Eerie Reflections


dante_icon.gif veronica3_icon.gif

Scene Title Eerie Reflections
Synopsis Two former Company agents look at evidence for an Institute investigation.
Date October 7, 2010

Suresh Center

The door to Veronica Sawyer's office is ajar, so there is no need to knock to enter. The quiet brunette agent sits at her desk, a place she's rarely seen for very long, watching a video unfold on her computer screen. Now and then she uses the computer's tools to pause, rewind, slow-mo and magnify certain parts of the screen.

To the right of her computer keyboard sits a yellow memo pad, and from time to time, she picks up a pen to jot down certain time markers of the video, footage of the September 23rd incident at the goth club Tartarus. To her left is a vente sized Starbucks cup, the side boxes noting it as an NF TN Latte, 'Verronika" scribbled below the boxes. The barrista apparently is creative when it comes to spelling.

Ten minutes prior, 'Verronika' Sawyer had sent an email to Dante to ask him to stop by her office for his aid on the empath case — so far, really the only thing on their docket besides chasing down their prior colleagues. It's perhaps the first direct thing Veronica has said to Dante since finding him on the Institute's rolls, though she's nodded politely enough in passing. At the footsteps approaching her door, Vee glances up, pausing the Tartarus footage midplay.

Dante is conflicted, to be perfectly honest. On the one hand, his time spent only half-working for the Institute has given him time to collect his thoughts and let him finally discover the value of some "personal time". On the other hand, he's started to get twitchy. There's work to be done, he just knows it, yet recently "work" has also meant dealing with people and situations that he would much prefer to avoid. Still, you can't have your cake and eat it, too, so when Verronika contacted him, he swallowed his trepidation and set out for the office.

When Dante arrives at her office, he gives a polite rap of his knuckles on her open door, a briefcase tucked under his arm and his signature trenchcoat draped about him.

"Hello…" Dante's eyes fall to her coffee cup, and he twitches up a very brief smile, "Verronika." Yes, he rolled his R there. "What can I do for you?" Lacking the dour look that he's become known for, there's a look of mellow anticipation on his face.

"Hey, Lupinetti," Veronica says, husky voice polite as she smiles his way, and nods to the seat across from her desk. She turns her monitor his way. "With Bishop AWOL, the investigation of this empath case got dropped in my lap. I got some footage from the club of the second incident — I'm currently looking to see if there's any other incidents that might match the perp's M.O. if there is a perp, but I'm guessing there is. The witnesses from both events said they were fine prior to things starting to get a bit nuts. Then suddenly they had feelings of mistrust, that people were there to hurt them or something, around the same time the other people in the area were also acting strangely. Seems like it has to be an empath or something, affecting the feelings of those nearby."

She nods to the screen. "I have some guesses, but I'd like to see what you see. Your power works on footage like this, or do you have to be live and in person to notice the details?" she asks curiously.

"Induced paranoia?" Dante asks, his face pulling into a practiced frown as he steps into the office, coming over to the offered seat to eye the images on the monitor. His briefcase gets slide under his chair and he tugs out at the lapel of his trenchcoat, loosening it from around his shoulders. As she goes on, his eyes settle on the monitor, though he does wince. "Please don't call it a 'power'," he mutters, seemingly half to himself, "I'm not an X-man or something like that. You have the whole night's footage here? Or just the few hours surrounding the incident?"

The brunette agent arches a brow up at him. "What Evolved can do is pretty much the same as X-Men. Makes you wonder if the comic book authors knew about abilities like ours before they became public. Not counting people like Mendez, of course," she replies. "But I will remember your aversion to the word. I certainly don't think of mine as an ability or a power either, since it's not like I have any control over when I use it."

She nods to the screen. "This is the few moments right before the event and to a few moments after. You'll notice our friend Luke Campbell in the mix there. I'll show you where I have it queued up, but if you want to watch the hours prior, you're free to."

Her left hand picking up the Starbucks cup, Veronica reaches with her right for the mouse to click the play button, letting the scene unfold, then hands him the wireless mouse so he can man the controls to his needs.

"I don't want people to think I belong in a comic book. I'm just a detective doing my job. The other…" Dante waves his hand in the air, gesturing dismissively, "People can be comic book heroes if they want. That's not me. Most are, actually, from what I've seen on the shelves." He does give a brief smile and a grateful nod. "We're just good at what we do. That's it."

Dante turns his attention to the screen, flicking his wrist to loosen his watch, the metal tapping against the wood of the desk. "Hmmm…oh yes, yes I see him…" Dante points. "White really doesn't suit him. See that? I've seen him in blue shirt. Makes him seem less washed out." His finger taps against the monitor briefly. "I'll pick up the whole footage later. May have to go through it over the weekend…" Taking the mouse from Veronica, he turns the chair to face the monitor. His eyes flick over to the Starbucks cup and he gestures to it. "What did you get?"

"Possible person sneaking out but I can't tell if there's a clear face shot of him," Veronica remarks, before realizing he means her coffee. "What? The coffee? Nonfat Toffee Nut Latte," she says, her eyes moving back to the screen. "If you see anyone who looks suspicious, I have an eye witness at the other incident that I can ask to look at a screen cap of it, see if they recall him or her at the diner. I can show the footage too, but that many people, it's kind of hard to make out specific faces. Hoping you could help me on that."

