What Was Taken, Part III


cassandra_icon.gif richard3_icon.gif ryans2_icon.gif

Scene Title What Was Taken, Part III
Synopsis Ryans takes Cassandra to Raytech in search of a secure space.
Date September 28, 2018


Raytech Industries

“I’m sorry, but Mr. Ray is completely booked for appointments today and can not see you.”

Benjamin Ryans would know that voice anywhere. It isn’t one he’ll ever really forget. He watched her grow up and dealt with some of her temper tantrums. “So you’re not getting in to see him today. I’m sorry.” There is the sound of tappity-taps and clickety-clicks through a speaker as if a computer is being checked again. “Nope. So scram, buddy,” The lips of the receptionist sneer at him, showing teeth.

What Ryans couldn’t fathom is why Elle Bishop’s voice was coming out of a Disneyland attraction… Or was that Universal Studios? He couldn’t remember which place he took the girls that had the dinosaurs.

With a rather unreadable expression, Benjamin Ryans stares at an animatronic dinosaur, which stares back unblinking from across the desk… or was it looking at him, he couldn’t tell. “Buh-bye now,” the thing chirps cheerfully. A clawed hand comes up in farewell and the jaw moves as it talks; before the hydraulics make a sound and it settles back into place.

This was insane.

Letting out a long sigh and pressing fingers to the bridge of his nose, Ben takes a moment, before he tries again; words a touch slower this time. “Why can’t you just call him.”

The robot raptor activates again and straightens behind the desk, the cheerful tones of Elle’s rather tinny voice echo in the entryway, “Welcome to Raytech Industries. Where we are always moving forward to a brighter future! How can we help you today?” There is a pause, it waits for Ryans to speak… but as the moments drag on it finally says, “Please speak up, I am not sure I heard you right.”

Lord give me patience. Ryans hand falls away and he sends a look to his companion; his expression is actually pained. Attention is quickly turned back to the robot. “Tell Richard. Ben Ryans is here to see him and that I have something from my old employers he’ll want to see. For Godsake… Let the boy make his own damn decision about his time?” A look past the robot to a camera just behind it’s head, he adds, “And can I talk to a damn human?!?” That last is growled out in rare display of irritation.

Security Room

Raytech Industries

Why the hell am I talking to a robot?

Hello Welcome to Raytech —

It is probably a good thing that Ryans can’t hear the laughter in the security room, where three figures are huddled around the monitor, watching the reactions of people coming into Raytech for the first time since the new receptionist was installed. From the start, it was obvious it had some serious kinks to work out of it.

But then… there was some entertainment value to it.

Popcorn is almost spilled over the keyboard, when the old man at the front desk looks at the camera and demands a human. “Oh shit, think you better get out there, boss?” The shaggy haired security specialist, Lou, looks up at the tan skinned man next to her and then to the well dressed man just beyond him. All of them lit by the bank of monitors that take up a wall at the back of the security office.

Bob follows Lou’s gaze, to angle a questioning look at the CEO of Raytech, tossing a few popped kernels into his mouth. “How long you gonna let them suffer, eh boss?” Not that he seems too worried about it, there has been a lot of fun been hard today. “He’s startin’ to look pretty pissed off.”

“We’re not making him suffer, he’s… assisting with a field test,” Richard says with a straight face. Mostly. The edge of a grin tugs up at the corner of his mouth, then, and he shakes his head before turning to step away from the monitors and towards the door, “But you’re right, I should get out there before he leaves.”

“Or shoots the damn thing. What was Warren even thinking…”

He stops just long enough to grab a handful of popcorn, and then he’s out and into the hallway.


Raytech Industries

Benjamin is glaring at the damn robot as she spews her greeting again. Of all the things to make the man crack and show emotion, it’s this… thing. Finally, he cuts a look over to Cassandra. “You want to try and reason with it?” Can you even reason with a robot?

