Left at the Chessboard


alia_icon.gif bf_cassandra_icon.gif devon_icon.gif elisabeth2_icon.gif seren_icon.gif

Scene Title Left at the Chessboard
Synopsis When Richard Ray's phone is released from evidence, Raytech assembles to see what they can see.
Date January 13, 2020

Raytech NYCSZ Branch Office

8:10 am

Sometimes, Seren wishes they wouldn’t say yes so much. Their helpful nature gets them looped into a number of extracurriculars here at Raytech, a number of them involving Sera. Some on accident, some on purpose. Today, Seren finds themselves with a handful of mail that the administrator had asked them to take back when they walked past the front desk on their way in. It’s only a small pile, and it’d probably take longer to find their way back to the mail room, so they’re sifting through the letters and peering at the names with the intention of delivering it on their way up.

“This goes to Bjarni…” they note with a lift in their tone, shuffling it to the back. It’d be good to see him, even for a minute! On their shoulder, Baird twitches his nose, long fennec ears perking with interest. The gem on his forehead gleams a deep red. “This one goes to…”

Baird blinks repeatedly at the name on the thick, bubblewrap-lined envelope while Seren’s pace slows. “Oh.” they note aloud. It was addressed to Raytech, attention of Richard Ray… from the police station. The arm holding the envelope lowers as they halt midway down the hall, hovering in indecision about what to do. They turn to the left abruptly, heading for the nearest office. Chavez.

A hand is raised, knocking on the door and pushing it in. The teal fantastic creature on Seren’s shoulder stands up on his tiny paws as they peer in. “Um, miss Alia?” they ask, trying to make the intrusion as polite as possible. “Can— um, you possibly help with this?” The thick envelope is slid off the top of the stack, loosely gestured out with. “It’s…” Seren looks down at the package with a frown, then back into the room. “I mean, maybe this should go to Elisabeth? Maybe you? I honestly…”

Alia looks up at the interruption, and smiles at both Seren and Baird. Then she blinks as she eyes up the envelope, sees who it's addressed to, and from… Well now, this is a pickle. Technically Liz likely is the best legally speaking answer… but Alia knows that Liz is neck deep in trying to be the strategist that she's not exactly the best at. So Alia sets the envelope down, and then, after a moment's consideration for possible mischiefs that might have happened… there's the sound of the door opening again, a SPOT coming inside. Alia hands the SPOT a letter opener, then with perhaps a surplus of caution, has the bot open the envelope.

"Happy to help." She offers, though, in a tone that actually seems… relieved to be doing something that isn't dead ending in frustration. Now to just have the SPOT shake the envelope out onto the table and see what comes tumbling out.

Inside the envelope, another container. Evidence, returned from the line of duty. Inside the plastic baggy is a phone which clatters on the surface of the table. Privy to the contents as they now are, Seren’s brow lifts as they peer over at the device. Any lighthearted curiosity is mulled down immediately by the knowledge the phone’s owner is still missing.

“Still no word? Nothing?” they ask, even though it’s only very tangentially their business at all. They can’t help but worry. Seren frowns, their arms folding despite the mail that comes to rest in the crook of their elbow. “It’d be great if there was something we could do that the police aren’t already.”

They slide a step back to continue heading down the hall, letting out a heavy sigh. “Too bad it can’t talk to us, isn’t it?” they remark, then slip out into the hall.

Little do they know.

Alia picks up her phone. Elisabeth is on her immediate dial list for this one. Followed maybe by Kaylee depending on who's where. The message is short, and sweet. "Richard's Phone is back."

10:15 am

Alia knows better than to let a potential lead sit untouched.

The phone has a story to tell, and Raytech has a staff member on hand who’s capable of reading it, now that it’s back in their custody.

And once everyone else is done with the phone, Alia will dump its memory onto a computer to rip into for new leads herself. But she's not touching it until any other specialists have their chance.

