Ongoing Concerns


hana_icon.gif richard_icon.gif

Scene Title Ongoing Concerns
Synopsis Hana and Ray finally compare notes on the Looking Glass project… and on other emerging causes for concern.
Date April 11, 2018

The Bunker

It's Harkness who meets Richard at the airport and drives him out to the Bunker in a dark blue, older-model jeep; gruffly collegial, he talks freely about such topics as the weather, the unit's purely personal gossip, and his own experiences maintaining their Raytech-developed gadgets, but professes to know nothing about the purpose of Richard's visit. It's likely even true.

Harkness' role ends when he parks the jeep at the end of the drive, delivering Richard to the Bunker's door. The air is brisk, just a bit cooler than down south in the Safe Zone, the sun gradually being overtaken by accumulating clouds. There will almost certainly be rain within an hour, perhaps two — possibly Richard will get back to his plane first, but the odds there are poor.

The major herself greets Richard at the door, giving no indication that she's been waiting on his arrival. She probably wasn't. "Ray. I appreciate you coming all the way out here," Hana says, making no move to shake his hand; those social touches are reserved for the people who don't actually know her better. She does however wear her version of meeting formal: an unconventionally featureless black suit jacket, fully zipped, over equally black pants.

She's eschewed the cane today, and as she gestures subtly for Ray to follow her, also seems inclined to forgo both office and conference room, otherwise typical settings for such meetings. Instead, Hana passes them by, heading deeper into the Bunker.

It may be light conversation, but Richard actually relishes it, genuinely enjoying the casual gossip, chatter about the weather, and Harkness's experience with the gizmos and gear provided by his company. it's refreshingly normal, and normality is an anchor that the CEO of Raytech has been trying to keep a solid grip on in recent days.

The alternative is probably alcoholism.

He's dressed meeting formal as well, but there's a somewhat tongue-in-cheek flair to it that she'd probably recognize - the pinstripe suit he's wearing is Company issue, a gift from Charles Deveaux once upon a time.

A smile curves to his lips at the sight of Hana, and he moves to step along after her down the hallway. "I needed to talk to you about a few things as well," he admits, "So it's probably an appreciated meeting on both sides. And it's always good to see you, of course."

He looks around casually as they walk, joking, "Your organizational discipline's as good as ever - to date I have yet to convince any of your people to let me fly your plane."

The quip about the plane elicits a sidelong look, the kind of dry exasperation that might just pass for humor in certain lights. "I don't let them fly it, either," she replies with a hint of thin smile, before turning into the stairwell and leading Richard up two floors.

This is the residential space, access point to the areas individual Hounds call home — or home away from home, in some cases. Most important is that the third floor includes Hana's own personal domain. She leads Richard to the end of the hall, opens the door of the very last, corner-set room, and waves him on through.

Beyond that door is a spare, whitewashed room that gives the impression of being large and airy, although its actual dimensions are only average. Shadescreens have been pulled down over the windows, though there is little daylight glare to exclude today. The smooth concrete floor is softened by a large area rug in dusty gold and red, but the only furniture in the room is a sturdy wooden table and the handful of chairs scattered around the room. Two have been placed to frame the table: one on the far side, and one on the near.

Resting on top of the table at the nearer seat is a single sheet of paper, a printout consisting of five digitized photographs. The left-hand column are profile photos that appear to all date from the 80's, perhaps from some yearbook or employee directory digitized as part of an archival effort. On the right, only the first and third have paired images — sharper, clearer, more recent by far. Dating from the early 00's, perhaps.

It's obvious where Richard is intended to sit.

"I do have a pilot's license, you know," Richard continues the banter affably, clearly not serious about trying to fly the plane. It's a compliment for the high-tech vehicle more than anything.

As they walk into the large room with its chairs, he brings both hands up to adjust his collar briefly before stepping within, moving over to the seat obviously intended for him. "I've been in less comfortable interrogation rooms," he quips, regarding her with a single brow's raise, "So what can I do for you, Hana?"

They can get to his business afterwards.

He tips his head to look down at the print-out on the table, a casual assessment of it as he waits for a response.

There's a hint of distinctly lopsided smile as Hana moves around the table to her own chair. It's not about the plane. "Nothing, actually. Or not much." She gestures towards the printout, then looks across the table at Richard.

