Entwined Paths


elaine2_icon.gif richard_icon.gif

Scene Title Entwined Path
Synopsis Elaine seeks some answers.
Date June 1, 2019


Elaine’s never been to Raytech before. There are times she thought about it, she’d even considered it a potential job prospect once. Nothing, however, was pressing enough to pull her to the building. The reason that brought her to the company’s doorstep had been one she had put off, just for a little while. Nervousness kept her from pursuing the lead and preparations for her new position had made it easy to forget.

But Kaito Nakamura’s address book lay on her desk and she couldn’t ignore it forever.

When she steps through the door of the building, leatherbound book tucked under one arm, she realizes quickly she’s entirely missed a step—she should have made an appointment. She winces, but continues inside the building, hoping that the CEO was available and could make some time for her. She’s not sure when she’d get the nerve to try again, after all.

Her identity’s checked at the outside gate, and again at the door before she’s let in; the lobby a large open area, a Raytech logo glowing neon behind the welcome desk and light spilling in from the vaulted glass ceiling. Above, what seems like a swarm of butterflies circles and swarms around near the ceiling, although the repetition of movements - and a close watch - might reveal them to be small drones of some sort, robotic butterflies demonstrating some sort of aesthetic technology.

A blonde woman in a blue suit is seated behind the counter, looking up sharply as Elaine enters, eying her suspiciously for a moment before flashing a brilliant smile, “Hi! Welcome to Raytech. What can I do for you, Miss…” She peers at her computer screen, then back up, “Darrow!”

At least they were thorough with their security practices, Elaine could give them that. Looking to the blonde behind the counter, Elaine smiles, although she still does look a little nervous. “I know I didn’t make an appointment, but I was hoping to speak with Richard Ray. If he’s busy, I could make an appointment, I was just… in the neighborhood.”

Well, that wasn’t entirely true. She was in the neighborhood, but because she was trying to see if she could resolve this. “Uh, it’s a personal matter, but if he asks for further information on what it’s about, just let him know it has to do with the Company.”

“Okay!” Sera reaches over for the desk phone, smiling cheerfully as she taps in a code, humming off-tune as she waits, “Hello Mister Ray! There’s a woman here to see you, Elaine Darrow, and she says— “ Her voice turns suggestive, “That she’s here for a personal matter and to keep you company.”

A pause, “…oh. Maybe that’s what she meant. Send her up? Right away, Mister Ray!”

She hangs up the phone, then picks up a lanyard and offers it out with a smile, “Just go over to the elevator over there, go to the third floor, it’s the office labeled ‘Richard Ray’ on your left.”

Elaine’s face colors, just slightly, at the misunderstanding that occurs. Or perhaps it’s an intentional jab at her boss, who is she to say what the relationship is between Richard Ray and his employees. The impression that this blonde was playfully teasing her boss is enough to cause her to crack a smile and she nods slightly to Sera.

“Third floor, got it. Thank you, I appreciate it.”

With that she’s off, leather-bound address book tucked under her arm. The elevator ride to the third floor is just long enough that she’s nervous again, but as the doors open she calms herself. She peers along the doors on the left, finding the one reading ‘Richard Ray’ and knocks twice with a medium rap.

The elevator ride is smooth and near-silent, and she might notice the lack of much of a gap between the elevator and floor when entering and leaving. In fact, the lack of stairs or steps of any kind is notable - the entire building has been made as handicapped-friendly as possible.

“Come in,” Richard calls out as the door’s knocked upon, the electronic lock disengaging with a soft click of its own accord.

A large double-window along one wall of Richard Ray's office allows natural light to spill in throughout the office and provides an excellent view of the green roof on the lower floor of the building, the flowered garden spreading out between rows of solar panels.

The walls of the office are in slate grey, the carpeting on the floor matching, and the furniture is all in black glass, metal, and leather - but the modern starkness is offset by the tall potted plants that grow along the side of the room opposite the window. The CEO's desk is a broad affair in black glass with a video feed and touch-screen built into the surface of the desk itself, the non-interactive portions of the desk decorated sparsely with a plastic 'in' and 'out' box, a framed picture of Elisabeth Harrison, and an old onyx chess king set beside it like reminders of times long past.

