Functionally Fractured


elisabeth2_icon.gif richard4_icon.gif squeaks_icon.gif

Scene Title Functionally Fractured
Synopsis Sometimes things crack without breaking all the way through.
Date February 28, 2020

Rooftop, RayTech HQ Detroit

The skyline of Detroit isn't exactly what it was this time last week. With crashed aircraft and the US military rolling into town, it looks a little more like the Safe Zone than anyone is probably very happy with right now. The sky has cleared up, but security at Raytech is significantly heightened and there are people bustling everywhere inside the building. This balcony at the top, covered as it is with vegetation, is one of the most peaceful places around right now.

Elisabeth needs the peace. Everything that happened in Hart Plaza is still disjointed in her mind — images of moments that are in somewhat sequential order but none pleasant. She has questions to which there are no answers, just like everyone else. She has fears unarticulated and worries for the people involved. Much of what she knows is still fractured intel — who died, who was injured. It'll take time to get those reports, and Mike is actually working on finding the information for her. But out here, the thing that has her focus is a lot closer to home. Jacelyn Childs, Squeaks, is someone she has an affection for, and the teen has to be even more confused than Elisabeth herself. And this place is the last one anyone mentioned seeing the girl.

The balcony presents the illusion of less noise and activity while still being within sight of the plaza. It's separate, away from the overwhelming press of everything. It’s where Jac had chosen to go, not to run away or escape, but to catch her breath and regroup.

So far she's only found middling success in catching her breath.

The teen is parked against a vine-covered trellis that marks the entrance of the balcony. Tears have cut fresh tracks through blood and grime, though none currently fall. Seated cross-legged, she rubs a thumb over what's left of her sword as if it were a worry stone. When Liz first steps near, Jac’s eyes are locked in distant focus on something unseen.

But after a second, the girl looks up. Hope sparks like a newly lit match, then gutters like a spent candle. Plainly, the audiokinetic isn't who she was hoping for — uncertainty still looms with all the threat of a storefront as to Gillian, Lene, or Joy’s locations — but a familiar face is accepted with quiet observance.

Richard’s wife isn’t the only one out to check on the girl; he’s been making the rounds as he can over the time since the incident, making sure people are as well as can be expected, trying to lift morale at least a little. The damage and casualties to Raytech itself were minor, but everyone who was there is still a little shellshocked from the situation.

“Hey, kiddo,” Richard greets as the teenager comes into view, a faint smile touching his lips, “How’re you holding up?”

She's sorry to see the hope that dies out in Squeaks' eyes, but Elisabeth's tone is reassuring, "It's going to be okay. They'll be here soon, I'm certain." Glancing toward Richard, she offers a small smile and then moves to lower herself to a squat next to Squeaks. "Can we keep you company for a little while?" If nothing else, maybe they can keep the teen from feeling so terribly alone.

Blue eyes flick past Elisabeth to Richard. Jac sighs quietly, drops her gaze to the broken sword. “If you want to.” Far from dismissive, there's comfort taken from the request. She turns the hilt over in her hands once, twice, then folds it with her arms against her stomach.

“I'm…” The teen hesitates in answering about herself. How is she doing? “I’m okay. Just ready to go.” The last is said on a breath, like she hadn't just experienced being on the precipice to death, didn't just fight a battle against a demon, wasn't wondering where her family is. Like it was just a typical bummer of a day.

“I’m sure she’ll be here soon,” says Richard, reassuringly, “Your mom’s one of the toughest people I’ve ever known. She’s been through more than— almost anyone, really.”

He steps over, easing himself down to sit nearby, one arm draping over a bent knee, “We do want to make sure you’re okay, though. You’ve been through a hell of a lot yourself.”

Permission given, Elisabeth also settles to the ground, cross-legged as she makes up the third point of their little triangle. "You did well," she says softly to the teen. "I have to admit I wish you hadn't had to." She's seen too many teenagers who've been soldiers; it's not something she likes to see. "You might… have some trouble dealing with what you had to do. We just…"

She glances at Richard momentarily and then shrugs, speaking for both of them on this front. "We just wanted you to know that we're here, if you need anything at all." Elisabeth smiles just a little and shrugs slightly.

