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Scene Title Obstruent
Synopsis When Devon heads out for a drink to clear his head, he finds an unexpected lead in his case.
Date September 24, 2020

Enough pieces were found to make sense of it all, but making them fit had proved harder than anticipated. The holes in Devon's memory were more like a snowstorm intent on covering the very idea of a path and less like a sieve. It wasn't that he'd simply forgotten things so much as he wasn't the one who actually learned them to begin with.

Hours became days as he used what free time could be spared unboxing the mystery of the handwritten notes. And the beginnings of his own, only slightly better organized than his first set.

The revelations he'd found were small, barely remarkable except in how buried they were. The security footage was baffling until he began noticing the correlation to the handwritten timeline. The disappearances, Rue being the perpetrator in both cases. It explained her arrest, but not why she was allowed on the mission to Praxia. Even less clear was the link to Hollis and Adrianne, and who they happened to be.

Cat’s Cradle

September 24, 2020

6:52 pm

Ginger curls are shook out, a quick dip and bob of her head flips them back and a hand smooths over the top, tangles briefly in the back, then curves around to neck, down throat, and past cleavage. The woman, in cutoff shorts and a crop top with a deep vee cut into it, stands from a deep crouch and dances her way from one end of the bar down to the other, rock music blaring and setting her tempo.

Once at the end, she pivots on the ball of one foot, then holds her arms up over her head. There’s a moment taken, calculating, ensuring she has clearance, before she springs forward into a handstand on the bar. “Beer me!” the redhead calls out, and the dark-haired bartender is happy to oblige. He grabs a can of cheap beer, punctures the bottom, then holds it up for her to shotgun.

He doesn’t even have to spot her. Rue keeps perfect balance, even as she lets one leg go forward and the other back in a split over her head. Once she finishes the beer — an impressive feat, considering she’s upside down and working against gravity — she brings her legs back together, then flips herself back upright, arms over her head again to show she’s stuck the landing. “Woo!”

The crowd eats it up. Rue Lancaster is the hottest new attraction at Cat’s Cradle. This last stunt was the grand finale of her routine, it seems. She turns her back to the audience and bends forward to plant her hands on the bartender’s shoulders, and he in turn puts his on her waist, steadying her as she jumps back down to the floor behind the bar. “Thank you, Sassy.” Rue expresses her gratitude further with a kiss on his cheek, wiping away the traces of mauve lipstick with her thumb before they let go of one another, and she moves to fix herself a drink.

Cat’s Cradle, being known for its extraordinary and extravagant climate, is usually a little too extra for Devon most days. A lot happening all at once, the high level of noise and energy, he tends to prefer to do his drinking in quieter places — the officers lounge, or around the dinner table with friends. None of that is sufficient or available, and maybe the activity is exactly the atmospheric distraction he's looking for.

He pushes through the entrance as the swell of Rue’s crowd moves on to drunkenly and loudly discuss the act they witnessed. Despite the obvious enthusiasm, he isn't there specifically for the entertainment.

He's there for a drink and a place to regroup. Sometimes the best way to solve a problem is to leave it alone for a bit.

Dev brings a hand to the bar as he wedges himself between two unrelated groups. The press of partiers can be suffered for a while. “Hey,” he calls out, and even waves a hand to get Sassy’s attention — having yet to notice Rue with her back facing the room.

The Cradle’s been rocking a lot more than usual since Rue joined the staff. Sure, it was loud before, but it wasn’t this flavor of it. Sassy spots Devon and holds up his index finger to indicate one minute while he finishes up the cocktail he’s mixing for another patron. He nudges the redhead with his elbow, and says something not heard over the music. Devon can see her head bob once in a nod. Then tip back when she knocks back her glass of whiskey. Leaving the empty on the back bar, she turns around to address the outstanding drink order.

“What can I get for y—” The smile that had been on her face — although not reflected in her eyes — falls in an instant. “Oh.” Rue sweeps a look up and down the Hound’s form. It’s like looking at a damn ghost. One that’s still alive to haunt her and remind her of her mistakes. “What’ll it be?” He’s still presumably a paying customer, so she won’t turn him away or anything, but she doesn’t have to feign enthusiasm either.

The time between Sassy’s noticing him and passing it off to Rue is enough for Devon to take possession of a stool at the bar. It happens in the split second when a purse is picked up by its owner, before they or any of their friends can claim the seat. He's done this a few times, it's a game that's learned quickly in the most popular places.

Leaning forward, Dev rests his arms on the edge of the bar. The voice that cuts over the music and yelling tugs his attention back from seat taking to


For a second he frowns. Eyes flick a look past her to Sassy. Understanding isn't found there, so he turns askance to the red head, his teammate. “What’re… did…” Devon’s mouth turns with a familiarly awkward grin, though he seems uncertain about Rue’s demeanor. Still. “Just a beer to start. Thought you'd be out of commission for most of the year.”

“Got the brace off earlier this month,” Rue says before she ducks beneath the bar to retrieve a beer out of the ice box for Devon. She wipes it down with a towel before setting the bottle in front of him on a coaster.

Her lips purse, and she clarifies his earlier unspoken question. “I work here. Girl’s gotta eat.” Rue runs her tongue over the front of her teeth, glancing Devon up and down. “Avi send you or something? All you fucking Hounds just keep sniffing around here.” Although if he didn’t know she works here… Maybe not. But it isn’t a stretch to guess that she drinks here. And she’s had a key to the upstairs apartment for years now.

“That’s…” soon, is how Dev would finish. He's thrown further by the derisive comment. It makes him frown again, but he directs it at the bottle that's placed in front of him.

