Internal Investigations


aria_icon.gif ff_emerson_icon.gif jo_icon.gif monica_icon.gif phoenix_icon.gif tae_icon.gif

Also Featuring:

alice_icon.gif aislinn_icon.gif claudia_icon.gif isis_icon.gif stone_icon.gif

Scene Title Internal Investigations
Synopsis Monica Dawson enlists two powerful postcognitives to help understand what happened to Alice Shaw and Claudia Zimmerman.
Date February 13, 2020

The Clocktower Building

Monica probably should not be standing in the Clocktower Building' reception area. Her security team doesn't look happy about this choice. And typically, people in her position don't wait for company to arrive next to the front door. But one of the people she's expecting is important enough for her to want to see him the moment he walks into the building. The other person she's expecting— well… hoping— has gotten enough rough treatment from her friends that she doesn't think it would be very nice to make him wait, either.

Also, it helps her feel like she's doing something. And right now, in the wake of disaster, she needs to feel like she's doing something. Even if, outwardly, she's calm. Inwardly, she is anything but. It's important to her that the employees and volunteers see her right now. See her working to find out what happened. Working to make sure they're all safe here. To find out what happen to their own.

This is not how she expected her first month of work to go.

“We need to background check guests,” Emerson says softly from beside Monica, arms crossed over her chest and blue eyes angled in a side-long look to the ostensible acting-head of the Deveaux Society. She isn’t going to drive the point home, but the reminder is a firm one. But Emerson is also out of ideas, given what happened on her watch at the building.

“Should I put on tea?” Jo helpfully asks from the other side of Monica, one brow raised. “Because Aria’s doing that pacing thing again and it’s really scary and maybe some tea will calm her nerves?” Big smile. Labrador retriever smile. Emerson leans her head forward, pinching the bridge of her nose with forefingers and thumb.

An accurate background check will be a little trick for Phoenix Dawson, formerly JJ Jones, formerly Jaiden Micah Dawson-Mortlock. The man has managed to get some identification for himself and his shiny new name, with the help of Tasha Renard-Lazzaro, at least. Luckily his AWOL status from FRONTLINE years ago was a point in his favor.

When he enters the room, the man’s striking green eyes sweep the area curiously, before his gaze alights on Monica, and the slight tension the man carries eases a little. Something’s wrong and he knows that much, from both the call for his assistance and a glance at Monica. He’s forgotten almost everything, but some things go deeper than conscious memory.

“Monica,” he says, deep voice soft, by way of greeting. “This is fancy.” He looks suitably impressed. Of course, not long ago, he was living in a dead zone, so it doesn’t take too much to impress him.

"Phoenix is family," Monica says to Emerson's worry, "background checked." She personally hasn't held Emerson accountable for the incidents lately, by the footage the security cameras caught, there was no reason for alarm at the time. But she also hasn't argued too much about the increased security around the building and herself. But when it comes to family, she has to put her foot down.

As for Tae, she doesn't mention his background. She figures if he's mad, he won't come at all. Or if he feels the need for something like revenge… well, perhaps she's just not threatened by him.

"I think we can give Aria some leeway for pacing, yeah?" She looks over at Jo, an eyebrow lifted. However difficult this has been for the three of them, it's so much worse for Aria.

But there's no dwelling on it, because Phoenix makes his way in and she straightens up with a smile. She comes over to greet him with a side hug before she turns to introduce him to the others. "Phoenix, this is Jo and Emerson, my security team. Part of it anyway. Jo, Em, this is Phoenix. Actually, Phoenix, you and Emerson kind of know each other." She starts to explain, ostensibly for his benefit, but also for Emerson's. "You guys were in Frontline together back in the day. He has a memory thing." That's all the explanation her team gets for why she needs to be telling him about his own history.

"Phe, I have a favor to ask, but there's one more person we're hoping will join us, so bear with me?"

JJ,” Emerson says after a moment, to make it look as though she’d forgotten him. “You look so different I…” she smiles, awkwardly. “I guess we’ve all gone through our own special traumas in the intervening decade. I’m— glad to see you’re alive.” There’s a quick, appreciative look from Emerson to Monica and back again. But the surprise in her tone isn’t an act. The Deveaux Society wasn’t even aware that JJ — Phoenix — was alive.

