Parabolic Cosmos


ryans_icon.gif squeaks3_icon.gif

Scene Title Parabolic Cosmos
Synopsis Sometimes connections made in one world echo in another.
Date November 5, 2019

Praxis Ziggurat

An alcove for reading and quiet thought.

“I know you.”

Whatever thoughts that are occupying Ben Ryans’ time this morning are interrupted by a voice that is both unfamiliar and young. Not so young as to obviously be a child, but it definitely lacks the weight of age. A girl’s voice, and she sounds like she's stating an absolute fact than recalling a familiar face. Or pointing out an acquaintance.

“Not like… that I actually know you.” The young teen known commonly as Squeaks watches the old man without regard for his personal space or time. She isn't within his bubble — that would be rude — but speaking up is absolutely acceptable. They're in one of the many common areas around the Ziggurat, anyway. People talk to each other all the time. “But… the me in the dream that wasn't a dream knows you. The other you.”

He’s known she was there watching, yet Ryans quietly continued to read and pretended she wasn’t. It was a rather comfortable chair not as nice as the one he had in the Safe Zone. The book is by H.G. Wells and it’s having a hard time holding his attention today, thoughts wandering. This place was leaving him too much time to think, to go over the events leading him up to this moment.

When she finally speaks up, Ben simply shifts his gaze in that direction, head still bent over the hardbound book.

“Do you now?” Benjamin rumbles out, a hint of a smile touches his lips. Unlike others he hasn’t had the visions and dreams about other worlds. Though he had heard of them. “Another me? A good one I hope?” He turns a page in the book and focuses on it again, though his attention is still on the girl in his periphery.

Along with a nod, the teen makes a vague sound of affirmation. “Probably a good one.” She can't imagine she would know or even be friends with someone who wasn't good. “We were on a ship, because there was water everywhere. I think maybe you were the leader. The captain. But I don't remember exactly what I… what the other me was doing.”

Squeaks takes a step closer. Her scrutiny moves from the man’s face to the book’s cover. Her head even tilts so she can get a better look at the title.

“Did you come here to be healed?” The question, obviously, has nothing to do with the book, but it's asked with innocent boldness. Like there isn't anything unusual about asking strangers of their purpose for being in the Ziggurat. She straightens, lifting her head so she can look at Ryans again.

The title of the book was the Island of Doctor Moreau, it’s easy to see when he closes it with a finger holding his place. Just as she scrutinizes Benjamin, so he does in return. A brow popping up at the dream. A captain.

“You could say that,” the old man finally answers Squeaks’ question, looking amused at her boldness. “My ability was taken away a long time ago and Adam returned it.” Hold up his other hand, the fingers wiggle. “He also returned my hand.” It was still weird for him to see an actual hand there again.

“You?” Ben asks in return, “You come to be healed?”

“No.” Not exactly. Squeaks looks at the man’s hand, perhaps trying to find a seam or scar proving the claim that it had been lost. “I'm here because I was looking for answers.” Lifting her eyes from the hand, she returns her focus to Ben.

“How did you lose your ability?” She invites herself to sit, choosing a chair that's placed catty-corner from the old man. “Also, how do you know Adam?”

A smile deepens the creases in Ben’s features, amused by the questioning. Shifting in his seat, the book is set down on the stand next to the chair. “Adam and I have known each other since I was a little older than you.” He can only guess that really. “He saved my life when I was 16 and in the middle of a war. I lied about my age to join the Army and found myself in over my head.” Not something that was easily done now in the age of technology.

“After that, he watched over me. Made sure I didn’t get myself killed,” Benjamin adds with a chuckle, folding hands together in his lap. “When I eventually got out he told me that he and others were forming a group called the Company. Convinced me to help.”

Ryans’ gaze drops away as he becomes lost in freshly remember memories, even as he continues to talk. “ He was my best friend, how could I say no? A lot of them were considered friends… But then one of them stripped me of my ability and wiped out all my memories of being evolved and my friendship with Adam.”

When he focuses on the girl again, Ryans shoulders lift in a shrug. “I guess you could say, I came here for the same reason as you. Answers.” The book lifts off the table and into his hands. “The rest was a bonus.”

“Why,” Squeaks wonders out loud. Why would anyone hide memories or take powers? Conveniently, it doesn't cross her mind that that's how she came by some of her powers. She chews on her bottom lip, curiously rolling over all the possibilities she can think of. Something to do with the Company, probably.

She looks away from Ben, across the corridor then further. “He's a good person, I think.” Voice quiet, there's still a thinking quality to her tone as she speaks. “A good person to be friends with.”

After a moment, the girl looks up at Ben again. Blue eyes squint slightly with seriousness. “What's your power?” Most people think it's a rude question, especially when asked so directly, but he did bring it up first. That justifies Squeaks’ asking, right? Right.

“That is a good question,” Benjamin intones at first question. “The reason varied. Protecting the world, protecting secrets, and protecting themselves.” His hands spread in his helplessness. “No doubt they saw it as the right thing to do.” How many of the world’s worst had thought the same thing?

As for his ability?

Benjamin looks at the book in his hand and holds it. The book lifts from the flat of his hands and floats to Squeaks. “Telekensis. Then and now. Adam in a sense gave it back.” Ben doesn’t even want to think about how he got it back. “He’s… misunderstood.”

“Yes, he is.”

Squeaks is pretty certain of that fact, and she leaves her agreement lingering in the space between them. So many people think Adam is a bad person, because of the things he's done or the things they think he's done. She's as much seen that the immortal has regrets that he's had to resort to questionable methods to achieve an end. She's experienced one of those methods herself.

“The machine,” she guesses quietly, like sharing a secret with a close friend. Admitting, without saying, me too. “Except. I don't do telekinesis. I do other things.”