As the door opens, Richard rises from his chair behind the desk with an easy smile, dressed in a dark suit with a red tie slashing down from his neck. “Elaine! It’s been too lon— oh no, Richelieu get back here— “

A cheerful ginger cat - barely more than a kitten - scrambles from a box beside the desk and bounds across the room to greet the newcomer.

The kitten is an instant stress relief. Elaine bends down, just slightly, so as to offer a hand to the kitten. “Careful, I smell of Inger. And I’m sure Inger would love me coming home smelling like another cat.” The momentary distraction allows her to gather her wits and she stands back up after the brief interlude with the feline. She makes sure to shut the door behind her as she does—she knows cats far too well.

“Richard, it’s good to see you, I just wish it was…” She seems to struggle with the phrasing. “I have something here and I was told that you’d be able to explain it somehow. Or at least shed some light into what it all means.”

Although she’s quick to bring up business, she allows herself to be distracted again. “The garden out there is lovely, it’s always good to see something like that set up for a business.” Elaine, at this point, realizes it probably looks like she’s stalling and focuses back on Richard.

Richard breathes out a chuckle as she greets the kitten, Richelieu cheerfully rubbing his face against the offered hand and winding around her foot and ankle in exploration of the new person. Certainly a very friendly cat, at least.

“Sorry, he’s curious,” he admits as he steps around from the desk and heads to meet her, crouching down a bit and reaching out to collect the happily purring feline before straightening, “And I’m used to it, it’s what I do— answer obscure questions with ominous implications, mostly.”

It’s joking, but not a joke. He understands his role in things well. Heading back over to the desk, he glances to the window, “Thanks. We try and keep as green as possible, both literally and figuratively. You should stop by the hydroponics facility for a tour sometime, we’re finally up and running. Should mean no more food crises for the Safe Zone.”

“Well, sounds like with your hydroponics going you might be an excellent supplier for some charity events. I’ll have to take that into consideration for the Yamagato Fellowship now that I’ve got more control over that sort of thing,” Elaine nods after a moment. “I’ll definitely take you up on that offer. It’s impressive.”

The leather-bound address book tucked under one arm is at last removed and opened. “This is Kaito Nakamura’s address book from his work with the Company in the 1980s. The Company is something I’m somewhat familiar with, just from bits I’ve heard from others over the years, but I don’t think I’ve ever had a conversation with anyone about them.”

The book, mostly in Japanese, is turned to the page with the English writing and the three names and addresses. “I haven’t looked into these locations yet at all or if they even exist still in the Safe Zone, but it’s the names I’m concerned with… and the kanji written next to them.” She taps her finger on the symbol. “Mystery or secret, something hidden.”

She then points to the names: D. Trafford, J. Harrison, R. Darrow.

“That last one, R. Darrow, is my mother Roselyn. Kimiko Nakamura gave me this book and told me to keep it. She said you could explain things better than she could… can you?”

“Yamagato’s heavily invested in it, in fact you largely paid for it in exchange for… services,” Richard allows with a shrug of one shoulder, “It’s a lovely place to visit, regardless.” The kitten’s settled in his lap as he sits down, and he cheerfully nestles in there with a hand atop him stroking soft red-and-white fur.

Then, on to business, and he leans forward a bit to see the address book. He reads the names, a rueful smile tugging up at the corner of his lips as one of them in particular catches his eye. He nods, leaning back. “I… know what they mean, yes,” he admits quietly, “They’re part of a very old secret — honestly, you’re lucky that book still exists. All records were supposed to be destroyed, the Company even re-wrote their own memory of that entire decade.”

A pause, then, “I’m not sure how Kimiko knows, even…” Brow furrowing, a hint of concern there in his expression.

