Old Ghosts



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Scene Title Old Ghosts
Synopsis The past isn't unwritten, it's just hidden.
Date August 12, 2019

Heavy, panicked breathing accompanies the movement of a single figure down dark and dusty concrete-walled halls. The frantic pace at which he runs is accompanied by heaving, wheezing breaths. Rounding a corner past a series of closed metal doors, the heels of his boots skid in a dark and wet smear across the floor. His arms windmill and he paws at the wall to keep himself from falling over.

Glancing back over his shoulder, he sees no sign of anyone behind him, just the diffuse glow of daylight reflected off of the stone walls. Outside, the wind is howling and a sandstorm is rapidly approaching. “Aqad dhahabt,” he says breathlessly, patting himself down on the chest and stomach, checking for injuries. “Aqad dhahabt,” he repeats as though it were a mantra. She is gone, he is saying.

Mazdak Compound

8 Miles Outside of Rutba


August 12

2:13 pm Local Time

A hiccup of nervous laughter slips past his lips, and with a gentle touch of his fingers to his neck, the sweat-slicked young man withdraws a small pendant from the inside of his blood-spattered button-down shirt. He kisses the sunburst symbol etched on the necklace, then shakes his head and takes a half step backward. It’s only then that he realizes what he skidded through while fleeing the sandstorm.


Sucking in a sharp breath, the young man freezes in place. He doesn’t move, he doesn’t breathe. But in the darkness of this unlit bunker, he feels something. A presence. Something in the corridor, just out of sight and in the dark.

Aqad dhahabt,” he whispers.

But she is not gone.

Outside, the hollow howl of the wind blasts over all, echoing down the vents and shafts that supply air to the people living in what is, from one perspective, nothing more or less than a concrete-lined tomb. Stretched thin, high notes amplified and low notes transmuted into inaudible yet palpable tension, the sound resembles the screams of a horde of ravening ghosts bearing down, an imagining fit to send a shiver down anyone's spine.

Even that of Hana Gitelman, were she inclined to heed it. But she isn't listening — not to anything outside.

Inside, one man's fear is telegraphed by the punctate clamor of boots striking concrete, emphasized by pants of strained breath and the susurrus of words murmured too softly to carry whole down these halls, despite their emptiness and insulation. The hubbub is such that Hana's own footfalls pass unnoticed by the man she hastens to intercept — all the more so for the fact that her own heels never touch down.

She stops, an inch shy of peeking around a corner because no peeking is necessary. She hears him approach, hears him stop, hears the unintelligible whisper of what can only be prayer. Instinct honed by experience maps relative locations, distance and direction, the height of her target. Meanwhile, the computer that doesn't precisely live in Hana's head determines the same, but with actual math, using sound and its reflection to refine instinct's conclusions, overlaying the results on the woman's awareness.

The motion that carries Hana around the corner is the same motion that sends a black-bladed knife winging through the dark — winging towards the youth who, when forced to choose between a lioness and a sandstorm, chose wrong.

The noise of the knife's impact doesn't register over the sound of the wind, but her target's collapse to the concrete floor does. There's a few strangled gurgling sounds, nearly silenced by the wall coming through the vents. Hana is the only one to hear them. Eventually even those protesting sounds die out with their creator, leaving Hana physically alone in the corridor.

Up ahead the concrete-lined passageway splits at a T-junction, the right leading to a small cluster of lockers and showers from when this was a Republic army facility during the first Gulf War. The left leads into an underground parking garage, its entrance locked from the inside behind a rolling metal door. Past that is her destination. The wind howls angrily outside, a reminder of the intense — but brief — nature of sandstorms this size. As brief as her window here.

The count of ghosts howling in the wind increments by one. Hana does not have it in her to mourn, not the loss of this youth she never knew beyond observational profile and singular less-than-chance encounter, one whose life choices placed him firmly on the wrong side of an implacable line.

The alterego that shares her presence minds the loss somewhat more, yet to it life and death alike are abstracts, equally incomprehensible. It is easy to claim a value for life, and yet, what does that value truly signify if what is lost can never be defined — for what is life, anyway?