That phone call precipitates the arrival of not just Elisabeth herself but Devon and Cassandra as well. That the phone was mailed from the police station makes Liz clench her teeth — on the one hand, she is beyond grateful that someone thought to send the thing out. On the other, someone in forensics over there is going to get an ass-reaming for not handling evidence properly. At least hand the damn thing to a family member when it's determined not to be evidence with any use!

She's a tightly coiled spring as she arrives from the precinct. "He doesn't keep anything urgent on it, but Jesus Christ," Elisabeth is muttering as she comes in. It looks bad for the NYPD to be mailing evidence! "Have you gotten anything useful?" she asks Alia as the office starts to get crowded.

It’s been a hell of a week for everyone involved in the Ray household.

Since Richard’s disappearance, Cassandra’s time had been spent at the Ray compound, entertaining and supporting Aurora and Elisabeth during the times she was needed, easily falling back into the role of confidant and surrogate - a role she had gladly taken for anyone who needed it since Aurora’s birth more than eight years ago. One thing that she was intensely pleased with was Aurora’s insistence on returning to school as soon as she could. From what she could tell, the little girl was thriving in her classes and wanted to maintain ‘normal’ for as long as she could. With the journeys she had undertaken, could anyone blame her? Cassandra certainly couldn’t.

It was after returning from dropping Aurora off and getting her second cup of coffee that the call came in, and it took very little time for her to get into something presentable, out the door on Elisabeth’s heels without a question. The Queen was going and she was following. She might be needed, after all.

“You know if they didn’t, I probably can.” Cassandra says shortly after their entry to the office, taking a sip of her coffee. She’s comfortable here at Raytech. “Secrets are difficult to hide around me.”

"Nothing new." Alia shrugs. "Haven't touched it, so I didn't…taint anything left." Besides, she dumped the digital side into a clone phone before shipping it to the pd. Not that gained her much useful info

It's not the fastest walk from the Bastion to Raytech, but Devon makes it in record time. Sure, he might be winded, probably looks like he's hating… something — probably running, how do people even like that activity? — but he’s there and announcing his arrival with a knock on the doorframe before stepping into the office.

“What's up,” is a general query and not so much a greeting. The young man is more business than social when he arrives. There's little in the last 72 or so hours that's been met with casual banter when it's been Elisabeth initiating meetings.

“There were no prints on it, and we both know Richard doesn't keep anything on the damn thing." Elisabeth has been waiting for it to be returned simply because she wasn't going to expose Cassandra at the police station. "If Cass sees anything helpful, I'll get on the phone to Cesar immediately."

Alia shrugs. "Sorry. " Alia sighs. "Been more useful if it'd stayed with one of them." Alia means that too: The phone is set up for service on almost every cell network in the world… and Alia likely has the phone lojacked for if she really needed to find Richard for some reason. The technopath rubs at her forehead, grumbling. "Miss the bad old days when borrow a spy sat and be done with it…" The technopath has tried to take her turns with keeping the munchkins company, and being someone to talk to, she's also, quite obviously, been tasking herself with trying to find any digital trace of the missing. The internet is a pretty vast place, even if the connectivity these days is shit. So she sips some coffee (something the SPOTs have been hauling in bulk for both her -and- Michelle lately…), and leans back in her chair to glare at the phone, as if it would give up some secret that would tell where to go next.

“Any idea how it got there,” Devon asks. Arms fold across his chest and his eyes settle on the cell phone thoughtfully. A chessboard. His brow furrows and a glance angles to Alia then Cassandra. “Who else knows about the chess games he used to play?” He directs the question at Elisabeth. A brow lifting to imply a deeper meaning. “And who might’ve turned on him?”

