Suspicion, Shared


hana_icon.gif vincent_icon.gif

Scene Title Suspicion, Shared
Synopsis While visiting Fort Jay, Hana makes the time to meet with Vincent — and to add a purely homegrown concern to the ever-growing pile of problematic developments.
Date April 13, 2018

Fort Jay

In this office, there is a desk, dark and sleek and devoid of decoration. A notebook is squared closed on one side, paper worn enough at the corners to have seen some use.

There is no plant.

There aren’t any paintings on the walls, no pictures of family. A broad Department of Homeland Security seal of reclaimed wood and dark metal occupies the wall behind the desk in shades of iron and weather and rust. It looks heavy, and therefore expensive.

That’s about the best there is to be said for it.

Vincent leads the way in, just in from some other meeting or call or a late lunch, still tucking his phone away. His suit is a bold shade of royal blue, reined back into more conservative territory by the vest beneath. His phone is — boring. Terse text messages cloaked in non-specificity, many of them with his daugher, information on calories burned and restless sleep shared with his watch.

There’s a pager on the back of his belt, not far from the more mechanical ridge of his gun.

“Sorry,” he’s saying, “didn’t mean to keep you waiting.”

There are chairs, opposite the desk — he trusts her to find her way there while he waits to close the door behind her.

Moving into the office, Hana makes a faintly dismissive gesture; apology accepted, perhaps, or more likely, not worthy of concern. They're both busy people, and one has significant bureaucracy clouding their schedule. A bit of a wait is only to be expected.

In contrast to her host's striking color, Hana wears unrelieved black, carries an equally black leather satchel; it's the style of the suit jacket that sets her choice apart, sleek and lacking in lapels or buttons. Seating herself, she waits until Vincent has settled in turn, with just the same patience practiced while waiting for him to become available. For that brief moment, the closed door makes for a quiet room indeed, almost stifling in its anticipation of serious discourse to come.

"I wanted to take the opportunity to catch you up on emerging developments," Hana begins, not at all inclined to beat around the bush with introductory small talk. "As these are likely to overlap with your jurisdiction. I also have a… more peripheral… matter that you may want to weigh in on." Where peripheral does not in any way mean inconsequential.

In fact, it's the peripheral that brought her here. The rest is just professional courtesy.

“Oo-kay.” ‘I wanted to take the opportunity to catch you up on emerging developments,’ is about all the smalltalk he’s come to expect from Hana, without there ever having been any pushback in the other direction. Settled in, Vincent reaches to square the notebook before him, and clicks a pen. “You mind if I take notes?”

He will be taking notes.

This particular book appears to be new, or otherwise clean — the first page he flips to is blank for him to scratch in the date and time. His handwriting is as tightly controlled as the rest of him, short strokes, small print.

He remembers his glasses last, a set hooked up out of a side drawer and flicked open.

“Wherever you want to start.”

The topic of notes gets a glance, and the flavor of silence that is negative response; he should be taking notes. And she, given cue, should be talking.

She does.

Wherever starting point is the outcome of Operation Skycastle, particularly former Agent Gilmore as evidence and witness in yet another project creating Evolved. That segues into the subject of Adam Monroe, reports of activity, Evolved supremacy ideals, association with former Ferry ally. One nascent endeavor with global reach leads to the memory of another: the three known dead men walking, which subject loops back around to Erica Kravid and her oversight of the Looking Glass project — then explaining what she can of that project, the purported window through time that just might also be a door.

Some of that info, Vincent is likely already in the loop on. Some he likely would soon be, once Kenner made his way down the (more than just a) hall. All told, the implications are definitely everyone's concern, at least in certain circles and values of everyone.

At the end of it all, Hana pauses, giving them both a moment to contemplate that bigger picture… and then to move on from it.

"I mentioned that Looking Glass came to my attention independently," she says, segueing into related-but-new topic. Folding her hands on the desk, fingers interlacing, she regards Vincent levelly. "What I have not said to anyone else is that in the process of playing out that lead, I have come to suspect that Richard Ray, or possibly the NYC Raytech branch as a collective, is harboring a fugitive formerly affiliated with the Institute."

She spares a beat for that to sink in. "In most circumstances, I would simply continue to develop evidence and move if the investigation bore fruit," Hana continues. That's what Wolfhound exists to do, after all. "But given the… standing Raytech holds— " Young, still-small company yet already a valued supplier of bleeding-edge military tech, emblematic of the potential of American innovation to once again compete on the world stage. "— and the fact that Wolfhound's membership is known to Richard Ray in particular, some collaborative effort may be appropriate."

Not necessary. But perhaps appropriate.

The moment Hana gives them is a moment Vincent takes to star a couple of lines here and there, to hash in marks he might’ve missed, to underline names. It’s hard to tell what he might’ve already known — he’s taken notes on all of it.