“It is fancy though, isn’t it?” Jo chimes in from the side. “They have those fancy toilets here with the spray— ”

Jo.” Emerson says as she passages her temple with two fingers. Jo grimaces, then smiles, and folds her hands behind her back like a child told to stop touching everything. Emerson then angles a look at Monica with one brow slowly raised. “Wait, who else were you expecting?”

The front doors to the lobby open and in comes a tanned man with cheekbones that could deflect bullets. Tae-hwan Ko seems less frustrated than the last time Monica saw him, restrained in a warehouse on Staten Island. The look he levels to Monica is a flat one, and it is clear there is still some resentment there. “Ms. Dawson,” is Tae’s formal greeting as he steps in, unbuttoning his winter coat to reveal a buttoned up blazer beneath. “Mrs. Nakamura instructed me to attend at your request as a personal favor from her to you.” Kimiko, even when not involved, knows how to involve herself.

The only recognition from Phoenix comes at the word FRONTLINE, of which he’s been given a Cliff’s Notes summary. It’s the least complicated part of his distant past. He smiles, nonetheless, reaching out to offer a hand to shake to each of the women as they’re introduced to him.

“I probably should apologize for bailing on you back in 2011,” he tells Emerson, “but I’ve been told that I shouldn’t feel bad about that.” His eyes are merry and the smirk a little wry.

He turns at the arrival of Tae, giving the man a nod, but one brow lifts curiously at the clear animosity in the man’s demeanor, despite his carefully civil words.

Monica can only give Emerson an innocent smile at her question, especially since the answer walks through the door. "Doctor Ko. Thank you for coming," she says, equally formally. It only lasts a second, though, because the mention of Kimiko brings out a more familiarly relaxed demeanor. "You can tell Kimiko I said she can go fuck herself and her favors," she says, matter-of-factly. And, as if this were completely normal discourse, she claps her hands together, then spreads her arms to indicate the building they're in. "We had an incident here. Some of our leadership was… well, they're missing." That's what she'll say for now. "They were last seen leaving here with some associates who were not what they claimed to be, apparently. SESA is looking into it in their own way, of course. But I wanted to ask the two of you if you would help me look into what happened here. For my own edification. And to help see if we can find them a little faster than the wheels of official… whatever whatever, you know what I'm saying?"

Probably not for revenge. Probably.

"Any information you can read from retracing their steps would be appreciated. If you agree, of course. I'm willing to compensate you both for your time and assistance." She sometimes pays attention to how to sound official. Just sometimes, though.

Emerson offers Monica a side-eye and a subtle clearing of her throat, voicing some small measure of disapproval, but not one that’s vocalized further. She notices the sudden stiffness in Doctor Ko, followed by a visible reticence in his posture.

Tae is silent for a moment, what light there was in his expression drained away. “I’ll be frank,” he says in a stiff tone of voice. “I’m here because I was asked to be someone who has taken me in after I was abducted from my home. By you and your friends.” Tae isn’t pulling his punches since he left Luther’s care. “If you asked me to do this and I did not owe Ms. Nakamura a favor, there is no amount of money you could give me that would put me in your good graces. For all I care, you can get down on your hands and knees with a magnifying glass and solve this yourself.” But then Tae tenses, and slowly exhales a sigh.

“But I was asked,” Tae says, though it feels more like a directive given his feelings on the matter. “So, why don’t we stick to the facts of this until you decide to take a go at this on your own.”

Phoenix finds a place to lean that isn’t in the way of the barbs being tossed. He looks from Monica to Tae and back, before pulling out a cell phone to scroll through so he doesn’t rudely watch the fencing match.

When Tae finishes, the younger man looks back to his mother. He knows she’ll have more to say to Tae, but he simply offers a quiet, “Of course I can.”