A question it has ruminated over often in the months of experience it can recall, but does not now spare cycles to contemplate; now is not the time. Too, the duo are in complete accord on both the ends and means of this venture; any life ended may arguably be a loss, but that is not the same as its end being unwarranted.

Retrieving her blade, Hana wipes it clean on the dead man's shirt before returning it to its sheath. Perhaps three more remain, if their reconnaissance was accurate… all on the far side of a door whose operation is sure to be unwantedly noisy. If it weren't latched, which a quick test proves it is.

Well. It's just not worth fussing with that.

Thermite is Hana's answer to the obstacle ahead of her, lines of paste drawn to define a hole at the bottom that she can squirm through. Igniting it makes for a clatter all its own, as the freed segments first crash to the floor and then are kicked well clear of her path — a path dictated by the need to secure cover against whatever response that distinctive noise might have provoked.

The juxtaposition of old and new in the bunker has been a jarring one. As Hana squeezes through the opening made by the thermite charge she finds further evidence of wars long since past. The parking garage is filled with dust-shrouded vehicles that would look more at place on the road in the late 1990s or early 2000s than any current era. Their tires are all flattened and deflated, most of them would have been expensive in their time. Some, like the candy-apple red sportscar she ducks behind for cover, still would be, were they in better condition. Stockpiles of vehicles like this were common prior to the US invasion of Iraq, before the bomb, before…

Min huna!” A voice calls out in the dark, preceded by the sweep of a flashlight in the dark. Beyond the boundaries of that steel door her senses pick up more than just light and dark and sound. Computer hardware powered by a backup generator hums in the distance in a way in which only a technopath could feel; open bluetooth ports offering tempting doorways into the network architecture beyond.

The sound of more than three pairs of boots hitting concrete is precisely the kind of distraction that will keep one half of this infiltration team preoccupied. By merit of her corporeality, that happens to be Hana. But the network and systems are more the kind of target that Tenzin can tease something out of while Hana keeps the security team preoccupied—

She’s not alone.

That first sensation of something being wrong comes as a chill when Hana notices someone standing in her peripheral vision, upright, behind the car she’s using for cover. He isn’t particularly tall, broad in the middle the way age makes some men. His white hair is receding back in such a way that it threatens to fall clear off the back of his head, and the creases of age that cut into his round face are many and deep. He wears a suit of a cut that raises red flags to her, sleek black with a crisp white undershirt and a charcoal tie. Men who kept her on a leash once wore similar suits. They’re all dead now.

The old man who was not there a moment ago, looks momentarily surprised. He raises one brow as he looks over at Hana, then up to the glow of oncoming flashlights.


The nature of the vehicles neglected here might be of more interest later; for now, their sole value to Hana is as concealment and cover. All the more so as her senses continue collecting data — their estimates of personnel were off. Well, that's not a surprise, just an annoyance.

What is a surprise is the presence suddenly behind her, arrival unheralded by footfalls or indeed any flavor of noise at all. Priorities instantaneously realign, the attempt to decipher a headcount from the overlapping echoes of of boots on concrete unceremoniously discarded in favor of assessing this new threat — which, given sheer proximity, needs no actual assessment. His taste in attire is only the metaphorical cherry on top, in that regard.

There's something subtly wrong about the older man, a notion T.Amas has only just begun to grapple with even as Hana's adrenaline-fueled reflexes stampede right over the recognition that never has a chance to develop into realization. Not in this moment. She lunges for his knees, bodily attack intended to bring him toppling down to the level she's already on —

— and meets nothing save empty air, hands slapping against cold concrete in the very last of last-minute saves.

“Ah, my apologies,” is the clipped British response for what Hana just experienced. Tired blue eyes alight from Hana toward the flashlights, followed by the report of semi-automatic gunfire without even the pretenses of a warning. But the bullets aren’t aiming at Hana, they’re zipping through the old man and striking the concrete wall with a flash of sparks and a shattering of stone. Canting his head to the side, the white-haired phantom raises his hands in feigned surrender and lifts his brows.

