Missing X


devon2_icon.gif emily_icon.gif

Scene Title Missing X
Synopsis After being tipped off about the missing x's, Emily finds the Praxis hack may hold clues about Devon's missing time.
Date June 11, 2019

Red Hook

Emily tilts her head back, yawning deeply before she sets her bleary eyes back on the screen before her. "Fuck," she breathes out when it's done, looking away from the laptop and off to the side, fingers itching for a coffee that's not there. 7 at night was a bit late to be ingesting fresh caffeine, though she was starting to regret making that bold statement. She'd spent her internship hours out at Fort Jay, stepped off the ferry to find Devon waiting for her—

And had to apologize that she had work to get done that night.

Luckily, he didn't have plans either, and Red Hook didn't have to worry about scheduled power outages. There was a particular cafe she liked to stop by lately, and in the corner she often occupied, there was room for two.

She glances over at Devon as the yawn fades, fingers suspended over the keyboard. "Almost done," she promises, the same thing she'd swore ten minutes ago, now with only four less words on the page to show for it than she did previously.

“You sure this time,” Devon grins as he responds, teasing a little. The wait and idleness hasn't been a bother, he's stayed occupied by watching people, answering a few texts on his phone — No, Pops, he's not sure when he'll be home — and finding himself working on a third coffee. He gave up a long time ago on restricting caffeine late in the evening.

In fact, that third cup is even moved so Emily can indulge as well.

He also uses that motion as an excuse to lean over and peek at the screen. There's no attempt at reading anything, it's a casual glance. “Not to be the bad influence,” Dev muses, “but you could take a break. Some real food, rest, and fresh eyes’ll make it easier to finish.” Because, while it's good advice to suggest a break, it's also bad advice to imply procrastinating. He knows it, but he smiles anyway.

"I'm so close now, though," Emily balks, turning back to consider the document she has open. She lifts both hands to massage her face, fingers pressing into the corner of her eye and the bridge of her nose while she sighs into her palm. "Just want to get this done so there's no coming back later that needs to happen."

While she's not looking, the monitor flickers, pulling with a static.

Her fingertips slide off her eyes only so she can open them and glance sidelong at Devon. She reaches out for the coffee that was offered with a rueful expression, the scent of it too much to resist any longer. "'Real food', huh?" she asks probingly. "You make it sound like you've got something in mind."

When the screen jitters again, she catches the movement in the corner of her eye and lowers the cup immediately, placing it aside. Emily's gaze sharpen as she pulls the laptop closer, screen angled slightly away. "One sec," she murmurs absently, eyes flitting over the screen as she pulls a dark window open, reading whatever is on it with a furrow of her brow. A message from the Illuminati? It's a wonder she doesn't say as much out loud as she skims the contents.

From: redking36@failsafe|ERROR:../.! ..
To: email addresses hidden

The recent hack of www.praxisheavy.com is a priority; if you have interest and skills to do so, pursue any related leads and attempt to make contact with those who've committed the hacks.

The word 'look' on the final page of the unSafe Zone Initiative is a link to a login page. The password is arc14free8. The email password is disc22dune2. The projects password is walking20size.

Email notes: The 'Director' is Adam Monroe. Interestingly, Erica Kravid was reported dead in a Wolfhound operation some months ago, during a strike on Sunstone.

Recently all the 'x' disappeared from the site, and a new page was discovered: www.praxisheavy.com/x - the password is unknown.


Her fingers float across the keyboard to bring open a browser, gaze settling on the black-backgrounded site that pulls up. This one's easier to spy the nature of, purely due to the prevalent logo at the top of the page. Praxis. There's something decidedly off about the way it looks as she scans its pages, clicking on each item in the sitenav with an expression that grows more stern. "This is fucking wild," comes from her in a barely-audible voice. She hadn't been paying enough attention to the news lately to have known before now that the site had been hacked, and it shows in how she skims the pages and their 'updated' contents.

"Had you heard about this?" Emily asks suddenly, not looking away from the screen. "Somebody took over Praxis's site and put up a bunch of…" The thought goes unfinished, as she's not sure how to classify what's been done. All she does is let out a breath of astonishment as she reads some of the more damning details about Praxis's ruthlessness.

“Not really.” But anything is better than the small selection of snack foods at the cafe. Devon has already sampled one choice, and frankly real food just sounds better. Like the filling, home-cooked type. “Guess I'm just in the mood for something hearty. Roast or…”

Or gets put on hold when Emily's focus shifts. He stills as his musings trail into silence and his own focus is on her expression. The whisper prompts a purposeful look at the screen.

“There was something of it in the news.” Dev hadn't paid it too much attention, enough to know it had happened, but the finer details weren't picked through. He scoots closer, turned and leaning for a better look at the display without blocking Em’s access to it. “What is all that?”

