To The Source, Part I


harper_icon.gif raith_icon.gif rebel_icon.gif

Scene Title To The Source, Part I
Synopsis Jensen Raith attempts to get in contact with a target of the Institute, only to realize that the situation has become far more complicated than he realizes.
Date July 27, 2010


There's a lot you can learn about someone with unfettered access to their personal electronic records and a few nights outside their house. This is the life Jensen Raith left behind, admittedly before the skill-sets of people like Hana Gitelman were made openly available. Raith probably would have made a fantastic Company agent, and had the world not gone completely to hell in a handbasket, maybe that's where he would have wound up.

Instead, he's been keeping tabs on a woman targeted by the Institute. Theresa Parmenter is a high-profile target, one that is so high profile it makes it hard to understand how the Institute could plan to remove her without people missing her. Though if the records sliding thorugh the Ferry are true and they managed to make Leonardo Maxwell disappear, maybe this young CFO isn't all that much harder.

The sun isn't even all the way up past the eastern horizon by the time Parmenter is out the door. Analysis of her routine and finances informs that her children are with the Nanny who arrived twenty minutes ago. Parmenter isn't off to work, not yet, the track pants and tanktop are for her morning jog.

That gym membership and her online purchases indicate her status as a health-enthusiast and her job says she's a creature of habit and structure. Like clockwork, 5:18am and she's coming down the concrete steps of her brownstone, hitting the sidewalk and breaking into a brisk jog, MP3 player strapped to her upper arm and ear-buds drowning out the sound of the world around her.

It's not quite like a good old days, but it's close.

There are a number of ways that Raith could approach this situation. Driving up in a van and grabbing her is, for good reason, right out. Ideally, he'd have a few days to work his way into her trust, but he doesn't. He has, by his best estimate, five to ten minutes to convince her, or decide whether to let her go or club her over the head.

When the ex-spy appears before her, it's not by leaping out of the bushes or flying by on a motorcycle, but simply coming around the corner from an intersecting street as she is finishing crossing it, a forest green t-shirt, black sweatpants and a pair of matching tennis shoes jogging along happily just slightly ahead of her. Several seconds pass before a pair of dark, wrap-around sunglasses look back over his shoulder to give a nod of acknowledgment before looking forward again, and several more pass before Raith looks over his shoulder for the second time and then deliberately slows his pace slightly and moves to the side, out of the way, before matching hers.

"Excuse me," he says, perhaps louder than most people would to compensate for the earbuds. He does not try to get her to stop jogging by any means: He is just a friendly neighbor who hasn't been seen around before- must be new to the neighborhood- that would like to introduce himself.

Brown eyes jerk to look over at Jensen when she hears his addressing, and looking up and down the street, Theresa comes to a stop, pulling her earbuds out and reaching up to turn off her iPod. Exhaling a huffing breath, she sweeps dark bangs away from her face, brows furrowed and attention drifting up and down the street as she shifts her weight from one foot to the other. "Sorry were…" there's a wary look up and down the stranger.

""I didn't hear you um, were you— " there's a motion back and forth between Theresa and Raith as she steps out of the way for another jogger passing by, following his departure with a fleeting stare before looking back at Raith. It's like she's in a hurry to get somewhere.

Theresa comes to a stop, and so does Raith, although he appears to be much less out of breath than she is. "Oh, saying something?" he tries, filling in the blank, "Yeah, yeah, I was. Didn't mean to make you stop, though. Really, keep going, I can jog and chatter at the same time. Just don't ask me to also chew gum, I might be in trouble then." The ex-spy turns his body just so, to indicate that he is, in fact, prepared to keep up the exercise during whatever statement or question he intends to make or ask. Whether they go anywhere is, of course, up to Theresa.

Looking puzzled, Theresa creases her rbows together and threads a loose lock of short, dark hair behind one ear. "Uh, al— alright," she offers in a hesitant agreement. She turns in the direction she had been running in, then gradually breaks into a jogging pace again, making certain to keep an even speed with Jensen. "I'm— sorry, have we met before? I um, my head was sort've somewhere else and I'm just— do you live around here?"

