Forgotten Spirits


corbin_icon.gif lance_icon.gif

Scene Title Forgotten Spirits
Synopsis While trying to find persons of interest in the Baldwin case, Lance finds out some of his long forgotten past thanks to long forgotten Company Files.
Date November 6, 2019

Fort Jay: Corbin’s Office

Today, Corbin made a point to clean up his desk, moving out many of the coffee mugs that stacked up on one side so that there was an extra chair ready. They had another laptop brought in, so they could both go through the requested files at the same time, working their way from the back or the front, depending on how they were sorted.

It hadn’t taken long at all to find the first appearance of the tree on the available satellite images. Between the dates of October 15th and November 7th the tree suddenly appeared in the middle of a destroyed block of Jackson Heights. Lance had found it, as he had been working backward, in the case of the images. Corbin leaned over the young man’s shoulder and nodded.

“That’s within the window of when she went missing, and a lot more accurate than the site inspection images. So sometime between her disappearance on October 27th and November 7th.” Having a smaller window made things easier when finding suspects. Not everyone would be in the Safe Zone during that time.

“Now we get to go through all the old files. See how many Agrokinetics we have to look into.” From the sounds, this was the part he had always knew would take the longest. “Hope you like scrolling through spreadsheets.”

“I wish we had a better date,” Lance frowns down at the images, one hand scratching under his chin, “Then we’d know if it’d taken some time after she disappeared, or she went straight to being a tree.”

He leans back then and rubs at his eyes. “I mean, there can’t be that many registered agrokinetics, can there? It’s not that common an ability, is it…?” He tilts his head to look back at Corbin, brow furrowed.

“There’s probably more than you are expecting,” Corbin admits with a small grin, remembering at least one old Company case from before the Registry even existed as it was back before the War. “And we can’t access all the records, cause a lot of them are redacted. Pretty much anyone who didn’t have a criminal history was removed, and even then we can’t use it alone as evidence against them to make an accusation, but we can use it as a starting point to gather information and clear them of suspicion.” Or not, depending. It was a complicated process.

“But I pulled a favor and got access to the oldest stuff, I used to work for the Company, before.” It was public knowledge, so he wasn’t afraid to say it. He had even testified against some of them, and for leniency on others who had worked for them. He had also helped the Ferry before the Company even dissolved, which had worked in his favor in the end.

Again, using it to investigate was complicated, but it could at least give them suspects to look at and hopefully illuminate a picture, maybe even get them the help of some experts in the ability. “The odds that they’re still around aren’t great, either, but we owe it to Miss Baldwin to try.”

After a second he holds out a flash drive. “Why don’t you take the old redacted registry first,” he offered, holding out a flash drive.

“If there’s so many of them, we should just get them all together and fix the nuked parts of the country,” is Lance’s opinion on the matter, reaching out to accept the flash drive handed to him, “Trees everywhere. Mm. I guess you’d need, like, hydrokinetics to replenish the ground water and stuff too…”

He looks at the drive, then back, “These are the old Company records? I mean, with a lot redacted, yeah, but…” Hesitation, “Do you think I’m on here somewhere? And Hailey?” And their parents, maybe.

“It would probably take a lot of people working together to do a project that big, but it’s a very nice idea,” Corbin responded quietly as he sat back down and began to go through the old Company files. They hadn’t been redacted as thoroughly as the old Registry, but there were reasons for that. A lot of it had been used as evidence against the Company more than against those recorded in it.

“I know there’s likely at least a few who might be making Park Slope a better place. It definitely has more trees and plant life than it probably should.” But he didn’t really suspect them. He did think the woman on the Council who could turn into a plant might be involved in it, and it wasn’t nefarious. It might give them someone to consult, though.

But at the young man’s curiosity, the former Company Agent glances up and raises an eyebrow. “Did you or your sister have a history with the Company?”

Instead of digging for agrokinetics, he starts to glance over the lists of names for one in particular. Gerken.

