A Moment Inside The Walled Tomb

Participants:

des_icon.gif ray_icon.gif

Scene Title A Moment Inside the Walled Tomb
Synopsis In a pocket of time, Richard receives Simon Broome's message.
Date March 20, 2018

Manhattan Exclusion Zone


Time comes to a halt.

For everyone except herself and Richard, that is. Valerie is frozen in place – improbably, given her psychic connection to the man – fawning over the cat. Luther crouched in mid-click of tongue against teeth. Robyn crouched in the snow.

"He left you a letter." Odessa pulls down her scarf. The wind doesn't whip at them anymore. The cold is less sharp. She'd rather he see her face. See her regret. "I found it taped to the underside of the table. I opened it." There's only the smallest amount of apology there. "I wanted to make sure it wasn't a trap. If I get poisoned, the world is no worse off. But if something happened to you…"

"You vastly overestimate my importance to the world," is Richard's rather dry response to that, "I'm sure a great number of people would be very much relieved to learn of my passing." He turns his head to look left, to look right. One hand lifts, waving in front of Luther's face. There is, of course, no response - the man doesn't even blink.

Fingers tug his own scarf down, and he looks back at her with a frown, "If it was a trap, I would've handled it… what do you mean, he's dead? He survived all that bullshit six years ago just to, what, keel over from old age?" It doesn't seem right, somehow.

"And you underestimate your importance to me," Des counters in a soft voice. She smiles faintly as he tests the tethers she's put on the others. It's been a while since she's seen it, and she forgets how amusing it is to her. How easy to forget the wonder that can be inspired by her miraculous ability.

Her smile fades into something sadder. "Actually… Yes. Time takes its toll on all of us eventually. This letter's been here for… a long, long time. The call was… Well, I'll let you read it."

This time Odessa's arms lower completely, then one hand reaches into the pocket of her coat, withdrawing a white envelope that was previously wrapped in plastic and tacked to the underside of the very chess table she sits atop now. She's silent as she offers it out to him.

"What is it with the Price women delivering me mysterious packages?" It's a joke, tongue-in-cheek; he always cracks jokes when the pressure's on, always has. And the news that Simon's dead has him rattled, at least a little. Richard Ray steps from his previous position and forward, snow crunching softly under his boots as he reaches out and accepts the envelope from the woman.

The paper's unfolded and he reaches inside to discover the man's last(?) message.

It reads:

Old friend,

When I promised to help you change the world, I promised to stand by your side and help make a better tomorrow for everyone. I failed you, because I was unable to tell when you had lost who you were. I failed myself, I failed my son, I failed the world. I let your madness consume the Institute, and I let my faith in our vision blind me to the evil happening in our peripheral vision. I became consumed with the work itself, and forgot what purpose it once served.

But I am still your friend, no matter what time you are from and no matter the circumstances that have come between us. But time has not been kind to me, old friend. If you're receiving this message, it means I've asked to be taken off of life support. Our phone call will be the last time we spoke face to face, but I could not risk telling you this over an insecure line.

For all that I was in charge of the Institute, there were parts of it that were a mystery to me. Science we developed behind closed doors, compartmentalized and hidden by those who would abuse your absence and my blindness. But I know there was a mystery even you never solved, one that I believe the Institute may hold some keys to, that your predecessor discovered.

You were researching the death of your mother and disappearance of your father, though you kept private counsel on such things. The madness had already taken you and I feared what form it would further take. But you did seem to find some spark in information relating to an old Company project called Looking Glass, one you reinstated and handed off to Erica Kravid of our San-Francisco department.

Looking Glass was one of the few projects I was kept in the dark on, by your orders. It was the start of my fear in your well-being. Any information that may survive on the project would be contained in the data archives at the Ross Dam facility in Washington State. I do not know the state of the archive servers, but if Erica is dead — as I imagine she must be by this point — it is the only thread left.

I am sorry there wasn't more I could do for you. I feel as though I have failed you a second time. I hope you do not judge me too critically for the things I have done, both that you are aware of that those you are not.