It's natural suspicion, approached by a presumed stranger in a city full of strangers. Jensen's appearance blends in with the others here, but Theresa's wariness is expected. This is the most dangerous city in the country, beating out even Detroit, which is no small feat. A woman like Theresa Parmenter has to be careful, but Raith's already becoming keenly aware that she's not as suspicious as she should be, especially not for a mother.

"Around here, yeah." Keeping pace with Raith isn't hard: He's not sprinting, after all, but he's not going so slow that it's time wasted during a jog, either. "Haven't met before, though. Not enough chance to meet many people. You know how it is. Work, work work, work work work, work work work work. Not for your health, you know. Not knowing people."

The woman's lack of appropriate suspicion can be caused by a variety of reasons, although her ability is certainly not one of them, or at least shouldn't be. It's her home neighborhood, and she's got good money coming in. Wealthy people live in safe neighborhoods. Maybe she's just more trusting than she really ought to be. Maybe she's playing him while he's trying to play her. "James Wereski Junior, by the way, or J.J. if you prefer, either's fine by me."

"Theresa," is all she gives, no last names like Jensen had, "Tessa if it's easier." Offering an askance look to Raith, she continues to jog up the street. There's blocks and blocks of row houses and brownstones to cover, tree-lined sidewalks, morning paper deliveries, plenty of traffic and more than enough pedestrians even at this early morning hour to make it seem less threatening than the situation warrents.

"I don't think I've ever seen you in the neighborhood before," is feeling Raith out, her cadence of speech measured in breathy exhalation as she jogs alongside of him. "You new, James?" Spy senses can only tingle so much in situations like this, but just that they tingle at all is reason to be cautious. Whether she's fishing for information out of defensiveness or for another reason isn't readily certain, but Jensen Raith's been in enough situations like this to know that something is up.

Whether it's Tessa's attitude or just the atmosphere of the moment with the threat of an Institute snatch looming over his head isn't obvious, not at least without a little more prying.

"Oh, yeah, I'm pretty new, alright." His casual looking around is enough evidence of that: New sights for the new guy. His main concern, however, is looking for things 'out of place,' even if they really aren't. "Travel a lot too. Too much, maybe. No time to meet anyone, no time to look around. Hopefully things'll settle down soon. Then, maybe you'll see more of me. No promises." Five to ten minutes, he figured. That all depends on where they are in relation to her starting point. And where everyone else is in relation to them. The odds of a car screeching to a halt in front of them and men in black suits pouring out are slim. The odds of a car containing Institute or even Company agents presently taking note of the disruption in Miss Parmenter's morning routine is somewhat higher.

"You're out of luck if you're hoping for things to settle down in your life if you live in New York City," Theresa comments with a rueful tone of voice, "if my job didn't require I live in the city, I'd be on the west coast right now, as far away from this place as I could get. This city's terrible, it's terrible for my children and it's terrible for anyone else who lives here too." While Theresa talks, Raith's picking things out of the environment that raise flags in his mind.

Middle-aged man jogging with his dog on the opposite side of the two-lane street, has been keeping a relatively steady pace. Con-Edison bucket truck doing line maintenance, the elevated position of the worker an obvious potential point of surveillance. Nice neighborhood, nice enough to have traffic cameras that function, lending to the possibility of remote surveillance.

"Do you have kids of your own?" is something of a loaded question when one considers Raith's family tree having a few knotty branches on it.

The middle-aged man, Raith writes off as an unlikely threat. No matter how well-trained, dogs are unpredictable: Not something someone would bring even for surveillance. Electro up on the lines and the cameras are the most obvious points of visible watchers. Always, always Raith must now consider invisible persons in the vicinity. All the more reason to keep jogging: Impossible to sneak up and eavesdrop without making noise this way. Clock's ticking.

"Just one," Raith replies as to the question of kids, electing to keep his answer as cut-and-dry as he can, "Adorable. Just know she's going to miss France, though. Don't ever fall in love in Paris, the commute's deadly. But, that's how it goes. Nothing's too much for your baby, huh?"

"Most of the time that's right," Tessa notes with a quirk of her head to the side, cutting around the block to do a loop, though this particular side-street is one-way, less cars and obstructions and less people. "Kids are important, you spend every night before you go to bed worrying what the world's going to be like for them, and every morning waking up afraid its going to get worse. I spend almost everything I make on my children, making sure they go to a decent school, making sure they're safe. It's hard, to know your children are safe, especially these days."