If nothing else, it’s a helpful, bulleted reminder of just some of what Wolfhound knows.

“You did,” he agrees, on the subject of Looking Glass, glasses stripped aside and folded so that he can meet her regard more directly across his desk. What she says next sinks through the tar black of his eyes without much of a ripple at the surface. His sense of humor sublimating away behind the grizzle at his chops is a subtle thing, more immediately tangible to some as an instinctive sink in the abdominal cavity, somewhere between the heart and the gut. Hana probably doesn’t fall into that category.

He clicks his pen.

“Which one do you think he has?” And why does she think he has them.

"Odessa Knutson-Price," Hana supplies upon being prompted. But that's jumping straight to the end. Sitting back in her chair, she adopts the air of one with a tale to tell, and rewinds this particular narrative to the beginning.

"Eve Mas came to me with — perhaps something more than just a precognitive vision, regarding the Looking Glass and Kravid. She was apparently accompanied on this experience by a temporal manipulator she referred to as Dorothy." Hana lifts one hand in a small motion. "Mas practically made a point of clarifying to me, during her story, that 'Lady Zeus' referred to Lynette Rowan Ruiz and 'Otter Eyes' to her husband, without prompting."

"When I asked her who 'Dorothy' was? She all but shut down, in the way people do when they're trying too hard to present a so-called poker face. Dropped all her habitual exuberance and gave me the bare minimum of what might be considered bona fides: that they'd met through Ruiz."

That might have been reassurance enough, for someone else, in different circumstances.

"I went to Ruiz next, asked what she could tell me about 'the person Eve referred to as Dorothy'. She didn't seem to have heard the nickname before, but admitted to recognizing who was meant. Said nothing about her, though, only described her as 'scared'. Shortly after, I asked if there was anything else I should be aware of. Ruiz promptly countered with a question of her own: how Wolfhound deals with former Institute rank and file, those not in the know or under duress."

Hana looks over at Vincent. "At no point in that conversation had we discussed anything regarding Institute members, except Kravid and — perhaps — 'Dorothy'." One of whom is definitely not 'rank and file', while the other was the immediately preceding subject of discussion; it's no leap at all to infer connection.

"Ruiz then proceeded to direct me towards Richard Ray in a hesitant, even nervous-seeming manner. She also saw fit, after I left, to send Ray a text message— " Hana's eyes close briefly. "— warning him to 'make a spot' for me on his calendar and that I had a 'particularly serious face'." A warning that seems unnecessary, between what amount to colleagues… and that could be seen as coded, or simply cryptic in the way of those who share a secret.

"When I met with Ray," because of course she has already done as much, "I asked him the same question as Ruiz. He was extremely quick to pass 'Dorothy' off as Mas 'babbling'. Which I would expect… from anyone who didn't actually know Mas well, and who wasn't habitually up to his own ears in time, visions, and conspiracies. I also might have accepted it," Hana allows, "if not for the other breadcrumbs, and if not for the open exchange of information we'd had just prior. But given that context, it read like stonewalling."

Which makes three people all seemingly being cagey about one mutual acquaintance.

“So you believe that Raytech might have ‘Dorothy,’ and that Dorothy might be Knutson.”

A circumstantial ‘maybe’ to the second power. As before, there’s no real reaction, past a turn of the pen in Vincent’s hand, with the desk utilized as the base for its next pivot.

From the way Hana describes it, it’s certainly within the realm of possibility. They share a terrible kind of trust, needles aligned on the magnetic north of execution for the worst of the worst. People the world would genuinely be a better place for if they were dead.

“Why would Lynette protect her?”

He genuinely wants to know, his dark eyes fixed on Hana’s, free left hand scuffed rough over the flat line of his mouth.

“Why would Richard?”

Hana inclines her head as Vincent sums up the inferences. To his question, she sits back, hands folding in her lap. "I can only speculate. Given that Ruiz expressed concern about… less involved… Institute members, she may have been spun a tale. They may both see some possibility for redemption, rehabilitation, second chances." There's a distinctly acerbic note to the words, flag for Hana's own opinion of the idea. Not to mention, Price has already had rather more than one or two chances, by her accounting.

"For all I know, Ray might simply see opportunity. Raytech's next breakthrough, the company's launching point into biological fields." She raises a hand slightly, signaling an end to the speculation. Ultimately, Hana cares less about why than the simple fact of what… except inasmuch as understanding why helps her get to the end of the trail.

Right now, she's still very much at the beginning.

"Setting aside motive, I can add this: according to the information I have, there were only three time manipulators having any association with the Institute," Hana continues, marking them off on her fingers. "One: a prisoner in the arcology, rescued during the raid, moved out to Phoenix by the Ferry. No solid information on her whereabouts since the war, but a less likely candidate. Two: Darren Stevens. Witnessed dead in the arcology, and his ability was strictly limited to rewinding time for biological items. Also, male. Three: Odessa Knutson-Price, recorded as having her ability removed… but Stevens' last act was to rewind her."