He pulls out of his lean, raising himself back up to his full height. “I need something that would have fingerprints on it. Doorknob might work, if they came through the door. Desks. Whatever they would have been touching when whoever took them got here. Might be limited information.” He glances over at Tae. “You a psychometrist too?”

"Okay, let's just remember who you were working for at the time and the fact that you'd just walked us into an ambush that we only survived because the whims of an ancient white dude were in our favor that day. So, be mad all you want, but don't act like it happened without provocation." Monica wasn't entirely in on the kidnapping plan, especially the part where they brought him all the way to New York, but Boom is a team all the same. So she doesn't mind fielding a little of the heat. She also gives a look to Emerson and Jo, because he was not background checked exactly, but also she wants them to be cool. "I don't need to be in your good graces, I just want to find my people. And I will pay you because this isn't a favor, this is a consult."

And with that, she gives a nod to Phoenix at the reminder of his specific needs and she turns to the other two women. "Em, Jo, would you mind taking us through the path they took in and out?" She has the information herself, of course, but she trusts Emerson to know details she probably missed, like where they might have touched a pen or a door or the like. Her hand reaches over to squeeze Phoenix's arm, that and her warm smile passing her thanks rather than any words. Words will come later, but he knows that she is more genuine in action.

“Certainly,” Emerson says as she walks through the lobby. “Ms. Zimmerman left the building, seemingly under her own accord, with Aislin Graves of Raytech and an unknown woman she checked in as her assistant. We’ve run her ID and the identity used was a cover. Since we’ve lost access to the databases, we’re waiting on a response from SESA on the redhead’s identity.”

“They left through those doors,” Emerson points behind Tae, “and came from that elevator that leads to the penthouse. Jo, show them the precise route, like we practiced.”

Jo hops into action, hustling over to the elevator. “So,” she says with a clap of her hands, “Claudia, Alice, Aislin, and Red exited the elevator here.” She begins walking around the back of the security desk. “Past the on-duty receptionist.” Then around its right side and through the lobby. “On this path to the front doors. The doors are automatic, so no one touched them coming in or out.”

Jo stops by the front doors. “There was an SUV from our motorpool waiting for them, one Ms. Shaw had called for in advance.”

Tae watches Jo moving and looks around the foyer, then up to the security cameras that captured all of this. “I can tell you what they were saying,” he says with some confidence, “but that is the extent of my ability’s interface with the past.”

“That may be more helpful when we get upstairs,” Emerson says in response. “Phoenix, do you think you can do anything with this? Or should we head to the elevator?”

Green eyes follow Jo’s path from the elevator, toward the desk, and to the doors. Phoenix glances over to Tae when the other man mentions what he can do, then back to Emerson as she speaks again.

“I could tell you what the receptionist saw if I touch something they touched, but that would be redundant I think,” he says with a small smile, “unless you want a second pair of eyes on it. But I need fingerprints to use my power, and it seems like they just walked in this space.”

He tips his head to the elevator and nods. “If they weren’t wearing gloves, the elevator buttons are a likely bit of information — the one to this floor, and the call button upstairs. The penthouse itself will have information, I’d guess. The most recent memories will come up first, so the door handle at least should have something on it — everything else, it’s a bit of touch and see, whether it’s connected to something relevant or not,” he explains, slowly tugging off his own slim leather gloves as he speaks.

"Also, I want a copy of some of the footage, just enough to see their faces. If this accomplice knows Graves, maybe Richard knows her." Monica has doubts that they both work for Raytech, but she will never fully discount the possibility that Richard is just that unlucky. "I would love to know what they said to make some of the most powerful women on the planet leave without a fuss. And from what I have been told, with full knowledge that they were in serious danger."

She starts for the elevator, not to leave yet, but to be somewhat out of the way for Tae to do his thing. And to be ready to move on when it's Phoenix's turn.

"Did we recover the SUV? Might have more luck with fingerprints there, too." It could be a long shot, but this whole idea is a long shot.

“We did,” Emerson says as they walk to the elevator, “no damage, no signs of a struggle. It’s parked out back in the garage, no one has been inside. We had it towed.”