“I’m sorry. I didn’t quite hear that. I have no record of a Regina Withit. Please try the name of your party again.”

Ryans might very well be thinking about shooting it, jaw clenched against his irritation, he simply turns on his heels and puts distance between it and him. Motioning Cassandra towards it. “See if you can get it to listen.” He scrubs his hand at the back of his head wishing for either aspirin or whiskey right now.

“I’m sorry. I do not have a record of Jee Yu. Please try again.”

There is something a bit amusing about watching Ben argue with an animatronic dinosaur, but with the frustration building in in the man, it’s probably best for Cassandra to take over, at least for now. Taking a couple of steps forward, she looks back over to at him with a grin. “I don’t know if I can reason with it, but let’s see if they sanitize their database inputs.” And then she leans in towards the speaker.

“Login, administrator.” Cassandra says, her voice with a tone of authority that hopefully translates as she thinks on how to word this exactly. Hopefully the designer never considered someone trying to poke at it through the speakers. The dinosaur chirps, as if waiting for something. “Password quote Caps Lock drop table users hyphen hyphen quote enter.” It’s something that shouldn’t really work if the system was set up correctly, but if her entry is input as she said it into the system, it will merrily inject itself into the SQL database and, when it’s read on the next question, will execute a simple command that will quickly and efficiently delete the records on the table of data - mainly the access records. She takes a step back, watching the animatronic, waiting to see if the thing she read in that comic on the IT guys’ door really works.

“We need to speak to Mr. Ray regarding something of great importance. Can you please let him know that Ben Ryans and Cassandra Baumann are waiting for him?”


The animatronic raptor's eyes suddenly flash to red at Cassandra's words, its head snapping down to regard her, fake 'claws' folding back as actual blades extend from its plastic-sheathed hands and it rises up into a taller and more intimidating position. Its mouth opens, and there’s an ominous nozzle in there past the teeth.

"Jesus Christ," comes the voice of Richard Ray as he hits the lobby at a run, "Override Azathoth, Override Azathoth, what the fuck, Warren."

At the command, the red eyes fade to black, the blades slide slowly back into position and the raptor-bot sinks slowly back down to its haunches, deactivated. The executive slows from his run to a walk, one hand rubbing over his face, "I've got to have a word with my brother about hidden murderous modes— " A finger touches to an earpiece, "Lou, have Alia do a full scrub on this thing's programming, please? Hi Ben. Sorry about that. Field test."

“Your brother?” Ryans asks flatly, eying the raptor suspiciously. “I’ve heard stories and seen the files.” By the old man’s tone it’s nothing good. Of course, that was pre-Institute. “Though I believe he had an affinity for spiders.”

Taking a step away from the receptionist, as if it might start spewing them at any minute; Ryans moves to offer his hand to the CEO, “Richard. I apologize for the intrusion, but I assure you it’s worth it and up your alley.” There is a knowing upward tick of his mouth. “Think you can spare some of your time? I know you have a lot going. I’ve noticed that the garden is slowly shaping up,” he compliments. Of course, he’d notice Raytech’s most ambitious project.

A small turns towards his companion, Benjamin gives a nod of his head towards her. “This is Agent Cassandra Baumann, from SESA. She is assisting me on this.”

To Cassandra’s credit, she doesn’t freeze when the Raptor transforms from Barney the Dinosaur to something out of a cyberpunk version of Jurassic Park, already taking several steps back and away while swinging her satchel in front of her center of mass to act as a makeshift barrier. Training dictates that, in the event of an active shooter - or in this case nozzle-bearing dinosaur - to get away from your partner and to cover so any attack will have to be split, leaving one person unharmed and unharried while the attack is concentrated on the other. Thankfully, that attack never comes thanks to Richard Ray sprinting in and deactivating the thing. Cassandra slowly straightens, smoothing out her clothes and re-positioning her bag behind her, the strap across her chest.