“Oh good, glad to see we’ve already got something at work,” Elaine chuckles lightly, but her attention is on the address book. “Well, I imagine I’m lucky then. I’ve seen some things, heard some stuff, but it’s never been… well, it’s never directly to me. I’m usually safe from all of this. So what does that mean, her name being in the book? Does it mean she worked with them somehow?”

There’s a pause. “I don’t know, but she seemed certain of things—that she and I had something in common in that aspect. Maybe she learned from her father at some point.”

“Did she now,” Richard’s brow knits deeper into lines, looking at Elaine with a hint of concern, “That’s… interesting, but— “ He waves it off, leaning back in his chair with a creak - the kitten looking up, his hand drops to scritch under his chin and soothe him from the distraction.

“You— alright, I’m risking breaking several laws here,” he admits, “Have you, ah— have you seen Magnes yet?”

“It was a very odd conversation, now that I think about it.” The metaphors and phrasing were more than enough to give her pause. “I’m sure she has my best interests at heart. I suppose if there’s more going on related to my mother, I’d like to know.”

Then Magnes is brought up.

There’s a heavy sigh. “You mean from traveling other worlds and coming back with a child he had with another me? Yeah, I’ve seen him. It’s Magnes being Magnes alright. Nothing phases me about that sort of thing since Adel.”

“Oh, good, this makes this conversation easier and I’m going to sound way less crazy,” Richard allows in wry tones, free hand rubbing over the side of his face, “Alright. So… back in nineteen-eighty-two, a woman was working on a new technology, with two other people. They thought that it would allow them to see things in the future, or the past.”

A beat, and he corrects, “They were wrong. What it actually did was let them see into other timelines. And then there was— an accident with the machine. The Company jumped the gun, raided the place, killed the woman accidentally, took one into custody, the other escaped. I’m heading somewhere with this, honest.”

“Okay, I’m following you so far.” Elaine seems thoughtful. “So another world-jumping incident but this one in the 1980s and not involving Magnes.” She chuckles lightly at the thought, then shakes her head at the next thought that comes into her head. No, we don’t need Magnes involved in every time or world jumping incident.

“Go on,” she says after a moment.

“If improperly calibrated, bringing two threads - two worlds - in contact can have severe consequences,” Richard admits with a slight shake of his head, “It caused in that case what we refer to as an Overlay Incident where multiple worlds briefly crossed in different places… causing people to be switched from their world to this one, and vice versa, switching positions with their dopplegangers.”

He reaches over, tapping a finger on the address book, “Jared Harrison was one of them. The Company restructured their memories and put them back into the populace to live their lives in peace, and monitored them. I’d say that this indicates your mother and Delilah’s father were also from another timeline originally.”

Wry, “Congratulations. You’re part alien.” A beat, “Not really, that was a joke.”

“Oh. Okay. That’s… that’s not what I expected to hear. I mean, I’m not sure what I expected but I suppose that makes sense.” Elaine rubs the back of her neck. “Alright, so say my mother came from one of these… she swapped over from another world and then just took over the life of the woman in this world who shared my mother’s name?”

She frowns. “I mean, I’m not sure I can do anything major with that information but… at least it might clarify things.”

“After her memories were altered to make her think she was her,” Richard admits with a slight wrinkling of his nose, “The Company was more interested in… covering things up than anything else, and they decided that was the best way to deal with it.”

Ruefully he admits, “Just one of the many secrets from back then that we have to live with. Seems like I learn more every day, but…”

“Why would Kimiko have sent you to me if she already knew this?”

“I… don’t know, to be honest. She gave me this after giving me a promotion, which I’m not entirely sure I deserve. I wasn’t expecting any more to the conversation but she gave me the book and said that I should see you because you could explain better than she could.” Elaine shakes her head a little. “She explained it away saying that our paths were entwined. Is it… just that?”

She frowns. “I’m not really sure why something about all this feels off to me. Like I’m missing something.”

“There’s…” Richard trails off with a sigh, looking down to the kitten that looks back up at him with a ‘why are you not petting me’ look before hopping out of his lap and slinking under the desk to go sniff at Elaine’s shoes.