“Yes,” Ryans confirms. He had endured the machine to get back what was his. Or a version of it. When the girl doesn’t grab the book, he stands and it returns to his hand.

There is a glance of concern towards the girl as he tucks the book back in it’s bookshelf. He caught that tone. Letting the concern smooth out into curiosity, he asks, “Where you non-evolved? What did he give you, if I may ask?” He wasn’t as up on the new lingo as the younger folks. Slice was still an awkward descriptor for him.

A shrug lifts Squeaks’ shoulders. The exact details have turned more hazy, the deeper into the rabbit hole she goes. “I manifested um… a long time ago. Not last year but the one before. So since then I can do echolocation.” But there’s more, her tone implies, if not so blatantly as the television personalities marketing crap no one actually needs. She makes a small face, lips pulling toward one side.

“But I also… got experimented on when I was really little.” She’s hesitant in admitting that, unsure if she should tell people. Especially not a stranger that she only just met, even if she knew another version of him in another version of her life. In this life, he’s unknown.

However. Ben did admit to being part of the Company before, and he’s friends with Adam.

The girl shrugs again, light enough in the motion that her shoulders seem to bounce. “So that’s what answers I came looking for. Adam… Adam found the answers for me. For the questions I asked and then for some I didn’t?” Squeaks pauses to consider that. Even if it is over sharing, it’s too late to backtrack on it now. She huffs a breath. “Anyway, my… Adam, I mean, is my dad. And I do echolocation. Plus teleporting, super strength, and invulnerability.”

While Ryans listens to the girl, brows slowly rise as concern settles in, though he tries hard not to show it. “That had to have been hard to go through.” He remembers how it was for him and he only had one ability added.

“But, Adam’s daughter?” Ryans is genuinely surprised by this. A hand is held out to the girl, “Ben Ryans,” he offers formally, even if she knows of him from dreams. “It’s very nice to meet you, young lady.”

The girl’s shoulders rise slightly before she puts her hand into Ben’s to shake. “I don’t really remember very much. Just lots of hurting. Everything hurt inside and out. Then I had to stay in the hospital for a while.”

Sitting back again, Squeaks pulls her feet up to sit criss-cross. “My real name is Jac Childs. But almost everyone calls me Squeaks.”

“Childs?” The last name is familiar, if faintly, from his time in the Ferrymen. Eyes narrow in thought, turning to return the book to the shelf. Ryans knows that she is too young to be the woman’s daughter that showed up from the past, like his own.

“Would you happen to be related to Gillian Childs?” Ben asks when he turns back.

“She's my mom.” Squeaks’ curiosity climbs, manifesting itself as brief squirming within her seat. She shifts her legs, leans forward a little, then fits her elbows against her knees. “Do you know her? She adopted me officially in… the beginning of the year but she kept me even before that. After… after she found out I didn't have parents, she said she wanted me forever.”

“Some,” Ryans confirms with a nod of his head. “She and I worked in the Ferrymen and were on Pollepel.” They didn’t keep much company, but that didn’t mean she wasn’t known to the old man. “I worked to run defenses of the island, while she and her brother Brian took care of the children, there were not many chances to really interact.” And then it fell and they all went seperate ways.

“Saw her a time or two durig the war, but again, in passing,” Ben continues, though he turns thoughtful. “Does she know your here?”

“She's here too,” the girl replies with the smallest of shrugs. No need to go into detail about how that happened. She's just glad it did, and that she has her mom again.

Squeaks trades one topic for another, to avoid questions she doesn't want to answer. Her thoughts latch onto an earlier word. Pollepel. “I've heard about that place. Everyone says it's dangerous. Because of the birds.” Something she clearly doesn't believe. “I bet, after practicing, I could go in and out of there whenever I wanted.”

That Gillian was within the California Safe Zone was a bit surprising and if it wasn’t for Squeaks demeanor, Ben would wonder if she was a captive.

“What if I told you I was there that night?” Ben asks the girls with a solemn tone. “That I saw the birds rise up and attack anyone who was there. Now it's home to the birds and the ghosts of the dead. They protect the bones of the dead so that they can rest in peace.” Those lost souls deserved it after the hell they went through.

“Birds don't care about old bones or ghosts,” the girl points out. There's a hint of that's just silly in her tone. “They like food and shiny things, and soft things for their nests.” She isn't doubting what Ryans saw, only what it could be now. All the fighting she's heard about probably stirred up all of the creatures around Pollepel and made them attack anyone who came close for a long time.

“They do if told to by a dying avian telepath,” Benjamin counters gently, there is an edge of sadness mentioning that. “She told us to run, as I watched the birds rise from the trees like a dark cloud of death and descend on friend and foe alike.” As he explains it, he uses a hand to show the rise and then dive of the birds. “They say there is such a thing as genetic memory in animals.”

Ben doesn’t know how true it is, but… “Something to look into, at least.”

“Maybe.” It's not actually conceding. Squeaks probably won't fully believe it until she's seen it herself.

Her head tilts and she looks down the hallway, thinking hard. It's plain on her face now, like a balancing of scales, considering things carefully and from every angle imaginable. Who knew a kid her age could have such deep thoughts and complex problems that no adult has definitely never had to face before.

Blue eyes swing back to Ryans after a moment. Squeaks’ lips press into a thin line. “Um,” she breaks after a few seconds. “Could I… would… if I needed help working on my new powers..?”

A small smile touches his lips, amusement at her inability to accept what he says. Ben understands that. To be honest, he would have been the same way. The issue is allowed to die off, his attention turning back to the bookshelf, studying the spines.

“Looking for help learning what these new abilities can do?” Ben angles a lifted brows at the girl. “Sure,” he agrees after a moment. “Come find me when you are ready. Hmm?"

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