“Had I known there was a possibility of mechanized raptor attack, I would have brought a bigger gun and some more protective clothes.” Cassandra steps forward as she’s introduced, offering Richard a hand to shake. “A pleasure to meet you, sir, even in these…” The robo-raptor gets a quick look, her attention going back to Richard after a moment. “Interesting circumstances.”

“The spiders were apparently a phase…” Richard rolls his eyes as he looks at the machine, then back to the pair with a rueful expression, hands spreading, “Sorry, again. I think he was trying to be helpful, what with the death threats and what happened to Remi…”

He steps over, reaching out to clasp Cassandra’s hand for a brief shake, “Agent Baumann, a pleasure— and of course, Ben, I’ve always got time for you. If you could come with me…?”

Before leading the way, he steps behind the desk to find a pair of guest security lanyards - giving the raptor a wary eye - and offers them out, heading down the hallway he’d come from afterwards towards an elevator door.

The lanyard is taken with a thank you, another glare sent towards the thing before he follows after the CEO. “I had a visit from Eve Mas.” Benjamin knows he doesn’t have to explain who that is or what she does; so he continues without really waiting for that to sink in. “Seems she had a vision of Adam visiting my grave.” Again he doesn’t elaborate on the who, though the way he talks about his death, seems rather accepting.

Settling the lanyard over his head, Ben walks just behind Richard, his voice rather bland. “She had some rather interesting things to say about why he was there.” He saves the details for a place far more private. Speaking of… “I was hoping you’d have a fairly large, secured space for an experiment that the agent will be conducting,” he glances over at Cassandra, “With a penny of all things.”

Cassandra takes the lanyard and loops it around her neck, keeping Richard and her bag between her and the raptor until they’re well past the desk and into the depths of the building behind. The mention of Eve Mas earns an eye roll and a shake of the head as they walk. “I’ve found that staying away from Eve is healthier for your sanity and career.” Apparently Cassandra is familiar with the raven-haired bar owner. “The one reading she did for me ended with me lost in a sewer and being eaten by rats, and that’s before the hospital visit where she was screaming incoherently after…something.” She still doesn’t know what. “Set her off and screaming while I visited.”

Then, as they walk, Cassandra goes quiet as Ben relates his experiences with Eve and, cryptically, the reason for their unscheduled visit this morning. The Raptor was a small speed bump leading to the real reason that they were there but, thankfully, with SESA’s generous vacation time policy, Cassandra had nothing else to do for the day except help Ben out with the secrets that his penny hold.

“If it could be at least ten feet square, if possible, and private that would be perfect. Preferably without too many obstacles in the room, like tables or chairs in odd locations.” Cassandra adds. “That’s my range.”

“Adam? That’s interesting…” Richard’s brow knits for a moment, then clears as he nods once, “It makes sense. The timeline matches up.” Whatever that is supposed to mean.

He reaches out to the elevator panel to hit up, nodding again, “We have a space you can…”

Then a word hits him, and with a swivel of his head he slants a look at Ryans. A moment later, his hand dips and hits down instead, and the doors of the elevator slide open. “Going down, then,” he says, stepping inside, “We’ll clear one of the testing rooms, there should be plenty of space. Can video record usage of your ability, Agent?”

“Sorry, Mr. Ray.” Cassandra actually sounds apologetic. “Life would be a lot easier if it could in my line of work. Simply put, my ability broadcasts into the minds of people in that ten foot radius, so all you’d see from a recording would be people standing there and talking. When I work, I try to have a note taker, a tape recorder, an artist, or something like that, so I can describe things as they happen.” Cassandra stands with her back to the wall as the doors to the elevator close, her stomach dropping as they start to descend into the basement where the testing rooms are.

It’s not hard to catch the reaction that Richard has. Once they are inside the elevator, Ben glances at the Raytech CEO out of the corner of his eye. “Your familiar with the nature of the penny, then.” Not a question, only a simple stated fact.

“Good, that will make things easier.”

