What Was Taken, Part I


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Scene Title What Was Taken, Part I
Synopsis Benjamin Ryans seeks out aid in finding out the truth behind his redacted past.
Date September 27, 2018

Shadows are starting to stretch across the ground as the sun dips towards setting, creating cooler spots that hint towards the cooler weather that will be descending on the city soon. Already the trees in the city were shifting colors and mornings hold the smell of fireplaces in use.

Water glitters with yellows and oranges, choppy with the evening sea breeze. Boats cut inky silhouettes on the amber tinted waters.

This time of day also heralds in the end of work.

Governor's Island Ferry Pier

Red Hook

5:12 pm

One of the advantages to being retired, is that Benjamin Ryans isn’t bound to schedules like everyone else. This allows him to sit on a bench in view of the ferry, as SESA personnel file off on their way home. The ex-Company director lounges, with his stumped arm draped across the back of the bench and a coffee in his one good hand.

He isn’t hiding or sneaking around. Benjamin stays in clear view of those disbarking the boats, watching for a familiar face in the crowd. The one that can help him with a problem, Cassandra Baumann. Having seen her in action before, the man knows what she can do. A perfect ability for finding a memory that has been cut, rather then blocked.

Especially, since Casper has been underground and avoiding everyone. Even he old man’s resources have been coming up empty.

For the past several months, Cassandra has been busy riding a desk.

Ever since the revelation that her father, Alphonse, had been exposed as a cleaner for some of the more unsavory aspects of a group working after the civil war to sow discord and strife, it came down from on high that it might be best for SESA’s profile if Cassandra were to step back from working on the street and concentrate her efforts on evidence brought in for further investigation. Instead of working on the street to investigate the Safe Zone food thefts - an investigation languishing on her desk now that all leads have been followed to their seeming conclusion - she’s been in an out of the way conference room with a stack of notepads, a witness, and boxes of evidence to go through to look for clues on active cases.

At first, it was interesting and different, being able to see all the aspects of the world that surrounded Cassandra, but once she started delving into the darkness of what SESA’s been investigating, some of the horrors of the world start to come into the light. Emerging from the dock to New York proper, the brown-haired seer seems to be reading a small slip of paper stapled to a bag while flowing with the crowd away from the ferry - a prescription for something called Ramelteon according to the block print on the side along with her name; Baumann, C.

Cassandra sighs and shoves the whole bag into her satchel, buckling it closed before slinging it cross-body where she can more easily protect it on the trip back to her apartment. Even though she’s armed, there’s sometimes the chance that someone might get bold and want to give the small woman a test, but it’s best that she look like she’ll cause as much of a problem as she can.

Looking up, Cassandra looks over her shoulder as she hears a piercing whistle, pausing about fifty feet from the dock as the ferry starts its trip back across the bay. She glances at her watch and frowns a little as the ferry chugs off back to Fort Jay. The stop at the pharmacy at the fort had cost her about fifteen minutes, and getting out of the building another ten, since she was normally gone before the crowd had started heading home. That conspired to have her miss her original boat, and she had to wait for the next one a half hour later.

Pulling up the collar of her jacket to deflect the cool breeze coming from the north, Cassandra starts to make her way into the city.

Once she is spotted by the old man, Ryans doesn’t move to cross the distance between them; only watches her for a long moment. When she looks at her watch, so does he check his noting the time and her frown, brows ticking up a bit. When did it get to be so late?

It isn’t until she starts moving, her path taking her closer to his bench, that Benjamin speaks up, “Miss Baumann.” His deep voice booms loud, with little effort. ”A moment of your time?” Foot slid from where it is perched on his knee, so that he can sit up straighter, arm settles on his leg near this coffee mug. If he still had his other hand, both would be holding that cup.

There his eyes show none of it, Ben offers her a pleasant smile in greeting. The collar of his own black leather jacket is turned up against the breeze.

