What We Do To Each Other



Scene Title What We Do To Each Other
Synopsis On the trail of Lucille, Berlin Beckett makes an unexpected discovery.
Date September 30, 2018

It’s been three and a half hours since Lucille went missing, by Berlin’s clock.

No word has come from command, messages sent to Hana not responded to. It’s as if there’s a communication blackout in effect. Part of Berlin starts to feel like she’s being directly targeted, as all outbound calls seem to fail time and again, across multiple devices. It leaves her with little recourse but traditional investigation. Retracing Lucille’s last steps provides some insight into what transpired over the last few hours.

Foot traffic at local Wolfhound hangouts confirms that the team that arrived from Rochester was all seen up until close to sundown. Avi Epstein and Devon Clendaniel left Floyd Bennett Airfield around 16:30 in Avi’s personal pickup truck. Scott Harkness and his son were still refueling the Tlanuwa and staying overnight, but Berlin doesn’t know their whereabouts. Claire Bennet departed Floyd Bennet Airfield for leave around 15:30. Her usual hangouts proved to be dead ends, no one had seen her in hours.

The chill of the night air clings heavy by the time Berlin’s made any real progress, and not what she was intending. While looking for anyone who had seen Ricky Daselles in Ferrymen’s Bay she instead came upon a sighting of Avi’s truck headed toward an abandoned lot not far from the Safe Zone’s eastern border. Though what Berlin didn’t realize is that trekking out to the site would put berlin back on the trail of Lucille…

Ferrymen’s Bay

22:17 Hours

A waning, gibbous moon sheds a pale light down on the tree-bordered stretch of abandoned parkland that was once a little league baseball field. The noise of the Safe Zone is cut down to silence here, under a clear and starry night’s sky. Two sets of tire tracks in the dirt road winding through tall pine trees lead both in and out of the lot. Following them, Berlin finds nothing but an empty dirt lot run with tire tracks.

Nothing at first, anyway.

In the dirt, her flashlight glints off of a shell casing pushed into the ground by a passing tire. Digging it out with one finger, she finds the casing of a 7.62x55mm round likely fired from a bolt-action rifle. Across the lot another glint in the dirt, this one belonging to a hypodermic dart with a red tasseled tip, likely fired from a pneumatic dart gun used for animal control. The syringe is empty, but the side of the neck reads CRITO on one side, and ZODYTRIN on the other, a chemical SLC-suppressant and successor to adynomine, produced in Europe.

No bodies. No vehicles. This isn't good.

Berlin is careful as she walks along the trail of her friends, noting every tire mark she comes across— relation to the missing persons to be determined later. She stops when she sees the casing, crouching to give it a closer look as well as to take a picture. The phone needs to be good for something tonight. She repeats the steps with the dart, brushing off dirt with her sleeve so she can see the letters more clearly.

From her position there, she sweeps her flashlight around the area, hoping to catch something else. Footprint, lost receipt paper, snapped twig. Anything to distract her from the lack of communication. It's the Safe Zone, right? Communication is awful. Hana can't always be boosting their tech. And she's got a boyfriend— those can be distracting. Rational explanations for everything. Except the shell casing. And the dart. Those are more difficult to stay calm about.

Multiple boot prints are visible in the dirt. At least three people, clear signs of a scuffle, but no blood anywhere she can find. There's an imprint of a handgun in the dirt, pressed hard along with a rounded indentation that might be a knee. Someone disarmed, gun taken, and judging from the scuff marks dragged off over to…

…a cigarette butt.

Morley, Avi’s cheap as shit brand. He'd been here. He and Devon both, likely.

More pressingly, someone else is here. In the dark of the treeline, Berlin catches sight of the glint of a cat’s eyes in her flashlight. Then two more, watching her and not approaching.

Following the scuffle and the drag marks, Berlin stops at the cigarette. Her eyes close for a long moment while she tries to keep her breathing steady. Not just Lucille. Avi, too. Devon. Maybe the others. Their leads and intel walking them each right into a trap.

