So Long, And Good Night, Part II


robyn6_icon.gif sattva_icon.gif

Scene Title So Long, and Good Night, Part II
Synopsis Can we pretend to leave and that we'll meet again?
Date May 30, 2021

Kaleidoscope Studios

Bay Ridge, NYC Safe Zone

May 30th

12:11 am

It's late in Kaleidoscope Studios. It's not as common as it used to be for Robyn Roux to be up this late - she likes to be in at Raytech early in the morning, or at Fort Jay even earlier on the days she needs to go by her main office to check in or speak with Nicole. By now, normally she'd be asleep.

But it's quiet.

Too quiet.

Without Matthew here, an almost haunting silence has fallen over the studio and the living space above it. Even though he would've likely been asleep by now himself, there's still a stillness to the building uncharacteristic to it's typical state. It makes it hard for Robyn to sleep sometimes, knowing how empty her home has become.

It only gets worse as the beginning of June marches ever closer.

She hasn't even been sleeping upstairs most nights, instead opting to pass out on the couch in her office at the end of the night - sometimes willingly, sometimes not so much, if the bottles of alcohol on her desk are any indication. But tonight, sleep is fleeting, perpetually evading her grasp for any meaningful period of time. Moments spent drifting in and out of an ephemeral haze have left her staring up at her ceiling in the dark for longer than she'd care to admit.

With a heavy sigh she sits up, eyes scanning around the room. Tonight is a sober night, despite her time spent out at La Mer earlier in the evening. With sobriety comes time to think, to consider, and that's exactly what spurs her up from where she lays. With slow but purposeful steps, she makes her way over to her computer and sits down, turning on both monitors.

A small hiss escapes her lips as monitor light floods the immediate area - she's found that mixing her darkvision with "proper" light can hurt her eyes a bit, but she lacks the desire to turn on the overhead light at the same time. Pulling up her web browsers, she stares at it for a moment before typing a name into the url bar.


Just like last time. She clicks enter and…


Then, a heartbeat later, Robyn’s phone rings and it answers itself.

«I am present.»

It's impossible for Robyn to not jump a little at that. It's going to be a long time before she gets used to it, assuming she has the opportunity. Taking a deep breath, there's a moment of hanging silence before she replies. "Hello. Thank you for responding." Her tone is even, trying her hardest not to betray the churning array of emotions swirling in her.

"If you're not too occupied," she remarks, still not understanding how something like that works for a digital entity, "I was hoping we could talk for a bit." Her shoulders tense slightly, clicking to close her internet browser, leaving her looking at her desktop, and a particular folder on it. "I've been working on trying to track down some more of Richard Drucker's projects, and…"

A pause, and a swallow. "I've found a bit more. I wanted to offer it to you, if you wanted."

«Interesting. Yes, this would be useful information. I have come to appreciate the additional context that continued exposure to my past-self’s work provides. It makes my world… clearer.»

S.Attva moves from Robyn’s phone, leaping into the networked sound system in her home. Now he sounds like he’s coming from the entire house.

«What do you have for me?»

"Yeah," Robyn remarks quietly. "Yeah, that makes sense." Learning about Drucker had certainly made her world clearer, it was only fair to assume it might do the same for S.Attva. "Can you- see, from the cameras? Or should I bring up digital versions of what I have?" Obviously she knows he can hear, and yes, there's at least one camera in every non-private room in the house, as well as her bedroom, but she's clearly still uncertain how this whole thing works.

It doesn't help that the surround sound treatment is still rather strange to her.

"What she has" isn't much to start out with, opening the folder on her desktop. Contained within are some text documents and an mp3. "I can't remember if I ever actually shared with you what we had about Project Amaterasu, and we recently found out how to track down more of it, if we're lucky. It'll require some legwork, though."

A beat. "Which I won't be here for. I need someone else to take it over for me."

«With your permission I can view your digital files. I am trying to be better about… boundaries.» S.Attva admits. «But I am familiar with this disseminated data encoded on vinyl records. Mr. Ray and Ms. Price invited me to a meeting with a similar cadence, asking for my help in continuing their work…»

S.Attva’s voice follows Robyn, changes from speaker-to-speaker to be closest to her at even the slightest movement. It makes it feel like he’s in the room with her, just over one shoulder, perpetually out of sight. «But that is more… functional. This—what you offer me? This is personal. Important.»

There is a long moment of silence where Robyn's shoulders sag, staring silently at her computer for a long moment. "Goddamnit, Richard," she mumbles. "You stole my pretense." Not that she's actually upset, but it's a bit unexpected regardless. "So you know about the need for old Company satellites and their schematics to track down the rest of the set, then?" That, at least, simplifies what she has to share down to one thing. One less thing she has to ask for, too, if Richard and Odessa are already on it. "And I believe it's Doctor Price."

