2007-08-31: Something Different Altogether



Guest Starring:


Summary: A desperate mother makes a deal with the devil…

Date It Happened: August 31st, 2007

Something Different Altogether

Hartsdale, NY - Primatech - Grounds

Rainer's office is not spacious. In fact, the walls of filing cabinets make it slightly oppressive. The window behind the desk with its dark curtains pulled aside to let in the sunlight (only half successful), the handsome desk from an era past, the rug on the floor, the framed family photographs — these things battle the oppression. It's all moot, given that the man at the desk is, by nature, intimidating. Oppressive. That is precisely why Rainer does not have Mariska ushered to his office for this meeting. Nor does he go to her sterile room. She does not need an air of oppression today.

Instead, Mr. Madson picks up a few drab folders from his desk and a thermal Primatech mug and leaves his office, heading down the white and cyan halls to the entryway. There, the sunlight shines freely — almost too freely, through undecorated windows. He waits, the folders tucked under one arm, his hand in his pocket, and sips his coffee.

Meanwhile, down in the cell block, a decidedly dispirited Mariska has abandoned her previous urge to pace in favor of remaining curled, half-fetal with her hands clamped between her knees, on the covers of the metal-framed bunk. Broken. Not unlike the decimated remains of the cell across the hall. When a pair of guards arrive to escort her elsewhere, she goes without a word and perhaps there's even some mercy in the fact that it's not back toward the hospital ward that she's headed but rather 'round to the entranceway. The streaming sunlight is an agonizing tease but welcomed nonetheless by pale eyes and skin alike. When Mariska's gaze fall on Rainer, she makes an obedient and mute approach.

"Afternoon, Ms. Dmitryeva," Rainer greets the woman brusquely, but such is his demeanor. He's not impolite, otherwise; he even tips his cup up subtly in her direction as she approaches. "Leave us," he tells the guards. They do, but they can be seen lingering some distance down the corridor off the entryway. "You look pale," he says, a lackluster statement of fact. "Let's take a walk."

Truth be told, Mariska's always been a lighter shade of fair but any excuse for a walk that takes her more than three feet is sufficient to earn a thankful look. Both of her hands find purchase against her lower back, as if perhaps it had suddenly pained her, but it's just a gesture to mimic the tucking of fingers into back pockets… which she doesn't have while clad in Primatech pajamas. «What day is it?» she asks in her native tongue, knowing he can understand her. Looks like someone's already managed to lose track of time.

"It's the last day of August, can you believe it." Rainer begins a casual stroll toward the double doors that make up the entrance/exit, nodding easily for Mariska to follow. He leans into one door, pushing it open as he steps out. The sunlight seems enough to swallow them whole. It really is a lovely day. What's more, there's grass, blue sky, countryside, fresh air. "Do you have anyone on the outside wondering where you might've gone off to, Ms. Dmitryeva?" Of course, he must know the answer. Rainer holds the door open for Mariska while looking out over the landscape, his dark eyes creasing around the edges and seeming smaller as they squint. He adjusts his hand in his pocket, sips his coffee.

On the outside. What a double-edged phrase. As Mariska's slippered feet first greet green grass again, she sucks in a deep breath and exhales. It's so nice to be out of her cage. Rainer's question is given a careful consideration but it doesn't take very long for her to face the reality of her life, «I doubt it.» Five days off the grid likely means very little to the family from which she has been years estranged. If her father's watchman has been doing his job, it's entirely likely there isn't a soul in the world who realizes that something is afoot. How convenient for the Company.

How convenient and so totally unlike a coincidence. That once they finally had her here, she'd be in such a situation. Rainer's response is nonexistent. He simply continues to observe the outside world ahead of them. After a moment, he looks to Mariska and walks past her, expecting her to follow. He looks over his shoulder to make sure she does. There's a small path leading around the building in sandy earth and trodden grass, probably for the maintenance. "I see you're getting to know your daughter's father better." What a strange sentence. "And that you've had time to … think."

Both dramatic understatements on Rainer's part. The irony is not lost. Perhaps they're even treading the path to the chemical sheds, eh? Mariska, too, takes in the view, no doubting finding what small, unappreciated pleasure there is to be had in seeing the outside of a building while strolling through groomed grass. When she says, «I have.» it's likely that this is meant to be a suitable response for both statements. «Where are we going?» Because, surely, they must be headed somewhere, right?

There are, in fact, sheds out back. However, they look apt to house things like shovels and lawnmowers. Not that anything is as it seems around these parts. Rainer's stroll is slow, casual. He's watchful of Mariska, his intense gaze flickering over every now and then, but it never lingers. "Thought you could use the fresh air and sun. Tend to give perspective. I, for one, can always think better in the great outdoors." The path seems to lead nowhere interesting. The rear of the facility is about as exciting as the front. "I want to see you take your daughter to a good home some day, Mariska." There's a clause. A catch. It's heavy in the man's deep, no-nonsense voice.

Maybe this is Rainer's version of being considerate… even generous. Whatever it is, Mariska's not apt to question it too readily just yet. Outside is outside, and given how she's already begun to feel trapped in her own skin without the ability to come and go in the blink of an eye, she'll take what she can get. Mention of her daughter obviously brings Mariska's attention back in to focus and she even hustles a step or two closer in order to ask, «…and what would I have to do in order to make sure that happens?» Not that it matters. Mariska would do anything to have her daughter back. Anything. But there's something to be said about keeping up the illusion of choice…

"In order to be sure that happens, well. You got to trust us. Now, I know that might be difficult. It's hard, sometimes, to see the whole picture. The ability to … transport yourself from one point to another… just like that, in the blink of an eye. Anywhere in the world. You know how valuable that would be to a company with what you call, global goals, such as ours?" Rainer says in his slow, steady way of crafting words. Eventually, he comes to a halt at the back of the facility and turns with his back to the wall, regarding Mariska. In front of them, some distance away, is a patch of forest. It's a little more shadowed here.