“Five gentlemen, two in the front, right side, thirty feet. Three behind, sixty feet, using cars as cover.” He says out of the corner of his mouth to Hana as he steps around the front of the automobile. Louder, this time, he addresses the response team. “I’m sorry, gentlemen, I appear to have become lost. Could you— ” four more gunshots ring out, passing through him harmlessly.

The old phantom looks down to his chest, then back up to the guards. “Well.


Bodiless apparitions are not something Hana came prepared to deal with — if she could be, which is a thought experiment for a less trying time. Just as well this one seems disposed to act on her behalf… even if that only means he wants something. Unasked-for help in a (seeming) situation is an old ploy if there ever was one.

And she's not going to like what he has to say, that's axiomatic. But —

Accurate, is T.Amas' verdict on the stranger's intel, which dovetails with her own. However little she likes to admit it, even to herself. Having scrambled into a crouch while the apparition was apologizing, Hana now moves from car to car, guided by her own ear and T.Amas' estimations, angling to flank the three at greater remove.

Once she has that line of fire, Hana puts it to good use.

The security team at the rear is ill-prepared for an ambush as distracted as they are by the phantom’s seeming incorporeal nature. In her youth she may have been inclined to lunge in at the men, take one down in a grapple while shooting the others. The pain in her ankle — an injury that she has no explanation for — provides a counterpoint to that strategy. Instead, it informs the precision at which she dispatches the three men with quickly-aimed gunshots. It’s louder, it’s messier, but there are limitations to this lioness’ pounce.

Each of the three men drop with an audible wet slap to the concrete after the shots ring out. This puts the two men engaging the white-haired old ghost sixty feet past her and leaving them unable to see where she is in the lightless dark of the parking garage. Hana’s ears ring from the echo of the gunshots reverberating off the walls, a tinnitus reminder of encounters from a past life.

Using the adjacent panel van as new cover, Hana finds herself once again confronted by the old man who appears in her peripheral vision beside her, standing beside the van. “Yes, ah, I was hoping we might speak. I have a somewhat urgent matter to discuss with you regarding Richard Drucker.” Which, given the shouts and bootfalls, is really not a priority for Hana right now.

Hana keeps note of the persistent ghost in her awareness, not least because cannot be affected by others does not necessarily dictate the converse. Unfortunately, ghosts teleport, or something that might as well be so from her perspective — which means the man in the suit can put himself anywhere, anytime, without warning.

And what he chooses to do with that capability is be an annoying git of a gadfly.

The woman fails to deign to respond to his hopes and concerns with anything beyond a glare no less scathing for its brevity, her own attention ostentatiously fixed on the two yet-living zealots. She's out of position to get a bead on them, but that can be fixed; while the men shout in consternation and run to where the ghost no longer is, she slips from behind the panel van, scurries past a yellow convertible that feels bright even in the dark, and pauses against the wheel of something lean and black and not worth the trouble of actually identifying, in Hana's estimation.

The van is strange. Out of place, T.Amas notes as she moves.

Don't even, has nothing to do with the actual remark, and everything to do with circumstance and context.

Fucking irrelevant chatter.

From here, she just needs those two to take a few more steps…

There’s a mildly disconcerted noise that the phantom makes when Hana disregards his inquiry, tired blue eyes upturned to the targets of her aggression and the objects of her distraction. Drawing in what sounds and looks like a deep breath but may well be just a performative pantomime of one, the figure of the old man strides past Hana and out from behind the van and into the open of the parking garage.

“Gentlemen,” he says with both hands raised as if to placate or surrender. Flashlights are on him within a moment, “I have important business to attend to, at present, and if we could cease these hostilities it— ”

Once more there’s a hail of gunfire passing through the figment and once more he seems put off by the entire experience. Hana can see the sweep of their flashlight beams in the dark, see the way they’re holding them in a cross-wrist grip under their handguns. “As you wish,” the ghost says.

Because they don’t see Hana.