"Who doesn't?" Elisabeth's tone is weary. Her worry doesn't diminish as the days pass, and it shows in the way she leans back against the wall with her hands behind her. "There are things about him in the public domain because of the trials — the call sign isn't unknown. And the list of enemies is not short. SESA asked me for a list, but I don't know enough about the last decade to be able to give names. There are also people who aren't precisely enemies but who may have alliances with people who want him out of the way too." She looks to Cassandra and gestures at the phone. "Let's see if the woman who took it is stupid enough to say something useful."

One of the SPOT’s, helpfully, provides a cup of coffee to Cassandra, who takes it with a nod and a brief pat on it’s vaguely dog-shaped head. “You’d think they’d put eyes on these things, just for comfort’s sake. Knowing which end is the business end and make them a little more pet-like instead of machine-like. Like something you’d see running around Japan in an Anime or something.” she murmurs, taking a sip of the steaming-hot brew, shivering as it goes all the way down to her toes, warming her from within. Someone’ll inevitably put googly eyes on it. Maybe it’s something to do with Aurora…hmm.

“Even if whoever took Richard doesn’t say anything, keep your eyes open. Look for landmarks, listen for sounds. Anything. We’ve got plenty of time to examine things.” Her goggles are taken from the little protective pouch inside Cassandra’s jacket and open with a metallic click. Another sip of coffee follows before she takes note of placement in of people and objects in the room and lowers herself into a seat. A bit of hair brushing to get it out of the way follows before the goggles are slipped over her eyes, hiding them completely and apparently giving Cassandra the look of a fighter pilot.

Richard insisted her goggles look cool. There were designers involved, she heard. She owes him for that, at least.

Most of the people here have experienced Cassandra, so the usual warning doesn’t go out. “Everybody ready?” she warns, turning towards Elisabeth for the final go-ahead and, when she gives the word, the world around them drops away in a heartbeat.

She’s getting good at this.

Alia sighs and just shrugs. She's of no real help shrinking that list, because it's basically stupidly huge. As for how it got to the chessboard… Well, Alia can answer that one. The screen of the computer display behind her turns on, and shows a map of the area, and a route, with a fuzzy blue border around it for GPS accuracy amounts. It's even in 3D, so the route is shown from the side somewhat to show the path of the phone down the building and out. "How it got there, pretty simple. Where last handler went after that? Good question."

The car door clicks shut audibly, but not with a slam. There’s no urgency to the movements of the woman as she settles into her seat, setting her purse on the passenger side before buckling her safety belt. She studies the phone in her hand a moment before setting it in the cup holder and pressing the ignition button to start the vehicle. As the engine hums to life, she fishes an earpiece out of her purse and slides it into place snugly against her ear.


Blue eyes watch the rearview mirror as she begins to reverse out of her parking spot. “Yeah,” she murmurs absently. “Yeah, it’s done. Easier than I expected it to be.” The car is shifted into drive, the wheel turned to pull away from the space, out of the parking lot. “If you’re pretty enough, you can fumble, and they want to console you. I fumbled, I was consoled. Simple as that.” Despite this victory, she doesn’t sound proud of herself. “Glad he finally drank the damn toxin. Didn’t want to have to find out if the industrial flashlight in my purse was enough to keep him from going shade on me.”

The indrawn breath from Elisabeth is little more than a hiss of rage. Her blue eyes are narrowed on Rue, taking in her appearance and her demeanor, her movements and her actions. Mentally cataloging against what she knows of Rue.

The drive is quiet for several minutes, with frequent glances into the mirror, like she’s checking to see if she’s being followed. The silence is broken once she pulls onto the highway. “I have my pride,” she snorts. “I would have walked away empty-handed before I would have called you in. I did just fine on my own.” Whatever she hears in return has her fingers curling tightly around the steering wheel. The needle climbs the speedometer. Sixty. Sixty-five. Seventy.

At the start, Devon’s eyes scour over everything. From the driver — Rue and each of her nuances learned from years of serving in Wolfhound together — to all the fine details of the vehicle she's driving. A glance shoots over to Elisabeth at the sound, and he rests a hand briefly on her shoulder.