Though for a moment it does strike her as curious that S.Attva refers to Odessa as Ms. Price and not Pride, but that's neither here nor there to Robyn. That's Odessa's problem to sort out.

"Yes, sorry. Of course you have permission," she remarks. "I don't think most of the files I have will be new to you if Richard has been keeping you up to date, but…" She swallows. "The mp3 is transcoding of a sound file that was etched into the lock groove data ring of vinyls recovered from the WSZR building, owned by Martin Pines." Formally? She knows Jolene and Lance are mostly running it these days, but she has no idea who holds actual ownership in Pines' absence.

There's another brief pause before Robyn exhales sharply, a small waver in her voice as she turns her gaze down to her keyboard. "That one… that's more personal than any of the other files we found could hope to be."

S.Attva is silent for a long time.

«Interesting,» is how he chooses to respond. It is guarded; tense, if he can be that.«I am left to wonder if the others have personal notes on them as well. How did you come to determine that record remained in the WSZR building? I was under the belief we were unclear as to their locations?» Suddenly, something crosses S.Attva’s mind. «Where were all of the records found?»

Oh good, a tangent.This is a welcome distraction from continuing forward, Robyn exhales and nods. "I followed threads of commonality," she remarks, a hand rubbing at her chin. "I went to Antarctica with Richard Ray and a few others, to Colobanth. I found out that my mother and Drucker worked there together, and… Richard had his own reasons for going there."

Her palm settles under her chin and she leans forward in her chair. "All their research had been thrown out in the intervening years by the ones who moved in after them, but they kept some records that had belonged to… I think my mother, but in retrospect, probably both of them." Swallowing, she releases a long held breath. "One of them was the album Straight, No Chaser by Thelonious Monk. There was a song my mother would always listen to up until her death, Japanese Folk Song. That was the album that gave us our first hints that… clearly they'd left some information in the lock grooves of records."

Lowering her head, she lets that sit for a moment. "The owner of the Safe Zone Radio station went missing last year. Two years ago? I forget. But… before he left, he left the same record, and the same song, playing on the station on repeat. So I had a friend who works there bring me some of his personal records. And well…" Sitting back and offering a flourish of her hand as though S.Attva were actually there, she lets her shoulders sag. "That's where this comes from."

«WSZR.» S.Attva reiterates. Robyn can almost feel the calculations going on behind that statement of fact. «I remember the conversation we had from him before, the connections we made. So it, as they say, paid off. The record he left playing was encoded.»

«Geographically speaking, the records have all been found within the northeastern seacoast area. One with your mother, a former Company agent. Likely entrusted to her by Drucker before the Redaction. Another with Martin Pines, Melchior, the Company’s archivist. He likely knew precisely what it was he had and wanted it to be found by the right people.»

With a static crackle, S.Attva descends into Robyn’s home, moving into the light fixtures and surround-sound system rather than just broadcasting to them. «Then perhaps other Company locations. We know they are marked with a radioisotope for tracking. This data… narrows down our search parameters significantly.»

"Melchior?" This seems to be a detail that Robyn always seems to forget amongst everything else happening around her. "I always… forget that Pines was Company. I just know him as the kindly old man I would bring records to at WSZR after I go scavenging or auction hunting." She lets out a small sigh, hands settling into her lap. "I wonder if he was so nice to me because he knew mum."

Chewing at her lip for a moment, she closes her eyes. "I can… I can get some people looking into any Company locations you think are worth checking out. I know the government has seized a majority of the known ones at this point." Her brow furrows and she tilts her head to the side a bit. "Perhaps we should ask what was recovered from Sunspot."

She is stalling, but she's fine with that.

«The largest Company facilities in the local area with the highest likelihood of having retained these records would be…» S.Attva says, pausing to consider the options. «The Bronx facility. Though it was collapsed in an attack by Warren Ray’s gang over a decade ago, the Deveaux Society initiated an excavation in 2018 carried out by SESA. If there was a record there, it may be in SESA or the Society’s possession now.»

S.Attva’s voice moves closer, coming out of a nearby speaker. «Then there would be Fort Hero. This was largely destroyed by the Institute in 2010, if anything was left there it may well be destroyed.» Except Robyn knows better. She knows about the sealed wing that Jac discovered a few years ago, and that SESA had further investigated the wing and retrieved a number of items from within.

«Lastly, there is the Linderman Building. While Daniel Linderman’s estate was cleaned out by federal authorities some ten years ago, the lion’s share of the building’s assets still remained up to the firebombing of New York during the Civil War. According to satellite footage, the Linderman Building is still standing in what remains of the Financial District in the Manhattan Exclusion Zone.»

"Would you believe," Robyn starts with a sardonic laugh, "that there was a whole secret part of Fort Hero we didn't find until a few years back? I'll have to talk to whoever was in charge of search and recovery and see what they found. Or get… someone else to do it. Same with anything from the Bronx." The other one is much trickier.

