Keeping a Monster Caged


curtis_icon.gif and richard_icon.gif

Scene Title Keeping a Monster Caged
Synopsis Curtis goes to one of the last people he ever expected to for help.
Date August 11 2018

Raytech Industries

Raytech's Lobby, followed by Richard's office which is way too high tech for him.

Curtis called ahead to make an appointment. When he does show up it's about fifteen minutes early, though he sits out in the car he used to get here for a few minutes. It's an old muscle car, well kept and well maintained. After sitting out there for about ten minutes leaving him only five minutes early he gets out of the vehicle and makes his way through the front door. He's dressed simply in jeans and a black t-shirt, black leather jacket over that, and sturdy biker's boots on his feet. He meanders towards the receptionist's desk, eyes taking in the building around him as he walks.

"Hi ummm I'm here to see Richard Card… Ray. Richard Ray." Curtis tilts his head back a bit to look upwards, eyes looking for… well everything, cameras and exit points, then his head tilts back down and slowly scans over everything around him. Guards, doors, other people in the lobby. Tactical assessment. And his line of vision never stays static, even in what should be safe environs his head is on a swivel. He called ahead to make an appointment. He needs help. That's about all the info he'd give over the phone, and he just hoped past associations, loose as they may have been, and mutual friends will see him in the door.

The man needs to be buzzed through the exterior door - and the secondary door, creating an almost airlock-like entrance to the lobby. There are black rounded shields periodically placed around the lobby near the ceiling, no doubt concealing cameras - or perhaps they have something to do with the scintillating ‘butterflies’ fluttering in repeating cycles high in the vaulted lobby ceiling. Two guards near the doors, one each at the hallways leading from the lobby to either side. He’s being carefully watched as he enters, that’s for certain.

The receptionist offers a distracted smile. “Cards? There aren’t any cards here,” she coyly replies, toying with a paperclip on the desk - she appears to have been folding them into tiny dinosaurs. “Oh, but— wait, wait, I remember this! There was an email, wait, wait, hold on, Mister Biker Man Sir.”

She reaches over and taps a few keys on the computer, then looks up with wide eyes, “Yes, you’re him! Mister Spring, right? No! Autumn. The one with the leaves. Someone will be right out to meet you. I think. I hope! We don’t have any magazines so that would get boring if you were stuck here forever. We could play cards, I guess.”

Curtis Ohs as he realizes he forgot to introduce himself. He's definitely not a corporate sort. "Yeah. Sorry. Curtis Autumn. Here to see Richard Ray." He responds back with a tight smile. Yeah that part is already figured out Curtis, good job though. He lifts a hand up and rubs it over his features before he takes a few steps back, settling in to wait. He doesn't pull out a phone and play on it, or even fidget really. He just… stands there. Hands tucked into his jacket pockets but otherwise he stands at parade rest, feet spaced precisely to be parallel with his shoulders. He doesn't stare at anyone, more just looks off into the middle distance while waiting for someone to come fetch him.

The receptionist shrugs, and goes back to toying with her paperclip dinosaurs. “Rawr,” she whispers conspiratorially to them, “Rawr.”

It’s not very long before a security guard strolls into the lobby, dressed in a black uniform with a red bird insignia on it - like the others. “Mister Autumn,” he greets, “Welcome to Raytech, I’ll show you to Mister Ray’s office.” He reaches behind the lobby’s desk, since the receptionist isn’t paying attention, and emerges with a lanyard that he offers over, reading ‘GUEST’. “Wear this, and please don’t take it off.”

Curtis does give a slightly odd look to the receptionist who offered to play cards with him, and then is whispering to her… paperclip dinosaurs. "It takes all sorts. I guess." He murmurs softly, amusement pulling at the corner of his mouth a little bit. His eyes take in the red bird insignia on the man's uniform, a symbol he knows of at least. "Sure thing." He pauses as they pass by the receptionist. "It was… interesting to meet you ma'am." He tips his head to her then continues on following the guard, putting the lanyard on around his neck. "Don't take it off got it." He looks like he wants to ask the question of what happens if he does, but he doesn't. He stays quiet, though there's still an amused curl of the corner of his mouth as he follows the security guard. "Pretty spiffy set up here. Maybe I should have come to work for Richard instead of Wolfhound."

