Popsicles And Preparations


devon_icon.gif richard_icon.gif

Scene Title Popsicles and Preparations
Synopsis Devon bears gifts of frozen treats for Raytech while Richard bears unsettling information for Devon.
Date July 16, 2018

Raytech NYCSZ Branch Office

Richard Ray's Office

It’s one of those warm, muggy summer days that seems to just drag. The kind that every office worker dreads, where the longing for something different, something to break up the monotony is strong. Some do give into the temptation to escape, by taking a personal day to escape the grind and the city in search for somewhere cooler. Others remain in the city, beating the heat by relaxing with a tall glass of lemonade while children play in the water provided by an opened fire hydrant. But for those who’ve remained at work — at least, those who are at Raytech — the respite comes in the form of popsicles.

The first treat was given to the receptionist within seconds of Devon pushing through the front doors. He shared a second with the fellow who’d come to escort him, while clipping a visitor badge to his shirt. Others were handed out as he walked the halls, given to the employees he met along the way to the big boss’ office.

Once stopped in front of the CEO’s office, he knocks on the door. His escort is given a glance and then a grin. “Hand these out to anyone else you see?” Dev implores of his escort with raised brows and heft of the bag that still holds plenty of icy treats. Except for one, which he’d held back to give to Richard.

The security guard is uncertain what to do with the bag, but he allows with a wry smile, “I’ll see what I can do.” They’ll probably end up in the break room.

At the knock, the door opens with a click of its own accord, allowing him to walk inside. Richard’s settled in at his desk, considering a chess board set up on his desk in mid-game. A look up, and he quirks a smile, “Devon…”

Rising to his feet, “Good to see you, kid.”

If the breakroom here is anything like every other breakroom he’s seen, those popsicles will be gone fast. Which is their purpose. Devon taps a finger against his brow in a sort of informal, not at all serious salute to the escort guy. Then, as if it’s completely normal to go through doors that swing open on their own, he steps into the office.

“Uncle Richard,” he responds with a grin. Dev holds up the popsicle, it’s an orange one, that he’d saved, a brow ticking up in askance. It’s set on the desk near the edge, all wrapped in plastic to keep the stickiness contained, in case the older man decides to take it. “That door’s pretty sweet. How’s it going? How’s… everything?”

“We’ve been working on security lately, given… everything,” Richard admits, hands spreading a little before he offers one across the desk, “Things are interesting, you might say— I understand things’ve been getting interesting over for Wolfhound, too.” Interesting is a euphemism, although what exactly for is a good question.

The popsicle’s regarded with a chuckle, then, and he reaches over for it, “Shit, I haven’t had one of these in years…”

“Interesting,” Devon echoes in flat, sarcastic tones. “I will say, it’s at least not boring.” He gives the offered hand a quick but solid shake. “I don’t even know where to begin…” He grins, hands lifting in a what can you say gesture.

The popsicle gets a pleased nod. “Those’re the best. I figured your people could use a treat, and those are way better than the cookies I almost got instead.” Of course, cookies would probably survive longer in the break room, but popsicles go better on hot days.

“Neither,” admits Richard as he peels the paper wrapper off, “Do I. Appreciate it— “

The popsicle’s motioned in the younger man’s direction, “So what have you all been up to? I’ve heard rumors that Mayes has reared her ugly head up recently… hopefully you all can cut it off and put it on a pike.”

“I don’t know about Mayes,” Devon says as he lets himself take up one of the chairs facing the desk. “At least, nothing more than what you already know. I mean… You probably know more than I do.” That last bit he tacks on with a laugh. He’s not high enough up the food chain yet to know much of anything until mission time.

His arms fold over his chest in an old, habitual manner. There’s nothing defensive about it, it’s just comfortable. “Back in April, one of my teammates and I filled Avi’s room with balloons. And balloons filled with shaving cream.” It’s nonchalant, the way he says it, and how he keeps a straight face is a total mystery. “And there was Geopoint. Guess you could say another one bites the dust after that mission.”

There’s a bark of laughter from Richard at that. “I’m sure Epstein just loved that,” he says with a grin and a shake of his head, clearly and genuinely amused, “I imagine he didn’t let it show, though…” A taste of the popsicle, and he points it at Devon, “So what happened with Geopoint, anyway?”

“Between you and me,” Dev says, conspiratorially, even leaning forward a little. “He hasn’t said a word. I’m kind of a little afraid, but it also makes me want to do it again.” And the grin he follows that up with says that he’s already got ideas brewing. “It’s got to be something big, too, so if you think of anything. I’ll keep your name out of it. As for Geopoint…”

His grin falls a little and he rubs the back of his neck. “It’s old Institute grounds. Just barely operating when we got there. They had files on a mess of things — which is probably expected.” Evidence of Devon’s pay grade, he’ll know details when he needs to. “There was a new robot there, not like anything we had here. This was worse, like those ones in the future that Kincaid and his friends came from.”

At the last, Richard’s smile fades like the sunset, and he leans forward to rest an arm on the table. “A Gen 2— or— no, you said the wasteland. A Wasteland Hunter? Are you serious… of course you are,” he spits out, leaning back again and bringing one hand up to rub against his face, “Of course you are.”

His hand drops, and he fixes the other man with a serious look, “Did you see any machines in there with a— triangular opening? Coolant pipes forming the triangle, it would’ve had some serious power lines leading to it, more than— actually, fuck it— “

Fingers tap against the desk, the screen coming up with a particular image. His hand twists, and he pushes the image across the black glass (a nice trick!) where the younger man can see it clearly, showing a primitive version of the Looking Glass machine with some static and corruption lines across the image.

