Old Company Business


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Scene Title Old Company Business
Synopsis Richard stops by Benjamin Ryans' home to discuss old Company business.
Date June 19, 2018

Ryans' Home

Seven years - a lifetime ago, Richard Cardinal and Benjamin Ryans crossed a field of snow towards a fortified compound protected by murderous robots and some of the most dangerous Evolved on the planet.

Not everyone with them made it out that day.

The armour, the cold-weather gear, the weapons are in the past. Today, Richard Ray is walking up to the front door of the other man’s house dressed in a pinstripe suit and fedora, a gift of fashion and class from Charles Deveraux before his death.

There’s just a moment’s hesitation before he hits the doorbell and steps back, hands clasping loosely behind him.

It takes a few moments before the door opens to show a Ryans, who is a bit older and grayer then the last time they saw each other. The way his thinning hair clings to his forehead and the fact he is wiping dirt covered hand and well — stump, Richard has shown up while the old man was in the middle of working in his garden.

“Richard!” Ryans at least seems pleasantly surprise to see the younger man.

Of course, the old company agent isn’t alone. A very large and rather fluffy cat slips out of the door to see who is visiting in her territory. Nose working as she inspects his pant leg. “Come in. Come in.” Ryans motions for Richard to step inside. “Surprised to see you here, which such a large company like Raytech to run.”

“Ryans.” Richard crooks a smile, stepping into the house before crouching a bit to offer the cat his hand to smell— and some chin-scritches if the feline’s amenable. “It’s good to see you… and ah, it runs itself most days. I just make the high-level decisions, really.”

He looks older as well, though he hasn’t started going grey yet. The laugh-lines are deeper at his eyes, shadows beneath them speaking of a lack of sleep.

Straightening, then, “You’re looking well. Sorry for interrupting your gardening…”

The door shut behind them, Ryans turns to see the interaction between the man and cat. “That’s Ruma,” he explains with a very mild touch of amusement. “Followed me home one day and haven’t been able to convince her to leave.” The aptly names Ruma is pleased by the affection and purrs loudly. “She takes care of the pests, so… I don’t try to hard.” At all really.

He motions to the small galley kitchen, “Whiskey?”

“I’ve got a cat myself these days,” Richard chuckles, motioning a bit towards the purring feline, “Ingrid literally threw him at me, I caught him, she declared it was fate and walked out. I can’t say I mind the furry company, and the kids love him.”

He steps along towards the kitchen, “Please. How’ve you been?”

“Really?” Ryans sounds amused and a little surprised by the actions of a daughter he’ll never really have. “Definitely her mother’s daughter.” There is a bit of a tick up at the corner of his mouth at that thought. “I honestly, don’t mind the company. It’s a quiet house after all.”

The bottle and glasses are retrieved while he talks. “How have I been…” he muses while working the cap off the bottle. “Bored off my ass.” At least he is honest. “But when you have that many woman breathing down your neck to retire,” again, “you can only fight it so long.” Glass clinks against glass as he starts to pour. “What about you? You life has to at least be a little more exciting.”

“Oh, you know,” Richard replies in dry tones as he steps over, waiting for the drink to be poured, “Assassination attempts on my sister, a successful one against Remi, the return of people from the dead as ominous boogeymen, terrifying revelations of the past…”

He admits, reluctantly, “As much as it’s good to see you, I did have some business to discuss.”

One of the glasses is offered over to the younger man as Ryans listens, head bobbing a little. “So same shit, different day. Hmm?” One relieved of the glass, he is able to pick up his own. “I’m sorry to hear about Remi.” Someone that he didn’t really know, but he understand the loss either way.

A sip is taken of his whiskey, pretty sure he is going to need it. “So what can I do for you, Richard?”

A sip of Richard’s whiskey is taken as well, and he looks up at the ceiling for a moment. “Thank you,” he says then, looking back to offer a faint smile to the older man, “I appreciate it.”

He takes another sip, then motions with the glass, “I’m trying to hunt down an old agent of the Company, thought you might have a lead. Caspar Abraham.”