He doesn’t really have much to say about Cassandra’s ability, allowing her to answer questions. “It’s a bit of a trip,” he admits. They words sounding odd in his rumbled voice. “She’s invaluable as an assistant. We wouldn’t have even known about the penny without her. Charles did a good job hiding it.”

His head turns to look at Richard fully, pulling the penny from his pocket and holding it up, for a moment. “Seems, Bradley is like you, Richard. Mine is dead and buried; all my memories of him taken wiped away and…” blue-eyed gaze shift to the penny, “are potentially on this coin.” There is no real way of knowing until the Agent looks at it.

"No need to apologize. Actually…"

Richard steps into the elevator with a slow shake of his head, depressing a sub-level button and stepping back to make room. He brings his hands up to adjust the set of his jacket, offering Cassandra a slightly wry smile, "I was hoping that's how it worked. I won't need to turn off the usual security cameras, then."

Whatever he thinks may be on that penny, he doesn't want it recorded.

"What's on that penny may not be what you think," he says as the elevator smoothly moves downwards, "Charles was… leaving breadcrumbs. What do you mean by— " He cuts off as realization hits, eyes widening a little, "One of the sixteen, from the overlay. Oh, shit, Ben."

One of the more annoying aspects of Cassie’s job is lack of context, and this elevator ride has it in spades. She makes it her life’s work to find out things from the past, for good or ill, and bring injustice to light. Helping Ben with the memory of his son has quickly morphed into something far, far more interesting but, due to the lack of context, something entirely unknown. Cassandra feels almost like she’s walked into a movie right before the climax in act two without any previous knowledge which, honestly, she kind of has.

Looking from one taller man to the other, Cassandra puts to words what she’s thinking. “I want to ask what the sixteen are, what the overlay is, and why you’re so concerned about what’s on that coin but I have a distinct feeling that I might not get an answer.” She looks to Ben again. “If there’s something I need to know, I trust you’ll fill me in? I’m not asking for a thesis, or even an opinion, but what I’m walking into, I’d really like an idea before I do. Shocking I can do, but being surprised by the shock, I’d rather not. I’ve seen too many things to know that a surprise like that isn’t good for mental health. Mine or yours. And it’s the quickest way to stop me from helping.”

Agent first.

“So there are more than just the two of you?” That piques the former Company Director’s curiosity. “Do you know any of the others?”

“Noah and Claude planted this penny along with a bush on my son’s grave. Then clearly, Charles, made sure I don’t see it, because I couldn’t until the agent here pointed it out.” That didn’t set well with him. What else did Charles plant in his head. Benjamin shakes his head. Honestly, it doesn’t make sense to him. Charles was a good man. Their had to be a reason. “Either way, we won’t know until it’s looked at.”

Cassandra’s questions and comments pull the old man’s attention. Benjamin offers the young woman a rare smile of understanding. “Welcome to our world.” One full of secrets and riddles. Where you don’t know what you are getting into, until you are too far down the rabbit hole.

“To be honest, I only know a little more than you, Richard I am sure can tell us a lot more. Still surprises me what he knows.“ Ben gives a firm nod to the CEO in recognition to that fact, “ “But I can tell you, Agent Baumann, this has something to do with what Alice Shaw pulled us down to Level 5 for.” Someone he had plans to talk to again, somehow. “Whatever happened was bad enough to warrant tearing out a large chunk of my memory out. To include the truth about my son and my apparent close friendship with Adam.”

That one still surprises Ben.

“No, just myself and— Russo, apparently,” Richard grimaces, “Does he know?”

The elevator doors slide open and he steps out to a security door, reaching out to swipe his lanyard and depress a finger-print on a scanner before it opens. Leading the pair past a security guard, he heads down a side passage to a darkened lab - the lights coming on as they walk in.