The oh that Jac offers as a response is more physical than vocal. Her mouth goes through the motions, possibly even erring a little on exaggerated motion with eyebrows raising, but she doesn't give it any sound. Even for a moment after, she doesn't say anything, doesn't seem too driven to ask for anything even interested in talking about what had happened.

The trend continues even when the teen lifts her head enough to look forward instead of down. Except, “Is there cocoa here?” Office buildings usually have coffee for the employees, so maybe this one has cocoa.

“Oh, yeah, there’s definitely— let me send for some,” says Richard, reaching into a pocket to pull out his phone. As he composes a text, he glances up to Jac, back down, up to Elisabeth, back down, back to the teenager. The message is sent off, and then he sets the phone down on his thigh.

“I mean, while you’re here, I was actually looking to talk to you a month ago, but you were in California. Found out some more about Cindy, although I don’t know if you still care about that…”

It's such a normal request — the same kind Aurora would make in the same situation, really — that Elisabeth has to smile. "Hot chocolate is definitely available," she agrees. On some level, the very normality of it relieves her; it's evident in the look she shares with her husband. Squeaks, of all of the group out there, is the one they've worried about the most.

As he brings up Cindy, the blonde merely looks curious — if Squeaks doesn't want to know, she'll have to ask later. But she's curious about something that for now she doesn't bring up.

Even Jac isn't sure what she cares about just now, but she makes the effort to show interest in the subject anyway. As far as she knows it's the last connection to where she came from. With Adam and Joy gone, Claudia ghosting her — besides the fact that her phone was destroyed a few weeks ago thoroughly cutting her off from everything — returning to her hunt for Cindy is the next reasonable step.

“What did you find out?” The teen never did learn much more on her own. That she crossed paths with one of her biological parents seemed to have temporarily satiated the drive to learn more once she was settled in Praxia.

“She was raised as a ward of the Company, I don’t know what happened to her family. The Company had a lot of messes to clean up, so it wouldn’t surprise me if it was something like that,” Richard offers over, hand coming up in a splay of gloved fingers through the air before falling back down again. “She ended up working as an assistant of Colin Price - she was there when they, uh, accidentally made the electric rats.”

Wherever they ended up.

“Colin and Rianna ended up adopting her,” he says softly, “Which… makes Odessa your aunt, roughly speaking. There was legal paperwork drawn up and everything.”

Eyebrows shoot up. "I'm sorry… electric what?" Elisabeth asks, her tone conveying some amount of horror. Rats are bad enough. If exposure therapy is supposed to cure one of fears, living in Virus managed that much — she doesn't quite freak at rats or damp or darkness anymore. But she still isn't a huge fan, either.

And then she smiles just a little. "Odessa will be thrilled to have more family," she tells Jac kindly. "And it sort of makes you cousins with Evie, too — The lady at Benchmark's daughter." She can't remember if Jac has met Lynette.

“There was a food shortage in the Safe Zone,” Jac explains after taking some time to digest the new information. Odessa — Des — is sort of her aunt? “The food was being consumed, kind of like how piranhas consume things, by rats that… they could teleport through electrical currents. There was research about it at Fort Hero.”

Pulling her knees up, with the hilt of her sword still tucked protectively against her middle, the teen lets out a slow breath. “Lady Zeus. She was at the observatory.” Not that she's ever actually talked to Lynette, but, “I've heard about her. She… was part of the Ferry I think? I haven't talked to Des since… maybe a month after the trial. I don't even know if she's still okay.”

“Oh, that’s right, you weren’t back when all that… apparently at some point back in the— early eighties, I think, some of the Formula researchers accidentally made an entire strain of true-breeding rats with electricity-form powers,” Richard grimaces, “I’m not sure how it all got handled, I know SESA was working on it. The kids— “ He motions to Jac, as one of the ‘kids’ in question, “Found them again.”

