Halls & Doors


hall_icon.gif squeaks5_icon.gif

Scene Title Halls & Doors
Synopsis Agent Hall reaches out following Jac's attempted abduction.
Date February 1, 2021

The Raytech campus is currently under silent lockdown.

There are no klaxons blaring, no alarms flashing, but the heightened sense of security leaves a palpable feeling of dread in the air. Inside of guest quarters within the residential building, Jac Childs sits on an unfamiliar sofa in front of an unfamiliar electric fireplace, soaking in that warmth in the trappings of an eco-brutalist designed living space. There’s as much concrete as there is green here, and that reminds her of Praxia. It’s strange how much Adam and Richard have in common at least in so much as aesthetics are concerned.

The sound of the apartment door opening comes with a little spillover conversation from outside, though none of it is clear enough to understand. The woman who comes through the door, dressed head-to-toe in black, is familiar to Jac from the altercation a few hours ago. Agent Hall, Department of the Exterior.

Raytech Industries Corporate Housing
Raytech Industries Campus
Jackson Heights

February 1st
10:22 pm

“How you holdin’ up, kiddo?” Agent Hall says in her most awkward hello fellow kids tone of voice, dark brows shooting up toward her hairline.

It's funny how things so far apart and different can be really similar. With her eyes closed, Jac could almost believe she was back in her small apartment in Praxia. The smell is wrong — the eastern seaboard is nothing like the west coast — but this room they've put her in brings those memories into sharper focus. The small details still stand out in her mind: the television that went mostly unused just there instead of a fireplace, and over there by the door was the shelves with books chosen for her and the padding and practice sword she used almost every day, and the small balcony that overlooked the bay…

The murmur of conversation plucks the teen out of her memories. Her eyes blink open, as if startled out of a half sleeping state, and it's possible she had been half sleeping as she explored the rabbit hole of her life some fifteen or so months ago. But with the warm fire and the general quietness she'd been left with after the evening's events, who could blame her for dozing off?

It leaves her feeling vaguely and briefly disoriented. As she turns in her seat to confront the door — or rather the person coming through it — reality drives right back in like a long-haul truck with bad brakes.

"My phone is below forty-percent," Jac answers as she tries to rub the remaining muzzy feeling away through her eyes. Her phone is really the least of her worries. "I'm okay though. Kind of hungry and I have some rug burn and bruises…" She pulls her legs up to sit criss-cross on the sofa. Her demeanor implies that those probably aren't concerning either, especially when she's watching the agent with a mix of suspicion and wonder. "What's going on out there?" That's closer to what the teen is interested in.

“Police work.” Hall answers quickly, stopping halfway between the entrance and where Jac sits by the fire. A little more than conversational space, but she seems comfortable with it. “The man who tried to grab you is in custody, but he’s unresponsive. We’re going to try and get whatever we can out of him. The woman that was with him escaped somehow.”

Slowly, Hall ventures a few steps closer to Squeaks, one brow raised. “Do you mind if I ask you some questions? It’s usually what we’re supposed to do in this sort of situation, once you’ve had time to settle in but before shock jumbles up your memories.” She takes a few more steps closer, hands folded behind her back as she walks. “It’ll help us figure out what the hell happened.”

Police work is probably the most expected answer with how Jac nods like she entirely understands how it's all supposed to go. She keeps her seat, legs folded and hands tucked in her lap, still watching Agent Hall with no effort to hide it. Her brows furrow slightly, and one shoulder hitches up a little bit.

“What happened was I almost got kidnapped again,” the teen says of the obvious. It's voiced without malice or sarcasm, made as matter of fact. “Why, though…” That's what she wants to know. The teen leans forward some, looking up at Agent Hall as she creeps closer. “Can I ask questions if I answer yours?”

“Sure,” Hall says without any hesitation. She takes that as an invitation to walk in a little more, still keeping her hands behind her back in the way someone browsing at a jewelry store might, so as to keep people from worrying if she’s going to try and steal something.

“Sounds like you’ve got a lot of value,” Hall admits with a subtle incline of her head. “I read your file between here and there. You’ve been in the orbit of a lot of influential people. I mean, your mom alone has her whole history with the Ferrymen and bringing down a corrupt government. That’s not even considering how you chose to spend your last summer vacation.” Hall cracks a smile, trying to make light of the serious topic of Praxis and Adam.

