What Was Taken, Part IV


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Scene Title What Was Taken, Part IV
Synopsis Now that he knows, everything changes.
Date September 28, 2018

Golden rays of afternoon sunlight spill down through patchwork clouds. The city of New York is a chiaroscuro; vibrant sunlight and deep shadows, warm brick and glistening streets wafting with steam from a brief summer storm. Manhattan is alive with the thrum of traffic, and at the stoop of 210 Central Park South, old friends are saying their goodbyes.

“Well, Charles, I have to say it's a generous offer, but…” Benjamin Ryans looks up at the looming silhouette of the Deveaux Building, then down to where Charles stands on the stoop with his hands in his pockets and a smile on his face. “September and I are going to settle down. We’re thinking Connecticut, though,” he flashes a roguish smile, “I wager you already knew that.”

A few paces away from Benjamin, a brunette woman stands with clutch purse in hand, dressed in a subdued navy blue dress with white piping and a large white bow of silk around her neck. She's watching a boy, no older than 2 or 3, running around and playing with a girl the same age, her dark and curly hair bouncing with each giggling step.

“Simone looks to have taken a liking to Bradley,” Charles says with a smile, then looks back to Ben. “You're absolutely sure? The new Bronx office is going to be state of the art, computers and everything. You'd be a hell of a director.”

Ben shakes his head and laughs, starting to say something but watching as a woman slinks out of the front door of the building up beside Charles. Tall and poised, high cheekbones and strong eyes, her dark hair is kept in a bountiful updo and her cream colored dress compliments dark skin. “Benjamin,” she says chidingly, putting an arm around Charles’ waist. “Is my husband still pestering you about that job offer?” She looks at Charles with brows raised. “Charles let the man rest.”

Awkwardly, Charles smiles and looks down to the stoop of his building, then over to Bradley and Simone playing. September looks up and away from the children, walking up to stand beside Ben. Slowly, Charles closes his eyes and bows his head in defeat. “I know better than to try and argue with my wife,” he admits with a slow smile.

“Thank you, Nia,” Ben offers to her. In turn, Nia just cracks a smile and leans in to press a kiss to Charles cheek. “Now, dinner was lovely, but we really should be— ”

Screeching tires. A loud scream. Blaring horns. September screaming. A look of horror flashes over Charles and Nia’s faces as they look to the source of the disturbance, and as Ben turns he watches his son Bradley struck by a station wagon, thrown under the wheels and dragged until the car skids to a stop.

Ben is running before anyone can say or do anything, running to his son’s side. Nia hustles down the steps with Charles, who sweeps up Simone in his arms and buried her face against his chest. “Shhh,” Charles whispers against her screaming, and Nia hurried over to the car and raises one hand, lifting the back end off the ground with a thought. The terrified driver screams inside the car, white-knuckle grip on the steering wheel.

Ben drops to his knees beside Bradley’s broken, bloody body. September can't stop screaming, both hands over her mouth and eyes fixed on the body of her son. “Bradley! Bradley! Bradley!

Ben kneels there, hands shaking, eyes wide and tears welled up in his eyes. “D-Daniel—” He splutters. “Someone call Daniel!” It's all he can think about. Daniel Linderman, a miracle-worker, they can fix this.

They can…

Raytech NYCSZ


Present Day

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They couldn't.

As the image fades from all around them, Cassandra feels a shooting pain in the side of her head and a tingle in her fingertips. Reading from one of Caspar’s coins is like sticking a finger in an electrical socket, it's a full-spectrum sensory overload and it interacts with her ability in startling ways. The steel-plated walls of the concrete experimentation chamber ring with the reflexive noise she made when the vision ended.

Standing at her side, Richard can still smell the scent of the rain and feel the warmth of the sun on his skin. Ryans can feel the emotions he was experiencing in the moment. It was all there, encoded in a single penny, but with so much more than Cassandra was able to pull out in one pass.

But she projected everything — every sense, every feeling, every smell, every tactile sensation — it's like a high-definition version of her ability. And it's draining to do.

For everyone.

For Benjamin Ryans especially.

It was like nothing he’s ever felt before, not even the loss of Mary came close to the emotional gut punch he just experienced. Enduring that and then being shoved back into the present is jarring and it is probably a good thing he had thought to grab a chair, because he would probably be on the floor right now.