"It's come to my attention that the Looking Glass project is not, in fact, a historical curiosity, but still a going concern. Maybe inevitably so, with Kravid still at large." The matter-of-fact levelness of her voice also fails to convey any surprise. "As the project's origin involves people significant to you, it seems only appropriate that I share what I have."

The major tilts her head, raises an inquiring brow. "We could begin with what you already know, so I don't bore you by duplicating it. Or — I can just start."

There's no surprise at the topic as it's brought up, but she'd probably be disappointed in him if there was surprise.

"I can begin, if you'd like," Richard admits, lips twitching in a faint and crooked smile, "I'd hate to make you go over ground that's been already covered, and we might be able to fill in some holes for one another."

He leans back in his chair to get comfortable, hands folding atop his chest and elbows on the arms of the seat. "The original work was begun based on Michelle LeRoux's work, with assistance from Edward Ray and Richard Schwenkman.” The three people in the photographs on the table. “The Company already had their eye on her, although I don't know if she was aware of them — I know that the Deveaux Society had its hooks into her, though it's possible that she just thought of them as a charitable group. The apparent intent was to create a device that could see through time."

Dryly, he interjects into his own narrative, "That's not what they ended up making."

He continues, "Their first success was on June eighteenth, nineteen-eighty-four, which ended in an accident of some sort. The same day, Michelle LeRoux was killed in a car accident, and her fiance was kidnapped by unknown personages - I assume the Company, but I never had access to the Level Five prisoner roster, so I'm not a hundred percent sure."

He looks down at the paper, reaching out a hand to brush fingers over the photograph of Michelle with a distant expression for a moment before drawing back, inhaling a slow breath, "The Company later picked up the project, I believe to little success. My alternate reinstated the experiments when he was resurrected, keeping it as a need-to-know project that he refused to let even Simon Broome look into, with Erica Kravid as head of that project."

Back to Hana, he raises a brow, "So. Did I miss any of the salient points?"

Hana makes a permissive gesture, cueing Richard to go ahead and speak. She remains quiet throughout, listening attentively, with no changes of expression suggesting any reaction to Richard's words. But then, none of it is new. At the end, she smiles, inclining her head slightly. "I would say — not any salient points. Details, though…"

The major sits back in her chair, clearly settling in for something lengthy, despite the fact that it's about details. Details are prone to coming in many — and some may even be non-trivial. "The records I have attribute the project differently — the Looking Glass was Schwenkman's theory, his grants and his research lead. However, it's clear even to me that he would not have realized it without LeRoux and Ray. Michelle LeRoux was bagged and tagged by the Company in February 1979, recorded as possessing hypercognition. She was also the cousin of Sarisa Kershner," Hana adds as an aside.

"On June 18th, activation of the Looking Glass combined with a power surge to cause a five-block blackout and a spiral-shaped aurora borealis effect that hung over the city for 17 minutes. The Company, having been monitoring their research, swept in to confiscate the project. The report indicates that Agent Eric Thompson arrived to find the device in flames and both Schwenkman and LeRoux injured. The Company took in Schwenkman, did not pursue Ray — believing him non-Evolved and the least important of the research team," Hana adds dryly, knowing that irony will be appreciated. "— and failed in their attempt at subduing LeRoux, leading to her flight and consequent death."

"There's nothing relating to David Cardinal in what I have," she remarks. "Aside from a wedding date. Neither is there any mention of you, directly or indirectly."

"Afterwards, Schwenkman's memory was erased of both project and his capture, he was released, and the Company took over the project. Which ultimately leads to the Institute's involvement," Hana concludes, in a way that isn't entirely a conclusion.

The devil's in the details, as they say, and some of those 'minor details' that Hana doesn't seem to put much stock in have the impact of a 9mm bullet to the skull. Richard tries to hide this, but he can't keep up the poker face completely; eyes widening slightly, breath drawn in sharply, pulse rising a few beats per minute.

He doesn't interrupt her, he just listens, chin dipping near-imperceptibly from time to time as he drinks in the sequence of events. She finishes, then, and he leans his head back in a slump against the chair’s back, both hands coming up to rub up from his chin to his brow and drag back down again in a slow slide.

"God,” he murmurs, “God, it all makes sense now."

They're only words he says for a few moments, before his hands drop back down and his head falls forward with them, fixing her with a serious look. All business, if his hands weren't trembling slightly. "Thompson. Schwenkman. Do we have a current status on those individuals?"