“Why do you think?” Hall asks, one brow raised.

“You read my file?” Jac asks, openly wondering what all has been written about her. “That doesn’t count for my questions,” she adds after a beat. Just in case there’s a limit or someone is keeping count. The teen’s eyes squint slightly as she watches Hall meander around, vaguely suspicious but in an inquisitive way.

After a beat, she lifts a shoulder, shrugging and looking briefly unsure. “I… really don’t know. My mom chose to adopt me. I… ended up in Praxia because… because I was trying to find out about where I came from.” Jac pauses and chews on the inside of her lip, actually taking a minute to wonder about the question, about who’s influential and how she managed to slip into their bubbles.

“I ask a lot of questions.” That answer sounds more like a question, and reddish eyebrows raise over blue eyes in uncertainty. “Not just to people, but… I research. Investigate. That’s… really how I’ve met most people I know.”

“That’s why you were good at the whole agent trainee thing, up until you made the government really scared about that.” Hall admits with a pump of her brows. She relaxes some, posture less tense, and makes her way over to the sofa, settling down on the arm. “You did what was right for you. That takes gumption, kid.”

Hall crosses one leg over the other, then folds her hands on one knee. “But yeah you have like a four inch thick file. It comes with the territory of being the byproduct of not only a Company eugenics program but the child of one of the most notorious historical figures since they started writing that stuff down.”

“That might be why you were targeted, too.” Hall suggests. “You have a, uh, pedigree. You know? That’s the only differentiator I can see between you and say, Gabriella, for instance. She lives alone, I think. Would’ve been an easy target for them to go after. But they went after you, in the middle of Raytech. That’s a conscious risk.”

“I never told secrets, and I thought I was helping stop a quasi-god from destroying the world.” Jac’s mouth hitches up at one side, not exactly a grin because there isn't really humor in it, but there's something of understanding in the expression. There's irony, now, in how she ended up helping one megalomaniac try to destroy another. “You'd think some of that would count toward keeping me in the program.”

Her comment is a passing one. She’s moved on from mourning about the decision. There's no bitterness in the observation and her words could even almost be conversational if she weren't briefly distracted by trying to estimate the distance of four inches.

The teen’s blue eyes peer at Agent Hall through the space made between her thumb and forefinger as the agent continues.

“Gabriella…” Jac’s hand lowers and her shoulders lift, shrugging. “I don't really know. She says she was non-expressive before…” But somehow the girl doubts that's true, and besides Nova also claims to have not manifested.

She also recognizes that Agent Hall is right. How many others live alone or work somewhere less secure than Raytech? A good number of those involved also have more obvious status in society. So why her? Unless it has to do with her time in Praxia and Adam’s scheme.

“There's… something else that makes me different. I don't know how anyone else would know, but…” Jac glances toward the door, thinking and weighing during the brief pause she takes. “I think I’m the only one with it,” she finishes, looking up at Hall.

Hall looks up at Jac from a distant point in the room, adjusts her glasses, and slowly sits forward. Whatever she was going to say is stuffed down for the obvious question. “And what’s that?”

For a moment, Jac hesitates over answering. In silence she watches Hall, studying the woman. It's possible that not everything that happened in Praxia was disclosed. Or it was missed in the four inches of file. The teen lets out a slow breath, offering her answer at the end of it.


Hall’s brows rise slowly, her expression shifting, as if she were expecting something else. “That ol’ gem,” she says with an easy smile. “You’re probably right. Though the bigger question is why aren’t there any gemini markers in your system.” It would seem the file Hall read was much more detailed than presumed. “But maybe they’re trying to solve that too.”

Exhaling a sharp huff of breath, Hall sits forward on the arm of the sofa, folding her arms across her lap as she does. “I want you to know we’re going to make sure that doesn’t happen again. I need you to trust me, and to make sure you contact me or anyone else in the Department of the Exterior or SESA if you see anything suspicious.”

“I know the government isn’t your favorite people right now, but…” Hall looks Jac up and down. “Please.”

“There aren't…” Jac frowns as she tries to understand what that means. No markers. “And… they're just gone. Just like… just like what made us expressive?” Is that even possible?