The corners of Gwendolyn’s mouth turn down at Elisabeth’s hiss of disdain. “I guess you know who that is?” she asks, gesturing towards Rue, turning to examine the woman as she makes her way through traffic. Devon’s examination of details of the vehicle are aided with small changes of perspective, giving him and the crowd watching views of the license plate number, VIN, color of the car, make, model, direction it was going, and so on. Chances that the car is still in one piece is fairly slim, but one never knows when something would be useful.

A push of a button on the door has the window rolling down, sending cold air flying into the cabin. The force of it whips her red hair free from where it’s pinned to the back of her head. Left hand settles back on the wheel, right reaches for the phone in the cupholder. Balled in her fist, she winds up and—

They know this isn’t where the phone’s journey ends.


That arm curls in toward her chest, the phone’s face resting cool against her sternum for a moment. She glances in the side mirror, eases her foot off the accelerator. The phone is replaced in the cupholder and the window is rolled back up. “As usual, I have a better idea.”

City Park

Next Exit

The blinker clicks away merrily as she pulls onto the exit ramp, ceasing after she’s made the turn onto the surface streets. One block. Two blocks.


“I’ll just be a minute,” the woman murmurs as she puts the car in park and kills the ignition. She leaves her purse inside, but takes the cell phone. Making her way across the frosted grass, she bee lines for her destination.

Devon turns for a look over his shoulder, brows drawn downward and eyes narrowed. His mouth opens, but the thought goes unsaid for the immediate present. He turns forward, to face the phone’s first destination.

The chessboards.

She hesitates a moment, absently brushing her thumb back and forth over the dimmed screen, like maybe she doesn’t want to leave it behind. Maybe there’s something valuable to be gained from the contents. She stares straight ahead at nothing, listening to the wind rustle what leaves are left clinging to the trees.

The phone buzzes in her hand, just once, startling her out of her reverie. “En prise, Red King.” The phone is set on the edge of the chessboard. The woman walks away.

As reality recovers Alia's already marking the part of the map of Richard's phone's travel that corresponds with Rue's phone call. She has an inkling of an idea, though one she's not eager to let out of the bottle as it were.

What might be really striking though is the look on the technopath's face. She didn't hiss or speak or vocalize the entire vision of the past. But her expression? There is a slow deep anger, but it's mixed, with confusion. Finally, she voices what's bothering her, "She seemed…unhappy about succeeding."

“That's not Rue’s Jeep.” Devon voices the realization that hit him during the journey. His eyes tick to Alia then Liz. “The rest… I mean, that could be her. Or her doppelgänger is an absolute genius. I can't pick out anything that might mark her as someone else.” He's reluctant to admit that it could be his fellow Hound and so he clings to hope like it's a life preserver in a stormy sea.

He looks to where the chessboard and the phone rest, even takes a fraction of a step toward it. “Anyone know what en prise means? Sounds like… Latin maybe?”

“French.” Cassandra answers, turning to look towards Devon. “En prise is a term from Chess. It’s used to indicate that a piece is unprotected and under attack. Definitely a threat.” She ‘looks’ around the room at the silence, feeling eyes on her for a second. “What? I used to play with the IT guys at Pinehearst in my downtime back… home.” She corrects herself before saying anything untoward, nervously brushing her hair back behind one ear, where it almost immediately comes right back out again.

The flaunting of the chess term makes Elisabeth's eyes go hard. "It's a deliberate snipe," she observes softly. "Leaving the phone at that chess board and taunting us with the fact that he wasn't concerned about his own safety." She pauses and asks thoughtfully, "Devon, how did Rue know he had his ability back?" It's not something he advertises. In fact, it's been kept very damn quiet. It's not exactly something that most people would throw into the conversation without reason either. She looks at him and asks, "Or does she even know?"