“Oh yeah, there’s definitely someone helping the trees grow up there,” Lance opins, “My sister lived up there for awhile, there’s plants everywhere. I wonder what they’re hiding. Maybe someone just wants to be left alone…”

He plugs in the flash drive to his laptop and starts loading up the files, answering absently, “Yeah, uh— I don’t remember it or anything, but we used to have that Mark that they told me means the Company grabbed you at some point. It’s hard to see anymore, it kinda faded a lot as I grew up. Makes sense, I manifested pretty— early.”

It wasn’t for any fun reason either.

From the perplexed look on the SESA Agent’s face, he’s not liking the sounds of the fact that a child was tagged. It had to have been early, cause the young man was just barely out of being called a boy still. Someone that young, tagged. Corbin shook his head and continued to scan through, skipping past most names that didn’t match and wishing he could just use a find function, but alas what he was dealing with was scans of physical files, because the Company had loved it’s paperwork.

He even had been the one who scanned much of this, as he’s partially the reason so much of the New York Archive survived.

“Do you know around what year or how old you— “ He had been intending to narrow down a date, but then he spotted something as he flipped through scans and stopped. “Ah.” He frowned visibly and glanced around as if looking for someone. Someone who wasn’t there right now. Not that a ghost could have helped. When he looked back at the young man, he asked, “…Do you remember your parents’ names?”

The question’s asked just as the folder with the scanned files comes up on Lance’s screen, and even from the small thumbnails he can tell that a lot of them have been liberally gone over with a marker. Or someone used MS Paint to draw black lines, anyway, it’s hard to say one way or the other.

“Um…” He looks up, brow knitting, “Not— I mean, I know them. Not— you remember when there were all those weird flashes, those visions from, I guess other worlds, last year? Other timelines, where— “ Don’t say where Magnes was, Lance, that’s classified.

“Well, you know. I saw them there, in some weird place. Uh, Gerard and Ashleigh. I assume Gerken, I don’t— think the orphanage made that up.”

Other worlds. Corbin couldn’t help but smile because he knew a lot more about that than most SESA agents did. He might have been surprised this young man knew about it, but Agent Lin had said those kids had their noses in everything. But it was Classified, even more so than the scanned file sitting in front of him. He wondered how much trouble he would get into if he shared it with the young man, but then even without prompting from the dead, he decided that some things were worth the potential punishment. Every person deserved to know about their own past. Especially what had been stolen from then by the Company.

“Might be a good idea to make the room soundproof, just in case,” he suggests, waiting a few moments to see if the young man does so. It isn’t that he expected most people to listen in, but one never knew. What he wouldn’t have given for that ability when he had started turning against the Company.

After a moment he asked one more question, “Do you know what Level Five was?”
At the suggestion, Lance’s forehead knits in bemusement for a moment— and then clears as his eyes widen a little. “It is now,” he says, chair spinning away from his laptop as he pushes up to his feet to step over, “Did you find something? I mean, about me, and Hailey, and…?”

He tries to temper his eagerness, rocking back on his heels instead of draping over Corbin to peer at the file in front of him. “Uh. Yeah, it’s— it’s where they kept Eric. Some kind of— Company Jail?”

“It was supposed to be for the most dangerous of the… Evolved… that we’d bag and tag,” Corbin responds quietly, even if their words are about as safe as they are ever going to be. This part wasn’t classified, at least. Most of it had come out in the trials. “The ones who had killed, or would likely kill by accident. Before Moab. Before Tier 3 even existed. Before Registration even.” They’d had it going on for so long, he wasn’t even sure how many people had found themselves kept in one or another Level Fives. The one in New York had not been the only one, or even the original.

The file was a report about an escape and abduction. 09/19/2008. A few names pop out listed among those who escaped. Adam Monroe. Niki Sanders. Claude Rains. Huruma. Along with others.

Including Gerard Gerken.

“I’ll see if I can find his Level Five file. Some of the people on this list are definitely dangerous, others… well, Niki Sanders is on the Council.”

“It wasn’t something Eric liked to talk about. Probably because we were kids,” Lance admits just as quietly, giving his head a shake as he looks at the papers in front of Corbin - finally shifting over enough to look at them. “I know some of these people,” he comments, “Aunt Huruma’s on there.” There can’t be more Evolved named Huruma, right?