She might have kept one, if circumstances were different. Only a stay of execution, and only for so long as she had questions to ask, but a stay nonetheless.

Circumstances are not different.

Two men. Two shots each. As the echoes of those shots fade away, the garage becomes the quietest as it's been since she entered. Very nearly as quiet as a tomb, one with grieving wail wrapt about its exterior walls.

As the sandstorm continues to rage above, Hana double-checks the bodies she's left huddled in the lee of first one vehicle and then another, confirming them deficit of pulse and breath. She checks also for keys, cards, things of that nature; what might be useful as she continues on her way.

And then she spends a moment on a brief detour, smashing in a window on the van for sake of getting in and looking around (and not playing twenty-questions-with-keys). Still without a word to the ghostly intruder who's chosen to horn in on her business — and to invoke a name he, no matter who he may be, has zero right to invoke.

Ignoring people of his sort never makes them go away. That doesn't mean Hana has to play nice.

Ultimately there wasn’t much to find. A few magazines for their handguns, wallets with local currency and no identification. The van was filled with masonry supplies, bags of quick-drying cement, a sledgehammer, a mortar knife. It’s also the only vehicle with functional wheels, at least a decade newer than the other dust-covered cars. The silence, save for the weather’s wail outside, remains.

Well, except for

“If you’re satisfied?” The old man. “I do hope you understand that I wouldn’t be coming to you if it weren’t otherwise a relative emergency. My past observations implied that you’d be… somewhat reluctant to converse with me, given our apparent shared history.” He smiles, wearily. “I suppose an apology there would be somewhat gauche.”

"I understand nothing of the sort," is Hana's acerbic reply as she leaves the momentary time-waster of the van behind, her sideways glance at the apparition sharp as a spearpoint, or perhaps a claw.

"Do you possibly imagine that confessing to 'observing' me is going to earn my goodwill?" is somehow drier still, if adorned with the same pervasive edge. Meanwhile, she moves on towards the far end of the garage, and her destination. The fact that none of the dead carried keys at least means she's unlikely to meet any locked doors.

What way is there into Hana's good graces? That seems to be the question of the hour.

If there's an answer, the woman doesn't seem inclined to volunteer it. Perhaps on the bright side, she is also utterly dismissive of any prospect of apology. At least the man can rest assured she isn't waiting on one.

"Everyone thinks their demands are a fucking emergency," Hana snarls as she stalks on, not exactly under her breath but not pitched with intent to carry, either.

The old man’s brows rise slowly, then settle again. “We all observe, to determine how to act. You’re not the only one guilty of that, even among your peers.” But for all that he would like to wax poetic on their nature, the old man draws in a seemingly vestigial breath — were he truly some ghost — and exhales a sigh with a patient, though mild, smile.

“My name is Walter Renautas, and I expect that name will not mean overly much to you. I retired from the Company many years before I believe you were conscripted into its ranks. Normally I don’t concern others with my identity, but given your personal predicament I feel as though it would be disingenuous not to at least give you some level of understanding of who I am.”

Walter rests a hand to his chest. “While I am perhaps only able to be judged by my association with ghosts of your past, you do know my granddaughter. Delilah Trafford. Perhaps even her young son who bears my name in her memory.” Walter’s eyes dip down to the concrete underfoot as he takes a few meandering steps toward Hana. “But this isn’t about you, or I, not really. It’s about Richard Drucker. It’s about something he knew, and a peril the rest of us forgot.” Then, with a furrow of his brows he amends. “Or, more accurately, what we were made to forget.” Walter nods at that, satisfied. “It’s about memory.”

The subtext of Hana's remonstrance seems to fly right past the old man, not entirely unlike how long strides fly the woman through and beyond a menagerie of cars all past their respective primes. Well, whatever.

Renautas seems to stick in her thoughts in a way that renders Hana momentarily pensive; she fails to reply as she passes from open expanse into comparatively narrow corridor, steps slowing as she focuses her senses ahead. Where there were two unexpected enemies…

…there seem not to be more, at least on the face of what she can hear.