“I can’t knock the benefits,” the guard replies with a chuckle as he leads the way down the hall, hitting a button to call an elevator, “And we don’t have to deal with the blackouts here, too, thanks to the solar batteries. So that’s a perk.”

Up the elevator, and down another hall before he stops at a door, bringing a security guard up to the panel. There’s a beep after a moment, and the door opens up. “Go on in.”

"Yeeeeah. But then I wouldn't get to fight giant robots and bring down fascist armies and the like. Maybe once all the cleanup work from the war is done I'll think about talking to Richard. Will need a steady job when there's no war criminals left to hunt down." There's a quick grin and a nod to the guard as he tells him to go on in. "Take care of yourself." Curtis can be personable when he wants to be. He's been caught on a good day. Well more of a less Ash and more Curtis day. He takes in a breath, steeling himself, then walks on through the door, boots scuffing lightly on the floor as he walks.

Almost immediately upon entering, a small reddish kitten lunges playfully for Curtis’s bootlaces.

“Richelieu, no!” Richard was, it seems, heading to pick the feline up before the door opened— and it opened at just the right time for the kitten to make his move. He’s trying not to laugh, dressed professionally in a black suit with red touches here and there, “Sorry, Curtis, ah, let me grab her there— “

A large window that takes up most of the wall shows a view of Jackson Heights, with a view as well of the green roof and the solar panels of the lower building next to this one. A few real trees in pots spruce up the office, which otherwise is mostly open space aside from the black glass-topped desk and the chairs.

Oh no his bootlaces are at risk! Curtis is quick though. Very quick. He reaches down and snatches the little monster up off of the ground before turning it around in his hands so he can bat back at it’s claws, play fighting the little kitten if it engages. If not he’ll just give it some good scritches along the neck and behind the ear, heedless of those sharp little needle kitten claws. “Not a problem at all.” He’ll pass the cat off if Richard wants it, or he’ll hold onto it if he’s okay and the cat is okay with him.

Either way Curtis takes a few steps into the office and lets out a low whistle at the sight out the window. “Nice office Mister… Ray? Ray now right?” There’s an amused little smirk on the soldier’s face. He knows the man’s last name. Their company supplies Wolfhound with a bunch of gear for field testing after all. “Raytech. You know, for all the great things I always heard about you… specialties in technologies or engineering… weren’t one of them.” He cocks a brow at the other man, his smirk turning into a rueful sort of grin as he steps further inside and closes the door behind him.

The cat isn’t aggressive but is clearly playful; while he grabs and ‘bites’ at his fingers, it’s not meant to hurt or scare away. Play-fighting. The scritches soon have him purring, though, even as Richard reaches out to collect the feline with a chuckle.

“He’s always excited when new people show up,” he admits, walking back across the room towards his desk, “And you’re right, there, you’re right— actually they keep dropping off prototypes for me and asking me to try them out.”

The kitten’s set in a cardboard box beside the desk, filled with fluffy things from the looks of it, and he drops back in his chair into a comfortable sprawl, flashing a grin over to the other man as he leans back, “They call it Richardproofing in private. They don’t think I know.”

“So what can I do for you? The gear all holding up well in the field? I know you just got back from a rather rough mission…” He probably shouldn’t know that, but that’s never stopped him from knowing things before.

Curtis play fights with the kitten then, batting at paws and wrestling him with a hand before Richard collects the cat. Curtis lets his hands drop back to his sides, thumbs tucking into the front pockets of his jeans as he watches the other man walk around the office. "And you send the prototypes to us to get broken." There's a faint chuckle from Curtis before he walks forwards towards the desk, but does't take a seat. He also stays back far enough from the desk so as not to tower over Richard, his hands naturally shifting behind his back to a parade rest stance. Richarproofing." Curtis smiles and gives his head a small shake. "They should know better than to think you don't know. You have a knack for knowing things you shouldn't."

Curtis breathes in slow, holding the breath when Richard asks what he can do for him. "I mean… it's no Horizon suit. But it holds up well yeah. The vest has stopped me from taking a few bullets. Didn't help against the lightning strike. Helped not get my ribcage shattered when I went for a ride through the air, down a roof through a fence and into a doghouse though. We were attempting to pull down a big ass robotic moving radio tower. He didn't appreciate us trying to pull him to the ground." Curtis speaking freely with the man who probably already has a mission briefing of what went down. "No though. Nothing about the equipment. I… I need your help with something. Or at least your help finding someone to help me. I figured if anyone knew someone that could help it would be you."

