Former Ferry


bf_kara_icon.gif lynette4_icon.gif bf_rue_icon.gif

Scene Title Former Ferry
Synopsis With few places left to turn, old alliances are called upon.
Date February 17, 2020


It's not the first time this has happened, but it's been a while since the last.

Someone's come to the Benchmark, and they're wanting to speak only with Lynette Rowan.

The complete strangers allowed themselves to be escorted to a meeting room to wait for her, the blonde of the taller women is pacing with purpose. She wears multiple layers, not unlike someone who's been sleeping rough or otherwise living in the cold, hands in fingerless gloves being drawn back through her hair. But for all her distress, it's clear she's not anxious, not in the way some are when they arrive.

Kara Prince is full of anticipation.

She has a lot of hope riding on this encounter, hope that something here will go right in the way so many other things have not recently. Not the least of which include the woman sitting in the room with her.

"She's spoken of very highly. If there's anyone who can help, anyone who'd know where to go for something like this…"

It's not the first time Kara's said this, and it may not be the last. It's like a prayer— one she hopes is true.

The woman with Kara is dressed in an oversized black zip-up sweatshirt, the hood of which is pulled up over her head and mostly shrouding her features. Unlike Kara, she is anxious. She’s seated in a chair, one knee bouncing restlessly.

“I hope you’re right,” she replies, a tremor in her small voice. Her head lifts a fraction so she can glance around the area they’re waiting in, like she’s looking for something. Either she doesn’t see it, or she wasn’t really searching for anything in the first place. She pulls her phone out of the front pocket of the hoodie and stares down at the darkened screen.

Her shoulders relax a fraction. She reaches into her hood to press a finger against her ear.

They're not waiting too long before the door opens again. Lynette knows well the kind of people who will only see her, and she knows it's usually urgent. Part of how she set up the Benchmark was to make sure she could step away and handle such things. She steps in and closes the door behind her. She's dressed for business, not a hair out of place despite the nature of her work, and she greets the pair with a gentle smile.

"Have you had anything to drink? Eat?" She opens with important questions, since they already know who she is and she suspects they will introduce themselves when they're ready. Still, she crosses the room to sit nearby the other two, hands folding in her lap. "How can I help you?"

By nature of being already standing, it's that much easier to face Lynette when she enters. Kara takes a moment to size her up, comparing whispered and boldly-told war stories with the woman herself— the woman they called Lady Zeus. Whatever she finds in her doesn't result in disappointment. With a nod, she begins, "Yes, we're—" But she pauses, glancing to the hooded woman seated. "I'm fine. I've eaten." She couldn't speak for her counterpart, though.

Looking back to Lynette then, her shoulders square with her purpose. She comes to stand beside the table, fingertips only just gracing the top. "My name is Kara. I fought with the Ferry during the war, running refugees across the border before that. I sought you out because… rightly, I wasn't sure where else to turn. You're a resourceful woman from what I understand, and if you wouldn't be able to help, yourself, you seemed like our best shot at finding someone who might."

But the specific details are not hers to share, not without direction at least. Kara looks down to the woman seated at her side.

When Lynette enters the room, the seated woman dips her head down lower again, tucking her chin into her chest and her phone back into her sweatshirt. Her knee continues to bounce and her one hand bunches up the fabric of her overlong hem in her fist. If she’s glancing up, it isn’t readily apparent at first.

“Maybe this was a mistake,” the unidentified woman says in a low voice. It sounds ragged in a way that implies overuse, or maybe disuse. “I don’t know if anyone can help me…” Rather than look up for confirmation, she turns her head further away from Lynette’s direction. Although she’s huddled over in her seat such as she is, Lynette can tell she’s a tall woman. Much taller than Lynette herself, possibly as tall as Kara. The slouching of her posture and the hunching of her shoulders are meant to make her look so much smaller than she actually is.

She’s frightened. Or wants to give the appearance that she is. Lynette’s seen both, but somehow, this posture is familiar. The voice is familiar.

Both of the women hold a certain amount of familiarity. Lynette lifts an eyebrow at Kara's name, but otherwise, doesn't broach the subject of how a dead woman is gracing her business. There are plenty of explanations, as well she knows. And answers will have to come later, because there is something more important at the forefront.

"Nice to meet you, Kara," she says, inclining her head at the compliments. But her attention turns to the other woman a moment later. "Why don't we give it a try? I don't believe anyone is beyond helping." The cornerstone of the Benchmark Center, no doubt. But also in her other work. Her quieter work. If for different definitions of helping. "At the very least, I am a pair of ears willing to listen. And it can't hurt to have a friend around, can it?"

Kara's hand shifts from the tabletop to the seated woman's shoulder, giving her a comforting squeeze. "It can't," she insists as much as encourages. For just a moment she lets her gaze linger on Lynette and the arched eyebrow at something about her story, but ultimately she looks down to the woman at her side.