"I don't fucking know." she admits. Emily looks on the verge of murmuring something else under her breath, but all she does is repeatedly flick back and forth between the two windows, barely long enough to read anything at all, before making a few pointed maneuvers on the Praxis site. She thumbs to a page relabeled 'unSafe Zone', scrolling through the images and letting her mouse roam before she eventually makes a selection.

"You just have to know where to look," she repeats the line on the page in a whisper just before clicking the word 'look'.

When the browser pulls open a blank page pressing for login credentials, Emily's shoulders slope down and all she does is stare, expression frozen even as she sets about entering a password. After that works, she observes the menu that opens up to her with that same look of surprise, eyes flitting over the contents. If she remembers where she is and the conversation she'd abandoned, it doesn't show in the moment. She studies the profile photo visible before hesitantly making another click, leading to yet another login screen.

"Email… was…" she mutters to herself before flipping between screens again, then quickly typing out a password. Once the page unlocks, she scans it quickly, brow furrowing. Various words catch her eye. Gemini and Odessa Price are among them. "Oh, what the fuck," Emily breathes, sitting up a little straighter. Only then does she remember Devon by her side, gaze shifting to him more warily than conspiratorially.

"Somebody found out this was hidden here," she explains in a low voice, beginning to open files at random and scan them. "And there's other shit going on with it, too. All the x's are missing from the main site now, I guess." Abandoning her at-random approach, she opts to change course and read from oldest to newest, and pauses on one labeled 'Liquidation complete', gaze caught on a name within it: Cong.

Emily shifts her eyes to the date, then back to the message itself. "Oh my god," she whispers. "Dev, this…"

It's dated January 13th.

“How'd you find…” Devon never finishes the question, as he's caught up trying to follow the tabbing, the pages, the information. It's happening a little too fast, while he's still trying to understand one part, Emily is picking through another. He sits back to observe for the moment, likely he'd have the same reaction if roles were reversed.

There will be time to comb through the site more thoroughly. He hopes.

“Welcome to my world,” he says in a low voice, as Emily begins explaining some of the finer points of the hack. It doesn't mask the dark humor in his tone. And as she slows down in her investigations, he leans forward again.

“Sunstone was being liquidated.” A small fact Dev remembers from January. One of their targets had said as much upon being taken into custody. “Praxis was there…” The company more or less ambushed the operation, jammed signals, refused requests to stand down. Something in her tone draws a look at her, then to the date on the screen.

“That's the day after the mission.”


"That's you, isn't it?" Emily says, lifting her hand to point to the line where Cong's research is mentioned. Her arm feels weak as she moves it. "They were talking about you." Or so she assumes, at least. It doesn't feel out of line to do so. It's a little unreal to see it, makes Devon's missing mystery time feel more tangible. Additionally: worrying. Secret as it might have been, information about his experimentation — his incarceration — was living with Praxis directly. Any doubt she may have had about 'redking' and his insistence about Adam being behind Praxis is summarily erased.

She doesn't let the realization freeze her, continuing to read, a notepad opened to scribe down unfamiliar names, as well as notes to herself about what happened. In a quiet voice, she reads along for Devon's sake as well, occasionally broken up by commentary. "Something about your blood… tissue samples?" Emily frowns to herself. "Something you had made something they wanted to do … work."

Finally, she looks to him by her side, wondering if her next realization falls in the realm of good news or bad news. "Dev, with the way this is reading, it sounds like after they brought you back, maybe they didn't do anything else to you." At least in terms of changing anything about him. Her gaze searches his intensely. "They just took from you."

The answer begins as a slow nod. “Cong. Bao-Wei Cong. Some sort of doctor.” What else, Dev couldn't begin to guess. In one memory with the man, it wasn't a man’s face at all but some kind of monstrosity. The other, an older man’s face that would fit very well as a professor in a science lab. “It could be about me,” he admits reluctantly. The timing is right.

“They took a marrow sample.” A sample, they'd seen that for certain, with Kaylee’s help. But what else was done is as much a mystery as the implications in those files.

“Lucille says I've been changed.” It's never been mentioned before, perhaps on the idea that it wouldn't be true. Devon’s voice chokes around apprehension for a second. Talking about his captivity is something he typically tries to avoid. “Adam said something about me surviving a second round…” He's not convinced they were only taking from him to test anything. “They took, but with what they were saying, what Luce found… I think they replaced.”

Emily’s gaze flickers at the admission, and she looks back to the screen again to consider what’s there while remembering the same thing Devon does. “They did say that…” she concedes, sounding hesitant. Silence lingers after that for a moment too long, one she punctuates by taking his hand, pressing her lips firmly into his knuckles before she lets go. “Maybe they did change something. But how do you even go about checking for something like that without doing the same shit that they did to you?”

She almost wishes she hadn’t said it, but it needed done. She’d be apprehensive, if it were her. And sometimes all you can do is just acknowledge the tough things a person has to face.