She catches herself staring at Hall after a beat, still frowning, when the agent continues. Which fits just as well with her confusion lingering from the first response. “I didn't even see anything when they tried earlier,” she points out. “How… okay, but…”

Jac huffs a breath and shakes her head. It doesn't do much to sort her thoughts. It's a lot to process, especially after being almost kidnapped. “Look, it's… what if…” Trailing off, the teen takes a second to take a breath and gather her thoughts. “What if you let me help instead of just… instead of… Please, you've read my file, you know I'm capable…”

Hall looks away, down to the floor, then back up to Jac. “Look,” she says the way Jac’s heard most of her life, usually followed by you’re just a kid. “If you die on my watch, because I let you help, I’m hung out to dry.” Hall says with a rise of her brows, spreading her hands. “But it isn’t my call, either. You. Helping.”

Sliding off the arm of the sofa, Hall stands up and smooths out the back of her slacks. “I can’t tell you to take care of this on your own, and I think it’s a bad idea if you do. But did I listen to adults when I got told things were a bad idea?” She shrugs. “Not really.”

“Whose call is it.” Jac drops her feet to the floor and scoots forward to sit on the edge of her seat. “Maybe they'll give me a chance to prove myself again.” Her head tilts up to look at Hall, and a second later she stands, too. “I mean… I know I made a mistake. But…”

Turning slightly, Jac casts a glance at the door. “I'd rather work together.” It's as close to outwardly admitting she may very well approach the kidnapping attempt on her own as she’s willing to go. She turns back and looks up at Hall again. “It's risky either way.”

“You don’t wanna deal with whose call it is,” Hall says with a shake of her head, crossing her ankles back and forth nervously. “Trust me, I’ve been inside his head,” she says with a tap of two fingers against her temple, “and he’s not sunshine and rainbows up top. Just…” she makes a noise in the back of her throat.

You do you,” is Hall’s completely helpless advice. “You’re not my responsibility, but take it from me that this sort of stuff never ends well. For anyone. You’re a smart kid, you’ve been handed a shit deal, and you aren’t gonna find any treasure by sticking your arm elbow-deep in the same pile.”

Jac’s brows knit vaguely at the answer she's given. A couple of names come to mind that fit that description, and she's never even been inside anyone’s head except her own. But after a beat her curiosity wanes and her shoulders rise and fall slowly with what she believes is indifference. It's not the first time she's ever faced a locked door. “I am doing me.” Which sometimes involves trying and trying again in spite of the obvious results.

But this time, Jac leaves it to marinate and pick at some other parts of the stew. “So my other questions,” she begins as she hooks an arm behind her back with a hand. Her head tilts, eyes wandering to the door. “Do you know who those two are?” The young woman looks at Hall and takes a breath. She's got more. “Whose responsibility am I, and did you know they were going to try to kidnap me?”

“I don’t.” Hall says as a blanket answer to all of the questions. She looks down at her lap, picking a piece of lint off of her slacks. “I was supposed to meet with Mr. Ray tonight, it was luck that I happened to be here in the right place at the right time. As for your attackers,” she shrugs, shaking her head. “News to me. But I’m sure SESA will have answers, it’s their investigation.”

Sliding off the arm of the couch, Hall comes to stand again. “You’re going to be okay,” she says emphatically. “No matter what comes of all of this, Jac, there’s a lot of people looking at for you. And as for who you’re responsible to?” Hall smirks. “Kid, nobody tells me nothing.”

“Do you really not know, or is that your way of dodging the question.” It's not really something Jac expects an answer for, and that's even implied in her tone. She has enough experience to recognize that sometimes — especially with adults like Agent Hall — there won't be many answers. Or the answers given will be those annoying half truths and empty words. At least this time she has somewhere else to start looking.

But more seriously, “Did you have other questions?” Jac sinks into the couch again, eyes lifting to the agent.

“I really don’t know, kid. Like by daddy used to say, not my circus, not my monkeys.” Hall smiles as she says that, though it’s tempered by the seriousness of the situation. Finally, she shrugs and shakes her head. “And no, Jac, I don’t have anymore questions. But you…” she says, pulling a card out of her blazer pocket, leaving it on the arm of the sofa. “If you think of anything, call me. I’ll be here at Raytech for the indefinite future.”

The card, much like one the other DoE Agents have handed out, just has their organization’s seal and the nondescript name “AGENT HALL” above a private phone number.

“Till then…” Hall says with a faint smile. “Keep your chin up. It’ll get better.”

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