Back up to her, he says quietly, “There’s a lot that you don’t know going on. I could tell you, but— this isn’t the old days, where it was fight or die. You can keep on living your safe, secure, quiet life, Elaine.”

“Nonono, there’s no safe, secure, quiet life,” Elaine shakes her head. “There was no quiet life after that first bomb. No safe, no secure. I might not have had the same kind of stuff to deal with as some others, but there was certainly nothing quiet or safe about everything I’ve gone through. There’s been violence, heartbreak, death… people coming back from the dead, people coming from the future, my own child coming from the future. You can’t just say anyone has a life like that. Even people more ordinary than me have some crazy lives. It’s not the 1950s where all you had to worry about was that pesky neighborhood kid playing on your lawn.”

She lets out a huff of air. “If you’re saying you can give me more information… please do. Consider me signing the waiver of the consequences that may occur. It will be a relief to make sense of things that I’ve already been exposed to.”

Richard’s hands spread a little, and he quirks a slight smile. “I had to give you the option,” he says in rueful tones, “You’ve already lived through a lot. You don’t need to live through more… hopefully. That’s the whole point, but— okay, okay.”

A slow breath’s drawn in, and he closes his eyes. “Alright. So… as you can imagine, after the Overlay, the Company didn’t just decide to ignore the Looking Glass technology. I don’t know if the thing happened during the incident, or if the Company let it through later, but…”

His eyes open, dark as midnight to the very edge of the iris, “There was something living between the worlds. Something they let out. Something that could’ve destroyed the world.”

“Okay, that sounds ominous and creepy,” Elaine says, looking at him slowly. “So they let out something as early as the 80s? Did someone stop it or is it still out there?” She glances over her shoulder as if it were there.

She frowns. “And if it’s still out there… who all is trying to stop it?”

“They managed— with difficulty— to shove it back in its cage,” Richard says with a grimace, “It was dangerous just to— know about it. And it was entangled with Adam Monroe’s past. So they erased a decade’s worth of memories from everyone in the Company. Every single one, overwritten.”

He turns his head, looking to the window for a moment, “But no secret stays a secret forever, no matter how deep you bury it. We believe Adam’s remembered, and now he’s… doing something, on a wide scale. We don’t know what, but it’s going to be bad - he’s behind Praxis Heavy Industries, behind the Triads, behind other groups. Worse yet, we suspect the Dragon was released when we rescued Liz and Magnes and the others.”

“Adam Monroe? I remember him, he’s the reason I actually first learned Japanese,” Elaine murmurs more absentmindedly than anything, but she nods as she listens. “Erasing that big of a chunk of memories has to have been dangerous… but I imagine if they thought that was the only way around this creature it must have been a pretty terrifying creature.”

Her frown slowly grows. “So Adam’s a threat to everyone, basically. Is there any way to know what his endgame is?” She rubs the back of her neck. “Sorry that I’m not much help with this, but I feel better at least knowing what’s going on.”

“You see, that’s the thing…” Richard’s hands spread to either side, “…I think he’s trying to be the hero. I legitimately do. But he won’t trust us with knowing what he’s doing, which means that his means to the end is probably going to be fucking horrific.”

He grimaces, leaning his head back, “Do you know how Kam Nisatta died?”

“I’m sorry, died?”

The idea of Adam Monroe trying to be a hero doesn’t surprise her, but what does surprise her is hearing that her former boss didn’t retire. Elaine scowls. “Fuck, I liked her, too. She was a good boss and a kind person, at least to me. I thought her retiring seemed sudden. I had no idea, though.” Well, part of her did feel something was off about sudden retirement, but she had no reason to think otherwise.

“… so no, I don’t know how she died.”

“I do,” says Richard, fixing her with a steady look, “Kam Nisatta was the former host of the Entity, or Dragon, or whatever you care to call it. She was working with Monroe, she was the mole inside Yamagato. But before she could be captured and interrogated… Kimiko stepped in and put a bullet in her head.”

He lets that hang in the air. He did ask her if she really wanted to know everything.