"If we're going to get you through this, we can't do it alone."

That covered head gives a small nod, even as a shudder runs through her frame from the hand on her shoulder. It’s not revulsion, but like the touch startled her. “Christ,” she breathes out in a juddering breath, “my friends are all dead.

Which is to say she most certainly could use new ones.

That’s when her head lifts and she pulls back her hood. Lynette stares into a very familiar face indeed, and a defeated expression she recognizes well from the basement levels of Bannerman’s Castle. It’s Rue Lancaster.

“You can call me Marlene.” Mar-lay-na. That’s likely not what either of the two women expected to hear.

Truly, Lynette didn't know what to expect. She would have said moments ago that she was prepared for anything. But this face, she was not prepared for. It's an old failure, not being able to spare Rue or save her from what happened at Bannerman. And the fact that it was Lynette herself that set her fate there in motion.

But she never believed Rue was a traitor, not like others did when an easy answer presented itself.

Her mind connects several dots in the space of a blink, the most clear of which is that she can imagine a list of names this world's Rue would go to for help before her own would come up. And that her friends, the last Lynette was aware of, are not all dead. "Marlene," she greets, holding her hand out to offer it to her, "it's good to meet you. You can call me Lynette. Why don't you tell me what sort of trouble you're in?"

It's with a blink that Kara hears the name, posture shifting. Marlene? Well, February was a mouthful outside of work situations, she supposed…

Her hands come back to herself, sliding in the pocket of her coat as she glances between the two. "Some… institution forced her into a situation that gave her an ability. An arm of the organization tried hard to sweeten me on doing the same, and in the process I met Marlene again."

Kara pauses long enough for her jaw to tense, but not to lock. "Whatever process they use, it relies on this non-Expressive girl's blood to— I don't know, make it safer. Wolfhound rescued her last year, so they lost their catalyst." With a shake of her head, she leans hard away from following up on that particular facet of the topic. "Without that stabilization…"

She hesitates, glancing back to Rue.

Rue — Marlene — flinches at the mention of the catalyst being lost. But she shakes Lynette’s hand like a woman who’s used to making first impressions that way, even if she’s clearly anything but confident right now. “My cells are breaking down,” she elaborates. “I, uhm… It comes and goes. Most times, most days, I’m stable.”

Marlene swallows hard and lowers her gaze to the floor, her mouth tight and drawn into a thin line. “And some days, I’m not.” There are two breaths drawn in then, both in quick succession, a prelude to panic. Then, the tension winds its way out of her shoulders again and she takes a slower, deeper breath, settling down and looking up again.

“I… know who you are, Miss Rowan.” It’s with Rue’s voice and Rue’s ways that she addresses her. Always the Council had been their appellations; title and surname. “I know you know what it’s like to—” Her fingers curl into fists again and she stares down at the floor again, like she might drill holes into it with the intensity of her gaze. “If I don’t find that woman… I’m going to die.”

It’s then that her voice cracks and her composure shatters in a way that even Kara hasn’t seen before. Marlene pulls her hood up again to hide her face as the first tears start to come. “I didn’t ask for this. I didn’t ask for any of this. I just want to go home to my wife.

Lynette takes this all in with a tilt of her head. A thoughtful sound escapes on a sigh as she crosses one leg over the other. "A bad situation all around," she says. An understatement. "I'm not sure how I feel about finding this woman to use her blood when it sounds like she was as unwilling a participant as you were. However. That doesn't mean there isn't a way. We can seek her out and ask her opinion on the matter and we can always look for another way to stabilize you. But I think we must begin with the pair of you telling me whatever you can about this institution and what they did. The more knowledge I have, the less likely I need to bring you two into the hunt."

There's an assumption in there that they would not like this shadowy organization of experimenting kidnappers to find them.

"Do you, either of you, need a place to stay? This is a secure facility and I can promise your safety inside these walls. We have a… private floor for non-clients." Unconventional clients, anyway.

The mention of seeking the unnamed girl out for her blood brings Kara to look away, expression clouding. She almost says nothing at all, but she manages a thin, "She probably can't be found. She's on the run, and who knows when she'll stop. It's… you'd need more luck than to find a needle in a haystack." For a moment longer, she avoids looking at either of them, then slides an apologetic glance to Rue.

After all, she's the reason Taylor rabbited.

Even if she hadn't told the whole story behind it.

