Smoke Gets In More Than Just Your Eyes


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Scene Title Smoke Gets In More Than Just Your Eyes
Synopsis On the topic of a recent dream, Cat goes hunting for the culprit.
Date June 18, 2011

Pollepel Island

There are too many geese in New York. Probably because of people like Benji Ryans, Jnr.

She sits on the edge of a docked boat, feet hovers a few inches above where water wobbles dimly beneath the dock a few inches away. Her shins are bare, pale, and so are her feet, boots set up next to her and out of the way of the fat geese that roams upon the slick wood in front and below. There will never be too much game for eating at Pollepel Island, and while Benji isn't shooting them, she can say she is helping keep them nice and plump for inevitable doom. White bread is torn between her hands and cats in a spray of food, while the three or four birds that occupy her attention flock and flap over the bigger morsels while two drift across the river, coming closer.

Somewhat self-conscious and thus glad to be away from the crowds, Benji is dressed neat in white cotton skirt that fans wide, ending just below her knees. A blouse to match is mostly covered in thin denim jacket buttoned closed, colourful embroidery on collar and cuffs. Her piercing pale eyes are hidden in sunglasses beneath the high sunlight of noon, and for all that she has a million and one Problems resting invisible on her shoulders, she seems to have forced herself into a decent mood.

Jeans. T-shirt from an old rock band which did its best works well before she was born. Baseball cap pulled low, marked with the New York Yankees emblem. Such is Cat's attire when she steps out of a boat moored at the docks on this particular Friday noon and begins meandering toward the goose-feeder. Eyes shrouded behind mirrored shades study the woman-in-man body ahead, she given cause to recollect their first encounter. 'Okay', she thinks, 'it might've been easier to get right had she worn a skirt then instead of man clothes'. Some brief attention is given to the portion of blouse visible under closed denim jacket, seeking to ascertain if buttons are on the left or right.

But these are fleeting issues, set aside in the mind as she gets close enough to speak and be heard without shouting. "Benji," Cat begins, "quiet day." Glancing in the direction of birds being fed, briefly wondering if Eileen is watching through their eyes, she lets silence rule after that opening. Innocuous enough.

But this is Cat, and it's a rare thing she makes an approach without some variety of business on her mind.

The most Cat sees in her glance is not the configuration of buttons, but the sliver of silver of the only piece of jewelry on Benji's body, if still mostly hidden. She glances up at voice and approach, taking off her sunglasses to display sharp inquisition — which is more just how Benji looks than any suspicion inspired on Cat's part. There is a smile, also, unpainted, even if a pencil has gone around the edges of Benji's eyes at least, and nothing to blot away the freckles. A flick of bread pieces is designed to redirect the attention of the birds, but Benji doesn't get off her perch.

"Nice day," she adds. "In all appearances. Is there something I can do for you, Doctor Chesterfield?"

"Cat will do," she replies evenly, while settling to sit at the dock's edge a few feet away. "I'm not one to insist on formalities, though I do use them when they seem fitting." It's just a few seconds of quiet past that response before she segues into the business at hand.

"A few nights ago, I had a most interesting dream. It didn't seem at the time to be the kind which would raise alarm bells, but afterward… People in it displayed abilities I know they don't currently have, and it felt as if they'd never been without those talents. Makes me wonder if the dream wasn't created by my own brain. So…" She trails off, hidden eyes still focused on the waterbirds.

"… When I woke I spent a few minutes considering the evidence. I'm no stranger to dreamwalkers visiting me. Hokuto Ichihara, your mother, a Russian who works at the Institute, and one I can't account for who appeared while Delia was in need of help. Might just be coincidence you're her daughter and the other visitor appeared, but it's not unknown for parents and children to manifest the same abilities. Maury and Matt Parkman, for one instance."

In return to silence the question remains unasked, Cat not feeling it really needs to be. It's implied well enough.

The talk of abilities that people do not have, Benji's head tips quizzically, but otherwise, she listens — and finally lists her attention away at mention of a vistor. "A masked crusader?" she suggests, lifting her sunglasses to loosely hide her eyes in mock of the feathered, lacy or variously velvety accessory that the dreamwalking persona she wears tends to wear. "Jasmine. It's sort of a joke, I guess."

The glasses are lowered, folded up, tucked onto her lap as she drops her stare to look at the geese milling upon the deck. "I'm a dreamwalker. I've been letting people see glimmers of the future I come from, sometimes not so long from now, sometimes at a distance. Sometimes nice, sometimes not very nice at all.

"But they're all real. Memories. Not usually my own, it's— " Air hisses between clean teeth in absent sigh inward. It's— "Hard to explain."

"It's not so hard, to me," Cat muses, "you've heard stories, perhaps even walked in the dreams of people from your time who had those experiences. The dreaming mind is a blank canvas, you can conjure imagery on it, make the stories come to life as you remember them. Much as people who've had some education in such matters can make segments of their personalities manifest on that canvas. Like me and my panther. Fierce, isn't she?" She pauses there, cracking a hint of a smile, eyes shifting from geese to the other person upon the docks.

"If this recent one came from you, I still don't know much. We made a move on Heller, and from all I can tell it failed. Surprise was blown when one of the raiders stepped on a landmine. She died quickly, it seems. Lynette and I laid down cover fire, trying to help three others, it's unknown if the made it out, the dream ended. But there were at least two Frontliners. One attacked Lynette and I with electricity. The second captured Rue Lancaster, I heard over the radio."