The old man doesn’t recognize the others at first, the memory replaying in his head. That initial detachment that came with the crash… his voice distant and hollow, it was like his mind was protecting him. Still his feet had carried him forward. That detachment from his emotions lasted the time it took to finally see Brad laying there broken. Ryans breath hitches at that memory, still fresh. It all hit him like he had been hit by that car himself. He remembers wishing it was him under that car and not his boy.

The coppery smell of blood was still in his nose, the silky feel of his son’s hair under his cheek as he held that small limp body. It was an emotional gut punch. Like having a part of himself physically torn out leaving a gaping and bleeding wound. He wasn’t even sure it would ever heal… even though Bradley was still alive.

Ben might be in a bit of shock, when he finally realizes there are others there with him, before his mind finally engages and realizes that it was a long ago memory. Yet, that pain was a heavy weight on his chest, painful and deep…. and he’s brushing tears from his cheek.

Clearing his throat, Benjamin fills the quiet void in the room, “That was different,” he offers in a flat conversational tone. He’s not really looking at either of them, only at the sheen of dampness on his hand, as if it was some alien concept. “You okay over there, Agent Baumann? Richard?”

The vision, when it comes, is unlike anything that Cassandra has ever experienced. If asked to quantify what projecting it was like, Cassandra would reluctantly compare it to being hit in the face with a firehose while riding on a rollercoaster as the THX *bwaaaah* plays at full volume in her ears. Almost completely overwhelming and very nearly uncontrolled. She's barely able to sit still as it plays, since the memories she normally handles are echoes - faded and fragmented. This allows her time to put things into a mental context, but this was a pure memory, pulled directly from the source and from the sources point of view.

“I'm…okay.” Her voice is shaky as she lifts her hands to check her fingers, touching each one to her thumb in sequence, pressing lightly to get the feeling back in. The coin is imbedded into her left palm, the full edge almost cutting through her skin from squeezing it so hard. She doesn't say that the strain from accessing it feels like she ran a 5k, or that her jaw aches from clenching her teeth through the entirety of the vision, or that her hair feels singed from the power that flowed through her. That all doesn't seem to matter very much, considering what was just witnessed. “I think I'm okay.”

Thank god her ability can't be recorded and any tears Cassandra has shed due to the tragedy that's been revealed have simply soaked into her blindfold - and there were quite a few of those.. The less said about what just happened the better, and even then, she's going to remember the sensations for a long, long time. Without Cassandra’s direct concentration, the scene mercifully idles, the figures and details vanishing while the major background scenes remain, like an abandoned movie set left between takes. “I….” She looks towards Ben, able to despite the blindfold, knowing where real people are instinctively inside her projections. The words ‘I'm sorry’ die in her throat. Soft platitudes aren't what's needed now, and condolences will inevitably come later. “There are several layers of stuff on that coin. That memory is what's been injected into on it but….I can try to dig more if you want me to try. I've got at least one more of those in me.”

She thinks.

“Jesus Christ, Ben…”

There’s the slight break in Richard’s voice as he reaches out to the other man, his hand clasping his shoulder and squeezing tightly in the sort of empathy that only someone who has children can appreciate.

“God. God, that, I’m— I’m so sorry, Ben, I,” he says, free hand lifting to swipe some tears from his eyes before anyone notices, he hopes. “Christ.”

The shoulder under Richard’s hand stiffens with surprise, but quickly relaxes. There is a small nod of his head, a single bob. What could he say in return? Thanks? It didn’t feel right, so silence is what greets the other man.

After a hard swallow, Ryans straightens in the chair. “Eve told me that her vision had Adam at my grave site telling me the my real son had died but then the event happened and brought the Brad we know over. They tried to rewrite my memories, but I was too strong, so they cut him out of my life completely. Him and September. Made them believe I was some deadbeat.”

He runs a hand over his face to rid himself of any lingering dampness and takes a deep breath to refocus. Uncertainty hides under the neutral expression; however, he might not have another chance like this. That thought drives him forward. “If you feel like you can, I think it might be worth seeing what else comes up.” Brows furrow a bit, a glance going to the hand that holds the penny. He might be worried what else might be there.

Cassandra noticed the tears from the sound, but she won’t say she ever did unless Richard does. She’s witnessed the horrors that people can deliberately inflict on each other through the evidence they’ve left behind, but what was just witnessed was purely an accident. No one meant to deliberately do this, and that makes the sick sensation of horror that much more visceral. She wants nothing more than to speak words of comfort, to actually hug the man she’s only dealt with a couple of times, to tell him that it’ll all be okay, that she can make it better, that there can be some kind of justice at the end of it all, but even she knows that this memory ripped open a wound that will take ages to mend.