Mariska's expression darkens somewhat, either by grace of the scant sheltering shade or due to a decline in cordial demeanor. There's something on the tip of her tongue but she's hell-bent not to fuck up any chance of getting Sasha back or, God willing, having something akin to a normal life again… and so instead of spitting it out, she chokes it back down and casts her green-eyed gaze out to the copse of trees in the distance.

Rainer takes Mariska's silence in stride, canting his head back after he looks away, following her gaze to the tree line. He works his jaw and jowls for a moment before his voice rumbles into the silence again. "We could give you a good life. You know you can't live a normal life, someone like you, but we could give you a purpose and one day, a home with your girl. Now, you've seen some of those who work for us and, I'll tell you now, your job, were you to accept it, would be somethin' different. Somethin' different altogether."

Oh? Rainer's revelation prompts the Russian woman's head to turn slowly on a swivel until she is looking at him straight on. She's so seemingly intrigued by this piece of news that she inquires about it in English: "Different how?"

"Well, a'course, we'd put your extraordinary skills to use. Sometimes we find ourselves needin' eyes around the world where we can't expend our employ," Rainer explains. "To protect ourselves and those under our protection. Quite safe."

«That's it?» Odds are, she doesn't fully reckon what 'that' even is but her eyes are on the prize, not the path. Her hands shift from back to hips, balancing arms akimbo with the new weight laid on her shoulders. «What about Sasha? Will she remember me again?» Because that's kind of an important detail in Mariska's book.

«Unfortunately, no.» Sometimes, honesty is less complicated. Rainer reverts to Russian. «She won't remember, but you are her mother.» After a pause, he turns back to English. "She don't need memories to know that. Understand it would take time. Time to build that trust enough to let you take her home. She'd need to take regular medication to keep her power in check. We've been considerin' giving her up to adoption to someone within the Company, and truth is, I'd rather have that person be you. 'Long as you work under our wing. 'Long as you submit to certain measures of security… she'd be yours." Then, «You understand?»

Excuse me. I have one ton of bricks here for a Mariska Dmitryeva? Sign here, please. Thank you. Cue the crash. With her lower lip aquiver, the Russian woman purses her lips as if she were thinking really, really hard about what Rainer has just told her. And she is. But she's also fighting off the urge to collapse into the grass and cry her pale green eyes out because, you know, that wasn't good news. Thankfully, she manages to pour some steel into her resolve and she takes a deep breath before asking coolly, «What sort of… security measures? And… just what is it that my daughter can do?» Knowing you have a child and knowing your child are two completely different beasts and, if only for a moment, Mariska manages to find herself in the same hypothetical boat as Felix. It feels… distant.

«Measures of privacy. Due to the nature of our company, we have a solid nondisclosure agreement. With that comes… good benefits. Good insurance.» Rainer manages a brief, tight smile. «Initially, your visits with Sasha will be under medication— for you. That is another security measure, given your ability, you understand.» Mariska could, theoretically, just teleport away with Sasha otherwise. It's possible. «As for what your daughter can do… let's keep walking. You can look over these documents.» The man removes the folder from under his arm and takes up his stroll again. «You see, her information is confidential… employees only.»

The sound of anxiously-perused paper shuffling can be heard in Rainer's wake as Mariska struggles to translate her way through the thick layers of technical mumbo jumbo before stumbling across an entry that might have actually been made by someone without two doctorates and a book deal. Those big, green eyes grow a little wide and she utters the word, «…really?» without directing it anywhere in particular. Looking up from the file, she then hazards a question that may or may not be unexpected: «What about Ivanov?»

Rainer's answer is upfront. «Ivanov makes his own decisions. If he makes the right one, you'll be seeing more of him.» He pauses to sip his coffee, then glances down at the cup with a faint squint, as if displeased. It's almost empty. «If he makes the wrong one, he will wind up like Sasha; missing key points in memory, and trying to find his place.»

At this particular moment in time, it might come as some surprise to find that Mariska's thoughts on the matter run contrary to what could be construed as perceived opinion. «Let him have his life back,» she says, sounding in some small way defeated. The pace she keeps in tow behind Rainer is slower but still tethered by an invisible leash, perhaps sensing that their walk is nearing an end and dreading the return to captivity. Time in the yard is over. Almost. In order to keep from facing any further Felix questions, she jumps the track and asks, «When will I be able to be myself again?»

Rainer keeps mum on matters of Ivanov. It's Mariska he wants to talk about today. «Do you think you can abide by my offer? If so, you can sign the contracts and leave the facility tomorrow. Free to come and go. With yourself, and your abilities, intact.» Is it so easy? They have ways of keeping her… in check.

Tomorrow. The word is at once hopeful and ominous, depending on the day. If she's really going to make a deal with the devil for the sake of her daughter, it's now or never. «I do.» Two little words to tighten the ties that bind.

Mr. Madson does something that is, perhaps, unexpected. He reaches over to clap Mariska gently but firmly, business-like, comrade-like, on the back. His hand is strong and hard compared to her seemingly frail frame. "Can't tell you how glad I am of that, Mariska. Now, let's get inside. We'll get you a pen."

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