Agent Rowan Grey has a mission. A mission to try and discover more about the “House on the Lake” where the ‘chemist’ or the Prime Clone might be. The leads so far suggest that the house she’s plucked from the crazed duplicates mind is on the Manitou islands just North of Glen Arbor.
Aleksei had suggested investigating the Canadian side of Lake Michigan and the closest ‘city’ is Sault Ste. Marie. Or it had been but as with a lot of areas, the city had ‘sprawled’ and now places like Garden River, Heyden and the like have just melded into one.
It’s been left up to the young agent to decide who and what she needs for the excursion and how she wants to conduct it. On her own, or with the backup of an agent or two.
Where she is, there’s a ‘supermarket’ just up ahead. The house of the river, needs food doesn’t it?
Rowan is keeping it simple for now, just trying to see what she can find out. She did bring a picture of the clone in question, all the better to job memories or get answers the old-fashioned way – deeper psychic digging is hard. And less than ethical, for that matter. In jeans, a t-shirt, and a jacket, she looks like any girl coming in for a snack.
After a few moments to consider her choices, she heads for the deli. Out of all the people at the supermarket, the deli is the most likely to deal long enough with someone to really remember them, after all. In theory. Hands in her pockets, she takes a few minutes to peruse the meat and cheese in the case, keeping half an eye on the employee behind the counter.
The employee in question is a woman in her forties with greying hair and tired eyes. Life in the ‘sprawls’ is far from easy and for “The Last” it’s even less so.
“How can I help you?” she says with a Canadian accent as the last customer floats away from the counter. “We just had a delivery of ham, hard to get these days. I haven’t seen you around, new to the area?”
“Oh, hi,” Rowan says as she looks up, offering a friendly smile as if she hasn’t been watching and ‘listening’ to the woman for a few moments now. “Yeah, you could say I’m new. I came into town to visit my uncle. I wanted to bring him something as a sort of visiting gift, you know? You said you don’t get the ham much?” she asks, stepping up to the counter and folding her arms over the top of the display.
“Well welcome, then. Who’s you’re uncle?” This is Canada after all and people are still ultra friendly. What Rowan gets from the woman is that life is hard here, she’s tired and her feet are killing her. There’s also something about packing up an order that’s going to be delivered tomorrow.
“Oh no. Hams hard to come by these days. Well, the real stuff. Not made from synthetics and clones, if you know what I mean… Would make a good visiting gift, for sure.”
“Let’s get a pound of the ham, then,” Rowan nods, settling in to watch the process, smiling comfortably. “Oh, he lives out on the island,” she says, pointing over her shoulder with one thumb, then reaching for her phone. “We don’t get to visit often, he’s always been busy working a lot, but I had a long weekend off, and he’s always going on about how nice it is here, so I thought I’d come and surprise him.”
“The island? Which one? Manitou or Beaver?” That she says Manitou first might be telling, it’s further away, Beaver being closer. “We deliver to a house out that way.” Amazing what you can get when you’re just sweet and nice, isn’t it?
She turns, collecting a plastic bag to get the ham with – even in this advanced age some things just don’t change. A pound you said?” the employee looks up at Rowan “What does your Uncle do, that he works so much?”
Good question, deli lady. “You know, Mom and Dad never told me the details of it,” Rowan shakes her head. “They always just said he was a scientist. Now me, I was never much of one for science,” she smiles sheepishly. “So I guess it’s kind of my fault for not pushing much. I think it was Manitou? That sounds familiar, at least. I wrote it down somewhere in here.” She scrolls through her phone, then pulls up the picture with a quick smile. “There he is, that’s my uncle. Does he shop in here? Maybe you can tell me what he likes to get.”
The photo is of course, the mad duplicate and the grey haired woman in her forties, peers at the image as she finishes packaging up the ham for Rowan.
“Scientist, huh? Not all of us can be gifted with that much intelligence, huh?” She frowns at the image and nods slightly “Yeah, he’s been in here before but not in a few weeks. Is he well? When he was in here last time he kept touching his head like he had a headache and was sort of … talking to himself.”
“Oh, that’s not good,” Rowan frowns as she tucks her phone back into her pocket. “I don’t know, really. Mom said work had been really stressful for him lately, that’s part of why I thought I’d come and visit. It’s a surprise,” she adds quickly, glancing around. “Don’t tell him if you see him, yeah? Don’t wanna ruin it.” She smiles faintly, though there’s still some concern in her features as she thinks it over. “I don’t suppose anyone comes in with him? Someone who might be looking after him?”
“Oh no, honey. If you’re going to surprise him that’s all good. Ii won’t say a word.” Rowans next question gets a bit a of spike from the deli-lady, a feeling of discomfit perhaps? “Uh, yeah. There’s always someone with him. Last few visits, it’s been a man with a thick accent, blonde, blue eyes. From the contintent I think. Seemed to be keeping an eye on him.”
The discomfit spikes some more. Something about this blonde, blue eyed, man doesn’t sit well with the employee.
“Oh, you asked what he likes … um, let me check their order. We normally have it packaged up for them. Sometimes they can’t get here and we have to deliver it.”
Rowan Grey’s brows rise when the woman mentions delivery, interested. “If you’ve got one, I’d be happy to take it over for you,” she offers. “I mean, I totally get it if you can’t, procedures and all that. But I’d be happy to take it off your hands. It seems like it must be a heck of a trip for you guys.”
The grey haired woman takes some time to find the order and check it through “Oh, that’s right. He’s really partial Butter Tarts. There’s always ones on the order and when he comes in, he always buys one to eat right away.” She blinks a bit a Rowan and looks at the ham she’s packaged, finally remembering to press the button on the register to print the label.
“Oh, I don’t know if we can do, I mean … procedures and the next order isn’t due to be delivered for another couple of days.” That’s probably good information. Gives Rowan a timeframe in which she could possibly plan to intercept the delivery and … well … do what spies do.
“Oh it’s a bit of trip, no doubt about it, but they pay good, you know? Not just in money either…” Given what SHIELD are looking for this group for, Rowan might know what else they’re paying with …
Rowan waves a hand, smile easy. “No, I totally understand. Procedure,” she agrees. “I don’t want to get anyone in trouble. And thanks for the tip on the butter tart,” she grins. “I’ll pick up a few from the bakery. And I’ll let my uncle know you guys helped out when I surprise him, get you a little extra,” she adds with a wink.
By the time SHIELD is finished with Manitou Island, the deli lady isn’t going to be thanking Rowan for telling her uncle who helped. But she doesn’t know that now, does she?
“Of course, honey. Anytime…” the woman smiles back “… and if you would, that would be great. The boys here work so hard, a little extra goes a long way.” Rowan can bet they aren’t taking it themselves though, not from what she knows of the drug.
“You don’t look much like him, you know…” that’s said thoughtfully as she hands over the ham but she shakes herself. “Guess that’s a possibility these days, though. Was there anything else you wanted? The shrimp here are sure good…”
“I think that’ll do it.” Rowan takes the ham, taking a step back from the counter and tapping her nose when the woman mentions she doesn’t look much like him. “Family’s family, no matter where it comes from, right? You take care now, ma’am,” she says politely, turning to head toward the bakery.
“Well you have a nice day and visit again if you’re back out this way.” the woman responds, turning to the next customer.
As she leaves, Rowan gets a sharp feeling from the woman. The discomfit is still there when she thinks on Rowans ‘uncle’ and his minder.
Was that too easy? Rowan might wonder at that but she’s certainly picked up a few things that are of use to SHIELD in this investigation.