In a busy room, something with color and ambiance and distractions, Richard's subtle responses to the details might pass overlooked. Here and now, Hana simply fails to acknowledge them. His greater reaction at the end is met with the next best thing to sympathy, were sympathy phrased as patient silence. Sometimes it is.

"Thompson went to Homeland Security after the Company was toppled," she replies. "He fell off the radar in 2011, and managed to get himself counted persona non grata by the Mitchell administration. I did find a report that he was sighted helping relocate civilians during the war, specifically in the company of Meredith Gordon. Nothing more recent than that."

"Regarding Schwenkman… it seems his absence from the Looking Glass project was only temporary," Hana continues, bringing her hands up and folding them one over another at the edge of the table. "Does the name 'Caspar Abraham' have any significance to you?" she asks, apparent non-sequitur and, from the look she casts to Ray, a point of minor curiosity rather than critical import.

The news about Thompson is met with a slight nod, Richard's hands folding over each other on the table's edge as he leans in again; keeping themself busy like that, to stop any fidgeting that might give away inner agitation, or possibly in unconscious imitation of the woman across the table. "At least he's not confirmed dead, so potentially findable," he murmurs.

"I've never heard the name before," he admits, brow furrowing slightly, "Who is he?"

Hana inclines her head slightly at his remark, then purses her lips. "I don't know," she allows. "The Company did try to recreate the Looking Glass at their Hartsdale facility, but failed. This was in 1986. Afterwards, all information on it was apparently 'compartmentalized' by one Agent Caspar Abraham."

"Despite that, the project was restarted in 2010," she continues, nodding towards Richard and his earlier precis covering that point. "The Institute apparently discovered enough data on it to identify Schwenkman as involved… and it so happened that he was recruited by the Institute in 1993." Hana draws in a breath, lets it out. "So the Institute had his memory restored, and — well. One prototype was constructed at Mount Natazhat, another in progress but never completed at the Arcology."

"Both devices were recorded as having been destroyed." She tips her head, gives Richard a sidelong look. "It so happens that file edit was made in 2014, under Schwenkman's username."

"Nazahat… that explains that, then," Richard's brow furrows into deep lines, "Christ, he was reckless. Twenty-ten — that makes sense; Ezekiel already knew about Looking Glass from his timeline, he knew about Schwenkman."

He gives her a sharp look, then, "Twenty-fourteen. I take it you recovered some Institute hard drives somewhere along the way, then?"

Richard's query is met with a solemn nod. "Data off said hard drives, properly speaking, but yes. Many of the computers were physically destroyed before I could reach them," she adds with a thin twist of lips, "but what remained, I have."

"If you happen to find any of the Garden of Eden Project data while you're rounding up my alternate's ex-employees, let me know, it'd go a long way towards helping us clean up the Dead Zones — it was meant to restore a post-nuclear Earth, so," Richard admits knowledge of at least one project, although a relatively inoffensive one. "Somehow I've got a feeling that wasn't on Kravid's priority list to rescue, though."

A moment's thoughtful silence, and then he asks, "So you said you think it's still an— ongoing concern. Why?"

Hana raises a hand, open-palmed. "Before we get into that, why don't you tell me what you came to share? We've covered the history aspects of my info. I presume yours is also ongoing?"

"I suppose that's fair." Richard draws in a deep breath, eyes closing for a moment as he sorts through his mental filing system - then opens his eyes and meets hers steadily, "I'm sure you've noticed that someone other than you is murdering old Institute executives by now. You'll be familiar with the perpetrator. An old… friend… of ours."

"Adam Monroe."

Hana draws in a breath, lets it out, nods slowly. "That… does not surprise me." The immortal was bound to pop up again sometime or another… and once upon a time, the two of them also engaged in a race of sorts to kill Company Founders. She smiles, all teeth. "Although these days I make some attempt not to outright murder them." However much she'd like to.

The smile-that-isn't slips away. "What brought him to your attention?" she asks, curious.

"I was looking for Jean-Martin Luis," says Richard bluntly enough, "Adam beat me to him."

"It's… not his extracurricular activities that I think we need to be concerned about, though," he says with a slow shake of his head, "It's his primary activities. Someone who left his… company when he realized that Adam was a sociopathic monster warned me that the man's gathering forces on a global scale. Think Vanguard— but the opposite ideology. A widespread Evolved supremacist insurgency force."

