Impossible Puzzles


odessa_icon.gif richard_icon.gif squeaks_icon.gif

Scene Title Impossible Puzzles
Synopsis Where there are either no answers, or those answers only lead to more questions.
Date January 30, 2019

=Secure Facility, outside Kansas City Missouri

Secure Facility
Somewhere near Kansas City, MO

If there’s ever anything good to be said about being quarantined, it’s that it gives you time to wonder about everything. It’s not for everybody, of course, but it works out just fine for Squeaks. Wondering about things leads to questions, and there’s never too many of those to be spent. Not that she’s ever found at least.

It’s how she’s spent the last couple of days. Since all the poking and prodding has been done and over and she’s been free to wander far and wide, she’s done a lot of walking and thinking. And puzzling.

Her route is usually random, maybe passing through the dining hall and meandering into one of the common areas set up for recreation then veering down so she tucks briefly through the medical wing. Today it’s taken her through a variety of different hallways, all ones she figures she’s allowed through since there’s nothing saying she can’t. And while caught up in wondering about unknown experiments Squeaks has found herself back in the housing part of the compound. And actually in front of Des’ door.

Without giving thought to the why of it, she stops and knocks.

At the knock on the door, Odessa lifts her head from where it had been resting upon Richard’s shoulder. She flashes a worried glance in his direction, always on edge that the next knock will be the one where she’s told she’s going to be taken into custody.

Liberty Island awaits.

Getting to her feet, Odessa rises from her seated position on her couch and goes to the door. Taking a deep breath, she rests her hand on the handle for a moment before she turns it and opens the door. The sight on the other side is a welcome one. “Jac!” Odessa’s smile is genuine. “Come on in.”

Just about half-way to his feet, the discovery of who it is has Richard dropping right back down to the couch, jean-clad legs stretching out in an easy sprawl. “Hey, kiddo,” he offers over warmly, a grin curving to his lips, “How’s the hero of the day holding up? I know quarantine can be boring as shit…”

If he didn’t have so many people to catch up with, he’d probably have snuck out by now.

“Hi,” Squeaks offers to Des, along with a small, brief grin. She starts into the room, but pauses just in the doorway when Richard speaks up. She looks a little surprised and almost backs up instead, but she looks up at Des again and wanders further into the room.

“Everyone keeps calling me that,” she wonders out loud. Her shoulders shrug after it’s said and she makes herself a perch at the foot of the bed. “Quarantine is way boring. I was just walking and thinking and…” Then she knocked on Des’ door. The teen shrugs, like that explains all of it.

“I always appreciate your company,” Odessa assures, briefly resting her hand on the younger girl’s shoulder. “I don’t get too many visitors, after all.” She’s disconnected from the majority of the others in quarantine. Most either know exactly who (and what) she is, or don’t know this version of her. The result is the same - it keeps people away. Or gives them no incentive to come looking. It’s a horse apiece.

“You really came through for us. That’s why you’re the hero. There aren’t many people who could do what you did. Especially under that kind of pressure.” Odessa squeezes Squeaks’ shoulder gently. “You did great and we appreciate you.” Her hand drops back to her side. “So, what’s on your mind?”

“You might not want to cop to it, but you might well have saved everyone - you thought damn quick, and didn’t hesitate,” Richard offers over, hands spreading to either side, “So get used to it.”

He brings his chin up in an easy nod, “Yeah, what’re you thinking about, kiddo?”

Instead of arguing the point — and she’s not really sure what cop to it even means — Squeaks relents with a light huff of breath. “There’s lots,” she explains for what’s on her mind. “Things I don’t know about yet because… because I haven’t looked yet. Or in the right places?” Is there a right place to look?

She folds her hands in her lap, but the toes of her shoes tap-tap together lightly. It takes a few seconds for the girl to decide what she wants to know first. “What… What’s Project Gemini?” She looks from Richard to Des once then again, trying to read both grown-ups at the same time.

There’s a strong part of Odessa that wants to tell Squeaks just never you mind about Project Gemini. She’s just a kid, after all. She doesn’t need to add worries like that to her life. But at the same time, those worries are a part of her life. And if Odessa had been in her shoes, she’d have wanted to know as well.

Odessa’s shoulders sag a bit, like admitting defeat in this argument against herself. She turns to Richard, worry briefly visible in her eyes. “Go ahead.” Then she motions for Squeaks to come join her as she takes a seat back on the couch.