As Tae walks, he tilts his head to the side, as if listening to something. But otherwise he does not remark on anything up until they reach the elevator. Emerson uses a gloved hand to open the door, which does so in a smooth recession of the doors and a soft chime. Jo puts a foot in the elevator to keep the doors from shutting, allowing for Tae and Phoenix to step in.

“I can hear three women,” Tae says, brows furrowing. Slowly, his eyes begin to cloud over with a milky whiteness and his expression becomes distant and slack.

“While we’re on our way up,” Tae says with a slight falsetto to his voice, “why don’t you two tell me a little bit about project Lattice. I’d be very interested to hear just what it is our old friends at Raytech are up to these days.”

Tae’s head jerks to the side, as if hearing something else. “Of course!” He says in a very obvious Scottish accent. “It's really quite remarkable. I can't take credit for it, unfortunately, it's the brainchild of one Seren Evans. They've cooked up a really interesting plan for a potential renewable energy using algae based on the principles of solar leaf technology.”

“Fascinating,” Tae says without the accent and in falsetto with a jerk of his head back the other way. His brows knit together again, he turns, trying to listen for something, then opens his mouth in silence for a few moments. “Mr. Stone,” he adds in that same voice. “Ms. Zimmerman’s guests are here.”

After that, Tae’s eyes uncloud and he looks around, rubbing his head. “I only… heard two voices. One older woman, stern sounding. The other, much younger, distinctly Scottish.”

“You do accents!?” Jo exclaims in surprise, but then grimaces and goes back to quietly holding the door.

“You mentioned a Mr. Stone.” Emerson says with a look to Tae. “Alice and the guests were met by Alice’s assistant, Zachery Stone, on exiting the elevator in the penthouse. He’s been missing since the incident. He left in a hurry on foot and we haven’t been able to find him. The address we have on file for him was completely empty, it doesn’t look like anyone ever lived there.”

Phoenix stands to watch the little elevator redramatization, his green eyes widening some as he turns to look at Monica, just a shade amused. He clearly wasn’t expecting Tae to break out into the characters of the people he’s seeing in the past.

“I hope you all are not expecting that from me,” he says, smirking at Jo’s delight at hearing the accented voices come out of their reluctant guest. “Abilities are weird, man. The way we do similar things in different ways.”

His ungloved fingers move to lightly touch the button marked L for lobby and the button that holds the door; his other hand reaches out to slide along the edge of the doors as well. His pupils widen, and within their black depths, shadowy figures move as if on rewind, backward through time until they slow and resume, moving forward at normal speed.

Stepping into the elevator, Alice motions with her head for Aislinn and Claudia to follow, as Stone slips away deeper into the Clocktower. “Adam would very much like to see you both,” Alice says without expression or humility.

Aislinn looks at Alice, blinking. "California?" A test? She removes the syringe and ties the cloth around the entry point to try and staunch the bleeding in lieu of a bandage. There's a visible conflict brewing in her. She lets out a sigh and climbs off the couch and to her feet. "What about-" She motions to Claudia, using the body's own hand, as if it were some sort of puppet. Or Weekend at Bernies. "The paralytic has her out and unable to move for a little bit, but not too long."

What looks like Claudia grunts and snaps back around, reaching down to snatch the tablet, with more force than is necessary in one hand. In the other she takes up the uselessly limp ankle of her proper body. It’s at this point that Alice’s and Aislinn’s words reach her ears and Claudia’s blonde head pops up with enough force to cause whiplash. “You aren’t suggesting…” She gives the leg a tug that rocks the unconscious redhead on the floor. “I thought he wanted-”

“I’m not suggesting anything,” Alice says with a smile that doesn’t quite reach her eyes. “You’ve done your jobs admirably, and as it so happens there’s another you’re needed for. I couldn’t have done this without your help. But you won’t be coming back to New York, not for… a little while. Not after all of this reaches its natural conclusion.”

In the shadows of the dimly-lit elevator, Alice’s expression looks at once smug and humorless. “Claudia made the mistake of assuming that the only threats left to assess were those outside of these walls. She assumed that people like you — Shedda Dinu — were a new, external problem that could be researched and mitigated.”