Even so, with all the emails read, she takes the time to go back to the main site, skimming again. Everything she reads takes on an even more sinister feeling knowing that Praxis really was behind…

Her eye catches on the word as she reads it. "Huh," Emily voices, flipping from that graphic to another, then back. "That's…" she starts, but doesn't finish it. Her hand splayed against the screen again, pointing out how Praxis has an x in one spot on it, and is missing it in another entry. "They're not entirely gone."

The hair on the back of her neck prickles as she wonders if maybe none of the others had come to that realization yet. She wonders for only a moment before she tabs back to the other dark screen she’d been consulting, quickly bringing up a reply window.

From: skepE43@failsafe
To: …

Took a look. Not all the x's disappeared. There are a number remaining, pages different for each:

Huaxin, Praxis, explain, explosion, expressives, Coaxial

Not sure if this helps or not. Will keep looking. Thanks for the heads-up, this emails section is…

Rather than linger until she finds a word to accurately describe it, she quickly hits send and tabs back to the Praxis browser instead, chewing on her bottom lip while she wonders where to go from there. “The mystery with the x’s makes another password, apparently,” she remembers to voice a moment later, though she doesn’t sound like she has any inclination to go digging hard at the moment. She’s still working through processing what they’ve already read.

“Luce used her ability, she could tell things’d been changed.” But not what. There had been other avenues to explore, ones Devon had tabled but should begin to reconsider. Like Emily, he's uneasy about subjecting himself to any further lab work. What if they trigger something and he falls victim in similar fashion to Kaylee. Or worse.

His thoughts brush against the darker possibilities while the email is composed, while he stares at the screen without truly seeing the words. Adam needed to keep him alive, but that doesn't mean that a failsafe hadn't been implanted. There's so much missing time, anything is possible at this point.

He drags a hand over his face. It's those thoughts that keep him up at night, that give him reason to drink coffee at all hours.

“Raytech has lab facilities,” Dev says from behind his hand. At least he wouldn't be restrained or mind wiped. It's likely more secure than the hospital also. “We could begin there. Start with looking at genetic markers. It'll be tough without a baseline, but… Richard’ll have ideas. I should probably test my ability also. Somehow they knew what it was.”

Lifting his hand from his face, he finds the Praxis site back on the screen. “I don't even know what to make of this. Any chance you can share that with me, passwords and such?” He isn't asking for her source, just the intel. “I think Command would like to see it.”

Emily looks back abruptly when he suggests Raytech, an overabundance of caution in the pause before she nods. “It’s probably the safest place you could look into it at,” she admits, though she’s surprised at herself that she does. “You know for sure that Richard’s not with Adam. He’s got an invasive reach, but Raytech should be safe.”

She’s absently started combing the pages for all the instances of words with x’s by the time he poses his question, and her brow lifts. For a beat, she seems like she might say no given her silence, but she relents with a forced-nonchalant “Sure” before glancing back over at him with a curious glint in her eye. “But doesn’t Wolfhound have…?”

Then she remembers, not least of all because it’s been shouted multiple times in her vicinity over the last month and a half. “Oh,” she emits, sounding a little sheepish. “Right. You guys don’t have Wireless anymore.” Emily is quickly looking back to the screen then, copying down the passwords and their associated pages onto her physical notebook. “Yeah, I’m going to have to look into this some more, but … I think all of this was left out here for a reason. Whoever the hacker is left clues, like they want people to dig and to find this stuff. I just wonder who they are… who else has Praxis wronged so badly someone’s gone to air out all their dirty laundry?”

And god is it numerous. Emily thinks to herself.

“I'm pretty confident that Richard isn't working with Adam.” Bao-Wei had mentioned spies, and he'd be a fool to think Wolfhound was the only place that had them. But Raytech is still the safest facility he knows besides the Bunker. “We’ll have to be cautious, keep it all off board, nothing official.” He'd prefer to keep even SESA investigators out of the loop until he's ready to bring them in.

They already had their hands on the medical reports from when he'd been admitted to the hospital. That's something he'd like to get ahold of himself.

As Emily recalls the Hounds’ wayward leadership and technopath, Dev nods. “Yeah. And Noa retired. We're like a three-legged dog trying to learn how to run all over again.” He sounds a little troubled as he describes the new handicap, but he smiles his thanks when she agrees to share the information.

“I'll get on it too.” It can't hurt having more eyes combing over the site. He bumps his shoulder lightly against Emily's as he adds his support. Then, while she's continuing to search the website, he takes out his phone to text Richard about their planned visit.

A three-legged dog without any medical experts, either, apparently. Emily gives off a sympathetic wince as she scrawls down the last password made available to her, tearing the page off to slide it in Devon's direction. The only payment demanded is from his cup, as she's taking another sip from it while she skims over the site, completely oblivious to how much time has passed.

Her writing assignment is entirely forgotten now, abandoned in favor of these other mysteries.

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