Looking back to Lynette, Kara's stoicism is quick to return. "I don't know much, and what I do know is messy enough. I'm from Providence, and…" Her tongue presses against the back of her teeth as she considers holding it, finally shaking her head. "This group of old Vanguard worshippers turned over a 'new leaf'," this said with airy doubt, "calling themselves the Sentinel now. They had contacts to a group Shedda who…"

A corner of her mouth draws back as she lays out the inference, "Still isn't the group that Marlene ran afoul of, and may not even be the group that first had the girl, given it sounded like Wolfhound shut them down." Kara slides her hand out of her pocket to dip her hand inside her jacket and slide free a photograph hidden inside it. A younger woman with dark curls sits in a medical gown, gaze down on an IV coming from her tanned arms. She looks tired, slumped. Lively, she could seem an entirely different person— but enough can be seen of her features to build a basic profile.

"On the offchance you could somehow… find her." Kara offers, holding the photograph out. As for the answer to Lynette's last question, she shakes her head for herself, looking to Rue for the answer on her part.

Marlene takes the time it takes Kara to help explain the situation to wipe her face and keep steadying her breath. “My place is… It’s crawling with roaches, and someone’s been sniffing around, looking for me.” Slowly, she lifts her gaze back to Lynette again. “If you have someplace for me… I’d appreciate it.”

Her head bobs up and down a few times as she seems to consider something. “I used to— When I arrived here, I was, ah…” There’s a glance up to Kara, as if to ask how honest she should be right now. When the older woman gives her an affirmative nod, she turns back to Lynette and continues with more confidence. “When I crossed over, I was with a friend. We… We pretended to be who we are here so we could get to safety and not arouse suspicion.”

She will conveniently leave out the fact that Erica Kravid murdered the person who questioned her identity. “But because of our situation, we didn’t know who to trust. If we could trust anyone. What if we got thrown into some laboratory and dissected to find out how we managed to do the impossible?” It’s complicated, but not unfathomable. While Marlene knows it was nothing to do with who they were, and everything to do with what they were working on, and what happened with the Mallett Device at that same moment, she doesn’t trust that the government of this world would have believed it. After all, Arthur Petrelli wouldn’t have.

“We wound up with the Institute remnant, before Wolfhound took them apart. And after that, I was sent away to undergo the Gemini process.” A shudder again runs through Marlene’s frame. “The man who sent me there thinks I’m dead. I was told if I wanted to keep on living, I needed him to continue to believe that. And that I had to convince everyone that I’m your Rue Lancaster.”

That is the part of the story she relishes least, and there is no part of her tale that she actually likes. “Because I can’t find that woman,” she points to the picture Kara offered up, “the people who did this to me won’t help me.” Marlene shakes her head, shrinking up small again, expression frightened. “If they find out I’m even talking to you about any of this…”

"I never do rely on luck. I'll give it a try, at the very least." Lynette is in no way promising success. It's an occupational hazard. She can promise to try, to do her best, but success is often an unknowable beast. Elusive.

But as Kara explains the background, something in her words alarms Lynette. She swallows, schools her expression and nods firmly. She's traveled enough worlds, though, to worry over the combination of Vanguard and Sentinel. But she doesn't speak, not until she's taken the photograph and given it a long look.

"It seems like you two have had an interesting time," she says, letting out a sigh. "Marlene, you can stay here as long as you need to. I'll show you the entrances to the top floor and let you pick a space you're comfortable with whenever you're ready. If you're worried about going out or going out alone, we have a lot of resources set up to handle that." She lowers the picture to her lap, looking over at Marlene. "I crossed over, too. You're not alone here. And the people who did this to you? They will never know you came to me or that we talked about this. This… Gemini process… I will be quiet while I dig around. They will never know." That much is a promise. "If there's an answer, a fix? We'll figure it out."

Kara was expecting honesty from Rue Lancaster. She was even encouraging of it.

She hadn't expected quite that much of it.

Her expression blanks well beyond poker at the words crossing over, but it's too late to take them back. Much, much too late, and even then, Marlene keeps going with her story. It's necessary context, but it just—

Kara tucks away the photo again, her heart pounding in her chest. All of Marlene's spoken fears about being outed are versions of silent ones she's long-held, struggled against. And it's only when Lynette shares her circumstances that Kara blinks again, that she breathes again, looking her way with an upward tick of her brow.

Winding back through the rest of what's been said, her mouth belatedly pulls back in a one-sided frown before smoothing it over. "The Kara Prince that was here is dead. In Providence, that's not so much an issue. News travels, hits differently out there." And while that's true, it's not the entire reason. "I don't want to push my luck by spending too much time in the Safe Zone. I… quit doing all the things I used to, traveling with the farmers to Red Hook Market and so on, and…"

She finds herself rubbing the side of her neck with a sigh. It's uncomfortable to talk about her own situation in any respect. But looking back to Marlene, it's plain to see she has some relief, that she's glad this wasn't all for nothing. "The agreement I came to with Sharrow was that 'nothing earns nothing', so, returning empty-handed will be a disappointment to the Sentinel, but not suspicious."