Alice’s smile becomes more self-satisfied. “Claudia was wrong.”

“Claudia was so very wrong,” Alice reiterates. “We were always here.”

Phoenix’s brows draw together. “It was Shedda Dinu, and it was an inside job.” No burying the lead here.

The most important piece of information given, he tips his head in Emerson’s direction. “Can you show me photos of Claudia and Alice so I’m sure who’s saying what? One of the ladies, the older one, said ‘Claudia made the mistake of assuming the only threats were outside, but that ‘people like you’ — Shedda Dinu — were always here. That we were always here.”

Implying she was Shedda Dinu.

Phoenix brushes his hands against one another, as if to shed the memory like dust. “The other blond lady was drugged, I think by the Scottish one. The redhead was unconscious. The older one wants them to go to Adam in California.” He knows this is shaky and looks back to Emerson to see where she’s at in finding him photos. “But I need more context.”

"Wait till you hear his Nixon," Monica says to Phoenix with a crooked smile. Jo, too, gets added in with a glance her direction. But she stays quiet otherwise while everyone gets to work. It isn't long before her smile disappears, a frown taking its place. "I assume," she says to Emerson, "you've started vetting everyone over again? Deeper, this time. I want to interview their little old grannies and know about their first dates. Everyone." She knows some things will stay hidden, but she also knows making it public knowledge that security is digging will flush out the more nervous of the lot.

The revelation that Alice was working with Adam all along obviously isn't missed, but Monica is also not reacting outwardly. She might need Tae for his ability, but she doesn't necessarily want him to know every detail about how she's taking all the news. Or what all she plans to do about it. However, it isn't difficult to guess that her outward calm doesn't reach too far past the surface. "We'll get you as much context as we can, both of you." She glances over to Tae, an eyebrow raising. But it isn't him she's considering, really, but the woman behind him. Her personal campaign against Adam started there, after all. But she's been through enough to know that the enemy of her enemy isn't necessarily her friend.

“It’s a long process,” Emerson says of the vetting, “the Deveaux Society is… large. We’re starting with closest associates and working our way down. Given what Phoenix has said, I’m going to focus on anyone that had regular contact with Ms. Shaw.”

Claudia!” Jo exclaims, coming from around Phoenix’s side with her phone out, showing a picture of Claudia Zimmerman at a gala reception a couple of years ago. “And this is Alice Shaw,” she adds, swiping to the next photograph which is a picture of Jo eating a massive burger. “Oh uh— wait, no that’s not—” swipe.

A photo of Jo flexing in a bathroom mirror.

Oh my gosh,” Jo stumbles, “sorry, nope. Nope. I swiped the wrong way here, here,” she says, frantically swiping back. Finally she lands on a photograph of Alice looking disdainfully at the camera with a withering expression. “That’s Alice Shaw.”

Phoenix’s brows draw together as he studies the photo of Claudia — something isn’t right. His bemusement shifts into amusement as Jo shows off her collection of selfies. “What, no kitty ear filters?” he says teasingly — someone’s been showing him Instagram to get him up to speed on technology.

He nods when he sees the photograph of Alice, then glances up at his mother with an apologetic look.

“Alice was the one speaking about Shedda Dinu,” he says, his deep voice more solemn than usual. “And she was talking about Claudia to Claudia.”

He takes a moment to describe the conversation, more or less verbatim, though without the added dramatic touches that Tae provides — it’s much less entertaining. “So there’s the unconscious redhead they’re dragging along with them, a slightly drugged but cogent Claudia, the Scot, and Alice, but Alice is talking to Claudia as if she’s not Claudia,” he recaps, pointing at spots in the elevator to indicate where each of them stood.

"Well then. Claudia wasn't Claudia," Monica says, because if that's what Phoenix says, then that's what happened. "At least knowing Alice wasn't really on side explains how they got in and out without alarming anyone." That does make her feel better. Marginally. Her hands move to her hips, a finger tapping lighting against her clothes.