With the constant rolling blackouts and the poor cell phone service, watches have come back into vogue as a way to keep time without requiring power input. Looking around, one could easily pick out glints of metal or plastic on wrists, tell-take shapes tucked in pockets, or dangling from chains or cords on backpacks or bags. Cassandra’s watch is a fairly nice one. Pre-war, it was the watch worn by her grandfather during his tour in Europe during World War II and has served her well since her hiring at SESA and her move to New York.

The crowd undulates and surges, Cassandra making a unsteady line towards the gates separating the docks from the city outside, her heels clicking on the concrete, a slight squeak coming from the soles of her sensible flats when she skids to a stop, taking two stuttering steps before swiveling to search for the source of her name being called from the outskirts. Her gaze finally settles on Ben on his bench, her head tilting to the side as she regards him and the bench he's claimed.

“Just because I'm not doing investigations on the street right now doesn't mean I’ve lost my Agent title.” She says, turning and moving out of the stream of traffic where she can more easily chat without getting bowled over when the next ferry lands. “What can I do for you, Mr. Ryans?

There is the briefest flicker of amusement at the correction to her title, Ryans may very well remember being like that when he was a Company agent. “Apologies, Agent Baumann. Though my reasons for being here are outside of your employment, otherwise I would have visited you there.”

Ben motions to the space on the bench next to him, more out of politeness, then any sort of demand. “I was impressed with what you were able to accomplish with your ability that down down in the ruins of Level 5.”

There is no waiting for her to sit, Ryans cuts straight to the point of his visit. “I’d like to acquire your assistance in a personal matter. It may shed more light on the Company’s past, though I can’t be certain of that.” He takes a sip of his cooling coffee, before adding, “Don’t worry, what I’m asking isn’t illegal.” If that could really be considered comforting. Maybe, at least his record speak for him. “But, it should uncover a part of my past that they took from me.”

Right now, Cassandra’s title is pretty much all she has. The little brunette is quite aware of the limitations that her family has imposed on her due to her father’s indiscretions. Officially there’s no reprimand on her record and on paper she’s a full agent, but she can hear the whispers in the bullpen and has noticed that some assignments that she’d normally be allowed to assist on have been handed over to other agents. It’s something that really annoys her, but it’s the way of her world now. She figures another six months before things are back to normal.

She hopes.

Slipping out of the thinning crowd, Cassandra sits next to Ben on the bench before he speaks, setting her bag on her lap, her arms wrapped around it. “Thank you. It’s why I took the job in the first place, after all. I want to help people and bring the guilty to justice. Back during the war, the kids I was hiding with nicknamed me Minority Report, because I kind of do the same thing that the old Tom Cruise movie did, except see in the past, not potential futures.” She frowns. “Saying it out loud, it doesn’t make much sense. Kids, right?”

There’s a pause as she considers his proposal. The mention of the potential for illegality does draw a quick glance to his eyes to gauge his words. Cassandra moves, scooting back on the bench a half inch or so, shifting her hips so she’s sitting on the edge, facing him. “I’d be willing to help you.” she begins. “I’m actually surprised you haven’t looked me up during one of my visits to the Library. Bringing back the past are one of the things I enjoy doing for people when I’m not at work. Community outreach to help build bridges between Evolved and non.”

She flips open the flap of her satchel, withdrawing a little notebook and a gnawed-on yellow pencil, twirling it around one finger while flipping to a blank page. “It looks like my next public session is at the Library in two weeks on Sunday afternoon. I can pencil you in, then, if it’s not something that needs to be kept private. But.” She closes the notebook, looking to Ben. “Seeing as how you’ve approached me off the reservation, as it were, and it’s involving the company, I’m guessing that it’s something that is not for public consumption.” The pencil tip rests against her lips as she thinks, tapping it lightly, the pencil finally orienting towards Ben. “I’ve got some time tonight. My only plans were dinner and then a DVD of The Sound of Music before bed, and the DVD’s not going anywhere so, sure.”