Elisabeth's face conveys a significant amount of uneasiness about this whole story. Despite being able to not go catatonic or have a screaming fit, she murmurs, "For the love of God, tell me someone managed to get rid of those things?" She is definitely very much less than thrilled. "Or at least tell me where not to go. I … don't think I'd really be doing very well if I run into those things in the dark somewhere." Ick. Just… yeah, NO.

Turning her attention to Jac, the blonde says softly, "Well…. Things with Dessa are always a little complicated," she agrees. The use of 'Lady Zeus' for Lynette does make her smile, though. "'Nette was part of the Ferry, yes." She was also one of Liz's travelling companions for a lot of years, though the whole two people meshed into one is still a bit of a mind-fuckery that Elisabeth doesn't address. Ever. For Aura, Miss 'Nette is an honorary aunt. "As far as I know, Dessa is okay… she's sort of in the middle of legal shenanigans, but …" She shrugs a little. That's Dessa for you.

Jac tilts her head and looks up at Liz, unable to imagine what the issue with rats is. They're gone. “My… Adam took care of them,” she states plainly.

The teen looks away a beat following, back to looking straight ahead. There isn't much of interest there, some things that weathered the winter months without losing their green spiny bits, planters that will likely be filled with flowers and ground-creeping vines. “At least she's okay.”

“She’s back in custody. It’ll work out,” says Richard, assuredly, although there’s a hint of sadness to that; he hopes it’ll work out, but worries perhaps that it won’t. “If they try and pull anything, I can threaten to go public with the bullshit they were pulling at PISEC.”

He brings one hand up to rub against the nape of his neck, grimacing, “Lovely. Well, remind me not to go into the sewers in California ever in my life, then. Praxia’s welcome to them.”

The girl is usually so full of questions and thoughts that Elisabeth has serious concerns right now. She'd like nothing more than to comfort Squeaks, but she's not sure how to do so until Gillian or Lene get here. She hasn't missed the sword hilt that is being cradled so close. It's not exactly unfamiliar to her. Pulling in a low breath, she offers in a mild tone, "She's going to be thrilled, you know. She never really had a family either. She's very lonely sometimes. But.. like you, she built her own from the people she loves." She tips her head. "I'm sorry about what happened to Adam, Squeaks." There's genuine regret, as she murmurs, "None of us maybe agreed on how to handle all this… but I'm sorry that it ended the way it did for him. I'm sorry you lost him."

Her personal feelings aside, she does understand that Squeaks is grieving Adam's loss here.

The teen almost allows for her interest to stir. Scandal with government agencies would be a fine distraction, especially after being so long disconnected with anything back home. And PISEC was a science place, if she remembers right, and hopefully a good place for Des. But those flames are smothered soon after lighting.

Jac doesn't look at Elisabeth or Richard, but any openness she’d had is suddenly closed off. Anger and fear magnify the aloneness she's harbored since discovering that none of her family was in the square and no one knew where any were, if any were alive or dead. And Adam, if only anyone had listened. If everyone had listened instead of being so caught up in only what they thought, her dad included, maybe this would have turned out less terrible. Her chin lifts slightly, lips pressed tightly together. She refuses to let herself cry.

“I'm going to see if my mom’s been found,” she says. It's decided, she needs to move, to not sit here right now. The girl stands and turns in a way that preemptively declines invitation to accompany her. She starts to leave, then hesitates slightly.

“Thank you for your concerns, but I'm going to be okay.” Jac lingers less than a second longer, hand wrapped tightly around the hilt of her broken sword — it matches her, fractured but still functional — then strides purposefully to the way back into chaos.

“Alright.” Richard draws in a slow breath, then exhales a long sigh, watching the teenager start to depart, “Let us know if you need anything, Jac.”

He exchanges a look with Elisabeth, worried but understanding, before moving to push himself up to his feet, reaching down to brush some dirt and dust off his pants.

Elisabeth rises more slowly, her blue eyes following Squeaks. When she meets her husband's gaze, she simply sighs quietly in agreement with his unspoken concerns and walks with him back into the building.

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