Through it all, Cassandra tries to maintain her professionalism, hanging her head with her eyes covered, breathing in through her nose and out through her mouth to try and calm herself and center her breathing. “G..Give me a second to get my bearings again. I’m not going to drop the memory just yet - we’re already past the first layer of what's on here, and backing out and then coming back will just be leaping through the hole in the ice again. Just…let me know when you’re ready and I can give it a try again. If…” She takes a breath. Be professional, Cassie. Be professional. “If things get too intense, or if you see my nose start bleeding, or something happens that we need to stop the playback…” She trails off, looking to Richard. “You need to get the coin out of my hand immediately. Left hand.” She lifts it up to show him where it sits in her palm, closing her hand around it tightly.

This is probably going to hurt.

When he gives the word? She begins again.

Sometime Else

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“Look, I already told you, this isn't the best solution.” Arthur Petrelli cuts a tall and dark silhouette with a taller and wider window at his back, spilling with late afternoon sun. New York is dusted with frost outside, ice glitters in the trees and catches those afternoon rays. It's a cold, golden hour in a spacious, Presidential manor. At his back a hearth burns with a crackling fire, and photographs on the mantle of his sons Nathan and Peter as young men are presented with pride.

Benjamin Ryans looks more haggard than Arthur, pacing back and forth with a glass of Scotch in one hand, running a finger through his hair. “It doesn't make any sense Arthur. We can't just sweep these people under a rug. They have a right to know— ”

What exactly?” Arthur interjects, stepping away from the window. “That they're from another dimension? A parallel universe? We don't even have //answers for the questions they'd ask. Let alone the questions the world would ask of word ever got out about how they arrived here and anyone believed them.” Though his words are heated, Arthur’s expression is tinged with remorse. “Ben,” he implores, “you've gotta be able to see what's at stake here.”

“I see a precariously balanced house of cards,” Ryans retorts, “balanced on nothing but layer after layer of lies.” Arthur rolls his eyes at that, scrubbing a hand over his mouth and slowly walking away from Ryans and shaking his head. “More than a dozen people,” he continues, “separates from their families. And we’re going to just play matchmaker and try to make the pieces fit? What gives us the right? Wh— ”

Arthur throws his own glass across the room, it smashes against a far wall. “Our abilities give us the right!” For a moment neither men say anything, and instead let the scream hang heavy in the air. Arthur breathes deeply and looks at where his Scotch stains the white walls, where glass has landed on the floor. Ryans sets his drink down on a table between two high backed chairs, unwilling to finish it now.

“I've said my peace,” Ryans affirms, grabbing his coat and hat from a nearby rack. “You can pry my son from my dead hands, or you can leave us in peace. If the word finds out about us…” Ryans scoffs, “then perhaps it was time.” He and Arthur share a smoldering look at one-another, and as Ryans turns to leave Arthur slowly approaches from behind. There's a pleading look on his face.

Ben,” Arthur firmly calls, closing the distance between them. “Ben, please… I understand what you lost, but this is— ”

“Do you?” Ryans turns around, hat clutched in one hand and coat halfway on his shoulders. “Your sons are alive, Arthur! This isn't equal! You've never lost anything in your whole damn life!”

That has Arthur pausing in his track, one hand curled tightly into a fist and then slowly relaxing. The two men stare at one-another again, and then both look away. Arthur closes his eyes and then nods slowly, then motions to the door. “Go home, Ben.” Ryans doesn't wait for any further approval and turns his back on Arthur. This time, though, it would be a mistake.

Arthur steps forward and grabs Ryans by the shoulder. There's a brilliant white light at Arthur’s palm, followed by a howl of pain from Ryans as a ghostly after-image of light is pulled from his body into Arthur’s hand and then absorbed into the older man’s silhouette. Ryans exhales a breathless gasp, looking up in wide-eyes horror at what happened. Arthur then extends a hand and throws Ryans back across the room and into the hearth, sending Ben toppling to the floor and knocking over the picture of Peter, which falls to the floor and shatters.

Arthur stands there in silence, looking at his hand thoughtfully before slowly lowering it. “I'm sorry Ben, but you're either with us, or you’re against us.” Ryans, slowly pushing himself onto an elbow, looks up at Arthur and extends a hand out at him in a violent thrust, but nothing happens.