Because if Rue doesn't know that, the claim that this is not Rue — or at least maybe not their Rue — gets a little traction.

Alia simply rubs at her forehead. "… check Wolfhound, ask if they have a location for Rue during all this? If she was there, she can't be here." This is just simple logic after all. And her turning up results is going to take some doing even for her: the internet isn't what it used to be.

“Is the threat directed at Richard, or are they removing him from the chessboard because he's just in the way of something else,” Devon wonders aloud. There's no doubt that the Red King is in danger, but the use of that phrase, specifically that it translates to a piece being unprotected, it feels like it's worth voicing. Elisabeth’s query pulls him back from his musings, though he doesn't turn to her, he shakes his head.

“I don't know.” The woman in the vision seemed too confident for it to be an assumption. “I don't think she knows, but…” But she might, it's becoming harder to deny that. He sighs after a pause and shakes his head. “I'll look into it. Let's finish this first, that way if anything else comes up…” He can add that to the grocery list.

“The simplest explanation is often the one that’s most likely so…not knowing who this Rue person is, we’re going to have to assume that she’s…her. The one you know, until we have evidence to the contrary.” Being able to maintain detachment to what’s going on is critical right now, and not having any sort of connection to Rue is helping Cassandra look at this objectively. There are all sorts of ways that this could work out, but right now, the working theory needs to be to find Rue. “My thought would be to have someone there to raid her office, her apartment, if it hasn’t been done already. I need stuff to work with, and the last thing we want to have happen is something interesting go missing. It’s not like people know about what I can do.” Fear the researcher when she’s scorned, for she can bring powers to bear that would shake the pillars of the earth. For research purposes, of course.

“Since she was arrested, last thing anyone needs right now is for her to go missing. Whoever that is, whoever she was talking to…we need to find them, so we can find Richard.” She looks towards the group at large. “No offense to anyone here who might be involved with Wolfhound, but I don’t know anything about who they might be, and from my experiences, secretive organizations will do a hell of a lot to keep dirty laundry out of the public eye.”

“Hang on a second.” Cassandra stands and rewinds the vision to the start of the phone call, shifting perspectives and standing, moving a step forward bumping into the invisible table in front of her, turning to ‘look’ at the phone. “When, exactly, was Rue arrested? Was it after this conversation happened?” Watching memories, people always assume that it’s chronological to them. Events happen in order, but with Rue being arrested? They have a hard time and can place her in space using that time. If Cassandra can see a phone number or, more importantly, a date and a time, they might get a clue. If not on the phone, the clock on the car. If the time is after Rue was in a known place? Cassie blows out a breath and straightens as something comes to mind, almost as an afterthought. “If this Rue isn’t your Rue, she could be one of a few things. A duplicate or clone or shapeshifter of some kind or…a Traveller.” Cassandra says, thinking externally instead of internally.

“And if she’s a traveller, that opens up a whole different set of circumstances.”

"I will try to track her phone and that call." Alia shrugs. "If I can tag, we might get something interesting." She doesn't mention how not legal that is. And if it leads to finding the phone in use at the same time as Rue is known to be elsewhere…

"She dropped this phone off right after she left here," Elisabeth says quietly. "We arrested Rue the next day." There's a pause and she looks at Cassandra. "Wolfhound is made up of people I would, in general, trust with Aura's life." It's something the blonde doesn't say lightly. "The phone itself isn't likely to give us much more than we've already determined — it called a burner phone that was subsequently turned off and probably destroyed." She glances at Devon. "Even if our Rue is the right one, maybe take Cassie with you to the Bastion and let her look around Rue's room? It might help rule out a trigger or mind control? Or, best case, rule her out altogether?" She's torn, badly, about this situation — is it better or worse for it to be Rue who lives here betraying not only friends but possibly herself potentially under a trigger from a decade ago or for it to be a traveller that Elisabeth somehow missed in the crowd and the chaos of returning home a year ago?

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