“A robotic…” A breath spills past Richard’s lips, and he brings a hand up to rub against his face, “Damn it, Pendragon.” Fingers rub against the bridge of his nose, and then he motions with his hand for the other man to continue, “Go on. What can I do for you, if it isn’t commentary on the gear that you’re so good to test for us?”

Curtis tips his head a little bit. "Well, there was the giant radio tower bot. That's the one that flung lightning at us. On another mission we fought a Mark 3 hunter. Big, nasty. Spews fire everywhere. Kind of an asshole. The bots are getting bigger and scarier and I'm not sure where or how that's happening unless these were all done before the end of the war and are just now coming to light." Curtis's shoulders roll upwards in a shrug before he steps forwards to take a seat, leaning back in the chair. "You know how I was undercover? As Ash?" Curtis puffs his cheeks out a little bit as he thinks.

"And I know the official reports mention what Broome did to me? Well when he put me back in my body… he didn't take Ash out…" Curtis trails off for a few seconds, going quiet. "It's been a problem. Pretty much since day one. But it's getting worse. Ash is a beast, an animal. And if it wasn't for the discipline drilled into my from my time in the marines I would not be able to stay as in control as I have. But… that control is slipping. During the war he came out a lot. During the fights and battles. But afterwards he went back to his corner no problem. The monster was sated. And when Wolfhound first started officially it was fine. We had plenty of missions to run and people to hunt but now…"

“I can think of two possibilities, and I’m not sure which I like least… regardless, I’ve requested that R&D— “ Richard means Warren there, probably, “— focus on better weapons to deal with mechanical threats.”

Then he’s listening, and he nods a little, brow knitting. “I remember. It’s why I was rather surprised when you walked into Redbird that day…” One brow lifts, “I take it that ‘he’ is coming out more during your missions..? Or between missions?”

Curtis's head tilts slowly forwards in a nod, though it doesn't lift back up, there's shame in that motion. "Yeah. Both. During the war was… different. We were at war. He was savage and brutal. But it probably saved a lot of lives. And with the Wolfhound missions we kind of came to an… agreement of sorts. That he'd be disciplined. And usually he was. But sometimes… sometimes not. Disobeying orders. That I then have to take the rap for because how do you explain to people that you've got a psychopath rattling around in your head? But he's starting to push more and more to the fore during missions and between as well. It's… getting harder and harder to contain. And I'm worried about what happens when I can't. Because the war never ended for me. But for him? He's still there in the trenches. He… it would be bad. Very bad. When we were Ash and worked in Messiah Peter kept him in line." He completely misses the fact that he uses 'we' instead of him or Ash. "There was always a check and a balance. Adam, then Peter, the rest of Messiah. Then me. Back in our body. My body." He catches himself that time. "I don't know if you know anyone that could help. But I figured if anyone did it would be you. Everyone I know has always spoken highly of you. That's why I wasn't surprised when you told me to piss off when I came into Redbird. Didn't blame you for not trusting me."

“I… do,” Richard admits, although it’s a reluctant tone of voice, leaning slowly back in his chair, “There’s not a small element of— risk there, though, Curtis.”

His hands clasp over his chest, fingers steepled as he regards the other man steadily, “Are you really sure whose body it is? You always claimed that Autumn ‘reversed’ whatever was done to you, but it’s quite possible that he just made-to-order a new personality to layer over your original. There’s a non-zero chance that doing something like this will just leave Ash in control permanently.”

Well if that doesn't just smash Curtis between the eyes when Richard says that. "Wait what? Broome could make new people? I thought he only transferred them? I… but I have memories. I knew people. I… I knew Harmony when I was Curtis, before Ash. And she recognized me after." Way to destroy the entire foundations of a man's world in a few sentences Richard. "And I never saw my grandfather again. He was dead by the time I was recovered and Broome put me back in my body." He doesn't sound so sure of the whole his body thing though. "And he never reversed anything. Because Ash was still in here." Curtis's brow is furrowed, his features pinched as he stares down at the desk for a few moments. "I wasn't talking about removing Ash though. That would kill him without a body to put him in. And… I don't know if I could do that. But maybe wall him off? Or… something. I don't know."