Which conclusion, as the old man doggedly pursues her wake, continuing to talk at her back, doesn't come with as much surety as she'd prefer. Not that the prospect of more resistance is a troubling one. Unearthing old ghosts, on the other hand…

She remembers his ending. She remembers resolution, determination, obstinate tenacity.

She knows what came of that determination, in the end.

But she cannot recall the years of attempt and error and tribulation that tempered the driving whip of her resolve, the passing time and acclimation and demanding purpose that softened her failure to achieve what could only ever have been impossible.

That disconnect scathes in its own distinct manner, and the old man's words serve only to bring it to the fore. It is not with words that Hana replies, but a forbidding rumble of a growl punctuated by the lengthening haste of her strides, desire to leave the ghost in her metaphorical dust made manifest.

If only that desire could be so readily realized.

Even harder when he’s already up ahead in the corridor she’s winding down, waiting for her with his hands folded behind his back and that almost condescendingly patient look in his eyes. “I understand your reluctance. Everyone you’ve trusted has, by and large, betrayed that trust to some measure. I would hope you able to empathize with yourself, then, for a moment.” His choice of wording is precise, specific.

“If what I want and the stakes implied are ultimately immaterial to you,” Walter says with an incline of his head, “I would offer to you the same window that I have to the people who have asked me to turn history’s forgotten pages. Time is a book, Ms. Gitelman. Moving back a page, even if just to read a familiar passage again, or one that was passed over in haste or… lost?” Walter’s blue eyes track her movements more carefully now. “It is a rare opportunity, especially for someone like yourself.”

Walter’s lips begin to form a smile, but he can’t quite muster it. “I need your help to find Richard Drucker,” says the old man as if Drucker were still alive, “and in return I would repay you a favor in like kind. Even if that favor is to begone and never haunt your halls again.” The smile creeps up, irrepressible.

Perhaps the most aggravating thing about the gadfly isn't his persistence — it's that he presumes his 'observations' mean he understands her, while demonstrably not actually possessing any understanding of any sort.

A different iteration of Hana, one more practiced at dealing with men of his ilk on their own playing field, might have brushed aside the semantic clutter and focused in on the hints of and allusions to matters of actual import.

This one might have done so if the apparition weren't so in love with the sound of his own voice… and possessed of the certainty that a personal appeal that will garner her cooperation, if only he can hit upon the right note. But in that, he has failed to comprehend his audience… in the same way many others have done.

What Hana hears, in all that spill of words, is an abundance of mealy-mouthed entitlement on the part of a man she doesn't know and whose name bothers her — not to mention his choice of attire, his choice of approach, his avowed allegiance, and his cavalier barging-in on personal ties and the sorrows that go with them. Nor did she miss the insult that's either snide or unthinking — neither of those possibilities being in his favor.

For all the words the interloper speaks, the overly-familiar smile first smothered and then let show, Hana's expression softens not a millimeter. Indeed, if anything, her expression only hardens as she plants her feet and stares at him, aggravation shading darker in the direction of hostility.

"Whatever secrets Drucker took to his grave," she pronounces, tone clipped and brittle, "he can keep."

"Go the fuck away," is cast over her shoulder as the woman turns, passing from hallway into equipment room, striding to the computer that manages the telecom line and busying herself with its systems in a manner that speaks just as loudly as the words plainly stated a moment before.

Perhaps that invocation worked. Enough emotional sage to exorcise the spirit of Company ghosts of Christmas past. When Hana looks back to where Renautas was, no one is there. His absence lingers much as silence does after a gunfight, obvious and uncomfortable. It's a few moments before Hana can be certain that he isn't coming back from— wherever it is ghosts come from.

As she ends her path to the computer hardware, she'll have plenty of time to contemplate the answer to that question.

Where do old ghosts go when they're no longer wanted?