“No,” he picks through his own answer with a little more care. Taking the bottle, he gives it a once over before following with a swallow. “No, I'm here for a break from ritual. I don't know what Avi’s up to.” He draws another swallow of beer, then sets the bottle on the coaster. “I didn't know you're… working here.” Moonlighting is a question that goes unspoken. He knows several of the Hounds frequent the establishment. It wouldn't be a stretch to believe Rue would take to working in the bar when missions were slim.

Devon twists his beer against the coaster, looks up at Rue again. “I hit a roadblock on some research.” Reasonable explanation for why he's not at the Bastion. And even if he's surprised to find her here, maybe she can help jog his memory. “That case with you and the kidnappings earlier this year. A couple of names came up. Hollis and Adrianne?”

“Yeah, well,” Rue starts in tersely, “unless I wanna go get rejected by Durandal or SCOUT, I didn’t really have a whole lot of options, did I?” It’s very true that Rue’s particular skillset doesn’t translate well to civilian life. But she knows how to put on a façade and play friendly when she’s really thinking about sixteen different ways to kill a man, so maybe this was a natural fit.

Sassy shouts a drink order to Rue and she gives an exaggerated nod of her head to show she heard it. While Devon talks, Rue mixes a drink. “Research? I don’t think I can help you with shit.” Except he explains it’s research into her case. The very thing she’s been trying to outrun and ignore. “The fuck are you digging into that for? It’s not your fucking business.” Because in her mind, this isn’t Devon she’s talking to. Just a heartbreakingly faithful facsimile.

“It is my business,” Devon counters easily, despite the slight frown that creeps into his expression again. He may not be the one anyone wanted, but he's the one they got. Which means whatever projects had been in the works before are his now. Still. “Because I was the only one who knew…”

He stares at Rue, for a long moment, wishing he could wordlessly impart the understanding that he owns but can't control. The patchwork of his twin’s memories overlap with his own, some more whole and seamless than others. Somehow he knows, irrefutably, that this is his case.

“Rue.” He tries again, asking and persistent. “I started this, and I am going to solve it.” Dev watches his teammate steadily, searching for anything beyond the glower and disappointment. “I know… it was someone else. This Hollis or Adrianne, maybe they’re involved. I don't know.”

The bartender’s expression remains flat. Rue turns and walks away from him, and for a moment, it looks like she’s dismissing the Praxian-come-Hound entirely. But she flashes a smile to a patron and leans onto the bar to pass his drink to him. She lingers there until a faded green bill is deposited in the front of her shirt. No hands, just the whisper of paper against skin. She grins and offers a wink before pushing herself back to stand upright, pulling the money out of her cleavage to check the denomination before folding it up and sliding it into her back pocket.

“Look, you want a lead?” Rue asks when she gets back in front of Devon. There’s no traces of that smile left on her when she does. But if he paid enough attention to the display, he knows her well enough to tell when she’s faking it. “Go talk to Seren Evans. They’ve seen her. And… Adrianne was my aunt’s name. Bet you twenty dollars this bitch is using that as an alias.” She shrugs. “But I call her Marlene.”

Devon doesn't turn to keep facing Rue, he picks up his beer, allows his gaze to slant in that general direction. The act is observed that way, studied like a game of strategy, while he sips from his bottle. Her manner toward him seems more in line with the false smiles and sultry poses she offers the other patrons. The coldness and borderline hatred hurts, although he can't blame her.

He still harbors an anger of his own about his circumstance.

“Seren Evans.” The details behind that name hit like a loose wire; the connection exists but it doesn't transfer. Devon nods like he knows the name, and in a sense he does. One foot drops to the floor, and he slides himself from the seat. He digs into his pocket for cash to cover his beer and tip the bartender. “You know where I can find them?”

That he doesn’t know the answer to that just highlights for her the fact that he isn’t who he claims to be. Or who he thinks he is. Whatever the case may be. She still says thanks when she takes his money, stepping aside to the till to ring in his drink and pocket the remainder for her tip.

“Raytech,” she sighs out. “They work for Raytech. Last I heard, they’re still living in the corporate apartments there.” Not that Rue’s been checking up on them or anything.

Dev begins to say something, but the sound that manages to escape his throat is lost beneath the sounds of voices and music. He sighs instead, pushes the bottle and coaster closer to the keep side of the bar, then turns away. His seat is filled again as quickly as he'd first taken it, but he's already working his way through the crowd and toward the door.

A single glance back is meant for Rue, apologetic, mourning the seemingly lost friendship. It doesn't linger; Devon turns away a beat after. A hand pushes the door open, spilling sound and light with him as he exits the bar.


7:43 pm

The rolling blackouts are thankfully a thing of the past. Devon's memory for things of the last year may be questionable at best, but he well recalls the early days of reclamation, when the infrastructure in the newly formed Safe Zone was less existent than what he remembers from six month ago. It makes traveling on foot much less of an endeavor. The nostalgia of traveling in near dark teases as he walks the city streets between one bus stop and another, illuminated by street lights more often than not.

One hand rides in his jacket pocket while the other works the touch screen to scroll through his contacts. It's no surprise to not find a Seren there, though there's a gnawing certainty he's met them before. But sometimes the way isn't always the easiest, and Dev turns to the Raytech directory to continue his search.

As he walks past a storefront, the street lamps reflect off the darkened windows that would show glimpses into a showroom with rows of shelves stripped bare of goods or signage long ago, if not for the way the light makes mirror surfaces of them.

The directory proves fruitful. It would seem Seren Evans remains a current employee of Raytech. Arranging a meeting with them shouldn’t be hard. There may be answers to be found about this Adrianne or Marlene yet. From the other side of the glass, a shape watches Devon Clendaniel make his way down the street, nose down to the screen of his mobile.

A chill rolls down his spine, but by the time he looks up, and looks back, nothing.

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