The Inside Game


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Scene Title The Inside Game
Synopsis At the end of a long night and a terrible first day on the job, Agent Hall finally reports in to Richard Ray.
Date February 1, 2021

It’s been a horrible night.

After the last couple of months, a second intrusion at Raytech in as many months wears Richard Ray’s nerves threadbare. His 7:30 pm appointment with a representative of the Department of the Exterior’s clandestine Office of External Investigations was delayed. Seated at his desk with the dim glow of Jackson Heights’ cityscape visible out his windows, Richard is given barely minutes of respite to pull himself together for a meeting he’d been expecting, but not under these circumstances.

It had been nothing short of serendipity that Agent Hall was on the campus grounds when assailants came after Jac, though there’s parts of Richard’s mind that can’t help tie strings around serendipity’s neck to hang it for conspiracy. The soft chime of his office door indicating Agent Hall has arrived rouses him from those thoughts.

CEO’s Office
Raytech NYCSZ Branch Office

Raytech Industries Campus
Jackson Heights

February 1st
9:02 pm

Agent Hall’s entrance to Richard’s office is much like a cat sneaking through a partly open door. She carries herself as much, dressed head-to-toe in black with a tangle of curly hair to match. Agent Hall only goes as far as the halfway point in Richard’s office between door and desk before stopping, folding her hands behind her back, shoulders square, posture straight.

“Agent Hall,” she introduces herself with a slight rise of her chin, “Office of External Investigations. Reporting for duty as Raytech liaison.” Hall’s dark framed glasses and her starched demeanor remind Richard, every so much, of Noah Bennet. Though she lacks his aw shucks mask.

Richard’s hands rest against the desk’s edge, levering himself up to his feet and offering a slight, tired smile to the agent; sunglasses firmly in place, not only due to light sensitivity but to hide the weariness he’s feeling after dealing with everything from the breach.

“Agent Hall,” he greets, motioning with a hand towards the seats opposite him, “I appreciate your… timely arrival, and your rescue of Abigail and Jac. Thanks to you, we may finally have something we can use to find these bastards.”

Despite the warm words, he’s watching her behind those dark lenses, sizing her up and watching her reactions.

“One of the intruders got away, I didn’t get too good a look at her.” Hall says as she starts to approach Richard’s desk, then settles into the seat across from him. “Short, maybe mid forties? White hair. Snappy dresser. Slipped out through some kind of dimensional anomaly.”

Hall looks over her shoulder to the office door, then back to Richard. “So I’d come here to serve as Raytech’s liaison to the Office of External Investigation. Leadership indicated you’d benefit from direct access to us, so consider me a line straight to the top.” She snorts softly, then crosses one leg over the other and reclines into the chair.

“I checked on the kid they tried to grab. Childs?” Hall shakes her head and looks down at the floor. “She’ll be alright, but she’s real shaken up. The little kids too. But I mean what can you do? Security’s got decades before it catches up to people like you and me, if it ever does.”

“We have the security footage, and— maybe most security has decades before it catches up to us, but here at Raytech, we don’t believe in taking that long,” says Richard with a tight, determined smile, “I’m already allocating resources. It’d help if the government would get us more of the Sirens that Praxis dropped in Detroit, we only have one to work with at the moment but it’s a networked technology…”

He drops back into his own chair, leaning back with a humorless chuckle, “‘Leadership’. Meaning Marcus doesn’t want to deal with me directly, which is fair, I suppose.”

“Squeaks— “ He grimaces, “Jac, she’s been through a lot just in the past year. She’s resilient, but everyone has their limits. Even kids. Maybe especially kids.”

“One.” Hall holds up her pinkie finger. “The siren makes people pop like engorged ticks and we don’t know the effect it might have on passive spatio-temporal ability users.”

She holds up her index finger. “Two, Director Raith has a pretty full plate, what with the end of the world. He’d prefer you didn’t have to wait when trying to prevent that.”

Then comes her thumb. “Three—yeah. No counterpoint. Kid’s had it rough.”

Settling against the back of her seat, Hall looks down into her lap, then back up at Richard. “SESA’s taking charge of the overall investigation since it isn’t OEI material, as far as we can tell yet. Which means whatever else comes of this will be Agent Roux’s territory. That unpleasantness aside, we need to have the birds and the bees talk.”

Hall sits forward, resting her elbows on Richard’s desk. “As a Liaison from the OEI, it will be important that you understand the abilities I have on offer. Namely—”

Hall disappears. Not quite a full frame-cut blink, but more like a rapid sublimation. A quick fade out.