“You might be… surprised what they had the ability to do,” is Richard’s reply to that, his tone dry, “If you get a powerful enough telepath— well. Let’s just say that I’ve seen years, decades of memories altered to excise information so deftly that nobody ever saw it again. Telepathic triggers that turned the person into a killer with a single word even years later.”

He shakes his head, “I’m not saying it’s likely. Just— possible. And we could try and wall him off, but I doubt he’ll take that laying down. Also— “ A frown purses his lips, “What Doc did wasn’t a transfer of mind to body. It was a xerox.”

Curtis catches that fairly familiar term. Doc. And it brings an arched eyebrow with it. "You sound rather intimately familiar with Broome's ability." There's no accusation there. Just a statement, that he leaves hanging in the air. "A… xerox? So what happened to me when he put Ash in me? And what happened when he put me back in? Am I a copy of a copy then? Did he… could he store…" Curtis reaches a hand up and clutches it at the side of his head, his features going kind of haywire for a few moments. Grimaces and gritting of teeth, clenching of jaw and twitching of features all over before it passes. He breathes deeply, then sits back up a bit, his posture just a bit different, more tense, not quite so ramrod straight. "How did Broome's ability work?" He asks, his tone softer, still confused but a little less tense.

“Broome didn’t do that,” says Richard with a shake of his head, “Doc did. Doc Carpenter. A friend of mine that got blackmailed into service…” He pauses, then, as the other man grasps at his head, waiting for that seizure to pass.

More gently, “Honestly? I have no idea. We can find out, probably, but— I just wanted you to be aware, there’s a non-zero chance of something not… good in there, or something catastrophic happening to your psyche.”

Seizure is definitely the right word for what just happened. Curtis breathes, slow and even as he soaks in Richard's words. "I see. I always thought it was Broome. He was the last person I saw before going under. And the first person I saw when I woke up. So I always assumed it was him doing that." Curtis's chest swells as he pulls in a deep breath, then holds it before letting out in a long exhale. "We're already shattering Cardinal. Richard. Sorry. We're already breaking and shattering. When we're done I don't know what will be left. Which of us will be in charge, if either. We both want to live. But this isn't living. For either of us. Conflicting emotions. Conflicting thoughts. Conflicting desires. It's paralyzing at times." Ash sits up a little straighter in the seat, though still with his shoulders relaxed. "Do you have someone that could at least… look? See what the possibilities are? The risks?" His head cants to the side a touch, eyebrow cocked upwards again. "If it proves to be even more dangerous then we can look at options at that point. We just need help. Even if it's just to tell us that there's no chance of doing anything."

“I’ll talk to our telepath, see if they’re willing. They may not be,” Richard admits, “And I’m not going to demand that they do something like this… it’s dangerous for everyone involved.” He brings one hand up to rub at the back of his head, “I’ll talk to her, though, and see what we can do.”

Wryly, he adds, “I do know what you all get paid, so I’m confident you can afford her fee.”

They are a business, after all.
"I honestly don't know much about telepathic powers. Didn't know it might be a danger for them to look around. And I'm not trying to be demanding. I can go to other people. But I wanted to come to you. And yeah. I figured I'd be paying for the services. Whether it be in money, favors owed or a mix of both. Money isn't an issue. I'm well aware that nothing comes free." There's a tightening of his jaw, worry plain on his features as he pushes up to his feet. "Thank you for your time Richard. Please let me know what your telepath says." He reaches his hand out across the other man's desk towards him.

“I will,” says Richard, pushing himself up to his feet and reaching out to clasp the offered hand, flashing a smile, “I understand all too well what it’s like to… not know what’s hiding in your head. I’ll talk to them and then I’ll get back to you.”

Curtis takes Richard’s hand and gives it a firm shake. “Thank you Richard. Even if nothing comes of it thank you for being willing to help. I appreciate it, and I owe you one.” With that Curtis tips his head to the other man and turns to leave, heading for the door. “You’ve done a lot since the end of the war. I think Liz would be proud of what you’ve done.” A pause at the door to say that before he turns back to step through the door.

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