"So we had something like a… well, not a shapeshifter, they wouldn't need to drug their own people. But something like that. Maybe a telepath? They drugged Claudia to make her easy to pilot around? We need to find Graves and her accomplice and get some answers." A pause. "Or, you know. SESA needs to, you know what I mean."

It's a real burden, having to be the face of an organization. And not be able to vigliante all over this mess.

Cat ears filter,” Jo whispers with wide eyes as she slinks into the background, feverishly swiping through her phone.

Emerson pretends not to hear that. “We can prioritize their investigation,” she offers quietly to Monica. “Claudia has substantial pull within the legal limits of the agency and without. Agent Bluther reports to the Deveaux Society first and SESA second. We have options, depending on who we want to apprehend Graves.”

Tae listens to that exchange with a furrow of his brows, but doesn’t stress himself overly much on American politics. Instead, he hangs in the back of the elevator, hand on his chin as he regards his muted reflection in the polished brass fixtures.

Emerson steps into the elevator. “Let’s examine the upstairs,” she says, keying in for the penthouse. As the elevator begins to rise, leaving Jo in the lobby, she turns to look at Phoenix. “You know, SESA would do well to contract you out. If you’re comfortable with having your ability more broadly known. We could pull strings to get you an agency job too, if you’re in need of something stable.”

Phoenix grins as Jo retreats. He may have seen a few of those filter shots, courtesy of Adel and Noa, now that he’s back among the living.

He steps a little deeper into the elevator so he’s not loitering on its threshold, finding his way back into the far corner, tucking his hands in his pockets to avoid overwhelming his senses with other people’s memories.

A brow lifts at Emerson’s comment, and his green-eyed gaze seeks the darker one belonging to his mother. “If it’d help. I’m not opposed. A lot of people know more about me than I know about myself, so what’s one more thing?” he asks, with a smile that seems peaceful with his strange lot in life. “From what I’ve been told, my ability was public knowledge back when I was here before, for FRONTLINE. Anyway, I’m willing to help out, if someone needs my ability. I figure that’s why I have it — to help others.”

Monica settles in against the wall of the elevator, too, smiling warmly at Phoenix's answer. His mom taught him well. Sometimes she wishes she could somehow tell her counterpart that he's a good man— but she suspects she knows anyway. "SESA would be lucky to have you to tap," she says, because they would. But also, she isn't super thrilled with government work generally, so she adds, "I've also got a position here for you. If you want it. We'll talk about it later. But you know… If I have a job, you have a job."

A job may be understating her situation, but the sentiment is the same. He took care of her when she was in a difficult place, and she'll do the same for him now that the roles are switched.

She glances back over to Jo and Emerson, waiting for them to take the lead on walking their group through the crime scene.

When the elevator doors open to the penthouse, Emerson steps out first into the foyer. “We know more about what happened up here, if only just.” She explains. As Emerson stops and turns to face the elevator, a new face — to Tae and Phoenix — reveals herself. Aria Baumgartner slides off of her stool at the bar in the kitchen, walking to the entrance of the foyer with her hands clasped in front of herself.

“Mr. Jones, Mr. Ko.” Aria greets with a nod to each. “I’m Aria Baumgartner, logistics and project management.” Every single movement she makes feels deliberately planned and considered, even the way she holds her chin up and has her shoulders squared just so. Nothing left to chance.

“Ms. Baumgartner was here on the night of the incident, Claudia sent her away.” Emerson explains, motioning over to the lounge, also visible from the foyer. “She was seated over there, along with the two guests that apprehended her. Ms. Shaw was elsewhere in the penthouse, as was Mr. Stone.”

Squinting, Tae steps out of the elevator and holds his hand out, looking around like something is amiss. His dark eyes search from side to side, and his fingers curl against his palm. “There’s a gap here,” he says with a look up to Monica, as if he doesn’t understand what he means either. “I can feel it, like… like white noise in a radio broadcast. Some sort of… psychic static.”

Aria angles her head to the side, one brow raised. “That’s remarkable, Mr. Ko. That you can perceive that. Does your ability operate on some sort of telepathy?”

