation with Kam still fresh in her mind. Still, she had promised it would stay between them, so all Richard gets is an uneven smile.

"Kansas City. That might be nice," she admits with a bit of a laugh. "I think that may be too… mundane for the Company." She chuckles and shakes her head. "I know I wouldn't have thought to check wallpaper, and certainly not in an old college down. I see thinking outside the box runs in the family."

“Seems so,” Richard admits, thumb brushing along the edge of the glass, “We wouldn’t be there more than a day or two — we can fly out on one of the Raytech jets, it’ll just be a couple-hour flight.”

In post-apocalyptic America, that sort of convenience is rare these days.

Barbara purses her lips, thinking for a moment. "A day or two should be manageable. I'm sure everyone will get by without me." A small grin punctuates the thought, before quickly she turns thoughtful. "When do you want to leave? What… exactly is this research you want to look for?"

She would be remiss if she didn't ask, even if she already knew.

"If the Company was looking for it, I can't imagine it's anything good, but if you're looking for it…" She leans back in her seat. "I assume it's going to help."

“A few weeks, probably, I need to make arrangements and — to be honest I’ve been neglecting my duties a little here and I need to do paperwork for a bit so the board stops frowning at me.”

The board being his family.

So…” Richard draws in a deep breath, “This is what we know. We know that Michelle LeRoux, a hypercognitive, was picked up in the early 80s by the Company and then released with her memory erased. They kept a close eye on her - Kaito’s foundation gave her a grant, so on, they saw a great deal of potential in her. At the University of Kansas, in conjunction with Richard Schwenkman and Edward Ray, she was working on a device that she believed could see through time, or space, or something. Upon activating it, an aurora effect appeared above Kansas City, and the agent on scene - Eric Thompson - panicked.”

He grimaces, “In the wake of this, Michelle was hit by a car and died running from him. Schwenkman was captured, and Edward Ray escaped the scene.” Drawing in a deep breath, “Carrying me.”

“Myself and sixteen others were displaced from other timelines and into ours. My mother was an alternate Michelle LeRoux, Michelle Cardinal with her married name. She survived where LeRoux did not.”

Barbara stares at Richard for a moment. "You're saying…" Her brow furrows at the implication that Richard Ray isn't from this timeline, and that there are sixteen others in similar situation. "This, the video of Magnes and Elisabeth, these… golden eyes people keep seeing in relation to it and other things…"

Kam's words echo in her mind, and she frowns, looking off to the side. "I grow worried about what's happening, Richard. I'm only going to ask this question once, only because I'm sure I know the answer, and then not again. But, I have to."

Turning slightly in her chair, she looks back to him with a serious expression, eye to eye. "Are you sure this is what you want to do to? Are you sure it's a good idea?" A beat. "As much as anything is ever a good idea in this city." She smiles at that, a touch of humour to ease her uncertainty. "If you really think it is, I'll come with you. But I want to be sure first."

“There’s no certainty in this world, you know that,” Richard replies with a slight, wry smile, shaking his head, “And… you should be. I’m worried as hell. There are shadows crawling out of the past, things that they even took from your mother’s head, and I think that if we’re not ready for them…”

A slow breath’s drawn in, exhaled, and he looks back at her soberly, “I don’t know if it’s a good idea, Barbara, but I know it’s what I want to do— what I have to do. Maybe I’m too much like my— father, but I’ll do anything to protect my family.”

“And what the hell. Maybe if we don’t destroy the world by accident, we’ll save it again. We’re four for four so far.”

Barbara studies Richard a moment longer, before managing a small smile. "I appreciate your honesty more than anything else, Richard." She had been expecting a pretty cut and dry yes, but the honest answer does even more for her. Even if it just worries her that much more. From there, though, that worry bubbles a bit more to the surface.

"I'll do anything to protect mine, too," she remarks, that bit about her mother having not escaped her. "The sins of the Company and everyone else were going to come crawling out at some point. Anyone who thought Albanny would be the end of it was a fool."

She leans back in her chair and nods. "Besides. It'd be nice to work on saving beyond just ourselves for once." For once for her, at least.

“I once picked up a shovel and literally dug up the dead at Coyote Sands,” Richard says quietly, shaking his head, “This is a deep hole, and not even the Institute could clean it up entirely, even if… Richard Cardinal thought he could.”

A mirthless chuckle, “I’m less idealistic than he was, I suppose. So— “

He flashes a smile over, “That’s business, and I’ll be in touch. You want to order some lunch, just catch up? After, we can head back to Raytech, you can meet the kids.”

There a moment before the grin returns to Barbara's face; heavy talk that this can be, it only reminds her of all the things she tried to keep buried once.

Still it returns, the postcognitive leaning forward and taking another one of Richard's fries. "I didn't come all the way out here," she notes with a chuckle, "just to eat fries. Of course, Richard. I'd love to."

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