She reappears beside Richard with her hand on the back of his chair, looking a little dithered and faded on the edges at first. “If you can guess what that is I do, I’ll buy you dinner.”

“The Sirens are overkill, but studying how they work could unlock some possibilities. I don’t want some friendly teleporter to try and pop in and get turned into chunky salsa, trust me,” Richard counterpoints, before she’s moving onto the //birds and the bees/.

Of course, Richard has seen the security footage, but that doesn’t help him understand the exact points of what she can do. He watches as she fades swiftly out, then starts— just a little, he was expecting it but he’s not made of stone— as she reappears beside his chair.

A grin tugs up a bit at the corner of his lips as he looks up to her, an eyebrow raised over the edge of his shades in private amusement. “I can think of at least a dozen possibilities, so do I get a hint, at least? You did something to that asshole in the hall, I know…”

No, no, no,” Hall says with a flutter of a hand and a smile, hands coming up, “c’mon guess.” She bobs her head from side to side, eyes upturned to the ceiling for a moment and smile gently teasing. “Nobody ever gets it, so don’t feel bad if you don’t, but I’m curious if you’ll break the streak so-to-speak.”

Hall angles her head to the side, then sits on the corner of Richard’s desk and folds her hands in her lap. “Bonus round if you know where I grew up.” Her dark flick up twice.

Leaning back in his chair, Richard folds both hands over his chest, regarding her with an amused expression; hardly upset at her violation of formality in her manner or casual appropriation of his desk as a seating area.

“Well, let’s see. It’s not quite teleportation,” he observes, willing to play her game it seems, “You didn’t blink out, and there wasn’t any portal. Not just invisibility, either, or you’d have more of an impact when moving. Some sort of— out of phase ability?”

Then both brows lift, “Well, that one’s not fair. I don’t even know which timeline you’re from. You could’ve grown up anywhere from the Ark to the Outer District.”

“We’re neighbors,” Hall says with a crooked smile. “Root timeline, born and raised. I suppose I have the latter up on you, not that it’s worth any bragging rights.” She sidesteps away from his chair, circling back to the front of his desk.

“Thought form.” Hall says once she’s returned to her chair, slowly taking a seat to cross one leg over the other. “I can sublimate my own matter into the electromagnetic impulses of conscious thought and then merge them with a person’s own mind. It’s a lot like telepathy and dreamwalking, except I’m physically exporting myself into a subject’s thoughts. Risky, but I can do a lot once I’m up there.”

Hall folds her hands at the back of her knee and sits forward. “With approval, that ability can be at your disposal for purposes related to preventing, y’know, the end of the fucking world.”

“Now that’s an exotic ability…” Richard’s eyebrows raise just a little more, impressed, before they fall back again and he leans forward once again, one arm resting on the desk’s surface, “…so, what, you were— in my brain just now?” Curious, not angry; wondering, maybe, what she saw in there.

There’s a lot of weird things in his head these days. Some of them are people.

A smile tugs up a little wider, “I’d need some more details on what you can do, but that certainly sounds useful, and God knows we can use any help we can get to - like you said - preventing the end of the fucking world.”

Leaning back, “So where did you grow up over in the giant lake dimension? Do you know anything more about this mission there that’s coming up?”

“I don’t intrude on brains without two out of the three P’s.” Hall explains. “Preparation, Predicament, and Permission. First one’s obvious, second is what happened in your building today, and the third is best. People’s heads are minefields and I don’t want to lose any limbs.”

Shifting in her seat, Hall leans back just a little. “As for where I was? An invisible, free-roaming cloud of electromagnetic energy that moves at the speed of light. But before you get any fancy ideas about my being able to zip between here and Beijing, it has a limited range away from my last fixed position, and I can’t sustain it for long. Think of me like a really specialized telepath or dream-walker, with some kinks.”

Hall rests her elbow on the arm of the chair. “As for my home, I grew up in Maryland. After the big drip I lived in a place that came to be known as the Delphi Flotilla, a little place near the ruins of what used to be Philly. It’s as charming as it sounds. I wound up meeting up with a pilgrimage of folks looking for some undersea safe haven with our world’s Donald Kenner. You probably know the story of how that all went.”

Shrugging, Hall looks down at her lap. “As far as the mission goes, no. I know the stakes, but the briefing details have been kept under wraps. The Boss is a stickler for information security, and — you know — the last thing you want is an errant telepath finding out too much.” She offers with a wink.