“We all have our secrets,” Arthur says with a frown as he approaches Ryans, who looks at his own hand as if it betrayed him. With a purse of his lips, Arthur motions down to the floor and slams Ryans’ head against the marble tile—

The Present

Cassandra exhales a gasp and recoils, legs buckling as she feels the concussive blow to her own head as Ryans felt it to his. Her eyes roll back in her head, fingers relaxing and the penny falling to the floor at the same time she blacks out.

The powerful memory leaves Benjamin reeling with a new and horrific revelation about his own life. A snapshot of the true depths the people, that he once may have even considered friends, had gone to keep a secret. In Ryans’ mind, they had completely destroyed and re-made him into what he was. Arthur was lucky he was already food for worms.

The Company took everything from him.

It was an irrational thought. On some deeper level he knew that. He still had the girls and he did eventually find his son again. However, how much different would his life be if he still had his ability and his first family. How many knew or even were allowed to remember he had once been numbered among the evolved?

How many?!

Taking a slow deep breath, Benjamin tries to wrap his head around what he just witnessed and all the questions that swirled around inside his head. It explained so much. Leaning forward, he presses his face into his hand for a moment, closed eyes covered.

At least until, the sound of the penny hitting the ground shakes him out of this thoughts. His head snaps in that direction, eyes watching it until it finally wobbles to a stop near him.

His fingers tremble as Ryans slowly reach down and plucks the penny from the floor where Cassandra dropped it. The shape of it disappears into the curl of his fingers. The edges of the penny pressing sharp into the callused and work roughened skin. “Enough,” the old man croaks out through a dry throat. “Help her, please, Richard.” It was all Ben could do to keep himself together at the moment. Despite the fine tremble of his hand and the strain in his voice, he was unreadable.

A concerned look goes from Cassandra to his closed fist. “I think whatever else is left… it’s best left there.” For now at least. Ryans looks to Richard for agreement.

The request doesn’t even need to be made, because Richard’s already down on one knee beside the postcognitive; one hand touching her shoulder in a gentle shake to try and rouse her, his other reaching to draw off that blindfold in case he needs to check her focus for a concussion or other cerebral damage that may have been caused.

“Hey,” he says softly, “You alright…?”

A look back to Ryans as he tries to wake her, his lips pursing in a line before he states, “Every time I hear more about that asshole I wish I could kill him all over again.”

“….my head hurts.”

Cassandra’s shoulders are to the ground, face down on the clean floor of the lab, her right arm pushing at an angle, palm flat to the floor as she tries to push herself up from the ground. The blindfold, when removed, shows black stains in the cream colored silk - the evidence of her ability being used - but when she turns her face to look at Richard and the rest of the room, the blood that’s leaked from her nose and the corners of her eyes has turned her face into a horrifying mask that wouldn’t be out of place on a dark halloween night. She pushes herself up to a sitting position with Richard’s help, her hand coming up to wipe over the right side of her face, her eyes closed tightly.

“All this is so far above my pay grade, I don’t even know where to start to make sense of all that.”

Ladies and Gentlemen, the understatement of the year.

Unwilling to have it out of his possession, Ryans tucks the penny away into a pocket, before moving to crouch near the pair. “Makes me wish I could get my hands on him myself,” Ryans rumbles out in a growl to Richard.

“You alright Agent?” he asks almost as an afterthought; a bit distracted by the lingering memory.

Benjamin looks at his blunted and scarred arm, still remembering that sensation of throwing his hand out there like he still had it… “I always wondered why my kids were almost all evolved. I wondered if Mary had been, since I tested as negative.” How much of him and his life was a lie? It was a lot to take in.

“You’re not the only one having a rough time processing all of this and it is my memories.” Ryan’s comments blandly, “It’s left a hell of a lot of questions and the only people that can possibly answer them are dead and buried.” There is a note of frustrations to that admission.

“You have no idea, Agent Baumann,” Richard says softly, reaching into his suit jacket and producing a handkerchief to offer to her, motioning slightly towards her face in case she’s not aware of the spill of blood from her nostrils and eyes. “You haven’t even scratched the surface yet…”

He draws a slow breath in, then rises up to his feet after helping Cassandra sit up, turning to look at Ben and stating, “Since we’re on the subject, Ben— there was a massive redaction performed that included not just you, not just some agents, but the entirety of the Company straight up through the Founders, at one point. Literally everyone. The Three Magi — does that mean anything to you? — wiped all of you, and Charles painstakingly created false stories to cover it all up in your minds. Years of them.”