"Because of course he is," Hana says dryly, one hand coming up to scrub over her eyes. "And that's just what we needed." Not to mention ironic: the government had concerns about little old Wolfhound, and here was a bona fide 'Vanguard situation' emerging from somewhere else entirely.

She looks over at Richard. "Can you happen to share anything else about his 'company'? Focuses of activity?" A brow arches. "I assume for 'size of force' we'll just go with large."

"On a larger scale, I don't know," Richard admits with a shake of his head, "His personal— hit squad, as they are? Maybe a dozen or two. I've confirmed Wenzhou Zhao from the Ghost Shadows Triad back in the day, an unknown teleporter, and— " A deeper frown, "An old Ferry asset, Irish girl, Siobhan. I used her to get some people out of the country back in the day. We should assume all of Monroe's assets are Evolved as a default, since he's gone full out supremacist on us."

Hana's eyes narrow at the mention of Siobhan. "Her citizenship is French," she mentions offhandedly. "Siobhan." There's a beat where the woman's attention is clearly elsewhere, before she nods in response to Richard's final statement. "And where were they?" she asks, coming back at the question he didn't answer from a slightly different direction. "When?"

"They're mobile," says Richard, leaning back in his chair with a frown, "They're based off Siobhan's boat as far as I can tell, and with that teleporter they can be essentially anywhere they need to be. Their most recent hit was in Texas, but— by the time I was aware of it, they were long gone. His work shouldn't be hard to identify, though, he's taken to writing that Symbol in blood on the walls, it seems."

The last rather dryly said.

"I don't have much more information, because I only found out about this a couple days ago," he admits, "But I've got people digging, and I'll let you know when I have it. I do know that he was talking about things he's got going 'all over the globe' and — given his ego and resources, I believe it."

Hana nods slowly, taking a moment to mull over Richard's statements, her gaze going to one of the white walls. "Can you tell me who this info came from?" she asks at last, tone neutral; she's not about to press if the answer turns out to be no.

There's a thoughtful silence for a few moments, and then Richard shakes his head. "Sorry, Hana," he says firmly but apologetically, "They're not on your wanted list or anything, I can tell you that - they're in hiding with their family now, and the less people that have any information about them, the safer they are." He may have never been an official Ferryman but he was close enough to the organization to pick up some of their practices.

One hand lifts, waves an absently dismissive gesture. Subject closed.

"As regards the Looking Glass…" Hana rises from her chair, indicating for Richard to stay put. She steps out of the room only briefly, presumably having ducked into the one immediately adjacent. She returns with a rolled-up canvas, spreads it out on the table for Richard's perusal: a field of bodies in business suits and lab coats; a lean, long-limbed, shaggy-coated dog standing atop; and at the bottom of the field of view, the lifeless form of Erica Kravid herself, throat torn out.

The style is distinctively familiar.

"Mas came up last month to give me this," Hana explains. "She mentioned having seen the Looking Glass in the same — experience. A 'triangle of blue light'."

Returning to her chair, the major sits back down; she also has a file folder in hand, but keeps that to herself. "She mentioned 'investigating' the project along with Lynette Ruiz. When I met with her to try and get a better understanding of their involvement in the matter — Mas being as she is— " Hana raises a hand, gestures in Ray's direction. "— your name came up as perhaps also knowing something."

"Obviously, your interest in the project's history is self-evident." She tips her head, regarding him questioningly. "You mentioned earlier that a viewer 'isn't what they made'. So what did they make?"

Unspoken, but distinctly communicated for all that: And what else do you know about it?

"It couldn't've happened to a nicer lady," Richard observes rather deadpan as the painting's unrolled, "Let's hope this is one prophecy that actually comes true… the fact that she saw the Institute active again in twenty years or so doesn't sit well with me."

Obviously he's aware of the experience in question, and isn't trying to hide it.

Then there's the obvious question, and he draws in a slow breath. "Okay. You're going to have to bear with me for a moment— ah— " He looks around the room, and then pushes himself suddenly from his chair and steps over to grab a dry-erase marker from where there’s a few sitting on a side table. "This'll work. See, she made the same mistake that my alternate did. They were smart, but they didn't understand how time works. Quantum locking and temporal inertia make straightforward manipulation unlikely at best, useless at worst." Whatever that means.