As Tessa looks back at Jensen, there's a quirk of her brow, "What's your wife think of living in New York? My husband hates it, hates the commute to work, hates the people, hates the noise and the curfew. He's only here because I'm here, I guess that means he's faithful, right?" Except that Theresa's husband is dead, a few years on now, according to Hana. Unless atmomization by nuclear fire is curable these days.

Not counting Richard Cardinal.

"Must mean he is," Raith replies. Side street without as much on it, less chance of being seen and watched. Time to take a chance. Raith is careful not to go running ahead, to stay just out of arm's reach, and most importantly, not to make himself seem larger than he really is when he voices his next statement- "Wouldn't have taken a job in Midtown if he wasn't."- and hopes that the initial shock means he doesn't have to chase after her. If her ability is as potent as Agent Ryans led him to believe, losing an altercation is the last thing he'll ever have to worry about if they get into one.

Tessa only affords Raith a look for so long, her expression showing awkward scrambling for an answer. "What?" she tries to play off as innocent amusement, her brows furrowed together and tongue sliding across her lips as her slowing jogging pace comes to a stop. Sneakers scuff on the sidewalk, and when Tessa comes to a halt, there's a wariness in her brown eyes that wasn't there before. Swallowing tightly, she looks back over her shoulder down the street where they'd come from, then to Raith again.

"I'm… not sure what you're getting at," is said with a deliberate slowness, and Tessa's weight settles on her furthest back heel, dark brows creased together as her head angles to one side. She looks past Raith, this time, up towards the end of the street they hadn't reached yet, then back to the ex-spy. "What do you know about my husband?"

"I know his name's Kenneth, and that his location one sunny November morning in 2006 didn't give him a good prognosis." A glance past Tessa in the direction they came from. Even now, Raith can't be certain that they haven't been followed. Not totally certain, and aside from a subcompact Glock in an ankle holster, he has no weapons.

"I also know that you're going to pick your boys up from the Suresh Center today, and that you have a certain extranormal talent that has several, very powerful people interested in changing your place of employment, whether or not you like the new position." For the second time, Raith glances at the street behind Theresa, and then very quickly looks back over his shoulder. Now is, after all, the perfect time for something to go wrong. "I'll tell you everything I can, on the condition we keep jogging. It's important."

Wariness creases lines of age normally well hidden in Tessa's expression. Her throat tightens, brows tense and she looks down the street one more time before managing a slow nod of her head. "Alright," is stated flatly and simply, though there's enough tension in the answer to make it evident that she's extremely nervous. One step back comes first, that moment where she could turn or go forward, then starts to walk towards Jensen, then begin jogging.

In the time it takes for her to start moving, there's a sound — ringing. It's not Jensen, he didn't bring one, it is however Tessa's phone. It's also the house phone ringing in the ground floor of the brownstone she and Raith are in front of. It's also the cell phoen of a man on the corner of the street behind them, it's a phone in the apartment across the street, a cell phone in the pocket of the line worker Raith can barely see in the bucket over a low roof, it's every phone ringing.

All of them, all at once.

Tessa halts in an abortive start to her running, reaching down to retrieve the cell phone in the pocket of her track pants, staring at Raith confusedly as she does.

There are only two reasons every phone would be ringing at once. One: Job, the 'Lawnmower Man,' succeeded in uploading his consciousness to cyberspace and this is his second birthcry. Two, more likely: Rebel. Almost immediately, Raith has his hand out. "It's probably for me," he says, "Keep going. Shortcuts back to your house, if you know any." Another glance over his shoulder and down the street. "Always with the melodrama…."

Tessa is stunned, staring wide eyed at Raith, then looks down to her phone. It's a cheap, flip-phone, probably pre-paid, not something a mother of two working as a CFO would carry around with her, not even as a backup phone. Too many wrong details now, and — as Jensen knows — the Devil's in the details. Unfortunately, that last reveal comes just a little too late to allow for pre-emptive extrication from this situation.