“Some kinks, hm, got it,” Richard says, just the edge of a grin there before it’s gone. Is he flirting? Maybe a little.

“Just off the top of my head I can think of some interesting interactions with other abilities, actu… huh. Actually,” he muses, one hand scratching at his jawline as he returns to seriousness, “There’s a thought. If two people had a telepathic link, could you hop it?”

Given Eliot and Wright’s presence on the mission to come, that’s a very important question, after all.

“Probably,” is Hall’s confident answer. “There’d have to be an active register going on, but it wouldn’t be any harder for me to leap from one body to another if the distance was short enough, too, whether they’re telepathically linked or not. When we get into broad networked consciousness stuff my theory gets a little hazier. Like, based on what I read about people like Magnes Varlane who got daisy-chained into multiple brains? No thanks, I don’t wanna end up a vegetable, or an anime fan.”

Hall cracks a smile, crossing her arms over her chest. She was proud of that joke, she’s been reading a lot, acclimatizing to the timeline. Leaning jokes.

“If you think of anything, relevant to the assignment, let me know.” Hall offers, though she makes a point to drive home the notion of relevance with a pump of her eyebrows. “We can figure out how to pull it off. Until then, I’ll need an office and some succulents so I can decorate the shit out of it.”

Relevant to the assignment, you should link up with Elliot and Wright and see if your ability interfaces with theirs in a safe manner,” recommends Richard with a slight motion of his hand, towards her, “That’s all I can think of for now. I can absolutely set you up with an office and whatever plants you want, though.”

He flashes her a grin, “Plants, we’ve got plenty of. You should go check out the greenhouse sometime, and all the little green spaces on campus…”

Reaching out, he taps the computer interface on the desk to life to locate an empty office to assign, “Mm. Actually, there is one thing I need you to relay to Marcus for me, something I’m going to need… it’s already in Sweden so that should make it easier for him.”

Hall considers the names Richard offers without the immediate familiarity he was expecting. Maybe she really is just a liaison for Raytech. With a tilt of her head to the side, she indulges Richard’s inquiry…

“I wish he’d just given you his email address for shit like this.”

…in her own way.

“What do you need?” Hall asks, belatedly.

They’re names that - no doubt - she can find information about fairly swiftly given her position, so Richard doesn’t elaborate if she doesn’t. Then there’s that comment, and he flashes her a broad grin.

“I think he’s afraid that if he gave me an easy way to contact him he’d never have a chance to sleep again, since I’d have him working overtime every night…”

A hunt-and-peck fingertip moves over the keyboard that appears on the screen to set up the office assignment, even as he explains, “The Swedish Institute of Space Physics. I need access to what’s left of the Company’s old micro-satellite network, so I can locate the remaining records of Amaterasu. So he might need to acquire a satellite and get it in orbit.”

Oh is that all he needs? No wonder Marcus didn’t give Richard his email.

“Do you need an apartment, too, or are you all set for housing?” Glancing up, eyebrows raising with the same motion.

“I was planning on hooking up a hammock in my office,” Hall jokes, “but if I’m helping you hijack a satellite I guess I can get a room here. From what I’ve seen of your apartments they’re nice, if prone to intrusion by space-warping kidnappers.” She crooks a teasing smile at that.

“I’ll let the Director know about your request, but coordinating a launch could take weeks, if not months. Obviously it’s for an important cause, but don’t be surprised if he has follow-up questions.” Hall cracks a smile, folding her hands behind her back. “Was there anything else?”

“I’m gonna have to work on that security part,” Richard’s lips twitch a bit, though his tone sounds serious, “One way or another. And nah, I think saving the lives of a bunch of people and giving you some heavy requests for Marcus are good enough for one day, Hall. I’m sure you’ll have enough paperwork to fill out tomorrow to choke a horse.”

Chuckling, he taps a key, then leans over as the printer beneath the desk whirrs— and he produces a sheet with her office and apartment assignments, offering them over. “Go pick up a non-guest badge from Sera at the front, it’ll open your doors. There’s a bunch of other shit on the paper that’ll tell you who and how to contact people for things.”

“Let me know if you need anything aside from that. Access to somewhere, security records, a good bottle of scotch. You might have to share the last one with me, though,” he teases.

“I will.” Hall says, turning around. She stops short of Richard’s door, however, and turns to regard him over her shoulder. “Oh and, one last thing…” she eyes the door, then looks back.

“You’re sure Sera’s not from another dimension?”

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