Benjamin is thoughtful for a long moment, fingers twisting his glass back and forth watching the liquid in it move. “If I knew the man, it’s been long erased from my memory.” Which isn’t a lie. He hadn’t remembered the man when Cassandra showed them those memories. “And it hasn’t been recently either, when I went back.”

Setting his glass down, he runs a hand down his face and scratches at his jaw, “You are better off looking to some of the older crew that ran the place when I was a field agent. Though, be careful poking around in old Company business.” He lifts his glass again in a salute. “It tends to come back at you.”
“Funny, Ben,” Richard smirks, shaking his head at the mention about memory, “Hilarious.”

His own glass lifts in return, as he admits, “I am old Company business, so I don’t exactly feel like I’m poking around unwarranted. The man’s off working for Kravid somewhere, I was just hoping you might have some idea of where one might find his trail… he might still recognize my old Company clearance, by all accounts he was as dedicated as you.”

His nose wrinkles a bit, “I suppose I’ll have to go knock on Sabra’s door.”

“You think I’m joking,” Benjamin looks amused at first, but then he slowly turns much more serious. “Trust me, lately I’ve been learning just how large those memory gaps are and the damage too much memory manipulation can do.”

“Sabra would probably be your best best, yeah. Or maybe even Angela’s sister, Alice.” He lifts a finger off his glass to point at the man across from him. “But, I didn’t tell you that. I’d appreciate if you keep my name off of anything. I owe you, but I owe them far more.” Sighing heavily out of his nose, Ben refills his glass. “Whatever, you are looking for. It is big enough to wipe even my memories.” One of the Company’s most loyal and long standing agents.

“I know.” Richard takes a sip of the whiskey, his eyes closing, “I know. There were only three people with clearance to uncompartmentalize the information for Looking Glass. Sabra, Martin, and myself. With Caspar off the grid, though, there’s no way to access the archive.”

He breathes out a sigh, shaking his head, “I’ll keep your name out of it, of course. It isn’t something I can just let go, though. You’re right, though. It is big. Huge, even. I’ve found… a lot of people with holes they didn’t even know about.”

Wry, his tone, “I’m one of them. Imagine my surprise.”

“That is surprising,” Ryans says studying the younger man. Of course, as he said, his memory has a hell of a lot of holes. For all he knows Richard was in one those if he had Company involvement. “Well, if you are looking for Looking Glass information then you are on the right track.” There is clearly more there, but the old man was asked to keep it to himself by an old colleague. “Though, I believe you will find they are trying to keep it buried.”

He is thoughtful for a moment, taking time to refill his glass and setting to bottle between them. “You ever heard of Cassandra Baumann? She is something like a Projective Postcog.” He picks up his glass and swirls the contents. “I have seen her ability in action. She might be your best bet if you can’t find this guy, but… she is also SESA.”

“I specialize at digging up old bodies,” RIchard says dryly, “Especially ones your old bosses buried.”

Literally, in fact. Shovel in hand at Coyote Sands…

“Baumann,” he muses, swirling the whiskey around in his glass, “I’ll look her up. And I know people are trying to keep it buried, but— that was my mother’s project, Ryans. And…”

A long pause.

“Well. Maybe I shouldn’t say any more, I know you’re retired.” Down the hatch with the rest of the whiskey.

“Yup,” Benjamin says rather blandly, “Retired.” He doesn’t sound at all happy about that.

He’s quiet for a moment and then sighs, “Do me a favor Richard.” His glass sets down with a tink of glass against ceramic and rest his hand and and blunted arm on the counter. “I’m not going to be around forever.” Well doesn’t that sound morbid. “When that time comes. Down in my basement, at the back, is a door. In that room is a desk where you will find a journal. It’s not much, but it is everything that I remember about my time within the Company.”

Which would explain how he is aware of all those gaps. “I don’t want it the hands of anyone else. Especially, not my girls.” Last thing Ben needed was them seeing that and reading about his darker moments.

“I understand,” says Richard with a slight nod, a brow lifting a little as he considers the other man for a long moment before admitting, “It’ll be a sad day when that time comes, though, Ryans. And I’ll be honest…”

The whiskey’s set down, “You always struck me as more of a ‘and we never found the body’ type than a ‘fade away’ type. I’ve been wrong before, though.” The hint of a smile, there, “Maybe I’m projecting a bit.”