"Probably is," Tessa agrees with a touch of tension while tucking the phone into her pocket. In that same moment Raith spots something down the end of the street just having rounded the corner onto the one way road from the end he and Tessa haven't been down yet. The wide and boxy gray-white van resembling a cross between an SUV and an armored car is familiar. The design, Raith knows the Institute's design, seen it up close once, "You're going to want to stay where you are and do this without resistance."

Tessa's posture changes, one of her brows kicking up as she looks Raith up and down and offers a very sympathetic smile. "You know who we are, you don't want to run, it won't do you a whole lot of good."

He knows who they are. He wants to run. It won't do him a lot of good.

Except for the fact that he is and always will be, despite the best attempts to replace him, the King of Swords.

Lightning fast, Raith jabs his left hand out into Theresa's- if that is her real name- throat. Not hard enough to kill, but definitely enough to stun and give her trouble breathing for a minute or two. At the same time, he moves into her space, left hand moving to her shoulder, right hand diving into her pocket, and left leg hooking behind her ankle. In one smooth motion, directed by years of razor-sharpened Modern Army Combatives, Raith shoves her back, bringing the still-ringing phone out of the pocket and sending his target crashing to the cement. And then he leaves.

Bolting toward the brownstone he was only moments ago talking in front of and heads for the fence keeping the backyard separated from the rest of the world and half-climbs over, half-runs up it, breaking into a full sprint once he lands on the other side. The phone he flips opened to answer is the one thing, the only thing keeping him in New York City. He is in Korea again. He is in Afghanistan again. He is the King of Swords.

"OnStar! Get me some fucking OnStar!"

Choking and dazed, Tessa rolls onto her side as her skin ripples with fluidity not normal of flesh. Raith is well out of sight by the time she shifts into a wiry, balding man with thin eyebrows furrowed, one hand clutching at his throat. Choking for breath, he looks on as the van pulls up and the passenger's side door bursts open, a black-jacketed man with short, dark hair and bluetooth headset in one ear steps out and paces around in front of the van with his sidearm drawn and pointed to the ground. "Son of a bitch!" Harper shouts at the top of his lungs, lifting one sleeve up to his mouth. "This is Harper, Agent Martin is down," there's a look down to the metamorph, then up to the alley.

"Target is escaping on foot north from my position, Eldridge are you in range?" There's no response, Harper plucks at his earpiece, pulling it out and pressing the button on the side, then takes a step back and looks around again. "God— shit!" Holstering his sidearm, Harper takes off in the direction that Agent Martin is pointing in, trying to catch his breath.

Hustling through the apartment's back yard, sneakers treading on grass, ducking under a clothesline and headed for another short, chainlink fence that separates another lawn, Jensen Raith is greeted by a trinity of voices on the other end of the phone, an adolescent's, an older man with an accent Raith can't make out over the layering, and someone speaking Mandarin at the same time in the background.

Continue on your route, the voice echoes in his ear, you will cross onto a side street beyond the apartment up ahead. Turn left at the street and continue to the end of the road. You will see a construction site. Cross the street and head inside.

Without weapons and without armor, this escaping thing is much, much easier than Raith is used to. And all he can think about is how, the one time he really needed to come prepared, he didn't. He was sure he would be able to handle everything: That's Sarisathink, and that hurts.

The gate of another fence opens and Raith explodes into view, sliding across the last few feet of damp lawn and charging forward again the instant the soles of his shoes touch pavement. To the end of the street and- construction site. The ex-spy jukes to the side, giving him a slightly better view of the street and putting him in line with a crosswalk. Even so, a passing vehicle brakes hard and honks at him as he gives a flying dive over the orange, plastic fence telling passerbys to keep out, rolling across his shoulder and sprinting again once he's on his feet, pausing inside the zone proper pending further instructions. The maneuver hurts a lot more than he remembers it hurting, but he was younger then, too. "I'm in," he says aloud, oblivious to many of the things around him that aren't in front of him or making noise.

There is an orange industrial crane ahead of you. Run towards the crane, follow the railyard tracks you will find there one hundred yards. There will be an excavation site for the expansion of the Flushing subway system. Cables currently descend into the excavation hole from a yellow crane. Descend to the bottom.

Suddenly this is getting a lot more complicated.