Tae nods, looking from Monica to Aria. “It does. I sense imprints left in places through a form of empathic telepathy. People with telepathic abilities leave bigger wakes for me to feel. But I’ve… I’ve never felt nothing before. Not like this.”

Aria flicks a concerned look over to Monica, then back to Tae. “This may be a problem for you, then. Ms. Shaw’s assistant Zachery Stone, projects a telepathy-impeding field at all times. It must act like some sort of… white noise to the types of impressions your ability picks up.”

Emerson listens to the exchange, then looks over to Phoenix. “What about you, Mr. Jones?”

At Aria’s greeting, Phoenix gives her a small smile and nod, then looks to Tae, watching and listening. At Emerson’s question, he tips his head. “I don’t know exactly how it works. We’ll see. I just know it’s through fingerprints. No fingerprint, no past.”

He reaches to brush his fingertips against the elevator button, first, and again those shadowy figures move within his eyes. After a moment, his eyes return to their normal sage green, and Phoenix looks around the apartment — his gaze alights upon a wine glass on a shelf, and he strides that way to hold it, to glean from it the past. And then another wine glass, a cigarette case, and other small objects to stitch together the patchwork narrative he’s been brought here to discover.

When the green comes back into his eyes again, Phoenix speaks, slowly and carefully, retelling the events In chronological order rather than in the backward path he’s taken to get there.

“After Ms. Baumgarten left,” he says with a nod to Aria, “Claudia identified the redhead as Joanne King and Isis O’Connor. She asks how, like how Claudia knew, and Claudia says he — Adam I’m guessing, she calls him an immortal troglodyte,” his lips tic up into a small smirk at that, “sent her because he knew she’d recognize her, that we’re the Deveaux society and inherited all the databases and archives. That she knows about Joanne or Isis’ connection to someone named Curtis, something about what happened to his brain.”

His eyes study Monica’s, to see if any of this makes sense to her, because most of it doesn’t to him.

“There was some posturing, on both sides. The guy — Stone I guess? — was by the elevator the whole time. The redhead suddenly lunged at Claudia and that’s where things get weird. Stone didn’t do anything to help. The Scottish woman, Graves, injected something into the redhead. Alice came back and said Garza informed her of their arrival before they got there, that they needed to leave before Ms. Baumgarten returned. Graves injected the redhead with something else, talking about successful trials, like it was an experiment or something.”

Phoenix shakes his head, unclear on what that’s about. “Claudia told them they earned themselves a promotion and Adam wanted to see them in California, which brings us into the elevator.” He had covered that already, so he shoves his hands back in his pocket. “Stone was in on it, too, it seems, so not so much ‘missing’ as fled, I guess.” His eyes are apologetic for the women around him. “We really do need to clean house.”

Monica nods a greeting to Aria. Normally, it might come with a smile, but not today. Not in this moment. She's quiet while Aria explains Stone's power to Tae, but her hands go to her hips in a small expression of her internal frustrations. She doesn't know any of the parties involved well enough to feel the sting of betrayal, only the irritation of having to pick up after them. Their mess left for her to step in like a sticky cinema floor.

She doesn't watch Phoenix work, not wanting him to feel rushed, but she swings by the kitchen to pour herself some tea. "Kitchen's open if you want something, Tae. Make yourself at home." It's a dry statement, since no one is likely to feel at home just now, but the offer is a sincere one.

“No,” Tae says with an awkward smile and a raise of one hand, “thank you.” He looks away, then steals a fleeting glance at the kitchen before looking away again.

Monica comes back over when Phoenix starts to explain her head tilting as a few more pieces come together. And a few more mysteries present themselves.

"Isis O'Connor? I know that name," she says, brow furrowing as she thinks back, making sure she's making the connection properly. "She works at Eve's bar." Part of her wants to be wrong. There could be thousands of Isis O'Connors in the world for all she knows. But the chances that someone who works for Eve and someone who works for Adam sharing a name and not being the same person seem low to her. "We're not the only ones he was spying on. The immortal troglodyte."

She pulls out her phone, tapping out a text as she talks.