“It wasn’t just you, if that makes you feel better,” he explains, passing by several consoles in front of glass windows that look into a larger, empty room likely meant for testing purposes. A code’s tapped into the airlock-style door, which slides open on this side, “The redaction was every single member of the Company — up to, and including, the Founders. It was several years worth, although I don’t know exactly how much. Charles fabricated artificial memories for you all after the redaction, it’s why none of you remember Adam as an active presence during the early 80s…”

That’s not very reassuring, but as the old saying goes, in for a penny, in for a pound. Cassandra sighs and nods, following along through security doors, man traps and other things meant to inhibit the escape of anything from the testing that goes on inside these rooms. The closest thing she was given to an answer was Ben’s mention of the rabbit hole, and even then it was just enough to keep her interested enough to continue to see this through. Whoever the Sixteen are, apparently one is Richard, here, and the other is Russo, whoever that is. And this Adam character…”The man that was held in Level Five. The man that…c…carlos…no, Caspar took the memories from in a…penny.” Fuck. The pieces are starting to slide tantalizingly into place, almost giving Cassandra a glimpse at the complexities that lie beneath.

She steps into the room and looks around, measuring the place mentally, even stepping off a few paces to make sure it’s close enough to the right size. “Perfect.” She unslings her bag and lets it slip to the floor, grabbing one of the chairs sitting along the periphery of the room and moving it to the center of the floor, next to her bag. “So…” she sits down and bends, undoing the top of her bag, pulling out a silk scarf that’s wrapped loosely around her right hand. “All aboard that’s coming aboard, I guess.” She looks to Richard. “Fair warning. If you’re within ten, you’ll get the vision. I’m not that good at limiting people from seeing what I show. It turns into your very own immersive, 3d show.”

“No” is the answer Richard gets as the old man follows him. “And for now, I’d like to keep it that way.” Ryans was always about protecting his children, even the ones he has a strained relationship with. “Once I know more, I’ll figure out how to tell him.” Telling someone their life was a lie is never easy.

Once they are in the room, Ryans watches the agent silently.

Once she is settled, Benjamin offers the penny to her. “Thank you for doing this.” He really has no idea what could be on that penny, so there is a bit of an preemptive apologies to his word.

“It is like watching a holographic projection,” The old man offers to Richard, incase he has reservations about the whole thing. “We’ll see what she sees. It’s pretty fascinating.”

“I just have one warning…” Richard stops within ‘range’, arms folding over his chest as he watches the penny being passed over, “…if during this, a woman appears with gold eyes?”

He glances between the pair, “End the vision it immediately, cut it off, whatever you have to do. We can’t risk exposure to it. Their ability is memetic in nature, and a telepathic projection might well be enough for it to infect our minds.”

Well that’s cheerful. It explains why he didn’t want it recorded, at least.

The penny is taken in Cassandra’s left hand, Lincoln staring up at the ceiling from her palm. “Got it. Gold eyes, end the vision. That I can do.” Rocking her head back and forth, her neck popping softly, she takes the loop of silk on her right hand and wraps it neatly around her eyes, folding it over and pulling it tight behind one ear, effectively blinding her to the world outside and letting her concentrate on the world sitting in the palm of her hand.

“Aside from the gold eyes warning, assuming that’s even here, nothing in my visions can hurt you. It’s all already happened. I’m just reading the echoes and putting it out there with my ability. And Mr. Ray?” She turns towards where she heard Richard’s voice last. “Might I suggest finding somewhere to sit in range but out of the way? I effectively overwrite senses while people are in the visions I produce, so if you try to walk, you can trip over a chair that you can’t physically sense. You just trip. I learned that the hard way my first few experiments with this.”

Warnings given, penny in hand, Cassandra relaxes as much as she can with the nervous tension bubbling behind her eyes and closes both hands around the coin. She sits there for a second, quiet, rubbing the heel of her right hand over her left palm, effectively trapping it inside. And then finally, she speaks.

“Let’s tell the story that wasn’t supposed to be told.”

Cassandra’s powers take hold, and the world around them fades to blackness.

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