Behind Raith's lead, vaulting over the fence and landing on the other side, Agent Harper has the speed of youth on his side in this foot chase. Running across the larn and down beside the building, he hops over another low chain-link gate before landing on the sidewalk, hearing the honk of a car's horn. Eyes scan up and down the street frantically, and then Harper stops and closes his eyes, a subtle blurring of his vision changes his perspective on things, and suddenly both he and Raith are operating with an aerial view of the city helping them.

With his eyes shut, Harper turns in the direction Raith ran, towards the construction site, darting out in front of traffic with his gun held down to his side, crossing to the other side of the road and running down the sidewalk until he reaches the next street corner, then cuts right out in front of traffic, weaving around automobiles and heading towards the noise of heavy construction equipment.

"That's the ol' pepper!" Raith joked about his life being a spy thriller once, but this is comedically thrilleresque. Nearly 50 and with no ability of his own, Rebel's assistance levels the playing field, and Raith is not about to look a gift horse in the mouth. Definitely not if it gives him just a little taste of the good old days.

The crane is impossible to miss, and Raith pauses by the orange behemoth just long enough to locate the rail tracks. 100 yards is a long way to run, and his lungs will start burning before he clears half that distance, but run he does. 20 yards out, he shoves the opened phone into the pocket of his sweatpants, and crossing his arms in front of himself, pulls his shirt up and over his head, not taking it fully off. He slows down just enough to not rock the cables when he gives a short hop and grabs onto them, the fabric of his shirt protecting his hands while he slides down the cables, rather than climbing. Under the ground, he yanks his shirt back on and pulls the phone out of his pocket. "Same facing I had before coming down. Directions." He'll take whatever Rebel can give him. It's a long way back to the boat from where he is right now…

Raith isn't alone down here.

Confused stares from construction workers in hardhats with power tools and the shouting of a forman down one end of the tunnel Raith can blearily see into has him realizing that this is going to continue to escalate until he's to safety. Turn around 180 degrees and follow the tunnel until you see a red access door, go through the door and you will enter a maintenance access hall.

In a full on sprint into the construction site, Harper skids to a stop across the loose gravel. His head jerks to the side, brows pinch together and his vision rockets down from its skyward position, plummeting thorugh the same excavation shaft that Raith had just descended into. Harper's psychic presence sense the hairs on the back of Raith's neck standing on end with a subconscious feeling of being watched more so than the construction workers give.

Snapping his eyes open, Harper starts running agai, this time with his sight locked back inside of his body and a different one of his five senses operating remotely, this time the construction site itself sounds silent, and his hearing has been extended down to where Raith is, listening in on the phone conversation.

Through that hall you will wind up on the Great Neck Station at South Side. There is an oncoming train bound for Manhattan that is arriving on the platform in three minutes. I will delay the train. Hearing Rebel's voice, Harper scowls and tries to use Raith's taking of instructions to close the gap further, running through the construction site, past that massive crane swinging steel girders around, across the ground-level tracks being laid and towards the cables. Swinging off his jacket but keeping the sleeves around his hands, Harper leaps from the edge of the dig site and latches onto the cable, visible now as a danglign shadow overhead.

Spinning 'round, Raith doesn't move quite as fast underground as he was on the surface. The visibility isn't as good, and tripping here might well mean the end of the chase. He doesn't take too kindly to voyeurs, and is understandably eager to get as far away as possible from the probable source.

It's with a degree of force that Raith collides with the red door, and when it doesn't push opened, he pulls it and steps through. With better lighting, he's comfortable dashing again, although the knowledge that he might lose the call with Rebel to low signal strength is disconcerting. Three minutes isn't a lot of time, and it takes conscious effort not to get distracted with counting seconds. Rebel will delay the train, and either Raith will make it out or he won't. There's nothing to count: The answer is binary, 1 or 0, true or false, alive or not alive. How long it takes him to get to the station is irrelevant. How far he has to run is not-so-irrelevant, as even with the adrenaline flowing, his muscles are beginning to feel tight. He did not come prepared for this much running.