It’s a question that has Richard’s brows raising sharply, gaze cutting to Odessa - and then back to Squeaks. His lips purse for a moment, and then he offers, “I’ll tell you what little I know, but… you’re going to have to tell us where you even heard about it.”

He brings one hand up to brush reassuringly over Odessa’s shoulder, “It’s— well, I don’t have a lot of data on it. It was a project meant to instill abilities in someone, like the Company’s old process did. We have some reason to suspect it’s ongoing with the remnants of the Institute.”

“From a slice to a not-slice.” Squeaks fills in what she already knows about the project. She scoots forward to sit on the floor criss-cross style in front of Des and Richard. Her head tilts to one side as she looks up at them. “It's in papers I found. At Fort Hero. There… was stuff about me I guess.” She isn't guessing, though, she knows that some of those papers were about her.

“There's stuff about Cindy.” The girl’s eyes tick over to look at Des for a second. “And some experiment things that… I was in. Like Project Gemini.”

“Jesus,” Odessa whispers under her breath without meaning to. With a small frown, she shakes her head, lifting her voice again. “We don’t know if that means they were trying to give you powers, or if they were trying to give your power to someone else. It all depends on what they knew about you when you were little.

“What did you find out about Cindy?”

“Ah.” Richard’s brow knits a little, “What she said, it could go either way… projects like that need as many evolved as they can to look at, to examine, to work with.” The word experimentation goes unspoken. “We don’t really have a lot of details.”

A glance to Odessa, and back, “What else was in those papers?”

“She… she’s somehow part of Project Icarus.” Squeaks offers the information with a little hesitation. She’s watching Des and Richard carefully, trying to pick what she can from their reactions. “She did that in… I don’t know. Early. Early 2000s. And she was in jail because of Pinehearst but they lost her in 2010. There were riots and… maybe she escaped or something?”

Her mouth twists slightly to one side and she squints a little bit. “She… Cindy was…” More hesitation, and a vaguely uncomfortable look shifts the teen’s features from remembering to avoidance. “Um… She was a surrogate. I’m from in… in-vitro… fertilization.” She knows those words, she’s looked them up a few times since learning that bit about herself.

“And there’s nothing wrong with that,” Odessa is quick to assure. She spent decades believing she was the product of some test tube science experiment and it did terrible things to her. She tucks a strand of her blonde hair behind her ear after a turn of her head back and forth shakes it loose.

“Maybe Richard can look into the riots?” She glances to the man at her side, brows lifted. “Maybe there’s a trail. Something that could help us figure out where Cindy went.”

“No, nothing at all,” Richard shakes his head in agreement with Odessa, “I know quite a few people who— well, were probably born in the same fashion. Icarus was a very… wide-ranging project, both before and after the Company got a hold of it.”

He frowns, then, “Cindy. Do you have a last name? Do you know where she was being held?”

“Morrison. But I don’t know if that’s her real name or…” Squeaks pauses to shift her shoulders and shrug. “I don’t know. Maybe there’s a different name. She was at um… at Rikers. She was… Maury Parkman was making her do things there. But I don’t know what. Or why.”

Tucking her hands under her feet, she looks up at Richard and Des. Her shoulders bounce with another shrug.

“Someone knows something,” Odessa assures. There has to be someone left alive that knows the mystery of Cindy Morrison. Hands clasp in her lap and she looks down at them pensively, a thoughtful frown forming on her face.

Then she lifts her head with a quiet gasp. “Corbin! Corbin Ayers. He worked in the archives. If the Company had information on Cindy Morrison, he’s the one who might remember, or know where to begin.” Short of resorting to Sabra Dalton.

“Cindy Morrison. Right.” Richard brings a hand up to scrub over his face, admitting, “I have some questions for Ms. Morrison myself, although I suspect she doesn’t know the answers anymore…”

His hand drops, and he looks to Odessa, “Ayers? Maybe; could be that he remembers something, at the very least. Or— “ He grimaces, “We could see if Bennet knows anything, but he’s slippery at the best of times.” Also, supposedly dead.

“I know Corbin. I’m going to be working with him and… everyone with the internship thing.” Squeaks squints a little, then, “Maybe I could find things at SESA, since they have all the files about people.” She hasn’t said, but that’s how she learned about Project Gemini. And about Cindy’s disappearance

So it’s possible there’s things that weren’t revealed.