Outskirts of Ramadi


August 15

6:27 pm Local Time

Ramadi is a city that has seen better days — and worse ones, too. Bracketed by the Euphrates and bordering on the shores of Habbaniyah Lake, its relatively short history is writ in the inks of trade and of strategic import, valued gold and spent blood. The texture of the city is concrete, where it isn't rubble, tans and browns and oranges and grays; where there's money to be shown off, manicured hedges and lush palms soften the aesthetic, but this isn't that kind of neighborhood. The college campuses to the east boast quite a bit of greenery, despite everything, but Hana hasn't actually set eyes on them herself, though it's higher education that calls to many of the denizens of this neighborhood.

From the outside, the building presently serving as a place to rest her head is bland to the point of boring: gray, boxy, and barely two stories tall, with corrugated metal roofing its patio and the breezeway that divides the building in two. It can hardly be said to have windows, and such as exist are barred. There's wisdom in those design decisions, all things considered. A four-foot concrete wall rims the property in lieu of a fence; in it is set the left part of a wrought-metal gate that hints at one-time aspirations to something more, still presenting half of a twenty-petaled flower as its face to the world beyond.

Inside, the room Hana doesn't really call her own is just as Spartan, meant as it is to be embellished upon by its resident; that she hasn't bothered can be ascribed to the brief nature of her intended stay, but also to the woman's ungrounded, displaced state. She doesn't belong here — but she understands it, intimately and viscerally.

It's to the flat rooftop that Hana's withdrawn for the evening, however, seated cross-legged on a cushion in the dusty evening breeze, the sky shaded deep orange as the sun descends toward distant hills. Empty dishes nearby speak to dinner long since consumed; the stillness of her posture now could be meditative, or a sign of one deep in thought, or reflect nothing at all but the relatively quiet city dusk.

“Twilight’s an ephemeral thing, isn't it?” The voice is one Hana hadn't heard in days, but the soft tone of Walter Renautas, and the impact he’d made in his first appearance, is still quite fresh. When she opens her eyes, he's standing there at the edge of the roof with his hands folded behind his back and the wind in what's left of his chalk white hair. “Interstitial moments, stitched together by night and day, but never as long.”

Walter turns to regard Hana over his shoulder, blue eyes as tired as they were a handful of days ago. “I hope that I'm neither too early, nor too late.” He looks to the dishes, just now noticing them. “No, it seems as good a moment as any could be,” is said more to himself.

The voice is unwanted, unwelcome, and at once both surprising and unsurprising. The wonder is that it took him this long to resurface.

The impulse to bite sharp words at him rises but sluggishly, impeded by the unharried calm of those moments preceding. Hana looks toward the sound of his voice instead, apparition washed wan and reddish by the dying rays of the sun. Dark eyes narrow, the mind behind them weighing his words, tone, demeanor. And while she cannot agree with his self-directed remarks… there is a truth to them, viewed objectively.

Context matters.

"If you're here to pester me," Hana warns, equal parts acerbic and weary, "save yourself the trouble and go find a different hobby."

“I suppose that all hinges on the quality of my company,” is his response, turning slowly from the edge of the roof to face Hana, making a slow pace toward her. “I believe you and I may have gotten off on the wrong foot the, ah, last time I saw you.” Brows furrowing together, Renautas considers his placement on the roof and stops at the farthest edge of conversational distance.

“Introductions already made, I realize you may take more coaxing in this scenario than the others have.” Renautas’ brows furrow, and he looks down to his feet, then over to the eastern horizon. “As I said before, I’ve come to ask for your help… because as it has been told to me, I may be the only person equipped to unearth a sin of the Company’s past so deeply buried that no one — myself included — remembers it.” Slowly, Renautas looks back at Hana. “Because if there is any hope of preventing a…” he carefully chooses his words, “catastrophic loss of life, the solution may well be one buried in the past.”

The wrong foot. Hana doesn't bother trying to suppress the snort that understatement inspires. "If you think anything you said three days ago was coaxing, you need a remedial course or three on persuasive speaking."

She closes her eyes as he continues speaking, expression remaining impassive. That impassivity is the most she's willing to show, right now; if his choice of approach now stirs at least the beginnings of interest, that, Hana does not care to telegraph. He hasn't earned it.

For a heartbeat, after he finishes speaking, it might even seem like she's not listening at all. But that's not the case.