Hana lets her hand fall back to her lap. "And if her ability was in fact restored, that casts doubt on any presumption of her being killed in the war."

There's a pause, a breath, a subtle motion of her head that might be cousin to the most minute of shrugs. "Still inference," she grants. "It could be someone I have no information on; it could somehow be related to the 'resurrected' Vanguard." Very low-order probability, but possible. "But at this stage, the Occam's Razor candidate is Price."

“If she’s lied to them, I can certainly clear the air.” For Knutson, and for any number of America’s Most Wanted that soft hearts might be harbouring. It’s been a few years, since the war ended. “Maybe we’re all a little past due for a reminder.”

His lack of elaboration there is awfully steeped in assurance — he settles back from the desk into a slouchier lean, notebook flipped shut and dropped aside.

Thinking, while he watches her.

It’s a familiar look, bleak and black and bare as the office around them. Scheming. Now, within the bounds of law and moral obligation. Previously less so.

“Do you have anyone who’s close to Mas?”

Under Vincent's steady regard, Hana's demeanor remains equanimous. She expresses no curiosity for his lack of elaboration, for whatever course of action has suggested itself to him; they're both competent and dedicated people. It isn't her concern how he does his job — scheming or otherwise.

She just watches him right back.

One dark brow arches at the inquiry that follows. "In a personal sense? …Lancaster," Hana supplies after a brief moment; "Possibly Bennet," follows a little later, upon consideration of text messages overheard, however one-sided. Or Demsky is kept to herself. "Outside of Wolfhound, perhaps some other former associates." People who aren't hers anymore, strictly speaking, but may be amenable to collaboration.

"What did you have in mind?" she asks next, because this is relevant to her job.

There’s a twitch of a furrow at his brow after the first name she lists, a trace of fleeting confusion — barely there,

“Just a follow-up conversation.” That’s all. He levels his brows the rest of the way, flat dismissal of anything more complicated or sinister than that. “A chance to rework the narrative in a softer direction — to see if Dorothy comes up again. If she’s in trouble, they might be able to help. ‘Put a good word in,’ while the noose is still loose enough to slip.”

He draws a desk drawer open at his side, and palms out a blue tin with a green label. It rattles in his fist, a single lozenge turned out and hooked behind his lip. Nicorette.

“At the very least, Mas might elaborate on their connection. You’re a little intimidating, for someone hiding a fugitive in their skirts.”

The drawer thumps shut. No offense implicit in an extension of the same look.

“What did you have in mind?”

No offense taken. Hana dips her chin, suggestion received, taken under advisement. One she will almost certainly follow up on, because there is merit to having multiple strings to one's bow, as the saying goes.

"Something rather more — impersonal," she replies, as nonelaborative as Vincent with his reminder. Perhaps the major inference is that whatever Hana has in mind, it doesn't involve anyone but herself.

There's a moment's pause, and then the woman nods once, definitively. "If anything develops," she says next, feeling they've run the discussion out as far as it's likely to go today, "I'll pass it along."

Vincent nods back, expression inscrutable beyond the jut of his jaw in contemplative aside. ‘Impersonal.’ Right.

“Provided we come upon more substantial evidence of her presence there, I would like to shake her out into less sensitive territory before you descend from the heavens.” Which Hana seems to have assumed on her own, if he’s to take this visit as a courtesy as much as it is a gesture towards collaboration. “Give Raytech a chance to wash its hands.

“If they hold fast in spite of what she’s done, they can all take a ride. Keeping pet monsters went out of vogue with the war.”

Matter-of-fact, he drums his fingers once across the flat of his notebook, a sigh caught and pent up under his shoulders. Gitelman’s already spun up invisible rotors, ready for takeoff.

“You headed back to Rochester?”

There's a dip of Hana's head in response to shake her out, minute, jerky; the acquiescence in her expression fails to mask more intrinsic, atavistic desire underneath, but that desire remains corralled. "If we can," she affirms, offering a thin, tight smile. If they play ball. If opportunity arises.

If this suspicion of hers even bears fruit.

A less qualified nod, then, at the change of subject. "Yes. This was the last of my errands for this trip."

Well. There’s a reason they’re called Wolfhound and not Labrador Retriever.

Lazzaro doesn’t smile back. Five years ago, he might have tried to ghost in and haul Knutson out himself. Whatever temptation he has to creep around in Raytech’s air conditioning is kept close to his vest.

Now there’s an entire administration’s reputation to consider.

And plenty of ‘ifs.’

“I have another night here,” is what he says aloud, plain and to the point. He pushes to his feet — other errands to attend to, himself. “Have a safe trip, Hana.”

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