Eve. We gotta talk. Cat's is compromised.

That'll apparently do for now, because her phone goes back in her pocket.

"Isis O'Connor is a bodysnatcher. She took Claudia. That's why Claudia wasn't Claudia. That's how they got her to walk out without a fight."

Aria’s tense posture switches to action the moment she gets names. She moves across the open floor into the lounge and pulls up a tablet, tapping the screen to bring it alive as she quickly swipes a finger across the screen, searching for something. At the same time, Emerson draws in a sharp breath and nods once to Phoenix’s assessment, then turns her attention to Monica.

“Top to bottom, this is going to take months. Everyone who had contact with Shaw is suspect.” Emerson explains, glancing over to Aria before returning her attention back to Monica. “I’ll pull together a list of our contacts, anyone who was working closely with Shaw— we’ll pull them aside, quarantine the organization. We can’t assume that’ll be sufficient, though, we’ll need to do telepathic scanning.”

Aria, hearing that, looks up from the tablet and nods in agreement, then turns her focus back down to it. “Body snatcher,” she says, but then shakes her head and goes back to what she was looking for. After a moment there’s a distressed look, and Aria walks over to Monica and shows her what she pulled up.

“SESA doesn’t have much information on her,” Aria provides, and the file on Isis is years out of date. But it lists her known associates compiled from Deveaux Society records: Curtis Autumn (Ashley Williams), Huruma Dunsimi, Adam Monroe, Michael Green, Kaylee Sumpter (nee Thatcher). “Familiar list of acquaintances, though.”

“Body snatcher? You mean she Freaky Fridayed her?” Phoenix’s memory is a strange thing and from time to time something from pop culture rises to the surface — just nothing personal. Not who he watched that movie with, nor where.

“That’s disturbing. How do you even safeguard against such a thing — unless you hire a telepath to do a brain check on everyone who passes through the doors?” Phoenix casts a sympathetic look at all of the women and the work they have cut out for them. “Let me know how I can help, of course, but I don’t think anyone really wants their past personal moments opened up, even if they are wearing the white hats.”

"Someone decided to introduce you to ancient comedy and chose Freaky Friday? Was it me?" A pair of odd questions to anyone else, but Monica doesn't seem to mind if they're left puzzled. Nor does she intend to explain. No, she just turns back to Emerson, a hand moving to her hip. "Let's discuss our game plan for that, you know, privately? Internally?" As reproaches go, it's more teasing than upset, but even a gentle reminder that not everyone in the room needs to be in the know is still just that. A reproach. Her hand reaches over to give Phoenix's arm a warm squeeze. "Game plan and limitations."

She didn't miss his concern.

Her attention turns to Aria, though, and she looks over the information on the tablet. And lets out a sigh. "A little too familiar," she mutters to her right hand woman, momentarily commiserating with her before she takes in the others in the room as well. "I don't know about you guys, but I think we've had enough reveals for today, yeah? Phe, Tae, thank you both for coming to help. I know it wasn't what you wanted to do with your day, but it was really helpful. We can get some new info to SESA and prevent something like this from happening again. And that wouldn't be possible without you two. Tae, I know I was one of the last people you wanted to deal with, so I hope you know how much I appreciate the help."

Tae makes a face that is somewhere between begrudging and agreeable, offering a subtle nod to Monica. “I understand why you asked.” It’s as close to acceptance and she’s going to get, for now, though his eyes hide behind them the context of unspoken needs to be later fulfilled. He now knows the length and breadth of Monica’s influence, and Tae could conceivably see where, were he ever in need of a favor, hers would be a powerful one.

“I’ll show you both out,” Emerson says with a motion to the elevator, “thank you for your consultations.”

As Emerson starts to gather the guests back to the elevator, Aria turns to Monica and affords Tae a brief side eye. Once they’ve moved into the elevator Aria looks back to Monica and quietly softly says, “You should invite Phoenix over for dinner sometime.” Her tone is knowing in the way a telepath can be.

“Just my unsolicited advice,” Aria adds, smiling faintly.

But Monica has an abundance of that lately.

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