“Might be sooner than you think,” Ben states with a humorless chuckle. “I wasn’t supposed to live this long, Richard. Not that I ever thought I’d ever live long enough to ‘fade away’ to begin with… Hell, I was pretty sure Alaska was going to be a suicide mission. But, just before Winslow hit me with his ability back in two thousand ten, I had been diagnosed with brain cancer. Winslow gave me a reprieve.”

He gives a bit of a shrug, straightening. “Doctor says that whatever Mitchell was throwing at us… it’s brought it back faster this time.” His mouth pulls to one side in a rueful expression, as he adds, “No one knows yet.” Meaning he is the first.

“I think we all thought that,” Richard admits, regarding Alaska… and then he frowns, looking at the other man for a long moment. “Well. Shit. I’m sorry to hear that,” he admits, genuinely, “I’m guessing, given that you’re still walking around without a hand, you’re not going to be looking for any— unconventional treatment?”

“If I am going to ‘fade away’ I’d rather do it on my terms,” Ryans says firmly, then he sighs, “Or at least try.” He does have a family of stubborn women… and extended family. “Treatments… they might give me time, but at what cost? Even then, there is a good chance it will come back. It did this time, despite all those dreams of that future saying otherwise.”

“A man once told me ‘we can rest when we’re done’,” says Richard, head dipping in a slight nod, “If you’re at peace with everything… maybe it’s time to rest. You should have the family over, though. Have a meal, some board games, some good times. Tell stories. Give ‘em another happy memory before things get worse.”

Rueful, he admits, “It’s easy to forget to do things like that. People like us, it’s hard to move past the fight.”

“I don’t a man like me can ever really be at peace,” Ben points out.

“But you are right, I plan to do something, not sure what yet. I still have time on my side for the moment.” The doctor had said it wasn’t as advanced as last time. “I need to tell them first.” Which was the part he wasn’t looking forward too. There were a lot of them to tell. “Give Sabra my best when you see her? I haven’t talk to her since before the war.”

“I will,” Richard nods a bit, “If I get through to her, I’m not sure if she’ll see me…” Wry, “…her and Alice are rather reclusive, so I’ll probably need to ask for a meeting through Claudia. Who I need to see anyway.”

He sighs, glancing down to the glass, “I’ll be honest with you, Ben, it’s feeling like there’s something big coming, and I’m not happy about that. I’d hoped to get to relax, work on making the world better, giving something back, you know?”

“I can try as well, but Claudia might be your best bet,” Ryans says with a nod in agreement.

The idea of something big coming again, is a bit unsettling for the older man, brows dropping thoughtfully. “You can still do good in the world and do what needs to be done.” Ben points out. He had done it himself in the past. “If you are right and something is coming. I honestly, can’t think of a better man to deal with whatever it is coming.” Richard having proven himself to the agent in Alaska.

“If you haven’t figured it out, yet. When you take out one bad thing, there will always be something to replace it.” It is a sad truth, unfortunately. But Benjamin does point out that, “The trick is to learning how to get the bad to work to your advantage, so that you can continue to give back.”

Ben offers him a small smile, “You’ll figure this out, Richard.”

“You sound like Ruby,” Richard chuckles, “Alright, alright, I get it. I’ll rest when I’m done. Someone told me seven years ago I was… guess she was wrong. We’re never done until we’re in the dirt, and half the time, not even then.” Mysterious resurrections happen, after all.

He waves a hand vaguely, “Anyway. Now that we’ve covered business, show me your garden, I want to see what you’re doing back there.”

“Thought you’d never ask,” If it was one thing that the old man had, it was gardening. Motioning the younger man to a door in that little dining nook, Benjamin will happily show him the one thing that keeps him busy.

When the door opens, Ruma zips out from behind them and disappears into the gardening beds. Basically, every inch of that small backyard has been taken over. The old man will talk his ear off and be delighted to find out that Richard has the same hobby. He might even impart some of his own wisdom, if asked.

“Let’s start with the strawberries over here…”

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