I have forwarded my remaining information to Luis at his safe house. I hope this letter finds you both well. He should have reached back out to you by now.

I remain, and will always be, your friend.
- Simon Broome

"…disappearance?" A confused muttering from Cardinal as he reads through the letter, "What does he mean disappearance?" Paper crinkles under his fingers, eyes scanning through the words, his jaw tightening. He glances back up from the paper, then, meeting Des's own.

"Something's gone wrong," he says quietly, "Kravid's very much alive… and I haven't spoken to Luis in six years."

"I know." Not necessarily about the details, but she knows that something's wrong. "I was there when he talked to Sera. I wish I'd known it was him… I would have taken the call myself. I would have gone to him. I…" A tear slides down her cheek, her throat tight. "He had answers, Richard. For both of us. We have to find Jean Martin."

If he'd been captured, they would have heard about it. But if Wolfhound has a lead on him, he might be laying low and may be unable to reach out to them safely. Maybe it's just a delay, and they'll hear from him soon.

"Something is very, very wrong." Odessa holds her hand out again for the letter. "I'll take it with me. I… Please. I don't like the idea of it being so close to SESA hands. Even if I think we can trust Miss Quinn." She looks to the woman frozen in place, a note of apprehensiveness in her voice that doesn't linger. "It's better for her if she knows about none of this. Safer for all of us. You can pick it up from me when you get back."

Desdemona holds up one hand as if to swear an oath. "I promise on my brother's life that I'm not going to steal this information." She knows he won't let himself trust her, and she can't blame him.

"Damn it. I had him, I told him to stay with me…" Richard's lips twist in a frustrated grimace, "…I gave him space, like he asked. He said we'd revisit the matter but he never got back in touch." He draws in a slow breath, then stuffs the paper back in the envelope, offering it back out.

"We can trust Robyn. I need to tell her - and the others - something when we restart time, though," he observes dryly, "They're going to be suspicious, not to mention pissed off, if they think this whole trek was for nothing."

"I can't give you that answer." Des slides the envelope back into her coat with a shake of her head. "You know your people better than I do. You know what they'll accept." Boots crunch on the snow as she slips down from her perch on the table.

Wrapping her arms around Richard, she rests her head against his shoulder. "I'm sorry. I wish this was better news. A better lead. For both of us."

A sigh whispers past Richard's lips as he leans back into her, wrapping one arm around her, the puffy coat rasping against her own gear. "Always more questions," he mutters, "One of these days, maybe we'll actually start coming up with answers."

"That'd be nice, wouldn't it?" There's a chuckle, because the whole damn thing is so absurd that there isn't much left to do but laugh at it. Every question is answered with more questions, and they only seem to get further and further behind in their quest for knowledge.

"I know your relationship was complicated," is putting it mildly, "but I think he was a good man, underneath everything. Idealists tend to… They can lose their way easily." Perhaps Richard Ray knows that better than anybody. Richard Cardinal certainly did. "I'm sorry he's gone. Not just because of the hope he represented to us."

Des comes up on her toes to press a kiss to Richard's cheek. "I should go."

"I'm just… I'm surprised that he went out like that," Richard leans back from her finally, shaking his head slowly as he does so, "He was always the one talking about survival at all costs, I was the one that was all about acting…" A turn of his head, gazing off into the snowy ruins, the eerie stillness of time frozen all about them. There won't ever be any closure there, any agreement between the two finally reached - no forgiveness or apology save for that writ to paper.

Then the kiss to his cheek, and he offers her a faint smile, "Probably. Alright, let's get back into position and hit Play, shall we? Wait a minute before you dart off, so they don't get suspicious."

It's not a moment too soon. Des is starting to look a little pale from the effort it takes to exert her ability, even all the way out here with so little interference. It doesn't show once she retakes her perch and she lifts her scarf back over her face. Once her hands are back up and his own place retaken with his face obscured again, everything resumes. No one is the wiser.

Except, perhaps, for a small tug Odessa feels in the direction of Valerie Ray… That will need to be pursued.

Later.


This scene takes place concurrent to…
The Walled Tomb
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