He glances to the man’s hand where he’s holding the penny, then back, “There was good reason for doing it, but— Arthur may have… taken advantage of this to redact other things he didn’t like, I don’t know. There’s no way of knowing how much of anything in the Company was real or reliable, anymore. Even Claudia’s memories were altered.”

Blinking the blood out of her eyes, Cassandra looks at the offered handkerchief with askance before taking it, looking to Richard again with a nod of thanks. Who carries a handkerchief, anyway? Handkerchiefs seemed so quaint nowadays - like something your grandfather would pull out of his pocket to wipe the sweat from his brow after a long day of farming. Still, it’s welcomed, Cassandra sitting on her spot on the floor, carefully wiping her face off with slow, deliberate motions. She’ll need to get her blouse dry cleaned, if the one cleaner she knows is open and has a space for her.

“I’m fine. Mostly. My vision’s flickering in black and white every once in a while, but I think that’s just an aftereffect of the visions.” The smear of blood on the floor, a inkpad impression of her chin and cheek, stares up at her, the little postcog shuffling to the right to look away. Blood is fine, her blood? Not so much.

There’s no way of knowing… Cassandra sighs at that statement and blows out a breath, shaking her head in the negative before trying to get to her feet with the help of the chair next to her. This doesn’t go nearly as well as she’d hope, the woman wobbling, helping her decide that it might be best to stay right where she is on the floor for just a little while longer. “If…” God, why is she even following this track and letting them know this is a possibility? Curiosity, perhaps. Or she might just be a glutton for punishment.

“If you’ve got a shovel, or access to something that was in the vicinity, I’m sure that I can get you the answers you need. Even if their memories were redacted. My ability works off of…echoes.” She dabs at her face again, blinking as her vision snaps back to color, wincing at the intensity of vision as it all comes rushing back in. At least Ben had a subdued tie - Richard’s blue was almost blinding at first before she looked away at something neutral.

Cassandra’s voice is quiet, the woman sitting on the floor, still wiping her face as she talks, the words muffled now and again as she clarifies. “You can’t wipe an echo out easily. You’d need to completely annihilate the item. I’ve gotten scenes off of fired bullets, broken knives, a discarded cigarette butt…and one time from a chunk of a gun that was shredded in an industrial shredder.”

“If this is a path you need to follow, and there’s no other way?” She looks to Richard, then to Ben. “I’m the closest thing to Virgil you’re going to find without raising the dead.”

There is a slow shake of Benjamin’s head at the mention of the Magi. There isn’t even the meerest flicker of recognition at the name. “Nothing. Who knows how much Arthur removed and had altered.” For all they knew his mind was swiss cheese, filled with planted memories and voids. This bothered him more than he wanted to admit to anyone.

“She has been quite useful,” Ryans offers to Richard, as a sort of endorsement. “I met her when Shaw dragged me to old Level 5. I think we witnessed some of the redaction.” A questioning look goes to Cassandra. “And it’s not beyond Arthur to use anything to his advantage. Even in the war, the man was crafty as hell.”

The young soldier that Ryans had been looked up to the man at the time. Him and the others. Of course, what does a teenager know anything about the world at 16?

There is a moment of thought, before Ben straightens leaving the pair sitting on the floor still. “Richard, can you make sure that Agent Baumann gets home alright?” Eyes narrow thoughtfully, “There’s something I need to do before I head home myself.”

“You’re also the most likely to be infected doing so…” Richard draws in a slow breath, and then he shakes his head, “There are— breadcrumbs to follow, but we need to be careful. The redaction was performed not to keep a secret but to protect you.”

He looks between the two with a frown, “There may still be more information on that coin, but— you’re right, Agent Baumann’s in no shape to pull this out. You might be versatile, Agent, but your power wasn’t ever meant to do this — and you won’t do any of us any good if you burn yourself out, or kill yourself.”

To Ryans, then: “I can. What are you going to do, and how can I help?”

“Call me Cassie. We’ve all moved a little bit beyond Agent Baumann, haven’t we?” The handkerchief is folded over and placed on the seat of the chair, the silk stained with her blood, before she rises, shakily, to her feet, lifting a hand to ward off any help. “I’m fine, I’m fine.” She states, more to convince herself than anything, really, perched on the edge of her chair. Aside from a little blood around her collar that can be easily hidden with a scarf, she looks fine.