She's suddenly grateful that her meeting with Richard Ray only went as far as butting heads.

Her attention whips up to the trees. She moves her flashlight back to where it was, just to make sure she actually saw something. When she makes out the second and third cats, she starts to get suspicious. Which is not great because she's standing out in the open and not tucked away behind cover.

"Is someone there?" she asks before she has a chance to think about how much it sounds like a line from a horror movie.

No one but us pussy cats,” comes in a lilting greeting from the treeline. Then crunching branches underfoot. Then, right into the flashlight, a man begins to come into view. He's some hundred feet away and his presence scatters the cats, Berlin can see them bounding off into the woods at his back. It isn't Zhao.

“You know, you are a tough devil to find.” He’s tall, slim, dressed in a zippered black jacket and cargo pants tucked into tall boots. Face hidden behind a black balaclava, the man’s confident demeanor sets Berlin’s teeth on edge as much as his voice does. “But I suppose it takes one devil to find another, doesn’t it?” Then, as he walks into the beam of Berlin’s flashlight. “How’s tricks?”

As the man walks into the beam, Berlin puts her phone in her pocket. And pulls out her gun. She doesn't point it at him, but holds it like she finds some amount of comfort in having it in her hand. Her jaw works, clenching and unclenching as he talks.

She takes a step back.

"Most people would find it unseemly for a grown ass man to corner a girl like this," she comments, fingers tightening on the grip of her gun. A silence lingers for a span of time that feels longer than it really is.

"What do you want?"

Cracking a smile, the man runs a hand over the top of his mask and adopts a relaxed posture, hands eventually finding their way into the pockets of his pants. “Well, I’d really like for the world to stop pissing on our kind and telling us it's raining, but I suppose that's a bit outside of scope for your inquiry, yeah?”

There's no hesitation as she approaches Berlin, but his pace is languid none the less. It is a practiced, casual gait. “I've been stalking you a bit. Probably not what girls want to hear, but it's the truth. I thought I'd come and bear the figurative olive branch.” Glancing around, he wrinkles his nose and then looks back to Berlin. “Unless you've got something important going on in a dirt lot at god’s forgotten how late at night?”

Berlin can't help it. His answer makes her roll her eyes. "It is, but thanks for the grandiose reply." Dry. She watches as he approaches, rooting her feet this time, as much as she would like to run. Her brow crinkles as he starts to explain. He really isn't helping soothe that impulse to get some distance between them. As much distance as there is to get. Instead:

"Stalking isn't a great way to open negotiations, no."

The dirt lot is actually quite important to her, even if it is something of a dead end. She could still try to track the other hounds. Look into the drug or the gun that matches the bullet casing.

But there is a thought circling. About how much of this is a coincidence.

"Did you arrange this? If you want something out of Hana, you're going to be disappointed. And if you're targeting me because you think I'm the weakest link, you're going to be very disappointed." But, with the caveats stated, she nods him onward. "Go on, then."

There's a partly look on the man’s face, momentarily inscrutable then bleeding into confusion. His head tilts to the side and makes a soft ‘oh’ sound and then kicks his brows up. “No,” he admits with a sigh of relief, motioning around at the ground, “whatever this is you're investigating? Isn't my style.”

“As for Hana…” The stranger grimaces. “Given the givens, I’d prefer this stay between you and I. She's a particular kind of person. I'm sure you understand.” Then, a beat later he can't help himself. “What must your performance reviews be like?”

Realizing he's digressing, and still lazily approaching, the stranger brushes the past diversions aside. “I want you,” he points a finger gun at Berlin, “to work with me,” index finger kicked back, then pointed at himself with a click of his tongue, “to do some mutual back scratching, by way of bloody fucking murder.”

Finally, the stranger stops, just outside of arm’s reach. “I have a list of names and addresses for people who got away with war crimes. People who worked for the Company, people who worked for the Institute. I don't want to run this through the proper channels, though.” His cold, blue eyes square on Berlin. “I’m interested in your extracurricular activities. I think we have similar goals in mind. Pointedly: revenge.”