Then there’s his father’s name, and his eyes widen a little. Attention flickering from the file to Corbin, “Can you? I— I mean, me and Hailey never knew him, and… wait.” A sudden straightening of his back, “Wait, he was in— do you know when he was in there, does it say?”

Could he? Of course. Should he? Well, he’ll just hope Choi doesn’t find out, or if she does agrees that a twenty-year-old young man whose past was destroyed by a now illegal organization deserves to know who his father had been and what happened to him. “Give me a few minutes,” Corbin offers, beginning to skim through the files once more like he had been doing, looking for mentions of Level Five and Gerken. “I can’t print any of this out for you, but the relevant files I can let you see. In the meantime why don’t you look for an agrokinetic. Even if only to write down a list.”

The database did have a few that came up from the old Registry. Most had everything marked out, but one stood out quickly due to a criminal record. It was easy to tell from the rest cause it led to an actual file with a rapsheet and even a very attractive mug shot, rather than just a few words and little other information.

René Dumortier.

No time served, but multiple charges, including charges from a juvie career in France. Many of them were dropped, some community service and files, and a big note ‘Suspected connection to D’Sarthe, possibly an Evo enforcer for his network.’

Charges included Possession of Drugs, Stolen Property. Petty Theft. Disorderly Conduct. Mayhem. Larceny. Simple Assault and Battery. Trespassing/B&E, Multiple charges for Vandalism, Loitering, Extortion, Intimidation…

All info on his ability were lost except a mention of ‘Agrokinetic’.

Just as Lance will have time to finish scanning that file, Corbin speaks up again. “I found something.”

“Me too,” Lance reports, squinting at the screen, “An agrokinetic… gangster? Connected to someone named D’Sarthe, seems like a big bad guy from the phrasing here. René Dumortier— I probably mangled the pronunciation there.”

He leans back, craning his neck, “What’d you find?”

“That does sound potentially promising. I’ll teach you how to flag it to see if there’s any current files, and then see if we can find anymore. I do want to send one of you to check out the incident in Park Slope from April,” Corbin says in an absent voice as if trying to fill the silence with anything but what was on the screen in front of him.

The young man still deserved to know. Corbin had wanted to know what had happened to his family during the war, and he would have wanted someone to share the reports if they found it. “Just remember, some of the people who wrote these files didn’t… care about what was happening with those who had abilities.”

The ability for Gerard Gerken was listed as a kind of Sound Manipulation, focused on an Acoustic Vibration Bomb that he could create with sound generated by sounds produced by his hands (clapping, snapping fingers, slamming a hand against a table were given as examples). There were special notes to keep his hands in rubber sound dampening gloves at all times which restricted the use of his fingers, as well as cuffs which kept him from moving his arms much, warnings that he could burst eardrums, shatter glass and destabilize the integrity of buildings.

The file about the agrokinetic is forgotten in an instant, Lance’s expression somewhere between excited and guarded— Corbin’s warning about the file’s authors didn’t fall on deaf ears. “I know,” he says, “Eric said a little. Not much, but… a little.” And Doyle deserved to be down there more than most did.

The file’s review is looked over, his eyes widening at the description of the ability. “It’s like… the opposite of my ability,” he murmurs thoughtfully. It isn’t unknown for similar abilities to run in bloodlines, after all.

“We have his bag and tag record as well— and you and your sister’s,” Corbin continues, flipping to the next file with a click of the mouse, frowning at it. “The Company was still doing old procedures even half a year after the Bomb in downtown Manhattan, but it looks like he came on the radar in March 2007.” The file talks about an explosion in an apartment complex in Bushwick, Brooklyn that destroyed ten apartment buildings, killing sixteen.

And the attached article for the New York Times had even been written by Corbin Ayers. In the article, none of the victim’s names were released, but it showed the building with a hole ripped out of the side from the bottom floor. Parts of the building, the playground in front of it, felt familiar to Lance. As if he could recall swinging on that swing set that was twisted by debris. “I wrote so many articles to cover up incidents like this… I didn’t remember this one.” Before and after the Bomb. But mostly before.

“It was always gas leaks and chemical spills or gas fumes or an outbreak of meningitis once even— something that would seem plausible. Looks like this one was blamed on a natural gas leak.” Something that didn’t sound like an inhuman ability.