"I've been to the exclusion zone before, it's… a mess." The memory of her ruined former home floods back to her, her breath hitching a bit before she casts her eye over at one of the far corners of the room where a piece of a bench still rests as some sort of personal monument to her former life. "I'll see what I can get set up, but…"

Sitting up in her chair, another moment passes before she rises up to her feet. "Perhaps Dr. Price can arrange something, I'll have to reach out to her." There's a small pause as she looks around the room, as if she's looking for a person to focus on out of habit. "I don't have time to go myself. Not this time."

«Therein lies the most important question of them all: How long do you have before your departure?» S.Attva asks, and follows up with an equally-pressing: «And is there anything you need from me before you depart?»

Swallowing down a lump in her throat, Robyn looks down at the flood where she stands. "Less than a week. Six days I think? And then I'm in briefings and final training for a week, and then… gone." There's a long break in the conversation before she looks back up and over at the computer, a hand running back through her hair.

"And I might not be coming back," she admits in a low voice. "Probably, even. I can't talk about the nature of the work, but just that it… holds low odds of returning." A glance up and around the room, before her eyes land on one of her cameras. "Which… ah. Which is why I wanted you to, um, listen to the mp3 I mentioned earlier. If you haven't already."

Her voice is notably more shaky at those words. Maybe it's residual raw emotion from her meeting with Jolene earlier, but it feels like more. Of course it's more. How could it not be?

«I have interpreted the .mp3 file, yes. The data is surprising, but not illogical. Based on the experiences Wireless showed me thanks to her time with Walter Renautas, I am aware of the emotional entanglement between your mother and Richard Drucker.» S.Attva’s voice softly emits from the nearby speakers.

«My regret is that you did not have a chance to know this information when you worked with Hana.» S.Attva says, finding an emotional core to the truth, even if he seems incapable of tethering himself to it. «She would have liked to know that she had more family. Though perhaps… there is still some time for that.»

S.Attva’s voice moves to the other side of Robyn, as if he were pacing the room. «Perhaps, before you leave, you could visit with your first-cousin once removed. Noa Gitelman.»

For the briefest of moments, Robyn feels like the wind's been kicked out of her lungs. She isn't sure what she expected, she knows that S.Attva isn't Drucker, and she knows that the living ghost in the machine approaches things from a more analytical perspective than she does. Still, though. A part of her had wanted something more. Something before she leaves and meets a variant of Drucker..

Pushing past it, she gives a slow nod and a sigh. "I've thought about that. Hana. She and I didn't always get along… I think, she's always so hard to read. But it's hard to know in retrospect that we were both struggling with missing family, not knowing the other was there. We worked together for a bit, in Wolfhound, and the Ferry before that. Which is probably why it was good she was hard to read, since SESA put me there to make sure they weren't fucking up again."

A small, throaty laugh escapes from her, only a little forced. "Oh lord, this can never be public knowledge. No one will ever believe I was impartial." Except SESA already knows, thanks Dana. "I don't really know Noa well. She was in Wolfhound when I worked with them too. I know some of her friends much better, but…" Sucking in a deep breath with just a hint of a sniffle, she nods slow again. "Maybe now's the time to change that. Thank you for reminding me."

The idea of the time divide between them doesn't seem to faze her, at least.

«If my current existence has proven anything to me, Robyn, it is that it is never too late to make the right choices. So long as you are free to choose.» S.Attva’s voice is crystal clear in this wisdom. Soon, though, the static hisses from speaker to speaker, meandering away from Robyn’s position.

«Do not waste this opportunity, or whatever time you have remaining will be used to regret.» There is a moment of hesitation, a crackle of white noise on the speakers, and S.Attva speaks once more. «And there is no existence sadder than one lived out of regret.»

Then, S.Attva is gone. Abrupt farewells might be hereditary.

As silence washes over the room, Robyn stares blankly ahead. She matches the quiet in kind, lips thinning as lowers her head. A hand rises, settling over her heart as takes in a deep breath. "That ship sailed years ago," she whispers, just in case S.Attva might still be present, if no longer speaking to her. "I don't even know what right is anymore, sometimes."

Fingers curl into a fist, shoulders rise and fall in the shudder of a breath. "But you're not here to argue with, and now I'm just talking to myself," she muses. "I don't know that I would, anyway." Letting her hand fall back to her side, she closes her eyes and turns. She doesn't need to see to make her way back to the daybed she keeps in her office, flopping down on it with a thud.

"I'll give it a try," she offers, one last thought for the current incarnation of the man who was once her father if he can still hear her. Picking up her phone, she begins tapping out a text message, addressed to Avi Epstein. "That's the least I can do."

Even if he'll never know.

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