Stepping up to one of the dry-erase surfaces of the room’s walls, he draws a single straight line across it, a dot at the origin and an arrow at one end. A ray if you will. "So this is the flow of time. Obviously, it normally moves in one direction. Now, what Michelle was trying to make was something to look forward and backwards— " He draws a triangle next to the line labeled ‘LG’, with arrows pointing in either direction along the line, "— a time window as it were. She wanted to see the future, or the past."

A glance up to make sure Hana's following, and then he draws a big X across the design he’s created. "The problem is, that's not quite how time works." Taking a few steps to one side, he draws a single ray going from the bottom and stretching upwards - and then he goes back down to branches another ray off it at a certain point, and another at another point, until it looks more like a tree of rays that stretches up most of the wall. "When we reach a divergence point in time, it splits another timeline off of ours, that exists relatively in parallel."

He taps one of the branching points with the marker, labeling the ray VIRUS, "A viral contagion is stopped." Another, which he labels FORMULA. "The Formula is never released openly, and Arthur Petrelli dies." Another, labeled FLOOD. "Munin is stopped from exploding, preventing a global flood." The last, he labels WASTELAND. "Anti-evolved forces are stopped from taking over the government; World War Three never occurs." A pause, “But it’s possible that these things didn’t happen. The virus was released, Arthur took over the country, or Humanis did, Operation Apollo failed. That possibility created these other major timelines— “ He taps each of those divergent lines in turn, “I’m sure there are more, probably more than we can ever know, but these are the ones we’ve had the most interaction with via so-called time travellers, and yes, this means that by and large everything Nakamura did was fucking useless in the long run, at least from our point of view. It’s why my alternate’s plan to ‘erase the timeline’ by sending a message into the past was never going to work, because— ” He punctuates the words that follow by writing them in large letters on the wall, “— TIME. IS. NOT. A. LINE.”

A triangle's drawn between the main line and one of the others, then, labeled LG again, but this time the arrows are drawn between two timelines. "This is what Michelle made, without meaning to. It wasn't a device to look through time, it was a device to look between timelines."

When did Richard Ray start talking like a scientist?

Hana's brows lift as Richard suddenly turns loquacious, and she sits back to observe curiously as he starts drawing all over the walls. Fortunately, that's exactly what they're for. The curiosity is not what the man says — Hana hasn't the degree of interest in time that he does, but one can't live through the events they did and have a time-displaced daughter without picking up the basics. No, the curiosity is his abrupt transformation into a lecturer mid-conversation… and whether there is significance in that verbosity, or its earlier lack.

Hana makes no interruption during Richard's spontaneous presentation, does nothing to disrupt his spiel. At the end, she simply regards him levelly and asks the next question.

"Given all that, what do you think it would take for Kravid to turn the device into a door?"

"A lot of power."

Richard frowns at the sketches on the walls, and then points the marker at her, "If she had a working Looking Glass prototype, I'm pretty sure that all she would need would be a lot of power. It's less of a jump from a window to a door than you'd think. I mean, Michelle— "

He cuts himself off with a shake of his head, looking back at the wall, then to Hana.

"I see what you're thinking. You're wondering if the supposedly dead Vanguard we're seeing in the Northwest are alternates, aren't you?"

There's a beat of silence, and then a question that is a surprise. "Actually, it was a concern that Mas and Ruiz expressed," Hana corrects, folding her arms on the table. "But that is an… interesting… question." Her turn to fall quiet, to contemplate the marker-streaked wall.

"I am not aware of any recent incidents that match Kansas City of 1982." Or Natazhat, for that matter. "But—" She may simply not be aware. Or it may not have replicated the same effects. Or it may not have been 'recent', whatever period that actually encompasses.

"It is at least marginally more probable than necromancy." At least. But also disquieting in its own way.

Another brief pause. "What did Michelle do?" Hana asks then, giving Richard a prompting look. Not that she actually expects to get much, again — he wouldn't have cut off the first time — but it's worth a try.

At the question, Richard turns his attention back to the board, and there's silence for almost a full minute. Just when it seems he's not going to respond, he slants a look sidelong to Hana, considering — and then his shoulders slump a bit, a sigh whispering past his lips.