"Rue Lancaster was killed when she made her getaway, and they opened fire on her even when the arresting officer had things— under control," Benji explains, crossing one leg over the other, hands back up tearing apart the clumps of white bread, for something to do as she talks. And thinks. "In this time, she's a friend. And I didn't know who she was, at all, from my time. I know who you are, and Lynette. Barbara. Eileen, Joseph, Jaiden. These are names out of my history and my contemporary existence. But I didn't know Rue, except for her last name. So, I went looking, through— "

Another handful of bread is thrown. "Through the recollections I've collected, and found this. Found that she died. So long ago, but close to where we stand now. I thought perhaps it would be useful. Now you know they start putting down landmines on Staten Island, and that Heller doesn't die that day."

"It seems odd to me we hadn't considered the possibility of landmines and warned people to be careful about that," Cat remarks quietly, "it's a well-known military tactic of all nations. But it's possible the risk was known in the planning and she managed to step on one anyway. I'll have time soon enough to speak with Liza about her part of the dream." Yes, she believes Liza was visited, because she was in it. "Who was it trying to arrest Rue Lancaster?"

"I didn't draw Liza in," Benji dismisses, without looking across at Cat. "It was only you, and Rue. And Lynette. The arresting officer. But as with the soldiers that attacked, the construction workers, Heller himself, some of the people you see are only figments." She looks towards Cat, blinking once. "Why do you want to know that man's identity?" She isn't suspicious or even especially guarded — information traded for information.

"It seems out of place that one of Heller's group would try to arrest anyone," Cat replies easily, "it's more their style to kill people out of hand. I'd also like to know the name of the Frontliner who came at Lynette and I, but that one doesn't stand out so much. It's valuable to learn as much as possible about foes in the field. At least one of his Frontline crew was at Moab when we assaulted it two years ago."

The last of the bread is scattered, hands wiped on one another and held at arms length so as not to get crumbs on her skirt, although they get there inevitably, smoothed off with the wrinkles before Benji reaches for her shoes. "That's part of my reluctance," Benji admits — again, neutrally. "It's a soon enough future that there is only some variation, but enough. Rue is in hospital right now. Although, I think it would be a mistake to believe that Heller sees no value in taking people alive, no matter which reality we're talking about. That said — you're not wrong. She dies, after all.

"But his name is Vincent Lazzaro. You won't find him on the island anymore." She does up the laces in efficient, jerky movements.

"Vincent Lazzaro," Cat mutters darkly, "he's been here, under our shelter, and he joins Frontline? He fucking knows where we hide, and can tell them, but…" She's silent for some moments, considering the implications. "… but he doesn't. If he does, you'd be warning about the coming raid on the castle here rather than our move against Heller's positions. And you wouldn't speak of reluctance to mention Lazzaro's name." She lapses into a stretch of silence while Benji laces up her shoes.

"In the past, Lazzaro showed up to help us against the Institute on more than one occasion, and he lost his position with the DoEA, got driven into hiding, when he gathered evidence of illicit government activity and gave it to the press. It was too easily suppressed, and leverage was applied. The Times retracted that story, and the reporter he gave it to disappeared without a trace. Apparently not giving us up suggests he doesn't become an enemy, and he doesn't seem the type to throw in with Heller's lot. Is he," Cat asks directly, "trying to infiltrate and gain evidence not so easily suppressed of Heller's crimes so he can make them public and make it all stick? The answer is probably known in the future you came from, I suspect."

Benji lands light on the dock, but enough of a th-thud for two of the geese to dive off the structure and fling themselves into a water with a honk and a splash. "He eventually becomes a member of the Ferry, or at least— as much of one as you can be, when you're Vincent. He opposed to government and helped those that did too, distributing information and tips even before he was forced to cross over completely. You can ask Barbara, of the dream she shared, and the armor he wore. Your judge of character holds true, I think, even in this time.

"I can only hope he acts sooner rather than that later. But no — we're in no danger, despite his move." It's spoken with an obvious certainty, as if Benji wants to believe it as much as she does believe it. "I just… I don't think he feels he can help you, from here. Not in the way Ferry operates can. If it's Heller specifically, that I don't know."

"I've seen him in action at firsthand," Cat replies, "helping us keep Jensen Raith's daughter out of Institute hands. And he did make the move which saw him ousted from DoEA. Evidence is strongly on his side. He and I seem to think alike in some ways. That operating within the law, forcing the Constitution to work and be honored, is the best path, believing people will still stand up for it. But they have to be confronted with proof again and again and again until they can't possibly ignore it. He's much better able to gather and distribute it than I am." More brief silence as she observes the geese on the pier and in water.

"Barring ability to effectively making our case, we survive by whatever means necessary, short of endorsing what Calvin did."

"Yes," Benji agrees, simply. Sadly. Likely, having to reduce people to whatever means necessary barring what Calvin did is not the aim of the excursion, but they would all have to ponder the idea that it's an inevitability. "So if Vincent ever needs a voice in the Ferry, I can let him know that it won't necessarily only be mine, Councilmember?"

"Yes," Cat provides, "though I'd not be surprised to see him visit me when I least expect it, and where I least expect it. Smoke gets in more than your eyes." Not that she isn't going to inform other leaders of the situation before departing overseas. Keeping such things secret seems to her not at all a good idea.

Nodding once, Benji pauses as she considers Cat — studying her for the first time since they've met, whether alone or in a meeting, as if trying to see the woman she knows better than the woman standing in front of her, and seeing enough that she offers a tentative half-smile. Then, puts on her sunglasses, although any allusions towards a bright future sparkling enough to require them is probably an.


"The military bury bombs in the ground and force us to set them off. The Department does the same thing. Metaphorically. I suppose the only thing I can properly advise is to tread lightly, but tread true and without hesitation. Have a good day, D— Cat. And thank you for understanding."

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