While he talks, Berlin listens with a blank expression. The proposition isn't enough to get a reaction, neither is the Company, the Institute, or his proximity. But when he mentions extracurriculars, she lets out a heavy sigh and holsters her gun. Again.

"You know, this has been a weird night," she comments. Mostly to herself. "Whatever you think you know, I don't deal in bloody fucking murder. You can handle that yourself, I'd bet. You could have your cats do it."

Putting her hands on her hips, she glances around the lot again. "Is Zhao working with you? Praxis?" The card hasn't gotten much thought in the last few hours, but now she can feel it in her pocket like a weight.

“I have a network of like-minded friends. They don't appreciate those who would reduce us to our component parts for the advancement of the human agenda.” The stranger admits as he tilts his head to the side. “One of the men on my list,” he squints and looks to the tree line, then back to Berlin, “goes by the name Randolph Burgess. Of course five some odd years ago he went by the name Doctor Lawrence Clarke. Bioscience division of the Institute under Jonas Zimmerman.”

Shifting his weight from one foot to the next, the stranger’s brows raise. “Way I hear it, Doctor Clarke performed exploratory surgery on child captives of the Institute outside of the orders of their Director. He was studying the effects of regeneration and healing abilities on life-threatening injuries, trying to reproduce the work of Doctor Dmitri Gregor.” A long-dead Vanguard scientist.

“A long time ago someone did something very similar to me.” The stranger admits with the raise of one brow. “But if you're not interested in that, I suppose I can let Clarke continue to live his life.” Blue eyes lock on far darker ones, and he looks expectantly at Berlin.

“Final offer,” the stranger intones.

Berlin doesn't weigh in to the fight over who is better, humans or evolved. Ideally, she'd just like everyone to stop killing each other over an accident of birth. Unfortunately, humanity has a long history of doing just that. It isn't the ideological argument that she cares about. But the horrors that those beliefs drive people to. That they use to justify their hate and their deeds.

The child captives of the Institute had no one in their corner. Even from within. Secrets within secrets. Monsters within monsters.

A hand runs through her hair— her own hand, her own hair, although the action feels distant from her as she watches him. It's almost as if there are two of her, one inside and one outside.

"We cannot communicate by phone. No texts, no emails. But I'll need information. Names. Addresses. And proof. I'm not your pet and I won't go after just anyone on your say so. I need to be able to confirm what they were. And no murders. They all see their day in court. Their victims deserve that moment. After that, they can rot." Revenge, though, she's certainly not opposed to that. "Those are my terms."

Cold blue eyes assess Berlin and the stranger crooks of one corner of his mouth in slow rise. “You say that now,” he says with that smug grin, “but I'll let you play Good Cop. Let's start small, a trust exercise, we can call it.” One hand comes out of his pants pocket, and he has a piece of folded paper pinched between two fingers.

“Address, name. One side, Doctor Clarke’s current address. The other, a way to get in touch with me.” He proffers the paper up to Berlin, but then curls it back inside a cage of closed fingers. “My terms: no Hana, no Wolfhound, no SESA. We do this together, and you get to call the shots on how it ends.” He flicks the paper back out between index finger and thumb. “Deal?”

When the paper comes out, Berlin reaches for it only to have it pulled back again. She looks from it to the stranger with a grimace. The smug look doesn't help things much, either. But, she lets him get his terms out. It's only fair. She supposes.

"Deal," she says as she takes the paper from him. "Trust, though, that is harder to come by. And easy to lose. I imagine you have an idea of how ugly things can get if that happens." She doesn't look at the paper this time, just puts it with the business card she collected earlier. To be acted upon later. "What do I call you?" she adds, because there were no formal introductions in this meeting.

Watching Berlin take the paper, the stranger breathes in a deep breath and then exhales a slow sigh of relief. “I've gone by a lot of names,” he admits, taking off his mask.

“But you can call me Adam.”


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