What Richard says makes sense. This was like drinking from a firehose - nothing like she’s normally used to. “Normally, usage of my ability doesn’t take so much out of me. It doesn’t hurt. I mean, I’ve been doing it for a while, so I can dip in and out without too much trouble. That thing, though?” She gestures to the coin in Ben’s hand. “That’s a whole different animal. Any more coins like that one and we’ll need to take a day or two for me to get my brain back in order before trying again.”

Trying again? Is she serious about continuing? It seems so.

“You definitely need some rest Ag— Cassie. There are somethings I need to do myself,” is the best explanation Ben has for him at the moment. No one needed to know he was planning to go back to the island. A place most of them haven’t stepped since that tragic night. “After that, we’ll decide if it worth the risk to let you do that again.” It was pretty intense.

“However, if you could keep me in the loop on any information you find on Casper and Adam, I’d be in your debt.” That is addressed to both of them. Ryans looks at the scarred arm and furrows his brow a bit in thought. For a moment tempted to ask Richard for that hand.

For a moment that seems like he’s done talking, until… “Unless you can find out when the Deveaux ladies are scheduled to be in one place together… I’d like to have a…” he considers his words carefully, “surprise chat with all three of them where they can’t conspire or plots their stories behind my back.” There is a small upward tick of a smile on his lips.

“I can’t imagine they don’t ‘do lunch,’” Ben quips as lightly as his rumbling voice can. He might have even air quoted if he had both hands.

“I generally just show up and tell the receptionist I’m meeting with them,” Richard says a bit dryly, watching Cassandra rise with a ready air to him in case she loses her balance— the hand warding off help, but he remains close.

Then he turns a serious look on Ryans, regarding him for a long moment. “If you’re going after Adam,” he states, “I’m going to need to brief you on the redaction and why it happened… and Adam’s role in all of it. Why they erased him.”

“The man on level 5? The one Caspar removed the memories from?” Cassandra may not know exactly what’s going on, but at least she remembers names from when she was doing her dog and pony show in the ruins of Level 5. Ben had already mentioned this to Richard, too, so it’s probably not something that needs to be kept secret although the contents of the coin? You bet your bottom dollar it’s not going anywhere past these four walls. She remains sitting, steady for now, listening.

“When I did my brief stint in the Army, Adam always seemed to have my back…. I can’t remember a lot about it, just that he was there.” Taking a deep breath Ben considers the younger man’s offer. “Eve said he and I were good friends; yet, all I remember is that time in the Army… and the monster they caged up.”

He rubs his thumb across the face of the penny, Benjamin glances at Richard out of the corner of his eye, “Charles never did any without a good reason, so yeah. I’d like to know what was horrible enough to do this…” the penny is held up, before it disappears into his pocket for safe keeping.

“Cause it sounds like, from Eve, Adam remembers more than he should,” Ryan considers a thought, “Which means he might even know where Casper is too.” Why else would Adam still have his memories after he and Cassie watched them being removed.

“I’ll be calling a… meeting soon to brief everyone,” says Richard with a slight tip of his head to Ryans, stepping over then to offer an arm to Cassandra with a faint, sympathetic smile, “I’ll make sure you’re there. We need to get moving on things before it’s too late— God knows I can’t do it all myself… and I really shouldn’t try, either.”

They all know what happens if he does that. It’s why the government keeps such a close eye on him.

Knowing where Caspar is could lead to more of those pennies. What Pandora's boxes will be opened if they find a banker’s bag full of neatly stacked change containing the memories of conspiracies from the beginning of everything? Cassie shivers at the thought, her touch light on Richard's arm as she stands with his assistance. “Just let me know. I'm sure Ben has ways of tracking me down that I haven't even thought of.” The fact that he didn't have her cell phone number, yet knew where to find her on that ferry means he's a man of certain means. “Just like I'm sure you do, too, Richard.”

She takes one shaky step, then another, her equilibrium finally coming back. “I think… yes, a good night's sleep will be just the ticket. That and some heavy-duty Tylenol. Assuming I have some in my cabinet still.” Her head turns to Richard. “If Caspar could take, if stands to reason he could also return. If this Adam is as terrible as you say, what kind of leverage would it take to force a memory to be returned from the man who took it?” Her attention moves to Ben. “I know it goes without saying, but don't lose that coin. Please.”

“No one can do everything by themselves,” Ryans agrees with Richard. Even himself, which would explain why he was here at the moment. However, the man was also known for his own lone wolf moments.

The old man moves to hold open the door for the other two, offering Cassie a bit of a smile. “Don’t worry. Who I am and was is on that penny, they will have to pry it out of my cold dead hands.”

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