"Hmmm, not a fan of toffee, myself." Is Dante really trying to make small talk? "I've tried a mocha once, but it was a bit odd to taste chocolate along with the coff…this guy?" Dante points to the screen again, pointing out that man. The one with the suspiciously elated smile. Or at least, as best you can tell from the grainy footage. Dante's eyes flick back and forth across the screen. "He's not being very upset, is he? He seems to be… hmm… Is this the only security footage of the scene?"

Clicking on the image, Veronica circles the man's face, then uses the software to magnify and correct, making the image as clean as possible, snapping a screen cap and saving it to the file system. "Can you watch and track his movements backward? Maybe there's a cleaner shot of him coming in."

She goes frame by frame, slowly, in backward sequence, her own eyes narrowing as she tries to follow his motions — it's difficult, in a bar scene, with arms and heads obscuring their view of the young man in the flannel shirt.

"I've looked at the others — this is the area that everything seemed to happen at, by the bar — as opposed to the dance floor, et cetera. I'll let you have a copy to see if you notice anything else fishy, though," she says quietly. "Tell me what you see — all I see is a lot of eye liner and Dracula wannabes. Wait, there's that plaid again…"

"You should be able to… Here, he's moving closer… Damn, why is this place so crowded?" Dante's finger moves out, following the man as he moves, sometimes behind a wall of people, only to come out from behind the crowd. He gets closer to the camera….closer… But always looking a little away from the camera. He gets down into the bottom right at one point, as close to the camera as possible, but ends up facing away from the camera, towards the bar.

"Stop." Dante's finger slides away from the back of the man's head and up, and he taps on the monitor, right on a mirror on a wall behind the bar. "Can you focus more on there? It's foggy and…and I think it'll need to be color corrected. Go a few frames back…"

"Niiice," Veronica says — she missed the mirror that reflects the man, his actual face blocked by a tall Marilyn Manson wanna be. She circles the area, enlarging and magnifying, auto-correcting until an unhappy looking man can be seen, scowling and clearly unhappy.

"He certainly looks like he cheered up between then and the incident, doesn't he?" she says, saving the image. Hopefully someone who was at the Nite Owl will be able to identify him as present on the September 15th incident as well.

Once that's done, she rewinds slowly a few frames, waiting for him to tell her to stop again.

When the man's face comes into focus, a smile clarifies itself on Dante's face as he sits back in his chair, looking exceptionally pleased as he inspects the face on the screen. "Amazing what they can do with technology these days," he mutters to himself. "Okay, play it forward." As the augmented footage plays forward, the man's expression moves, going from a scowl to a slightly disturbing smile starting to creep over his face, before he shifts his position and moves out of the mirror. "Well, that's definitely not the face of someone getting ready to enjoy a drink. Did we get enough to ID him?"

Veronica's brows furrow together as she watches the mood change occur before their eyes, now that she knows where and who to look for. "So it looks like he's an empath — that either just has a sick pleasure in watching people freak out, or possibly actually gets an endorphin rush or something, a mood lift, from the bad moods of others," she murmurs.

"I'll bring the pictures to my eyewitness from the other event — all it'll do is place him at both locales. Otherwise, we might be pouring over mugshots. Fun times, right?" She chuckles. "If you want to look at the rest of the footage, feel free, but I think this is all I'm after for now."

"Is that it?" Dante asks, rubbing a hand over his face, "I'm not that good at reading people." His hand slips down over his chin, stroking it as he keeps staring at the monitor, brows furrowed. "Well, I'm not doing anything important for the weekend." Glancing over to Veronica, his lips pull outwards in semi-smile for Veronica. "I'm glad I could be of help. If you're able to place this man, what's your next step? Hunt him down?"

With a couple of clicks, Veronica sends the images to her phone and then prints out the best of the screen caps. "Yeah. It's possible he doesn't know what he's doing. I might go back to Tartarus, see if he returns to the scene of the crime so to speak. It looks like he's got an area-based ability, so I don't think I'm immune, unfortunately, but maybe knowing that whatever negative feelings are getting invoked are counterfeit will be enough not to freak out. I hope." She smiles wryly. "I'll let you know if I get any hits or leads. You'll keep your eyes and ears open for me, too, Sherlock?"

"It might help," Dante says dubiously, not exactly being a bastion of hope at this moment. Straightening up in his chair, Dante flicks a quick look at his watch. "Of course. You'll be the first I call. Do you have all the footage, or does it need to be delivered to my desk?"

Lifting a finger, Veronica pops out the DVD on her computer and slips it into a sleeve then hands it to him with a smile. "There you go. You working on anything else beside this? I mean, of course, aside from Company renegades, that is." Since they're all supposed to be working on that together. "Getting anything on that, by the way? I haven't heard or seen anyone."

"The Renegades. Still working on them as hard as ever," Dante says, his voice falling completely flat. "Haven't run into very many, to be perfectly honest, but I'll update you and Harper when I do." Taking the DVD from her, he pulls out his briefcase, keeping his eyes averted as he goes on, tucking the DVD within a flap. "It's possible we may want to start looking into any groups that could be sheltering refugees. Government agencies, perhaps foreign national groups."

A brow rises with curiosity at that. "Possibly." She picks up her phone and then the two images from the printer. "I'll get on getting this to the eyewitnesses, the waitress and the others I have on file, and let you know what comes of it," Veronica says, standing from her chair. "Thanks, Lupinetti."

"Let me know if you need anything else looked at? I'm always in the mood for more material to read before bedtime. You know…" Dante swirls a fingers by his head as he stands, briefcase in hand. "It helps my brain calm, so I can sleep. Agent Sawyer." He holds out his hand to her, "Thank you very much for this opportunity. I'm sure we'll get to the bottom of this very quickly."

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