The Company had sent in Agents and came out with three people tagged.

“I…” Lance isn’t the duskiest-skinned of people at the best of times, but the paling is obvious as he stares at the file, connections forming in his head as dates and facts begin to add up. “I— he didn’t die? Him or— what about mom, did she…?”

They came out with three. Did one escape? Was she ignored because she wasn’t SLC-expressive?

Scanning over the article and file quickly now, breathing increasing just a bit in anxious agitation.

“I’m sorry, Lance,” Corbin offered quietly, remembering how he had heard that both his mother and sister had been in the middle of Midtown when the Bomb had gone off. Their bodies had never even been found, like so many others. Then his father and his brother and his entire family had all vanished without a trace during the war. It had been difficult. He lets the boy finish the article, which doesn’t even list names, just the street he had lived on as a child. Greene Avenue, Bushwick in Brooklyn. What was now in Elmhurst.

His childhood home, pieces of it at least, might still remain.

Once he’s sure the boy was done, he clicked onward. He had already skimmed the next few pages. It had reports of those who had been killed. And near the top was Ashleigh Gerken. Death by severe trauma. Thankfully it had not gone into gruesome detail.

But Lance might notice that the numbers were off by one as if he had removed a file from the sequence.

Survivors listed were only three. The father deemed the source of the lethal vibrations, and the two children. It is noted that those three were the only people in a hundred yards who had both survived, and not had at least ruptured eardrums. The children were noted to have only gotten minor cuts and bruises caused by debris, mostly broken glass.

At the apology, Lance’s shoulders slump slightly— a little of that hope dying in his eyes— but he continues reading, hungry for the knowledge that he’d never had about his family, that only a chance glimpse into another future had given him any of.

He swallows as he notices his mother’s name listed dead, scanning the rest… then glancing back to Corbin. Hesitation, maybe considering asking about the missing file, but realizing that it was likely crime scene pictures stopped him. Looking back, he reads the summary, murmuring, “I guess that… was me…”

“And what— I mean, wasn’t there a breakout at level Five? That’s when Eric got out, is he— did he escape? Is he still…?” His eyes widening at the realization, looking to Corbin, “Is our dad alive?”

“You did say you manifested young,” Corbin responds softly, trying to sound calm, even though part of him wondered how he would have handled seeing all this at this boy’s age. Probably not well. In the Company he had seen so much that very little surprised him, really. But he wasn’t going to let the boy see what was on the file he skipped, either. The vague descriptions of death were bad enough when someone’s mother was involved.

Even if he didn’t even remember her.

“They must not have known for sure if you actually manifested, but I think the supervising Agent must have suspected, which is why you were tagged. You and your sister.” He clicks forward. It starts to go into how the children were to be tagged and relocated to an orphanage where they could be observed. There were later notes, even. The Company had moved them to the Lighthouse in February of ‘09 when it opened. It seems Linderman’s funding might have had some added oversight.

As if to offer him some hope, he does reply, “It did say he escaped, yes. Many of the others on that list seem to still be alive, so it’s a good chance he is too.” It gives some hope back, at least.

“Yeah. I don’t remember manifesting, just what came after…” An absent murmuring as Lance looks back at the files, drawing in a slow breath and exhaling, slumping back in his chair, “He could be alive. Somewhere.”

Why hasn’t he found us is a question he wants to ask, but with the war, he knows it’s a foolish one.

He stares at the file for a moment, then takes another breath and sits up, “Okay. Okay, uh, you said you were going to show me how to tag this file?” Quickly, divert the topic to work so you can deal with emotional topics later!

As if Corbin understands the shift in topic, he nods, “I’ll let you know if I find anything else about where he might have ended up after the escape.” But as he hadn’t been rounded up, it was probably going to be a difficult search. Maybe someone else would know more about what had happened to him.

For the moment, though, they needed to get back to the current case. He filed away a thought that he would try to see if he could find anything the boy might be interested in later, but there was the current job that would keep that from happening more right away.

With some quick instructions, he explains how to flag the file, and how to make René Dumortier a potential person of interest in the Baldwin case.

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