When she’s sure she has Ben’s attention, Cassandra gives the standard disclaimer that she gives to everyone. He knows to expect something like this, she’s certain, but she wants him to know the conditions since they’re outside the jurisdiction that she’d normally work under. “Just so we’re clear, I can only show the actual events of the past, unvarnished. Whatever I show may be difficult to see in the best of circumstances, and I have no way of knowing what I’m going to see until it’s staring us in the face.” She pauses for a moment, withdrawing a bottle of water to take a sip, letting him digest her words. Standard stuff, so far. “I will not deliberately expose anything of what I learn, especially anything that may be embarrassing or harmful to you or your family. That said, I take being an agent seriously, and in the event that my assistance brings up information that would lead to progress on past, present, or future investigations, I reserve the right to use that information.”

Coffee is sipped casually as he listens to the young woman, a brow ticking up at the mention of a movie he’s never really seen. Not his type, he was more old westerns and war movies. As she goes on, Ben’s face shifts to more amusement than anything. “You know, if you had been old enough when I was director here locally, I would have attempted to recruit you.” He never ran it like his predecessors… or wouldn’t have… if given the chance. The Institute ruined that chance.

“And It’s not,” Benjamin confirms her suspicion as to the idea of public seeing it. “It’s deeply personal. I’m looking for the memory of my son, Bradley’s funeral.” Any research into the man would show that Bradley Russo was the oldest child and only son of the Ryans’ clan patriarch.

He was also very alive.

Setting the cup on the bench between them, Ryans rests his elbow on the back of the bench, torso twisted to look her direction. “It’s recently been brought to my attention that my son died and another might have come over from another timeline.” With previous investigations, he doesn’t hesitate offering that information up. “While records say I never even knew I had a son and I never married my fiance… Abandoned them. My source says otherwise. I was married and knew my son.”

Nails scratch along Ben’s jaw as he turns thoughtful, gaze going to the water beyond them. “I know the cemetery, but not where he is buried. I already looked.” Because, of course he would. “The Company buried it’s tracks well and that includes hiding my dead son from me.” Eyes slide over to look at her out of the corner of them. “This is where I need you. I need to confirm this is true. That the Company removed this memory.”

Cassandra gives Ben a sly grin. "You know, you're not the first person to have said that once I was done showing them my dog and pony show."

The mention of a his son's funeral, though, and the lost memory of that funeral, as well as the revelation that his son might be from another timeline? That's something that definitely piques Cassandra's interest. Now to see if there's anything she can start working with.

"Do you have anything that I can start off with? Something you might have owned or used around that time? A suit, old wallet, shoes, or anything of that sort? Even better, access to the cemetery's offices or records." The mind reels at the amount of data she's going to have to comb through to just get into the right vicinity of the memory that's been lost, and going though all that will take some time, too.

“I was thinking more of your work ethic,” Ryans states with a chuckle. “Abilities are just a bonus.” Look at him, he has none.

The mention of having something from that day, “I might,” he rumbles out thoughtfully, he wasn’t sure if he had anything else left from his time at the Company. It is moments like these that he mourns the loss of his dad’s fedora. Given to his dad, by his own dad. It was out in the world somewhere.

Reaching into his jacket, Ryans pulls out a folded piece of paper and offers it over to her, between two fingers. “Meet me here outside the offices, after dinner. We’ll say seven.” Looking at it, she’ll see the name of a place: Greenwood Cemetery, Bay Ridge, New York. “I appreciate your help.” He picks up his cup again, once she takes the paper, giving it a bit of a swirl, feeling the waning warmth.

“I can’t guarantee what you will see either,” he admits. Taking a deep breath, Benjamin pushes to his feet and tosses the coffee into the trash can near them. “When the Company finds it necessary to cut out a memory, the reason tends to be a good one.” A moment ticks by as he tucks hands in his pockets, before he adds, “Especially if Charles made that decision. He, at least, was a good man.”

“You’re not doing a lot to reassure me that this is going to be a pleasant evening, but sometimes I get surprised.” Cassandra’s voice is monotone and deadpan as she takes the page, glancing at the address before tucking it away into her satchel to check after dinner. “Here’s hoping that this is one of those occasions.” Although she’s fairly sure it won’t be. “See you at this address in….” She glances at her watch. “About two hours.” She stands and gives a two-fingered salute with her right hand, pointing toward the gates when she lets it down with a flourish before she melts into the crowd.

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