“Blew off its head and it kept going,” Devon confirms. He remembers those robots all too well for having not encountered them before the mission to Geopoint. That dream still haunts him. “Tentacle things came out of it that electrocuted. Tried ripping me in half with it’s… claws?” Can a machine have claws? “It was bad news.”

The description draws a curious look, and Dev leans forward with unabashed curiosity — tech is always interesting — when the image is pulled up on the glass. “I don’t…” he begins, then stops to really consider the image. “Yeah,” he goes on. The more confidently. “Yeah, something like that. Burned into the wall in… the hub where we found Dunlap. The cameras also caught some images, Major was able to pull them up. Mostly it was stuff around the compound but also… We weren’t the first ones there. The Horsemen beat us.”

“Fuck,” Richard breathes out, his fingers pressing against the desk so hard that his knuckles turn white. “The facility. What happened to it? Was it demolished, or after you cleared it out did you just leave…? This is important, Dev. I need access to that machine if it’s still there, if they didn’t blow the damn thing up…”

There’s a very focused, determined glint to the executive’s eyes. The last time the younger man saw that, Cardinal was still running Endgame.

“They were there an easy several days before we were.” Devon sits back as he recalls the state of the compound when Wolfhound arrived. “If not weeks before, people dead everywhere, Security systems running at their most basic. Major took care of the computer work, but it looked like most of it was in a safe mode. Like when you’d leave your computer logged in but locked. It’s an easy work around. Most of the cameras were down, she got a few images like I said. The power was minimal, like it was running off a backup generator or something.”

He stops there again, thinking, and trying to remember what else might have been important about that compound. Devon meets that all too familiar gaze with a vaguely worried look. “I can bring you to Hana for more specifics, probably escort a visit to the compound. If I knew more of what happened before we got there, Richard, you know I’d tell you straight up.”

“Hana…” Richard’s lips purse in a tight line, “…I’m not so sure that she’d be willing to give me a tour. There’s a few points that we disagree on, although I suppose I could argue the point. She knows damn well that I’d want to see that thing…”

“I know exactly what happened before you got there,” he says with a dismissive motion of his hand, “So does she, likely. If there was a functioning Looking Glass there— that’s likely where they came from, how they leapt superstrings. Fuck.”

His head tilts back, looking at the ceiling before he breathes out a sigh, “No, if I do an end-run around Hana, she’d fucking crucify me, I’m already on thin enough ice with her I’m pretty sure. Okay. Ask her if they found one there, and if she’d be willing to give us access to it. Remind her that we need to get the satellite up and running if we want our early warning system.”

If it wasn’t obvious before, it should be by the time Richard has finished talking, that Devon has very little idea about what’s going on. But, soldier that he is, he nods in ready acceptance of the request. “Yeah, totally. I’ll be back in Rochester late tomorrow.” It’s the soonest he can get back, and it seems important enough to return quickly.

He leans forward a little, elbows resting on knees as he looks at the display again. He mulls over the information and the image. Eventually, Dev hedges toward a question, hesitating because it wasn’t that long ago that he was a kid in the same position. Still, he finds the words and quietly asks, “What, exactly, are we dealing with?”

“Parallel worlds, kid,” says Richard, his gaze hooding slightly as he regards the young man across from him, “Where we failed to stop the Vanguard’s virus. Where we failed to stop the Munin bomb. Where we failed to stop Arthur Petrelli. They’re all out there, and…”

He sighs, shaking his head, “There’s been bleed between them, I think because of the— because of something my mother did. I don’t know. It’s a confusing fucking mess, I’d take me all day to explain.”

“The Horsemen? They aren’t from here.”

“Neither am I.”

Parallel worlds. Like those kids from the future. Devon taps a finger against his chin, then sits back to stare at Richard. After a beat, he leans forward again and lets out a breath that might have been a word or two about what he’s just been told. His hands cradle his chin then, but after another minute he leans back and looks up at the ceiling.

“So it isn’t just time travel that we have to worry about,” he says first. In the same tones as any man declaring that he needs a drink. He probably does need a drink.

“And what do you mean, you’re not from here?” Dev’s eyes narrow slightly, but it isn’t with suspicion or accusation. It’s like he’s looking at a riddle whose solution just hasn’t clicked into place yet. “Are you… Which world are you from then?”

“Fuck if I know,” says Richard with a heavy sigh, shaking his head, “My— Michelle Cardinal nee LeRoux— built the first Looking Glass. She was a hypercognitive.” A tap to his temple, “Super smart. There was an accident.”

His lips tighten, “She died. Multiple realities overlaid on each other. I somehow slipped through just as I was born… Edward dumped me in an orphanage. Or something. My memories are— probably altered.”

The younger man begins to respond, then stops before the words are even formed. There’s too many parts of the bigger picture that he’s missing to make reasonable sense of everything that Richard has just told him. Any more questions surrounding Richard’s unknown past, without having solid answers to stand on the questions that have already been asked, are probably only going to confuse more.

He drags a hand down his face and lets out a measured breath. “The Looking Glass. I never liked that story as a kid.” It’s a darkly mused aside. Devon fingers steeple, and he levels a look at RIchard. “What’s coming? What do we need to be prepared for?” It’s a quiet question, but weighted with the understanding that he’s looking into the deep end and preparing for that plunge again.

It’s convoluted enough that even Richard’s confused by the entire situation, so that’s probably for the best. He brings a hand up, fingers rubbing against the nape of his neck for a moment. “You’re going to be heading on another mission soon,” he notes, “After you get back, I’m going to hold a meeting… and explain the entire situation to everyone who needs to know about it. That includes you, and probably one or two more people from Wolfhound.”

A breath’s drawn in, and then he exhales it with a nod, “We’ll get through this, though. Like we did last time.”

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