“But you don’t really know anything about the Gemini thing?”

“Project Gemini wasn’t part of my purview in my tenure with the Institute.” Which may have been a source of frustration for Odessa, given her proclivities and background. Her lips press together in a thin line, thoughtful for a moment. “I wish I knew more. I’d love to be able to answer your questions and help you make sense of things. I… I know what it’s like not to know.”

Not knowing is a source of pain for Odessa. She’s always subscribed to the notion that knowledge is power.

“It might not be something that Corbin’s necessarily told SESA all about,” Richard notes in wry tones, “So I’d talk to him privately about it, just in case. We all have secrets from those days.”

He leans back a bit, head tilting to look at the ceiling with a frown, “No, I don’t, but it’s something I want to know. If you find anything out— “ Back over to the teenager, “Let me know. I’ll do the same.”

“Okay.” The absence of information might be a disappointment, but it’s a small one and easily accepted. Squeaks can’t make the grown-ups know things that they don’t know. She even nods after a short second, both accepting they don’t have information and agreeing to Richard’s offer.

She stays sitting on the floor in front of them, even though she doesn’t have anything else to ask about the Gemini thing. Fingers fidget with the short-napped carpet, and after a minute or two she tilts her head to one side so her eyes can peek up at Des and Richard.

“Do you know… do you know about another project?” Squeaks’ eyes squint a little bit, maybe trying to see the answer before she fully asks the question. “Do you know what… what Project Umbra is?”

“Project Umbra?” That elicits a confused look from Odessa, who shakes her head slowly. “No, I’m sorry. That’s a new one to me entirely.” She isn’t sure if she’s surprised by all the projects she was kept in the dark on or not. At the time, it felt like she’d had her fingers in every important pie. But that’s exactly how they wanted her to feel. It’s how the Company kept her complacent for so long.

Odessa sighs. “Do you know anything more than the name?”

“Same,” Richard admits with a furrowing of his brow, “There were a lot of code-named projects back then, though, I’m not surprised I haven’t heard of all of them… I can ask Ruby, I suppose.”

A brow twitches upwards, “Yeah, what Des said?”

“It's… it's like when you get a shot so you don't get measles or something.” Squeaks frowns a little, wondering if there's more she remembers. But it seems not, because after a minute she hitches her shoulders with a shrug. “It's like that. Like I can't get something anymore because of it. Umbra is something about darkness, or shadow maybe?”

The girl gives herself another couple of seconds to think, then shakes her head. “Who's Ruby?”

“A vaccine?” Odessa’s brows knit, lips pressing together as she considers. She certainly worked on projects like that, but nothing called Umbra so far as she recalls. For whatever her recollection is actually worth.

As for Ruby, her gaze falls on Richard for that answer.

“Simon’s wife,” Richard says, nodding ever so slightly to Odessa, “She wasn’t heavily involved, but… she might know some things.” A frown, then, as he looks back to Squeaks, “Hrn. Good to know, but— no, I haven’t heard of it. I’ll keep an ear out.”

The fact that there was some sort of vaccination makes him even more ill at ease, a worried look slanted back to the older of the two women in the room.

“Vaccine, yes.” The little bit of hope that she might learn something new about it flickers away. Squeaks sighs and nods just the same. There wasn’t any information when she first learned about it either. “Okay. Um… I guess that’s all.” At least for right now.

She looks up at Richard and Des. “Thank you. Um. Is Ruby… is she someone I could talk to?”

Odessa dearly wishes she had more answers for Squeaks. The disappointment that she can’t give her more is written on her face. “You’re welcome to sit with us as long as you’d like, Jac.” They’re friends after all. Des wants to be accessible for more than just questions with no good answers.

Richard’s look is returned. She hopes he’ll be able to dig into it more. “That would be nice.” She wishes she could have a chance to speak to Ruby herself, but for vastly different reasons.

“Maybe,” Richard admits, “I’ll talk to her, for now— you should absolutely talk to Corbin, and I’ll see what I can find more about those projects.” A wry almost-smile, “There’re a lot of them out there, unfortunately. Let’s hope it’s just a vaccine against something that doesn’t even matter anymore.”

Because they’re that lucky.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License