Zipping down the tables, Harper lands with a splash in the same shallow puddle Raith did, throwing his jacket back over his shoulders, gun out in one hand as his hearing snaps back to his body and he shouts, "Federal Agent! Get out of the way! Go! //Go!" Pushing confused construction workers aside with a shove of his shoulder, Harper hurries down that same, dark tunnel Raith had been fleeing down, breathing heaving through clenched jaws, Desmond can feel his hands trembling as he continues to sprint. This was the most physically exhausting thing he's done in years.

Running through the maintenance corridor under the glow of caged lights, the beeping chirp from the phone indicates Raith's worst fear in this instance coming true: signal lost. He can hear the door slam behind him on the far end of the hal from Harper coming into the corridor, and the noise of a gun fired underground is deafening. Three loud bangs that may as well be hammers in their ears. Nothing hurts, there's no blood and no sudden arrest of forward momentum, but there is a bullet dent in the metal door ahead of Raith. Harper's shaking hands have cost him the money shot.

Plowing thorugh the access door, Raith is expelled out into a busy New York subway playform full of people going about their morning commute. A polite officer at the lead of one of the ticket booths is witness to Raith coming exploding out of the doorway, and his warning of "You— stop!" Might as well be telling Raith, go on keep running!

Up ahead, through the crowd and over a bench, Raith can see the R-Line to Brooklyn waiting on the platform, doors open.

When the signal is lost, Raith shoves the phone into his pocket, not bothering to close it. It won't make a difference now anyway. When bullets start pounding the walls around him like jackhammers, he ducks his head a bit, but just a bit, fighting the urge to make himself smaller. He needs to be fast, not small. When he explodes out into the station, he stumbles for a moment at the sudden changes in environment, already tired and disorientated from the aural assault he just endured. "Officer, do something!" he shouts when he is ordered to stop, not bothering to actually do it while frantically pointing behind him, "He's got a gun!" The result will either be panic from the commuters, or the momentary detainment of the Agent chasing him. Turning the face the train, the ex-spy drops his head and runs for the opened doorway, his ticket out, with everything he's got left. And he does not bother to stop for anyone or anything that doesn't have the common sense to move out of his way.

WOO WOOOOOO! Here comes the night train!

Barreling past people waiting for another subway train, Raith can hear Harper shoulder thorugh the same door he had, and the screams that come next indicate that — yes — everyone did see a lunatic with a gun come running out after Jensen. There's shouting behind Raith, and it's coming from the transit officer who is now unholstering his sidearm to aim at Harper.

"Drop the gun! Drop the gun now! Get down on your stomach and lay down the gun or I will shoot!" Messiah has put everyone on edge, terrorists could be anywhere, and this panicked, young police officer is doing exactly as instructed and exactly as Raith hoped.

Harper skids to a halt with both hands up in the air, holding his gun out with his fingers away from the trigger. "I'm a Federal Agent! Let me reach for my ID— I'm a Federal Agent, do not let that man get away!//"

"Keep your hands where I can see them and get down on the ground!"

It's like a symphony of chaos behind Raith as he comes crashing through the open doors, running head long into the closed doors on the opposite side by sheer merit of momentum alone. Immediately, the subway train's doors slide shut, and people are staring, both out at the platform and at Raith himself.

The phone in Jensen's pocket vibrates, letting him know signal was re-established, and through the windows of the train car he can see Harper getting on his knees and laying down the gun, shooting looks over to the subway train Raith has slid into, trying to reason with a spooked transit officer that has him at gunpoint.

There's no way he'll be able to stay on this train.

Once more, the phone is out of Raith's pocket and in his hand. Rather than lingering to watch the drama with Harper unfold, he takes advantage of the shock everyone around him is feeling to move down the car towards the next door. "Close call, but I made it," he says as he sucks down huge lungfuls of air, "I think I'll be on time." Whatever that means is certain only to himself, and perhaps to Rebel. It doesn't matter. What matters is that he made it. Even against someone younger with an ability, he made it. He is still the King of Swords. If he knew entirely who was lying on the ground outside, he might well concede that the government had found a pretty good lookalike, but that's all that they got: A cheap knock-off of the real thing.

Now matter how well Bucky fills the uniform, he will never be Captain America.

We are glad you made it. Your stop is coming up.

Then there will be further instructions.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License