Or so Kara hopes.

"If there's anything I can do to help, to move around and chase down leads, my absence would be understood," she goes on. Her eyes flit downward for just a moment, voice even as she looks out over the room at nothing in particular. "I've… been through a lot lately."

Marlene nods mutely. There’s a relief there and a surprise to learn that Lynette crossed over as well. That isn’t something she managed to learn as she studied this world, and her counterpart’s place in it. Her expression is stony, but her eyes scan Lynette’s face, her person, then drift to Kara. She hadn’t revealed her own crossing, because it wasn’t hers to reveal, but she nods to her when she speaks of her own difficulty.

“I’ve done things I haven’t wanted to do,” Marlene admits. “You’re liable to hear about them sooner or later, if you start digging, so I may as well be honest. I’ve… I can’t take it back.” She shakes her head, looking small and helpless. Like Rue did all those years ago. “I just wanna live.” It’s all Rue had wanted then, too.

"Well, Kara. This is a safe place for you, too, if you ever need it. Our troubles are unique even among a world of extremely unique troubles. And since we're all supposed to be quiet about it— " although, clearly, Lynette considers that a very loose binding indeed, "— we only have each other when we need to speak plainly. So when you're here in the Safe Zone, you're always welcome."

There is something that causes Lynette to sigh, though, and she regards Kara for a long moment. "If I may offer a piece of advice? Put some distance between yourself and the Sentinel. I've seen what they are capable of and… what they do to those they work with. If they're in Providence, I suggest you all get them out if you can." She does her best not to show her own fear, her own anger, but there is a firmness in her words and a heavy swallow before she turns to Marlene.

"Alright. I'll keep in mind that I might hear unflattering things. But ideally, I won't be bringing you up to anyone at all. What you've done to survive, you'll have to live with it. I find that to be a fairly heavy punishment myself. If it's too much? I have people here who can help and who are discrete." It is the purpose of the building, whatever she might hide behind the curtain. "And if we find a way to treat you, I can see if I can find you somewhere safe. What you do with your life from there will have to be your decision." Good or bad.

Lynette likes to believe in the good.

Kara's eyes flicker for a moment at the warning Lynette has to offer regarding the Sentinel. It seems she has a unique view on them, one perhaps only someone who's seen another version of reality could have. So, it's tightly that she nods, the advice well-taken. "I've stated my grievances about them before. This, really, is the final nail for me. After I get home, I'll see if we can't get them driven out entirely." With a small shake of her head, she focuses on Lynette more clearly. "And— thank you for the offer. If I ever run into any… unique issues, I'll know who I can commiserate with. But so long as I'm … well, so long as we are able to be left alone out in Providence, the rest of us who are from elsewhere as much as everybody else, I don't think that'll be an issue."

She settles a hand on Rue's shoulder in a gesture of comfort. Those who've been wrent from their own reality, they've all had to do their share of things they might regret at one point or another. At least, that's the way Kara sees it.

Marlene nods her head to Lynette’s words about the choices she’ll make going forward. Then, she lifts a hand to rest over the one Kara places on her shoulder, grateful for the show of support.

“I still might spend some time out in Providence with Kara,” Marlene says softly. “I haven’t been out of the city for a while, and it’d be nice to just… feel like myself for a little bit.” She can do that in Providence. She’ll be able to do that within the walls of Benchmark. But once she steps outside those doors, she has to be Rue Lancaster again. Not… herself, but that Rue. “I hope that’s alright.”

"My doors are open, if you ever need them," Lynette says to Kara, leaving the invitation open. "And if the Sentinel won't leave quietly, if you need support— " That word suddenly has a different context. A militaristic one. She trusts Kara to understand the difference. "— let me know."

She knows several people who wouldn't mind another chance at them, if they decide to be… uppity.

"Marlene, you're allowed to come and go however you need or want to. I'll look into things from here and when you're in town we can touch base on any progress. It might be good to spend some time… out of Rue's range, shall we say. Not that there's much risk of seeing her here, but out there," she says with a nod toward the window. Rue is among those people she hopes come through the doors one day, but knows that until she decides to, a place like the Benchmark is easier to ignore than acknowledge.

Perhaps one day.

"By the time you come back into the city, I'll have a space for you here and— with any luck— some information."

The offer for support, the promise of it, brings Kara to nod once gratefully. "It's much appreciated, Lynette. I can't tell you… how much of a relief this is. I knew this would be a safe place, but I never anticipated you'd be in the same situation as us. That you'd be able to understand all the challenges here as well as you do."

Her brow furrows just a touch for a moment before she gives a small smile. "Thank you."

Marlene nods her head mutely, signifying that Kara’s put into words just what she herself was thinking. “Thank you, Miss Rowan. Truly.

“Thank you.”

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