"Kansas City, nineteen eighty-two," he says, reaching out with the marker to circle a spot on the line lower than the other divergences, "Michelle LeRoux is pronounced dead on arrival by emergency services. She is not pregnant."

He looks at the board, not at her, as he says quietly, "If she didn't open a door by accident, Hana, I don't see any way that I'd be standing here in front of you today, since I was never born."

The quality of Richard's silence is not quite consistent with refusal to answer. Given that, Hana can wait, and does, her own silence remaining as impassive as her expression.

"That does explain a few things," she allows at last, tone mild. It raises other questions — like how infant Richard's parentage was even attributed — but ones that to Hana's mind are ultimately immaterial. It matters more that Richard is here, involved in this conversation, his ear to ongoing concerns.

Rising to her own feet, Hana steps up beside Richard, holding out the folder for him to take. "Copies," she says by way of explanation, "of the most relevant reports. What I don't have is anything relating to its construction or mechanism of function. It seems likely Kravid kept those to herself."

"If we could lay our hands on Schwenkman, we'd know more," Richard admits, looking down to the marker in his hand and capping it, tossing it lightly to clatter on that small side table with the other markers.

He turns to accept the folder, opening it up to page through it.

"I'm digging myself, of course," he admits as he does so, "I know there were records being kept at the Ross Dam facility - I'm sure Erica had to share some details out, if she had engineers working they'd need to have instructions after all. And— Sabra might know more about the Company side of things."

A twitch of a smile up at one corner of his lips, "I'd probably have better luck asking her than you would. Just a feeling, there."

"We would," Hana agrees, with no expectation that 'laying hands on Schwenkman' will be so easy as all that.

Her lips quirk sideways at the mention of Ross Dam, even as she regards him curiously. "You won't find much of anything out there," the major says with distinct certainty. "Is that something Luis told you?" she continues, gesturing Richard towards the door.

Mention of Sabra Dalton earns him a dark look, and exactly no comment in reply.

"I figured you had to get all this from somewhere," Richard admits wryly at the certainty regarding the Dam, stepping away from the wall and heading for the door as she gestures in that direction, agreeing with her assumption, "It was a tidbit in the information he sent me before he died. A lot of it wasn't very— helpful. I'm told he was degenerating fast by the end. Parkinson's, and maybe Alzheimer's."

His tone regretful. He liked the old man, clearly, despite his sins.

"He would've been better off with Mohinder." Behind bars, but at least taken care of.

"That is unfortunate," Hana concurs. The deficit of helpful information. The neurodegeneration. Luis' choice. All of the above.

They proceed back down the hallway, retracing the steps by which they arrived. "Harkness can take you back to the airport, when you're ready to go. You are of course welcome to visit with the others while you're here," she adds as they move out into the lobby with its glossy polished concrete and black leather chairs. Hana gives Richard a sidelong look. "If your no-doubt busy schedule permits." She certainly knows how that goes.

"Of course." Richard offers her a smile, then, a genuine one, as they reach the lobby, "Thanks for the information. If I find anything more - about either topic - I'll let you know." They're in the open, now, so he doesn't elaborate on what those topics are. "Always good to see you."

Hana nods to Richard, smile more suggested than truly evidenced. "I appreciate it." She turns towards her office, then pauses after just a couple steps, half-turning back towards her guest. "Oh — there was one other thing."

"Mas mentioned a 'traveler', someone she referred to as Dorothy. Someone, it seems, that I don't know. You wouldn't happen to be familiar with the woman, would you?"

"Dorothy?" Richard's brow knits a bit, "Can't say that I know a Dorothy, but to be fair, the last time I talked to Eve she was coming down from a Refrain trip while smoking a joint and babbling about the Wizard of Oz, so…"

A spread of his hands, "Who the hell knows? She's crazy as a bag of wet cats."

In response, Hana simply regards Richard for a long moment, then inclines her head. "She certainly can be," the major agrees, before turning and disappearing into her office. Richard is left to himself in the spacious, spare lobby, to see himself the rest of the way out or find someone to chat with as he sees fit.

Behind closed door, the major leans hands on the edge of her desk, looking at the wolf's-head cane resting in a corner of the room without actually registering it in the mind behind shadowed eyes.

"I hope I don't find out you just lied to me, Ray," she says to empty air, to stifling room, to the man outside who cannot hear her words.

Technically, every word was true. But Hana Gitelman has never been one to care about technicalities.

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