"Mm-hmm. Catastrophic." Dry words, less than entirely believing. So, too, the glance cast his way. "You're going to have to elaborate."

“I apologize for my bedside manner, being dearly departed has left me somewhat bereft of the niceties I once had as a more proper, flesh-and-blood, man.” Renautas admits with a touch of a hand to his chest. “Perhaps I’ve been adrift on a beach for far too long,” he adds, coming to stand by her side.

“As for elaboration…” Renautas’ expression tightens, the visible lines of age across his face pulling together like an ink sketch stretched on canvas. “That is part of why I am here. I only know the, shall we call it rough outline, of the problem we’re dealing with and I’ve been trying to find the answers in moments of the past. But, my ability is… imprecise. It does well enough, but one might imagine time as a vast desert, with each moment in it one of the grains of sand. Not in any particular order, happening all at once and all around us. Pick one grain up and find a moment, then try to find the next…” he says with a broadening gesture of both hands. “I have found that with a point of reference, a connection, it makes the desert more a sandbox. Much easier to sift through.”

There’s a ghost of a smile that flits across Renautas’ lips at his own analogy, always self-satisfied with his well-practiced descriptions of his ability. “As to the what of my mission, I would say that it is… as far as I know, something tied to an old sin of the Company’s past. An event that Adam Monroe may have brought about that required the founders to stop. But something so terrible that they erased all recollection of its happening from history.” Renautas’ brows rise. “It would seem Mr. Monroe is looking for these answers too… or already operating with them.”

Looking up to Hana, Renautas’ brows furrow. “I would hazard his involvement is often enough to motivate the just.”

Being dead — if Hana believes that, which… well. She doesn't. — apparently hasn't cured Renautas of rambling. The apparition's audience waits through the exposition she didn't really need until the part she cares about comes around. Such as it is.

"Monroe," she echoes, brows arching in patently evident disbelief. "Often enough, it might be," Hana allows a moment later, settling her weight back slightly and letting her hands rest in her lap, palms one over the other. "Thing is, all I have is your word on that. Your invocation of an old name that I've made no secret of animosity for."

"You've already tried to yank on strings to make me dance." The very thought offends; the memory of that appeal to her hallowed dead seethes in the woman's tone.

“To be fair, that is the entirety of what I do.” Renautas admits with an incline of his head toward her. “Would I empty my pockets of useful evidence that I am benevolent, but we are far past that point. And the uncomfortable truth is that I wasn’t, probably am not now, benevolent. I am strictly doing this to protect my children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren from a crueler fate than the one I was dealt.”

Breathing in deeply and exhaling a sigh, Renautas begins to idly pace around where Hana is anchored. “The only proof I have is in evidence of things I have no right in knowing, to which,” he motions to Hana, “I would prefer your consent in finding. Were it easy enough to pluck up a moment that could convince you, I would. But I have none. I have only the smallest, most tenuous of connections… a woman I watched die in a vision, and Arthur Petrelli invoking the name of Richard Drucker, a man I never knew.”

Renautas shakes his head, expression tightening into a look of regret. “There is one great, dark secret left buried in the Company’s grave, Ms. Gitelman. One I would be content to let stay unearthed save for the fact that it appears, in this hour and age, ignorance benefits only the blind.”

"'Benevolence' is a canard," Hana remarks, with no particular emphasis or heat in the words; it's just a statement.

Aside from that aside, she remains quiet for a time after Renautas has finished speaking, regarding the apparition steadily, enforcing silence by dint of it hanging on her response. A feather of wind rasps sand across the rooftop, its touch cool against her skin under the influence of gathering dark.

"Two days," Hana says at last as she rises from her seat, tone brisk and businesslike. "Give me two days to do my own looking, and I'll give you a response."

Renautas’ brows furrow and at first it looks as though he’s grappling with the notion of what two days means. But his expression softens, brows rise, and in his most apologetic tone he affirms. “We’ll see how close to the bullseye time’s arrow strikes.”

And then he’s gone.

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