“So what you’re saying is that my current boss killed my former boss… and my former boss was working with an even earlier boss of mine,” Elaine’s mostly processing the situation verbally. “Okay, cool, great, that’s not an awkward situation at all.” And Kimiko killing someone? Part of her could see it. She could be cold, and she’d been through a lot.

She clears her throat just slightly. “When Ms. Nakamura gave me that address book she…” The words don’t seem to come. “… she was complementary. Flowery, poetic. It wasn’t what I expected of her. She seemed very interested in my achievements. I could chalk that up to a boss genuinely interested in the success of someone they believed in but I’ve never been called a Tower of Babel amidst a desert of the ignorant.” That’s certainly a compliment she won’t soon forget.

“I mean, is this something I should be concerned about? Am I in any danger?”

“Flowery?” Richard’s brow knits slightly, “She’s always been rather straight-forward in the past, so that’s…unusual… I mean, maybe she was trying to tell you something without telling you something.”

Still, he shakes his head, “I don’t know why she killed Kam, still, there was nothing to be gained there. And yet her order was specific— kill Kam Nisatta, and she stepped in personally when they didn’t. Was she trying to keep her quiet about something?”

Hands spread a little, “I don’t know. I mean, we’re probably all in danger. I’m still— figuring things out in scraps and parts, those idiots erased too much history, and Adam doesn’t exactly have a listed phone number.”

“I thought maybe she was trying to send me a message too, but I think her message was too cryptic or I don’t quite have enough information. It’s hard to tell what it meant,” Elaine sighs, a little disheartened that she doesn’t have enough to pursue on that front. “I guess I’ll just have to bide my time and hope something strikes me to figure out what’s going on.

She glances back at him. “Look, I trust you Richard. I’m going to keep doing what I’ve been doing and see what happens, even if I’m probably in a position for something to come down on me. If I see or hear anything I think might aid the situation in some way, I’ll let you know, but if you have any clue of anything dangerous headed my way, I’d appreciate a heads up. If you could.”

“Of course,” says Richard without hesitation, “I’d hoped to avoid dragging people into this, but…” Rueful, he admits, “Most of the Ferrymen still have their instincts from the old days, and it doesn’t let them leave it alone. Not that I can talk, I’m no better…”

A tip of his head, “If I hear anything, I’ll let you know. I’ve… been building a network, a Failsafe network to keep an ear out for this sort of thing. Just in case there’s action needed, just to— ” He grimaces, “Make sure what happened last time doesn’t. Not operatives, just people in places where they might hear or see something.”

“Weird stuff happens to weird people,” Elaine says with a sheepish smile. “So we don’t leave it alone.” After a moment, she nods at his mention. “I get it. I’m no operative anyway, but I can sure as hell see, hear, and then spread messages however far and to whomever you want to get them to. Messages are the one thing I’m really good at. Thought about writing my own language and teaching it to people for emergencies.”

She looks around. “But yeah, if anyone else sees or hears anything that might send something flying my way, I appreciate it.”

“I mean, a conlang wouldn’t be a bad thing,” Richard admits, “And if anyone can whip up a language all on their own, it’s you.”

He pushes himself up to his feet, then, “And if there’s anything else you ever need, too, let me know, Elaine. Always happy to help someone from the old days.”

“You never know when they won’t be the old days anymore.”

“I’ll keep you updated if I start any work on a language, work might keep me busy for a while so I can’t say I rightly know when I’ll get around to that. But you’ll be in the loop, certainly,” Elaine says with a smile before looking towards the door. There’s the uncomfortable idea that he’s right, that the old days might come racing back to them and it causes her smile to waver, just the tiniest bit.

“I appreciate the thought, Richard. Let me know if there’s anything I can help you with as well. I’m always happy to help.”

“Just keep an ear and an eye out over there, and I’ll do the same,” says Richard with an attempt at a confident smile, offering a hand across the desk, “And if you ever need anything, just let me know. Any luck and all this worry and conspiracy will be for no reason.”

Somehow, though, he doubts it.

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